Return to Transcripts main page


Scaling Back on Programs for Child Migrants; Republicans Revolt Against Tariff Threat; Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) is Interviewed about Mexican Tariffs; Sanders Speaks to Walmart Leaders; Competitors Rip Biden over Support of Abortion Rule; Poll on Trump's Re-election. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired June 5, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: News day. Stay with us. Brianna Keilar starts RIGHT NOW. Have a great afternoon.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, while the president is out of the country, his party is staging revolt on two fronts.

And 2020 Democrats are unveiling policy proposals today, taking on Walmart and housing affordability, as polls show most Americans think President Trump will be re-elected.

Plus, mystery in paradise. An American tourist dies days before an American couple at the same hotel in the Dominican Republic.

And, parents of students killed in the Parkland shooting reacting to the school's police officer who is now facing charges for taking cover and lying about it instead of protecting students.

We begin with breaking news.

The Trump administration is canceling funding for programs that aid unaccompanied minors in U.S. shelters. Those programs include English classes, recreational programs and most significantly legal aid.

Dianne Gallagher is following this story for us.

Dianne, tell us what's behind this decision.

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, HHS ORR is essentially just running out of money, Brianna, is what they say. They say that they've asked for additional funding, this $2.88 billion in appropriations. But, in the meantime, they're trying to scale back and/or stop. And this is where they think they can make up in those funding.

So I want to read a little bit from a statement that HHS gave CNN. They said that this week ORR instructed grantees to begin scaling back or discontinuing awards for UAC activities that are not directly necessary for the protection of life and safety, including education services, legal services and recreation. 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.

And, look, they are at a very high capacity. As of April 30th, they had 40,900 kids that they had -- created in this influx. Brianna, if that continues, they're on pace for the largest number of children they have cared for since the program's existence.

But those who are responsible for caring for the kids, we've spoken with one source who has very detailed knowledge of shelter operations. They spoke to me on the condition of anonymity due to a federal contract with HHS and ORR. But that source said that they're still kind of trying to figure out what this means. That HHS told them about this last week. But they don't have a clear idea of what they're supposed to do. He called the -- the source called the program cruel. The source said that they weren't sure what they would do with the children all day if they can't provide education or provide recreation for them and likened it to just simply keeping them in detention. The source said that it seems like the administration is just trying to make it as cruel and awful and thinks that maybe they'll just stop coming, but they won't because they are running for their lives.

KEILAR: All right, Dianne, thank you so much. Dianne Gallagher with that report.

Republicans are serving up the president some major backlash on his plan to slap huge new tariffs on Mexico. Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are meeting with Mexican officials this afternoon to discuss the president's tariff threat.

Michelle Kosinski is live for us from the State Department on this.

And the president, Michelle, wants Mexico to address immigration into the U.S. from its side of the border. Is he likely to get that?

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think he'll probably get something from Mexico. But it remains to be seen what exactly he's looking for here because on the one hand you have the president saying, as he's been traveling over the last couple of days, that he thinks that these tariffs are going to be imposed on Monday and saying that Mexico needs to stop all immigration through it's country to the U.S. border. But you have his own aides saying, well, it's unlikely that this is going to go into effect because now we have Mexico's attention. You have a White House aide saying, well, here's what we expect Mexico to do to boost its resources at the border and things like that. So it's really unclear where the middle ground is and what President Trump himself will expect out of this.

So we were watching this. We can't wait for this meeting to happen just to see what this is about. Is this a bluff, as many people think it is? Is it the president wanting to issue these threats but then get something maybe a little more from Mexico or something perfunctory like an agreement to keep on doing what it's doing because, you know, when you think about it, only two months ago it was the president who was praising Mexico for doing so much more at its borders and apprehending so many more people. And when you look at the numbers of apprehensions and deportations from Mexico over the years, those numbers are quite high.

[13:05:02] It's clear that the president and others expect and want Mexico to do more. Not clear what it can do at this point and what it's willing to do and then what the president is willing to expect.

But I will say the Mexicans are also expressing optimism that this can all be ironed out in the near future, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Michelle Kosinski at the State Department, thank you.

And this split between the president and Republicans who say that his tariff on Mexico will hit American consumers is very much playing out on Capitol Hill today.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is urging the White House to reverse course and avoid a GOP rebellion.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): There is not much support in my conference for tariffs, that's for sure.

QUESTION: Will you try to block those tariffs?

MCCONNELL: Well, what -- what I'm telling you is, we're hoping that that doesn't happen.


KEILAR: Republican Congressman Will Hurd of Texas is joining us now from The Hill.

Thanks for being with us, sir.

REP. WILL HURD (R-TX): Hey, Brianna. Always a pleasure to be on with you.

KEILAR: So it's important to note that your district includes more border with Mexico than any other district, 820 miles, and you're the only Republican who has a district on the southern border. And you also have a strong opinion when it comes to tariffs. When the president slapped tariffs on China, you called it a sales tax on American consumers. When you're looking at these tariffs, this threat of tariffs with Mexico, do you see that in the same way?

HURD: I absolutely do. And let me be frank, a tariff is a tax on the American consumer in, you know, period, end of story. This is going to cause increased cost for average Americans. When 40 percent of Americans can't handle an emergency -- a bill -- an emergency that costs $400 or more, then when you increase the costs of putting gasoline in your tank to get to work, when you increase the cost of buying summer clothes for your kids or go back to school clothes for the kids, or when the cost of, you know, food on your table and your groceries increases, when the cold beer you want to drink on a hot summer day increases, these are all things that are going to have an impact on the American consumer.

And then it has an impact on businesses that create jobs based on imports, right? Ask Toyota, which is a company that manufacturers vehicles in my hometown of San Antonio and puts thousands of people to work. You talk to the farmers and ranchers who are going to have a hard time exporting their products. There are more cows than people in the middle part of my district. And about 80 percent of that gets exported to Mexico. So there -- so there is an impact.

And, ultimately, when you look at, you know, if you're doing this to try to solve the border crisis, the way you solve the border crisis is, number one, don't treat everybody that's coming into our country as an asylum seeker. Not everybody is actually claiming asylum when they first get apprehended. And so we shouldn't be treating them like an asylum seeker because that increases the amount of time they have to be detained in the United States.

What we're dealing with on the border right now is a crisis. There's no question about it. Last month, 109,000 people came into the country illegally. Last year, 400,000 people came into the country illegally. Border Patrol, Customs, ICE, they're overworked.

And, by the way, guess what, this is a shared problem with Mexico. So their versions of border patrol, ICE and Customs are overworked. The way you deal with this problem is by working together and strengthening our alliances, not by weakening them.

I think another step that the administration can take today is to select a special representative, a senior U.S. diplomat for the northern triangle, that's El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras, so we have that senior diplomat working with those three countries, also working with Mexico, working with the rest of the western hemisphere on the root causes of this problem, which is violence and lack of economic opportunities in those countries.

KEILAR: I want to ask you, you mentioned asylum. You have a series of reforms to the asylum process that is out right now. And this is really where we're seeing the numbers skyrocket, right? That's why you're addressing this. You say you want migrants who are coming from Mexico or from Canada, but let's focus on Mexico because that's really where the issue is right now. You want them to apply for and to be denied asylum in Mexico before they would be able to seek asylum in the United States.

How would that work? You're talking about working with Mexico. But how would that work without just shifting this crisis to Mexico?

HURD: So first and foremost, don't treat everybody as an asylum seeker. It's taking about five years now for someone to go through our immigration courts in order to address and to deal with asylum. And I get that --

KEILAR: But -- but I want to -- congressman, I want to -- I do -- I just want to ask you about this, because the process I'm asking about precedes how you treat them.

HURD: Yes. Yes.

[13:10:00] KEILAR: You're talking about even before you determine how to treat them as an asylum seeker, that they need to go through the process in Mexico and be denied before they can seek. So that's essentially --

HURD: Yes.

KEILAR: It's happening then in Mexico before in the U.S.

If -- if that's --

HURD: Or it's happening in Guatemala or it's happening in countries --


HURD: So most -- most -- across the world, the way asylum usually works, right, is that you apply for asylum in the country that is continuous to the country that you are leaving. And you have to be a member of one of five protected classes that is being targeted or harassed usually by the government. But if it's not by the government, then you have to prove that the government can't protect you or won't protect you against the threat that you're dealing with, right? Those are the reasons that you can apply for asylum.

And there are legitimate reasons for that. And when you abuse the asylum system, guess what, the people that really need it, need to -- you know, aren't being able to get it.

So if you leave your country and the next country you come to you don't apply for asylum there, then you come to Mexico, where there is a U.N. humanitarian camp in Juahaka (ph) that is processing people for asylum. And then you try to sneak into our country in between our ports of entry and you don't apply for asylum when you are getting arrested, then -- then -- and you do it five or six days after you've been apprehended by border patrol, that is someone that is ultimately gaming the system.

The way the asylum laws are written now, the individual, you know, apprehending the person and ICE has the ability to take in the credibility -- take into account the credibility of the individual requesting this. And if they think they're not credible, then they're able to be deported.

The other thing that we should be doing and can be done right now is increasing the amount of intelligence on the human smugglers that are bringing people from the northern triangle to Texas and the rest of the country. To get from Tagusigalpa (ph) to El Paso is really hard, but we know these drug trafficking organizations have figured out how to do it. They've invested into buses and so now a trip that was taking 10 to 15 days is now being done in four days. We should be increasing the collection on those groups, working with our partners in those countries and stopping many of these caravans and these folks that are coming in here before they get to Mexico, before they get to our border. These are some of the steps that can be taken right away.

KEILAR: Intel, obviously, in your background, former CIA.

I do want to ask you about out breaking news, which is that the Trump administration is canceling a number of things that unaccompanied minors have had at their disposal. For instance, activities, one of the things noted by "The Washington Post" was even something like soccer, but we're talking English lessons and perhaps most significantly is legal advice.

You hear HHS ORR, which deals with this, saying, hey, we're just running out of money. But the perception even by people who run these facilities that handle these minors is that they're just trying to make it really onerous and they're trying to make it awful and that that's supposed to dissuade unaccompanied minors. What do you think about this?

HURD: Well -- well, any version of family separations or trying to make things worse is not going to stop this problem. You addressed the root causes. You make sure you're working in an efficient way with your allies to stop this and you address your own laws. But we do know Department of Homeland Security, HHS, specifically ORR, is indeed going to run out of money sooner rather than later.

I attempted the plus up ORR by about $3 billion (ph) in order to deal with this. Unfortunately, my Democratic colleagues on the Appropriations Committee prevented that amendment from going through to make sure the people that are dealing with this crisis have the resources that they need.

Oh, and, by the way, the communities, cities, counties, non-profit organizations that are dealing with this crisis because the executive branch and the federal government hasn't been able to deal with this, they should be reimbursed for having to take over the responsibility of the -- of the federal government. And, ultimately, you know, some of the legal advice has been given these folks. That is being -- a lot of that is being done by non-profit organizations to make sure that people know what their rights are.

KEILAR: I want ask you very quickly, I'm running out if time here, but before you leave, the president, in order to make this latest move that he wants with the tariffs, the expectation is he would need to declare another emergency. You voted to block the first one.

HURD: Sure.

KEILAR: Rand Paul was on here yesterday. He said he thinks there's a veto proof majority to block in the Senate. Do you think that's the case in the House?

HURD: In the House, I think there is because I'm pretty sure most of the Democrats would -- would vote against it. I don't know what the veto proof number would ultimately be. We have a crisis going on right now that there's no question about that. But using -- trying to usurp Congress' power of the purse in order to do something, that is not the way our government ultimately operates. And that separation of powers has been a hallmark of our government for a very long time and it's what's helped lead us to where we are.

[13:15:27] So, again, tariffs, it's a tax on the American consumer. And we don't need to be going that way when you look at what's happening with the -- with the stock exchange and the markets decreasing potentially in for a correction when you look at the fight we're having to deal with China, which is steeling our technology. Tariffs is not the way to do that.

We should be talking about how do we -- how can Canada, Mexico and the United States work together to counter many of these other threats that we're seeing especially from China. That's the way we should be going.

KEILAR: All right, Congressman Will Hurd, thank you so much for being on.

HURD: Always a pleasure to be with you.

KEILAR: Bernie Sanders confronting Walmart shareholders over worker salaries.

And a new poll shows most think President Trump will be re-elected.

And, an American tourist dies in the Dominican Republic just days before an American couple, and they were staying at the same hotel. We'll have new details on that investigation.


[13:21:11] KEILAR: From Arkansas to New Hampshire, 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have fanned out across the country. First up, Senator Bernie Sanders. He spent his morning lobbying on behalf of Walmart employees at the company's shareholders' meeting.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS, (I-VT), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The issue that we are dealing with today is pretty simple. Walmart is the largest private employer in America and yet despite the incredible wealth of its owner, Walmart pays many of its employees starvation wages.

Frankly, the American people are sick and tired of subsidizing the greed of some of the largest and most profitable corporations in this country.


KEILAR: CNN's Ryan Nobles is traveling with Senator Sanders.

How was his message received?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, there's no question that one of Bernie Sanders' favorite targets on the campaign trail is corporate greed. And he talks a lot about Walmart in his stump speeches. He echoed a lot of those same comments here today in northwest Arkansas. The difference was he was in the same room with the CEO of Walmart and their board of directors. And his message was pretty clear, he thinks Walmart needs to pay at least $15 an hour to its workers. He also would like them to put a seat on the corporate board of directors for their employees.

Now, Walmart unlikely to go along with those proposals. And I talked to Sanders afterwards. He said, I asked him if he thought Walmart got the message, and he said, frankly, no, but that wasn't going to stop him from continuing this fight.


KEILAR: Thanks, Ryan.

And former Vice President Joe Biden is feeling the heat in New Hampshire. The Democratic presidential candidate is defending his climate change plan from allegations of plagiarism. But that is not the only issue.

Our Arlette Saenz is traveling with the former vice president. Tell us about the latest controversy.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: Brianna, Joe Biden was here in New Hampshire for the second day in a row, once again touting his new climate change proposal. But he is also finding himself at odds with many in the Democratic field right now when it comes to abortion. Biden's campaign confirmed to us that the former vice president does support the Hyde Amendment, which bans the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of rape and incest and saving the life of the mother. This puts him at direct odds with many of his 2020 rivals who are going after Biden today on this issue. One of those is Bernie Sanders, who tweeted, quote, there is no middle ground on women's rights. Abortion is a constitutional right. Under my Medicare for all plan, we will repeal the Hyde Amendment.

This is one of the fault lines between Biden and the other Democrats that you could see going forward, especially as you get closer to that first debate.


KEILAR: Thanks, Arlette.

And could all of this campaigning be for not? Here's why I ask. Brand new CNN polling finds the majority of Americans think President Trump is going to be re-elected in 2020.

Let's bring in April Ryan. She's the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks.

First off, when you look at that number, one, are you surprised, and, two, this inevitability, this air of inevitability that this poll reveals, does that help or does that hurt the president?

APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right now it's too soon to say. You know, we still have a long time before election day, before -- we haven't gotten to the point where we know who is the king of queen on the Democratic side. We have a long time to go.

But this is saying something. This is about the mood of America. And I'm actually surprised because I'm thinking that people are looking at this as, you know, we have kind of normalized some of these deficiencies of the president, some of the limited abilities of the president and some of the things that we've seen, I think we have normalized them as a nation saying that, oh, people don't care anymore. He's just going to -- he's going to remain as president.

[13:25:01] KEILAR: People do get used to some of what you described. However, there are a lot of people who are still very anti -- I want to talk about that in just a moment because the polls did reveal that. But first, when voters who approve of Trump were asked, what's the main reason why you approve of him. The majority said it was the economy. So as long as the economy is doing well, what does that mean for Democrats?

RYAN: Well, that -- it's a double edged sword yet again. As long as the economy is doing well, and sometimes the president is just walking along, especially with the black unemployment numbers and the brown unemployment numbers, they're dropping just as he just happened to walk by.

But it doesn't bode well for the Democrats if people feel that they're not under employed or unemployed and they've got money in their pocket to pay their bills. But the devil is in the details, the tariffs. And that's also in this poll.

KEILAR: Because so many Republicans say that's bad for the economy.

RYAN: It's very bad. And what's happening, you know, we're seeing with China, you know, you're seeing, are the issue with fashion and food, tariffs on that and leather goods. And then in Mexico you see food, domestic auto -- the domestic auto industry is impacted. They'll make a part here and send it to Mexico and then it will cost extra because of the tariffs coming back and it will hit the consumer.

KEILAR: Real quick on the flip side. Voters who disapprove of him, the main reason they cite is lies and racism and they say he's incompetent, doesn't act presidential. But those stir (ph) up more emotional responses? Do those motivate voters as much as the, say, economy?

RYAN: Well, let's say if you're looking to get the black vote, racism plays. So, you know, we're seeing polls -- you know, last November someone came out with a poll saying the numbers of black voters who possibly would vote for Donald Trump have increased. And I'm like, how? You know, especially when you're hearing things like s-hole nations, you're dealing with the Central Park Five, and all the other stuff that's going on right now, birtherism back in the news. If you are -- politics is personal. If you are affected by certain issues, that's going to change the way you are thinking. If you are someone who is part of a military family and you hear about Iran, you know, we're seeing the numbers of those who think that he's not working well on issues of Iran, they're going up. People get it. Lives are at stake. Politics is so personal. But right now, again, money leads. You know, money -- money talks, fecal material walks, yes.

KEILAR: All right, so we'll see.

April Ryan, thank you.

RYAN: Thank you.

KEILAR: Three deaths in five days and still no answers. Officials now looking into what caused three Americans to die at the same resort in the Dominican Republic within a week of each other.

And new CNN reporting shows how President Trump helped fuel rumors about the British royal family in the '80s in an effort to enrich his businesses.