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Trump is Forcing Some to Choose Between Him & the Law; Trump Denies Considering Family Separations Again, Blames Obama; Effects of Trump Having So Many Acting Directors; Chinese Woman in Mar-a-Lago Breach Had Cash, Spy Like Gadgets; New Pew Study: Nearly 60 Percent Say Race Relations Are Generally Bad; Soon Polls Close as Israelis Decide Netanyahu's Fate. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 9, 2019 - 13:30   ET

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


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[13:31:48] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: An administration in chaos, where the most extreme voices have the president's ear. President Trump is making major changes in his national security team and he's pushing the boundaries of the law on his immigration policies.

We have James Clapper, who is the director of National Intelligence in the Obama administration with us.

Thank you so much for lending your perspective here.

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: So Stephen Miller is one of the president's top aides and he's now really the point man when it comes to the president's immigration and border policies. What does that tell you -- when you're looking at the president's policies on national security, what does that indicate to you?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, I think, in this particular case, it certainly reflects, I think, a show of faith to the extreme right, and that, to me, is what Stephen Miller represents, particularly with respect to immigration policy. I don't know that you can necessarily extrapolate that to other issues, but in the area of immigration policy, it's pretty clear that that is playing to the tune of the right.

KEILAR: The president, when he visited the border this weekend, he, according to two sources who told my colleague, Jake Tapper this, he coached border agents to turn away all immigrants and to lie to judges and to stop migrants from crossing the border. What do you think of that?

CLAPPER: Well, if it's true, that is a pretty amazing development but probably not terribly surprising. I couldn't help but think, if this was a group of active-duty soldiers, members of the armed forces which he said that to, which poses a real problem for the command chain in a military context so --

KEILAR: You're a retired general.

CLAPPER: Yes. And so I do know --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: What would that have meant with a leader with people who are supposed to be reporting to you, what would that have meant?

CLAPPER: Well, I think it poses -- if it were -- had it been active- duty military members, I think it poses a real challenge for the officers in the command chain, notably, the command of Northern Command, when -- if it -- if as reported, as accurate, where the commander-in-chief issues a direct order to essentially does not comply with the law. That poses a real dilemma for the military. If that had been military people.

KEILAR: What's the risk?

CLAPPER: Well --

KEILAR: At the border.

CLAPPER: The risk at the border, to me, it's much more of a humanitarian crisis than a national security crisis. You know, I don't see terrorists and druggies among these families that are just fleeing a bad situation in their home countries to come here for asylum.

KEILAR: The president said today -- he just said this really moments ago -- that child separations were the Obama administration's policy. That's not true. That is verifiably not true. When he gave this press availability. How do you respond to that? As someone who worked in the Obama administration, what do you think when you hear him saying this and it's verifiably untrue?

[13:35:00] CLAPPER: Well, this is a very familiar pattern of finding a scapegoat somewhere, either in the past or currently, to blame on some situation that's not to the president's liking. So again, it's not -- it's become a familiar pattern.

KEILAR: I want to ask you about the now-acting secretary of DHS. He's acting. And he's not the only one. You have acting defense secretary, Interior, ambassador to the U.N., White House chief of staff. What -- what's the effect on that? Does that raise concerns for you?

CLAPPER: Well, to me, the body that ought to be most concerned about that is the Congress, because these - particularly, the cabinet-level positions are supposed to be done with a confirmation process. So that -- and having gone through it a couple of times, the objective is where you have some responsibility and some obligation to the Congress. Well, as long as you have acting people, which I think the president is probably very comfortable with, because I think he feels they are more responsive to him and less responsive to outside influences like the Congress. KEILAR: Let's talk about this woman who was arrested for entering

Mar-a-Lago, right? So this is a Chinese woman. He was detained for illegally entering a restricted area at Mar-a-Lago, which, of course, is the president's resort. And we learned during her court appearance some -- I mean, these are stunning developments, right? She had several phones, several SIM cards, Chinese passports, she had thumb drives, including at least one that had malware on it, and a radio signal detection device, which would have detected hidden cameras. That begs the -- is she a spy? Do you think she's a Chinese spy?

CLAPPER: Well, if she is, we should take comfort in the very poor tradecraft that she displayed. This is a very curious case. And I'm wondering if she is not a freelancer who decided to do this on her own, perhaps, with an objective of currying favor with the Chinese government. But if this was a Chinese operative, as a part of their military intelligence, intelligence and security services, we should take heart from the very poor tradecraft --

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KEILAR: Why? What was so poor?

CLAPPER: Didn't have a very good story ready. The material that she had on her person --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: That she was there for an event that wasn't actually happening, you mean?

(CROSSTALK)

CLAPPER: That's one thing. But just the stuff she had on her, and what she had in her hotel room, which is pretty incriminating. And an experiencing, seasoned, collection officer would probably practice better tradecraft, which makes me wonder about whether she was officially being tasked by the Chinese government or she was, as I said, a freelancer.

KEILAR: Is that common? Freelance spying?

CLAPPER: Well, it sometimes is with Chinese people, who will seek to curry favor with the home government, yes.

KEILAR: Thank you so much, Director Clapper. We really appreciate you joining us.

CLAPPER: Thanks, Brianna.

KEILAR: So just a short time from now, polls are closing in Israel as voters decide if Prime Minister Netanyahu, if he'll stay or go. We'll take you there live.

And breaking news out of Louisiana. An official now says that the fires at those three black churches were, in fact, intentionally set.

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[13:42:56] KEILAR: Some breaking news now involving the string of fires at historically black churches in Louisiana. Investigators say they now believe that the fires at three different churches were deliberately set. The official did not provide any specifics, but indicated this investigation is ongoing. Some local pastors have taken to actually sleeping in their churches to guard against more attacks.

And today on Capitol Hill, a representative from YouTube was testifying about the rise of hate speech and white nationalism. The company was forced to shut down the comments section of the hearing's live stream after it was flooded with racist and anti-Semitic comments.

And all of this comes as a new report paints a dismal picture of the state of race relations in America. The report by the Pew Research Center shows that 58 percent of Americans say race relations are generally bad in America. And 71 percent of blacks and 60 percent of Latinos feel that way. Higher numbers there.

We have CNN's Sara Sidner, who was at this hearing. She's been going through this report for us.

So, Sara, tell us what else we're learning from this hearing.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, what we are learning are a couple of different things. Facebook is here, is represented, as is Google, so YouTube represented here, representatives here. And they are getting a lot of questions, mostly from Democrats, but also from some Republicans, about how they are dealing with this particular kind of speech, hate speech. Obviously, some hate speech is legal. The Supreme Court has said that free speech does include certain hate speech. What it does not include is incitement to violence. And that is one of the things that both Facebook and YouTube and Google are all grappling with. Facebook announced that it had started to completely cull its particular Web site with all of its white nationalist content, trying to get rid of white nationalist content, not just white supremacist content.

But, along party lines is what's been happening in this hearing. The Democrats are asking about white nationalism, is what this hearing is supposed to be about, hate crimes, white nationalists, and Republicans talking about other kinds of hate speech, hate speech against conservatives. And that has made people who have been basically listening to this hearing here to witness what is going on uncomfortable as they watch this, thinking this was going to be about white nationalism, which the FBI says there has been a rise. You look at any of the government statistics and there has been a definite rise since 9/11, over the 10 to 15 years since then, a rise in far-right extremist violence and fatal incidents. And so there's a lot of consternation, as you listen to the different folks that have been talking. You had people from the ADL, who have been talking about the rise in anti-Semitism, the rise in hateful rhetoric that has turned into violence, like what happened, for example, in Pittsburgh, what happened also at Christchurch at the mosque, what happened in Charlottesville.

[13:45:52] But you are also hearing from folks like Candice Owens, a conservative blogger, who denounces hate, but who has been called by the person who is accused of the killings of a mosque in Christchurch, someone who he readily watched and listened to, and she sort of fought back against that.

But certainly, you're seeing a very partisan situation here, which has disappointed some of those who came, hoping that they were going to get some answers as to what to do about social media, when it comes to hate speech and the incitement of violence.

KEILAR: And, Sara, I want to go back to that Pew Research study, because these numbers, they're pretty interesting to dig into. Does the report on racism look at how President Trump is viewed when it comes to race relations?

SIDNER: It does. And I'll read you what the Pew report says, what they ask people. It says, "It has become more common, about as common, or less common for people to express racist or insensitive views since President Trump's election." And 65 percent said that it had been more common for people to express racist or insensitive views.

And then, if you look down and you continue to look through their report, you will see another section, asking people whether, "It has become more acceptable, about as acceptable, or less acceptable for people to express racist or insensitive views since Trump's election." And the vast majority, 45 percent of people, said, yes, it has become more acceptable, which would lead you to believe that that is why you are seeing more of it. More people are hearing it, more people think that it's acceptable, and more people are being faced with this kind of hateful rhetoric -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Sara, thank you so much for that report. Sara Sidner on Capitol Hill for us.

And underway right now, a crucial election in Israel. Polls will be closing soon and we have a live report for you from Tel Aviv.

And the Mueller report won't be a mystery for much longer. We are expecting to see the redacted version within a week. We'll tell you exactly what we can and cannot expect from that release.

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[13:52:21] KEILAR: Polls will be closing soon in a crucial election in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a close ally of President Trump, is fighting for his political survival against his own former army chief. The political direction of America's closest ally in the Middle East is at stake. Netanyahu is trying to win a record fifth terms and he's made some controversial campaign promises along the way, including the annexation of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Oren Liebermann is live for us from Tel Aviv on this very big day there.

Oren, tell us where do things stand at this moment?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, we're an hour and 10 minutes away from polling places closing and us getting exit polls and looking at first estimation of results and did Prime Minister Netanyahu win that record fifth term in office. Is he about to become Israel's longest-serving prime minister? And I'm here at Likud headquarters, and there are some nervous jitters. They don't know if the event scheduled for tonight is a celebration or a concession speech. Netanyahu mounting a furious "get out the vote" campaign in the closing hours of campaigning and especially over the closing weekend. That final round of election polls showed him in a very tight race, even in most polls, a few seats behind his rival.

Let's not forget what the campaign was up until this point, focused largely on Donald Trump who appeared to be openly campaigning for Netanyahu and gifting him, major gift before the election in the last couple of weeks, U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, designation of Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps as a terror organization, Mike Pompeo visiting the wall with Netanyahu. All of this appeared to be Trump campaigning for Netanyahu. The question: Did it work?

In an hour and 10 minutes, we'll get exit polls and we'll start to get real results shortly thereafter. We'll have a much better sense of who pulls this off, whether it is Prime Minister Netanyahu or his rival, his former chief of staff, Benny Gantz -- Brianna?

KEILAR: All right, we could start seeing very soon.

Oren, thank you so much for that report from Tel Aviv.

Grab some tissues, people, and get ready to cry some happy tears because this is Army captain, Justin Brown, who has been deployed in Iraq away from his wife and two kids for nearly a year. Let's watch.

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CAPT. JUSTIN BROWN, U.S. ARMY: It is not my first deployment but it is long since I've seen them.

The hardest part is only seeing them on camera and not touch them when your kids want to play, and you tell them you can't play right now because daddy couldn't come home for a while.

I'm not going to let them go for a long time.

(SHOUTING)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE). I can't believe he's here.

(SHOUTING)

(END VIDEO CLIP) [13:55:16] KEILAR: I know you're wondering who that especially excited woman is. That is Captain Brown's mom. And I was wondering, too. Brown was originally scheduled to return home to Washington, D.C., later this month and his deployment wrapped up early so he decided to surprise his kids and wife and make it home in time for their wedding anniversary.

We have some breaking news. Actress Lori Loughlin, who has been charged in that huge college admission scandal, is now facing another indictment and this one involves money laundering.

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