Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Labor Secretary Resists Calls for His Resignation; Joint Call on China to End Mass Detentions of Uyghurs; Louisiana Under State of Emergency Due to Storms; Girls Celebrate Their Role Models at World Cup Parade. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired July 11, 2019 - 00:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:00:00]

JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: Is it the summer heat or the Trump Administration's policy of maximum deterrence? Official numbers show a dramatic fall last month in the numbers of migrants arriving at the U.S.-Mexico border. The number of apprehensions also way down by almost a third.

International outcry almost two dozen countries have issued a sharp rebuke to China and its policy of mass detention of ethnic Wig(ph) and Muslims in the western Xinjiang region. Human rights groups say more than a million people have been sent to reeducation camps.

And the British ambassador of Washington stands down, a victim of a brutal and very public campaign of criticism and ridicule by the U.S. President. And what was his offense? Doing his job.

Hello. Welcome to viewers joining us from all around the world, it's good to have you with us. I'm John Vause, this is "CNN Newsroom."

We begin with new revelations, the crisis along the U.S. border with Mexico is much worse than first reported. Congress heard emotional testimony on Wednesday about conditions in migrant detention centers. A woman who fled Guatemala fought back tears as she talked about her 19 month old daughter. The girl died a few weeks after they were released from a facility in Texas. The woman says her daughter had a respiratory infection, like so many other children in that detention center, there was no proper medical care.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

YAZMIN JUAREZ, GUATEMALAN MIGRANT: My Maria(ph) died on what is Mother's Day in my country. When I walked out of the hospital that day, all I had with me it was a piece of paper with Maria's handprints in pink paint that the staff had created for me. It was the only thing that I had left and the nurses had given to me as a Mother's Day gift.

(END VIDEO CLIP) VAUSE: There is another tragedy which illustrates the dangers facing so many Central Americans heading north to the United States. A warning, the images here are graphic. A Guatemalan migrant who hired a smuggler to get him to the U.S. was killed in southern Mexico. His son's throat was slashed but the boy survived. Government officials say they were kidnapped by a drug cartel but relatives in the U.S. could not come up with the $12,000 ransom of the ten-year-old boy, for both of them actually. The ten-year-old boy now recovering in a hospital in Mexico. Most of the migrants who make it to the U.S. border are not allowed to cross; instead they have to wait for an asylum hearing in Mexico at crowded shelters. CNN's Ed Lavandera shows us what the conditions are like.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For three months, little Marvin(ph) has spent most of his days in Soares, Mexico, in this makeshift classroom. Volunteers created the school to give migrant children a sense of normalcy, but today is Marvin's (ph) last day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Today they are leaving to Guatemala.

LAVANDERA: (Inaudible) is a children's book author and has spent most of the last year volunteering to help thousands of migrants who have shown up in this border town. She says Marvin's family has been waiting for three months to request asylum in the United States but his mother is giving up and returning to Guatemala

And that's because the way is very long, it takes a long time

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, she is almost there, but she doesn't want to risk it.

LAVANDERA: In January, the Trump Administration rolled out the Migrant Protection Protocol, often called the Remain in Mexico Policy. It forces migrants to wait in Mexican border towns until their number is called to cross the border and request asylum. Suarez government officials say right now more than 5,500 people in the border city are on the wait list to simply request asylum. The wait time is about four months; they have to wait even longer to get a court date in the U.S.. As they wait, DiAlva(ph) says thousands of people are crammed into the 14 migrant shelters that have opened along the U.S.-Mexico border since February and they are feeling the stress.

Like 20 year old (Inaudible) who came from Honduras and has been waiting four months to request asylum. He says he rarely leaves the walls of the shelter because he fears the city around him.

He says right now he's getting his strength from his family. They send him messages to keep waiting, to keep waiting but he's not sure how much longer that will last and how much more patience he will have.

Have you heard of people saying I don't want to wait in line anymore? I'm going to sneak in a legally and try to avoid being caught?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of them. LAVANDERA: a lot of them?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, they just get desperate.

LAVANDERA: Many migrants facing months and months of waiting in Suarez say their taking matters into their own hands. They're too desperate so they will come to this part of the border. They'll jump over and dart across to the U.S. side, turning themselves into immigration officials. Because of that the Mexican government has deployed army soldiers along this stretch of the border and in other places to deter those migrants from doing just that.

[00:05:00]

U.S. Immigration officials say the Trump Administration's strategy is slowing the flow of migrants. Border Patrol says apprehensions dropped 28 percent from May to June.

KEVIN MCALEENAN, ACTING U.S. HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Our strategy is working, the president engaged with Mexico, the deal to enforce immigration security on their southern border, to partner with us on tackling transnational criminal organizations, that clearly having an impact on the flow.

LAVANDERA: But critics say forcing migrants to wait in dangerous Mexican border towns is inhumane.

MARISA LIMON, HOPE BORDER INSTITUTE: We are seeing upticks in the cases of kidnapping, of assaults. You know these are people that are easily targeted, especially in a Central American migrants; it's very difficult and we are putting them at risk knowingly.

LAVANDERA: The Trump Administration is expanding this Remain in Mexico Policy. It has started forcing migrants to wait in the border city of Nuevo Laredo which is considered one of the most violent cities in the world because of drug cartel violence. But the Trump Administration insists that all of this is being done for humanitarian reasons and to help ease the burden of processing migrants arriving at the U.S. southern border. Ed Lavandera, CNN, El Paso, Texas.

(END VIDEO TAPE)

VAUSE: Well on the line now Dylan Corbett, the founding director of the Hope Border Institute. He is in El Paso, Texas. Dylan, thanks for taking the time to speak with us. You know the longer this goes on, the worse it gets. So far there doesn't seem to be anything like a coherent response to the crisis - the humanitarian crisis from the Trump Administration. If anything it seems from the president on down there's determination to either ignore the suffering or pretend it just doesn't happen. Do you see that that will change anytime soon? Is there any way that the response from the Trump Administration is likely to get better?

DYLAN CORBETT, HOPE BORDER INSTITUTE: No, in fact, we can expect it to get worse. In reality, there is a coherent strategy coming from Washington, D.C., and it's simply one strategy of cruelty and deterrence in the Trump Administration is doubling down. So even though we are seeing deaths on the border, we are seeing deaths of people who are in U.S. government custody and detention centers. We're seeing deaths of people who are trying to cross the Rio Grande River, dividing Mexico and the United States. This is continuing. We are going to see more deaths of children because the administration is not changing that strategy. As long as we have a strategy of deterrence, as long as we have a strategy whose only priority of which is to stop people at the border and implement a strategy of cruelty to make them stop crossing the border, we are going to see migrants pushed into more difficult conditions, pushed into more remote regions of the border where their lives will be in danger and we'll continue to see cruel conditions and immigrant detention at the border.

VAUSE: Here's part of an editorial from the newspaper, the "USA today". For young children, toddlers and infants guilty of only being carried or lead into the United States, it's unconscionable for federal officials to banish them for days or weeks to squalor. For those watching, this is what a national disgrace looks like. So what you're saying in light of what the "USA Today" board is also pointing out. The terrible conditions, they can either be the result of a lack of funding and resources which could be easily fixed or the terrible conditions are a cornerstone of a policy which emphasizes deterrence, make life as difficult as possible so people just don't come, and you believe it's definitely the latter.

CORBETT: That's correct. Look at what we've seen in the last year. We've seen family separation. We've seen zero tolerance. We've seen terrible conditions and overcrowding in facilities on the border and now we're seeing Remain in Mexico which is forcing people to remain in conditions of insecurity, forcing families, forcing young people, forcing children to remain in border towns which are not safe. They are being denied access to attorneys. They are being forced to navigate a very difficult (inaudible) immigration system from the other side of the border. This is all deliberate and as long as we doubled down on this strategy, we'll continue to see migrants exposed to more dangerous conditions. We will continue to see the perpetration of a culture of cruelty within border enforcement agencies and unfortunately will continue to see more migrant deaths.

VAUSE: Yes, it's hard to imagine that anyone can actually hold testimony like we've heard earlier from Yasmin Juarez whose little girl died shortly after released from the detention center. It's a death which seems especially tragic given the fact that there are doctors and nurses and caregivers and health care professionals willing to volunteer their time. Take a look at this doctor here, a pediatrician wanting to go in and help.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DR. CARLOS GUTIERREZ, PEDIATRICIAN: There's an abundance of pediatricians and doctors that are willing to step in, step up to the plate and provide care right in their facilities. I would love for you all to take action to allow us entrance into the facilities so we can take care of the medical issues right away. And secondly, if you are not going to allow us in, please have whoever is taking care of those individuals, please let them communicate with us with what's going on there so we know when to expect a very sick individual.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Has there been any adequate or even any attempt to try to explain why volunteers with medical experience are not being allowed in to help ease this crisis?

CORBETT: No, you know, this really isn't a question of resources. When we look at immigration enforcement in the United States right now, we spend well over $20 billion on immigration enforcement in the interior of the country and at the borders. What we have is a strategy to criminalize migrants. What we have is a strategy to militarize the border. So what we need effectively is a deep structural reform in these border agencies. But we also need to change strategy and need to recognize that this is a humanitarian situation that requires a humanitarian response.

What we need is organizations like the Red Cross to have access to these folks because right, now the Red Cross simply doesn't have access to folks who are in detention and as long as we have these conditions persist on the border, as long as we have deep conditions where border enforcement agencies simply do not have a culture of transparency or a culture of accountability, or there's a lack of oversight coming from Washington, D.C., we are going to have conditions where migrants rights - their human rights are violated and so we need greater, access we need greater accountability, transparency and oversight and it needs to happen now.

VAUSE: Yes, it does. Dylan, thank you. I appreciate your being with us.

Iran allegedly tried to seize a British oil tankers in the Persian Gulf. Apparently retaliation for the recent seizure of an Iranian ship in Gibraltar. U.S. officials say five Iranian gun boats confronted the tanker on Wednesday as it traveled into the Strait of Hormuz and attempted to force it into Iranian waters but the gunboats backed off when a British warship intervened, it's guns aimed at the Iranians. Details now from CNN's Barbara Starr.

BARBARA STARR, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The U.S. and the British have been very concerned in recent days as the Iranians have increased their threats to try and seize the British tanker. This incident was not successful. There was a U.S. military aircraft overhead however, recording video of the incident we are told.

VAUSE: Now CNN has reached out to the British government for the reaction but so far there has been no comment. Meantime, the U.S. military says it's working to build a coalition to provide greater security to commercial shipping in the gulf.

Britain's ambassador to the U.S. has stepped down after leaked diplomatic cables showed he called President Donald Trump inept and clumsy and a whole lot of other nasty words as well. A source told CNN that Kim Darroch made his decision to step down after Boris Johnson, the front runner to become the U.K.'s next prime minister refused to support him during Tuesday night's leadership debate. CNN's Nic Robertson reports now from London.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In his resignation letter Sir Kim Darroch said he was leaving for two reasons: to protect his family and because he recognized that staying on in his position as ambassador was going to affect the efficiency and smooth running of the embassy in Washington. However, here in London a British government source has told CNN that he also left in part because the man expected to be the next British Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, had refused to back him in a television debate on Tuesday night. The current British Prime Minister however was very supportive in parliament today of the ongoing ambassador.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, this morning I have spoken to Sir Kim Darroch. I have told him that it is a matter of great regret that he has felt it necessary to leave his position as ambassador in Washington. The whole cabinet rightly gave its full support for Sir Kim on Tuesday. Sir Kim - Sir Kim has given a lifetime of service to the United Kingdom, and we owe him an enormous debt of gratitude.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: The other candidate in the running to become prime minister, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said that he was saddened by Sir Kim Darroch's departure and described him as being one as one of the finest diplomats in the world. Boris Johnson also spoke of his regret. Johnson of course much more aligned on his views with President Trump and there is a sense around Boris Johnson that perhaps, an ambassador more in line with his feelings on Brexit - strong hard line feelings on Brexit, strong hard line feelings on Brexit and more akin to his thinking on President Trump might be his preference for a new ambassador.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BORIS JOHNSON, CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE: I just heard that Kim Darroch resigned and I want to say that I regret that really because I think he was a superb - he's a superb diplomat and I worked with him for many years. And I think that whoever leaked his details, really has done a grave disservice to our civil servants, to people who give impartial advice to ministers and I hope that whoever is run down, caught and eviscerated quite frankly because it is not right that advice to ministers, that if civil servants must be able to make in the spirit of freedom should be leaked

[00:15:00]

and it is not right that civil servants' careers and prospects should be dragged into the political agenda and I think we should be protecting brilliant civil servants from that kind of publicity. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said last night you weren't going to back him. JOHNSON: On the contrary. In my views it's wrong to drag civil servants into the political arena. That's what I think.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: Well catching the culprit may be easier said than done but this does seem to be a potential cloud -- another cloud hanging over Boris Johnson's head, if and when as expected he enters the doors of 10 Downing Street in about two week's time as prime minister. The Opposition Labor Party is already labeling him a patsy, a (inaudible) of President Trump. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

VAUSE: Nicholas Burns is with us this hour from Washington. He's a former U.S. Ambassador to NATO and Greece from an undersecretary for political affairs. Ambassador Burns, thanks for being with us..

NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR: Thank you so much.

VAUSE: Is there any precedent of a friendly government doing what Donald Trump did to the British Ambassador. Any precedent of a rival on a friendly nation with the head of the government making it impossible for a U.S. ambassador essentially to do their their job?

BURNS: I cannot think of any president in America - modern American history -- of 50, 60, 70 years in the past that it's been the case. If you think about it, Ambassador Kim Darroch did everything right here; he did what he was supposed to do. He told the truth about what he was seeing to his own government in a secret cable and that cable was linked - leaked nefariously in his own country and then President Trump - you know so thin skinned, so vane, so vengeful, didn't like, of course, what the ambassador said when it was publicized and effectively made him persona non grata of the United States.

And if you think about it, you know President Trump has never criticized President Putin or President Xi Jinping. He doesn't criticize Kim Jong-un of North Korea or Mohammad Bin Salman of Saudi Arabia but he makes the British ambassador persona non grata. It's outrageous when Britain along with Canada and Australia are probably our greatest allies in the world, so much trust and the British ambassador has to leave his job. It's a strange place for the United States and a lamentable place for us to be.

VAUSE: Just very quickly on how the relationship will continue. Obviously there are tensions and there are strengths but you know there is this assumption that underneath the intelligence sharing arrangements, the five eyes(ph) with the allies, that continues at a professional level between diplomats and intelligence operatives. Is that a fair assumption at this point?

BURNS: I think it is a fair assumption. Our intelligence officials, our defense officials, are diplomats - are career diplomats, will continue to work with each other because we have great trust in the United Kingdom and I think they do in us. But at the political level, this is a real problem for both countries to handle and a very difficult one to handle and I think for public opinion, I've done some interviews on British television and radio today, this is a shock to the British. They have their own problems.

Someone in Britain leaked the cables to a British newspaper that caused all this trouble but to hear the President of the United States be so disrespectful to a very distinguished career British diplomat I think is a lot for the British to bear right now given all the troubles they have and I worry it's going to make people distrust our country, the United States, and we don't need that in the world.

VAUSE: Yes, Sir Kim Darroch, he fell on his sword for writing these critical assessments of the Trump Administration. In all likelihood similar assessments of being written - have been written by dozens of diplomats in Washington. On the flip side, American diplomats are doing the same about leaders in the countries where they're stationed. You probably wrote frank assessments of the Prime Minister of Greece, Costas Simitis when you were in Athens. So if U.S. cables were leaked like the British cables were leaked, would the Trump Administration be just as embarrassed as number 10(ph) or would this White House just shrug it off? Is there an understanding by the U.S. President that Sir Kim was just doing his job?

BURNS: I don't think so. I mean the president is frankly so self centered that I don't think he - he understands this reality of how diplomacy works at the highest level and you're exactly right. When I was an American ambassador in Greece and in NATO and I was a more junior officer in places like Cairo, we wrote very frank cables back to Washington because that's what Washington expected of us. Diplomats are not sent abroad just to be nice. They're sent abroad to represent their country, to find out the truth, to report it back in an unvarnished way. That's why we have secrecy in governments because you want to get the information back to your leadership but you don't want to have it be embarrassing to people in the country to which you are credited.

Kim Darroch did what every other ambassador around the world is paid to do.

[00:20:00]

He didn't deserve the kind of incredibly rude treatment that he received from President Trump. I cannot imagine President George H.W. Bush or President Clinton or President Obama or George W. Bush, the people who preceded him acting in this way toward a foreign diplomat, certainly not a diplomat from the United Kingdom, our great friend.

VAUSE: Yes, the man who most likely will not be the next British Prime Minister, Jeremy Hunt, he continued to defend the ambassador at Washington. He also explained why. Here he is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEREMY HUNT, CONSERVATIVE PARTY LEADERSHIP CANDIDATE: And it is incredibly important both for the United Kingdom and for the defense of the values that the United Kingdom supports like press freedom and so in this situation, we have a fine diplomat who was just doing what he should have been doing, giving a frank assessment, a personal assessment of the political situation in the country that he was posted and that's why I defended him and I think we all should.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And after defending or dodging rather a question during Tuesday's debate about the fate of Sir Kim, the man who will probably be Prime Minister of Britain said nothing on Wednesday but many had plenty to say about Boris Johnson. His former advisor and now an independent MP Boles tweeted this, "The British people can now see that Boris Johnson will be Donald Trump's poodle, that his response to any command from the White House will be 'How high, Mr. President?'"

And Johnson certainly seems to give me the impression he's more concerned about appeasing Trump's bruised ego than standing up for a career civil servant. In the big picture, is this almost sort of the anthesis like the whole Brexit audiology(ph).

BURNS: Well it is and it's obviously this is a big drama in British politics but I really admired the Jeremy Hunt statement because he stood up for his ambassador and that's what you want a good, sound, brave political leader to do. And countries don't always have to agree; even the best of friends Australia and the United States sometimes disagree, certainly Britain and the United States. There's no shame in that. There's no shame in the British government standing up for their own diplomat.

I would hope that the American president would always stand up for our diplomats but that didn't happen this time with Boris Johnson and you have this picture now of Boris Johnson acting ignobly, Donald Trump acting ignobly and you wonder where honor is in politic these days. It's so important in a democratic society to have a leader who can be trusted to do the right thing. We have a political crisis here in the United States because we have a leader who doesn't really represent the values of the country and certainly is now showing extraordinary disrespect for the United Kingdom, our great ally in NATO.

VAUSE: You for many who anti Bexit, you know there is now this sort of feeling that Sir Kim is a stand up guy that he is the one who essentially was just doing his job. He was a professional. The First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, she tweeted this, "It is shameful that Kim Darroch has effectively been forced out for doing the job that diplomats are appointed to do. Boris Johnson's failure last night to stand up for him and stand up to the behavior of Donald Trump spoke volumes." For those pro Brexiteers, the ambassador's resignation simply could not come fast enough. We hear from Nicholas Farage - or Nigel Farage rather, "The right decision, time to put in a non-Remainer who wants a trade deal with America."

So can this whole incident be simply explained in terms of the political divide between those who are in favor of Brexit and those who are not in favor of Brexit?

BURNS: Well you as best as one can determine from beyond Britain, this is really a crisis about Brexit and there's every reason to believe that these private diplomatic cables were leaked to the press to embarrass those who oppose Brexit and support those who are in favor of it. And that's really a very difficult thing in Britain. There's the official Secret's Act. This is a crime in Britain to lease to - to leak classified information and there's going to be a legal inquiry now and I really admire the British civil servants who are going to lead that inquiry. Very important that politics not intrude on a matter like this but unfortunately it has on both sides of the Atlantic. Donald Trump acting in a way that I think embarrasses the United States in front of the British people and Boris Johnson not standing up for the right values.

VAUSE: And we'll leave it on that point. Ambassador Burns, thank you so much. We appreciate you being with us.

BURNS: It's always a pleasure, thank you John.

VAUSE: Next up on "CNN Newsroom," apologies, no regrets. A decade ago before he was U.S. labor secretary, Alex Acosta was a U.S. attorney in Miami, that's when he made a controversial plea deal with a notorious sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein and now that deal is the reason why so many are calling for his resignation.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:25:00]

VAUSE: The embattled U.S. Labor Secretary offered no apologies Wednesday as pressure builds for his resignation. Alex Acosta said he did his best in 2008 when he was a U.S. attorney in Florida and struck a plea deal with sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, a powerful multi millionaire accused of using dozens of underage girls. In the years since that plea deal it's been revealed to be incredibly lenient, some have said unprecedented. Acosta says he still has President Trump's support, has no plans to resign. CNN's Jim Acosta has the latest now from the White House.

(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Under fire over a plea deal he once cut for multi millionaire sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, Labor Secretary Alex Acosta defended his handling of the case during his days as a federal prosecutor.

ALEX ACOSTA, LABOR SECRETARY: No regrets is a very hard question. You always look back and you say, "what if?"

J. ACOSTA: With new victims coming forward questioning whether Acosta was too lenient in the case, the Secretary was asked whether he would have reached the same agreement today. Time and again he pointed the finger at state prosecutors in Flordia claiming they were going to allow Epstein to avoid jail time.

A. ACOSTA: Today's world treats victims very, very differently. Today's world does not allow some of the victim shaming that could have taken place at trial. I don't think we can say, you know, take a case that is this old and fully know how it would play out today. We did what we did because we wanted to see Epstein go to jail. There is a value to a sure guilty plea because letting him walk, letting what the state attorney was ready to do go forward would have been absolutely awful.

J. ACOSTA: The secretary made it clear he's not about to resign talking up his relationship with President Trump while working in a plug for the administration's record.

A. ACOSTA: My relationship with the president is outstanding. He has, I think, very publically made clear that I've got his support. I serve at the pleasure of the president. I thought yesterday he was kind and he showed great support. We are here because we are part of an administration that is creating jobs.

J. ACOSTA: A senior administration official told CNN the president's first instinct was to fight back against democrats calling for the secretary's resignation. The official said Mr. Trump's attitude was quote, "Screw them." The secretary also blasted reports that he's on thin ice with acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney.

A. ACOSTA: Our relationship is excellent too in that any articles to the contrary are in his words, "B.S."

J. ACOSTA: And true Trump Administration fashion, the secretary took a swipe at the media.

A. ACOSTA: I've read this and one of the things I find interesting is how - how facts become facts because they're in a newspaper. Thank you very much.

[00:30:04]

J. ACOSTA: The question is whether the secretary's performance was enough to stay. One of Mr. Trump's close friends was betting that his days were numbered.

CHRISTOPHER RUDDY, CEO, NEWSMAX: I think the plea agreement he did is indefensible. I think that he's not going to stay for long.

J. ACOSTA (on camera): Secretary Acosta may be able to stay on for now, but the secretary may want to look back to how other embattled cabinet members have fared in the past.

As one senior administration official put it, one day you're working for President Trump, and one day you're not. There was one departure that was welcomed by the White House as the British ambassador to the U.S. announced he's stepping down after some of his past criticisms of Mr. Trump surfaced in the media.

Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Almost two dozen nations coming together on behalf of ethnic Uyghurs. Ahead, the call for China to end mass detentions, surveillance and other restrictions in the western Xinjiang province.

Also, heavy flooding hits New Orleans as the U.S. Gulf Coast braces for what could be the first hurricane threat this year. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause with an update on the top news this hour.

Congress is hearing emotional testimony about the migrant crisis at the U.S. border with Mexico. A Guatemalan women blamed the lack of medical care at a detention center for her daughter's death after they were released.

Volunteer doctors are now pleading for access to these facilities.

The U.S. labor secretary defending how his former office prosecuted multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein for sex crimes in 2008. Alex Acosta says he get the best deal he could but admits the terms look lenient, now that time has passed.

Acosta is resisting calls to resign, because he still has the support of the president.

The British ambassador to the U.S. has stepped down after describing President Trump as inept in leaked diplomatic cables. Kim Darroch's resignation came after Trump said the White House would no longer deal with him as British ambassador.

Twenty-two countries are calling on China to halt the mass detention of ethnic Uyghurs and other Muslims in Xinjiang province. U.N. experts say at least a million people are being held in what China calls training centers.

Beijing claims the centers are there to help eliminate Islamic extremists and give people new skills.

The statement also calls for an end to widespread surveillance and restrictions on minorities in the Xinjiang Uyghurs autonomous region.

[00:35:07] CNN's Matt Rivers joins us now live from Beijing with more on this. Matt, I cannot recall one instance when Beijing has responded in a way which could remotely be described as conciliatory after a bunch of countries get together and demanded an end to some kind of policy. I can't see it would be any different this time.

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, it's not going to be. In fact, they're going to be angry about this here in Beijing; and you could likely see them publishing their own letter, which will likely say something like, "Other countries should stop meddling in the internal affairs of China."

But look, John, if you've been following this story for a while now you would think that a statement like this would have happened already, or it would have been a long time coming. And yet what we've seen from these 22 countries is relatively unprecedented.

Nearly half of all members of the Human Rights Council, of which China is also a member, have signed onto this statement, which calls for the end of these mass arbitrary detentions, as they call it; which calls for the end of the surveillance state in Xinjiang, which we have seen for ourselves. It is a relatively strongly-worded statement from these countries, ranging from Australia to Japan to Estonia, even, so 22 countries of the 47-member body.

Now, just to remind our viewers what's going on in Xinjiang, the U.N., western governments, experts all basically agree that hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of ethnic -- of Muslim ethnic minorities in the Xinjiang region in western China have been detained over the last few years in what critics would call an effort by Beijing to stamp out Muslim identity in this part of the country, because this Muslim identity is separate, culturally, linguistically from the rest of China.

And there's been all kinds of allegations of abuse, of torture. And so critics have long called for these camps to close.

But what you haven't seen, John, interestingly, is a lot of concrete action taken by the international community, despite the fact that many members of the international community do not buy Beijing's rational that these are just voluntary training camps designed to stamp out extremism. You haven't seen sanctions levied against Beijing. You haven't seen diplomats from China expelled -- you know, sent out of other countries. You haven't seen that kind of action, and critics would say that's because China has enormous diplomatic, economics sway against other countries around the world.

Activists would hope that this latest statement, 22 countries signing on, might signal a sort of change, where you might see action, follow it up. Beijing is certainly hoping that that doesn't happen, but we'll just have to wait and see.

VAUSE: Yes. Matt, we appreciate it. Thank you. Matt Rivers with an update there on -- I should say, Matt, it's been going on for quite some.

To Greece now, where police are investigating the possible murder of a U.S. scientist who died by asphyxiation. Fifty-nine-year-old Suzanne Eaton was attending a conference earlier this month on the island of Crete. She's believed to have disappeared while jogging July 2. The body of the biologist was discovered on Monday.

Police say they're taking comprehensive measures -- whatever that is -- to find her killer or killers.

A large storm in the Gulf of Mexico has already flooded parts of New Orleans. Much more rain is on the way. More than 20 centimeters fell on Wednesday, overwhelming the famous French Quarter and other neighborhoods. The slow-moving system could become a hurricane by Saturday. State officials have become shutting more than 90 floodgates to hold back the rising Mississippi River.

A waterspout formed over Lake Pont-char-tair or I don't know what it is -- Pontchartrain, thank you. And two (UNINTELLIGIBLE) by tornado. Some oil rigs in the gulf have also been evacuated.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam, some of those names, they just get a bit tricky, man. What can I say?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I'll tell you --

VAUSE: But they're spectacular pictures.

VAN DAM: I'll tell you, some of the parish names are beyond me, and I talk about that area frequently. Right? It's the time of the year, John --

VAUSE: Bunch of --

VAN DAM: -- incredible amounts of rain. This is what we call a tropical downpour.

New Orleans saw over a month's worth of rain, the average for -- for July, in just a six-hour period. And it's all part of a tropical interest that we have forming across the Gulf of Mexico. By the way, Louisiana is under a state of emergency in anticipation of the development of this new tropical cyclone.

This is what you should expect along the Gulf Coast, aside from the potential of rising gas prices. In the future, we do have the potential for a hurricane-strength storm by Friday. That means storm surge along the coastal areas.

But it's not only a coastal threat. We believe that this storm will be a slow mover, and it could bring more: copious amounts of rain to the Gulf Coast. And that could lead to localized flooding.

Look how this system slowly meanders across the Deep South. There is warm ocean waters, jet fuel for hurricanes to develop. And you can see how it's going to tap into that Gulf of Mexico moisture, producing potentially, over 500 millimeters of rain over the next four to five days.

There are hurricane watches in effect from the mouth of the Mississippi towards the Texas and Louisiana border. By the way, New Orleans -- just outside of New Orleans -- tropical storm watches in effect.

[00:40:03] So we're monitoring this area very closely -- John.

VAUSE: Copious is a -- what, an official weather term, Derek?

VAN DAM: A DVD weather term.

VAUSE: Very good. Thanks, man. Talk soon.

Next up on CNN NEWSROOM, a parade of champions. The U.S. Women's Soccer Team took a victory lap through New York City. And the players and fans alike voiced their support, yes, for equal pay. Why not?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: The U.S. Women's Soccer Team has not only redefined dominance in the sport, but players are also changing the game for gender equality. At a parade in New York celebrating their fourth World Cup title, girls of all ages lined the streets, wanting to see their role models up close.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was super exciting, like that was the best day of my life.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love how everyone comes here to support these women that are much better than everyone else.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like how they're really good friends and they work together, like, and like, we're a good group. Our soccer team, we look up to them and want to be like them when we're older.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They' re an inspiration. I mean, they won the World Cup. They're winning games left and right. They're fighting for equal pay. I mean, what more can you ask for?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're fighting for what's right, on and off the field.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They show that, no matter what, women don't have to conform to stereotypes made by society.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They don't care. They are just trying to do the right thing. And they will do that no matter what. And I think they're trying to set us up for success, and they're doing a great job.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Good stuff.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause. Stay with us. WORLD SPORT is up next. You're watching CNN.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[00:45:24] (WORLD SPORT)

[00:57:37] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)