Return to Transcripts main page


Children Left Alone After Undocumented Parents Detained; Trump Brags About Crowd Size During El Paso Hospital Visit; White House Rebuffed DHS Attempts To Prioritize Domestic Terror; FBI Seeking To Monitor Social Media In Real Time For Terror Threats. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired August 8, 2019 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: -- approaches. I think we are going to see protests again. I think we're going to see all the things we saw with Colin Kaepernick a few years ago and that continuing saga, the story of athletes speaking out and kneeling or other kinds of protest. I think we're going to see a lot of it in the wake of what's happened with the President, his rhetoric, and this is just, I think, just a tiny piece --

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: A preview of what we could be seeing down the road.

BRENNAN: Absolutely.

BROWN: Christine Brennan, thank you so much.

BRENNAN: Thank you, Pam.

BROWN: And we are continuing to follow the developing story out of Mississippi where ICE officials arrested nearly 700 people during a series of raids across the state. They used confidential informants, employed several food processing plants to gather information to help them round up undocumented workers. When those workers were detained, their children were left behind, relying on friends, neighbors and even strangers to take them in.

I want to bring in Tony McGee. He is the Superintendent for Scott County Schools in Mississippi. Tony, thanks for coming on. What was your reaction to the raids when you first learned about them?

TONY MCGEE, SUPERINTENDENT, SCOTT COUNTY SCHOOLS: Well, just to be honest with you, it was a very emotional day, very emotional for our children, very emotional for our staff. And it's just -- it's hard to believe.

You hear of those type things happening, but when it actually happens to your kids, to your boys and girls, to your parents, to your families, it takes on a whole new meaning.

BROWN: And we're seeing, we were just seeing the split screen of this little 11-year-old girl moments ago who was crying after her mother was taken away. Apparently they have been reunited. But if you could just give us a sense of how many families in your county have been impacted by the raids?

MCGEE: I can say within our district, we have a neighboring district, we have Sky County Schools and Forest Municipal Schools, (inaudible) Scott County. In Scott County, we had somewhere around 12 to 15 families that we have confirmed that had some type of displacement because of this. And so we have been working with those families in particular to try to make sure boys and girls are safe and families are taken care of.

But not only that, it reaches out further than that. I mean, you know, it just gives a fear in our Latino and Hispanic community. And so not only affects those, it may have been directly affected by the raids, so to speak, but also those that (inaudible). So it's been a lot of families, a lot of families.

BROWN: But I mean, try to paint a picture for us. I mean, so ICE. goes in, arrests some of these parents, were kids left abandoned at their summer camp or daycare or wherever they were, and then who jumped into take care of them? I mean, was there a plan in place? What happened?

MCGEE: It's hard to plan for, you know, something like that, especially prior to that no one know it's going to happen.

BROWN: Did the administration have any plan? Not you in particular but --

MCGEE: Yeah. We have an individual plan that we put in place with our school security as we do with most things. But, you know, we had some kids that didn't have anywhere to go. And so we did work with local community organizations to make sure that the boys and girls had a safe place to go, working through some people that are deeply engrained in, you know, in Hispanic community.

So we've been had a lot of community support. And I will tell you we've got support all over the nation, from California to New Jersey to Toronto. So we thank you for the outpouring support for our boys and girls here in Scott County.

BROWN: Just quickly, I did speak to a senior administration official who did say that ICE is assessing child care issues. And trying to reunite kids with their parents as quickly as possible if circumstances allow for that and the parents are given a court date in process. Have you seen that actually play out and have you heard that from ICE directly?

MCGEE: Well, I'll be honest with you, I did speak with them yesterday afternoon after the raid happened. And one agent in particular, he'll verify that, you know, maybe some of the people that were being detained had children in school. And they wanted to try to make sure that they tried to reunite families as quickly as possible.

And we do appreciate them reaching out to do that because we know that it was never good, no matter what the situation is, for children not to be with moms and dads is not good.

BROWN: Yeah, all right. Tony McGee, thank you so much. We appreciate it.

MCGEE: Thank you.

BROWN: And meantime, the Department of Homeland Security wanted to make fighting domestic terrorism a priority, so why did the White House push back?

[13:34:34] Plus, in the middle of visiting a hospital full of mass shooting victims, the President brags about his crowd size, the video up next.


BROWN: Well, despite his call for unity after the mass shootings in two American cities, the President has spent the last several days insulting and attacking people and groups, including a flurry of insults during his trips to El Paso and Dayton. And now new video shows the President meeting with hospital staff in El Paso, the site of the first attack, and this is what's on the President's mind.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES: It was here three months ago, we made a speech and we had a -- what was the name of the arena? That place was packed --


TRUMP: Right? Right? The judge is a respected guy. What was the name?


TRUMP: Oh good. Come here, man. That was some crowd. And we had twice the number outside. And then you had this crazy Beto. Beto had like 400 people in a parking lot, they said his crowd was wonderful.


[13:40:06] BROWN: So we were told that the President started off, thanking the first responders and acknowledging the victims so forth, and then pivoted to Beto O'Rourke, who has been critical of the President, and the crowd sizes there in the hospital in El Paso.

Twenty-two people were murdered there in El Paso, more than two dozen were injured. At least eight victims are still in the hospital, all eight refused to meet with the President, according to The Washington Post.

Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier joins us now. She herself is a survivor of gun violence. Congresswoman, you were shot five times during the Jonestown Massacre, so you know more about this and about what these victims and families are going through than most. What is your reaction to what we just heard there from the President?

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D-CA): Well, once again we have a president who has no emotive qualities whatsoever. It's about crowd size. It always comes back to him.

What these grieving families need right now is consolation, someone that's going give them hope that this is not going to happen again, that there will be a way forward for their families. And unfortunately, the President does not have the capacity to be a true leader in this country.

BROWN: And we're going to talk about what a potential way forward is in just a moment but, first, I want to ask you about this new CNN reporting that the White House spent the last year rebuffing efforts by colleagues at the Department of Homeland Security to make combating domestic terror threats a priority. What is your reaction to that?

SPEIER: Well, clearly we have a problem. We have a problem with the White House that does not assess danger for people here in our country as much as he is focused on dangers elsewhere. And domestic terrorism is real. And as we have seen, just in such graphic ways, it is happening on a regular basis.

You know, before the assault weapon ban went into effect that was universal in this country for ten years. There had been something like seven mass shootings of eight people or more. During the ban, there were only two. Since then there have been over 15 -- excuse me, over 25 mass shootings since we got rid of the assault weapon ban.

We do not need weapons of war that can be used by young disaffected men to mow down people in this country. It's not safe anymore and that's what we need to address.

BROWN: And as we know, I mean, we've seen various weapons used in these mass shootings. President Trump addressed this idea of an assault weapons ban. Something he seemed to be open to before.

He said yesterday as he was leaving the White House that there isn't an appetite for that. He did talk about background checks and we're going to get to that in just a second.

But it was interesting because we heard the President in his speech, his address to the nation on Monday, condemn white supremacy. Then you heard both Elizabeth Warren and Beto O'Rourke calling President Trump a white supremacist. You previously called the President racist. Do you think he's a white supremacist?

SPEIER: You know, I think the President is very clearly a bias person. I don't know that I would call him a white supremacist, but he has biases against African-Americans and he has biases against Latinos, and he shows that over and over and over again.

What we need to do is trying to get the President focus on coming up with some solutions to this, what is a true crisis in this country right now around guns.

BROWN: And of course, the President says he is the least racist person he knows. So that is what he says when he is faced with that criticism, but let's talk about what's going to happen next in the wake of these mass shootings. There's talk of bringing Congress back into session. Give it to us straight, what gun control measures actually have a chance of making it to the President's desk and being signed into law?

SPEIER: There's no bill that's going to make it to the President's desk unless he personally engages with the leadership of the House and the Senate to come up with a bill that he will sign.

Unfortunately, he listens more to Wayne LaPierre, who is the CEO and President of the National Rifle Association, than he does to the American people. Ninety-two percent of Americans, including the majority of NRA members, support a comprehensive background check.

That bill has passed the House of Representatives with a bipartisan vote, is now sitting on Mitch McConnell's desk and he has refused to take it up. But we can't even stop there. We really need to do much more around high-capacity magazines and these weapons of war that we know as assault weapons.

BROWN: And let's talk about what the President has signaled he's willing to do this time around. The red flag laws which would allow family members and law enforcement to petition the court to take guns away or confiscate guns for those who are dangerous, considered a danger to themselves or others, and he has talked about the idea of enforcing broader background checks.

[13:45:08] What do you think, though? I mean, he has signaled that he is willing to do these things, it would be unpopular among some of his supporters. In fact Wayne LaPierre warned him against universal background checks.

So the President does seem to be willing to do something this time around, do you agree with that?

SPEIER: Well, he always talks like he's willing to do something and then he does nothing. He said the same thing after the Parkland Shootings. I mean, God bless those young people that went to Tallahassee, to the State Capitol, and in three weeks got legislation passed that ban the purchase of guns for those under the age of 21, bump stocks and had background checks passed.

We need to be serious about doing something, otherwise everyone is going to be afraid to go out. And I think --

BROWN: It's true. I mean -- well, I'm just saying there is -- you have a right to be skeptical because after Parkland he did back down under pressure from the NRA on raising the age limit for rifles on background checks. And so you hear it this time around and you wonder if the same thing is going to happen after Parkland.

SPEIER: I think that Wayne LaPierre got his ear and said, "you know, you're going to be affecting your base." The President is all about his base. And he's going to do nothing to erode that base.

And if his base is all about not doing anything on guns, he's not going to do anything on guns. And that should be the principal reason to get him out of office. That's how serious this issue is.

As a gun victim survivor, I know what it's like. I mean you are scarred for the rest of your life, emotionally and physically. But you at least survive. How about all the families now that are dealing with the loss of loved ones, how about that infant who is now parentless because the parents decided to go get birthday party supplies at a Walmart. I mean this is not normal.

BROWN: I want to get to politics before we let you go. Presidential candidate and Montana Governor Steve Bullock says the President is closer to being re-elected with each passing minute when Democrats went after each other and President Obama. Take a listen.


STEVE BULLOCK (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We cannot defeat Donald Trump's politics of personal destruction if we practice the politics of self-destruction. The fact is we are well on our way to losing this election long before it ever really even has started.


BROWN: Well, for whatever reason and while it's obviously early, do you agree that the President is closer and closer to re-election -- to being re-elected?

SPEIER: You know, the November election is a long, long way away. But I would agree with Governor Bullock that it is time for the Democrats to stop sniping at each other and downgrading the president that was responsible for creating the Affordable Care Act.

I think that what we have going on right now, we're seeing warfare trying to gain half a point here or there on the polls, and that's not going to help us succeed. The American people, I think the independents and the Democrats, wanting to elect a Democrat. They're not interested necessarily in their politics anymore, just the fact that they can beat Donald Trump.

BROWN: All right. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you so much for coming on.

SPEIER: Thank you, Pam.

BROWN: Well, at least eight Mexican nationals were killed in El Paso and now Mexico wants answers from the US.

[13:48:33] Plus, what the FBI wants social media giants to do to help them prevent mass shootings.


BROWN: Well, this just in to CNN. In the wake of the two mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, we are learning that the FBI has taken steps to start monitoring Facebook and Instagram in real-time for domestic threats.

I want to bring in CNN Tech Reporter Brian Fung. So what more can you tell us about this, Brian?

BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECH REPORTER: Well, here's what we know. Last month, the FBI put out a call for vendors who could help them monitor social media including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in real-time for not just domestic threats potentially but, you know, for terrorist groups and criminal organizations all around the world.

The winning vendor would be responsible for, you know, not only watching for social media exchanges that could tip the FBI off to potential criminal activity, but also potentially users phone numbers, ID numbers, IP addresses and other identifying information that could help the FBI conduct forensic investigations.

Now, Twitter and Facebook aren't commenting on this at all. But, you know, this is not the first time that the FBI has actually engaged in this activity. In 2016, they'd announced a deal with a partner called data miner, which basically monitors Twitter for trending activity as a way to accomplish some of these national security and law enforcement goals.

But what we don't know is whether or not the FBI has contracts already with other vendors to look at Facebook and Instagram specifically. And If they don't have contracts governing, you know, looking at those platforms, then this could represent a significant expansion of their monitoring activity.

[13:55:09] BROWN: Yeah. It's a delicate balance for the FBI between national security concerns and of course civil liberties. And this is really, really interesting. Thank you so much, Brian, we do appreciate that.

FUNG: My pleasure.

BROWN: And still ahead, how a Montana man is defending himself after body slamming a 13-year-old who failed to remove his hat for the national anthem. And a new poll showing some big movement in the top tier of the 2020 race, one candidate rises, another falls.