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CNN TONIGHT

Joe Biden's Poll Numbers Drop; President Trump Admires Strong Men; Ivanka Trump Present For The G20 Summit In Japan; Don Jr. Initiating Birther Conspiracy Theory; Reports Of Cruel And Vulgar Posts By Current And Former Border Patrol Agents. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired July 1, 2019 - 22:00   ET

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


[22:00:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: Know this, the money is going to help but it's not going to help overnight. There is a lot more to be done. We must stay on this.

That's it for us. "CNN TONIGHT" with Laura Coates in for D. Lemon right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: You know, Chris, this is such a horrible -- I mean, the idea of famed epiphany just bugs me. Doesn't it like the idea of all of a sudden, was this is an issue before. You're listening about it now. I mean, the old saying is, if somebody shows who they are, believe them. Why did they not believe before?

CUOMO: Well, because of politics, Laura. Because they are playing to advantage. Somebody told the Democrats let him own this. This is his problem. And you need to get protections.

But here's the thing. I mean, you know, you don't have to be the brilliant lawyer that you are to know that this is a bad case. I'm not going to help the kids in the crisis because I can't get enough of the guarantees that people will treat them nicely. So, you're not going to get them any help?

COATES: Nothing.

CUOMO: That was the argument. And look, there's a lot more to do. As you know. What asylum rules work what don't. What are the systems in place for separation? How do you process, where do they have to be during processing? These are rules. This cause the jam as much as anything else.

COATES: You know, the question for you is your last question. What are you going to do about it? I mean, you've known this, so what are you going to do about it. You know full well that people have constitutional rights even if they are so called undocumented. These are children we're talking about. We've seen this play out before.

At this point in time I think the American people are saying all right, now that we're all on the same page, let's actually turn it at this point. So, I wonder what's going to happen next.

Chris, thank you.

CUOMO: Got to stay on it.

COATES: You have to. This is CNN TONIGHT. And I'm Laura Coates, sitting in for Don Lemon.

And there's a huge shake up in the 2020 race tonight. Our new CNN poll shows Joe Biden lead, well, it's shrinking in the wake of the Democratic debates just of last week. And Kamala Harris is now taking second place after this break out moment in those debates.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: There was a little girl in California, who was part of the second class to integrate her public schools. And she was bussed to school every day. And that little girl was me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: That is a huge statement she's made. And one that's recycled all the time now. Now Elizabeth Warren is actually in third place. And Bernie Sanders is now in fourth. And the race is really tightening up now. And we'll talk about that in just a moment.

That is the president's obsession with dictators and strong men is apparently on full display. And make no mistake about it. The world leaders, they're taking note.

There was a historic walk at the North Korea territory side by side with Kim Jong-un. That coming after the G20 where the president said he gets along with everybody except reporters. And went on to praise one strong man after another.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I get along with everybody. Except you people, actually. I get along with a lot of people. I have a tremendous relationship with President Xi. I get along with President Putin. I get along with Mohammad from Saudi Arabia. President Erdogan, he's tough but I get along with him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: He gets along with everyone. And speaking of eye-catching moments, did you see this? Ivanka Trump at the G20 apparently trying to join into a conversation with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, French President Emmanuel Macron, British Prime Minister Theresa May and IMF |Chairwoman Christine Lagarde. And leading to what looked like -- I mean, it was a pretty awkward moment.

We're also going to talk tonight about reports about a Facebook group for border patrol agents. Reportedly including cruel jokes about migrant's deaths and lewd and insulting vulgar comments about Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

But first, I want to talk about our new CNN poll and the shake up in the 2020 race tonight. Here to discuss, Chris Cillizza and Nia-Malika Henderson. Nice to see

you both. I'll start with you, Chris.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Hello.

COATES: Chris, this CNN poll out cut (ph) entirely after the very first debate. And the race is tightening. Is there still even a clear front runner or is this race now wide open?

CILLIZZA: OK. So, look at the graphic that we have up now. This is what's important. So, it's important where they are now. Biden, 22. Harris, 17, Warren, 15, Sanders, 14. What is more important is, remember, this is a long process, Laura. A lot of it is about momentum. A lot of it is about sort of what direction your curve is moving.

Joe Biden down 10 from the late May poll we did. Kamala Harris up nine. Elizabeth Warren up eight. Bernie Sanders down four.

[22:04:57] That trend line if -- I mean, you don't have to be a mathematician to understand that if you lose 10 points support in two months that is -- or in a month, rather, that should be concerning.

Now, one quick point. There could be a recency (ph) effect. This poll was in the field right after that second night of the debate where Kamala Harris did well very, very well. Joe Biden, I thought did quite poorly. Bernie Sanders was so-so.

It's possible that Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren both who did well in the debate got a little bump from that. That's reflective here, that might wear off a little bit over the next month between now and the CNN debate at the end of the month and maybe Biden's numbers come up.

But still, if you're the former vice president of the United States and you've just dropped 10 points of support in a month you got to be worried.

COATES: I mean, you're close in that gap quickly if you're Harris and Warren. But Nia-Malika, you know, Biden still has extraordinary strong support and that's coming from black voters.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right., zero. Why are black voters so far sticking with the former V.P.? Is

COATES: Thirty-six 36 percent back Biden, 24 percent for Harris, 12 percent Warren, nine percent Sanders. Buttigieg by the way it about the Obama nostalgia happening here? Or something else. What's the deal, Nia?

HENDERSON: I think it's that they're familiar with Joe Biden. He's got that high name I.D. You talked to voters and I did in the aftermath of that disaster debate performance by Joe Biden and they still feel like he's a winner. They feel like not only can he make it through this primary, but he's the most electable going against Donald Trump. They like the fact that he was loyal to the former President Obama.

Somebody they obviously still have a lot of goodwill towards and good feelings towards. So, I think that is what's going on.

What you see from Kamala Harris is she is rising in the polls. Some of that is because of her increase support among African-Americans and some of it is just more general with white voters as well, with younger voters as well.

And so, I think she's got to feel pretty good about where she is right now. She took advantage of this moment, right, in a way that you just didn't see Biden do. She knew this was going to be a big stage, the biggest stage she's had so far. Her name I.D. of course isn't where Sanders is. It's not where a Biden is.

So, you know, you talked to folks who like Biden who are sort of surrounding his campaign and want to come out and support him. They are just saying, you know, why wasn't he more prepared for this moment?

And then after the debate he's had a couple stumbles as well, you know, talking about gang bangers and all these kinds of things when he was in front of that crowd talking about the sort of shift in terms of the way gay Americans are seen.

So, he's got to figure out where he goes from here. You know I think it's clear that Harris has him on the ropes a bit and really starting to take away some of that luster. This idea that he's the most electable candidate is sort of inevitable.

COATES: So, Chris, what do you --

(CROSSTALK)

CILLIZZA: And one quick --

COATES: -- make about the idea that Biden support is still high among black voters? Especially if Nia is right, that, you know, he got a real pounding from Senator Harris on a topic he should have been prepared to discuss. I mean, the issue of bussing --

CILLIZZA: Yes.

COATES: -- he should have been prepared about that.

CILLIZZA: It's hard to knock people off their initial impression. It just is. And I think Nia is exactly right. Joe Biden is a known commodity in the African-American community. One bad performance and one bad answer on bussing might not do it.

But, again, Nia's reference. They think that he is the one who can win. The problem with putting all of your eggs in the I'm the guy who's the front runner and I'm going to win basket is, if your polling starts to shows you not the front runner anymore, then where are you, right? And that's the danger. So, Biden has to have a message beyond just I'm the one who's going to

win. Because honestly, you look at that trend line the second Joe Biden drops below one of these candidates it then becomes exponentially harder to make that up.

COATES: And you know, that might be the case. I mean, think about this, Nia. You think about the idea that certainly if Biden was on the ropes, hasn't Kamala Harris, the case based on her own record opened herself up to scrutiny of her own record? Is that going to be an issue now especially as a former prosecutor, is that going to be an issue for her?

HENDERSON: I think that's right. And you saw Biden kind of at least tilt in that direction in the debate. When he said well, listen, I decided to become a public defender not a prosecutor. Guess who the prosecutor is in that instance. Of course, it's Kamala Harris.

You've seen some African-Americans, for instance, criticize her. She had tried to label herself as a progressive prosecutor, saying that she implemented some changes when she was attorney general of California. But that is a weakness.

The question is, who on that stage with her is going to go after her? Right? She made great gains primarily because she went, you know, in sort of aggressive offensive posture going at Joe Biden. Who does that to her? Right? Is it Cory Booker whose kind of taking his claim on criminal justice or reform and some of the things that he did in the Senate? It is Castro? Is it can Biden pull that off? Right?

Can you actually do that, particularly when you've got the crime bill. Right? As part of his record, Joe Biden. So that's the question who --

(CROSSTALK)

COATES: And by the way, Nia, the other question here is --

[22:10:01] HENDERSON: Yes.

COATES: -- what if she doesn't get the same draw in her debate?

HENDERSON: Right. Exactly.

COATES: What if Joe Biden not against her?

HENDERSON: We don't know who's going to --

COATES: What if somebody else?

COATES: Yes, we don't know who is going to be on that stage.

(CROSSTALK)

COATES: Well, I want --

CILLIZZA: And just, Laura, one other point on the racial breakdown. Remember, the reason that Hillary Clinton is able to fend off a stronger than expected challenge from Bernie Sanders? She retains a significant portion of the non-white vote.

African American voters and Hispanic voters never really leave her. Sanders has never really able to cut into it. Why does Barack Obama four years prior to that beat Hillary Clinton? Same exact reason.

HENDERSON: Right.

CILLIZZA: Hillary Clinton is never able to cut into particularly among African-Americans, never able to cut in that support. So, Biden needs that. He has to have that black vote. If he doesn't, he's in trouble.

COATES: Well, it's July 1st. Still early. Thank you both, Nia-Malika and Chris Cillizza.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, Laura.

COATES: You know, note to self, never a short answer when you hear it let me talk about the racial issue really quick.

Now I want to bring in Terry McAuliffe who of course, is the former chair of the DNC and former campaign manager for Hillary Clinton. Good morning -- good evening, Governor. I see you on the show. I want --

(CROSSTALK)

TERRY MCAULIFFE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Laura, great to be with you.

COATES: Thank you. I want your analysis on this brand-new CNN poll numbers. Biden's lead has slipped to just five points after the debate. Is Joe Biden in danger here as the front runner?

MCAULIFFE: Well, sure, he's in danger. Any time you drop 10 points in a poll is in danger. I would say probably presents an opportunity. He's got to come out now strong. He has to do very well. He has to show us very significant fund-raising number when those number come out on July 15.

In addition, for the CNN debate in July, he's got to come out and have a very strong performance. He can make this up. It's an opportunity for him that he can be strong. But you know, listen, it was a tough debate for him and a lot of folks are moving.

The other interesting thing in the debate will be you saw Castro went after Beto O'Rourke. You saw Kamala went after Biden and they both moved in the polls.

So, my guess is for all the other candidates who will be on that debate stage in July they are going to be very aggressive. We are now getting to the point that these candidates if they cannot show momentum, they cannot raise any money and their campaign will be doomed.

We're really getting to the point that they have got to really differentiate themselves in the upcoming debate. The money is a big piece. The July 15 numbers is going to be important. But the debate in July for many them is going to be do or die for many of these campaigns.

COATES: Well, Governor, there is also this. I mean, 43 percent of Democratic voters say that Biden has the best chance to beat President Trump. Thirty percent ahead of his nearest competitor. So, are voters going to stick to this electability question when they're casting their vote in a primary? Does word must haunt people all the time. Electability. What does it mean for the American people?

MCAULIFFE: The biggest thing for Democrats out there today is who can beat Donald Trump. That is pervasive. I don't care what state you are in today. And right now, people believe that Vice President Biden will have the best opportunity to defeat Donald Trump.

You've seen the polls. Biden beats Trump in Texas. He crushes him in Florida. he wins in North Carolina. That is the strongest thing going for the vice president.

The issue is going to be now after the debate performance, if Kamala Harris can go and make the cuts that she made in that debate. What would Donald Trump do? That's why I think for the next debate for the vice president is literally critical for him to show I can take anybody on. I can take Donald Trump and I'm the guy to beat Trump. And that's the most important thing for all the Democrats out there.

But I'll tell you. This race is wide open.

COATES: Yes.

MCAULIFFE: It's going to move a couple times. We got a long way to go until we get to this first caucuses in Iowa. But the last thing I'd say an opportunity for the candidates they need to get out, in my opinion, and talk about more about we don't want to hear about what happened 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago.

People sitting at home want to know what are you going to do for me today. What are you going to do about K-12? What are you going to do about infrastructure? What are you going to do about prescription drug prices? And we didn't have enough of that in that debate, in either one of those two debates.

COATES: Well, Governor, I mean, on those issues are extraordinarily important. But in order for the American people to hear about that as we're talking about the president of the United States has really no contenders on the Republican side.

MCAULIFFE: Yes.

COATES: But the Democrats have 20 plus people. Are you concerned at all that by the end of this primary the person who ends up taking on the president will either be, you know, too far left or too damaged by this primary contest or just plain media exhausted?

MCAULIFFE: Laura, great question. And I do worry about that a little bit. To me, as I say and I've been very vocal, you know, the Democrats we can't be talking about all these little shiny objects up here. And we're talking about Medicare for all and the New Green Deal. We got all these litmus test.

We have got to get back and to talk to voters about issues they care about. Laura, today, people are going to pharmacies and they're paying exhortative prices to get their prescription drugs. They go to a hospital, it's out of network. They get home an anesthesiologist sends them a bill for $2,000.

[22:14:55] People are getting on roads, bridges that are deficient. We, as Democrats got to lean on these issues. We didn't have that in the debate. We have to talk to the voters about the issues that matter to them. We lead on healthcare. We ought to be talking about not just saying we're going to reduce prescription drugs. Tell me how you're going to do it, how are you going to fix our roads.

(CROSSTALK)

COATES: Well, you know --

MCAULIFFE: That's they want to know.

COATES: That's a big question. That's the big question. Thank you, Governor for your time.

MCAULIFFE: Thank you.

COATES: We hope that one of them will be able to answer that at some point.

MCAULIFFE: You bet. They need to answer it.

COATES: Thank you, Governor.

MCAULIFFE: All right. Thanks, Laura.

COATES: You know, President Trump sure does seem to have a lot of praise for strong men around the world. They say flattery will get you everywhere. Well, where is it getting this country?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COATES: So, President Trump claiming big progress after stepping into North Korea with Kim Jong-un yesterday. And that's not the only thing he had to say about the world's strong men.

Joining me now, Max Boot, the author of "The Corrosion of Conservatism: Why I Left the Right." Also, Philip Bump. And his latest piece in the Washington Post is entitled, "We get it, President Trump. You're into autocracy."

Welcome to you both, gentlemen. Nice to see you here. Philip, you know, what is the difference now between what we see from President Trump and how other presidents have treated these dictators and strong men across the country in the world? PHILIP BUMP, NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON POST: I think that

the key distinction here is we saw this actually during a press conference that Trump gave in Japan which was he was asked about Putin. Russian President Vladimir Putin made the comments about how western liberalism is on the decline essentially.

[22:20:00] And Trump was asked about that, and he wasn't familiar with the concept. He thought he was talking about liberals in California not this idea that individual freedoms and democracy should be how countries are guided.

We have seen past presidents be champions of those ideas. be champions of the idea that America should be a leader in promoting democracy and promoting individual freedom. It was not always perfect, that promotion but that was part of job of being president.

And what we've seen now is a president who doesn't -- who not only doesn't see that as part of his job. He doesn't even understand that that is supposed to be part of the job. And so, he cozies up to people like Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia. He cozies up to Erdogan in Turkey and Xi Jinping from China.

And all of these characters who in the past were obviously people that did not represent who America thought should be this sort of people that were leading countries. Trump, however, has some sort of empathy for them in the way that they run their countries and so he tries to make friends with them.

COATES: I mean, it's more than even empathy. Right, Max, when you have this president having to say the least really kind words for these people that were not obvious friends of the United States before. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's a great honor to be with President Putin. A lot of the very positive things is going to come out of the relationship.

I also get along with people that would be perceived as being very nice. I get along with President Putin. I get along with Mohammad. Nobody so far has pointed directly a finger at the future king of Saudi Arabia.

A friend of mine a man who has really done things in the last five years in terms of opening up Saudi Arabia. I want to just thank you on behalf of a lot of people and I want to congratulate you. You've done really a spectacular job.

A great relationship. And that's important. Especially when you have a place like, whether it's Saudi Arabia. In all fairness or China or any country. or any country. Or North Korea.

So, it's a mess. It's a mess. And honestly, it's not really Erdogan's fault. So, your question about President Xi. He's a brilliant leader, he's a brilliant man. He knows better than I probably considered to be one of the greatest leaders in 200 years in China. And we just have a very -- he's strong, he's tough, but he's good. We have a very good relationship.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: I mean, that's a buffet of admiration, Max. Is he actually winning any points for diplomacy or the U.S. interest at all?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: No. This is making the United States look weak. In fact, last time, I mean, if Donald Trump had been president in the 1980s, Laura, he would not have said, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall. He would have said, Mr. Gorbachev, what a big, beautiful wall you have. How lovely to have this Berlin Wall here. I really admire it. I'd like to bring it to our southern border.

I mean, there's a big difference between what previous presidents have done in what Trump has done. Because previous presidents have certainly dealt with dictators. You don't have any choice in the job. You have to deal with unelected leaders.

But with Trump, he goes much, much further. Because he is actually praising these dictators for being so strong, i.e., for being so oppressive. I mean, he is praising Kim Jong-un for the demilitarized zone, you know. Which is a border that is designed to keep people inside this communist dictatorship in North Korea.

He is saying to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman you're doing a spectacular job with no mention of the fact that one of the things that MBS has done is killed and dismembered one of our colleagues at "The Washington Post," Jamal Khashoggi.

So, this is not business as usual. And at the same time that Trump is praising these dictators. He is kicking our allies in the shins. Because remember right before coming to Osaka he was complaining about the European Union. Calling it an enemy of the United States. He was complaining about the U.S.-Japan mutual security treaty. Saying that it's not fair.

He always complains about our allies. He does not get along with our friends but he kisses up to our enemy. So that is a president who does not have a moral compass.

COATES: And you know, Phil, you hate to engage in the what aboutism. Or can you imagine if this isn't happened? Talking about previous presidents. I mean, listen to what Fox News was talking when they talking about President Obama after he was saying that he was open just receptive to the idea of meeting with somebody like this. Let's hear their take on it after Trump actually did it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Would you as president meet with the leaders of the country like North Korea? Obama extraordinarily said I'd meet with him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Senator Obama made his intentions crystal clear on the campaign trail.

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will meet not just with our friends but with our enemies.

MIKE HUCKABEE, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: President Obama likes talking to dictators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He would meet with some of these mad men without any preconditions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I'm going to reach out to these crazy people around the world and try to get things done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, I think it's a mistake.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Obama is vowing and scraping before dictators.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is team Obama doing establishing formal contacts with these people?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A remarkable turnaround in relations between two historic adversaries.

[22:25:01] SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: The commander-in-chief leadership is now leading to a major foreign policy breakthrough.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Another stunning Donald Trump breakthrough.

HANNITY: President Trump scoring a big win.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's time to celebrate a great victory when it happens.

INGRAHAM: President Trump proves the experts wrong again and scores a stunning diplomatic triumph.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: A stunning diplomatic triumph. Philip, what a difference a president makes, huh?

BUMP: It's very funny obviously that you have this hypocrisy. But it's not funny because Fox News is a very powerful force in conservative media. And you have a lot of people who get most of their news from that network. And who probably don't remember what Laura Ingraham and Sean Hannity and other folks said eight years ago during the 2008 campaign or more recently under Obama's administration about Cuba, for example, in those clips.

And so, they are only presented with this idea, actually Trump is doing great things. I mean, obviously what he did in North Korea was simply, yes, he had this historic step of walking into North Korea. But that historic step is historic in the same way that lots of things that don't necessarily have any sort of moral value to them are historic. It's not as though he accomplished something. He was -- he went there

and had every intention it seems to actually become the first president to do that. But it's not as though we had any great breakthrough.

And the fascinating thing is that Iran is of course watching what's happening with North Korea. Iran is seeing that North Korea got nuclear weapons, gained the ability to strike the U.S. potentially with nuclear weapons. And at that point the American president rolled over and is trying to be friends with them.

Iran at the same time is being chastised by Trump for trying to move forward with a nuclear program. And today, announced that they had enriched more uranium than it was supposed to have done under the agreement that have been signed under President Obama.

And it understands that this is, that North Korea has nuclear weapons and now is someone who Donald Trump is trying to be friends with. That is not the sort of thing which is going to sway Iran from trying to move forward with the program.

COATES: Gentlemen, thank you. People are watching and other countries in fact, are watching and taking notes. Thank you for your time tonight.

Ivanka Trump the diplomat? Well, her father the president literally gave her a front row seat on the world stage. But has she earned it? That's next.

[22:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COATES: President Trump's daughter, Ivanka, was on hand for the G20 in Japan, and then the historic meeting with Kim Jong-Un at the DMZ. On this overseas trip, Ivanka literally seemed to be everywhere. In a woman's empowerment forum alongside Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, and attending multiple bilateral meetings, even releasing a video read out of one with India. That, as Don Jr. was igniting controversy by retweeting then deleting a birther style conspiracy theory about Senator Kamala Harris.

Joining me now to discuss, Anne Gearan of "The Washington Post," and Tara Setmayer, welcome to you both, ladies, nice to see you both.

Anne, Ivanka had front row seats for nearly every televised event at the G20 in Japan. But she has absolutely no diplomatic experience. So why was she really there?

ANNE GEARAN, CORRESPONDENT, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, actually, Laura, I would love to know what the end game is here. It was clear that she was there by design. She was in a role that is hard to define but occupies several spheres. She was clearly there as family member, someone that her father is comfortable with. She's an adviser on things that -- it's an amorphous portfolio, has been from the beginning.

But things that did actually have some relevance there at the G20, particularly women's empowerment and trying to get international capital in the hands of women in the developing world, a couple of issues that she actually has worked on for quite a long time were under discussion there. So there was some reason for her to be there.

But there was not reason for her to be at every meeting and occupying also sort of the role of the espoused equivalent. And she was president at events where other world leaders' spouses were there. Melania Trump did not go on this trip. And she -- I will say that Ivanka was not in the photo of the spouse group. But she was at events where spouses were, which sort of blurred the lines in a lot of different ways. It ended up a bit confusing for some of the other participants.

COATES: Now, in fairness, of course, Tara, to Ivanka. She was actually invited to talk about women's empowerment at the event, but does that put her on the same footing as these world leaders? I mean there were moments that she was there instead of people like Bolton or Pompeo at one point.

TARA SETMAYER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. She has absolutely no business being front and center. The video you're showing right now with the side eye seen around the world right there from the head of the IMF was -- sums it up for everyone. She looked at her like and was like what are you doing here, and why. She is the president's daughter. This is nepotism gong awry.

She's completely unqualified to be in the position she's is, as is her husband. And they are running -- they are running the government like a family cartel. And what's that say to the rest of the world? You know they come from a business world. They're a real estate family. What qualifies her to be front and center like that? Not only is it a bit creepy. It's completely inappropriate.

And I don't know why the American people are tolerating this. I remember when the 60 Minutes interview happened right after the election. And you have the whole Trump family there. And Ivanka said, oh no, I have no interest in going into business. I ain't going into government, I'm going to stay with my business. She promoted her $10,000 bangle bracelet and everything else.

Next thing you know, two months later, her and her husband are in the White House. Kellyanne Conway is promoting her clothing brand that she's making, still has her stake in the Trump Hotel. She made $4.5 million off the Trump Hotel in D.C. last year. She made between up to $135 million -- I'm not sure -- from their portfolio, her and her husband while they were in the White House.

She's received how many trademarks from China? I think 18 at this point, while the president is negotiating trade deals last year with the ZTE issue when we were supposed to have sanctions on ZTE and they're accused of stealing technology. All of a sudden, she gets trademarks. All Trump aside, he's not going to put the sanctions on ZTE. It's just disgusting, the amount of nepotism going on here, and it's not in the interest of the American people.

(CROSSTALK) [22:34:54] COATES: And yet, you're seeing -- and that's true -- that

you're seeing the idea of nepotism there. People are watching. Let's talk about, by the way, Don Jr. here. I want to get him into the conversation as well, Anne. He re-tweeted a post questioning if Kamala Harris is indeed a black American, which of course she is. Is Don Jr. taking a page from his father's birther playbook in this result?

GEARAN: I feel like we've seen this movie a couple times before. Now, I cannot speak authoritatively on what motivated Donald Trump Jr. to post that in the beginning, nor to delete it. But my strong suspicion is that he knew exactly what he was doing on both accounts.

COATES: But he deleted it, ladies. Well, to have at a our time, when I think he actually knew what he was really doing there. Thank you to you both for joining the program.

Officials are opening up an investigation, by the way, into incredibly disturbing Facebook posts allegedly by border patrol agents. We'll bring you the shocking content. And I will make my case about the crisis on the border, next.

[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

COATES: So customs and border protection officials are now vowing to investigate reports of cruel and vulgar posts that were allegedly made by current and former border patrol agents. The comments were made within a closed Facebook group, where people allegedly joked about the deaths of migrants and degraded Latina members of congress, including Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

ProPublica broke this story, and claims it was able to link participants in the online conversations to legitimate Facebook profiles belonging to who, border patrol agents. Now, CNN has not been able to independently assess and review the Facebook group in question. But I do want to show you what was uncovered. Someone posted the horrific photograph of Oscar Alberto Martinez Ramirez and his toddler daughter, Valeria, who as you know, drowned trying to cross the Rio Grande into Texas.

Now, the post asked if the photograph could have been faked, because the bodies were so clean. Saying quote, "I have never seen floaters like this. Could this be another edited photo? We have all seen the Dems and liberal party do some pretty sick things." Pretty sick, huh? There were also posts about a 16 year-old Guatemalan migrant who died while in border patrol custody.

Members allegedly commented, oh well, and if he dies he dies. CNN also obtained offensive posts from the group responding to a story about a pregnant teenager and baby who were held in CBP custody for over a week. One comment said, from the bottom of my heart, I don't give a blank. According to ProPublica, the Facebook group's page was formed back in 2016 and has 9,500 members.

It's unclear how many of these members claim to actually be active agents. But Brooke Baldwin spoke with U.S. border patrol's chief operations about these posts, and here's what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BRIAN HASTINGS, U.S. BORDER PATROL CHIEF OF OPERATIONS: Men and women of the border patrol are working very hard out there trying to protect the national security of America. It's very difficult to do right now when you are dedicating a large percent of the workforce to dealing with a humanitarian crisis that's out there.

And men and women of the border patrol are out there risking lives everyday to do the job right now. So don't let the actions of a few be representative of the whole, is what I would ask.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: A few bad apples, huh? Well, another post encourages members to protest today's border visit by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio- Cortez and Veronica Escobar, saying they should throw a burrito at them. ProPublica also reports a meme on the group's site that depicts Ocasio-Cortez engaged in a lewd act with a detained migrant. The New York Congresswoman responded to the post directly, tweeting this isn't about a few bad eggs.

This is a violent culture. Now today, she was part of a group of Democratic lawmakers who toured migrant-tented facilities in Texas. After leaving a facility in northeast El Paso, Ocasio-Cortez said the posts are indicative of the violent culture she saw on the inside.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): This is them on their best behavior. And they put them in a room with no running water. And these women were being told by CBP officers to drink out of the toilet. They were drinking water out of the toilet. And that was them knowing a congressional visit was coming. That was -- this is CBP on their best behavior, telling people to drink out of a toilet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COATES: Being told to drink out of the toilet? There is no excuse for that whatsoever. And tonight, a border patrol official is denying the congresswoman's account. Either way, these are people, human beings. And they are not being treated like people, like human beings. CNN's Nick Valencia spoke with the source who provided images from that Facebook group.

And the source refers to the post as weird humor, just part of the culture. Well, using human beings as a punch line makes democracy a joke. Now, I would love to believe that these comments are the outlier, and they're not part of the culture as Nick's source tells us. But when the president of the United States is using terms like bad hombres and refers to migrants as criminals and rapists, and doubles down on his campaign platform.

[22:44:54] Does that set the bar for these officers? Does that excuse people from having to treat people, these immigrants with respect? How can custom and border patrol ever be trusted to care for refugees humanely when they are mocking migrants' death online? Now, this behavior is inexcusable. And our country and these human beings and humanity deserve better. We have got a lot to dig into tonight, and Rob Astorino and Ana Navarro here to do just that, next.

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COATES: Let's talk some more about this investigation to reports of cruel and vulgar posts allegedly by current and former border patrol agents in a Facebook group.

[22:50:00] They allegedly joked about the deaths of migrants and degrading politicians like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. Here to discuss Rob Astorino and Ana Navarro, welcome to the show for both of you.

You know, Rob, I have to ask you. You know, even if it is a small number of people, these posts are mocking migrant deaths. And you wonder can you expect people who have these beliefs in their personal lives to conduct themselves to the professional level of a border patrol agent?

ROB ASTORINO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They should be rooted out and they should be, at the very least, reprimanded, disciplined strongly, or maybe even fired for things like that. And if it is against the policy, which it is, then they should have known the rules. When you are law enforcement, for instance, there -- you lose some of your First Amendment rights because you always represent the agency that you work for, the government or whatever.

And so you got to be very careful. These are disgusting what they wrote, terrible, terrible, terrible, terrible. And they should face whatever penalties they have. However, there are 58,000 employees under customs and border protection. And my guess is it's a small group that is writing these kinds of disgusting things. And that should not broadly paint a bad picture of what the men and women do everyday under very difficult circumstances.

Just like someone at CNN were to write something stupid and it got out there, would you or I be blamed for that or should everybody in this room and in this building, no. It's sometimes a very bad employee who does something that tarnishes.

COATES: Exact -- you know they say a few bad apples does, in fact, ruin the bunch. And you have people who are being held to standard, because they are the first people that many people see when they cross the border in this country. On or just moments ago, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez tweeted out this photo that was taken by Joaquin Castro. You could actually see her hugging a migrant, who according to the congresswoman, told her about how her daughters were taken away from her.

And earlier, she also tweeted this. Now, I've seen the inside of these facilities. It is not just the kids. It is everyone, people drinking out off toilets, officers laughing in front of members of Congress. I brought it to their superiors, and they said "officers are under stress and act out sometimes." No accountability. Ana, officers are under stress and act out sometimes? What is your

reaction to this defense?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would like to say that I am shocked. But I'm not. I think we either shoot from the top of matters. And I agree with Rob. I think that you need to weed out the bad apples. We cannot under any circumstance normalize racism and misogyny like what's going on in that Facebook group.

And look, I urge people to go follow the thread that Congressman Joaquin Castro, who is the Chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, just wrote after visiting and leading the delegation to those detention facilities. It is heart-wrenching. It's heartbreaking. That cannot be who America is.

I refuse to believe that is who America is. That can't be the face that we are presenting to the world. We're the beacon of light. We are the country that demands human rights for people around the world that sets an example about democracy and about respecting people.

And the description of what Joaquin Castro went into what's going on there is absolutely unacceptable. And it also explains why there have been such great efforts not to allow members of Congress into these facilities. We saw that a number of the presidential candidates try to go to the one in Homestead (ph) and were not allowed in.

Look, Congress has a role here of oversight. They are the ones that are appropriating the funds for these centers. They must demand to be allowed in, and there must be an investigation to these allegations against Custom and Border Patrol because we cannot have a bunch of racist misogynists working for the government. If they work for CNN and they were applying for Harvard, they would be out on their butts. This cannot be normalized ever.

COATES: Well, Ana makes a great point here, the idea of fish rotting from the top. I mean, Rob, do you think that the president would use this certain terminology like bad hombres or talks about migrants? Do you think that his rhetoric is sending a signal that is trickling down to agents like this?

ASTORINO: No. And there is such frustration on the border right now. Look, AOC, by the way, I don't believe everything she said from what she saw, or said she saw.

COATES: Like what?

ASTORINO: Drinking out of the toilets and all this other stuff, and the agents were laughing at her in her presence. I mean come on. And she's got a political bent for some of this as well. By the way, she just voted against the two bills that were put -- bipartisan bills that were put to alleviate those situations down there, $4.6 billion.

[22:54:59] And she said hell no, because some of the money was going to go to the E in ICE, enforcement, and to the B in CBP, border protection. And she doesn't want any of that. So she's e got her own agenda here. And I am going to take with a grain of salt some of the things that she says is happening down there. However, it does not take off the hook.

Any of those agents who did those things, and of those 9,000 people allegedly in that Facebook group, I don't know how many.

(CROSSTALK)

COATES: We don't know how many, Rob. We don't.

(CROSSTALK)

COATES: If one percent is true, it's still unacceptable to --

(CROSSTALK)

COATES: Thank you for both of you. I got to let you go. I wish I could have you answer the question, but thank you for watching. Our coverage continues here on CNN.

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