Return to Transcripts main page


Hundred-Plus Kids Transferred From "Unconscionable" Facility Moved Back; U.S. Carried Out A Major Cyberattack On A Militia Group Sponsored By Iran; Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA) Talks About Climate Crisis. Aired: 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 25, 2019 - 14:00   ET



REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): So we can remove the needs that they have, but also the shame that we should have if they don't have diapers, and toothbrushes, and the care. I said to the members, we have to have a country where every child knows that they are in their parent's arms.

Literally or figuratively, we are the arms of these children in terms of this appropriation is concerned. We want them to --


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: The White House by the way, has already threatened a veto if this bill passes. Let's begin the hour with Nick Valencia.

He is right there along the border in Clint, Texas, where these awful conditions have been reported. So let's start, Nick, with what morning you know about these kids being taken back to that facility?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, we don't know when they were transferred or how long they've been at this Clint station. We know that according to a Customs and Border Protection official that the decision was made because there was no longer a concern, they say, about overcrowding in this facility.

You remember last week, we reported, along with the Associated Press about the conditions in this facility, and it was abruptly afterwards that 250 children are there -- about 250 children were transferred and taken into HHS care -- HHS identified shelters. And according to CBP, that freed up enough space here to bring back 100 kids into this very same facility, where independent monitors call conditions inside unconscionable.

I mean, the things that we heard are really hard to talk about, Brooke. Kids sleeping on the floor with no mattresses. Kids showing up into an interview room with filthy onesies, dirty diapers. Some saying that they had no access to soap -- basic things like toothbrushes, toothpaste.

These are conditions that are monitored -- that was part of government accountability for 20 years. She has done these types of visits to these facilities and says, it was the worst condition she has ever seen.

I asked a Customs and Border Protection official if there was any concern about public perception of them moving these children back. He simply said, no. I asked him also, if there's any additional services being provided to these children that weren't available last week? The answer to that was also, no -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: We'll talk more about these conditions. With my next guest. Nick Valencia, thank you very much.

Clara Long, is a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch. She was among the group who recently visited that Texas detention center for kids. She also co-wrote this opinion piece for, about what she observed. So welcome. Thank you so much for being with me -- Clara.


BALDWIN: I want to get into the details and they're absolutely just gut wrenching and I want to ask you about that just a second. But you were just listening to, Nick, reporting there from Clint. Your reaction to the news that 100 of these kids have just been taken back to this facility.

LONG: It's worrying, but I have to tell you, you know, the issue isn't Clint or not Clint. The issue is Border Patrol custody. Conditions in Border Patrol custody, you know, as the government -- you know, as much as admitted in court arguments last week, are harsh and they're not appropriate for children.

So, whether it's in Clint or whether it's in another Border Patrol station, all along the border, children need to be transferred out, released, and unified or sent to shelters.

BALDWIN: Tell me what you saw.

LONG: Well, you know, as one of the monitors for the Flores Settlement, we don't have access to see the entire facility. But what we could do is ask children to come speak with us in interview rooms.

And I spoke with children who were dirty, who said that they had not had adequate opportunities to take a bath. They were noticeably, you know, had mucus stains or mud.

Many of them -- most of them, were wearing the same clothes that they had come in with two, three, and in one case almost a month before. They were not sleeping well, not eating well, the same bland food day after day.

And the most worrying part, though, was that the little kids had no adult supervision, they were just being cared for by the older kids who happen to be in the cell with them.

BALDWIN: And how did the older kids even know how to take care of two and three year olds? LONG: Right, I mean, we talked to a 15-year-old at one point he said,

"Oh, yeah, you know, there's this four-year-old that I'm taking care of, an eight year old was trying to take care of him before, but you know, she didn't really know how to do that. So, I took over because I know a little bit more about how to take care of kids."

You know, I think that they're just sort of, coming together and trying to do the best they can. But the situation is dire. And it's not just Clint. It is the fact of having, what I understand to be at this point, still 1,000 unaccompanied kids in Border Patrol custody.

BALDWIN: Tell me, I read about your account of -- was it a second grade little girl who had a bracelet that said, U.S. parent on it. Tell me about that and the phone number that went along with it.

LONG: Right, this little seven-year-old came into the interview room and she was really quiet when she came in. And we sort of started the conversation with her and one of the things I asked, that one of the first things I asked was, you know, who did you cross the border with?

[14:05:04] LONG: And she said my aunt and then she just dissolved into tears into this sort of wailing cry that she really couldn't get any words out through.

She had this bracelet on that had in permanent marker, the words U.S. parents and a phone number. And so, I called. And we spoke with her parent who said that he had no idea where she was being held.

You know, and as I said in the piece, you know, some of the most emotional times during this visit came witnessing these kids talk to their parents after being held incommunicado, and then talking to the parents who are desperate and who are so grateful to have some news about where they were.

BALDWIN: So, CBP, I have to say this. CBP is disputing some of the things you described, right? So they say that they do have sufficient soap, and they do have toothbrushes, and diapers, and that young children are not being tasked with taking care of toddlers, and infants as you just described. Is it possible they have corrected course since you were last there?

LONG: I find it very difficult to believe. I mean, I know they have toothbrushes, because when the kids say, you know, we're allowed to brush our teeth, you know, we get a chance to brush our teeth every five or six days, they then say, but we have to throw away the toothbrush when we're done because we can't have it in our cell because it's contraband.

And I don't think this is a question of lack of resources. I think this has been a question of lack of will to provide a humane, safe, and sanitary environment for kids.

BALDWIN: Why are they only allowed to brush their teeth every five to six days?

LONG: Great question. You know, I think I can't answer that. I can't tell you. I can only tell you what the kids told me.


LONG: You know, at the time that they were allowed to take showers, they also got a hygiene kit, which they could, you know, use to brush their teeth. But you can't have contrabands in the cells and so they couldn't keep the toothbrush.

BALDWIN: Federal Law states that, minors can only be held up to 72 hours. But I know, you say, you met with kids who had been there, three, four weeks, why are they being held for longer?

LONG: Well, Federal Law says absence exceptional circumstances, they can only be held for 72 hours. The government has...

BALDWIN: So this is an exceptional circumstance?

LONG: ... that this is an exceptional circumstance, right. So that that justifies them holding these kids for, you know, for weeks at a time. Because they don't have space in all our shelters.

But if you look a little bit more closely, you can see that this is actually a crisis of the government's own making. They have slowed down the rate at which people -- which children leave the Office of Refugee Resettlement, detention centers, and shelters.

And they have also -- so that has basically created a backup in terms of getting kids out of Border Patrol custody, and then into these other these other facilities where the reunification process starts.


LONG: They've also --

BALDWIN: Yes, quickly go ahead.

LONG: They've also been separating many children, especially young children from primary caretakers, who might not be their biological parent, but are people in many cases, who have raised them, and with whom their primary attachment is made.

BALDWIN: Got it. We can read your whole account, Clara Long. Thank you very much.

LONG: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you. We got to get to some breaking news. In the escalating tensions between the United States and Iran, CNN has learned that in the days after Iran shot down that U.S. drone, that the U.S. carried out a major cyberattack on a militia group sponsored by Iran. So let us go straight to Barbara Starr. She is at the Pentagon for us. And so, what exactly did the U.S. do, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brooke. Well, why this militia group? They have access to advanced weapons. This is a group called Kata'ib Hezbollah, they operate inside Iran, as well as Syria and Iraq and with those advanced weapons, always concerned that they are about to launch more attacks.

What we know is on last Thursday, when the President called off those U.S. airstrikes against Iranian targets, he had authorized cyber strikes and cyber strikes against this militia group. What they were going after was their communications network that tied them all together and gave them the ability to communicate amongst themselves.

So cyber is something that, of course, keeps U.S. troops safe, you have no pilots at risk, but it's a dicey business. Because a lot of times, you don't want to stop your adversary's communications, because you want to eavesdrop on them or intercept their conversation, so you know what they're up to.

But this time, the President approved it, and it's something that one can expect to continue to see the military do in a very classified fashion, go after its adversaries in cyberspace.

The Pentagon, watching very carefully -- these very adamant statements by Iran today, noting the President's talking that if Iran were to attack the U.S. there would be obliteration. The Pentagon clearly hopes it doesn't get back to where it was last week -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Barbara Starr, thank you very much.

[14:10:05] BALDWIN: Just into us here at CNN, a sitting Congressman is accused of using campaign funds for his extramarital affairs with lobbyists and staffers. We've got those details. And, the White House gets a new Press Secretary and she's connected to Melania Trump.

Plus, how are 2020 candidates preparing to stand out on a crowded debate stage? Some are watching tape of President Trump. And the family of a missing mother rejecting her strange husband's theory that it's all gone-girl plot. You've got to stick around for this. You are watching CNN. I broke Baldwin.


[14:15:07] BALDWIN: We are back, you're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The climate crisis has prompted U.N. warnings and global protests that resulted in billions of dollars in damages for everything, from intensifying hurricanes to devastating droughts.

And in Oregon, the climate crisis has also prompted all of the Republican State Senators to walk out of the Capitol. And in some cases, flee the state just so they can avoid voting on a bill about it.

Before you ask, no, this is not a headline from "The Onion" and get this, it is not the first time Oregon lawmakers, both Democrat and Republican have pulled this kind of stunt. CNN politics and editor at large Chris Cillizza, is in Washington. Chris Cillizza, how did we get here? APB on the senators, where are they?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Well, good to see democracy working well, right? Brooke, okay so, here are the 11.

Now, what they are doing is this -- there's something called a quorum, and almost every legislative body, including Congress. So essentially, it means there has to be a minimum number of elected officials in the Chamber itself in order to do any official business including voting.

So the issue is not whether, if these 11 people -- these 11 Republicans voted against this bill, which would effectively cap greenhouse gas emissions. It would still pass.

If there was any vote, it would still pass. There are enough Democrats in the Oregon State Senate and the Governor Kate Brown is a Democrat. So it will pass.

So what they are doing is trying to -- essentially, if you go back 30 years in basketball, North Carolina famously had the four corners offense, there was no shot clock. So once they got ahead, they would just hold the ball and let time run out. Because if the other team doesn't have the ball, they can't score, they can't win.

BALDWIN: Go Heels.

CILLIZZA: That's what is happening here. I knew, I put that North Carolina mentioning them for you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

CILLIZZA: That's what's happening here. The Legislative Session ends June the 30th, which means if they can stay out of the Chamber, and the State Police have called them and said, "Hey, we'd like to have you come back." But they've not gone and got them.

Many of them, you mentioned, out-of-state, many of them in Republican friendly Idaho, by the way -- then this bill will die. And even Democrats are saying, it's probably dead.

One other quick thing, you've mentioned, this has happened before. It has, it happened before. This year, in May, these same Republicans walked out because they wanted -- they were upset about a tax cut bill that was in the legislature.

It worked out then because the Governor and Democrats wanted to find compromise because they had all these other legislative priorities coming down the pike, including this climate change bill.

Well now, there's nothing left in the legislative agenda except this climate change bill, which means Democrats have no real leverage to bring them back other than the state police. And they're probably not going to do it.

But look, Democrats have done this, by the way, too, Brook, in Oregon. So it's not just Republicans, but this is not how a healthy democracy works, right?

BALDWIN: Sure. Yes, I know. CILLIZZA: I think we can all agree that hiding in another state is

not what our elected official should be doing.

BALDWIN: Yes, they're not in Washington now and I'm going to explain why in just a second, Chris Cillizza, thank you very much.

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: One is Oregon lawmakers in a sec. But right now, let's turn to the Democrats vying for the White House.

With a little over 24 hours before the first debate, we are learning more about what the candidates are doing to stand out. For some, you know, it involves watching debates evolve, while others taking note of how a body language may be perceived on camera, and still others are getting ready to defend their records and if necessary, attack those of their rivals.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee is one of them. He is live in Miami. Governor, a pleasure, thank you so much for spending some time with us.


BALDWIN: All right so, you hit the stage tomorrow night. Give me some specifics, Governor, how are you preparing?

INSLEE: Well, I'm preparing by listening to the people of Florida, who really are ground zero of the climate crisis.

I was at the Everglades yesterday, where the scientific community have told us that sea water intrusion is not only destroying the Everglades, but jeopardizing the drinking water for about 6 million Floridians.

Today, I was in the Little Haiti neighborhood of Miami, where essentially climate refugees of people who live on the coastline whose homes are now being flooded, are having to go buy property up hill, sort of dispossessing people of lesser income who live on a little higher ground. For what I've been told --

BALDWIN: I know, if I may Governor, I know that this is the focus of your campaign but you have to give me something. Are you watching old tape? Are you thinking of, you know, body language? Are you thinking of attack lines? Like, what is running through your mind here the day before?

INSLEE: Just telling our story and our vision statement that we know that this is not -- the climate change is not a problem. It is an emergency. And what's going through my mind is how to articulate both my experience, which has been vast and successful in Washington, creating 100 percent clean energy bill.

Our plan, our vision statement for creating eight million new jobs, that's been called the gold standard in the last 24 hours, which I appreciate.

[14:20:08] INSLEE: And most importantly to articulate my level of commitment. And I am the candidate, the sole candidate, who has made a pledge to make this the number one priority United States. So experience, vision, and commitment, I think that's what we need much more than stunts, like what's going on in Oregon to defeat the climate crisis.

BALDWIN: Yes. I want to ask you about that in just a second. But staying on the climate crisis, you know, the Vice-President refused to say climate change is a threat during this interview with Jake Tapper, here's a clip.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Do you think human induced climate emergency is a threat to the United States?

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, what I would tell you is that we'll always follow the science on that, in this administration.

TAPPER: For this -- what people are calling a climate emergency, is it a threat? Do you think it's a threat -- manmade climate emergency is a threat?

PENCE: I think the answer to that is going to be based upon the science.

TAPPER: But the science says, yes. I'm asking you what you think.

PENCE: Well, there's many in the science that --

TAPPER: The science community in your own administration at NOAA, at the DNI, they all say it's a threat.

PENCE: I get it. Look --

TAPPER: But you won't, for some reason.

PENCE: What have said is that we are not going to raise utility rates --

TAPPER: So you don't think it's a threat, it's all I'm saying? You don't think it's a threat.

PENCE: I think we are making great progress reducing carbon emissions. America has the cleanest air and water in the world. We'll continue to use market forces.

TAPPER: It's not true. We don't have the cleanest air and water in the world.


BALDWIN: Jake tried, the Vice-President would not go there. Governor Inslee, your reaction to that.

INSLEE: Well, if he was here, I'd say, "Mike, you need to wake up and smell the carbon dioxide." Carbon Dioxide pollution is not only the highest in American history, it's the highest in our time on earth. And it is maddening to me, and we ought to be angry about this, that we have people like Marcia Moss, a woman I met. Whose mobile home was incinerated in the horrendous forest fires where 80 plus people lost their lives in California?

And here we have the Vice-President of the United States, refusing consciously to help the victims of this crisis. It's maddening to me that, you know, the farmers in the Midwest, have a Vice-President who is abandoning them as they're being drowned.

They deserve better. They deserve someone that will be willing to buck the coal industry. Look, this is an administration totally owned by the fossil fuel industry.

We need a leader such as myself, who will look those people in the eye in the fossil fuel industry and say, "This won't do any more. We're not going to shell out $20 billion of your goodies anymore. We're going to build a clean energy economy and put eight million people to work." That's what America needs. I'm up to that challenge and that promise.

BALDWIN: Okay. I want to move on Governor to what's happening in Oregon. You heard Chris Cillizza's reporting --Republicans there are little literally hiding. They're leaving their own state to avoid voting on the climate bill. You tweeted that they are not welcome in Washington. So A -- What do you make of this? And B -- Would you also order police to track them down?

INSLEE: If we had the authority, it would probably be appropriate to help my friend Kate Brown, who is showing leadership dealing with the climate crisis.

Look, this should not be a partisan issue. It is both Republicans and Democrats whose homes are burning down in California. It is both Republicans and Democrats today in Miami, whose homes are being flooded, and having to pay taxes by the millions of dollars to raise the streets here.

We ought to be unified as a nation to develop the eight million clean energy jobs that are there for the taking if we have a plan to put these people to work.

So, these stunts are most immature and most dangerous, because this is a dangerous threat to our health, to our national security.

Now, it's not the only thing we need to do. We need to do it. My state is done, which is to raise the minimum wage. Get the biggest teacher pay increases in United States, develop the first public health option in the United States. These are all things that I've been able to achieve, leading my state. But we have to unify against the thing that threatens our very existence. That's the climate crisis. BALDWIN: We'll be watching for you tomorrow night.

INSLEE: You bet.

BALDWIN: Governor Inslee, thank you very much. Good luck.

INSLEE: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you. Just in, salacious allegations against the sitting member of Congress accused of using campaign funds for his extramarital affairs. And, we are live at that White House this afternoon, where a new Press Secretary has just been announced.


[14:29:11] BALDWIN: Just in to CNN, new revelations about a California Congressman facing multiple charges of fraud and campaign finance violations and court filings made public just today.

Prosecutors alleged that Republican Duncan Hunter was having multiple affairs with lobbyists, with congressional staffers, and using campaign money to pay for them. CNN crime and justice producer David Shortell has been reading through these documents. Dave, what's going on?

DAVID SHORTELL, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Yes, Brooke. Some really serious and salacious allegations coming out in the court filing this week in the case of embattled Republican Representative, Duncan Hunter.

You remember, Hunter already, under tremendous scrutiny when these charges first came down last year -- charges of wire fraud campaign finance violations and allegations from prosecutors that he was spending campaign funds on extravagant vacations with his wife and family as well as some pretty large bar tabs.

Now, some new allegations that add to the government's case. I'll take you through a few of the details and there are many in this filing. According to the filing, Hunter paid ...