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White House Press Secretary Bruised in All Out Brawl with North Koreans; Fox News Changed Its Tune About North Korea Meeting; Coco Gauff Upsets Venus Williams At Wimbledon; Border Agents Being Investigated for Offensive Posts. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 1, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hong Kong, thank you. Coming up next the new White House Press Secretary bruised in this scuffle with North Korean guards, we'll tell you what was happening behind the scenes. And Ivanka Trump taking center stage during her father's trip to Japan. We'll discuss the unprecedented nature of her role at the White House.


[15:35:00] BALDWIN: While the President's visit with Kim Jong-un certainly caught some of his own staff off guard, we're learning about a chaotic episode behind the scenes involving the new White House Press Secretary, Stephanie Grisham. She was physically bruised after getting into this scuffle with North Korean security. Watch.




BALDWIN: CNN White House reporter Kate Bennett and CNN chief media correspondent Brian Stelter are with me. And Kate, I know you have just been in touch with Stephanie. Did she say how she's doing, and what exactly happened?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: We communicated briefly. I asked how she was doing. She says she's fine, not making a big deal about this. But, you know, you could see by that video, clearly seemed as though the Korean -- North Koreans were trying to block access to the U.S. press from getting some pictures as the President went to have this historic moment at the DMZ. And Stephanie Grisham is a pretty tough lady.

I've dealt with her quite a bit over the last two-and-a-half years covering the first lady. She's not someone to tangle with. And I think this is demonstrative of her commitment. A lot of the press know her from campaign season more than two years ago when she was a press wrangler on the Trump campaign. They know she's pretty fierce and she's not someone you want to mess around with. And she was trying to help the press get the shot.

BALDWIN: So in trying to help the press get the shot, Brian, you know, on the one hand, you know, you give the woman a little credit for essentially body-checking this North Korean security guard in order for the U.S. press to get in --


BALDWIN: -- to get the pictures. But on the other hand, you say what?

STELTER: Well, I think this is called getting started in a new job on the right foot. She did two things that were really important during this trip to Asia. Number one, when President Trump said, OK, who do you want me to call on, Stephanie? She said, you're the boss, you decide. So she knows who is the boss, she knows the President believes he's his own best press person and she defers to him.

But number two, this incident was really significant. She was showing that she understands the importance of access for the press having cameras in the room so it's not just North Korean cameras in the room. She made sure American cameras were in the room, as well. I think she deserves a lot of credit for that. Now, going forward, will she restore on camera briefings, will she help try to reduce the amount of lying and nonsense that comes out of the White House?

Count me skeptical. Again President Trump thinks he's his own best press person. This is a really important, strong start and a break, maybe, from some of the troubling behavior we have seen in the past. Look, Sean Spicer's first weekend was characterized by lying about crowd size. So good on Stephanie Grisham for doing this, trying to help the press get inside.

BALDWIN: Staying with you. You've talked about -- explain how you've been looking at Fox and how they have been covering the handshake in 2019 differently.

STELTER: The coverage of Trump and Kim versus the coverage in the past, when former President Barack Obama would be willing to reach out to some rogue states or autocratic regimes. The hypocrisy burns. This is the video from "NOW THIS" news showing some of the examples.


SEAN HANNITY, FOX NEWS HOST: Obama would personally negotiate with leaders of terrorist nations like Iran and North Korea without preconditions. Wow. The world will probably be a little bit safer. The media should be giving President Trump credit for that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm not sure there's any real discussing issues with Kim Jong-un.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He may be the one President who would actually do this, who would go meet with the North Korean leader.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, it's a bad idea for the President to speak to Kim Jong-un.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why wait until the end of May, let's do this at the end of March.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The current President truly believes that he's the chosen one, cannot deal with criticism.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are really in danger of living in a sort of pretty little dream world, where Barack Obama thinks the power of his personality is going to have this incredible transformative impact on these crazy men.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump made the decision himself to meet face-to-face with Kim Jong-un.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This guy has a very unique quality of leadership.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is so charming, he can deal with people, he can along with people. I think this will only work out well.


STELTER: And all these examples from last year, Brooke. It's continuing today. It's continuing in these days with this most recent made for TV photo op. I think the point is, you mash it up together, it looks especially bad for Fox. But on a daily basis, some of these talk shows, this is why it sounds like propaganda, this is why it sounds like something out of North Korea, because it is so dependent on who is in charge and what party they're in. It's unfortunate we don't see more consistency from some of those commentators.

BALDWIN: If this were a Democrat stepping foot into North Korea, he or she would be excoriated.

STELTER: Excoriated. You said the word.

BALDWIN: Kate, speaking of overseas trips and the Trump family, we know that Melania Trump skipped out on going to Japan for the G20 or the following bit to Seoul. But who did tag along was first daughter, Ivanka Trump. And much is being made about exactly how much of a presence she had.

[15:40:00] BENNETT: Yes, I mean, this is such an interesting role, again, Brooke. We've talked about this, this unprecedented first daughter, but senior adviser. Her portfolio certainly covers many of the things that were discussed. Women's empowerment, women's economic development, business development. But sort of the foreign policy aspect, has people scratching their heads. This is Ivanka Trump asserting her way in here. I think if the first lady had been there, we wouldn't see her in so many photo ops.

But it's that question, that fine line of the daughter versus the adviser. And which leads and she's taken some heat for, you know, just how much presence she had on this trip. STELTER: And, again, if you thought about what would Fox say, what

would the Sean Hannity's of the world say if Chelsea Clinton had been old enough to go with her father on Presidential trips or if Malia and Sasha had been old enough to be on these trips? We think we all know what the reaction would have been from right wing media. It's you know, the hypocrisy burns.

BALDWIN: Brian Stelter, Kate Bennett, thank you guys very much. Coming up next, Border Patrol agents under fire for reportedly posting offensive comments inside a closed Facebook group. We'll explain what was in the messages and the top Border Patrol official joins me live to respond.


BALDWIN: We're following a major upset in the world of sports. Five- time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams has been beaten in the first round at the All England club. 15-year-old Cori "Coco" Gauff, an American who just became the youngest player to qualify of Wimbledon's main draw in the open era stunned Williams in her Wimbledon debut. Ahead of the match, the team admitted that Venus and her sister Serena were the inspiration for picking up a tennis racket in the first place.

So CNN sports anchor and reporter Don Riddell is with me now with more on this stunning upset. I know you have interviewed Coco in the past. Tell us more about who she is and how she pulled this off.

DON RIDDELL, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Well, she's absolutely extraordinary. There's been a lot of excitement in the tennis world, Brooke, about Coco Gauff for a couple years. She first captured everybody's attention when she played a tournament in Georgia in Macon, and it was a tournament for 18-year-olds and at the age of 12, she went in there and won the whole thing. And it wasn't just the way she was playing. It was just her poise and the way she conducted herself that has been so impressive.

And ever since then, she's been on a tear, breaking records everywhere she's gone. When I interviewed her at the U.S. Open, she had just lost the junior girls final. She was really disappointed that she had lost. But she had made history by getting to that event at that age. She won the French Open Juniors last year. As you say, the youngest player in the open era to qualify for this. And can you imagine having gone through all of that, you're now playing in your first major at the age of 15?

BALDWIN: No. No way.

RIDDELL: Your first opponent is Venus Williams, who has won it five times, who is one of the main reasons you are playing this sport and then you go and beat her as well. I mean it's absolutely incredible. And you know, one of the things that really impressed me about her, I've interviewed loads of athletes, Brooke. They can't all string two sentences together. She was amazing at the age of 13. And I got to the end, and I turned and pointed to the camera and said, why aren't you scared of this? It's a television camera. And she said, well, I've been practicing at home for the last year

with my mom and dad and my grandma, and they ask me questions and I try not to say "um" and I try and say interesting things. That's somebody who at the age of 12 is planning for the future. Incredible.

BALDWIN: That's crazy. Where is she from?

RIDDELL: She's from Georgia. She's from Georgia.

BALDWIN: From Georgia.

RIDDELL: She's now moved to Florida so she can focus more on her tennis career there.

BALDWIN: That's right. Don Riddell, sounds like you called it in talking to her. Incredible, incredible match for her. We'll be watching her through this whole thing. Thank you very much, Don.

Coming up next, a top Border Patrol official joins me live to respond to reports to that a closed Facebook group for Border Agents was filled with offensive posts. We'll explain what was in them.


BALDWIN: Just in, Customs and Border Protection officials are investigating reports of cruel and lewd postings by allegedly by current and former Border Patrol agents. The comments were made within a closed or private Facebook group. They run the gamut from callous attitude toward migrant children dying to showing members of Congress who advocate for migrants in demeaning, vulgar images.

ProPublica broke the story and claims it was able to link participants of the online conversations to apparently legitimate Facebook profiles belonging to Border Patrol agents, neither ProPublica nor CNN have been able to group members who made these postings. CNN's Natasha Chen is live in Clint, Texas, outside of a detention center for migrants and so Natasha, let's just start with these posts themselves. What's in them?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's very disturbing, egregious, that is what I wanted to ask Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez about as she entered this Clint, Texas, facility, because you see there are two opposing groups behind us. They tried to rush the members of Congress as they came in about 30 minutes ago for their scheduled tour and of course this is happening just as we're learning about this alleged Facebook group. So I asked the Congresswoman because specifically some of the posts were allegedly about her. Here is what she had to say.


[15:55:00] REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I mean, in that last facility I was not safe from the officers in that facility.

CHEN: Do you have any comment about what was posted about you in the alleged Facebook group? OCASIO-CORTEZ: I mean, I think it is just -- it's just indicative of

the violent culture that we saw on the inside.


CHEN: I also asked her whether she would be asking for an investigation about this. She didn't answer that. Everyone went straight on in. Now she did tweet about another facility that this group visited earlier today. I want to share that with you. She said: "Now I've seen the inside of the facilities. It is not just the kids, it is everyone. People drinking out of toilets, officers laughing in front of members of Congress. I brought it up to their superiors and they said officers are under stress and act out sometimes, no accountability."

She also tweeted: "After I forced myself into a cell with women and began speaking to them, one of them described their treatment at the hands of officers as, quote, psychological warfare, waking them at odd hours for no reason and calling them [expletive]. Tell me what about that is due to lack of funding."

So Brooke, a very tense moment here outside of Clint facility. The members of Congress have seen a couple of facilities and this is the final stop and they will coming out of the facility shortly to share what they saw with us as these opposing groups continue to stand in front of that doorway back there.

BALDWIN: Natasha Chen, thank you very much.

I want to bring in Brian Hastings, he is the Chief of Operations for the U.S. Border Patrol. Brian, thank you so much for coming on. I have to get your response to this. Also just keeping in mind that you're going to have a lot of critics wondering why took ProPublica to publish before hearing from you guys?

BRIAN HASTINGS, CHIEF OF OPERATIONS, U.S. BORDER PATROL: We take all of the posts that were put out today very seriously. This does not represent the thoughts of the men and women of the U.S. Border Patrol. Each one of these allegations will be thoroughly investigated. We have already turned this into the Office of The Inspector General and our own internal CBP Office Of Internal Affairs to begin the investigations.

BALDWIN: I hear you saying this isn't indicative of how, you know, Border Patrol feels, but according to ProPublica there are 9500 members, 9500 members of this private Facebook group.

HASTINGS: So I would say from what I've seen so far that it is limited to a number of very limited number of folks who have put that rhetoric out there and so I'm not familiar with the site, I'm not a member of the site. But from what I can tell you, again, this is not representative of what the U.S. Border Patrol stands for.

BALDWIN: Have you looked at the posts with your own eyes, sir?

HASTINGS: I have seen them, yes, ma'am. BALDWIN: And what would the consequences as you through a proper

investigation, what could potential consequences be for the men and women?

HASTINGS: We'll have to let the investigation go through the process and each one of those individuals, if they are found to have done these the appropriate disciplinary actions will be taken.

BALDWIN: We just heard a quick clip from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez visiting one of these facilities, she said she didn't feel safe inside because of the agents. To her you would say what?

HASTINGS: Ma'am, we're professionals. We're dealing with a crisis right now. Over 680,000 apprehensions so far this year. Agents are under a great deal of stress but with that, what I would remind the public, is how many rescues men and women of Border Patrol have done and put their life on the line to save various individuals throughout the year.

BALDWIN: These agents, you well know, they are on the front line of this crisis and you can imagine what some Americans are going to think when they -- they read the reports about these offensive private posts. What do you want -- what's your response to that? What do you want Americans to know?

HASTINGS: So men and women of the Border Patrol are working 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 percentage of your work force to dealing with the humanitarian crisis that is out there. And men and women of the Border Patrol are out there risking their lives every day 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.

[16:00:00] BALDWIN: And I hear you say you're under a lot of stress, these agents are under a lot of stress. It is actually something that the Congresswoman said that the agents at the facility told her. But if, once you go through, you know, this process of investigation and you end up having to fire agents because of this, final question, you're already understaffed, how much would this impact you?

HASTINGS: Well, the appropriate actions need to be taken regardless. We continue to do very well with recruiting. It is difficult recruiting with the crisis that we have at hand. But nonetheless, the appropriate actions will be taken in this case.

BALDWIN: Brian Hastings, thank you so much for coming on and answering questions as this is coming to us. Chief of Operations for the U.S. Border Patrol. Thank you.

HASTINGS: Thank you.

BALDWIN: And I'm Brooke Baldwin here in New York. Thank you for being with me. We're going to Washington, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: It might not be so lonely at the top for Joe Biden much longer. "THE LEAD" starts right now.

Breaking news, we've got a brand-new CNN poll unveiling here on "THE LEAD," who is surging and how much damage was done to the former Vice President's lead after.