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Trump Confirms ICE Raids on Undocumented Immigrants to Begin; Tropical Storm Barry Strengthens, Moves Closer to Louisiana Coast; Emotions High During Hearing on Detentions of Child Migrants; Labor Secretary Acosta Resigns Amid Furor over Epstein Plea Deal. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired July 12, 2019 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: And they were telling here that they're apprehensive about, you know, when they go to these homes and they find children and babies. I'm just wondering, what is your thoughts on that. What's your advice to the agents who will be the ones carry this out?
RONALD VITIELLO, FORMER ACTING ICE DIRECTOR & FORMER BORDER PATROL CHIEF: As an agent myself and knowing what law enforcement does, the officers out there, they do their work with a definite level of compassion. They're going to treat everyone with dignity and respect.
Nobody wants to go out and arrest children. That's not what this is about.
What this is about is these people came across the border illegally. They were offered an opportunity of due process. Thousands of them did not take that opportunity. And now it's time for the consequences to be enacted.
A judge reviewed their circumstances and ordered them removed. This is the end of that process.
BALDWIN: I want to ask about you. We know, Ron, the president pulled your nomination, because he said he wanted someone tougher in the role. This is his quote, "Ron is a good man but we're going in a tougher direction. We want to go in a tougher direction.
I don't know if you want to comment on that. But do you approve of the rhetoric he's using and the tactics here?
VITIELLO: I've been part of the administration, and we spent months and months on the Hill, in public, amongst ourselves looking for ways to close these immigration loopholes that is driving this crushing surge at the border. This is one of the consequences for crossing the border illegally. You get removed when a judge reviews your case.
So I appreciate what the president said about me being a good guy. I understand what he meant. But I don't know what was in his head when he talked about a tougher direction.
What I know is that the men and women of ICE, the professionals at the border and the Border Patrol, are doing everything they can to solve this problem and make these people comfortable and try to get out from under this crisis. But until Congress acts, we're going to have this surge at the border. And it's not going to stop until the framework of the law changes.
BALDWIN: Ron Vitiello, thank you, sir, very much.
VITIELLO: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Tropical Storm Barry on the move, growing stronger. Some 10 million people in its path. We'll talk about the unprecedented threat their facing right now.
[14:36:30] BALDWIN: It is looking like New Orleans may get a bit of a break this time, which is wonderful news. Tropical Storm Barry seems to be setting its sights on Baton Rouge. Although, that could still change. Though Barry's path remains uncertain right now, the storm is strengthening. And it poses an unprecedented threat of flooding all along Louisiana's low-lying coast.
There's a lot of water so far. The Mississippi River is at 16 feet, twice its usual level for this time of year. Add the heavy rain, storm surge that Barry will bring, and how can sandbags be enough?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TONY BAKER, LIVED THROUGH HURRICANE KATRINA: This brings some unique elements. We've never had the river so high. You know, the storm come in, the levees are saturated.
I think, after the Katrina situation, we had Gustav, and they did a much better job at getting people up and getting people out and securing the city. That was a lesson learned. I'm concerned, however, that they've gotten complacent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: CNN's Ryan Young is live in Algiers, Louisiana.
I see that water behind you. Of course, Katrina, that was 14 years ago. City of New Orleans, there haven't been any mandatory evacuations. You're talking to folks down there. What are they saying?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Any time you deal with people who are used to tropical storms and hurricanes, they sort of have this wait approach to the situation.
We went to the lower Ninth Ward today and talked to people there, who said, we're not worried about this storm. We actually believe we'll be OK. The pumps are working, the wall's all right. We'll be here until God tells us to move.
There are other people who have had their family members call them and say, I think you should step away from this situation, because they're worried about the constant rain.
What makes this different thought -- and we talk about this a little bit - that out there. That's the Mississippi River. You look at the beautiful city of New Orleans across the way there.
But you even said in that intro, the fact that the water here is higher than normal. People are worried about the idea of maybe 48 hours of sustained rain when you have maybe 10 to 15 inches. That could really be where the impact happens here.
I can tell you, the mayor and all the folks who are city officials, they have been putting out the proper warnings. Yes, it's not a mandatory evacuation just yet. What they want people to do is shelter in place.
We've been downtown. In fact, we have our roving coverage vehicle in the French Quarter right now. We'll show you a live picture.
BALDWIN: We see it.
YOUNG: People haven't stopped going down there as tourists and going down there to see what the French Quarter has to provide. They believe it's a sunny day, there's a chance of wind going. They want to still experience New Orleans.
There was a big sorority, a national convention here, 16,000 women who were showing up for their convention this weekend. That convention has been cancelled. So at the airport, there were lines around the building for people to get out of here. And we saw cars trying to get out of the city.
Let's not forget, on Wednesday, we had the torrential downpour that had people stuck in their cars on the highway. So some folks are focused on that.
But when you talk to people who have lived here a long time -- Brooke, you know this -- they're like, we go beyond --
BALDWIN: We're good, We're good.
YOUNG: They don't think this is going to be the big storm. Everybody says that. And you're not going to convince them to move on from the situation because this is a city they love and they believe New Orleans can handle it.
BALDWIN: Yes. I've met a lot of those folks you described.
Ryan Young, thank you very much for being down there and covering this.
BALDWIN: And the real question -- let's go to Allison Chinchar in our Severe Weather Center. The real question, are we going to be talking about a hurricane or no?
ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: The winds that they've been measuring -- this is the latest reconnaissance hurricane hunter flight that's gone out. They're measuring winds at about 64 miles per hour. That's about 10 miles per hour off from what would be a category 1 hurricane.
[14:40:05] But the thing is, we're seeing the pressure dropping. We're seeing the storm intensifying. So it's not out of the realm of possibilities for this to get up to a category 1 strength before it makes landfall less than 24 hours from now.
It's expected to make lawful in Louisiana tomorrow morning. Again, so there's not much time, but there is just enough time, at least, for it to continue to intensify over the next few hours.
The main thing here is going to be the rain with this storm. It's expected to dump a tremendous amount over not just Louisiana, but also portions of Mississippi, Arkansas, even areas of Tennessee. Widespread amounts, about five to 10 inches. But some areas could pick up over a foot of rain.
The storm surge is also going to be a big concern across much of Louisiana but also portions of Mississippi.
Brooke, the concern here is, when you hear people say, I've survived other ones, I did fine, this one will be fine, you're not comparing -- you're comparing apples to oranges. The Mississippi River was not this high for a lot of those other storms. You have to take that in mind and factor that in.
Allison, thank you very much.
In Washington, members of Congress have been listening to some pretty tough testimony about conditions along the border and emotions are running high. We'll talk with one woman who's been there holding children and talking to families.
And Robert Mueller's visit to Capitol Hill has been pushed back after some sort of breakdown in negotiations. We'll talk about what's behind that delay.
We'll be right back.
[14:45:53] BALDWIN: Tears and passion on Capitol Hill today as the House Oversight Committee focused on what happening to migrant children detained at the border. Testifying were lawmakers from both parties who had visited detention facilities.
Republicans defended the Border Patrol agents facing a crush of arrivals more than tripling numbers in the past. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANDY BIGGS (R-AZ): It's a crisis. It's real. And we do not get anywhere by blaming the people who are doing their best to help these people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: While Democrats describe the conditions they saw in Clint, Texas, the extreme overcrowding and migrants telling the lawmakers that they were forced to drink from toilets.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): And what was worse about this, Mr. Chairman, was the fact that there were American flags hanging all over these facilities. That children being separated from their parents in front of an American flag. That women were being called these names under an American flag.
REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): Mr. Chairman, it needs to be noted into record, I spoke to CBP agents, even though they told us not to speak to them, too. Remember that?
And I said, what do you think we need to do, because you guys are overwhelmed. They said, one of them, stop sending money, it's not working. Another one said, I wasn't trained for this, I am not a social worker, I'm not a medical care worker. He actually said, I want to be at the border, that's where I was trained to be at. The separate -- the one other one, the last one, Mr. Chairman, the separation policy isn't working, he said.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Some of the most compelling sound came from not a member of Congress, but a lawyer who monitors migrant facilities and spoke directly with these children.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELORA MUKHERJEE, DIRECTOR, COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY LAW SCHOOL IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS CLINIC: Many have not brushed their teeth for days. They were wearing the same clothes they had on when they crossed the border, clothes that were covered in nasal mucus, vomit, breast milk, urine. Multiple children had a strong stench emanating from them, because they had not showered in days.
At Clint, I met a 6-year-old boy who I will never forget. He was tiny and he hardly spoke. When I asked him if he was at Clint with anyone, he began to sob, nearly inconsolably for an hour, nearly an hour.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: All of this comes as the Oversight Committee just issued a report finding that at least 18 migrant children under the age of 2 had been kept from their parents anywhere from 20 days to six months. Clara Long is a senior researcher for Human Rights Watch and recently
spoke with children detained at the border.
And, Clara, you hear about these children sobbing for an hour. What does this do to them emotionally, mentally?
CLARA LONG, SENIOR RESEARCHER, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: Listening to Elora describe that experience in Clint resonates with me so deeply. Because that is exactly the same experience I had in another interview room in Clint with another child. It's child after child after child who's being traumatized probably permanently.
The American Academy of Pediatricians says that any length of detention can cause permanent harm to children.
BALDWIN: Right now, as we speak, they're opening up these facilities to members of the media. We've been asking, the White House has done this. Trump is quoted as saying, they're, quote, "beautifully run" detention facilities. Your response to that?
LONG: We spoke with dozens of children who gave us the same accounts. The Department of Homeland Security's Office of Inspector General confirmed our accounts. Children who has since been released confirmed our accounts. Border Patrol agents, speaking with the "New York Times" and other media outlets, confirmed our accounts.
[14:50:05] At this point, pushing back against the facts of what has been happening on the U.S. border is not a tenable position.
BALDWIN: Clara Long, thank you very much.
LONG: Thank you.
BALDWIN: We've got some breaking news this afternoon from the White House. It looks like another member of the Trump administration could be out the door. Why the president may be setting his sights on intelligence chief, Dan Coates.
[14:55:00] BALDWIN: Rushing water, a treacherous slope, and a pitch- black tunnel. When five teenaged boys were swept in a storm sewer, an Ohio police officer went "BEYOND THE CALL OF DUTY" to pull them out of danger.
CNN's Alexandra Field tells their story.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Young lives are on the line and in Officer Aaron Franklin's hands.
OFFICER AARON FRANKLIN, MASSILLON POLICE DEPARTMENT, MASSILLON, OHIO: That's him!
FIELD: The rushing waters sweeping a group of Massillon, Ohio teens down into a storm sewer.
FRANKLIN: You can hear them. You can hear them yelling. It sounds like they're saying "help."
FIELD: Officer Franklin is first on scene. It's his first water rescue.
FRANKLIN: You guys alright?
FIELD: His body camera records him trying to get close.
FRANKLIN: It's obviously a treacherous downslope. Everything's wet, including the slate rocks that are down here.
FIELD: The officer spots two boys near the mouth of the tunnel.
FRANKLIN: Don't let go until you're all the way up here.
FIELD: With help from the fire department, he manages to get both out on their feet.
FRANKLIN: You're the last one, right?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
FIELD: There are three more boys still stuck inside.
FRANKLIN: There's no way of knowing how far down there they are.
FIELD (on camera): What do you know about that tunnel? What's it like in there?
FRANKLIN: Well, I know it's pitch black. And obviously, just looking at it, I can see that the water's rushing. I knew that that tunnel continued down for approximately a mile and subsequently let out at the Tuscarawas River.
TOM BURGASSER, FIRE CHIEF, MASSILLON FIRE DEPARTMENT, MASSILLON, OHIO: I'm just going to use this to get down with, OK?
FIELD (voice-over): With Franklin holding on to him, Massillon's fire chief goes down to search.
FRANKLIN: Once he gets down there, he's out of my sight.
FIELD: Soon, rescuers feel the weight of one boy on the line.
FRANKLIN: Take a deep breath, man. Take a deep breath.
FIELD: Finally, they feel the weight of another.
FRANKLIN: Almost there.
There's five-six grown men tugging, pulling as hard as they can, pulling a 120-pound teen, and it felt like we were pulling a truck.
Bud, stand up.
FIELD: Word eventually comes a missing friend has made it out, too.
FRANKLIN: It's him. We got him, we got him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have him?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go.
FIELD: Trever Gallion was pushed farthest through the tunnel.
TREVER GALLION, ONE OF FIVE TEENS RESCUED FROM STORM SEWER: I was trying to stand up and, like, fight my way out. And then, eventually, I realized I couldn't stand up towards the water. And so, I just -- I just let it take me.
FIELD: A second team of rescuers found him clinging to a ladder.
UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER OF TREVER GALLION: One of the police officers told me, if there was a grate at the end of the tunnel, he said, if he would have made it down there, you probably wouldn't have gotten your son home.
FRANKLIN: All right, we're going to get you all looked at.
FIELD: The officer says he was just in the right place.
FRANKLIN: Anybody that would be put in a situation that's in this line of work, they have an obligation to do so, and we're going to do it.
How are you?
FIELD: Trever is grateful rescuers reached him and his friends in time.
Alexandra Field, CNN, Massillon, Ohio.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BALDWIN: We continue on, on this Friday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being here.
It appears the revolving door at the Trump White House is swinging once again this Friday. The latest person who could be on the way out, Dan Coates, the director of National Intelligence, who angered President Trump after contradicting him publicly during a congressional hearing earlier this year.
Whether Coates ultimately stays or goes is to be determined, as this is not the first time the president has considered making this move.
But there's also Alex Acosta, the labor secretary, who, in 2008, as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, played a role in brokering that sweetheart deal for Jeffrey Epstein, who was accused of sexual abuse of underaged girls.
Today, after days of scrutiny and controversy, and a very public attempt to defend himself, Acosta called it quits.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEXANDER ACOSTA, FORMER LABOR SECRETARY: I called the president this morning. I told him that I thought the right thing was to step aside.
Cabinet positions are temporary trusts. It would be selfish for me to stay in this position and continue talking about a case that's 12 years old, rather than about the amazing economy we have right now.
And so I submitted my resignation to the president, effective seven days from today, effective one week from today, earlier this morning
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: CNN chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is with me.
Jim, the president was standing right next to Alex Acosta when he quit, saying he didn't have to do this, declaring, I'm with him. But if the president truly backed Alex Acosta, wouldn't he still be working at the White House?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. It sure sounded, earlier this week, Brooke that --
ACOSTA: -- the labor secretary -- exactly. It sounded earlier this week, Brooke, that the president was going to have Acosta's back. He was saying in the Oval Office that he's been a fantastic labor secretary and so on.
And then Alex Acosta went out in front of the cameras and tried to explain himself in terms of the Jeffrey Epstein saga. And according to officials, initially, it sounds as though Acosta had stabilized things.
But as things were -- as time was going on, later on in the week, my understanding is, from talking to a senior White House official --