Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Democrats Accuse President Donald Trump Of Fabricating National Emergency Just To Get What He Wants; Heather Nauert, Pulled Her Name From Consideration As U.S. Ambassador; Chicago Police Would Like To Have Another Chance To Talk To Jussie Smollett; Venezuela People Are Struggling To Find Basic Necessities As The Humanitarian Crisis There Grows Worse. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired February 17, 2019 - 18:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[18:00:16] ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for staying with me. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

Day three of the American national emergency so declared by President Trump. Nothing has actually moved yet as a result of the President's declaration. He signed it on Friday as the way to get around congressional approval for billions of dollars he wants to build the physical wall between the U.S. and Mexico.

The problem for the President is the process. Democrats who now run the House accuse Trump of fabricating this emergency just to get what he wants. The intelligence committee chairman went so far as to call it unconstitutional.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (R-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: When Congress explicitly rejected funding for the particular project that the President is advocating and in saying just the other day that he didn't really need to do this, he just wanted to do it because it would help things go faster, he is pretty much daring the court to strike this down.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: He was talking about the legal challenges to this emergency declaration. Some have already been filed that even the President predicts will probably need the Supreme Court's involvement. One of Trump's closest advisers says he is not worried.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Will the President veto that which would be the first veto of his presidency?

STEPHEN MILLER, WHITE HOUSE SENIOR POLICY ADVISOR: Obviously the President is going to protect his national emergency declaration, Chris. And I know that we are out of time but I want to make this point.

WALLACE: So yes he will veto. MILLER: He is going to protect his national emergency declaration

guaranteed.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Our white House reporter Sarah Westwood is in West Palm Beach, Florida, not far from the President's Mar-a-Lago resort.

Sarah, how do people in the administration plan to fight for the President's plan?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, Ana, White House officials say this emergency declaration was crafted with these expected legal and congressional challenges in mind. But these legal battles could delay the President's ability to access the roughly $6 billion that he is hoping to unlock with this emergency declaration.

Now House Democrats are already preparing a resolution of disapproval to try to stop the President from using this declaration and that could find some support in the Senate where some Republicans have already expressed discomfort with the President that using a declaration in this way might set. Although you just heard Stephen Miller, one of the top advisors to the President, saying that perhaps the President could use his veto power to stop that declaration from moving forward.

The House judiciary committee also set its plans to investigate the process that lead up to this emergency declaration. And there are also other road blocks that this administration could face in court. For example, groups could sue the administration to try to challenge the constitutionality of the emergency declaration and the land owners who hold property along the southern border, they are expected to bring cases to try to protect their property once the administration tries to use imminent domain when it comes time to start building the wall.

Now White House officials say they anticipated all of this was a real possibility when the President moved forward with the national emergency declaration, but remember that the President was under pressure from allies to at least have the ability to claim that he was pushing for additional federal funds to avoid the perception that he caved when on Friday he put his signature on a spending package, Ana, that provided him less than half of the money he requested for his wall.

CABRERA: All right. Sarah Westwood in West Palm Beach near ma-a- Lago, thank you.

For more on the fall out, I want to bring in associate editor and columnist for Real Clear Politics, AB Stoddard, CNN political commentator Scott Jennings and CNN political commentator Joe Lockhart. He served as White House press secretary under Bill Clinton.

Joe, Stephen Miller, essentially acting as a White House spokesman today. He was asked about President Trump saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could do the wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this but I would rather do it much faster.

WALLACE: I didn't need to do this. How does that justify a national emergency?

MILLER: Well, the President was saying that like past presidents he could choose to ignore this crisis, choose to ignore this emergency as others have, but that's not what he's going to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: Joe, as a former White House press secretary, was Steven Miller effective in that answer?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No, because that's not at all what the President said. What the President did undercut his legal position. He basically said that this isn't a crisis but I just didn't get what I wanted from Congress and that's not what other Presidents have used the presidential authority that they were given in 1976.

There is a couple of things to point out here. One, a lot of people have been saying that the President is just trying to fulfill a campaign promise. Well, he is not. As you remember in a campaign, it was I'm going to build a wall and Mexico is going to pay for it. Now he is asking the U.S. taxpayers to pay for it so that's a campaign promise broken.

Secondly, there is not a crisis at the border. Immigration -- illegal immigration levels are at historical lows. This is a manufactured political crisis by a President who is sitting at about 40 percent job approval and, you know, we will see what the courts do.

[18:05:16] CABRERA: AB, this is how Republican congressman Jim Jordan is justifying the President's emergency declaration. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Congressman, can you give me an example of where a President asked for something Congress rejected and the President went ahead and said he would do it anyway?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: I don't know of that. But I do know that this wasn't a rejection because there was some money in this bill. So Congress said it is OK for some. But the President said this is such a great problem, I need more money to build more wall and to fulfill the campaign promise that I told the American people I was going to do.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: AB, do you think he speaks for the majority of Republican lawmakers on that? AB STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR/COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: There is

this a real consternation for this, no win situation, the President has put Republicans in. But thus far, they are doing a lot of complaining in private.

Well, the next couple of days and couple of weeks are going to show is that several Republicans, unlike Jim Jordan who is from a very safe Republican district and is a freedom caucus leader and has been urging the President to fight and shut the government down back to last summer on this issue, there are people up for reelection next year for whom this vote is going to be very difficult.

Senators from Georgia, Texas, Iowa, Arizona, and it's going to be very difficult for them to say that the constitutionally mandated power of the purse which lies with Congress can now be passed on to the executive in a precedent like this which would be set if this declaration was upheld.

Over the weekend, people began at the Pentagon to find to sort through the projects under military construction to see which ones would have the funds moved away in order to pay for the wall. That's going to be very difficult for Republicans in the House in some districts to defend if their projects are being defunded.

CABRERA: Right.

STODDARD: Then you are looking at what we talked about before, imminent domain property along the border in states like Texas and Arizona that Martha McSally and Senator John Cornyn are going to have to defend if they come under proposed sections of wall.

There are so many political pressure points on this. And the next couple of weeks will be very telling to see which Republicans can come out and choose their constitutionally mandated separation of powers in the Congress and choose President Trump because they are afraid of getting challenged in their primaries.

CABRERA: I know because Republicans, Scott, were up in arms when President Obama used executive powers. Some Democrats have argued that this actually takes things a step further because it takes away Congress' power of the purse. How can Republicans who railed against Obama like now VP, Mike Pence, or current chief of staff Mick Mulvaney now go along with this?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it's a great question because it does seem hypocritical for Republicans who spent eight years attacking Obama. I can't believe Jim Jordan couldn't think of the most obvious example, by the way, to the question.

Barack Obama asked the Congress to do something about the Dreamers on DACA. They refuse to do it. So then he used an executive order to go around the Congress. It actually happens fairly commonly for presidents to use their executive authority and for Congress not to like it.

Now, emergency declarations are a little different. But the concept is the same. The ever expanding power of the presidency which Republicans were very critical of Obama for doing over his eight years. So we will see what happens in a vote.

My suspicion is simple majorities do exist in both chambers for a disapproval resolution to pass which Donald Trump would almost certainly veto, but the core number to watch is 34. He needs 34 out of 53 Republican senators to stick with him to sustain the veto. So we will see if he can convince 34.

Now several Republican senators have expressed disapproval of this but when the rubber hits the road on a veto override vote that's when we will know whether they are willing to break with the President or not.

CABRERA: And I asked Senator Marco Rubio if he thought there were enough to have that super majority and he said he didn't know. And he didn't say no. He said he didn't know.

Joe, Trump argued in defense of this emergency declaration that he is not the first president to use these powers. We do know President Clinton who you served under declared a national emergency 17 times in his administration. So how is this different?

LOCKHART: Well, most of the national emergencies used under this power were natural disasters or threats to the national security of the country. This is a direct confrontation with Congress about a constitutional power for how money is appropriated. Very simply, how do we spend our money, where do we spend the money and how much? So this is completely different.

And you know, I don't think there's much mystery around what the Republicans are doing. Some of them will vote to disapprove, but there aren't 34 Republicans in the Senate to override this veto because it's a matter of simple political math.

Donald Trump has taken over and reformed the Republican Party and these guys are all afraid, not of Democrats, they are afraid of getting primaried as AB said earlier on. And the most telling example, and I don't know that he is in political trouble, but Senator McConnell who I think Scott worked for, three or four weeks ago said this shouldn't be done, it's wrong.

[18:10:35] CABRERA: Right.

LOCKHART: He railed against Obama doing it. And then all of a sudden, he wakes up last week and says now I'm for it. This tells you how political this whole thing is.

CABRERA: And now, the President is fundraising off of this today.

AB, yet, in all of the polls recently, majority of Americans disagree with this move. Why does President Trump continue to just listen to his base and not the majority of Americans?

STODDARD: That I don't know. Because in order to be reelected next year he is going to need more than his political base. He is going to need some of the middle. He had them by 12 points in 2016. He lost them by 12 points in 2018. That is a 24-point swing. And your base does not make a majority.

So I don't know why he continues to do that. But certainly, we have seen that that is what he remains focused on. That he believes, even though senators like Mitch McConnell are complaining to him that the majority next year actually is at risk, given the fact that Democrats turn out a record number of voters in the midterms and will turn out likely a record next year, he seems to think that no matter what happens to Senator Cornyn or Senator McConnell or Senator McSally next year, if he declares an emergency and continues to remain on offense on the wall, that it will help him win senators in his own party, be damned.

CABRERA: All right. AB Stoddard, Joe Lockhart and Scott Jennings, thank you all for joining us.

Former U.S. ambassador Nikki Haley is proving hard to replace. The President's top pick to fill her position, Heather Nauert, pulled her name from consideration this weekend. A former FOX News anchor, Nauert, faced controversies involving a nanny she hired and a 2009 FOX special she hosted featuring anti-Muslim activists.

Let's get right to CNN's Michelle Kosinski.

Michelle, what happened with Nauert and who might be next on the list?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana.

Yes. So for a long time, we have been asking, why has Heather Nauert's nomination not been official even sent to the Senate. Where's all the paperwork?

So from our sources, we knew that that was a big question mark. Some thought it was odd. Some told us that there were some concerns over her qualifications. There were other concerns about how tough it would be to get her nomination through the Senate. But there were so many other people that the White House was expected to nominate that also didn't have their paperwork done yet that they thought maybe it was just based on the delay. And then suddenly, last night we get this announcement coming from the state department and including a quote from Heather Nauert that she was withdrawing from consideration.

I mean, in this statement that she put out, she said that the last several months have been grueling for her family so she is going to spend more time with her family. The secretary of state indicated in the statement that not only was she pulling herself from consideration of U.S. ambassador to the U.N., but she is also apparently leaving the state department all together where she served as spokesperson and also undersecretary for public diplomacy for a period of time.

So there was that situation there. And then of course since then through sources it has emerged that she had a big nanny problem.

When she first was confirmed as state department spokesperson, according to the sources, she didn't mention that she had hired a foreign nanny who was legal to be in the United States but not legal to work and there were taxes that were not paid but these sources say she did bring it up for this more stringent background check process leading up to what was supposed to be her nomination to be U.N. ambassador.

So that's one of the issues here. But again sources tell us that there were multiple things that people on the Hill and others consider impediment and pretty strong ones to her ultimately being confirmed for this position.

So we don't know yet who the President will nominate but we are hearing some of the similar names that were out there the first time around. Like Jamie McCourt who is currently U.S. ambassador to France, former business person, former co-owner of the L.A. Dodgers as well as Kelly Craft who is now ambassador to Canada. Again, a business woman who is married to a billionaire coalmining executive -- Ana.

CABRERA: OK, Michelle Kosinski. Keep us posted. Thanks.

Lawyers for actor Jussie Smollett are now responding to reports that police have evidence he staged his own attack.

Plus, the President described illegal immigrants as criminals, rapists and an infestation. So you might be surprised to learn that the Trump organization has reportedly hired dozens of illegal immigrants. That author joins me live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:19:23] CABRERA: Chicago police would like to have another chance to talk to Jussie Smollett. Sources tell CNN, the police now have new evidence suggesting the "Empire" actor paid two men to orchestrate an attack on himself. Smollett initially told authorities the men yelled racial and homophobic slurs and one put a rope around his neck during this alleged assault last month. The men are now said to be cooperating with the investigation.

This is just now the latest twist following a tearful interview Thursday with Good Morning America in which Smollett gave a detailed account of the attack and expressed anger about not being believed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[18:20:00] JUSSIE SMOLLETT, ACTOR/SINGER: I'm pissed off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is it that has you so angry?

SMOLLETT: The attackers but it's also the attacks. It's like, you know, at first, it was a thing of like, listen, if I tell the truth, then that's it because it's the truth. Then it became a thing of like, oh, how can you doubt that? Like how do you not believe that? It's the truth. And then it became a thing of like, oh, it's not necessarily that you don't believe that this is the truth. You don't even want to see the truth.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: CNN's Ryan Young has been breaking the latest developments for us.

Ryan, you just got new information about the investigation. Tell us about it.

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we continue to work this story. According to a source familiar with the investigation, detectives have now obtained and are examining the cell phones of the two brothers that they suspect that Smollett paid to orchestrate the attack. So if you think about that, they now have the phones of the two men. They are going to go through it and they will probably be able to trace back certain messages maybe between all three of the men, a very interesting development on this Sunday night.

CABRERA: So what are Smollett's lawyers now saying about this?

YOUNG: Yes, it's interesting. In a statement to CNN that was released last night, Smollett's attorneys wrote in part, as a victim of a hate crime who has cooperated with the police investigation, Jussie Smollett is angered and devastated by recent reports that the perpetrators are individuals he is familiar with. He has now been further victimized by claims attributed to this alleged perpetrators that say Jussie played a role in his own attack. Nothing is further from the truth and anyone claiming otherwise is lying.

So you can see that strong statement from the attorney. You think about this, Ana, 12 detectives still currently working this case. Now they have the brothers who are talking with them. They have the phone that we have been able to talk about now as well. They put all of this together. They believe the men also by their financial reports purchased the rope. All of this is sort of being a domino effect.

They want to talk to Jussie again to see where he stands with this investigation and obviously the brothers have been talking. So it will be interesting to see what detectives have been able to get to them and what the actor can say against what they say as well. So many twists and turns in this.

CABRERA: Oh, my, where will it go next?

Ryan Young in Chicago, thank you.

Venezuela is gripped in while Senator Marco Rubio tells me is a manmade crisis of epic proportions. What else he is saying about that? And the latest on efforts to deliver U.S. aid to that country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:27:09] CABRERA: In Venezuela, people are struggling to find basic necessities as the humanitarian crisis there grows worse. Crucial U.S. aid is just across the border but embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, is refusing to let it in.

Senator Marco Rubio is in Cucuta, Columbia with some of the aid shipments there. And I spoke to him earlier about this dire situation that Venezuelans are facing.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: The aid is going to get through. And I think ultimately, the question is whether it gets through in a way that he is cooperative or a way that he is not. But there's no way that you are going to stand ultimately in the way of a people whose children are starving to death, whose families are dying in hospitals because of preventable diseases and they don't have the medicine for it.

So obviously, tactics are something that I'm not going to publicly announce to allow the regime and their allies to do -- make efforts to block it. But I would say this. Imagine for a moment if you are a member of the National Guard or the Venezuelan military, your own family is hungry. Your own family is starving. Your own relatives are dying because they can't get dialysis of HIV medications and you are going to follow an order to block that from reaching the people?

I think the bigger threat comes from this criminal bans that he has empowered. This, literally, these street thugs that he has given guns to, they are the ones that presented greater danger.

But I will say this to you. We know, if there is violence next week and people are harmed here, we know who is responsible for it. And every single one of them will pay a price. They will face justice and they will spend the rest of their lives worried about justice catching up to them.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Some of the most vulnerable in that country are the patients in decaying hospitals in Venezuela's capital. Food and drugs now running dangerously short, simply because the government of embattled President Maduro refuses to accept that it needs help and won't admit it has failed.

CNN's senior international correspondent Sam Kiley and his team got inside the last pediatric surgical ward in Caracas, a place the government doesn't want you to see.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In heavily guarded hospitals, the government here wants to keep visitors out and it shameful secrets in.

A failed economy now being crippled by American sanctions has starved hospitals of drugs and the very necessity of life itself, food. Like us, it's smuggled in by volunteers. If the government got ahold of these essential supplies, these aid workers believe they would be stolen and sold on the black market.

Angie cannot leave the hospital. She lives on a ventilator. Incredibly, Venezuela's president closed the country's borders to foreign aid.

The entire structure is dependent on outside charity help precisely because the government refuses to take it. It will not accept that it needs because that means the government admits that it's failed.

Antonela (ph) is six and she has a tumor in her neck. She's terminally ill, and there are no cancer drugs to buy her a little extra time. It's her mother, though, who is getting treatment today.

She fainted from lack of food when she arrived at the hospital. Now, she is recovering on a drip. It's just a saline solution, so this handout is just in time. In every room here, small donations are welcome.

The staff here tell us that only three of 18 operating theaters are working. That this is the only pediatric surgical unit left in the capital and that 500 children are on its waiting list. One doctor quickly writes a shopping list of desperately needed supplies. She can't show her face for fear of being punished for doing this.

The U.S. and many other nations blame President Nicolas Maduro for scenes like this, and they support his rival, Juan Guaido. U.S.-led efforts to cut off Maduro's access to foreign currency are intended to drive him from power. That might work eventually. In the meantime, it can only deepen the suffering.

Sam Kiley, CNN, Caracas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Meantime, in Haiti, a pause in the violence in the deadly demonstrations there. Haitians are struggling to find basic necessities, as well as food, water, and fuel.

Many missionaries and nurses are still trapped in the country as roads remain blocked. Hospitals are struggling to provide care without the essentials, like medicine and equipment. The entire police force remains activated.

CNN's Miguel Marquez joins us now from Haiti's capital. Miguel, what are you seeing on the ground there today?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's markedly different today. Things are tenuously calm, it seems. People waiting to see what the government is going to do. The Prime Minister is speaking on national television, saying that he wants an investigation into this widespread corruption, specifically this Petro Karibe fund.

This was Venezuelan money given to -- or Venezuelan oil given to countries like Haiti at a preferential price. There were billions of dollars over a decade or more that the country was able to make from this.

And the claim is -- there was one report that said that many tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars have gone misspent and misused from that money, part of it going to the President and his company itself. That's why people here want him to resign. They say that they will settle for nothing less.

But so far, the last couple of days, things have calmed down. There were nine days of protests. That's the longest, most sustained period of protest. People were, you know, lighting tire fires in the streets, putting rocks out on the streets to create makeshift roadblocks and then stopping anybody that came along, perhaps robbing them.

It was general lawlessness. The country now trying to get back on top of that. They have activated the entire police force, not only in Port-au-Prince but also across the entire country. They have invited, asked, all of the schools and universities and public administration buildings and all sort of the businesses and structures of society to come back to work tomorrow.

We will have a better sense of whether Haiti is beyond this current crisis and can move on, but, right now, the Prime Minister seems to be in the place to make that happen. The President, we heard from last week, saying that he would try to move things along.

There appears to be, from the President's office -- we tried to speak to him today but -- and his office did say, in the next couple of days, they would do something to alleviate a lot of the pressure and the problems that people are feeling right now in getting water and food and fuel, cooking fuel and fuel for their cars.

So, all of that to come. We will have to see what the hours and days bring, Ana.

CABRERA: All right. Miguel Marquez, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, thank you.

President Trump has described undocumented immigrants as criminals, rapists and even as an infestation, so you might be surprised to learn that a new report has found the Trump Organization hired dozens of undocumented immigrants. The "Washington Post" reporter who broke the story joins us next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

[18:34:33] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: President Trump has called undocumented immigrants animals and killer, claiming they pose a dire threat to the nation, drive down wages, deplete the safety net. The list goes on and on.

And yet, a bombshell "Washington Post" investigation claims the Trump Organization hired a slew of undocumented immigrants to work at the President's Bedminster golf resort in New Jersey. These workers seemingly built that golf course from the ground up.

And I quote, the laborers were coming not only from Santa Teresa de Cajon but also from other parts of Costa Rica and around Latin America. Before long, so many were working on the golf course -- more than 100, by workers' estimates -- that Zuniga's cousin began charging workers for rides to Bedminster. He had two vans in circulation morning and night. When that wasn't enough, he bought a used school bus.

Now, we reached out to the White House today asking for a response to the claims about undocumented workers in the "Washington Post" story. So far, no response.

But the President's son, Eric Trump, did respond to the "Washington Post," saying we are making a broad effort to identify any employee who has given false and fraudulent documents to unlawfully gain employment. Where identified, any individual will be terminated immediately.

And now, I want to bring in "Washington Post" reporter Joshua Partlow who wrote -- or co-wrote this piece.

Joshua, great reporting. You say undocumented workers literally built Trump's Bedminster golf course, and there was a pipeline of workers coming from south of the border. Explain how this worked.

[18:40:05] JOSHUA PARTLOW, MEXICO CITY BUREAU CHIEF, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes, that's what we found. We met some workers or former workers, undocumented employees, of the Trump Bedminster golf course who were from a small town in Costa Rica. And they put us in touch with some of their friends and relatives and former co-workers, and so we went down to Costa Rica to find them.

And it turned out that they had worked at the Trump golf course since its inception. The construction started in 2002; the club opened a couple of years later. And all that construction work, the grounds keeping work, was all done -- or much of it was done by undocumented workers from Costa Rica and other parts of Latin America.

CABRERA: Now, did you find evidence anyone from the Trump Organization knew they were hiring undocumented immigrants? Did Donald Trump know?

PARTLOW: Well, when you talk to the employees, they'll tell you that their managers, their supervisors knew about this. They told us stories about how the application process was very -- was not very rigorous.

They would go by fake Social Security cards and green cards in town, in the New Jersey town where they lived. They would bring them to the golf course. They would not really be checked. And in some cases, they got into discussions with their supervisors about these documents, about the fact that they were -- they didn't have legal papers to be in the United States.

So, you know, from their perspective, and this was across the board, their -- the Trump golf course knew about this. Whether it goes up to Donald Trump himself or his son, Eric Trump, who -- you know, they run the business day-to-day now, that's something we don't know.

CABRERA: Was there any evidence that you uncovered that the Trump Organization actually tried not to hire undocumented immigrants? I mean, how do they explain it?

PARTLOW: No. I mean, there are documented immigrants who work at the golf course, a lot of the managers. Even the -- even ones from Latin America, you know, have documents. And there's a bit of a tiered system that we found at this golf course

where the supervisors, you know, there are some mistreatments that the undocumented workers alleged, particularly early on in the history of the course where they'd be working very long hours under pretty punishing conditions. And, you know, they didn't have much to stand on in terms of complaining.

The Hispanic workers at the course conducted a one-day strike in about 2007 because they were working without sick pay, out in the rain without raincoats milling the fairways and the greens, and so, you know, they wanted their rights.

And so there's a long history of the course, too, of Hispanic workers trying to get more rights as -- and benefits that a legal worker would have.

CABRERA: I want to remind our viewers of what the President said during his state of the union address earlier this month. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No issue better illustrates the divide between America's working class and America's political class than illegal immigration. Tolerance for illegal immigration is not compassionate. It is actually very cruel.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CABRERA: You described a little bit of how some of these employees told you they were treated. You quote one person saying they treated us like slaves. Was that an across the board sentiment?

PARTLOW: No, I don't think so. You know, there were mixed views on that issue. Some people had a really bad experience, and it usually depended on the individual managers or supervisors whether people remembered their time at the golf course fondly or not.

The man you refer to, he worked there for one year and left because he found it so difficult and he found his boss so, so difficult to work with, you know. But other people we found down in Costa Rica really look back rather fondly on their time in New Jersey, working for this golf course. It helped them get a leg up in life.

They saved money. They were able to buy houses in their hometown in Costa Rica. They were able to buy land. You know, I think they worked -- they all say it was pretty difficult work, but they appreciated the -- you know, the chance to save money and improve their lives back in Costa Rica.

And you see that on the ground in this small town we went to. You know, they have their houses and land and jobs. And it's clear that, at least, the ability to work in the United States helped them in their small village in Costa Rica.

CABRERA: Interesting, so interesting. Thank you very much for sharing their stories with us and what you uncovered in your investigative reporting. Joshua Partlow, good to have you with us. Thanks.

PARTLOW: Thanks so much.

CABRERA: He has dedicated his life to honor lives lost to gun violence. Now, a man from Aurora, Illinois is making five more crosses. This time, for his hometown.

[18:45:08] But first, some red flags on Wall Street this week. Our Christine Romans has the information you need "Before the Bell."

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. Cracks are emerging in an otherwise strong U.S. economy. December retail sales fell 1.2 percent, the biggest drop since 2009. The surprise decline spooked investors and raised worries about slowing growth in the United States.

And it wasn't the only troubling sign to emerge. The New York Fed reported more Americans are behind on their car loans than ever before. A record $7 million loans were at least 90 days late in the 4th quarter.

Now, these red flags could make Walmart's earnings even more important this week. The retail giant is a barometer of consumer spending because it's so big.

Then there's the U.S.-China trade dispute. Analysts say resolving it isn't just key for the stock market but for the whole economy.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LIZ ANN SONDERS, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AND CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, CHARLES SCHWAB CORPORATION: I think trade does represent the most important needle mover in the near term, not just in terms of impact on the stock market. And we see that on an intraday basis, on a day-to-day basis, how important that is to daily action. But also, I think trade will ultimately define the length of runway between now and the next recession.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Keep in mind, it's a short week on Wall Street. U.S. markets are closed tomorrow for President's Day.

In New York, I'm Christine Romans.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[18:51:01] CABRERA: A public vigil today for family and friends grieving the loss of five people killed in a workplace shooting in the Chicago suburbs.

Loved ones paid their respects to Clayton Parks, Russell Boyer, Vincente Juarez, Josh Pinkard, and Trevor Wehner. Mourners laid flowers in front of wooden crosses outside the Henry Pratt Company building in Aurora. Police say an employee who was being fired from his job there opened fire on his colleagues. The man who built those memorial crosses and thousands of other ones

is an Aurora carpenter. And for him, this shooting doesn't just hit close to home. It is home. Here is CNN's Scott McLean.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For more than two decades, 68-year-old Greg Zanis has been hand-making and hand- delivering comfort to grieving families across America. It's a big job that takes a lot of lumber, a lot of paint, and countless nights inside of his truck.

GREG ZANIS, FOUNDER, CROSSES FOR LOSSES: I'm the kind of guy that falls asleep real easy.

MCLEAN (voice-over): It's not comfortable, but neither is the task at hand.

MCLEAN (on camera): Most people don't want to think about these shootings until they happen on their doorsteps, but you live it 365. Why?

ZANIS: I just feel that it's making a difference.

MCLEAN (voice-over): He's placed his wooden crosses at Columbine; Sandy Hook; Sutherland Springs, Texas; Orlando's Pulse nightclub; Las Vegas; Parkland, Florida. And that's barely scratching the surface. In total --

ZANIS: Twenty-six thousand, five hundred and seventy-nine. You have no idea what I've seen in this country.

MCLEAN (voice-over): He has seen America at its worst, yet still believes in its best.

ZANIS: We're out in a country that is so full of hope.

MCLEAN (voice-over): In every place, he hears people say they never thought it could happen here. Even he believed that until Friday.

ZANIS: I feel so dumb that I wasn't even thinking that it could happen here. I should have thought it could happen here.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Just three miles from his home in Aurora, Illinois, a man opened fire on his colleagues after learning he'd been let go. Five people were killed. The next day, Zanis left five crosses bearing their names.

ZANIS: My heart rate was going up because I can't believe I'm standing on the ground here in my town doing this. That's all. And my dirt, my town, you know, like -- it's like a nightmare.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Following each tragedy, Zanis takes comfort in the fact that he can get in his truck and leave.

ZANIS: I put on like I'm strong, like I'm carrying the whole weight of the world on my shoulders, because I know that I'm going to be in and out.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Just not this time.

ZANIS: That's why I'm having such a hard time here, living here, because I'm not in and out.

MCLEAN (voice-over): This time, it's a much heavier cross to bear.

Scott McLean, CNN, Aurora, Illinois.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

CABRERA: Bless that man. We'll be right back.

[18:54:04] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CABRERA: Colin Kaepernick set off a firestorm in 2016 when he began kneeling during the national anthem before NFL games. Kaepernick's protest became a lightning rod. And now, 2-1/2 years later, he and a former teammate have reached a settlement with the league who they accused of colluding against them.

In his first interview, I spoke with Kaepernick's lawyer, Mark Geragos, who says his client absolutely wants to return to football and the league, and that it may happen soon.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK GERAGOS, ATTORNEY FOR COLIN KAEPERNICK: I talked to Colin today not about anything else than his desire to play. I'm going to make a bold prediction, although I've been wrong once before on this. I'm going to make a bold prediction that one of three teams picks him up. I mean, he is, to my mind --

CABRERA: Which three teams do you think will pick him up?

GERAGOS: I think -- I think you -- the -- look, the natural would be -- if Cam Newton is out, then the natural place to be is to play with Eric in Carolina. I mean, can you imagine? And you've got an owner there who --

CABRERA: Because they both were on the 49ers. Now, they would both go with Carolina together.

GERAGOS: They were both on the 49ers. It's the Carolina?

CABRERA: Panthers.

GERAGOS: Very good. And Colin Kaepernick --

CABRERA: Testing my sports knowledge there.

GERAGOS: Yes, I was testing you.

CABRERA: So he wants to play in the NFL again.

GERAGOS: He absolutely wants to play. He wants to compete at the highest level. I mean, this is a competitive young man.

Sometimes -- I told you before we got on the air. Sometimes, it's hard for me to remember -- I have to kind of dial myself back -- he's only 31 years old. This is not somebody who is over the hill. This is someone who is in his prime.

He's very Gandhi-esque in terms of -- and very much kind of takes inspiration both from Martin Luther King and from others. Takes inspiration in being able to channel things or bric-a-bracs that are thrown at him and being able to channel it and find serenity.

He's got a great support system around him. Nessa, who is his queen, as he would say, is wonderful. And she is a fighter like you would not believe and a protector, a fierce protector.

[19:00:05] I think the issue was hijacked by the President.