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Trump Comments on U.S. Women's Soccer Team; U.S. Debt Ballooning; U.S. Targets Iran Proxy With Cyberattack; Trump Administration Under Fire Over Child Detention Conditions. Aired 3- 3:30p ET

Aired June 25, 2019 - 15:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

As lawmakers feud over how to fund, this humanitarian crisis is growing at the U.S. border. Hundreds of children are caught in the middle.

CNN has new reporting that more than 100 minors who were being bused away from this one overcrowded facility in Clint, Texas, are now being transferred right back.

A team of lawyers and doctors recently visited that facility and reported seeing filthy and inhumane conditions. And last hour, I spoke with a woman who was part of the group. This is what she saw.


CLARA LONG, VISITED BORDER DETENTION FACILITY: I spoke with children who were dirty, who said that they had not had adequate opportunities to take a bath. They were noticeably -- 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 happened to be in the cell with them.


BALDWIN: But just as officials try to figure out how to tackle this crisis, the acting Customs and Border Protection commissioner, John Sanders, has just announced he is resigning. He did not specify why.

CNN's Nick Valencia is right there along the border in Clint, Texas, where these appalling conditions are being reported. And moments ago -- Nick, let's listen to this together -- President Trump responded to those reports. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yes, I am. I am very concerned. And they're much better than they were under President Obama by far.

And we're trying to get the Democrats to agree to really give us some humanitarian aid humanitarian money. And that is a very fair question. And I appreciate that question.

But I'm very concerned. It's in much better shape than it ever was.


BALDWIN: So, Nick, he says he's concerned. He says he's actually never spoken with John Sanders, which was news.

But let's focus on this facility and you. What more do you know about these kids being taken back to that facility?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a decision that leaves a lot of people scratching their heads as to why they would remove 250 children from here, only to bring 100 right back.

But according to a call with reporters earlier, Customs and Border Protection said there was no longer concern about overcrowding. Those 250 children, they found shelters for them through Health and Human Services, which freed up space to bring back 100 here.

But the concern is that they're being brought back right to the very same conditions, these conditions that were said to be unconscionable by these independent monitors who did a four-day visit along the border last week.

And in that call with reporters, Brooke, Customs and Border Protection admitted that their facilities are not meant to handle this kind of volume of influx of migrants. They're not meant to be -- they're only meant to be short-term facilities. These are processing centers where migrants should be in and out in 72 hours and onto a sponsor or another licensed facility.

And, instead, you have reports like the ones we're hearing from these Flores council monitors who say, children are not getting baths regularly. They're not showering for three weeks at a time. Children are sleeping on the floor, no mattresses.

In that phone call earlier that I mentioned, Customs and Border Protection did push back on those allegations and say that, despite what we're hearing and what we're reporting about the limited access to soap, that these child migrants do have access to soap, that monitors, state monitors, are helping watch these juveniles.

It is not -- and it is really in stark contrast to what we're hearing from these independent monitors, who are saying in some instances that there is a pervasive health crisis right now happening along the border. And they're very, very worried about infectious diseases spreading.

What is very clear from both sides is that there is an overwhelming crisis, and Customs and Border Protection is stretched thin -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: That you are standing there and having to report on whether or not these children have soap, that is what's happening. That is the state of affairs right now.

Nick Valencia, thank you very much.

The U.S. House of Representatives is expected to vote today on this multibillion-dollar aid package aimed at addressing this crisis at the border. It is happening amid infighting among Democrats and as the White House threatens a veto if this bill is even passed.

While Washington wrestles over what to do there, some folks in Texas are taking solutions into their own hands.

My next guest tried to donate soap and toothbrushes and diapers and shampoo to these border facilities. But when he went to the door in Clint, he said no one answered.

He is Gabriel Acuna.

Gabriel, thank you so much for being here.


BALDWIN: So out of the goodness of your own heart, you go and buy these items for these kids who are in need. And you go to this facility, and then you tell me what happened.

ACUNA: So I'm essentially, I went to go and pick up those items, took them over. It was on a Sunday afternoon. So, the facility was closed. The main doors to, I guess, I would assume, the lobby were locked, and you couldn't go inside, I'm assuming because they're only opening Monday through Friday.


So I left them there at the door. There were some other people arriving. I didn't know what they were doing there. I just kind of minded my own business and took off.

But I later found out through social media that they were also arriving with diapers and other types of items as well.

BALDWIN: Do you have any idea what happened your items?

ACUNA: I don't.

I believe they came back. I got in contact with one of them. And he happened to -- just by coincidence happened to be a Facebook acquaintance. And he mentioned they were going the following Monday. I haven't spoke to him since. But I would -- I hope maybe they took them with them so that they could bring them back on Monday. But I'm not sure.

BALDWIN: CNN actually reached out to a former CBP adviser, who told us that the agency actually cannot accept donations because essentially they would count as spending, and that they haven't been appropriated by Congress.

But, today, CBP told reporters that they are looking into how they could at least potentially accept donations.

Does that at least make you at all hopeful? How do you feel hearing that?

ACUNA: I missed the last part, that they were looking at possibly accepting donations?


BALDWIN: They're looking at possibly accepting donations, exactly.

But they can't right now because of technicalities.

ACUNA: I mean, there should be some kind of policy in place where -- I mean, it's the simplest. We go -- it's going back to this conversation that it's as simple as the basic needs that these children should have.

I mean, people in general, let alone children, and that are watching infants as well, that should have been resolved a long time ago. So if they're going to do this, yes, make it happen. Let the community step forward. Obviously, the community wants to help out. Obviously, there's resources, there are nonprofits that want to help out.

So let the community get involved, if anybody higher up in terms of the administration or likewise in the government is not able to do so.

BALDWIN: Gabriel Acuna, good of you to try. Thank you very much for coming on.

ACUNA: Thank you for having me. Appreciate it.

BALDWIN: You got it.

Breaking news now on the escalating tensions with Iran. CNN has learned that the U.S. carried out a cyberattack on an Iranian- sponsored militia.

Also ahead, a new study that shows many of the most common prescription drugs can lead to a significant increase in your risk for dementia.

And we're keeping an eye on the stock market this afternoon after news that the federal debt is expected to skyrocket to unprecedented levels if Congress -- if nothing is done in Congress. So stand by for that.



BALDWIN: The U.N. secretary-general is urging both the U.S. and Iran to -- quote -- "show maximum restraint," as tensions build between the two countries.

And that message comes as CNN learns that the U.S. carried out a massive cyberattack on an Iran-sponsored militia group just days after the U.S. shot -- the U.S. drone was shot down.

The move caused the White House to slap those new sanctions on Iran. And, today, Iran's president hit back with this fiery response:


HASSAN ROUHANI, IRANIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): They have become frustrated and confused. They do not know what to do. They do strange things that no sane person in the history of world politics has done, or at least I don't remember.

This is because of their total confusion. They have become mentally disabled. The White House is suffering from mental disability.


BALDWIN: That jab lead President Trump to vow obliteration if Iran launches an attack on the U.S.

Senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen in his live in Tehran.

And, Fred, a lot of moving parts here, but, first, just what could be the fallout from this cyberattack?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the fallout from the cyberattack could be that the Iranians might retaliate in some way, shape or form, if they think that that's necessary, and if they want to keep upping the ante.

But right now, Broke, it really seems as though there's almost no walking back from either side in all this. I mean, we saw those comments that were traded today. That was just absolutely remarkable. First of all, I have never heard that kind of language from Iran's President Hassan Rouhani, saying that the White House suffers from mental disability.

And then the president coming back and essentially threatening that there could be obliteration. I mean, those are some extremely strong words. And one of the things that the Iranians keep saying, they say, look, as long as the U.S. does not walk back some of these sanctions, there definitely aren't going to be any sort of talks with the Iranian side.

And if there's no talks with the Iranian side, then this situation that we're seeing right now could continue to snowball. And some of the scenes that we -- things that we have seen over the past couple of days, the past couple weeks, the tanker attacks, the drone getting shot down, a lot of that are things that could quickly get out of control.

And right now, certainly, from where I am, Brooke, from the Iranian side, it seems like they don't want to sit down with the U.S. at this point in time.

It was one of the interesting things that we also heard from President Hassan Rouhani today. He said, look, the Americans are saying they want Iran to go back to the table and that's why their sanctioning around. They want Iran to go back to diplomacy. And now they're sanctioning Iran's top diplomat, Javad Zarif, in the next coming days. How does that mesh with one another?


And Javad Zarif also, the diplomat himself, he tweeted not too long ago. He talked about John Bolton and how he thought John Bolton was trying to drive President Trump into war.

And then he said Iran never left the negotiating table in a tweet not too long ago. The B-team, which he refers to John Bolton and some other people as well, dragged the U.S. out while plotting for war.

So, the Iranians essentially accusing the U.S. of plotting for war. The U.S. accusing the Iranians of escalating the situation. Right now, it's very difficult to see how both sides are going to get out of this, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And then President Trump just now at the White House was asked, what's your exit strategy if the U.S. finds itself at war with Iran? And he said, not going to need an exit strategy, that just in from President Trump.

Frederik Pleitgen in Iran, Fred, thank you.

Just in to CNN, the chair of the Federal Reserve is now responding to criticism from President Trump that the Central Bank doesn't know what it's doing.

And the White House gets a new press secretary, and she has connections to the first lady, Melania Trump. More on her.

And a college student is missing after she took a Lyft ride from the airport, and hasn't been seen since. What police are saying about her mysterious disappearance.



BALDWIN: The nation's soaring federal debt is reaching crisis level. It's now projected to balloon to -- quote -- "unprecedented levels" over the next 30 years if lawmakers don't step in to change laws.

That alarming news coming today from the CBO, Congressional Budget Office.

CNN politics and business corresponding Cristina Alesci is here.

So, talk to me about the impact of U.S. carrying record debt and how this is all happening under a Republican administration.


The impact right now is life of the party. It's sort of like throwing down your credit card at a bar with your friends.

BALDWIN: Go, go, go.

ALESCI: It feels really good in the moment. But in the long term, what our government, our own government said today is that the debt level right now poses or in the future poses a substantial risk to the U.S. economy.

And, as you point out, this is happening under a Republican administration. This is supposed to be the party of fiscal restraint. They criticize Democrats all the time for the spend, spend, spend policies, and yet this administration has cut taxes to the tune of $1.5 trillion and, at the same time, increased spending.

And I just want to put some context around this, Brooke. Look at this chart. You have the CBO projecting, essentially, that the government debt will be 92 percent of GDP 10 years from now vs. 78 percent this year, and in, 30 years, it'll balloon to 144 percent of GDP.

So the government here is projecting unprecedented, historic levels of debt. But the administration is not going to do anything about this, because the negative impact of all of this will appear years from now, because what will happen is, over time, our lenders will say, we want more interest rate to pay for all of this debt, to hold all of this debt.

And as a result, we might have an economic slowdown. That's the concern here, and that's why the CBO is warning about it.

BALDWIN: OK, that's from the CBO.

I know you also have news from Jerome Powell. We're going to have to look to for that, because we're waiting for an event at the White House.

But, Cristina, I appreciate you rolling through and giving me that.

ALESCI: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: This is what I'm referring to.

Any moment now, here, live pictures from the White House, the president will be awarding the Medal of Honor to the first living recipient from the Iraq War. So stay tuned for that, happening any moment now. Also, speaking of the president, he has now weighed in on the U.S. women's soccer -- playing the World Cup, including their pay and the choice of protesting, at least one of the players. We will have that for you.

And just in, a sitting congressman is accused of using campaign funds for his extramarital affairs, plural, with lobbyists and staffers.

We're back in a moment.



BALDWIN: President Trump is taking a new interest in soccer, and specifically the U.S. women's national team.

In an interview, he refused to say whether they deserve equal pay. You know the story. The team is fighting for their fourth World Cup title, while also suing their bosses for gender pay discrimination.

This is what President Trump told "The Hill" -- quote -- "I love watching women's soccer. They're really talented. I think a lot of it also has to do with the economics. I mean, who draws more? Where's the money coming in? I know that, when you have the great stars like Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo and some of these stars, they get paid a lot of money, but they draw hundreds of thousands of people. But I haven't taken a position on that at all."

So let's go straight to Christine Brennan, CNN sports analyst, also "USA Today" sports columnist.

You and I have spoken quite a bit about this, but it's -- now that the president has chimed in, right, I wanted your thoughts, because we're talking about women's World Cup, who's representing the USA. Ronaldo doesn't even play on the U.S. World Cup team.

So you tell me what the economics of all of this is, Chris Brennan.


Brooke, "The Wall Street Journal" reported, actually, over the last three years, that the women's team has made more in game-related revenue than the men's team in the United States. So there's that.

Revenue, if Trump wants to talk about that, that is crystal clear. The U.S. women are actually killing it on the financial side. And even on that alone, they should get more money.

Ronaldo is an interesting name for the president to just bring up out of thin air. He has been facing for 10 years allegations of sexual assault, and there's a new federal lawsuit against him for sexual assault. Why would you bring up that name in particular? Obviously, not an American male soccer player either.

For the president to go after this team after that stirring 2-1 victory over Spain as they get ready for their biggest game of the World Cup -- it is the biggest game in the World Cup -- USA-France on Friday in the quarterfinals. The winner of that should win the World Cup, although it's very competitive.

Just stunning that he would pick this time to not be on the side of the U.S. women, when the rest of the country is clearly on the side of the U.S. women's national soccer team.

BALDWIN: He also -- go, USA.