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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Another Migrant Child Dies in U.S. Custody; Shutdown Fight; Dow Surges. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired December 26, 2018 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: We're following breaking news in the money lead, the stock market closing up more than 1,000 points, regaining all of what it lost on Christmas Eve and more.
It's the biggest one-day point gain ever.
Let's get straight to CNN's Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange.
Alison, the 1,000-point question is, how did this happen?
ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the incredible rebound really coming as some investors have been saying that the selling we have been seeing over the past couple of months has been overdone.
You look at the Dow, it's lost more than 5,000 points since its peak in October. So some are questioning, why should the Dow be losing this much since economic data in the U.S. doesn't point to a looming recession? But the reality is, the political risks in the market, they have actually heightened and affected confidence in the market.
I'm talking about President Trump's tweets and statements where he's been attacking Fed Chairman Jay Powell. They moved the markets lower. They drove them down. It undermined confidence and will continue to, because it's an unpredictable nature, continues to be a threat to the stability of the market.
Clearly, volatility is key here. We saw the market plunge 650 points on Monday, now surging over 1,000 points. It's anybody's guess where the market goes tomorrow -- Dana.
BASH: If only we could guess, Alison.
KOSIK: If only.
BASH: Thank you so much.
BASH: And, Seung Min, I think that the missing factor in today's equation is the president. He's been on a plane to Iraq and in Iraq all day long. No tweets. No statements. Nothing to add to the volatility and uncertainty. SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, he has been commenting a
lot lately, and he went very quiet, which was actually kind of one of the early signs he may be off on a foreign trip that we didn't know about, until he landed in Iraq.
But the president has not been shy about his frustrations over the Fed and over the rising interest rates and tweeting frantically about it. We had that surprise call that Secretary Mnuchin put out over the weekend about the calls with the leading six banks.
But also adding to this uncertainty is the issue of the government shutdown. And that has no signs of ending any time soon.
BASH: OK, so stand by on that, because I want to get straight to the White House, Jessica Dean, for more on where things stand on this shutdown, which is in day, what, four now, Jessica?
JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Dana. We have been monitoring everything back here at home, as President Trump has been on his surprise trip to Iraq.
But as he's been overseas meeting with troops, there has been a lot of play back here at home.
DEAN (voice-over): President Trump made his first visit to troops in a surprise trip to Iraq, just one day after he scolded his opponents from the Oval Office.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a disgrace, what's happening in our country. But, other than that, I wish everybody a very merry Christmas.
DEAN: The president blaming Democrats for the government shutdown, but also declaring he doesn't want it to come to an end until he gets what he wants.
TRUMP: I can't tell you whether the government is going to be open. I can tell you, it's not going to be open until we have a wall, a fence, whatever they would like to call it. I will call it whatever they want. But it's all the same thing. It's a barrier from people pouring into our company -- into our country.
DEAN: And the day after a tweet blasting Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell, saying -- quote -- "The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They don't have a field for the market."
TRUMP: Merry Christmas.
DEAN: The president repeated his criticisms from the Oval Office on Christmas.
TRUMP: They're raising interest rates too fast. That's my opinion. But I certainly have confidence. But I think it will straighten. They're raising interest rates too fast because they think the economy is so good.
DEAN: According to a source familiar with the matter, President Trump is saving much of the blame over a fluctuating stock market for his treasury secretary, Steve Mnuchin.
The source says Trump is agitated Mnuchin isn't doing enough to soothe market turmoil. Still, publicly, Trump said he stands by him.
TRUMP: Very talented guy, very smart person.
DEAN: And when asked about Democrats in control of the House in January conducting oversight on his administration, the president called it harassment.
TRUMP: That's probably presidential harassment. And we know how to handle that. I think I handle that better than anybody. There's been no collusion, after two years, no collusion. There has been collusion, but it's been by the Democrats. But there's been no collusion.
DEAN: President Trump was asked by reporters traveling with him in Iraq today about just the shutdown and how long he's willing to wait it out. He said he's willing to wait as long as it takes to get that full $5 billion for the wall.
And, Dana, he also said that he plans to take a trip to the border before the State of the Union address.
BASH: Keeping us busy. Jessica Dean, thank you so much for that report.
And back around the table.
David Drucker, listen to what the president talked about yesterday, Christmas Day, when it comes to federal workers and how they feel about not getting paid.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Yesterday, I gave out 115 miles worth of wall, 115 miles in Texas. And it's going to be built, hopefully, rapidly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: That was about the wall. That was not about the workers.
DAVID DRUCKER, "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER": It's all related.
BASH: But it is all related.
Because I asked you about the workers, let's just stick with that.
BASH: I mean, never mind we don't know who he's talking to, who is saying, go get 'em.
DRUCKER: Members of the House Freedom Caucus are federal workers.
BASH: Well, that's different. Exactly. He also said today, it's in Nancy's court right now, meaning it's Pelosi's to try to figure it out. But really?
DRUCKER: Well, look, I think Pelosi is actually happy to try and figure this out. She's going to take control of the House of Representatives next week. I bet House Democrats pass a funding bill of some sort rather quickly, and then the president is going to have to negotiate with her.
Now, look, a Republican Senate and a Republican White House should have significant leverage over one chamber of, as John Boehner used to say, one-third of the government.
But it depends on how the president plays this, because what we saw in the 2018 elections is that we talk about the president's base all of the time. But the other part of the Republican coalition, the part he also needed to get elected president, wasn't so hot on the caravan and his rhetoric about the wall.
And so even though Republicans and independents are very interested in beefing up border security, they do not like the way President Trump talks about it. And so, as long as this is wrapped up in Trumpism and not border security, and as long as the president isn't negotiating from a position where people know that his word is gold, he's going to have trouble getting what he wants.
And I think he could get what he wants if he were to adjust how he negotiates. But I think one of the opportunities that he's missed over the past two years with a Republican House and Republican Senate is, at least in theory, they wanted to try and deliver what he wanted.
House Democrats are going to have a much different idea about what border security should mean. They're going to feel emboldened, at least for a while, based on the election results. And so I don't think we know yet where that leaves the president when it comes to his demand and, therefore, where it leaves the government shutdown.
BASH: You were talking about the traditional Republicans and, as the traditional Republican at the table, you were nodding your head.
MONA CHAREN, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: Well, look, one of the things that Trump has backed himself into here is that when he had complete control of the government, all three branches, he wasn't able to get funding for his wall. Why was that? Was it that he lacked backbone, which is what you would
hear from -- traditionally the talk radio people and others, the Breitbart crowd? No, it was because he didn't know how things work, and he wasn't organized, and he didn't have a plan for how to achieve policy ends in government.
And, therefore, when he had the strongest hand he will ever have, he failed to get it. He has now been backed into the situation where he is demanding it, when, as David points out, in a few more days, the Democrats move into control of the House. His leverage is vastly diminished.
What makes him think he can succeed now, when he couldn't when he controlled both chambers?
A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER D.C. DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN: But this is of his own doing, though. Let's be real honest about it.
He sat there and wanted to have a public debate. He debated Nancy and Chuck publicly with the press there. And they baited him, in my opinion. And when they baited him, he said, I will own the shutdown. I want the wall. Mexico may or may not pay for it. But I won't even blame you, Democrats, right?
BOLDEN: I was shocked when I was watching it.
And so, as a result now, he's in a box, right? He's not getting a wall, because the Democrats have no pressure whatsoever to give them the wall. And they're going to take over on January 3.
So how does the president get out of looking like he's capitulating or failing? Because that electoral base that you talked about is broader than that 35 to 40 percent. When he satisfies that core base, right, he drives off the electoral base, those independents, those suburbanites.
And so whether he's electable or not, he's not getting a wall, just like he's not killing off Obamacare.
DRUCKER: One way to get out of this box is to offer a larger deal. Try and do something permanent on DACA. Try and do something more permanent on a broader change in immigration.
BASH: Yes, but his base won't let him do that. We've seen that movie before.
DRUCKER: Right, which leaves him right back in the box. But if he's not willing to do that and tell his base, we're going to make some changes, you're going to like it, but we have to give something, then he's going to end up with nothing.
BOLDEN: But he's got to stick with what he wants. No one on Capitol Hill knows what he wants. He keeps changing.
CHAREN: He doesn't know from day to day.
DRUCKER: You talk to a Republican senator, and they will say, we can't trust him.
DRUCKER: That's one of his biggest problems.
BOLDEN: I'm a lawyer. I can't settle a case if the other side keeps shifting on me.
BASH: Everybody, stand by.
BASH: Our time is shifting.
In all seriousness, though, for the second time in a month, a child from Guatemala has died in the custody of Border Protection shortly after crossing the border. What happened? We will try to get some answers next.
[16:45:00] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: New in the "NATIONAL LEAD." DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen says that all children in the U.S. custody will now receive thorough medical screening and those checks will continue going forward. That after a second migrant child's death this month. An eight-year-old boy from Guatemala died Christmas night -- excuse me -- Christmas Eve. CNN's Nick Valencia reports.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In a matter of three weeks, it happened again. This time it happened on Christmas Eve. Another migrant child died while in the custody of Customs and Border Protection. No official cause has been given for the death of eight- year-old Felipe Alonso-Gomez, a Guatemalan migrant.
The child died about 14 hours after a CBP agent first noticed he was sick according to a timeline provided by the federal government. Alonso-Gomez was picked up on December 18th after crossing the border with his father in El Paso, Texas. In the following days, he and his father were shuffled between CBP facilities. At least one of which was overcrowded.
On Christmas Eve morning, Alonso-Gomez was taken to the hospital after showing possible flu symptoms. He was diagnosed with the common cold and given Tylenol. But under an hour later, his fever reached 103 degrees. By 3:00 p.m. he was released from the E.R. anyway and prescribed the generic antibiotic and ibuprofen. Around 10:00 p.m. the child was so lethargic and nauseous. He was taken back to the hospital. Alonzo-Gomez lost consciousness on the way to the hospital and was pronounced dead shortly before midnight.
Last week the head of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen faced blistering questions about the detention process.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How many children, 17 years old or younger have died in DHS, ICE, or CBP custody since you took office?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: I will get back to you on that figure. What I can't tell you is that we have saved 4,200 migrants who are at distress --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Approximately how many have died?
NIELSEN: I understand your question, sir. I will get back to you.
VALENCIA: The intense scrutiny surrounding the deaths of two children in CBP custody this month is forcing changes at CBP, beefing up their medical screenings and focusing on migrant children under 10 years old. An agency already stretched thin from what it calls a dramatic increase of apprehensions of family units and unaccompanied minors is now facing new demands for accountability with the deaths of two children. Others questioning the effectiveness of President Trump's much-touted wall from stopping migrants from crossing the border.
VERONICA ESCOBAR (D), CONGRESSWOMAN-ELECT, TEXAS: I want to point out that Felipe and his father were apprehended in the El Paso sector where a wall already exists. And this tragedy should be a wake-up call to folks who believe that mythology about walls. They just do not work.
VALENCIA: This as another group of migrants were dropped off at a bus stop in El Paso, Texas after being held in CBP custody.
VALENCIA: And it was earlier that our CNN crew spotted more than a dozen Central American migrants being dropped off at this Greyhound bus location. Half of them were children. It was one of the adult males that I got a chance to speak with. He says that he was in CBP custody for three days before allowed to leave he said without explanation. Perhaps one of the most interesting things that he said to me was that he was not applying for asylum.
President Trump has declared that catch and release is over but after hearing this man's story, it may not be. Dana?
BASH: Certainly doesn't seem that way. Nick Valencia, thank you so much for that report. And Mona Charen, I want to just start with something that was in Nick's piece which is incoming congressman -- congresswoman Veronica Escobar who represents El Paso saying that the place where this father and young boy who died came through illegally is El Paso where there's a wall.
MONA CHAREN, SENIOR FELLOW, ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: Yes, it's kind of ironic. But I don't think there's enough information yet even though it's awful, really tragic that two children in the space of a month have died in our custody. It's too soon to say that this was because of any malfeasance on the part of the local authorities there.
I mean, the flu kills hundreds of children every year. It's -- you know, so it's too soon to say that there was some something wrong about the way --
[16:50:17] BASH: I totally agree with you, but the notion that this wall, like the shutdown, is happening right now because of the wall and this is a prime example of a place where the wall does exist and you still have people coming through illegally. It not foolproof.
SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And I just want to put the numbers of the two deaths of the migrant children in context over the last -- over the last month because Kirstjen Nielsen couldn't answer the questions about the number of migrant deaths at the hearing earlier this month, but the DHS did give out those numbers this morning. It's six migrant deaths over this past year. None of them were children. And actually no children, no migrant children had died in a DHS custody for over a decade.
So those are pretty remarkable figures and obviously the two -- these two deaths will be investigated heavily particularly by the incoming House majority. Steny Hoyer the second-ranking House Democrat has promised hearings on this. He said that earlier today. And Nancy Pelosi the assumed -- presumed speaker has said Democrats also want DHS' inspector general to investigate.
BASH: And David, really quick. What Nick witnessed effectively catch and release is pretty remarkable given the fact that the President keeps saying that that's not happening anymore, saw a man and children released at a Greyhound bus station and they weren't even applying for asylum.
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. This is what happens when you try and make immigration law through the executive branch on the fly without actually overhauling legislation. And that's I think where the President really missed an opportunity to have an impact that he says he wants to have.
The other thing, and look there's so much involved with migrants across the border, the journey is arduous, so there's a case to make that it wasn't -- that the responsive -- it wasn't the fault of federal authorities necessarily for what is happening but what we do know I think is that these tragedies are not politically sustainable.
In other words, if the administration wants to say these are happening because as we warned, the journey is arduous and it's dangerous and people shouldn't do it. It doesn't matter because politically the U.S. government will be held responsible both domestically and internationally and the Trump administration cannot continue to allow this to happen.
BASH: I'm sorry to do this. 15 seconds.
A. SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC PARTY, WASHINGTON D.C.: I hate the pulled the onion back on my colleagues over here, but I do see exposure. If you got a young kid who's got 103 temperature, I've raced three or four of them. I don't let that child leave that hospital until that fever is down because he became even more lethargic. As I said, I've raised three kids. They're in cold water in the tub until you can get it down. You got to do anything and even medical professional knows that.
BASH: Yes, or mom, or dad, we do know. All right, everybody, standby. A high school wrester forced to cut off his dreadlocks or lose the match because the ref claimed his hair wasn't in it's natural state. Now the school board is holding an emergency meeting.
[16:55:00] BASH: The "SPORTS LEAD." An emergency meeting is starting soon in New Jersey school district where a referee forced a high school wrestler to cut his dreadlocks. The family of 16-year-old Andrew Johnson says they're grateful for the show of support after the ref gave the black teen an ultimatum, cut the dreads or forfeiture the match. On top of that, Jackson had 90 seconds to make the decision, according to his family attorney. As CNN's Miguel Marquez reports, even days after the match, the story is still sparking outrage.
MARQUEZ: It's the haircut sparking outrage, and investigation into the white referee who insisted on it. The civil rights division of the New Jersey Attorney General's Office in the state's athletic association looking into whether race played a role into the decision to offer 16-year-old varsity wrestler Andrew Johnson a stark choice, cut off his dreadlocks or forfeit the match.
The state's governor, Phil Murphy, tweeting no student should have to needlessly choose between his or her identity and playing sports. Johnson's parents in a statement say their son was visibly shaken by the incident. They also say the ref was late to the match. He had no issue with their son's hair when he finally did arrive, and only once their son was on the mat did he threaten disqualification.
The parents saying the referee said Johnson's hair wasn't in its natural state, referring to the dreadlocks as braids.
The rules indicate a wrestler's hair cannot fall below the top of the shirt collar in the back, or below earlobes on the sides or below his eyebrows. For longer hair, the wrestler has to braid his hair or hide it beneath a hair cover attached to his ear guards, none of which the referee allowed, say the parents, despite multiple pleas from the athlete, his coach and trainer.
The state's athletic association says the referee will not be assigned to moderate matches pending its investigation. Its executive director adding, as an African American and parent, as well as a former educator, coach, official and athlete, I clearly understand the issues at play and probably better than most. I ask that everyone respect the investigatory process related to all parties involved.
Now, we know that the lawyer for the Johnsons will be at this emergency meeting this afternoon. We still don't know if his case will be on the agenda or if he will be pushing to get it on. Clearly, all officials involved trying to get their ducks in a row before the new school season starts.
BASH: Yes. Not easy, a really remarkable story. Miguel Marquez, thank you.