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Joe Biden Under Fire Over Abortion Policy; Trump Administration Cuts Services for Migrant Children in Detention; Will Republicans Push Back on Trump Tariffs?. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired June 5, 2019 - 15:00   ET



MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: More and more people are falling into homelessness because of rising rents. And so the cycle continues, Brooke.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Maeve Reston, thank you.

RESTON: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Let's continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

An unusual scene in the halls of Congress today, Republican lawmakers pushing back on President Trump. This is all over concerns about his tariff threat on Mexico. So, some are even warning the White House that they may be forced to vote for a resolution against the tariffs. That is if President Trump goes forward.

And the revolt comes as Vice President Mike Pence prepares to sit down this hour with Mexico's foreign minister and other officials amid all this backlash.

Today, the president is digging in on his plan, while dismissing the idea that it would actually hurt Americans.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think Mexico has to step up. And if they don't, tariffs will go on. And if they go high, then companies are going to move back into the United States. That is all. It is very simple. The people aren't going to have to worry about paying the tax, because the companies are going to move back in.


BALDWIN: Well, some Republicans are responding to that.

This is what some Republican senators have been saying to CNN's Manu Raju:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I understand that the president is frustrated with congressional Democrats refusing to do their job or to do anything to fix this crisis. That being said, this is the wrong solution to the crisis.

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): I don't particularly favor the tariffs. I'm afraid that it might endanger some American jobs, but obviously it has been effective.

SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): Tariffs are a form of tax. There is no doubt about that. But we have to do something to induce our Mexican partners to actually get serious about this.


BALDWIN: Kaitlan Collins is a CNN White House correspondent.

And, Kaitlan, the president says Republicans would be foolish to block the tariffs. You tell me, is there any sign the pressure may actually be getting to the White House?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the president says he's not bluffing either, which is what some White House officials have privately been saying, that they don't think, actually, that these tariffs will go into effect on Monday.

But now the president seems to be doubling down on this, while his officials are leaving a little bit of wiggle space for them to not impose these tariffs during that deadline of Monday.

Now, one of the chief people who was pushing this is Peter Navarro, the president's trade adviser, who is now saying that maybe those tariffs won't be necessary after all.


PETER NAVARRO, DIRECTOR, WHITE HOUSE OFFICE OF TRADE AND MANUFACTURING POLICY: Right now, the Mexican government makes money off illegal immigration. After the tariffs are put in place, the Mexican government will bear costs of that. We believe that these tariffs may not have to go into effect, precisely because we have the Mexicans' attention.

Vice President Pence will be meeting with them today...


NAVARRO: ... Secretary of State Pompeo and Ambassador Robert Lighthizer.

So I think...


NAVARRO: ... let's stay calm and look at the chessboard here.


COLLINS: Now, Brooke, Navarro is not going to be in that meeting with the vice president and the Mexican foreign minister soon. But, of course, officials are now tamping down expectations from even that meeting, saying that they don't think there's going to be some big deal coming out of that about whether or not these tariffs are going to go on or not.

Now, the president is saying that, yes, it's more than likely that they will go on. But, of course, they're leaving that space that I was referencing earlier about whether or not they should move forward, because they haven't offered specifics about what Mexico needs to do to avoid these tariffs.

And Republican lawmakers coming out of that lunch with White House officials yesterday said it wasn't even clear how they would impose these tariffs. So those are still big questions going forward. But, of course, Brooke, this is all going to be up to President Trump.

BALDWIN: All right. We will wait for some reporting out of the Pence-Mexican officials' meeting. Kaitlan, thank you.

I want to dig a little deeper now on Trump's tariff threat and the real world impact in the city of Laredo, Texas. It imports $20 billion of goods from Mexico each and every month. And officials say the president's threats could have a massive effect on that local economy.

CNN business and politics reporter Vanessa Yurkevich is live in Laredo.

Vanessa, you just talked to the mayor there. What did he say?


And right behind me is the busiest port in the country; $20 million worth of goods enter the U.S. every month from our biggest trading partner, Mexico. You can see just right over my right shoulder those trucks waiting to get into the United States.

And this port has really put the city of Laredo on the map. It's something the mayor is really proud of. But I just spoke to him, and he told me that, even though the tariffs haven't taken effect yet, just the rhetoric around it does damage to trade and to the local economy here in Laredo.


PETE SAENZ, MAYOR OF LAREDO, TEXAS: Just the mentioning of shutting down the border, that's -- especially coming from our president, I mean, that resonates like you wouldn't believe.

That certainly creates uncertainty. Now, we have businesspeople of all sizes. The ones that it's going to truly impact are obviously the small business owner, the middle business owner. These people -- these people can't really hold on for, in some instances, a week or two weeks or three weeks or a month.



YURKEVICH: And as trade talks are getting under way in Washington, the mayor of Laredo is actually heading to Mexico to meet with his counterparts there to talk about how to plan for these tariffs that are set to go into effect on Monday.

And, Brooke, one estimate suggests that just would these 5 percent tariffs that are expected to go into effect on Monday, the U.S. economy could expect to lose up to 400,000 jobs, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And that's on the low end, because he wants to start at 5 and then potentially each month go up to 25 percent.

Vanessa Yurkevich with the story in Laredo, Vanessa, good to see you.

Dana Milbank is a political columnist for "The Washington Post." His latest piece is called "Will Republicans Finally Stop Cowering Before Trump?"

Dana Milbank, welcome back.


BALDWIN: Do you think this is actually a turning point for Republicans?


MILBANK: Well, I would say that, except I have said that 10 or 20 times before. And each time you think that they're actually going to do it, then they sort of find a way to back down and the president does what he's going to.

This is potentially different this time, because they're not just afraid of Trump. They're also afraid that, if these tariffs go into effect, or even the discussion, as you were just saying, of the tariffs going into effect can have something of a shock on the economy, could conceivably throw the economy into recession.

And then they're going to pay the price. They could lose their Senate majority. They could lose more seats in the House. So they have a real political incentive to stand up to Trump in this case as well.

So, theoretically, it could be different, but I do -- I would not want to recommend anybody bet money on the Republicans actually defying President Trump, because it is true what he says. He does have huge support in the Republican base.

BALDWIN: The incentive about which you speak, maybe that's why the Republicans are, what was your word, jawboning.

You mentioned Mitt Romney in particular, who gave that 20-minute rebuke of Trump. And good for him, you say, but he doesn't mention the president's name once. So do you think that dilutes their message?

MILBANK: Look, it's better that Mitt Romney speaks up. It's what Jeff Flake had done before, or what Bob Corker had done before, but where does it get them if they're not actually going to cast the votes?

Now, it does appear that, in the Senate, they do have people coming out publicly saying they will vote against the tariffs, they will vote to override a veto. But then you have Kevin McCarthy...

BALDWIN: Exactly.

MILBANK: ... the House majority leader, saying, no, we're with the president. So...

BALDWIN: That he has the authority to do it.

MILBANK: Exactly.

So, basically, I think McCarthy is trying to restore some leverage to Trump in these talks that the Senate Republicans have taken away. So, as usual, it's anybody's guess as to how this works out.

But as your reporter was indicating earlier, this is chaos and uncertainty. And, regardless of the outcome, it's making it very difficult for business. And this has a damaging effect on the economy.

We have seen this over and over from Trump, threats to close the border entirely. We have also another front with a trade war in China. This has some effect regardless of the outcome.

BALDWIN: Your last line, you say, "If Romney and other Republicans really care about the president's abuses, they will do more than grouse and grumble this time."

And I know you laughed off the top because it's like, how many Republicans other than Romney or a Flake and a Corker have really stood their ground and called the man out by name? What do you think more than grousing and grumbling looks like?


MILBANK: Well, there's the jawbone and there's the backbone.

BALDWIN: Exactly.

MILBANK: And if you want to show some backbone, you get up there and you vote. You put your money where your mouth is. They have the power to vote this -- down these tariffs. They have the power to override the veto.

They have a whole lot of power in the Congress, but it's only theoretical if they're not -- when it comes right down to it, if they're not actually going to cast their vote and back up their rhetoric.

BALDWIN: Dana Milbank on jawbones and backbones and Republicans, thank you very much.

MILBANK: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Just in to CNN, Customs and Border Patrol announcing that more than 11,000 unaccompanied minors crossed the border in the month of May alone. And now we're learning that the Trump administration is planning to cut services to them, like English classes and recreation and legal aid, specifically cut them to the kids.

We will talk to an immigration lawyer who says that is against the law.

Plus, 2020 Democrats on the attack against former Vice President Joe Biden for saying that he supports a rule that blocks federal funds from going to abortions, except in certain cases.

And, later, the officer now facing criminal charges for failing to act during the Parkland school shooting had his first court appearance today. I will get reaction from the father of one of the victims.


You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: A major development today in the Virginia Beach shooting investigation. CNN has now learned that the shooter appeared to target supervisors in his department in the early stages of his killing spree.


That is according to a survivor of the shooting, Virginia Beach Councilman Louis Jones. He says the gunman was -- quote -- "looking for specific people, apparently, at least at first."

The shooter opening fire on Friday afternoon after turning in his resignation that morning. Eleven of the 12 victims were city employees.

And we have also just learned today that the Trump administration is cutting some services for unaccompanied child migrants staying in federal shelters.

And the reason? They say money. "The Washington Post" first reporting the move, which includes programs like soccer and English classes and even legal aid. According to a Health and Human Services Department statement -- quote -- "Additional resources are urgently required to meet the humanitarian needs created by this influx to both sustain critical child welfare and release operations and increase capacity" -- end quote.

But the Trump administration could be in for legal battle.

Let's start there with Angeline Chen. She's an immigration attorney and the co-founder of Rise to Reunite, a group working to reunite children with their families at the border.

So, Angeline, thank you for coming on.


BALDWIN: So, this appears -- from everything I have read, this appears to go against a federal court settlement and state licensing requirements that actually require education and recreation for minors in federal custody.

Is there any way this move holds up in court?

CHEN: It won't hold up in court.

This settlement you're referring to is the Flores settlement from '97 requiring limited of time that people can be held in detention, children, and also creating -- giving adequate and humane conditions.

And the courts have already upheld these this Flores settlement. So I predict that this policy will not hold up.

BALDWIN: I mentioned part of this is that the administration is canceling legal aid for these young people. And let's not forget we have covered these stories where there have been actually toddlers from forced to go in front of a judge. So how will this affect that process?

Don't they deserve some representation?

CHEN: Absolutely, they do.

I'm a mother of a 4-year-old. I can't even imagine children traveling thousands of miles, and then being detained, possibly being physically abused, sexually abused in these facilities, being forced to take drugs because maybe they're a little misbehaving, and then not being able to have access to legal counsel.

That's a violation of due process. We have to remember that some of the only ways we could find out if these children are victims of human trafficking is from access to counsel. We're able to ask them what -- why they're here, what happened, what type of abuse, and if we're not able to ask them, they can't be protected.

There are U.S. trafficking laws, anti-trafficking laws in place here. And there's no way to find this out.

BALDWIN: Now, I know they're saying this is about money. We are also reporting that Customs and Border Patrol just announced they apprehended more than 11,000 unaccompanied children just in the month of May alone. Obviously, it is costly to provide all these many thousands of people with food and shelter and clothing. One side would say, well, doesn't the money have to come from somewhere?

CHEN: Yes, the administration has manufactured this humanitarian crisis.

We're talking about children who are being separated from the families. Even these unaccompanied minors who are being held, that most of them have been separated by their brothers -- from their brothers or sisters, their aunts and uncles, their grandparents who have raised them since they were little babies. They're considered their parents.

But without that legal document, the government is saying they're not. And so they have been separating them. This is what the administration has been doing. We need to reunite them. They could be together. They don't need to be detained.

BALDWIN: Angeline Chen, thank you very much.

CHEN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, 2020 Democrat Beto O'Rourke rolling out a proposal to put term limits on Supreme Court justices. Will this proposal get any traction?

And unbelievable video -- check this out -- of this injured hiker who, by the way, is 75 years of age, spinning wildly as she was evacuated from an Arizona mountain. Hear the pilot explain what was happening, spinning round and round.



BALDWIN: Democratic front-runner Joe Biden is coming under fire from fellow Democrats today after his campaign confirmed his support for the controversial Hyde Amendment.

What is the Hyde Amendment? That is the policy that bans the use of federal funds for most abortions, except in the cases of rape, incest or to save the life of the woman.

Condemnation has been swift from fellow 2020 candidates, like Senator Kamala Harris, who tweeted this -- quote -- "No woman's access to reproductive health care should be based on how much money she has. We must repeal the Hyde Amendment."

Senator Bernie Sanders -- quote -- "There is no middle ground on women's rights."

And Senator Elizabeth Warren offering this from the campaign trail in Indiana:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't support the Hyde Amendment, and I will lead the fight to have it overturned. I'm out there fighting against the Hyde Amendment, because I think that's what's right for women.

We always have to make this clear. Every time we deny access to women to a lawful abortion, it means that people who don't have money, people who are in very challenging circumstances, people who are frightened are the ones who don't get access. And that's just not right.



BALDWIN: CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash is here.

And, Dana, in its 2016 platform, the Democratic National Committee said he wanted to repeal the Hyde Amendment. So why would Biden support a measure that is clearly unpopular within his own party?

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He and his campaign are trying to be consistent with what he has felt and thought and the side that he was on since he was a United States senator.

And that was and obviously still is in support of the Hyde Amendment, which it means that he does not support using taxpayer dollars to go to organizations to fund abortions. And it has been -- all my years in covering Capitol Hill, this has been such a lightning rod issue when all kinds of budget issues come up.

And it has kind of gone back and forth. And it used to be that there were enough conservative Democrats on Capitol Hill that it was a real, a real issue that divided Democrats, not all, but there were enough. And, obviously, Joe Biden is a Catholic. He is somebody who is for abortion rights, no question.

But this is -- the whole notion of using taxpayer dollars to do that has been something that has not been consistent, historically speaking, in the Democratic Party, particularly those who kind of came up through the ranks on the more conservative side socially of these issues.


BASH: And he says he wants to be consistent. But, as you said, and as you pointed out, those are just the sound bites that we have.

BALDWIN: He's feeling it.

BASH: There's just a slew of pouncing on him by his competitors, because they think that this is a classic, classic example of where he is just off the reservation with the party.

But I will tell you, just very quickly, if this is not just how he feels, but also a calculus inside the Biden campaign, that they think that he -- which is a big risk, but they think that he's going to be the nominee, and they want to be on the right side of this to capture those moderate voters, people inside the Trump campaign look at this and say, Pennsylvania, for example, this could help Joe Biden.

But that's thinking so many steps ahead that he hasn't gotten to yet.

BALDWIN: True, but you watch Joe Biden and even his with his rollout video, it's like, general election, here we go.

BASH: Exactly. No, exactly.

BALDWIN: So, that may very well be.


BASH: And I think, in this case, it's genuinely what he believes.


Beto O'Rourke, he has unveiled this proposal to limit the terms of Supreme Court justices. Currently, a justice must pass away or be willing to step aside before they're actually replaced on the bench.

And so O'Rourke thinks one 18-year term should be enough. And he's also pushing limits for members of Congress.

Is this a winning argument?

BASH: You know, it's -- term limits for Congress is something we have heard about for a long time.

The notion of term limits for Supreme Court justices is being pushed by some of the really hard-core activists who are focused on the courts and have seen particularly since Donald Trump has been in office and he's been able to really sway the courts towards a more conservative side with the younger justices who will be there for a very long time.

And so they're trying -- these activists are trying to get people like Beto O'Rourke and others with platforms to put this very much into the debate and into the political zeitgeist.

And Beto O'Rourke bit. And you know what? It's very much related to the abortion debate, obviously, because this is all about these states pushing -- from Georgia to Alabama pushing through court cases that they hope will get to the Supreme Court that will ultimately overturn Roe vs. Wade.

And the concern is that because you have the court stacked by a conservative president for a generation or two, possibly, they want to talk about that changing.

BALDWIN: Yes. Dana, good to see you. Thank you very much.

BASH: Thank you. BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, YouTube is announcing it will ban white

supremacist content from its site and remove hundreds of thousands of offensive videos.

This is coming one day after one of the country's first Muslim congresswomen teared up in Congress as she read aloud the death threats that she has been receiving. You will hear straight from her next.