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Trump Threatens Deportations; Chao Under Fire for Family Business Appearances; Look at Trump's Polling Numbers; Bleacher Report Headlines. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 18, 2019 - 06:30   ET

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


[06:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: They hesitated to go forward with the plan.

So that's what we know about the plan in general. What we don't know is if it's actually going to be launched next week, John. What do you make of all this?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, Trump's Twitter tirades are not always translated to policy. That said, he's going into re-elect and there's every indication he's going to hit immigration hard. He's got a to-do list on this. There are still promises unkept. There's the wall.

But here's where you see the influence of de facto president Stephen Miller. If these raids occur, it will send a strong measure (ph) to the base, it will be deeply controversial, obviously. Remember, his former DHS secretary, as you just pointed out, balked at executing these kinds of orders.

This is a round-up. This is a round-up. And the phrase we used was millions potentially of undocumented workers in the United States. If he's going to try that kind of show of force to show he's serious in his re-election, that's well outside anything we've ever seen in American politics.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Part of --

AVLON: Unfortunately, that's a statement you can see about him all too often.

CAMEROTA: Every day, every morning, John, when you're here.

Part of the way this would work is that some undocumented workers, who have been here for years, as you know, Sam, and they have jobs, and so perhaps they would be at their jobs while their children, some of whom have been born here in the U.S., and are U.S. citizens, would be home. And it's unclear if that -- they would just then live parentless lives in their homes or what would happen to these children.

Also from your experience of working in the White House, the State Department, et cetera, do you announce, does a president or a government official announce an operation that generally relies on the element of surprise? SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Donald Trump's not

very good at surprises. He's quite predictable. And he also doesn't have a track record of caring about children in general. I mean let's just think about the poor planning that went into the immigration policies that he implemented several months ago, or over a year ago, when he put migrant children in shelters without adequate planning because maybe he wanted to score political points, maybe because de facto president Stephen Miller thought that that was going to be a good idea.

What's clear is, even if there's a policy that Stephen Miller and President Trump want to push forward, or if there's political points they want to score, they don't even go through the requisite planning to make sure that these children are taken care of. How many more images do we need to see of children in shelters shivering, children separated from parents who may not ever be reunited. We're still working on that, by the way, right?

AVLON: Yes.

VINOGRAD: They haven't been reunited.

AVLON: No, and, remember, that is an intention deterrent policy. Separating children is an intentional deterrent policy from this administration.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it was supposed to inflict pain. It was supposed to go back to Guatemala. The word was supposed to travel back to Guatemala, back to Honduras, so that people would stop coming. Since that time, the numbers have spiked. So that deterrent, that punitive policy did not work.

VINOGRAD: While we cut off funding to Central America as well.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

AVLON: Right.

VINOGRAD: So we are doing everything wrong with respect to deterring these illegal immigrants from coming to this country. The administration announced that they were cutting off funding to Central America. We heard yesterday from the State Department, they've walked that back a little bit. They're moving ahead with fiscal year 2017 funding, but they have these onerous conditions that these countries have to meet if we're going to move forward with more projects.

So, at this point, what are we actually doing to attack the root source of the problem other than Stephen Miller and President Trump trying to have something that they can put at campaign rallies to show how they're being tough on immigration.

BERMAN: Yes, two points on this. Number one, I'm not sure I believe this is actually happening. Maybe it is. We don't know. Just because the president announced it on Twitter doesn't mean it actually --

CAMEROTA: He says it's happening next week. BERMAN: He said. Yes, it doesn't -- I don't necessarily think you have to circle a date on the calendar (ph).

VINOGRAD: He also said Kim Jong-un is denuclearizing, so --

BERMAN: Exactly. So let's -- let's stay tuned on that.

You know, and number two, if you read the papers this morning, the arrests at the border have actually gone down.

CAMEROTA: Just this month.

BERMAN: I understand.

CAMEROTA: But they have spiked out of control in May.

BERMAN: They spiked. But they are now on the way down. So watch that number also. That could influence the policy.

Joe, the timing of this, or at least the timing of the president's leak or tweets or words on a computer, his official campaign kickoff is tonight. Do you think they're aligned and what do you think his message will be when he takes that stage in Orlando?

JOE LOCKHART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think of course they're aligned. I think he was -- he's trying to make immigration the central issue of his campaign. But it is a little curious that the theme of the speech tonight, if you believe what you read and what they're putting out is promises made and promises kept. And on immigration, it's promises made, promises not kept. We haven't built the wall. We haven't stemmed the tide of illegal immigration. In fact, it's increased. And the reality is, he's not going to go and round up millions of undocumented immigrants in this country. It's just not feasible to think that we have the manpower and the resources, unless, you know, we suspend the Constitution and use the U.S. military, you know, to do a round up that, you know, harkens back to, you know, World War II, and, you know, putting Japanese-Americans in internment camps.

So I think it's a political statement. We're not going to do it. And, again, I just think it's a little bit inconsistent that on a day he's going to say he's kept his promises, he is highlighting the one area where he's not only kept -- not kept his promises, but I think he's embarrassing himself a little bit with the fact that, you know, Mexico's not paying for this wall, this wall that's not being built.

[06:3.5:02] AVLON: What your --

CAMEROTA: I think that's what has him so vested, John --

AVLON: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Because he -- everything he's tried, everything he's tried in terms of illegal immigration has only spiked the numbers. Now, he has used punitive measures and it hasn't worked to stop people. So as we know, he often uses the blunt instrument rather than, as Sam

said, looking at the root causes and maybe going to those, but that would require, I think, reading to figure out what the root cause is.

VINOGRAD: And strategy.

CAMEROTA: And strategy rather than just saying --

AVLON: There you go applying unfair standards to the president again.

No, look, it -- you get to a point where the pain seems to be the problem. The president keeps using the rusty knife instead of the policy scalpel, then you see it's actually an instinct. And -- and this is an area where he's only started to get around cleaning his own house, right? I mean this is where, you know, his own businesses have hired undocumented workers for years, and they've started to -- to clean them out. So this is something, if you're going to have a comprehensive reform, have a comprehensive reform. The president has refused to try to lead that kind of an effort where he almost uniquely could. Instead, he wants the punitive policies because the pain may be the point.

BERMAN: Sam, we only have about 30 seconds left and I want to get you on Iran because there's a thousand new U.S. troops headed to the region right there. Do you see the U.S. with a strategy here and how does this end without some kind of a faceoff?

VINOGRAD: It's really unclear whether we're just playing Whack-a-Mole with respect to Iranian threats here. We're sending more troops with respect to conventional threats that Iran is presenting. But Iran is doing their own maximum pressure campaign right now and they're really firing on all cylinders when it comes to attacking American assets, international shipping and potentially our allies.

I was in more sit-room discussions on Iran than perhaps any other topic. And the question is, what's the off ramp for Iran? Is there a diplomatic lane that Iran can pursue so that we walk back these conventional threats and don't just keep having to send threats when -- troops when Iran ups the ante again.

BERMAN: Sam, Joe, John, thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: Great to have you.

BERMAN: President Trump has a high mountain to climb if he wants a second term. We'll show you where he stands compared with past incumbents in the polls.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:40:36] CAMEROTA: New controversial surrounding a key Trump cabinet member. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao is just the latest cabinet member under scrutiny. Government watchdogs and House Democrats accuse her of using her position to raise the profile of her family's shipping business.

CNN's Drew Griffin investigates.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Transpiration Secretary Elaine Chao is the Trump administration's top official, oversees shipping in the United States, which is exactly the industry that has helped made Elaine Chao rich. Her family's company, built by her parents, both Chinese immigrants, and now run by her sister Angela, is a global leader in dry bulk shipping and does major business in China, which is why Chao's use of her office to put her family and its business on display is raising more than a few eyebrows.

KATHLEEN CLARK, LAW PROFESSOR, WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: She has attempted to use, and she has used government office to help her father and his business.

GRIFFIN: In 2017, Elaine Chao used the Department of Transportation as a backdrop for multiple interviews with Chinese and Chinese language media, like this one, her father at her side --

JAMES CHAO, ELAINE CHAO'S FATHER: Presidential guest.

GRIFFIN: And showing off the lapel pin he received flying on Air Force One.

ELAINE CHAO, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Well, my father and I traveled on Air Force One. That's always an experience. And I was so pleased that I was able to bring my father on Air Force One with the president.

J. CHAO: The president spent about seven minutes with me.

GRIFFIN: The Chao family company, called the Foremost Group, is based in the U.S., but the company builds ships in China, hires workers in China, does much of its shipping to and from China. Elaine Chao's sister Angela sits on the board of the state run Bank of China. And even though there is no evidence Elaine Chao used her office to influence government policy to benefit her family's business, she has repeatedly traveled to China for major company events. Several Chinese government and business experts tell CNN her relationship to her family sends a message intended or not. Chinese expert Robert Lawrence Kuhn says though there has been a crackdown on corruption in China, personal relationships remain very important.

ROBERT LAWRENCE KUHN, AUTHOR, "HOW CHINA'S LEADERS THINK": The perception is that if you're seen in the company of powerful people, or relatives of powerful people within China, that is good for your business relationships.

GRIFFIN: A spokesperson for Elaine Chao is quick to point out the transportation secretary has no official connection to the Foremost Group. But the Foremost Group has certainly helped make her rich. Chao and her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, received between $5 million and $25 million in gifts from Chao's parents according to 2008 Senate financial disclosures, catapulting McConnell to becoming of the richest member in the Senate. Elaine Chao's extended family has donated more than a million dollars to McConnell's political pursuits, and Elaine Chao could inherit even more wealth as Foremost's shipping continues to flourish, making scenes like this all the more troubling according to law professor and government ethics expert Kathleen Clark.

CLARK: It's a clear cut violation.

GRIFFIN: Clark says, regardless of the perception in China, this use of office violates U.S. government ethics rules, specifically this one, on endorsing organizations' products or persons.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Executive branch employees may not use their government positions to suggest that the agency or any part of the executive branch endorses organizations, products or people.

CLARK: If Secretary Chao did not violate that regulation under these circumstances, then the regulation means nothing. Then any government official will be able to, you know, endorse any kind of outside enterprise associated with a family member.

GRIFFIN (voice over): In or out of public office, visit after visit, it is Elaine Chao who appears to be the Foremost Group's most important unofficial representative in China. She has accompanied her father or sister to more than a dozen events there, often meeting top Chinese officials. In 2008, when she served as labor secretary, Chao brought her father on an official visit to meet the Chinese premier.

In 2015, she is sitting prominently with a party leader and introduced as the former U.S. labor secretary. According to a Chinese report, the meeting was to promote mutually beneficial cooperation between Foremost Group and Hubi (ph) Profits (ph).

New watchdog group headed by Democrats is now suing the Department of Transportation for any agency documents that mention the Chao family business. Several House Democrats say they are concerned about Chao's use of her office. But, for now, the Department of Transportation is calling the attacks political, an attempt of fabricate a web of old, tired innuendos and basic inferences, reflecting a lack of understanding of the department's responsibilities, while demonstrating deep cultural misunderstandings. Chao, the spokesperson says, has done nothing wrong.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GRIFFIN: And, John, asked if the Chinese could interpret Elaine Chao's behavior as an endorsement of her family's business, the spokesperson at the Department of Transportation told us, we don't speculate on who interprets what in China. And then went on to call some of this media attention racist, stating that if her, Chao's last name was Smith, none of this would raise a question.

John.

BERMAN: Interesting. Quite a web there, Drew. Thank you so much for showing us the intricacies. This morning, President Trump is clearly obsessed with the polling, firing some of his own pollsters, lying about polls he doesn't like. Is he worried about the numbers? Should he be? An inside look is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:50:04] CAMEROTA: In just a few hours, President Trump will officially kick off his 2020 re-election bid in Florida. So where does he stand in the polls at this point compared to his predecessors.

There's something about Harry. So let's get "The Forecast" with CNN's senior politics writer and analyst, Harry Enten.

OK, Harry, so at this -- you've -- you have looked at history.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICS WRITER AND ANALYST: I have.

CAMEROTA: Where is President Trump compared to everyone else?

ENTEN: Right. So let's just take a look at -- sort of lay the ground work of where he is right now. And what we see nationally is Biden is up by ten in his Fox News poll. We say -- see basically the same thing in this Quinnipiac University poll, up 13, and a leaked Trump campaign showing -- show Biden beating Trump. We're seeing in nationally.

Take a look at what's going on in these states. These are all states where Donald Trump defeated Hillary Clinton in 2016. Michigan, Biden by 12. Pennsylvania, Biden by 11. And in Texas, we spoke about this before, Biden by 4, in a state that has not gone Democratic in the presidential level since 1976.

BERMAN: So Republicans were telling me last night and what I'm going to get a spokesperson from the Trump campaign in a little bit, he's going to say, if you go back to every incumbent, they're always trailing their opponents at this time.

ENTEN: Right. So take a look at this. This is basically looking at all the incumbents that were running since 1980 plus 2016 with Donald Trump. And what we see is that the polling at this point, they are correct, has not necessarily been predictive. Look at this. Look at these differences between the polling, two Junes before the election, and the popular vote result. The average difference -- well, I'm crossing this out here, but it's 16 points.

BERMAN: That's huge.

ENTEN: That is a huge difference of what's going on. I'm going to draw it in. Look at this. Sixteen.

CAMEROTA: Wit a minute. I don't quite get it. I want to know where he is in terms of his approval ratings versus other presidents.

ENTEN: Right. So this is another thing that needs to be kept in mind. Even though we see that big difference in the polls, this is another way of looking at it. Trump faces unusually strong competition. So there's this question, will you definitely vote for someone, will you definitely vote against them? And what we see is that 51 percent of voters say at this point that they would definitely vote against Donald Trump in the next election.

And we can go all the way back, since June of 1979, we don't see any number that's anything like that at this point. The opposition to Trump is unusually very, very strong, Alisyn. And there's another way that we can sort of look at this. And here it is. Maybe early polling at this point will be predictive, even if it hasn't necessarily been in past years, and that is because the opposition to Trump is so deeply ingrained.

Look, Trump's approval rating has been below his disapproval rating since February of 2017. That's basically his entire presidency where he has had a net negative approval rating.

And then look at this, Trump has not led Biden in any, not a single one, of the 50 plus national polls taken during his presidency. This is an opposition that so far has been really in there, has not really moved, so that even though we see something like this, where we see that the polling generally at this point has not been too predictive, what we also see is at we see, at this point, that this opposition so far has, simply put, not moved.

BERMAN: Very interesting. So President Trump could be a different egg here than his predecessors.

ENTEN: He could be a very different egg. And, again, I just point this out, we've so -- seen this slide so often before, a majority of voters at this point say they will not -- they will definitely not vote for the president of the United States. We've never seen anything like that. And that means we're in a whole new world. A whole new world.

CAMEROTA: On that note --

BERMAN: Yes, thank you very much.

CAMEROTA: Totally.

ENTEN: A whole new world.

CAMEROTA: Harry, we've got to go.

BERMAN: Time to go. Wrap time.

CAMEROTA: We've got to go.

ENTEN: Wrap time. Wrap time.

CAMEROTA: Here we go.

ENTEN: Here, I'll just -- I'll give you this.

CAMEROTA: This is how he takes a wrap.

ENTEN: This is how I take a wrap. I just want to point out, the women's U.S. world's soccer team has scored 16 goals so far this World Cup. That's more than the men's U.S. soccer team scored between 2006 and 2018.

CAMEROTA: My daughters love that you did that.

All right, enough.

BERMAN: Before you sing more.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, a top Iranian general says the U.S. will be met with a crushing blow if it escalates tensions. What does that mean? Our State Department experts tell us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:58:30] BERMAN: A rally celebrating the NBA champion Toronto Raptor turned into chaos when gunshots rang out.

Coy Wire with the very latest this morning in the "Bleacher Report."

Good morning, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

A reported 1.5 million fans gathering to celebrate Toronto's first NBA title, then gunshots less than a block from where Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and players stood on stage. Four people wounded, three suspects arrested in separate incidents.

Trudeau tweeting, we won't let this act of violence take away from the spirit of today's parade.

And this is what the spirit looked like. And it's what it looks like when it's not just a city celebrating a title, but an entire nation. Toronto's last celebration like this was way back in 1993 when the Blue Jays won the World Series.

For a second straight match, the controversial penalty kick awarded via video assisted review keeps host nation France undefeated in the Women's World Cup. The referee reminding Nigeria's goalie not to move early during a penalty kick, and France's Wendie Renard then misses wide. Well, she gets a second chance. VAR spots that the goalie did indeed move off her line early. And on the re-kick, Renard goes right this time, and right to the back of the net. Le Bleu (ph) wins 1-0. It's heartbreak for Nigeria.

John, Alisyn, the U.S. women are back on the pitch Thursday at 3:00 Eastern.

BERMAN: I got a keeper who lives in my house. I have never seen a kick overturned certainly by video review. That is crazy. All right, Coy, thank you very much.

WIRE: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: All right.

BERMAN: I'm outraged. CAMEROTA: I'm sure my daughters would be as well, as soon as I call

them and find out.

[07:00:03] Meanwhile, thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, the president says millions of

END