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CNN RIGHT NOW
Pelosi Wants Trump in Prison; Nadler May Subpoena Mueller; Trump Escalates Tariff on Mexico; Egregious Conditions at ICE Facilities; Surge of Immigrants at the Border; Accident at West Point; Biden Ahead in Texas Poll. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired June 6, 2019 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Inclined to keep the incumbent right now. Right now enough Americas are inclined to at least think about changing.
MICHAEL SHEAR, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": A cautionary tale for Democrats who are -- or, you know, this -- this isn't going to necessarily last. You've got an election to run.
KING: Yes, you do. Now, remember 2016.
Thanks for joining us. Brianna Keilar starts RIGHT NOW.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.
Underway right now, an extraordinary statement from the speaker of the House. Nancy Pelosi says she doesn't want to see impeachment. She wants to see the president of the United States in prison.
And it's his favorite weapon, and the president threatening two countries now with new tariffs, the Republicans say will actually tax Americans.
Plus, investigators make unannounced visits to immigration detention facilities and find rotten food, overflowing toiles and nooses made of bedsheets hanging in more than a dozen cells.
And the mystery in paradise takes a turn. After three Americans are found dead at a resort in the Caribbean, we're now seeing the autopsy results.
We begin with Speaker Pelosi's apparently very, very long game. She says she doesn't want to see Trump impeached. She wants to see him move from the White House to a different kind of taxpayer funded housing. That would be prison.
Pelosi said this during a meeting with House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler, as well as other key Democratic chairman who are investigating Trump as a growing faction of Democrats is calling for an impeachment inquiry, the beginning of an impeachment process.
"Politico's" Heather Caygle broke this reporting. And, Heather, it's important to note that Nadler is facing a lot of pressure from within his own party, from within his own committee, to really move forward with impeachment, at least to the first step. He was in this meeting with Speaker Pelosi when she said this. Explain the context in which it was said?
HEATHER CAYGLE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "POLITICO": So this is the second time Nadler went to Pelosi privately and said, I want to do this. I want to open an impeachment inquiry in my committee, will you give me permission? And she pushed back again and said no. And her point was, I don't think impeachment is the right direction. I think that we should beat him at the ballot box. And then, because he's not in the White House, he will be able to be prosecuted for what she thinks the crimes that she thinks that he committed.
KEILAR: Does now -- do you take her at the meaning of what she said, or is she trying to assuage these members, this growing faction within her party who's stays, look, something needs to be done? She's saying that actually the punishment should be greater than impeachment?
CAYGLE: I think it's a little bit of both. Obviously she thinks that Trump should not be president. She wants to see him out of the White House. And we've seen her rhetoric get stronger on that. She said earlier this week that he committed a criminal violation of the Constitution. Similar things to what she said before. But at the same time, she thinks impeachment would be disastrous. And so she's stepping up her rhetoric to show her caucus that, yes, I'm strong, yes, I'm firm on punishing Trump, but, no, this is not the way to go.
KEILAR: Is that going to assuage some of them, do you think?
CAYGLE: I don't know. You know, I've talked to -- I talk to a lot of Democrats every day. Most of them right now have said, you know, we want to wait and see what Mueller says. We want him to testify. We want to see what comes out of that and then we'll make our decision. So that could kind of be -- if they can get Special Counsel Robert Mueller to testify before the Judiciary Committee, that could kind of be the straw that breaks the camel's back on way or the other I think.
KEILAR: And you have some new reporting on that. We heard last week from Robert Mueller. He said my -- this report is my testimony. But Democrats still want to hear him. They want him to say it. They want it to come out of his mouth, not just be on over 400 pieces of paper.
What's going on with Democrats and where they are trying to get him to testify?
CAYGLE: So Nadler has been like very quiet publically about what's going on, but we do know that he is still negotiating with Mueller's team to try to get him before the committee. Mueller has kind of said, as far as we know, I will testify in private if I have to. I don't want to do it publicly. But Nadler and other Democrats don't want that. And so what we reported this morning is in this meeting with Pelosi on Tuesday, Nadler actually said, I'm going to give these negotiations about a week or two more and then I'm looking at issuing a subpoena to make him testify. KEILAR: Really great reporting. Health Caygle, thank you so much for
CAYGLE: Thank you.
KEILAR: We appreciate it.
President Trump is refusing to back down from his threat to hit Mexico with huge, new tariffs and they're set to kick in just days from now. And now he's threatening China with more tariffs. Discussions with Mexican officials are resuming today. Talks yesterday with Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo were described as positive, even though the tariffs are still scheduled at this point to take effect.
The president planning to impose a 5 percent tariff on all goods from Mexico. That would start on Monday. And then that increases 5 percent every month up to 25 percent in October. A huge tariff then. Critics, many of them from the president's own party, say American consumers actually are the ones who will pay the price.
Abby Phillip is joining us now from Ireland, where the president is spending the night before returning to Washington.
Abby, this is a big split between the president and his party. Tell us where this stands and where it's headed.
[13:05:01] ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, this has been building for months now, but with these new tariff threats that the president has been issuing against Mexico, I think Republicans are becoming much more uncomfortable seeing the president using tariffs as a tool to deal with the immigration issue. But President Trump is not backing down. In fact, he is standing firm, telling Mexico that the tariffs will go on and that he's happy with the position that he is in right now. And, in fact, that he thinks that Republican senators are foolish to try to some him and that they don't understand the issue.
And beyond that, President Trump is also talking about tariffs on China, additional tariffs on China, which have already spooked markets over the last year. And here's what he had to say about whether or not those are definitively going to go into place in the coming months.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When am I going to put the extra $325 billion worth of tariffs? I will make that decision I would say over the next two weeks, probably right after the G-20. One way or the other, I'll make that decision after the G-20. I'll be meeting with President Xi, and we'll see what happens.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: So there are now dual threats of tariffs that I think is combining to cause Republicans to have a little bit of heartburn about this. This is the party that has been about free trade for quite some time now. And President Trump has real turned that upside down. And as for things with Mexico, these talks are continuing really right now. And Mexican officials are saying, they're making some progress, but a White House official said not too long ago, Mercedes Schlapp said that Mexico needs to do more to stop illegal immigrants from coming across the border.
What exactly they want Mexico to do, they haven't been specific about that. What numbers do they want to see those border cross hit and when. No specifics from the White House on that. And I think that's why there's still, at this hour, quite a bit of uncertainty about whether the administration is in fact willing to make a deal to avert the tariffs going into place on Monday.
KEILAR: All right, Abby Phillip in Ireland, thank you.
And first on CNN, a Homeland Security watchdog agency found decrepit conditions during unannounced visits to four immigrant detention centers around the country, and we are just learning about these 2018 inspections that are detailed in a report obtained by CNN.
Conditions in the kitchen of one facility were so bad that the kitchen manager was replaced during the inspection.
Correspondent Jessica Schneider has more on this.
Jessica, walk us through the major findings in this report.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Brianna, the inspector general really singled that New Jersey detention center out. That was the same one that fired the kitchen manager on the spot for what the inspector general has called immediate risks or egregious violations. At that same New Jersey facility, inspectors found what they described as this, open packages of raw chicken leaking blood, slimy, foul-smelling lunch meat and moldy bread. And that's just one facility here.
Investigators from the inspector general's office, they made surprise visits to four different facilities in California, Colorado, Louisiana and New Jersey, where they found a number of violations, including moldy and unsanitary bathrooms, even braided bedsheets that they referred to as nooses in cells that can be used in suicides. And they also cited inadequate outdoor space.
And this was all found over the course of seven months at the end of 2018. Now, remember, these are detention centers for undocumented immigrants. Most of them are not criminals. And the IG stressed that this is where these migrants stay awaiting civil proceedings. And, as such, their confinement should not be punitive. They shouldn't have to put up with these conditions.
So ICE was given some time to fix a lot of these conditions, and they've remedied a lot of the problems according to this report. But the IG is still insisting on more documentation confirming that follow-up inspections and other corrective actions have been taken.
But the issue here is with this influx of migrants that we're seeing. An all-time high or actually a decade high in the past month. These problems could potentially flare up again. In fact, ICE's new acting director, Mark Morgan, told reporters on Monday that there are currently around 52,000 single adults right now in ICE custody.
And, Brianna, that is an all-time high. And it's exceeding the funding levels. So, again, some of these problems could flare up again at these facilities. But ICE says that they are keeping a close watch and reporting on this to the inspector general.
KEILAR: Jessica Schneider, thank you for that report.
And the number of migrants crossing the border with Mexico, it's surging, those who are cross illegally, as Jessica detailed. According to U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 144,000 migrants were arrested or encountered along the southern border in May. And that is a 32 percent increase since April. And it's the highest monthly total in 13 years.
These are numbers that include more than 11,000 unaccompanied minors.
John Sandweg is a former acting direct of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and he's joining us now.
Thanks for being with us.
JOHN SANDWEG, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: Yes, good to be here.
KEILAR: And when you're looking at this, what is going on? Is it -- is it just more people coming to the border? Is it a higher rate of detention? Is it both?
[13:10:06] SANDWEG: You know, Brianna, it's actually two things that result in these kind of conditions in the facilities. The first is, this administration has made a dramatic cutback in the oversight of these detention facilities. They've eliminated offices that were in charge of policy, spot inspections and planning to prevent things like this and eliminated a lot of the funding to do these kind of spot inspections.
But the second thing is we've seen this rapid expansion in detention. I mean it was just four years ago we were around 30,000 to 34,000 beds filled. Today we're over 52,000. When you have that rapid expansion and you cut back the oversight, I mean, unfortunately, you can expect things like this to occur.
KEILAR: What's behind the increase in detention, the increase in -- more people just coming to the border, or is there the rate of detection is also higher?
SANDWEG: Well, the rate of detention is probably not higher because we have this --
KEILAR: It's about the same you would expect. SANDWEG: Yes, well, with this massive influx at the border, it's
really the bothered situation. And this administration is trying this turn space approach whereby we're going to detain so many people that they're just not going to want to come anymore.
KEILAR: So when you look at this, what this DHS IG report found, where you're saying that the -- this is the result of lack of oversight. But you see this as punitive, as designed to be a deterrent?
SANDWEG: You know, listen, what -- the people at ICE I worked with cared deeply about the conditions of confinement. I think there are two things really at play here. One is it's just impossible to do any sort of detention that provides ideal conditions. It's just incredibly hard. You're confining people, separating them from their friends and family, putting them under tremendous stress and exacerbating any existing conditions they have, health or mental health conditions otherwise.
So I think one thing we need to look at is, why are we relying on detention when there are alternatives that we can do this that save the taxpayers billions of dollars? We're going to spend probably over $4 billion this year on immigration detection, when we can do it in a way that's no less tough at the border, no less tough on immigration enforcement. It's just very hard, when you expand it, and you cut back on the oversight resources, you're just very hard to avoid situations like this.
KEILAR: When you heard this report out of "The Washington Post," they were the first to break it yesterday, where -- you're talking about exacerbating physical and mental problems of people who have them when you put them in these facilities. They reported that when it came to unaccompanied minor, a reduction in any sort of -- well, really, a lot of play. For instance, soccer was available to unaccompanied minors, English lessons, and perhaps, most importantly, legal advice.
What -- what does that mean? What is the end result of that to you?
Look, I certainly think the administration is trying to imply -- you know, implement some punitive measures that they think will deter individuals. The bottom line here is, though, deterrence has failed. We're two years into it.
KEILAR: What does that happen? Like, what is the effect on unaccompanied minors when those things are taken away?
SANDWEG: Well, it's dramatic. I mean you're taking away basic core provisions, you know, that are -- you know, that, first of all, these facilities have to be licensed by state -- you know, providers. And so here we have a situation where you're now depriving them of these kind of basic conditions in an effort -- look, there's no legitimate justification for it other than that there's a little bit of hint of cruelty to this, quite frankly. It's going to have no impact on our border security. It has meaning -- you know, negligible impact on our budget resources. I think it's all just part of this effort to kind of promote this -- this image that we're being tough on this when, frankly, it's not real tough, it's just ineffective. KEILAR: The president has deployed troops to the border, as you're
aware, and now we have found out that some of the troops are going to spend 30 days painting a border wall that, quote, improve the aesthetic appearance of the wall. Is this proper use of the military? Is this misappropriation of defense funds? What's your --
SANDWEG: Well, look, I spent a lot of time working on -- with the Department of Defense of on issues of putting the guard at the border. The bottom line is, there are very limited functions they can do to provide assistance. They can provide some air assets that help increase the surveillance capability. They can provide some boots on the ground.
KEILAR: Should they be painting a wall?
SANDWEG: They should not be painting a wall. No, they should not.
KEILAR: Who should be painting a wall? Should a wall be being painted?
SANDWEG: To the extent a wall needs to be painted at all, it certainly shouldn't be the Department of Defense.
I think, look, this is all kind of all related. We've seen an administration that's taken these kind of highly symbolic approaches, like the wall itself, the deployment of the military, this family separation, but are wildly ineffective. And I think people like myself and frankly the folks at -- career border patrol folks I've worked with knew going in that none of these solutions were going to be effective at stopping the flow of these Central Americans at our border.
We need to dedicate the resources to the offices that process these cases quickly, move the cases through and get out -- you know, get them out of the country, quite frankly. We -- it is a cries, but it's a crisis that we can manage that we're just -- for some odd reason we keep taking these attempts at shortcuts rather than dealing with the actual issues.
KEILAR: John Sandweg, thank you for your expertise.
SANDWEG: Thank you.
KEILAR: We're following a deadly training accident at West Point. One cadet is dead. Nearly two dozen more and two active duty service members are injured at this point in time.
Also, even the political surprises are bigger in Texas. A stunning new poll shows Joe Biden leading the president in the lone star state.
[13:14:42] And Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with his, quote, best friend, Vladimir Putin. What this picture means for America.
KEILAR: Now to a terrible training accident that happened just in the last few hours at the U.S. military academy at West Point. There is at least one cadet dead, 20 other cadets and two soldiers are hurt after a vehicle accident near an Army training site.
Let's go to CNN correspondent Alex Marquardt.
And tell us, Alex, what you are learning.
[13:20:00] ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, we're waiting for more details about this accident that took place this morning. What we have learned so far is there is at least one person dead, a West Point cadet who was in training with classmates who died in this accident. We understand that it involved what they're calling a light, medium tactical vehicle. So looking at images of these vehicles online, it looks like a small truck. And we understand that this cadet died in an accident to do with that vehicle.
In addition to that one death, there are an additional 22 injured. Some 20 candidates -- 20 cadets and two soldiers. Now, this, of course, takes place after the school year. West Point already had its commencement ceremony. And so these were cadets who, we understand, are in their second summer at the military academy. Traditionally, these cadets spend this summer doing specialized training in what is called combat support, combat service support, and so learning some very vital skills in their evolution as soldiers, in their evolution to officers.
So that is the latest. We are expecting more details. And -- and it is obviously a highly tragic situation. These -- these students and these cadets taking part in this training long before they head -- head to the battlefields around the world, not thinking, of course, that they are going to face any sort of deadly danger when they're in training.
KEILAR: That's right, Alex.
And I do want to draw our viewers' attention to what you're seeing on the upper right-hand part of your screen, which is a press conference that we are awaiting. We are going to be listening soon to the superintendent of the United States Military Academy, also to other officials there at West Point, as well as New York state police. We're going to bring that to you as soon as it gets started, which should be at any moment.
And, just in, we're getting word that a health inspection is underway at the resort where three Americans died in five days in the Dominican Republic. This as the autopsy results come in.
Also, Texas in play for Democrats? A new poll showing a Democrat beating Trump in the red state.
[13:26:59] KEILAR: For more than 40 years, Texas voters have backed Republican candidates in every presidential election, but could that be changing? A new Quinnipiac University poll shows President Donald Trump losing 48-44 to former Vice President Joe Biden in the lone star state.
For more, let's bring in Washington bureau chief for "The Dallas Morning News," Todd Gillman, as well as associate editor and columnist for "RealClearPolitics," A.B. Stoddard.
OK, Todd, so this -- OK, this is one poll. But in the totality of your familiarity with Texas politics, does this -- is this a data point and a trend that you're seeing?
TODD GILLMAN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "DALLAS MORNING NEWS": Oh, it certainly is. Texas has been trending more purple for a number of years. At some point we're getting closer and closer to this tipping point where it is, again, a battleground.
The Beto O'Rourke/Ted Cruz race in the Senate last year showed that Democrats can be within shooting distance. Beto held Cruz below 51 percent. And Trump only won by 9 points in 2016 over Hillary Clinton, which was the worst showing for a Republican nominee in 40 years. So it could certainly happen. And with the Mexican tariffs, if he alienates enough people, it -- it could. Although this poll was taken before the tariff threat. It is not good news for Republicans.
KEILAR: So you -- and you think the tariff threat might push this even farther in that direction?
GILLMAN: Oh, it certainly -- it certainly would.
GILLMAN: Mexico is the biggest trading partner for -- for Texas. There are at least 100,000 jobs that could be lost if the tariffs go all the way to the 25 percent. And even the president's Republican allies in the Senate, in the last couple of days, Cruz and Cornyn, have come out very strongly against these. It's very threatening. And if -- and if Republicans lose Texas, they cannot win the White House.
KEILAR: When you look at the showdown here, not just between Biden, but between Trump and other candidates, A.B., the president leads other Democratic candidates, but he's under 50 percent there. In 2016, he had 52 percent of the vote in Texas. Should he be worried?
A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND COLUMNIST, REALCLEARPOLITICS: Well, I was really startled to see Senator John Cornyn, who's up for re-election next year, in January, go on the record with "The Washington Examiner" to say that the Texas Republican Party was worried about whether or not the president could win the state. That was before Biden was in the race, before we saw any of this polling and after Ted Cruz did win against Beto O'Rourke.
So there are -- basically there's been an alarm set off by the Texas Republican Party that they would like the money from Republicans, which traditionally leaves the state, to stay in the state, and it's really going to come down to mobilization, are Republicans in Texas going to mobilize for President Trump and Senator John Cornyn next year, or is the machine that Beto O'Rourke put into place to really try to wake up new and lapsed voters, which is -- it's the slowest voter turnout in the country, the state of Texas. And if they can get enough Democrats to register and come to the polls, it's very -- it's a big threat to the president's handle on the 38 electoral votes in Texas.
KEILAR: It is so -- it's so stunning that we're even here talking about Texas.
[13:29:59] Let's talk about Joe Biden, though. He's in a bit of a pickle with primary Democratic voters, right? He is personally -- he is -- when he takes a public stance.