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Controversy Surrounding Former Vice President And Perspective Presidential Candidate Joe Biden; Crisis At The Border; Second Quarter Kicks Off Tomorrow; Interview with State Senator Jen Jordan (D-GA); How Many Mar-a-Lago Trips Could Pay For Budget Cuts?; "Defeated" ISIS Lurking in the Shadows as Suffering Sows Fears of Their Return. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 31, 2019 - 18:00   ET



[18:00:00] JEANNIE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have made it because (INAUDIBLE) trained on the ground wearing medium and large suits. But when she went on her first real spacewalk, she thought the medium fit better.


MOOS: Christina is now being paired to go space walking with a larger male astronaut and they have the option of just switching the people. The mission becomes more important than a cool milestone, NASA told "The New York Times." At least there's nothing wrong with getting caught wearing the same outfit.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's one small step for man.

MOOS: One size medium for two women.

Jeannie Moos, CNN, New York.


ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Quick programming note. Don't miss an episode of the CNN original series "Tricky Dick" following Richard Nixon's rise, fall, and incredible comeback and political destruction airing tonight at 9:00 right here on CNN.

Thanks for staying with me. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

We begin this hour with the controversy surrounding the man leading just about every 2020 Democratic primary poll. Former vice President and perspective Presidential candidate Joe Biden. He says not once, never in all his years on the campaign trail did he ever believe that he acted inappropriately.

That's in response to allegations from a former Nevada state lawmaker name Lucy Flores. She says Biden made her feel uneasy, gross, and confused before a campaign event in 2014. Here's her description of what happened.


LUCY FLORES (D), FORMER NEVADA ASSEMBLYWOMAN: Very unexpectedly and out of nowhere I feel Joe Biden put his hands on my shoulders, get up very close to me from behind, lean in, smell my hair, and then plant a slow kiss on the top of my head. And that in and of itself might not sound like it's a very serious thing. That in and of itself might sound like it was innocent and well-intentioned.

But in the context of it as a person that had absolutely no relationship with him afterwards, as a candidate who was preparing to make my case for why I should be elected the second in command of that state, to have the vice President of the United States do that to me so unexpectedly and just kind of out of nowhere, it was just shocking.


CABRERA: Biden's team first put out a statement on Friday saying he had no inkling she had been uncomfortable. Well then, yesterday, another response from team Biden calling him a champion for women.

And then today a statement from Biden himself that reads in part quote "in my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshake, hugs, expressions of affection, support, and comfort. Not once, never did I believe I acted inappropriately. If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully, but it was never my intention."

Let's bring in our CNN political commentators former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart and Republican strategist and former communications director for Ted Cruz, Alice Stewart.

Joe, you are a communications guy. The fact that Biden and his team have now put out three statements in three days, what does that tell you?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it tells me they are taking it seriously and they should take it seriously. I mean, in full disclosure, I have known vice President Biden for 35 years. He has been in politics through probably three or four different cultural revolutions.

CABRERA: Well, and then you know that his previous President -- presidential runs have also been impacted, shall we say, by other types of controversy. Do you think that he is showing, given three statements in three days that he's ready to avoid those pitfalls of past campaigns?

LOCKHART: I think he is reacting to the environment that he is in now. I think this isn't a zero sum game. I know Joe Biden to be someone of very high moral character. And a very -- there's very few people in politics I have known who I admire more.

The reason I say it's not a zero sum game is the issue that Lucy Flores is raising is an important one. And how she feels about it is important. So we should give her her due. The comparisons I have heard today to people like Al Franken are just silly. With him there were eight credible allegations of sexual harassment.

CABRERA: And she is not claiming sexual harassment.

LOCKHART: Yes. And she is not claiming that at all. So I think, again, we have to think about that -- we can't think about this as if she is -- feels uncomfortable that that makes Joe Biden a bad guy. It is a situation where -- and I think he addressed that in his statement today. And I think it was effective in saying I do, I am exuberant guy. I go and I hug and I kiss and that's the Biden I have seen, you know, for four decades. But respecting her is what I think differentiates the democratic candidates from the current President who doesn't have the same respect for women.

[18:05:03] ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hold on. Here's where I think there's some difficulty here. No one is disputing Joe Biden's character and his reputation he has had over many years. He is certainly a man of great integrity.

But in this situation where he is now - it is third statement saying this was never his intention to make her feel uncomfortable. Lucy Flores said herself it really - it shouldn't be about what a person intended to do. It should be more about how the women, the recipients of this behavior, how they feel. Women or men in some situations, how the women feel.

And that's where we are in this Me Too movement in that we need to hear these women. We need to listen to them, let their stories be told. But for it to take three statements for I think the Biden team to kind of get on the right page I think is a real challenge. And if the Democratic Party is going to be the party of zero tolerance for sexual harassment and sexual assault, this is the time where they need to step up and say look, we have laid the groundwork for we are the party that stands against sexual harassment and this type of behavior and now is the time in my view for them to do so.

CABRERA: I hear what you are saying, but I wonder under Trump if this kind of a moment has less an impact than what it maybe once had during other political campaigns.

LOCKHART: I don't think we can compare this to Trump, because I think he's in a category all of his own. And I think voters are going to decide what they care about.

Here is a big advantage I think Biden has over some of the other Democratic candidates. People have known him, Democratic activists. People are going to participate in the caucuses and primaries have known him for four decades. So they are able to put this into some perspective whereas a candidate who is just, you know, coming out, you know, for the first time, this could be much more damaging.

But I agree with Alice. The Democratic Party is making a distinction that the Me Too movement is real and that women should be heard. And even if your intentions are above board that women have a right to be heard here. And that is an incredible contrast with President Trump. There are 22 credible allegations of sexual assault. He bragged about it, bragged about sexually assaulting women with Billy Bush in the "Access Hollywood" tape.

CABRERA: So do you think they are going to stay away from this? Do you think the Republicans will stay away from this?

STEWART: I think Republicans will - clearly, I believe the President could and should stay away from this topic.

But look, from the political standpoint, you are right, Democrats for many years have supported Joe Biden on his policies. The problem they are facing now is the progressive wing of the Democratic Party are really calling the shots. They are tired of the party establishment. They want the young more ideological pure Democrats like the AOCs and certain the Betos and the other progressive wing of the Democratic Party and they are really trying to put their flag in the ground on this and people like Joe Biden I think are going to face some backlash from people within their own party.

CABRERA: Let's listen to how people on the 2020 campaign trail, the Democrats, are responding to this. Watch.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think that's a decision for the vice President to make. I'm not sure that one incident alone disqualifies everybody, but her point is absolutely right. This is an issue not just the Democrats or Republicans, the entire country has got to take seriously. It is not acceptable that when a woman goes work on any kind of environment that she feels anything less than comfortable and safe. And this is an issue the entire country has got to work on.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I have no reason not to believe her, Jonathan. And I think we know from campaigns and from politics that people raise issues and they have to address them, and that's what will have to do with the voters if he gets into the race.

JOHN HICKENLOOPER (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, again, I don't know aside from this one issue, I haven't -- even this issue I don't know all the details but I think that's why we have an election. That's that process.


HICKENLOOPER: But certainly it's very disconcerting, and I think, that again, women have to be heard, and we should really -- we should start by believing them.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe Lucy Flores and Joe Biden needs to give an answer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Should he not run as a result?

WARREN: That's for Joe Biden to decide. JULIAN CASTRO (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I believe Lucy Flores. We

need to live in a nation where people can hear her truth.


CABRERA: Joe, is this how you would advise people to respond?

LOCKHART: Yes, I think so. Because again, I think this is the distinction. This is -- Democrats will win the next election because women vote in overwhelming numbers and that's how Donald Trump -- if this was all about what men thought, Donald Trump would win it in a landslide.

STEWART: Well, and I think -- take away also is that the Me Too movement and sexual harassment, this is not a Republican and Democrat issue. This is a right and wrong issue. And it's time for people to take the right step on this.

And Joe Biden, this isn't the only time the situation like this, this topic has come up. The way he handled the Anita Hill hearings was extremely troublesome to many women, not allowing a full hearing of information to come out in support of her claim. So it's not just one issue on this topic that is going to come out.

[18:10:20] CABRERA: He's been addressing that over and over again.

LOCKHART: But the one thing where I take issue with Alice is I don't think it's decided what part of the Democratic Party is driving the ship right now. There are a number of progressives, but there is deep support in the middle for other candidates. I know that there's an obsession with some of the first time members of Congress.

But this is why we have elections and this is where we go through all of this and I think it's an open question. And ultimately, Joe Biden I think can stand in front of voters and say here's my record, make a decision on me. That's why I think he was effective today in putting his statement out. And it will be up to the voters.

The real -- but there's two important things. One is the right versus wrong. This is the right thing to do. I think the Republican Party is on the wrong side of history on this as this is something that gets dismissed because they have to defend their President. And this is a really important and I think powerful issue in 2020 as we go forward.

CABRERA: Do you think this is an issue, though, that will keep Joe Biden out of the race, the fact that this is coming up, Anita Hill is another issue?

LOCKHART: Listen, the problem that anyone has who has been in public service for 40 years is they have a record. It will be up to him to put in context, you know, you say Anita Hill. I say he passed the violence against women act. And again, it will up to the voters and it will be up to him to make that case. He's got the ability to do that. Should he choose to run, he will face these questions. But any of these candidates, any of the 15 or 20 of them --

CABRERA: Maybe two dozen.

LOCKHART: They are going to have to face questions about the things they have done, the things they have said and their record or in some cases their lack of record.

CABRERA: And your final thought, Alice?

STEWART: And final thought, the number 29 really jumps out there. He is at 29 in the polls compared to the rest of them. Almost nine points ahead of Sanders and the others. So the fact that he is almost 10 points ahead of others, that right there I think would give him more of an incentive to get in from many of those that do support him. But these issues are going to continue to come out and will make it more difficult. But if he has ever going to get these issues out and deal with them and address them and put them in the rearview mirror, now is the time to do so. But when the poll numbers like that, it would be hard to say no. That there's the long history of what he has done in the past that will certainly give him heartburn.

CABRERA: You mean, part of the campaign speeches I'm sure.

Thank you so much, Alice and Joe. Nice to see both of you.

STEWART: Thank you.


CABRERA: Crisis at the border. Customs and border protection officials say they are overwhelmed and over capacity. Now the Trump administration says it will cut aid to three Central American countries. So will that make matters worse? What does that do?

We will go live to El Paso next.


[18:17:10] CABRERA: So many migrants are detained on the U.S. southern border right now that processing systems literally can't handle one more person. Some are at more than double capacity, at least one more than triple capacity. Thousands more people than these detention centers were designed to feed and shelter.

To relieve the pressure, customs and border officials say they are releasing large groups, at least 2,000 already, many more in the coming days. President Trump says it's Mexico's fall that they are failing to plug holes in the border. So the President's plan is to close the border which he says he may do this week. The acting White House chief of staff was on CNN earlier today. He said closing the border also makes good economic sense.


MICK MULVANEY, ACTING CHIEF OF STAFF: But we are also concerned about the effect of the American economy and the nation as a whole from having more than 100,000 cross illegally this month. If we close the borders, why would we do that? Because we need the people who are working at the legal ports of entry to go patrol, and I'm not making this up, where there's no wall. We were not lying to people when we said that this was an emergency. Very few people believed us, especially folks in the media and the Democrat party.


CABRERA: CNN's Boris Sanchez is at the White House.

Boris, the President will see for himself the border situation in California. He has said this weekend on twitter that U.S. immigration laws are quote "weak and stupid." Is he standing by his threat to close the border?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Ana, at this point there's no indication from the White House that the President is reconsidering. This is a threat that President Trump has made in the past. And it appears that it is one that he intends to keep.

As you heard there from the acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney, there is a relief among some that closing down the border would have enormous ramifications on the American economy and on trade.

The belief from the White House though is that the effects, the pain that could be felt from closing the border on trade pale in comparison, to allowing migrant flows to continue at their current rate. Mulvaney effectively wants to take customs and border patrol agents that are points of entry and put them in areas where there is no wall. Believing at that would help the issue.

The President here feels that Mexico has not done enough on this issue, so he is taking this drastic step as he simultaneously takes another one and that's cutting off aid to these northern triangle countries in Honduras, El Salvador and, forgive me I lost the one, Guatemala.

But effectively, the White House is frustrated because immigration continues to be a major issue, but the President clearly feels not enough has been done. As you noted, he heads to the border on Thursday in (INAUDIBLE), California. We will see if he follows through and winds up shutting down portions of the border with Mexico, Ana.

CABRERA: Boris Sanchez at the White House, thank you.

Let's just take a moment now and look at the facts. Arrests at the southern border happen on a relatively steady decline since 2000. But in the first five month of this fiscal year there has been a huge spike in apprehensions compared to last year, an increase of more than 131,000. Now U.S. customs and border patrol says it has reached a breaking point.

Illegal crossings in February alone reached levels of more than 76,000. Again, that's in just one month. The head of CBP has told reporters he is afraid more people are going to die if this influx continues at this level because the weather is now getting hotter and the conditions are getting more dire.

Border patrol agents take dozens of migrants to the hospital every day, either with medical conditions or those who are sick or injured from their journey.

Now live to the U.S. southern border where we have Ed Lavandera.

As I mentioned, the migrant detention facilities there are well over capacity. Ed, I know you've been trying to track what's happening to the migrants where you are. First address the situation behind you, because previously that area was overflowing with some of these migrants.

[18:21:09] ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ana. Let me show you. This is the area if you have been paying any attention the last few days. This is the area underneath the bridge where hundreds of migrants had been kept and essentially stored underneath this bridge as they were awaiting being processed by border patrol agents.

That had been going on for the better part of last two weeks. Suddenly, this morning, all of those migrants are no longer there. Customs and border protection officials tell us this afternoon that those migrants have been moved to other locations and other processing centers. So it got really speaks to the questions here that really a lot of the critics have of the Trump transportation is to, you know, all of a sudden that they say they couldn't handle these migrants and that's why they were being stored under the bridge, but now all of those migrants are in other processing facilities.

Critics of the administration say, you know, they believe that the administration has the resources to process them even though CBP and the federal government is saying that they are overwhelmed and they are at a breaking point.

CABRERA: You have been covering this immigration issue closely for the past couple of years since you are stationed there in Texas, a border state. Why is there a sudden spike now in migrants crossing the border?

LAVANDERA: You know, first of all, it's really hard to tell and explain why migrant patterns change, but I think over the course of the last year there have been a couple things at play. Word is spreading through Central America. Obviously, the conditions in Central America have worsened and deteriorated and this is according to dozens and dozens of interview I have done over the course of the last week with migrants who are coming up there. Many of them say they are trying to escape and flee desperate and dangerous situations. So that in large part is a driving force.

There's also been a change in how migrants are traveling from Central America to the U.S. southern border. There have been a number of caravans. We have actually heard that people are now being driven on buses or cars coming up through Mexico. That makes that journey a lot safer.

This has been a very treacherous journey for migrants, life threatening in many cases. It seems like in the last year there has been a change where it's a safer journey. If you can get in a car, if you can get in a caravan, and that makes it more likely that you get to the U.S. southern border safely and that can also be a driving and influencing force.

CABRERA: All right. Ed Lavandera in El Paso, Texas. Good information, Ed. Thank you.

Georgia's governor says he is ready to sign the most restrictive abortion in the nation. And now one state lawmakers in fashion plea is going viral.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you shirk the most basic duties you have to protect the fundamental rights of women today, then no doubt the women of this state will reclaim their rights after they have claimed your seats.


CABRERA: She joins us live next. Live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

Alison Kosik, here now with this week's before the bell -- Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. The second quarter kicks off tomorrow after a very strong performance for the first three months of the year. The S&P 500 gained about 12 percent. The Dow added about 10 percent. And the NASDAQ jumped more than 15 percent.

So can the upward momentum continue? It may depend on whether falling bond yields spook investors. A week ago the yield on the three month treasury rose above the ten year treasury for the first time since 2007. In econ that's called yield converting and in the past it signals recession but not right away. In fact, Bank of America says when the curve inverts, the average time to the next recession is 27 months.

Investors will get a read on the health of the U.S. economy on Friday. That's when the March jobs report comes out. Remember, February's reading was a big disappointment. The U.S. economy added only 20,000 jobs.

Now we will find out whether that was just a fluke or the beginning of a hiring slowdown.

In New York, I'm Alison Kosik.


[18:29:45] CABRERA: The governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, says he plans to sign into law one of the most restrictive abortion laws in the country. On Friday, Georgia lawmakers approved house bill 481 or the living infants' fairness and equality act. A lot of people are calling this the heartbeat bill. It would ban abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected which is typically about six weeks into pregnancy. A woman may not even know she is pregnant at that point.

A woman may not even know she is pregnant at that point.

The bill has provoked a great deal of emotion. I want you to listen to the dissent speech of Democratic State Senator Jen Jordan.


STATE SEN. JEN JORDAN (D), GEORGIA: But let me be clear, the deepest, darkest times of my life have occurred in the presence of and with my physician. You see, I've been pregnant 10 times. I have seen what many of you in here have called a heartbeat 10 times, but I have only given birth twice.

But no matter my faith, my beliefs, my losses, I have never, ever strayed from the basic principle that each woman -- each woman -- must be able to make her decisions in consultation with her God and her family. It is not for the government or the men of this chamber to insert itself in the most personal, private, and wrenching decisions.

What gives this body the right to substitute its choices for those of the women who will, no doubt, bear the scars, the consequences, and who will face death? And now likely prison? If you shirk the most basic duties you have to protect the fundamental rights of women today, then, no doubt, the women of this state will reclaim their rights after they have claimed your seats.


CABRERA: State Senator Jen Jordan is with us now.

Thank you, State Senator, for being with us. Your story is powerful. It is painful. Why and when did you decide to share it?

JORDAN: You know, it was a really difficult decision for me, partly because I am so private. But, you know, this bill is more than just about abortion and pro-life or pro-choice. It really is about the most private decisions that women have to make every day.

We don't like to talk about stuff like this. No one is sharing their stories of miscarriage or infertility, but that's really what we deal with as women every day. And so it was important for me to kind of go beyond just the regular abortion debate and really talk about the fundamental right that's at play here with respect to privacy and women.

CABRERA: What was the reaction like in the chamber after your speech? Did anyone who voted in favor of the Heartbeat Bill seek you out?

JORDAN: You know, I did get some feedback from some fellow senators. I think it was a very private thing I did, and I think it really surprised a lot of people. But that was the point. The point was to really make people think about exactly what they were doing.

This shouldn't just be about politics or, you know, this is my team or your team. Really, they needed to understand that the decision they were going to make with respect to voting for that bill was going to impact the lives of every woman that they know. Whether they understood that or not.

CABRERA: Do you think you changed any minds?

JORDAN: You know what, I don't think I changed any minds, but I'll tell you that maybe their heart started to think about it a little bit. And hopefully, next time, maybe they'll think a little bit harder and not just go with the party line vote.

CABRERA: You talk about women's rights, but there were women who voted for this bill. Why do you think they see it differently?

JORDAN: You know, I think it's one of those things where it has become such -- I don't know. In terms of pro-choice and pro-life, it really is everybody in their corners.

But with a bill like this, when you're talking about banning abortion before women even know that they are pregnant and invading, really, the doctor/patient relationship, I think it goes beyond just the normal tropes that we deal with in terms of, you know, I value life or I value choice. I mean, this really is about a woman's autonomy and freedom, and this bill really relegated us to second-class status in this state.

CABRERA: The Governor plans to sign. Lawsuits waiting. Do you see this bill ever actually taking effect in Georgia?

JORDAN: You know, the problem is it doesn't really matter. I mean, the damage is going to be done.

At the end of the day, 50 percent of our counties don't have an OB/GYN. We have the highest maternal mortality rate in the country. We are 50 of -- out of 50 states. And so what do we do? We're going to pass a law that's going to run OBs out of this state?

I mean, we've already gotten feedback from some of the medical schools that they're going to have to actually end their residency programs with respect with OB/GYNs in the state because they can't train them to do what they're supposed to do in terms of the standard of care. I mean, that's -- that's just crazy. I mean, if --

CABRERA: But that does sound crazy, you're right. Why would they not be able to have the right training in the state of Georgia because of this bill?

[18:35:06] JORDAN: Because the whole idea is that when you are a physician, when you are an OB/GYN, and even a family practice physician, one of the things that you have to learn how to do is termination at an early point in time.

If the doctors can't even learn the surgical procedures they're supposed to do with respect to the standard of care they have to provide patients, then they can't train here. And they can't be licensed here. And this is going to be absolutely devastating to this state in terms of the health care provided to women. And women are going to die. If you really value life, that's really what you need to be concerned about.

CABRERA: Georgia State Senator Jen Jordan. Thanks for coming on. We'll be right back.

JORDAN: Thank you.


CABRERA: President Trump just returned from Mar-a-Lago moments ago. Here he is coming off Air Force One.

[18:39:57] President Trump now says the federal government will not cut funding to the Special Olympics. Originally, that was the plan in the President's budget proposal. His administration thought $17 million was too much to pay for them.

You know what else is expensive? Trips to Mar-a-Lago, where the President spent his weekend. CNN's John Avlon has your reality check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: So President Trump is waking up at Mar-a-Lago this morning after pulling a slick '70s-style J-turn when it comes to money for the Special Olympics. His administration has been taking heat for calling for the complete elimination of the Special Olympics budget, reducing it to zero dollars.

Now, the Special Olympics have survived, but there are other controversial cuts from Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for kids with hearing impairments and special needs and even the blind.

Now, DeVos says the Department had to make some, quote, difficult decisions with its budget. And that's no doubt true, but let's put those choices in context. And we're going to do it by minting a brand new currency, the Mar-a-Lago.

Now, just what is a Mar-a-Lago you ask? Well, it's the cost of just one of Donald Trump's trips to his gilded pleasure palace in Florida, which, according to "Washington Post," costs taxpayers about $3.4 million each time.

Now, think about that number because the President goes there a lot. Some 51 nights over 19 trips. That translates to $69 million taxpayer dollars just to get the President to and from Florida.

So consider the Education Department contributes about $17.6 million to the Special Olympics overall budget. That's only about five Mar-a- Lagos.

And that's not all. Health and Human Services budget cuts programs for those with autism. And this one is about three times as deep, a whopping $51 million. So for those playing at home, that's about 15 Mar-a-Lagos.

What about the Corporation for Public Broadcasting? Conservatives have been trying to kill the company that built Big Bird's nest since the 1960s. Mr. Rogers even once had to step in to save it. The Trump budget proposed cutting all but $30 million of its $465 million budget. So to save the company that brought you "Sesame Street," along with arts and culture free to all Americans at home, would cost about 136 Mar-a-Lagos.

Finally, how about hurricane relief to Puerto Rico that President Trump keeps threatening? Remember the storm that ended killing an estimated 3,000 Americans despite Donald Trump's denials? Well, it turns out the total of that aid is about $41 billion with about a quarter actually delivered today. So making good on the current allocation would cost an estimated 9,000 Mar-a-Lagos.

There is a reason that Mar-a-Lago is such a tempting unit of measurement. Because everyone is entitled to some R&R but Trump has spent more than a quarter of his presidency at one of his resorts.

Of course, other than watching cable news -- good morning, Mr. President -- one of President Trump's favorite past times is golf. Phil Bump of "The Washington Post" analyzed the duffer-in-chief's habit and concluded that he played about once every five days through November of last year.

Now, this matters because Trump constantly criticized President Obama for how often he played golf. And get this, by some estimates, all of President Obama's personal trips over eight years cost a little more than a hundred million dollars or 31 Mar-a-Lagos. Trump's trips to Mar-a-Lago alone are creeping into that territory already, some $69 million to date.

So as the Education Secretary said, in difficult times, difficult decisions have to be made. But budgets are moral documents, so it's worth looking at the tens of millions of taxpayer dollars being spent on the President's leisure and asking how those Mar-a-Lagos might be better spent on Americans in real need. And that's your "Reality Check."

CABRERA: Thanks, John Avlon. Make sure you don't miss a new episode of the CNN ORIGINAL SERIES, "TRICKY DICK," following Richard Nixon's rise, fall, and incredible comeback, and then political destruction airing tonight at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.

President Trump says ISIS is defeated in Syria, but it's different across the border in Iraq where ISIS is lurking in the shadows. A CNN report next.


CABRERA: President Trump says ISIS is defeated, having lost the last of its territory in Syria. But in neighboring Iraq, it is a different story. In a CNN exclusive, senior international correspondent Arwa Damon shows us why Iraqis aren't worried about if ISIS resurfaces but when.


ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is western Iraq's no man's land. Historic terror hiding grounds. Hard to control terrain. Far-flung areas without a permanent security presence. It is in this lands that, once night falls, ISIS gangs attack, kill, and plunder with impunity.

We're heading into the site of a recent horrific ISIS assault. Within minutes of veering off the main road and on to a dirt track, we arrive at what is little more than a cluster of mud homes. Death has never come to 72-year-old Yousuf Hawwas village this way.


DAMON (voice-over): He says he is devastated.


DAMON (on camera): There are still bloodstains on the -- on the ground.

DAMON (voice-over): Yousuf's older brother and five other relatives were murdered in the dead of night just days ago.

DAMON (on camera): And she's been cleaning up or trying to, at least.


DAMON (voice-over): Fatima (ph) is one of the victims' relatives.


DAMON (voice-over): Every couple of months, there's an attack in the area, she tells us. We were just waiting for our turn.

DAMON (on camera): This is how they found one of the bodies of the women. And what we're being told is that she was taken to here, the shower area, and this is where they just executed her.

[18:50:10] DAMON (voice-over): Despite having been declared defeated, ISIS has not died. It is lurking in the shadows, waiting for the groundwork that will allow it to rise again.

Iraq Security Forces have rounded up tens of thousands of accused ISIS members. In Baghdad, we meet these four men who have already been sentenced to death. They admit they were a part of the terrorist network. Two were fighters, one a nurse, and one transported suicide bombers.

Like all captured fighters we have spoken to over the years, they, too, say joining ISIS was a mistake. But this is how one of them justifies it.


DAMON (voice-over): We had been hurt by the Security Forces, he says. There were a lot of arbitrary detentions. When ISIS came, we had security. That sentiment of being abused by the Shia-led government, of a desire

for revenge, was and will continue to be central to ISIS' ability to seduce people into its ranks.

When we asked if they still believe in its ideology, the question is ominously met with silence, the men unwilling to immediately condemn the twisted thinking that gave them a scene in these photographs -- such intoxicating power, a purpose, a sense of control over their lives and the lives of others.

In a nearby building is the courthouse where those, on this day, awaiting trial don't want to appear on camera. But their cases are classic examples of the Sunni population's grievances.


DAMON (on camera): There are six men here who are facing terrorism charges. Half of them say the charges against them are politically motivated going back to 2011. The other half aren't even sure exactly what they're being accused of. But they all say that they were forced into confession under torture.

DAMON (voice-over): Human rights organizations have long criticized Iraq for its culture of rampant torture and flawed trials. But Judge Abdul Satar Bayraqdar says Iraq upholds international standards and abides by its own anti-terrorism laws.


DAMON (voice-over): When I sentence someone to death or life in prison, the judge explains, I am giving the victim their justice but I am also giving a deterrent to society.

The issue is that also caught in the dragnet are those who are innocent, victims of Iraq's historic polarizing dynamics pitting its Sunni and Shia populations against each other. It's a dynamic that is amplified at the sprawling refugee camps for those who fled the fighting but are still unable to go back home.

Those who were affiliated with or just suspected of being affiliated with ISIS are afraid of retribution. In one tent, we meet the parents of three men who were detained and then disappeared into Iraq's murky judicial system. Their mother, Sham (ph), says she hasn't seen or heard from her sons since they were picked up three years ago.


DAMON (voice-over): The Security Forces came at night, she tells us, and now our sons are gone. They're innocent.

As she talks, her anguish becomes overwhelming. She doesn't know where they are or if they are even alive. We meet one of her detained son's children. Their mother doesn't want to appear on camera.

DAMON (on camera): The kids are having problems. They're being harassed by other children who know that their father isn't here. And they're telling them, oh, your dad is ISIS. Your dad is ISIS.

DAMON (voice-over): Their mother tells them it's a lie, but it still tarnishes their young lives, condemns them to a life of isolation and rejection. Theirs is but one story, one example of what many in the Sunni population believe as part of a revenge campaign by the Shia-led government. Another emotional paradigm ISIS can prey on.

It's a sentiment that reverberates throughout these destitute camps with their prison-like feel. Dreams traced in the dust, the sense of despair. Especially vulnerable are the children of those whose fathers, brothers, uncles -- innocent or guilty -- were disappeared, killed, or detained.

[18:54:56] District Director Salah Hassan says the government cannot afford to abandon the younger generations. They pose a danger for the future, he explains, when all they're hearing from their mother is that their father was disappeared or killed by the government. The hatred that festers within them instills yet another complex emotion that ISIS can easily manipulate.

There is little that has been done to emotionally or physically rebuild the ruins left behind by Iraq's war on ISIS. And so far, the government has not dispelled the factors that allowed ISIS to emerge -- the sense of abandonment, of being perpetually punished, arbitrarily targeted. Unless that changes, the next incarnation of terror seemed destined to haunt this country once more.


CABRERA: That exclusive report from our Arwa Damon in Iraq. We'll be right back.