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Interview With New Orleans, Louisiana, Mayor LaToya Cantrell; Interview With Presidential Candidate John Delaney; Trump Blasts Paul Ryan; ICE Raids Expected This Weekend; Secretary of Labor Resigns; House Passes Bill Extending 9/11 First Responders Funding for Decades; Mueller's Blockbuster Hearing May Be Delayed A Week; A Senior Administration Official Says, Trump's Confirmation Of Immigration Raid Is Head-Scratching, Could Jeopardize Operation; At Least 28 Migrant Children Under The Age Of Two Were Separated From Parents For 20 Days To Six Months; Trump Attacks Fmr. Rep. Paul Ryan (R) Wisconsin, Defends Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D) California. Aired on 6-7p ET

Aired July 12, 2019 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: I will talk live with the mayor of New Orleans.

More vacancies. As the labor secretary calls it quits over a sex case plea deal, we're told the president may show his director of national intelligence the door. How empty will the Trump Cabinet get?

Unlikely to charge. Federal prosecutors are wrapping up a probe of the president's company, and it looks as though Trump Organization executives may be off the hook. We will tell you what we're learning.

And a tale of two speakers. The president defends his Democratic nemesis, Nancy Pelosi, while lashing out at the former GOP leader of the House, calling Paul Ryan a failure and a baby.

We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We have breaking news on the threat of an imminent hurricane disaster. A new forecast shows Tropical Storm Barry gaining strength as it nears the Gulf Coast, with millions of people in its path. Hurricane conditions are predicted as soon as tonight for parts of Louisiana.

Barry is expected to be a full-blown hurricane when it hits land tomorrow, unleashing heavy rains, a dangerous storm surge and potentially catastrophic flooding.

I will talk to the New Orleans mayor ahead.

Also breaking, as the labor secretary steps down, another Cabinet member's job may be at very serious risk right now. CNN has learned President Trump is again thinking of replacing his director of national intelligence, after repeatedly expressing frustration with Dan Coats, this as Mr. Trump is praising his exiting labor secretary, Alex Acosta, resigning amid outrage over his role in a past plea deal for accused sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein.

I will get reaction from Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.

First, let's go to the Gulf Coast.

CNN's Nick Watt, he's in Lafayette, Louisiana, for us.

Nick, Barry is getting stronger and closer tonight. What's the latest?

NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we are about to get another update from the governor of Louisiana.

But what we know already at this hour is that they are already feeling the wind and rain of Barry's outer bands down on the Louisiana coast. And we know this storm is going to be big, slow-moving and very, very wet.

Barry is forecast to drop more than two feet of water on some parts of this state.


WATT (voice-over): Tonight here in Lafayette, last-minute preps before Barry's heavy rains hit.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're just trying to be prepared.

WATT: Sandbagging their homes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody gets along. That's how we do it here down in Louisiana. Everybody helps each other out.

WATT: The slow-moving storm system now forecast to bring many hours and many inches of rain, 800,000 people now under a hurricane warning along the low-lying Louisiana coastline from south of Lafayette to New Orleans.

LATOYA CANTRELL, MAYOR OF NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA: Forty-eight hours potential rainfall, consistent rainfall over the city of New Orleans.

WATT: A sustained soaking for an already saturated Louisiana. Eight inches fell Wednesday morning in New Orleans. Several low-lying parishes, worried levees might be breached, have already issued mandatory evacuations, but not the Big Easy.

CANTRELL: We are not issuing a voluntary or mandatory evacuation. Sheltering in place is our strategy.

WATT: The advice? You will need supplies for 72 hours.

TONY BAKER, NEW ORLEANS RESIDENT: I have bottled water. I also have a generator. I have a portable -- two portable air conditioners.

WATT: Barry is expected to pack a triple threat, high rivers, flash flooding, and a storm surge of two or three feet, perhaps pushing the mighty Mississippi to its highest level since 1950.

Officials doing all they can, closing floodgates ahead of the storm, and warning that this could be an unprecedented situation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The number one threat is going to be water, is going to be the flooding and the heavy rainfall.

WATT: And Lafayette, bang in the middle of Barry's projected path, could see a month's worth of rain fall in the space of just a few hours.


WATT: And that is why, here in Lafayette, they have pre-positioned vehicles like this one ready to rescue people from the floods.

There are first-responders and the National Guard fanned out across Louisiana, Wolf, waiting for the worst that Barry can throw at them.

BLITZER: Good luck to all the folks over there, Nick Watt on the scene for us.

Later this hour, I will be speaking with LaToya Cantrell. She's the mayor of New Orleans. We will get a complete update from her.


But let's go to the White House right now, where President Trump has another Cabinet vacancy, and there could be more in the days ahead.

Our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta, is joining us.

Jim, the labor secretary is on his way out and the director of national intelligence may be on very shaky ground.


President Trump once again has another acting member of his Cabinet, as the labor secretary, Alex Acosta, announced he is stepping down. A senior administration official said the president had been stewing over Secretary Acosta's fate after he was dragged into the Jeffrey Epstein scandal.

But there may be another top official possibly heading for the exits, the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats. We are told the president may be ready to make a change there as well.


J. ACOSTA (voice-over): There wasn't much laboring when it came to the fate of Alex Acosta, as the president walked the embattled secretary in front of the cameras to announce his departure. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And, Alex, I think you

will agree. I said, you don't have to do this. He doesn't have to do this.

J. ACOSTA: The outgoing labor secretary told reporters he didn't want to be a distraction, amid growing questions over the sweetheart deal he gave to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

ALEXANDER ACOSTA, U.S. SECRETARY OF LABOR: So I called the president this morning. I told him that I thought the right thing was to step aside.

J. ACOSTA: But sources told CNN the president had been stewing over Acosta's fate, after praising the secretary earlier in the week.

TRUMP: He's done a fantastic job.

J. ACOSTA: A senior administration official said there were concerns the revelations in the Epstein case would provide ammunition to Democrats in 2020.

PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's certainly clear that he had to go. I think what this shows more broadly is the -- a pattern in this administration, where the country's business cannot get done because of these horrifying scandals that touch the White House.

J. ACOSTA: Despite his past friendship with Epstein, Mr. Trump claimed he wants tossed the multimillionaire out of his club in Florida.

TRUMP: It shows you one thing, that I have good taste. But Jeffrey Epstein was not somebody that I respected. I throw him out.

J. ACOSTA: The president also confirmed reports that ICE agents are launching a multi-city roundup of undocumented immigrants this weekend.

TRUMP: Oh, we're not giving warnings. No, we're not giving warnings. If the word gets out, it gets out. It starts on Sunday, and they're going to take people out.

J. ACOSTA: A senior administration official said the president's disclosure could jeopardize the operation.

TRUMP: We're focused on criminals. We're focused on -- if you look at MS-13. But when people come into our country, we take those people out and we take them out very legally.

J. ACOSTA: The president made time to respond to criticism from Paul Ryan published in a new book, "American Carnage," which details how the former House speaker says Mr. Trump didn't know anything about government when he came into office.

TRUMP: So, Paul Ryan was not a talent. He wasn't a leader. When the people in Freedom and great congressmen wanted to go after the Dems for things that they did very badly, he wouldn't give subpoenas, whereas Nancy Pelosi hands them out like they're cookies.

J. ACOSTA: The president also fired back at Vice President Joe Biden.

TRUMP: He's a weak man. He's an ineffective man. President Xi laughs at guys like that.

J. ACOSTA: That came after Biden described Mr. Trump as a foreign policy disaster.

JOSEPH BIDEN (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The world sees Trump for what he is, insincere, ill-informed and impulsive, and sometimes corrupt, dangerously incompetent, and incapable, in my view, of world leadership and leadership at home.

J. ACOSTA: But the president surprisingly came to the defense of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, after she was blasted by Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The New York Democrat appeared to suggest Pelosi's criticism of outspoken freshman House members was racially motivated, something Ocasio-Cortez denied.

TRUMP: She is not a racist, OK? She is not a racist. For them to call her a racist is a disgrace.


J. ACOSTA: Now, as for the other departure that may be on the horizon here at the White House, sources tell CNN the president is growing more frustrated with the director of national intelligence, Dan Coats.

But replacing Coats now would leave yet another vacancy in a critical national security position in this administration. The Defense Department and the Department of Homeland Security both have acting secretaries there.

And one other thing that we're watching tonight, Wolf, is whether the House decides to delay the testimony of the former special counsel Robert Mueller. Negotiations are under way to postpone that hearing one week, pushing that long-awaited testimony until later on this month -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We will see if we get official word on that.

Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.

We have some breaking news coming into THE SITUATION ROOM right now on a federal investigation into executives over at the Trump Organization in New York.

CNN's Kara Scannell has been working her sources for us.

What are you learning, Kara?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, well, sources tell me and my colleague Erica Orden that prosecutors with the Southern District of New York are not expected to bring any criminal charges against any Trump Organization executives in connection with a campaign finance investigation.


That investigation stems from those hush money payments that Michael Cohen helped facilitate to silence allegations of affairs by Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal with Donald Trump a decade ago, affairs that the president has denied.

Now, the big question here has been about the reimbursement of these payments to Michael Cohen. Prosecutors had shown in court filings that the Trump Organization had paid Cohen $420,000. And at the time of the charges against Michael Cohen, prosecutors said that the Trump Organization had improperly classified them on their books as legal expenses.

Now, when Michael Cohen went before Congress, he informed the congressman -- and we just saw the check on the screen there -- that some of these checks were signed by Donald Trump, by his son Donald Trump Jr., and by Allen Weisselberg, the chief financial officer of the Trump Organization.

Weisselberg had received immunity for his testimony. Now, as prosecutors were looking into this investigation in January, they had asked to speak to three Trump Organization executives, but then they never followed up on that.

And sources tell me and Erica that this investigation then started to grow very quiet. The last time that prosecutors and the Trump Organization had any communication, sources say, was at least five months ago.

So sources say that this is all indications and pretty clear that they're not going to bring any charges against executives at the Trump Organization in connection with a campaign finance investigation -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Kara, does this mean the Trump Organization is now out of the woods?

SCANNELL: No, it doesn't.

I mean, there's always the possibility that new information could come to light to reignite an investigation. But this isn't the only one that is shadowing around the president and his family. The same U.S. attorney's office, the Southern District of New York, is also investigating questions around the president's inauguration.

That inauguration involves some events at the Trump Hotel, and his family members were involved in that. So it is not yet over. There is -- the cloud has not been lifted from the Trump Organization, Donald Trump and his family.

But at least as it relates to the campaign finance investigation involving those hush money payments, that appears to be over, Wolf. BLITZER: Very interesting.

All right, Kara Scannell, good reporting. Thank you very much.

Joining us now, Democratic presidential candidate John Delaney. He is a former U.S. congressman from Maryland.

Congressman, thanks so much for coming in.


BLITZER: Well, let me get your reaction to what we just heard from Kara Scannell.

Are you surprised to hear that more charges now are unlikely in that hush money payment scheme?

DELANEY: Well, I haven't followed any of that.

But what I do know is, we have an administration that's corrupt, that's dishonest and incompetent. And that's what we have to change in this country right now.

I mean, I can't follow the specifics. There are so many things going on this administration, it's actually hard to follow everything. But what we need is, we need to see the president's tax returns. We need to see what's going on with his hotels that he owns in Washington, these domestic and foreign emoluments that I think he's taking.

But what we really need is to turn the page on this and get a government that's honest with the American people, where there's no scandals, and has competency in the administration.

BLITZER: What do you think of these reports that the Mueller testimony, which had been scheduled for next week, public testimony before the Judiciary Committee, the Intelligence Committee, may be delayed a week?

DELANEY: Well, I think that it's being delayed because the chairman, Chairman Nadler, wants it delayed. And I think he wants more time, which I think is the right thing.

I was talking to one of my former colleagues, Jamie Raskin, this past weekend, and he was worried that he wasn't going to have time and that Mueller's testimony was going to be very short.

So I think what Nadler is going to do is extend the testimony and give Mueller more time to talk, which I think the American people deserve.

BLITZER: You say it was the right decision for Alex Acosta, the labor secretary, to submit his resignation, but does he still need to answer questions before Congress as far as that sweetheart deal, as it's called, involving Epstein?

DELANEY: I think he should. I think that's up to Congress to determine that and to see where that

stands in all the priorities that they have to deal with, with this administration.

But him moving on is clearly the right thing to do. The sweetheart deal that it looks like was cut with Epstein is just not the kind of leader we deserve in our country. And, again, it comes back to my theme, Wolf, which is, we need a new administration that's honest with the American people, where there's no scandals, where we can kind of take the noise down a little bit, and we can get competent people in the jobs, and we don't have to deal with this stuff day in and day out.

I mean, how are you going to be the secretary of labor when you're dealing with this kind of a scandal? And there's so many issues for the secretary of labor to deal with right now.

BLITZER: Look at this. These are all the officials who now serve at the top of the Trump administration in acting roles.


BLITZER: What's the practical impact of that? You have spent a lot of time in Congress.

DELANEY: It's a dysfunctional administration. And it's somewhat reflects the way the president ran his business, which is in a very dysfunctional way.

I mean, he filed for bankruptcy a half-a-dozen times. He left kind of people questioning whether they would ever do business with him again. He stiffed workers across his whole business career.

And he's running his administration in many ways the same way. He wasn't a business leader prior to coming to the White House. He was a business promoter. And that's how he's running the White House.

Someone like myself, who started two companies from scratch, took them public, they were very admired in their communities, that's how you run a business. And that's how you should run a White House.


And I think it makes it very challenging for the Congress to actually work with this administration, because you never know who has any responsibility or authority, which is one of the reasons why this administration hasn't gotten the basic stuff done that he -- that he promised, like infrastructure and things like that.

BLITZER: Let's talk about immigration.


BLITZER: As you know, the president has officially announced that, this Sunday, raids will begin on undocumented immigrants...


BLITZER: ... originally in 10 cities. We got a map of those 10 cities.

New Orleans now, because of the potential hurricane, that has been delayed. So nine cities now have been targeted, including in your home state of Maryland in Baltimore right now.


BLITZER: What do you think of this operation?

DELANEY: I think it's terrible. I think it's cruel.

What he's doing is, he's bringing what he's doing at the border to a local city near you. I mean, that's really what this is all about. And it's a waste of resources. I mean, we have so many issues to deal with our immigration system, including, Wolf, passing comprehensive immigration reform.

And what the president should be doing is putting his shoulder behind that, because that's what this country desperately needs. We also need to be doing things to fix what's going on in Central America, so we don't have this refugee crisis at our southern border.

Those are the top two priorities for us to be working on, on immigration, not engaging in these raids, going after people who are in our country, productive members of our community.

But what they need to know is, they have rights. And that's one of the things that I think it's really important that people understand, is they have rights. And if someone comes to their home as part of one of these Trump raids, they have rights. They don't have to let them in unless they have a warrant. They can seek an attorney, et cetera.

And that's a really important message to get out to these people, based on what's going to happen this weekend.

BLITZER: Senator Kamala Harris, a 2020 presidential candidate, like yourself, she's doubling down today on her criticism of the front- runner, Joe Biden.

Watch what she said earlier today on "The View."


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D-CA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We're on a debate stage. And if you have not prepared, and you're not ready for somebody to point out a difference of opinion about the history of segregation in our country, and what was necessary to deal with that, which at that time was busing, then you're probably not ready.


BLITZER: That anti-Biden strategy seems to be helping her in the polls.

Are you ready to go in the same direction?

DELANEY: I think we have to talk about the future, to be honest with you.

I don't think any -- many of these candidates who are running are actually putting forth ideas, real solutions that can actually get done to make our future better. They're either talking about impossible promises or pie-in-the-sky ideas, or they're talking about stuff that happened decades ago.

That's not what the American people need. What the American people need is a plan for our future, how we're going to build infrastructure, how we're going to create jobs, how we're going to deal with climate change. We have got this situation going on in New Orleans which is -- it feels like it's going to be a disaster down there.

And these are the kind of things we need to be dealing with, Wolf, not worrying about what happened four decades ago, or not promising the American people things that can never happen.

BLITZER: John Delaney, thanks for coming in.

DELANEY: Thanks for having me, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks for joining us. Good luck out there on the campaign trail.

DELANEY: Thanks.

BLITZER: Appreciate it.

There's more breaking news just ahead on the hurricane threat along the Gulf Coast. I will speak live with the New Orleans mayor, LaToya Cantrell. There she is. She's calling for some voluntary evacuations tonight.



BLITZER: We're following the breaking news on Tropical Storm Barry, gaining power right now, on a very dangerous path toward the Gulf Coast.

It's expected to be a hurricane when it hits Louisiana tomorrow.

Joining us now, the mayor of New Orleans, LaToya Cantrell.

Mayor, thank you so much for joining us. I know you have a lot going on. We appreciate the time.

Earlier today, you said the city was not issuing a voluntary evacuation, but now you have announced a voluntary evacuation of some areas. What has changed?

CANTRELL: What has changed is that our Flood Protection Authority has determined that they will close Highway 90, which would segregate a portion of Orleans Parish as it relates to our areas that are in non- levee protection areas, so Venetian Isles, Irish Bayou, as well as Lake Catherine.

Receiving that information, I absolutely moved forward with a voluntary evacuation. Those gates on Highway 90 is expected to close this evening around 6:00 p.m.

BLITZER: Does this give residents of those areas enough time to get out?

CANTRELL: As it relates to these areas, yes -- yes, sir.

They know, where they live, they know that they are they are located outside of the flood protection area. And so we believe that they will have sufficient time.

But, also, what has been messaged just throughout this period is people knowing what their existing conditions are even better than we do, and so definitely take precaution as it relates to the warnings that we have given, the information that we have effectively communicated.

And we do know that residents are listening and making moves as they need, as they see fit.

BLITZER: And, Mayor, you're also asking residents to shelter in place starting at 8:00 p.m. central time, 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

Is that still the best option?

CANTRELL: Absolutely, it is the best option. The storm Barry was named right at hour 22. Our evacuation plans start at hour 60.


So, when you talk about and you think about time, time was not on our side. And so, when you're factoring in time to effectively evacuate over 30,000 people that have expressed a need should we call for an evacuation, and also align with our process and procedures as a Category 3, which is not something that the city of New Orleans is faced with at this time.

It's Tropical Storm Barry, according to it being named at hour 22. The best option is for our people to shelter in place, so that we protect their lives. And that is our top priority.

BLITZER: What are you expecting, Mayor, in terms of rain and storm surge? Could you be looking at higher rainfall actually than Hurricane Katrina 14 years ago?

CANTRELL: What we are faced with, as we're being told, is heavy rain, a slow-moving storm. And so what that means is that the storm could possibly sit over the

city of New Orleans, dumping rainfall that is very significant. And that's something that we are prepared for and absolutely looking closely at.

But it's the amount of rainfall in short periods of time that really work our drainage system that is in place. And so that's something that we're just remaining focused on.

BLITZER: Is the city prepared in the event that the city pumps, for example, are overwhelmed or if a levee fails?

CANTRELL: Well, we -- one, in regards to the federal government and the Corps of Engineers, they have expressed significant confidence in the levee protection system. I really have no reason to doubt that.

In addition to that, we are absolutely prepared. The Sewage and Water Board, which is our drainage pumping system, is working at optimal capacity.

Now, we always are focused on infrastructure and infrastructure improvements in the city of New Orleans, like many of my brother and sister mayors across the United States of America. The need for adequate investment is there.

And it's not just the city of New Orleans in isolation. What we have been seeing are cities, again, across the country dealing with. We're seeing significant storms. They're coming faster. And, also, the rainfall is coming harder.

And this is something that we will have to address moving forward. But I am prepared to do so holistically, as co-chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Infrastructure Committee.

BLITZER: Well, good luck, Mayor LaToya Cantrell. Good luck to all the folks in New Orleans, your beautiful city, throughout the Louisiana coast. We're hoping for the best.

We will stay in very close touch. Thank you so much for joining us.

CANTRELL: No, we appreciate you, and thank you.

BLITZER: We're going to have a lot more on all the breaking news right after a quick break.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: We're following all the breaking news on tropical storm Barry. The new forecast shows it's gaining strength and on track to hit Louisiana as a hurricane tomorrow.

But millions of people in the storm's path could experience hurricane conditions as soon as tonight. Barry is expected to unleash heavy rains, a dangerous storm surge and potentially catastrophic flooding. We have a lot more on this, our coverage will continue.

But there's word tonight that the House Judiciary Committee is now negotiating with the former Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team to delay his long-awaited public testimony by one week, until July 24th, to allow more time for Mueller to testify.

Let's dig deeper with our experts and our analysts.

And Rachael Bade, you've been on the Hill. You've been following this all day. What are they trying to do?

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, I think right now, any agreement that democrats can make right now with Mueller to get more time on Capitol Hill is probably to their benefit. This is a 448 report -- 448-page report. Mueller laid out ten potential instances of obstruction of justice.

And there's serious concern among democrats on the Hill that they're not going to have time to go through all these instances of potential obstruction. They want Mueller to sort of pull out the details of the report because most Americans have not read it.

But they have, for some reason, agreed to only a two-hour timeframe for each committee. That's only four hours total. Two hours if you think about how republicans are not going to want to talk about the report. They're going to want to question his credibility.

So how are they going to do that? There's been a lot of panic. And so I think they're looking at a way, if he wants a delay, that means more time with Mueller, they're willing to do it because they want to get that testimony out in public.

BLITZER: Because half the time goes to republicans, the other goes to democrats. The Attorney General, Susan Hennessey, previously said the Justice Department would support Mueller if he decides to back out completely from testifying completely. Could this delay, put Mueller's testimony potentially in some sort of trouble?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think Mueller understands at this point that there's no way he's getting out of this without having to testify at some point. He's made pretty clear that he intends to comply with a congressional subpoena. There really is no basis for him to refuse to appear.


So, honestly, you know, Bill Barr's comments on more like the Attorney General is feeling nervous about the testimony than really sort of questioning whether or not he's actually going to appear.

Now, I agree with Rachael that more time is certainly better, but some of the objections we're seeing on Capitol Hill, the nature of those objections, I think, are cause for concern.

We're hearing that, potentially, junior members are concerned that they're not going to get a chance to ask questions. That sounds a little bit like members who might be focused on getting their television clip, getting their moment to make a headline rather than being really, really focused on the substance of this testimony, pulling out the narrative of this really important report.

Now, this is going to be one of the most important congressional oversight hearings in a generation. So members really, really need to be focused on putting their egos aside and conducting the task at hand.

BLITZER: Let's see what happens on that. I want to get some other issues.

Phil Mudd, we're learning that officials over the Department of Homeland Security, they're upset right now that the President publicly confirming, announcing that these deportation raids are going to begin this Sunday. They suspect that could endanger the entire operation.

PHILLIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: It's not just a danger. What would you be doing if you were on the other side of this? You would be collecting your own intel if you're potentially the subject of a raid. What does the law say about, for example, whether I have to answer the door? Do I have an iPhone, so that when somebody comes in and raids my house and takes away a crying two-year-old, i'm putting that on an iPhone? What lawyers are out there who can counsel me during this exercise to ensure that if I can't come in my house, I know what the rules are?

And, of course, a basic question. If you hear that somebody is coming this weekend, I'm taking the weekend off. I'm going to my cousin's house, my uncle's house. This is not about raids. This is not about taking people out of this country. I think this is about a message from the President to supporters that he's serious about getting people out. But if you're on the other side, you're going to leave your apartment, I think.

BLITZER: What's upsetting, Joey Jackson, is this so-called zero tolerance policy. We're now told that at least 18 babies and toddlers were separated from their parents, some for as long as six months. This is heartbreaking when we hear these stories.

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Without question, Wolf. From a human perspective, it's inhumane, now, from a legal perspective, even further.

Now, let's give two caveats to what you just mentioned. Number one, in the report, they note that there could be further findings consistent with information that they get to the extent that they ask for information and the full wealth of the information is not yet available. And so I believe that there is much more to it than what you mentioned in terms of the toddlers.

The other issue is is, let's not forget, you may not classify as being on the two, but there are, you know, people who are children, 11, 14, others. And the report speaks to the indignities and the lack of humanity as it relates to them. And, you know, to Phil Mudd's point, which is a very good one, I think a lot of this is politically driven, just like the raids are driven. And the fact is is that we're going to have this cruel policy to deter people. I'm going to appeal to my base of support because those immigrants, anyway, right, remember what Trump has said about them, and it's really, you know, about demonizing immigrants further. You're separating children from their mothers.

I don't know what does that or what country does that. Certainly, that's not who we are. And, of course, the court blocked that. And, of course, the executive order had to be rescinded from a legal perspective, so it should not have been done in the first instance.

And, Wolf, there were -- when it came to reunification, many families that were reunified were released. So why were they held in the first place, not the way it should be done.

BLITZER: Everybody stand by. There's a lot more we need to discuss. We will after a quick break.



BLITZER: Let's get back to our analysts and experts. You know, Rachael, your newspaper, The Washington Post, has reported an excerpt from this brand new book, American Carnage by Tim Alberta. In it the former House Speaker, Paul Ryan, speaks out about trying to build a relationship with President Trump. Let me read a couple sentences.

Quote, I told myself, I got to have a relationship with this guy to help him get his mind right. Because I'm telling you, he didn't know anything about government. I wanted to scold him all the time.

Why is it that so many of these republicans, when they leave office, they speak out against the President, but while they were serving, they were hesitant?

BADE: Well, because they're not running for re-election any more. And I feel like maybe some of them feel like they made a pact with the devil and they're trying to sort of clear their name. That's what you're seeing Paul Ryan do right now.

I can tell you I covered the speakership. I heard constantly from his aides, his allies, that he didn't like the President, he didn't like what he stood for, he felt he was too divisive, he didn't really care about true republican values. And Paul Ryan has always sort of branded himself as this compassionate conservative, this traditional conservative.

And Ryan sort of made this decision when the President, you know, was inaugurated, that he was going to work with him and try to sort of bring him over to his side by being nice to him and trying to get tax reform done, which was something Paul Ryan really wanted to do.

So a lot of people have said on Capitol Hill that he made this, quote, pact with the devil, he wouldn't say anything against Trump while he was Speaker. And then now that he's not speaker any more, clearly, he's speaking his mind.

BLITZER: What d you think, Phil?

MUDD: Paul Ryan, your name is mud. Let me tell you something, he goes through two years and he's a good man, I think. He's a considerate man. I thought he was a great vice presidential candidate, great wonk on Capitol Hill, knew a lot about the budgets, but give me a break. We knew for two years that there were questions about temperament, judgment, statements about women, statements about Mexican rapists, statements about Mexican judges in America, statements that were so significant about the judicial system that the Supreme Court -- the head of the Supreme Court has to respond.


And now, Paul Ryan says, I'm sorry, I'm not responsible for Congress so I'm going to comment on character? He better be out there for the next year and a half because he's got a hole to dig that is deeper that I can't tell you.

Enough already. You had two years to speak, didn't say anything, the heat is off, and now he says, well, I've had a moment to consider, maybe I'll speak what I really thought for two years -- enough already.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I was going to say, a lot of people have speculated maybe he wants to run for president one day.

MUDD: Good luck.

BADE: He's laying low in Wisconsin with his family, maybe he has a future in politics. But here's a thing: he didn't speak out when Trump was president. He, again, went along with what was going on, and because of that, people say if the party springs back to traditional Republican values, he can't claim to be that person because he didn't speak out to Trump.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Sue, the president responded today by saying Paul Ryan was a terrible speaker. He was a baby. He didn't know what he was doing.

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, look, we've seen the president sort of vacillate the insults, and also saying Paul Ryan was a great speaker. This is Trump being Trump.

You know, look, Paul Ryan acted like a craven politician, and he's revealed himself that that's his true character. Your true character is how you behave in moments in which you have something to lose. When President Trump was in a position to help Ryan, help Ryan get his agenda passed, in a position of power, Paul Ryan was more than happy to suck it up and cozy up and actually help facility what the president was doing, and some of the presidents worst -- he was perfectly happy to do that.

Now that Paul Ryan is out of office, and the president has nothing to give to him any more, now, he's suddenly found his moral compass.

BLITZER: Everybody, stand by, because we're getting some more breaking news coming in to THE SITUATION ROOM.

Tropical Storm Barry on the verge of becoming a hurricane as it bears down directly on Louisiana, possibly packing more than a foot of rain.


[18:51:31] BLITZER: This Sunday night, the new CNN original series, "THE MOVIES", continues with the stories behind your favorite movies from the '90s.

CNN's Tom Foreman has a preview.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody, this is a robbery.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Some of the most iconic crime and punishment films of modern times came from the 1990s.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: As far back as I could remember, I always wanted to be a gangster.

FOREMAN: Movies in which the bad guys got good lines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ate his liver with some fava beans.

FOREMAN: And good guys got bad breaks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had to come to prison to be a crook.

TIM NAFTALI, HISTORIAN: "Shawshank Redemption" is about seeking justice in an imperfect world. And when the convicts win, you have a sense of relief. And it's somehow justice has been done.

FOREMAN: In real life, the headlines held plenty of drama. But the economy was steaming along. Heroic moments seemed plentiful. And for many Americans, the biggest challenge was just getting through the workday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello, Peter. What's happening?

FOREMAN: To the rescue, a comedy boom the likes of which has rarely been seen. Over the top.


FOREMAN: Relentless.



FOREMAN: Outrageous. NELSON GEORGE, AUTHOR: I just laughed my ass off.

FOREMAN: And the comedy graze had heart.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you have a number of people especially adept at the form of the romantic comedy. You have Sandra Bullock. You have Hugh Grant. You have Meg Ryan and you have Tom Hanks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My name is Forrest Gump.

FOREMAN: Beyond the laughs, however, the '90s any saw serious new movement in films too.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a problem here.

TODD BOYD, USC PROFESSOR OF CINEMA AND MEDIA STUDIES: You had for the first time a large collection of black film makers documenting what was going on in the culture.

FOREMAN: Animation came roaring back to the box office in a huge way.

The Cohen brothers expanded the rapidly growing influence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're Mr. Lebowski, I'm the dude.

FOREMAN: It was, simply put, an immense decade for the movies. Hollywood with the help of newly developed computer imagery winding town one millennium, and looking to the next.


BLITZER: Join us Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern for "THE MOVIES", the '90s, a new original series, only here on CNN.

And just ahead, an emotional victory for 9/11 first responders. But tonight, their fight still isn't over.


[18:58:41] BLITZER: The House of Representatives has voted overwhelmingly to extend funding for the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund. Lawmakers authorized more than $10 billion to help first responders and others who have become ill as a result of work at ground zero.

The comedian Jon Stewart has advocated passionately for the funding.


JOHN STEWART, 9/11 VICTIM FUND ADVOCATE: Passing this in the Senate and holding Senator McConnell to his word will be a chance to exhale. But it doesn't fix the grief and suffering that they will continue to experience. The perspective and the priorities are upside down here, and hopefully this is a chance to get them right side up again.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BLITZER: Finally tonight, we are saying so long to a beloved member of our SITUATION ROOM team.

Jill Chappell Adly has been at CNN for 17 years, 14 of them with me right here in THE SITUATION ROOM. She is our excellent senior editorial producer and she's booked many of our biggest guests. She is also a truly wonderful friend to all of us, whether baking cookies for the team or leading us in karaoke. Jill and her husband and new baby Jane, they're moving back to Utah to be closed to Jane's grandparents. As Jill begins a new job and a happy new phase of her life we wish her and her wonderful only, only, the very, very best. We love you, Jill.

I'm Wolf Blitzer. Thanks very much for watching. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram @WolfBlitzer. Tweet the show @CNNsitroom.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.