Return to Transcripts main page
CUOMO PRIME TIME
Judge Keeps in Place Nationwide Injunction in Asylum Case; Thousands of Migrants Living in Squalor in Tents. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired November 30, 2018 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Now I want to hand it over to Chris, "Cuomo Prime Time." Chris?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "COUMO PRIME TIME": Thank you very much, Anderson. I am Chris Cuomo and welcome to Prime Time.
We have breaking news about Michael Cohen and whether a pardon was floated once. This happens just as the Mueller probe seems to be at a break point.
President said investigating his business was a red line and Mueller is clearly trampling all over that line. If there were a time for the President to try to stop this, or make the new man in charge of the Russia probe stop it, that time would be now. So the question is what can Democrats do to stop him, if anything? We have the first interview with the congressman set to head the House Judiciary Committee and he just spoke to that man, Matthew Whitaker, today.
The reason I'm coming from San Diego tonight is we just got back from the border and we have an exclusive look at a situation I never expected on both sides of the border. If nothing changes for the better, and soon, we're going to see things right here, right next to San Diego, that we have never seen before. There is a lot to test. Let's get after it.
So we spent most of the day in Tijuana. In a place that is more like a circle of hell than a shelter. Thousands of migrants, conditions I hope you never see for a single day of your life.
Now just today on the legal side, a federal judge stopped the President from imposing more limited asylum rules, but that is not nearly enough to address what is so wrong here. Humanitarian crisis doesn't say enough. I'll put it to you this way, kids coughing up colors that would send any parent here to an E.R. at 100 miles per hour, barely being able to wash, food in very short supply, people sleeping in mud and in such close confinement that illness spreads with incredible speed. And it's getting worse day by day.
Again, if nothing changes, you're going to see things on the southern border of the richest country in the world that we have never seen before. I'm going to take you to look at the reality with your own eyes on both sides. We have an exclusive look inside of the struggle to secure the border and process the claims in a system that is clearly broken in addition to what you're seeing right now.
Kids, mothers, young men, men, desperate for something better and hope in short supply.
But first, we're getting a better idea of why Michael Cohen flipped on President Trump. Sources tell us he was initially led to believe that a pardon might be an option. But things changed. Trump's business dealings are now front and center in the Russia probe, a red line not only for the President but for the man he chose to take charge of the investigation. Listen to Matthew Whitaker on CNN right before he joined the Justice Department.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MATTHEW WHITAKER, ACTING UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: Well, I was concerned when I read the CNN reporting which you mentioned that they were -- that the special counsel was looking at Trump's finances unrelated to the 2016 election and unrelated to Russian coordination in that regard. And I think that is a red line.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: The question now is will he act on those words? Will Mueller be allowed to continue his job? Today the man in line to head the House Judiciary Committee spoke directly with the acting A.G. Let's find out what he told him. Congressman Jerry Nadler, Democrat from New York, welcome to Prime Time. Good to see you.
REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Good to be here.
CUOMO: So did the acting A.G. allay your concerns?
NADLER: No, he did not. Elijah Cummings who is going to be the chairman of the investigation and oversight committee and I had a phone call with Mr. Whitaker. He agreed to come to a hearing of our committee to a public hearing in January. And we asked him a number of questions and all I can say -- all I'm going to say that -- his answers that he said that he was and would continue to adhere to the protocol and the procedures of the Justice Department. That's all he would say.
CUOMO: And that is not enough, right? Because it is not about the protocol and procedures, it is about which ones you decide to use and how you decide to use them. Did you feel that he was giving you a message that was positive or negative?
NADLER: Well, he said that he was -- partially positive in that the procedures of the Justice Department say that you can fire the special prosecutor except for good cause, you can't overrule his decisions, to indict someone to follow this line of inquiry unless that decision is out of bounds in terms of the normal procedures of the Justice Department.
[21:05:25] But -- and they say that if Whitaker would overrule this, the prosecutor, the special counsel on any of that, he has to tell us. But he doesn't have to tell us until the end of the investigation which might be far too late. That is the problem with the procedure and the rules. CUOMO: So the question then becomes, well, what can you do,
congressman, even with new power, as the chairman of a major oversight committee, what can you do to protect the probe?
NADLER: Well, the first thing we want to do, obviously, is pass that legislation that Senator Blumenthal in the Senate and some others and I in the House have introduced to protect the special counsel, we can push for that. It is probably not going to pass. Mitch McConnell won't allow it on the Senate floor at the moment. We can push for that. And we can hold public hearings and shine the light of publicity on whatever is going on. And we can insist on answers in front of the committee if necessary by subpoena. Those are the major powers that we have.
And I'm must say, this is a particularly fraught moment because it is clear that the President feels that the walls are closing in on him and but it is also clear that Congress is both because of what is coming out, what Michael Cohen's revelation that contrary to what he was saying they were doing business with Russia during the campaign, which not only is -- was directly contrary to what the President was assuring the American people, but because of that and because the Russians obviously knew it, put the President in a position to be blackmailed by Putin at any time, which may explain why he was so obsequious to Putin all times.
It raises the question what other compromising information the Russians may have on the President. And this is -- and that is why, by the way, Mr. Whitaker is wrong when he says that following the President's private business deals is not connected with the investigation of the Russians trying to subvert our election because there may be a direct relationship and there is really is a direct relationship if one of the candidates is compromised by the Russian, the imposition of information contrary to what they're kind of showing to people.
CUOMO: So two questions that stemmed from this. One is it sounds like you need the President's taxes and the second one is you are going to need to assess whether or not it is true that Michael Cohen had a pardon being dangled over his head, at least early on.
NADLER: Well, we have to assess and the special counsel has to assess whether that is true. But it is clear that the President has dangled a pardon before Paul Manafort, he's done it semi publicly and Rudy Giuliani has hinted at that. If you could show that the President has really dangled a pardon, that is certainly obstruction of justice and depending on circumstances could be the crime of bribery because, you know, if you offer someone a pardon in exchange -- or for something of value, that is something of value being don't testify to this or don't say that, that's bribery.
CUOMO: Well, look you would have to show that what he was doing by pardoning was self pardoning or establish a very direct quid pro quo.
NADLER: Establish a direct quid pro quo, yes.
CUOMO: And again, that's why you're going to need as much information as you have and that is why I brought up the taxes. I know it wouldn't be your committee that is Ways And Means. But are the taxes something that you're going to go for?
NADLER: Well certainly. There are a lot of reasons we want to see the taxes, to look into violations of the emoluments clause for them, which is before our committee. Senator Blumenthal and I have led a lawsuit with 200 other members of the House and Senate suing the President for violation of the emoluments clause of the constitution, which says that the President and for that matter any federal officer holder may not take anything of value from a foreign state.
NADLER: -- without prior permission from Congress. We have to see the taxes to see whether, as we believe to be the case, he's violated that clause and we could get that -- we could subpoena -- the simple way to get it would be to ask Ways and Means for it once they got it.
CUOMO: Right. So Congressman, I have a question. We're talking about things that are speculative and maybes that you want to look at and they deserve that kind of attention. I am just a little bit away from a place that is filled with certainties where we know exactly what is going on and it is wrong and demanding action and getting none.
[21:10:03] This situation on the border, on both sides, the system of how the asylum laws work, how the process works, the staffing of the different phases of the process, the conditions that these migrants are being allowed to stay in, it all stinks. And Congress has to act on the system because the system is broken and yet you do nothing. Will that change?
NADLER: That will change, certainly at least in the House at the moment. We take control of the House January 3rd. The immigration is again under the jurisdiction of the Judiciary Committee. We're going to clearly hold hearing on the situation at the border and the family separation and on the fact that the administration seems to be violating both international law and United States Law under our law if someone sets foot in the United States, whether he came in legally or illegally and claims asylum, he must be given -- he or she must be given a proper hearing as to whether they meet the conditions under the asylum and they cannot be jailed or punished for making that claim. And --
CUOMO: Well, but, Congressman, let me ask you something. Isn't that something you should give some thought to? Doing the history and I know you've done this and you're far more of an academic than I've ever been on my best day, that comes from a code of emergency, that anyway that they have to come -- they're in that kind of desperation, literary the analogy that's offer in a lot of the textbooks is being chased with a gun and that if they have to jump the fence, they jump the fence because it is an emergency situation. That is one thing. But the law could recognize that and also say, however, if you bum rush the border police, or if you jump the fence to jump the line, you do not get processed first. You will not be rewarded --
NADLER: Well, it is not a question of --
CUOMO: -- for breaking the law.
NADLER: It is not a question of being processed first, it is a question of being processed.
CUOMO: I didn't get process first.
NADLER: People who are desperate because -- and because they are fleeing some sort of persecution or fleeing gang violence or fleeing political persecution or whatever, are entitled to asylum and they are entitled to an adjudication by an American judge as to whether in fact their claim is valid claim. And if they are being pursued by violent gang members or who want to recruit their children --
CUOMO: That is one thing.
NADLER: Well, but that is what all of these people claim. That is what the people claim and --
CUOMO: Not all of them.
NADLER: That what they claim --
CUOMO: Not all of them, some.
NADLER: This is what they claim. Sometimes it is true and sometimes not true. But you don't walk a thousand miles with 5-year-old kids if you are not desperate. And our law says they have to --
CUOMO: That is true. But also sometimes you do it because you are promised things that aren't going to happen. The organizers of the new phenomenon of mass caravans, that is part of the equation as well.
NADLER: That may be. But if someone turns up at the border and said I'm being pursued or persecuted you don't have to keep them in the country but you have to give them a fair hearing and determine whether they are --
NADLER: -- their claim is correct or not. And you cannot --
CUOMO: And you have to staff -- then you have to staff and give the necessary requirements to the people on this side.
NADLER: Yes, you do. Absolutely.
CUOMO: And they don't have it at any level. They don't it at CBP and each agency that comes after them, it gets worse in terms of how starved they are of what they need to deal with the system.
NADLER: That is absolutely correct and that is deliberate policy decision by the Trump administration to make people as miserable as possible. It is disgusting decision. The fact to the matter is that illegal crossings at the border are down over the last four years substantially. We could, if we wanted to, have adequate numbers of asylum judges and of hearing officers, of social service personnel and do the job right. And that is what we should do. It is our duty under morality and it is a duty under international and American law. But they have made a deliberate decision, the Trump administration, to make the people as miserable as possible, in order to deter them from crossing the border. And that is wrong and it is a violation of law and we're going to -- we're going to deal with it and do what we can come January 3rd.
CUOMO: Well, I'm going to hold you to that Congressman Jerry Nadler, thank you very much for sharing your thoughts on the probe and on what we all hope will be progress with what we're seeing down here on the border. Be well and thank you.
NADLER: Thank you.
CUOMO: All right. Again, the reason that we're here is because we're very close to the border here in San Diego. And I want to show you the reality because it is being ignored, the migrants who are piling up miles away. They are so desperate to get in. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: So this place just keeps growing, right?
LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right.
CUOMO: Everything we're seeing now, the line just keeps moving this way.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Leyla Santiago you know her obviously from CNN, she took must through this. I'm telling you, I was taken by surprise and I've seen the worst that this world has to offer for 20 years in this business. And the question is when you see this, you saw the conversation I was having with the congressman, I'm having it for a reason. I'm not just looking for a fight, the fight is here.
[21:15:19] We're going to take you on a visit to both sides of the situation to look at the migrant of how they are living and why they think they are here and what they expect and look at the men and women trying to do the job on the border and what disadvantages they are given as well, next.
CUOMO: There is breaking news tonight, a federal judge in California has left in place a nationwide injunction that blocks Trump's asylum restrictions from going into effect. But in truth, the President's antics about migrants and them being monsters are the least of the situation. When I saw that teargas being fired at members of the caravan on Sunday, I knew we had to come here and assess the situation because that is not normal. We don't see that kind of enforcement here on the border. We don't see the kind of numbers. We don't see that kind of hostility. So we went to Tijuana a few hours ago and I want to show you the truth
on the ground. Who is there, how they're living, who does protecting our border, what they have to deal with, how they have to deal with it, so lets a start with the migrants.
There are so many kids. There are so many people who are sick. The desperation is palpable, hope is in short supply and there is so much disillusionment. This isn't just about the laws and the United States, which have their problems. It is about what these people were promised. What they expected and why they came this far. And what they now believe may never happen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: All right, we're going to enter what they're calling the shelter facility. And you've been seeing the sign, and Scottie (ph) show them all this, because this is a distraction. We're going to meet Leyla Santiago and go inside and show you the reality of what they call a facility, a shelter.
SANTIAGO: This is the camp that was set up for the migrants, you could see helicopters, you could hear helicopters are constantly coming over because we're really close to the U.S./Mexico border. There are thousand of --
CUOMO: So this is what they call a shelter?
SANTIAGO: Right. I mean, there is nothing above most of the tents that you see here. There is one building that has a roof, but not a lot of people fit in there.
CUOMO: What do we see here in terms of the conditions? Because everybody keeps saying, who's here, something has to change, something has to change.
SANTIAGO: Yes. Yesterday was a big day and rain came down and so a lot of the tents were flooded and you could see --
CUOMO: Yes, it's flooding over here where they have to go to the bathroom.
SANTIAGO: And that is good compared to what it was yesterday. I mean, these piles of trash here are really for some people the only belongings that they have.
SANTIAGO: And so it was soaked, people were scrambling to try to get a tarp, to try to keep warm and children sleeping on wet blankets.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
CUOMO: So what happens if the United States says you can't come in?
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE) SANTIAGO: He says, if they can't get in legally then the only option they'll have to do it illegally. But knows that immigration -- U.S. immigration will be there keeping an eye.
CUOMO: So this place just keeps growing, right?
CUOMO: Everything we're seeing now, the line just keeps moving this way. It started over there and now the tents have just been spreading more and more this way. And even with this new shelter, that is the news that there is a new shelter like 45 minutes away and met with a lot of skepticism because is it better or is it farther away and that is why you're still seeing the tents.
[21:20:15] Obviously people believe it was a better deal they would go. The sanitation here is regular. They are coming and they're emptying the port-o-potties, but it is -- this isn't just water, OK. This is sanitation waste. These people are living in it. What is next? This can't stay this way. They won't make it.
CUOMO: So what are the possibilities?
SANTIAGO: Well, I keep asking people that. Officials and the migrants themselves and nobody seems to have an answer.
CUOMO: They don't know. So they are taking it day by day.
SANTIAGO: Hour by hour I'd say.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: His stomach is hurting.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: Yesterday Justin was with a bucket emptying out the tent. And this is Jefferson, when everything was raining, he was outside looking for a tarp to cover his family.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: It is a family of four. She said she wants to find a job. She said she doesn't want to go back to her country and so I'm asking her why.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: She's about to cry so I'm asking her why.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: She's scared to talk about what happened in Honduras because she's afraid it will get back to the people over there. CUOMO: You know, the story is so common, they're leaving something at
home that they're afraid of so much that they'd rather live like this.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: This is Hennessey, Genesis, she -- oh look at this. Look at what she's showing us. She has in her little cart the bible.
CUOMO: These are icons. This is protection for her.
CUOMO: Somebody put this around her for protection and these are religious icons, this is protective.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
SANTIAGO: She's our mother.
CUOMO: The virgin mother.
Inside every one of these, there is a family with a story and a struggle. And there is a lot of similarities but a lot of individual hardships as well. So many of them are joined by one really desperate reality, they don't have anywhere else to go. Going home, they believe, is not an option.
Now you may want to believe that is a play for sympathy, but to live like this in these conditions, for the amount of time they've been here, think about it.
We hear the kids, the same thing could happen in your community. How bizarre is that?
CUOMO: Imagine in this is the best you could do for your kids?
Look at what they're playing in the middle of.
SANTIAGO: So this is Angel.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
When I met him in Mexico City his feet were blistered and swollen and red.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
Let's see how they're doing now.
CUOMO: They look good. They looked better. A little chapped on the bottom but they look better. It is good to have shoes.
SANTIAGO: Yeah. CUOMO: You know, I saw a sign when we were coming over here, you see
how it says shine on his shirt. There was written on the side of a causeway where people are trying to enter, (Speaking Foreign Language). The sun shines for all. It is hard to believe that if you live in this place right now.
SANTIAGO: There seems to be some hope among the families, that they've sacrificed everything to get here so surely there is a better future. But they're also very well aware of that fence, which represents a lot. You know, a barrier to what they see as the better future.
CUOMO: Yes. I mean, you could look at it two ways. Look at how close they are. That is how close they are to realizing the dream but more and more that fence is representing exactly what, you know to be frank the President hopes it does, a barrier, that you are not getting in, that you not wanted and you should go away and here we're caught in the middle of what reality is going to be accepted.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Now, there is a lot more footage that we shot there today and I'll be putting it online for you to see. And just witness what is going on. So many kids like I told you, it is not as simple as demonizing this brown menace and painting it all about men who are actually monsters, it is much more complex than that and right now they're moving the people away. They say they have a better shelter but only know for sure is it is farther away and tougher to monitor and people are scared.
Now, that is half of the story. The other side is U.S. border patrol and they are overwhelmed by need. They gave me an exclusive look at the asylum process and their challenges. You need to see this part as well and we talk about what happened on Sunday.
[21:25:13] Plus, Russia tried to interfere with our election. We all know that. But the White House says the real worry is the Mueller probe harming relations with Moscow. Yes, you heard that right. That is surely the stuff of a great debate next.
CUOMO: The President tweeted something today while he was supposed to be focused on the G-20 summit that begs consideration. The Russian witch hunt hoax, which is hopefully now nearing an end, is doing very well. Unfortunately it probably does undermine our relationship with Russia. He thinks the probe is doing well all of a sudden? And then, wait, did he just say that the probe is what the problem is with our Russian relationship or did he mean that the probe is a problem for his financial relationship with Russians?
We'll going to put that up for a great debate with Bakari Sellers and Niger Innis. But before I see how far you two are apart, let's see if I could bring you together with one thing. I know that you are watching our coverage from the border. I have to tell you, fellas and you'll understand better and more when you see our tour of the customs and border patrol side of it and what they're up against. But can everybody be on the same page that Congress has to be pushed to address the issues surrounding this migrant caravan because there is going to be more if otherwise. Do you agree on that? That Congress must look at this situation and figure out how to address the need?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well first, Chris, let me --
NIGER INNIS, CONGRESS OF RACIAL EQUALITY: Oh, go ahead.
CUOMO: It's a yes.
SELLERS: Yes, first, Chris, let me say thank you for shining light on this issue and not just talking about it from a plush studio somewhere not near the border. Thank you for actually going and thank CNN for going down there and doing this as well. But I want to say --
CUOMO: This is not plush, by the way. I got a card table in front of me and I'm sitting on my hands. But go ahead.
SELLERS: I know. I'm saying but thank you for going. But what I am saying is I want to take it one step further and say that this isn't just about pushing Congress to do something, because we live in an age of hyper partisanship. This is about making sure people shed this party labels and do something in a bipartisan fashion. We need to have Lindsey Graham talking to Chuck Schumer, we need to have Nancy Pelosi actually sitting down with McCarthy and we need to have people come together on this issue because it is an issue of basic humanity that is embarrassing us in front of the world.
CUOMO: And look, Niger --
CUOMO: It is humanity on all sides, because the system -- and I don't know if you heard me talking to Jerry Nadler about this, you know, the system rewards illegal entry right now, even in situation where it's not an emergency. We all agree, I'm chasing you with a gun, you get to safety any way you have to and even metaphorically if there's somebody who is threatening your life, you get here any way you have to, hopefully it's through the port of entry but they are overwhelmed at the port of entry but they are overwhelmed at the port of entry. So it's not as simply as to say if you get to the right place, you'll get the right result, it's not a given. The weight is very long under the best of circumstances.
[21:30:23] However, you have a system that allows for entries that they can't process effectively because they don't staff effectively for it and none of the realities that we're seeing now are being considered by those who make the rules. Doesn't that have to change no matter what you're stripe, left, right or hopefully reasonable?
INNIS: Absolutely. And there's some of us that saw this years ago and this is going to shock I'm sure many of your viewers, but several years ago when I was leaving a Tea Party -- a Tea Party organization, we came up with a comprehensive immigration -- I don't like the phrase but I'm going to use it, comprehensive immigration plan to address many of the questions and concerns.
One, I think some folk called it -- labeled it an America first immigration reform plan. That focused on the needs of the American people and of course the needs of those that are here in the country legally. It is respectful to those who are trying to come into the country the right way.
And let me say this, and Bakari, you are spot on, on applauding CNN and Chris Cuomo for going down there and showing the situation on the ground. That is very important work that needs to be done. Of course other networks are doing that too, but hats on to CNN for that.
And let me say further, I applaud the Mexican government for the things that they are trying to do and including the mayor of Tijuana who is very concerned about some elements that he has said are criminal elements, not those people that Chris saw, that is heart wrenching, OK. They are fellow human beings and frankly they are fellow North Americans -- well, actually, they are not North Americans, many of them from Central America. But it is a regional crisis. It is a very important issue that has to be addressed by the Congress. It has to be bipartisan. It also has to be by multi- ideological. When we put together this plan we had a diversity of folk involved that had to check off on it and it was multi-ideological from American first --
CUOMO: Well dust it off, Niger, because we need all ideas.
INNIS: Well, you can actually see it at the --
INNIS: -- network.com by the way. But go ahead.
CUOMO: All right, good. Thank you for the pitch. What I'm saying is, I would shy away from the word comprehensive and I'll tell you why. It will never get done. They have to be very specific about the system of asylum, what works and what doesn't, what is being exploited and why, who is exploiting these migrants and how and deal with this first. You want to deal with DREAMers, deal with DREAMers alone. You want to deal with family reunification, deal with that. But when you put it altogether, you'll never get it done.
Let's change topics while I have you. I'm short on time. The idea, Niger, that the problem with the Russia relationship is the probe is absurd. OK. The probe is a response to their interference in our democracy. Why would the President say that this is what our problem is with our Russia relationship?
INNIS: Look, and you know this better than all of us, but everybody knows, the world watches CNN and the more we talk about this probe and I'll agree with Bakari on this, the more hyper-partisan this probe becomes and I mean this respectfully and as a compliment that queen Nancy is coming to town, takes very, very seriously not only her caucus but America's image on the world stage. The President is in Venezuela, I believe right, not Venezuela, oh my god --
CUOMO: Argentina. Go ahead.
INNIS: Argentina. Thank you. In Argentina right now, and he's at the summit dealing with a variety of questions we have a variety of business matters to deal with Russia being -- regarding trade, be it national security, we're going to make sure that we do not have to put boots on the ground --
CUOMO: All right --
INNIS: -- in Syria. And there are a variety of questions and yes, it is a black eye on our country. Xi in China and Putin in Russia don't have to worry about problems like this.
[21:35:02] CUOMO: Yes, that is because they're not democracies. And that is the point, Bakari, this isn't the problem. I can't believe the President said that. I can't believe he said that the probe is doing very well which is something I never thought I hear him say and can't really mean.
CUOMO: But the idea that the problem with Russia, do you think he meant to say its the problem for him with his relationship with Russia, this probe.
SELLERS: Well, no, I mean I think Sarah Sanders came out and echoed the same sentiment. So I don't know what messaging point they are on. But I think you stated unequivocally that it's absurd. The facts are that we're not having some tangent or discussion about individuals that a far -- that are far away from the President of the United States.
We're having a discussion about Michael Flynn, we're having discussion about Cohen, we're having a discussion about Rick Gates, we're having a discussion about Paul Manafort. Individuals who are in his circle during something that is the most valuable thing we have in this country which is our election process and we had Russia play a role in that and we need to know -- to what extent they played in it, not just because we want to diagnose what happened in 2016. But we have to make sure it doesn't happen again.
And so, yes, I mean, I hear the talking points about not hyper, not making sure this is a hyper-partisan issue.
SELLERS: That this isn't a hyper partisan issue. I was talking about the border at that time. But this is not a hyper partisan issue. This is the issue about where we stand as a country, this is the issue about whether or not we believe in the fundamental tenants of democracy. The best example I can give you is that if Barack Obama was running for president of the United States in 2008, and offered to build a condo and have a business deal and build a condo and give the top floor penthouse to the leader of Tehran, I think the Republican Party would have a problem with that if we later found out Tehran play a role in our elections. This is the same thing. And the fact that no one wants to stand up and do this and Republicans are being cowards about it, it just doesn't bode for the fundamentals of our democracy.
INNIS: Where is the beef, Bakari. There's no collusion.
CUOMO: Well, here is what we need to do.
CUOMO: We don't know what there is and what there isn't. And let's be honest. Every time Mueller comes out with something it shocks most of the people who are open minded to what this could be about. So we'll have to wait and see what happens -- and then people will draw their conclusions. We'll see.
INNIS: We'll see.
CUOMO: We'll see whether it has or not. So guys, thank you very much for having the discussion. I appreciate it.
Bakari, Nigers --
SELLER: Thank you for your work today Chris.
CUOMO: And we showed you the reality of what's happening on the other side of the border. And that's very important. But you got to see both, because both sides are being demonized and wrongly so. You will not believe what our government has to deal with on a daily basis, and how they're challenged by the system of laws that Congress doesn't want to address. And the needs of the people that they are providing in a way that you're going to be surprised about and I'm going to show you, next.
[21:41:02] CUOMO: All right, earlier we showed you what is happening in Tijuana with the migrants. It is suffering, it is desperation. But there are many who were still holding out hope. Parents who left everything behind and they would say the sacrifice has to amount for something. And they'd look at their kids and they feel the same way you or I would. Now they're stuck in a system that doesn't necessarily want to feed that hope. For good and bad reason. And you have to look at both sides of this.
Now this isn't some false equivalency play and people on the left and right, you have to stop. You have to open your eyes and you have to try to be reasonable about the situation. It's not migrants versus border patrol. But they are trying to access a system that is broken.
And the people on the other side of that border fence, the men and women of the U.S. customs and border protection, they are doing their best to deal with an influx of migrants the likes of which they've never seen before. And there's a hostility that is new that they're dealing with. There has to do with how these caravans are organized them by whom. And what this people are promised, falsely by those who have nothing to do with the U.S. government. The need is great on both sides. They are both pawns in a game that neither controls.
It is an amazing job and they gave me money exclusive look at asylum processing. I couldn't shoot it because of privacy rights, ironic right that we feel that the migrants don't have their rights respected or being treated in a decent way. But we do worry about privacy in terms of filming but there's a lot to see and there's a lot you need to see. So watch and then we'll discuss.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: What are you practicing for now?
PETE FLORES, DIRECTOR OF FIELD OPERATIONS, U.S. CBP: So, what we have is mobile field force officers from mostly the southwest border. So the volume and the urgency and the iteration of what crane (ph) looks like, we're doing more of that now. So what we have is essentially crowd control is what our mobile field force is looking to do here. Protecting the line on the limit line to ensure there is not a mass rush across our borders where we get overwhelmed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: Now they train but they don't usually train for this, this often and this way. But this is their reality now. Mass caravans like this are relatively new and their coming with a hostility. They've been promised things that aren't coming true. Now, who made them that promises, that's a big story and it's a story for another day because it is involved. So that was moment.
Then we spoke with Chief Rodney Scott, he's the CBP chief patrol agent for the San Diego sector. He's been doing this a long time. And he's afraid that this new hostility reminds him of how it used to be many, many years ago. And I wanted to talk to him about that tear gas on Sunday. Because the pictures made it seem like men and -- women and children were being targeted and I wanted to hear it. And here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: So they come down here, they're trying to protect.
RODNEY SCOTT, CHIEF PATROL, CBP: Yes.
CUOMO: People start to throw rocks.
CUOMO: What happens next?
SCOTT: So there -- they see people, basically we line up along the border. So two dynamics happen at the same time. They saw people start to take shovels and buckets and basically tear up that dirt berm to create a void where they could potentially cross and they went over to tell them to stop. As they approach closer they take a barrage of rocks.
CUOMO: What were your options in terms of how to deter them?
SCOTT: The agents chose to use the least amount of force they possibly could. The first thing that they deployed was smoke, basically just gets their attention, it's not an irritant, it uses like, hey they're kind of serious. But once you start getting rock, you're assaulted by assailants, my agents used everything they could.
CUOMO: That's when the tear gas was used.
CUOMO: So the image that created a reality for people was the mom from Honduras running with her two kids.
CUOMO: And there's a canister of tear gas on the ground. And it gave the perception that see, this is what the government wants to do, they're shooting tear gas at women and children.
SCOTT: Yes, that was a horrible photo on my opinion, because like anything, if you take a very, very microcosm of even border security and you focus on one factor or one little incident if you will and you don't broaden that out with a wide angle lens, you could get a very bad impression.
[21:45:02] The narrow was there's this lady that chose to insert herself in a riot, in a middle of a river bed where no one is supposed to be here any way. She made that choice, brought her kid into that situation. You zoom that lens out and you see hundreds of people here and I'm going to walk you to a couple of areas and let you stand there in my agent's perspective where people are throwing rocks and bottles from at least two to three different angles at them and you just see the mass chaos.
The dynamic is kind of weird. Right on the other side of this, into road just like this where you could stand on it but you're in Mexico. It can be right there on the apron of the river and you're in Mexico. My agents are right here trying to keep people out of the country, which is our job. And at the same time, preserve these infrastructures, people start to destroy it and then they start throwing rocks so you're be it. You're trying to patrol, be alert, you're taking rocks from all different angles and all of a sudden there is this massive people everywhere you look.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: So, look, here are my main questions for Scott about that. These rocks -- treat rocks as rifles the way the President said. Is that a reality for you guys? No. He said they would never do that, that this is a much of compassion, mission as it is for them about safety and enforcement. And, you know, almost half of their staff is Latino and many of them are new in the country and many of them are not. But there is a connection for people and there is a consideration.
And a generosity and I've seen it many years working with the CBP and covering their work. And then I said, are you investigating? Yes. There's an investigation going on because the decision to use the teargas was officer by officer. There was no command from on high. And I asked the Mexican authorities when we were in Tijuana, do you have anybody who was hurt on Sunday by that? And they said no, nobody, nobody would come forward with a serious injury and there was no serious injury for the CBP either.
Now finally, we talked to the commissioner of CBP, Kevin McAleenan and he addressed the challenges that agents are up against with the system. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: There are two things that are new that we clearly have to deal with. The first one is the volume of people who want asylum. And there seems to be two reasons for that. These caravans are very big because they're organized in a way that we're not used to seeing. Do you have intelligence that suggests that people are being told things about how the asylum laws work and how easy it is in quotes if you just come with us and get there and that people are being misled and that's part of the confusion and frankly the desperation there.
KEVIN MCALEENAN, COMMISSIONER, U.S. CUSTOMS AND BORDER PATROL: No question. And these folks were told they would be very easy, there would have transportation the whole way through Mexico and to the U.S. border that they'd be welcome and they could just walk up and claim asylum any time they wanted. They were not given good accurate advice by the organizers of this caravan who are, you know, doing it for a political purpose. The Honduran government specified that the origin in this caravan was a protest against the current Honduran government.
CUOMO: One of the interesting things is if I take my number, sign the book and I wait or I file for my country or however I do it properly, I am almost better off practically rushing the toll booths right now and taking you on and taking the arrest in the same. But I want asylum. Legally right now you wind up getting processed the same way.
MCALEENAN: We absolutely don't want anyone rushing the border and we're going to be prepared to stop that. It would be a very dangerous situation as we saw on Sunday. But you're right. If people cross illegally over the wall here versus waiting in line and presenting at the port of entry, the end of that same process.
CUOMO: And they may get processed faster.
MCALEENAN: And that's frankly what the administration was trying to prevent with the proclamation two weeks ago to make it unable to be claiming asylum if you cross illegally between ports of entry. That would have been a better approach is now in the court process but we really want people to present lawfully in the safest and most orderly fashion we can.
CUOMO: That's -- but see, our system demands due process -- MCALEENAN: Absolutely.
CUOMO: And that's where your sufficiency of due process goes. You can't give due process.
CUOMO: I mean you can but not fast enough for enough people. And that's true for you and you're probably the biggest force. And then as you go up the chain you can process the claims if we give you all of what you need, but now who determines the claims. They have even fewer resources than you.
CUOMO: And then there's, well, who's going to take care of these people, who's going to hold them. They have fewer than those people. There's need all the way up the way and none of it is adequate.
MCALEENAN: That's exactly what we're facing with family units. I think it's a really important point you just made. Because those families go in to the system, they get turn over to ICE. They have about 2500 beds for the family residential center where they can care for families appropriately. But you can only keep a family together in immigration custody for 20 days or less. That's not enough time for due process to have an immigration court hearing and to determine an asylum claim.
So they're basically mandated to release every family unit whether they cross illegally or come to a port of entry no matter what the validity of that claim. So that means if you arrive as a family, you're going to be released into the U.S. That's the legal reform we need to address this kind of phenomenon where you have people coming in caravans.
[21:50:04] We now have more families than adults coming across the border every day. One thousand yesterday crossed illegally, another 100 or so at ports of entry. That's not a situation that's sustainable.
CUOMO: What's your biggest concern about the current numbers that are amassing over there?
MCALEENAN: My biggest concern is that they're going to try to come across in a large group again against the security research that you've seen in place and they're going to put people at risk, both our officers and agents but also people within the caravan. And worst case scenario again, to have children and families involved in that dynamic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CUOMO: It is scary. It is sad. It is urgent. And there are challenges with the people who are trying to get in and the people who are trying to enforce the law. However, we do know certain things that can be fixed. But there are real obstacles, and I'm going to lay them out for you next.
CUOMO: This is not an argument. It's a statement of facts and experience and reality, and it includes things that left and right will not want to hear. But please hear the truth. If nothing changes on the border, the situation can only get worse. The President is wrong. There are no winners to be found here. He's not going to get his wall. People won't get justice. There will be more conflict unless left and right become reasonable because everything that's happening is somehow correctible.
The conditions that we saw were harsher than I expected. It's not a camp. It's not a shelter. It is squalor. It is inhumane. And it's feet from the richest place in the world. There's a lot wrong here and a lot of blame to go around. Organizers of these new mass caravans, they have to be held to account. You don't hear much about them. But somebody is telling these migrants things that aren't true, and they're given encouragement to bring their kids.
And if they can just get there, if they just join the caravan, everything's going to be fine. And that is not true in most cases. Asylum is not automatic. The kids, they have been put in this situation by the migrants and their families, and they have the right intentions. But often they have the wrong expectations, and that is unfair.
[21:55:09] The process is unfair, but that type of provocation is unfair as well. You're going to see more mass caravans because it is known that our system allows people to apply for asylum no matter how they get in. That's something Congress has to address. Either they have to address it and change the requirements, or they have to equip the system for the requirements and have the judges and the case agents and the accommodations to justify the flow that they're demanding.
The kids we focused on, why? Because first of all they're being marginalized. You're being told that these are mostly young men. Go and look for yourself. It's at least 20%, if not more. And then you have your mothers, and you have other women there. And of course you have a lot of young men. You have a lot of breadwinners and people with dreams and people who are trying things that they'll probably never achieve in the current situation. And it all breaks your heart. And the injustice may break your spirit. And that feeling does not leave when you assess this side of the border.
The system is too easy to exploit. If you have false claims, it's too easy, and it's too difficult to negotiate for those who have legitimate ones. Congress must do its damn job. Stop saying you're going to do it and do it. And stop dreaming about this comprehensive reform when you can't get one thing done. Deal with the urgency. Deal with the immediacy. Build from there. That's practical thinking. That's reasonable. It may not suit your agenda, but you shouldn't care. Both sides should be ashamed.
Well, we tried. The other guys are too extreme. Shame on you all. You're responsible for what we saw today, what we just showed all of you. Left and right must be reasonable. Think about fixing, not finding fault with your perceived opponent. You look at the laws. You address how you keep families, how you justify asylum. Have those laws reflect your capabilities and not just your objectives.
You don't have to let the migrants into this country to do something about how they're treated. You don't have to want them here to care about their lives. Better barriers are not barriers to compassionate treatment. We can be safe and sensitive. Head and heart makes for a reasoned approach. And what we're doing right now, what we saw today, what is obvious to all of you is anything but reasonable.
People treated like pigs and a system that is broken. That's the reality. None of it is being addressed, not meaningfully. You need more of everything, more manpower, more barriers, more judges, more case agents, more accommodations, and most of all more resolve and heart.
Thousands are living in a way that we would never allow farm animals. If these were elephants instead of people, it would have already been remedied. Think about that. I'm not exaggerating, and you know it. The media should be here in greater force. Why? Because if you're not here, things happen. Migrants are being moved away from the shelter. There's a promise that there's a better one that just happens to be farther away and more remote. That makes it easier to forget the situation because you can't see it and you can't access it as well.
And this caravan may disappear that way, but the problem's not going to go away. And the President and his talk, it doesn't help. Demonizing migrants. They hear it. It crushes them if that makes him happy. But it doesn't get it done. He clearly sees this situation in terms of politics and not people. There is no real leadership. There's pandering, pontificating, sinister efforts to induce panic, but not leadership. The migrants deserve better. The men and women protecting us on the border do.
Many of them are Latino, you know. They got family connections and stories that are not that different from the people that they contact on a daily basis as you were watching there. They have an almost impossible job. The asylum processing center I got to see today, I couldn't take pictures of it for privacy reasons. But I'll tell you what. It said everything right and everything wrong at the same time. Men and women working hard and with heart. I could see it in the people who were being processed, how they regarded the CBP officers.
You know, you can see that. You can go into jails and things, and the guards can tell you one thing but you see a different reality in the prisoners' eyes and movements. Here, the people reached out to them. There was an affinity for them, a respect, a trust. But they're overwhelmed and this is the biggest one we have, and it's not even close to addressing the need.
And the shame of it all is that we can do better. None of this is beyond us. It is just beyond what we expect of ourselves right now in this current system. I picked up that little girl just like picking up one of my own. There is no difference between kids. There is no difference between people. She is smiling and happy because she's too young to know how terrible her situation is, how desperate it is. She doesn't understand what's in her mother's eyes, but you do, and I do. And that's why we must do better, and the only way that happens is for all of us to do our job.
The media has got to show you. You've got to feel a way about it. You've got to respond and watch. You have to call for accountability. The lawmakers can't get away with a typical political pablum, and then there might be action. That's the best we can do, but it's surely a hell of a lot better than what we're doing right now.
Thank you for watching this tonight. I appreciate you for doing that. CNN Tonight with Don Lemon starts right now.