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Private Group Says It's Broken Ground On Border Wall; Trump Allies Help Private Group Build Border Wall; College Grad Poses In Field Where Immigrant Parents Work; Meghan McCain Responds To Sen. Amy Klobuchar's Criticism Of John McCain; Merkel Warns Against Dark Forces Of Anti-Semitism On Rise In Europe; New Gillette Ad Features Transgender Son Shaving With Dad. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired May 28, 2019 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Nick Valencia joins me now.

So the group started fundraising in December. But this is the first we're actually hearing of this organization actually putting the money to use. Who are these people?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: According to this organization, called We Build the Wall, this is one of the most highly trafficked areas on the Southern border. They estimate a thousand migrants and between 200,000 cross there and they estimate $200,000 to $300,000 of illegal drugs cross there.

But more important, Brooke, this is private land. And they say they were encouraged by the private landowner to start construction.

The company doing the building, Fisher Sand and Gravel Industries. It was earlier this year that they bid on a request for proposal from the U.S. government. And things stalled.

Recently, a federal judge ruled that President Trump can't tap into Department of Defense funding currently to try to fund the wall.

They got their own funding through a GoFundMe, about $20 million. And on Friday, they started construction. Things are moving quite quickly. In just four days, they have about a half mile of the border fence used.

And very, very importantly, I asked this organization, was the government involved in any way in construction. They said zero percent. But, interestingly, Brooke, they said they got the blessing from President Trump, as well as the Department of Homeland Security.

Take a listen to this.


BRIAN KOLFAGE, FOUNDER, WE BUILD THE WALL: The government should be doing it but it is not getting done. And we're not trying to build entire Southern border wall. This is a protest wall.

The president supports it. DHS supports it. So we've had the blessing of our government to move forward with this project.


VALENCIA: Prominent conservative names are attached to this, like Tom Tancredo, former congressman, Steve Bannon, former adviser to the president, Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater USA. They are among the conservatives attached to this.

We did reach out to Customs and Border Protection about what they are saying and they are deferring all comments to Fisher Sand and Gravel.

And it is moving very quickly, Brooke, at this stage of things. They are setting their sights on other portions of the border wall. And they think they are doing the right thing but they know this is very controversial -- Brooke?

BALDWIN: Crowdfunding the wall. Though it is private land.

OK. Nick Valencia, keep us posted.


BALDWIN: Nick Valencia, thank you so much.

Leading the charge at this weekend's ground-breaking on the border, Kris Kobach, the former Kansas secretary of state, an immigration hardliner who led the President Trump's short-lived commission on alleged election fraud. And Kobach, who is a board member of We Build the Wall, talked to CNN about the president's views on the project.


KRIS KOBACH, FORMER KANSAS SECRETARY OF STATE: I have talked to the president in the last few weeks about this very construction site and told him all about it. He's very much in favor of it. And I've spoken to the president prior to that about We Build the Wall and the effort of private citizens to build border structures that he's been very much in favor of it.


BALDWIN: Kobach isn't the only Trump ally involved. Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist, is the chairman of the We Build the Wall advisory board. Erik Prince, the brother of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, and the former member of Blackwater, is also a member.

So let's start with Ana Navarro, a CNN political commentator.

Hello, my friend.


BALDWIN: Let's jump in. So by the way, we should mention, on Friday, a federal judge temporarily blocked President Trump's attempt to shift Defense Department funds to build the wall. But clearly, as I just rattled off, Prince, Kobach and Bannon and his friends are willing, ready, and able to step in.

NAVARRO: My question is, I wonder if they are stepping in for free or I wonder if they're stepping in for hire or because they see this as some way of making a -- remember, just last week, it was reported that Kris Kobach was under consideration to be immigration czar and the White House got leaked that he asked for a rider, like if he was the Rolling Stones. He wanted a private jet and all sorts of things.

But, look, Brooke, at the end of the day, this is America. We are able to do with our money what we want. If some of you want to, you know, GoFundMe and give it to some group to build little pieces of wall, go right ahead.

Personally, I prefer to give it to World Central Kitchen to help feed the people of Puerto Rico and the people affected by tornados and people of hurricanes.

Maybe I'll start a GoFundMe for my own remodel. I need a piece of wall and I'm over budget and over time.

So, look, if the property owners are fine with it and the people giving the money are fine with it, you know, if that is what they want to do with their dollars, go right ahead.

BALDWIN: Speaking of this is America, you posted and I jumped on this photo as well. In recent weeks, social media has just been flooded with happy images of graduations, including one that moved both of us.

It shows this woman, Erica Alfaro, with her parents in the fruit fields where his mother still works. Erica tells CNN, quote, "These photos represent many of us. Our parents came to this country to give us a better life and we wouldn't be here without them."

[14:35:11] I thought it was poignant for a gazillion reasons but I want to hear why you think it is.

NAVARRO: So often these days, what we hear about migrants, and about immigrants south of the border, is that they're bad hombres and they're criminals and rapist and they bring problems and crime. We hear them described as invaders. We hear them used as political pawns in -- for election purposes and to get people's fears going.

And so, look, there are migrants who come here and do bad things. And that should never, ever be allowed or forgotten.

But at the same time, it would be nice every now and then to highlight the positive migrant stories. Migrant stories like the Alfaros that do back-breaking work that Americans don't want to do that put food on our tables and that get their kids into school and encourage their kids to get an education. It is the American dream. It is the American story. It is people like the Alfaro's that make America great.

That kind of work ethic, that kind of commitment to family, to better opportunities for their children, to sacrificing so that their children have the better opportunities. I urge people to read the story. It is a wonderful story about

perseverance and family and gratitude and loyalty.

BALDWIN: Her story has touched so many of us. It really has. And our congratulations go out to her.

One more for you, Ana. Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar invoked the late Senator John McCain, who you knew well, when discussing President Trump over the weekend. And a move that prompted his own daughter, Meghan, who you know, to publicly request her father be left out of it, keep him out of the conversations around 2020 politics."

Klobuchar called McCain a friend and she isn't the only one to reference him. And my question is, why isn't it fair to use stories of Senator McCain and warnings that he clearly gave about Donald Trump.

NAVARRO: Look, John McCain was a very collegial guy. He had deep relationships with many of his colleagues in the Senate. And I think you're going to hear them -- some of them running for president and some not talking about John McCain with fondness and nostalgia.

Because I think for a lot of us, he symbolizes and embodies something that is sorely lacking in today's politics, particularly in today's Republican Party, which is a person able to put country over party, country over the precedent of his particular party and that was not willing to defend the indefensible because it happened to be a president of his party.

I think everybody who knew McCain and those who don't, have their own personal views of him. Some are fond, some not so fond. And it is a free country and everybody is entitled to those.

At the same time, it is a grieving family. And I -- and they're entitled to have the reaction that they want and that they feel. We don't know what kind of memory, what kind of nerve gets touched, gets triggered by a comment about a father and a husband who just very recently passed away.

So, you know, I think Amy Klobuchar and many, many others think about him fondly. And I know that the McCain family does, too. And I think they're both free to have whatever reactions they do. It is America.

BALDWIN: That's right.

NAVARRO: And we can't control what people think of any of us, whether we are alive or dead.


Ana, thank you very much. Good to see you.

NAVARRO: Good to see you.

BALDWIN: A new Gillette ad is getting a whole lot of attention. The message it is sending to transgender men and their parents. [14:39:15] Plus, Germany's Angela Merkel gives an interview to CNN,

sounding the alarm regarding anti-Semitism in Europe. Do not miss this.


BALDWIN: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is warning against what she says are the dark forces on the rise in her country and across world. She's in Brussels with a summit with other European leaders.

And in an exclusive interview with Christiane Amanpour, Chancellor Merkel acknowledged that attacks against Jews in Germany have risen, so much so that guards remain posted outside of every single Jewish day care center and school. She told Christiane what needs to be done to try to stop the hate.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: What do you answer to the people who say that, you know, it was a great Germany under your chancellorship, but these dark demons have risen again?

ANGELA MERKEL, GERMAN CHANCELLOR (through translation): Germany can and will not uncouple itself from developments we see all over the world. We see this in Germany as well.

But, in Germany, obviously, they always have to be seen in a certain context, and the context of our past, which means we have to be that much more vigilant than others. And I also say, yes, there's work to be done here.

[14:45:02] We have always had a certain number of anti-Semites amongst us. Unfortunately, there is, to this day, not a single synagogue or day care center for Jewish children, not a single school for Jewish children that does not need to be guarded by German policemen.

Unfortunately, over the years, we have not been able to deal with this satisfactorily that we could do without this. But we have to face up, indeed, to the specters of the past. We have to tell our young people what history has brought over us and others.


BALDWIN: Angela Merkel telling Christiane it is not just the schools that need safeguarding. There has been a 20 percent rise in attacks on Jews in Germany. And the interior ministry, he blames far-right groups for the attacks.

And the Germany anti-Semitism commissioner is warning he doesn't think it is safe for Jews to wear the -- the traditional religious skull caps, known as a yarmulke, in Germany. And he is urging all Germans to put them on the yarmulkes next Saturday in solidarity.

Germany's widely read daily newspaper, "Bild," put a cut-out Kippah on the front page and urged readers to cut it on and show support. So CNN Political Commentator, Peter Beinart, also a contributing

editor for "The Atlantic" and senior columnist at "The Forward."

Thank you for coming in.

Merkel acknowledged that anti-Semitism never went away in Germany. Of course, of all places, they have vowed never to forget the Holocaust. That said, why do you think anti-Semitism is resurfacing -- I don't know if that is the right word -- just on the rise?

PETER BEINART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it is part of the larger stew that we're seeing in so many countries. Dislocation as a result of globalization and immigration and a looking for easy scapegoats. And Jews have historically been outsiders and people who are different and could be scapegoated, just like Muslims are today.


BEINART: The fate of Jews and Muslims as the quintessential outsiders in Europe are intertwined together. And the struggle against anti- Semitism and Islamophobia really has to be a single struggle.

BALDWIN: But the notion of not wearing yarmulkes. The U.S. ambassador to German is urging German Jews to wear it and educate people that it is a diverse society. Do you think, by not wearing the yarmulke, is that letting hate win?

BEINART: Individual people have to do what they need to be safe. As, myself, someone who wears a yarmulke on the way to synagogue every Saturday, it is -- it is absolutely tragic to me to think that a Jewish person would not be able to do that in public.

I think it enriches a society for people to be able to -- to be who they are.

I was in Amsterdam about a month ago and went to synagogue there and it was a very different experience than the United States.


BEINART: The building had no marking on it. It was locked. And I was standing outside and then a security person came out of nowhere and gave me, I would say, a five-minute quiz with detailed questions about the service and Judaism. It was remarkable, and how much I had to say for me to -- to be let into the building.

It is beautiful once I got inside but it was very different from going to synagogue in the United States, where there's some security. But a sense these are big buildings, open, and they have Jewish stars on them. And I wept inside for those people that that was their religious experience.

BALDWIN: That is their reality in Europe.


BALDWIN: At least Angela Merkel is speaking out.

BEINART: Yes. And good for her for doing so.

BALDWIN: Peter Beinart, thank you.

BEINART: Thank you.

BALDWIN: As the president considers pardoning war criminals, a disturbing admission from a sitting congressman about what he did in war.


[14:53:13] BALDWIN: New today, the U.S. Supreme Courts that decided to let stand a ruling on a school district's policy allowing transgender students to use bathrooms of their choice. The plaintiffs are students in Pennsylvania who object to sharing a bathroom with their transgender classmates.

Now Obama-era rules recommend schools allow trans students to use facilities that match their gender identity but the Trump administration withdrew that guidance.

Meanwhile, I want to highlight this ad. This is a new ad out by Gillette. It is getting a lot of praise for highlighting a milestone for so many trans men, shaving.


UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I didn't know that there was a term for the type of person that I was. I went into my transition just wanting to be happy. I'm glad I'm at the point where I'm able to shave.

So, so, north, north, east, west, never in a hurry. Right.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: Now don't be scared. Don't be scared. Shaving is about being confident. Ah, you're doing fine. You're doing fine.

UNIDENTIFIED ACTOR: I'm at the point in my manhood where I'm actually happy.


BALDWIN: Gillette shared it just as Pride celebrations are set to begin in June.

D. 'Lo is a trans actor and writer and comedian and activist.

So, a pleasure to have you on. Welcome.

D'LO, TRANS ACTOR, WRITER & COMEDIAN: Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: So when you first saw this ad, what did you think?

D'LO: Oh, my goodness, just seeing it right now again, it is so moving to me. I mean, I think about when I was younger and I used to play shaving my face. And I just think if there was an ad out there or something reflecting back to me, my trans experience and how different my life would be like.

[14:55:05] I think it is so powerful to see our stories reflected in the mainstream media, whether that is through film, TV, ads, commercials, anything like that. Because it normalizes us.

BALDWIN: And to hear the dad say, to just the dad that -- is even present --

D'LO: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: -- and said don't be scared.

D'LO: Don't be scared. And just the reassuring words that is such a tender moment where he's like, oh, you got this. Like you're doing fine. And that type of -- we don't see enough of, especially in people of color and trans-masculine and we don't see those stories reflected enough.

BALDWIN: As we have this office. I would be remiss not to bring up the Trump administration and has targeted a number of LGBTQ protections like the transgender military ban and a roll back of health care protections and allowing HUD-funded homeless shelters to deny transgender people access.

So for all of the steps taking by Gillette and you and shows on rolling like looking and you see what the what the White House is doing, D'Lo, how big of a setback is this?

D'LO: You are making the world unsafe for trans people and saying you are not human and everything will be difficult for you to do. Whether that means going to a movie, going to a restaurant, going to school, getting a job, that is basically what the Trump administration is doing to trans people.

BALDWIN: D'Lo, thank you for your voice. A pleasure.

D'LO: Thank you so much for having me.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

We move on. More on our news. Just in, Joe Biden's camp hitting back hard after the president praised Kim Jong-Un and blasted the former vice president. We have that for you.

Also, we are just getting word that two more bridges are being closed as floodwaters rise in Arkansas. We will take you there.

Stay with me. You're watching CNN.