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WAPO Op-Ed: Trump "Heroically" Saves Us From Himself; Police Say Missing Utah College Student Last Seen at Park; Catholic School Fires Gay Teacher to Stay in Archdiocese; 100-Plus Migrant Kids Moved Back to Facility Called "Unconscionable"; Government Contractor Accused of Ignoring Inmates' Pleas for Help; Hundreds of Strangers Pack Korean War Veteran's Funeral; Acting Customs & Border Protection Chief Resigns Amid Crisis. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 25, 2019 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] DANA MILBANK, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: We've seen, Brianna, from the very beginning, the president sort of governs by crisis. Sometimes real crises, sometimes crises he's invented.

But more recently, we've been seeing that he steps in heroically to rescue from this very crisis sometimes before we knew there was a crisis. For example, saying he stopped this attack on Iran and who were the bad people that ordered that attack? Oh, wait, that was also President Trump.

So it's almost as if the cycle of crisis and recovery has accelerated, I think, as pressure has built.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And you focus a lot, too, on the people that he chooses to be in his cabinet, his appointees.

MILBANK: Well, it's been quite an extraordinary show. And, you know, we -- Axios this week got ahold of a bunch of vetting papers that were done before these people were hired.

Typically, we say that they didn't do adequate vetting. They didn't know what they were getting. But when you look at the visiting reports, they actually knew exactly what they were getting. The president was given these reports. He did it, anyway.

So we're seeing every day the consequence of this now. Now, we have yet another acting official at immigration, yet another White House communications director. I think it's the seventh or eighth of this point.

So it's another case of the president creating the problem by putting somebody who shouldn't be there in the job in the first place and then rescuing us by replacing it with somebody else, perhaps somebody else that shouldn't be in the job.

KEILAR: I wonder sort of your institutional knowledge of covering the White House. I asked you this because, when I covered the White House, if there was an event when you showed up, it actually encouraged me to think about it as this moment that actually -- that would have some theater to it. I knew if you were there, that it was a most of significance.

How is it different when you're covering the Trump administration compared to past administrations?

MILBANK: It's entirely different because there are no more theatrical moments in our politics. They exist, but what's done with the president's thumbs on his phone as he's tweeting out and changing the story moment by moment. So the whole system has utterly changed. I think the way we all cover politics has changed.

And it appears that it's just the chaos driven by one man. But when you look behind it, often, there's some method to what's going on here. But it defies the usual scrutiny that worked in the Obama administration, the Bush administration, the Clinton administration. So it's an entirely different show.

KEILAR: We enjoy you coming on. We enjoyed the column, Dana. Thank you so much.

MILBANK: All right, thank you, Brianna.

KEILAR: Dana Milbank, with the "Washington Post."

After being pressured by the church, a Catholic high school fires a married gay teacher. And the school says it had to. He had to choose between the teacher and keeping its funding from the church.

Plus, we have more on our breaking news. Chaos erupting on the border as more than a hundred migrant children are being moved back to a facility that's been called unconscionable.


[13:37:17] KEILAR: There are more questions than answers in the disappearance of a University of Utah student. Salt Lake City police say that Mackenzie Lueck was last seen in the early morning hours of June 17th when a Lyft driver dropped her off at a park. Her friends and family have not heard from her since.

But investigator say they don't know if Lueck is in trouble or if she doesn't want to be found.

Nick Watt is following this story for us.

Nick, what do we know?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, it is now more than eight days since this college senior was last heard from.

The police have given us a timeline. She landed at Salt Lake City Airport at 1:35 in the morning June 17th. She was at the airport for a little over an hour. She got into a Lyft at 2:42 and was dropped off at Hatch Park at in Salt Lake City at 2:59 a.m.

Now, the Lyft driver, police say, is not a suspect. He is Cooperating fully with the investigation. And he has told police that Mackenzie Lueck met somebody in that park

at 3:00 a.m. That person had a vehicle. It's unclear -- police will not tell us any information regarding that person, not even the gender or a description of the car. But that seems to be the focus of the investigation right now. They're canvassing people in the area. They are looking for security camera footage.

But they say, right now, there's not even any evidence of foul play. And they're appealing to Mackenzie, if she is out there, to get in touch and let people know she's OK -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Nick Watt, thank you for that.

Under pressure from the church, a Catholic high school in Indianapolis has terminated a married, gay teacher. The school says it was forced to choose between the teacher and the church and all of its funding.

The Indianapolis archdioceses says, quote, "This issue is not about sexual orientation. Rather, it is about our expectation that all personnel inside a Catholic school, who are ministers of faith, abide by all church teachings, including the nature of marriage.

Carrie Cordero is a CNN legal analyst and former counsel to the assistant attorney general.

The teacher in question is in a same-sex marriage. Is there a legal argument to be made here for the teacher or the school or the church?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's an interesting issue. I want to distinguish between the arguments that the school is making, which has to do with their affiliation with the Catholic church, which has one set of issues versus what the issue is under U.S. law.

And on U.S. law, whether or not a person can be fired based on sexual orientation is an issue that is not defined right now. There's a wide variety of differences between states statutes and practices and case law. And it's an issue at the federal level that the Supreme Court has yet to take up. So there's an unsettled area of federal law in this issue.

[13:40:09] KEILAR: Public opinion seems to shift in support of it being protected. How will that factor in?

CORDERO: When the court is looking at it, what they're going to look at is, for example, one issue is the text of the Equal Rights Amendment of 1964, which says you can't discriminate based on sex. But that's the quote, it's based on sex, not based on sexual orientation. So that's one of the issues in a few different cases that the court is going to take up.

The court can either -- try to redefine what the law is or the court could say this is what we think the text of the federal law says and it's up to Congress to change the law. And that's really where public opinion comes into play, whether or not citizens want to encourage their members of Congress to change the law. KEILAR: I want to ask you for your legal opinion on what's going on

at the border. We've seen a lot of outrage after kids in CBP custody have gone without basic necessities and they're not even getting the sleep they should get. Where does the law come into this?

CORDERO: This is an interesting question that I'm currently doing research on.

One of the issues that I think is at play, particularly with this facility that was alleged to have unsanitary conditions, conditions that, once someone is in the United States, they potentially have civil rights claims to.

So one question I had as this was being reported about the conditions in this Clint, Texas, facility, is whether or not, under the Department of Justice, there's an obligation to look into whether there are civil rights violations going on. And I wonder whether concerns about that potential exposure played into decisions to quickly move children out of it.

Because you can have a situation where, if children are in unsafe conditions -- I read allegations in some of the public reporting about Border Patrol officers not treating the children -- being punitive in the way that they are treating the children, and that potentially could expose both those agents and the personnel there to civil rights investigations.

KEILAR: We will be curious as we follow along with you on that research.

Thank you, Carrie Cordero. We appreciate it.

CORDERO: Thank you.

KEILAR: Pleas for health ignored. A CNN exclusive report into the country's largest provider of health care for inmates uncovering some shocking details.

Also, Republicans in Oregon literally go into hiding to scuttle a vote on a climate bill. Hear what is happening now as the governor authorizes police to track them down.


[13:47:39] KEILAR: A CNN investigation into the country's largest provider of health care for inmates found case after case of people trapped behind bars begging for medical help often with disastrous outcomes. One man died after pleading for help for a month.

As CNN senior investigator correspondent, Drew Griffin, reports, people suffered from treatable conditions that were ignored, sometimes until it was too late.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): What you are witnessing is the slow death of an inmate, a father of five, whose pneumonia went untreated at a Colorado jail for days until he died in a pool of vomit and blood.

Teara Shorter had a similar experience in a Las Vegas jail in 2014. She turned herself in when she couldn't pay the fines for minor charges of not wearing a seat belt and obstruction. Soon after, she fell ill.

TEARA SHORTER, FORMER INMATE WHO BECAME ILL: All I felt was pain and nausea.

GRIFFIN: She was throwing up. Said she begged the jail's medical staff for days to take her to the hospital and finally collapsed. When rushed to an emergency room, she learned from doctors her appendix had burst days before.

SHORTER: The appendix was burst for so long, it like messed up the lining of my stomach.

GRIFFIN: Shorter, who says she was a healthy 19-year-old when she was arrested and has since undergone multiple injuries. She's now suing the giant private health care company, Correct Care Solutions, or CCS, the jail's health care provider.

Based in Nashville, CCS, now called Wellpath, is this largest correctional provider in the U.S., with contractor covering 300,000 inmates in more than 500 facilities.

And for the past year, "CNN INVESTIGATES" has been looking into allegations the company has delayed and denied care to some of the most vulnerable people in society with disastrous results.

Including a 60-year-old man arrested for violating probation over a shoplifting charge. He begged for help for a month before dying when his perforated ulcer filled his stomach with blood.

In Michigan, a 43-year-old woman arrested for check fraud pleaded for help about her swollen breast for two weeks. By the time she was rushed to a hospital, a mass in her right breast had ruptured, forcing doctors to perform a mastectomy.

BLAKE ELLIS, SENIOR WRITER, "CNN INVESTIGATES": We came across a number of cases where people had very treatable conditions, like diabetes, appendicitis, and conditions that ended up turning septic and killing people because they weren't treated in a timely manner, if at all.

[13:50:15] GRIFFIN: CNN reporters, Blake Ellis and Melanie Hicken, reviewed thousands of pages of internal and government documents, emails, inmate medical records, and autopsy reports, and they spoke to more than 50 former and current employees of the company.

MELANIE HICKEN, SENIOR WRITER, "CNN INVESTIGATES": A common theme we heard is they believe the company focused on cost cutting, on saving money for the government clients had resulted in substandard care and, in some cases, deaths that could have been prevented. GRIFFIN: CNN found the company has been sued for more than 70 deaths

in the last five years.

DR. CASSANDRA NEWKIRK, CHIEF PSYCHIATRIC OFFICER, WELLPATH: When there's litigation going on, you only see the negative outcomes.

GRIFFIN: Dr. Cassandra Newkirk spoke to CNN on behalf of the CCS/Wellpath company.

(on camera): Internal documents, emails, medical records, autopsy records. And when we give it to an outside group of experts, pattern seems to be, according to them, that there's a denial of care going on here.

NEWKIRK: Unfortunately, bad things do happen in any health care organization. So, yes, the experts may see a pattern, but that's a very, very small number compared to the actual number of people who we totally serve across the United States.

GRIFFIN (voice-over): Dr. Newkirk and Wellpath refused to comment on specific cases but deny allegations care is being withheld to boost profits.

NEWKIRK: Our staff are told never to allow financial anything, even their perception that they should be saving us money. Their job is to provide the best clinical care that they can.

GRIFFIN (on camera): Brianna, that is exactly what Wellpath's president is also telling CNN, that these are isolated situations that don't represent a pattern that defines Wellpath. He says his company has rigorous policies that focus on compassionate care -- Brianna?


KEILAR: Drew Griffin, thank you.

A 91-year-old Korean War veteran dies without any known family. But the community steps up in a big way. We'll have this moving story, next.

Plus, just in, salacious accusations against a sitting congressman. Prosecutors now alleging Duncan Hunter used campaign funds for extra marital affairs with lobbyists and staffers. Stand by for those details.


[13:57:15] KEILAR: When a 91-year-old Korean War veteran died without any known family, the Nebraska community that he lived in stepped up in a major way.

Nearly 300 people in the Lincoln area, most of them complete strangers to this vet, attended Dale Quick's funeral after the funeral home posted an appeal on the social media, calling for a big turnout to honor the Army vet. The response was so large they had to set up an overflow room in the chapel. Even the governor attended. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETE RICKETTS, (R), MISSOURI GOVERNOR: Everybody who puts on that uniform has sacrificed for us, and we wanted to make sure we're not leaving anybody behind.

DANIEL WHEELER, MEMBER, PATRIOT GUARD BIKERS: You don't leave them unclaimed. You don't leave them un-honored either.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: To see all the people that showed up that didn't even know him. I'm sure some of them did know him, I'm sure most of them didn't know him. And it was wonderful.


KEILAR: Now Quick's distant family, who found out about his death just days ago, visibly moved at the sendoff that was fit for a hero.

Quick received full military honors after serving in the Army for nearly seven years. He's now buried next to his wife, Caroline.

That's it for me.

"NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

As members of Congress argue over a funding bill, hundreds of children are suffering inside American border facilities. CNN is learning that more than 100 minors who were being relocated from an overcrowded facility in Clint, Texas, are now being transferred right back.

This is a facility where an inspection team sounded the alarm on what they describe as filthy and inhumane conditions. A team of doctors and lawyers have shared multiple accounts of children with soiled clothing, sleeping on concrete and office chairs. Many kids sick with hacking coughs. We're talking elementary school-aged children being forced to care for other infants and toddlers.

So I'll talk to someone who saw the situation firsthand in just a moment.

Just as officials try to figure out how to tackle this crisis, acting Customs and Border Commissioner John Sanders has just announced he's resigning. He did not specify why.

All of this, as there's infighting with the Democratic Party ahead of an expected vote today on a multi-billion-dollar aid package to address the crisis.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): This is an immigration bill. It's not immigration bill. It's an appropriations bill to meet the needs of our children so it can remove the needs that they have, but also the shame that we should have if they don't have diapers and toothbrushes and care. I've said to the members we have to have a country where.