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CNN TONIGHT

President Trump Wrong Info in Times of Emergency; Talks of Impeachment Now Alive Again; Hurricane Dorian Claims 43 Lives in Bahamas; NOAA Backs President Trump's Claim; Report on Trauma of Separated Immigrant Children; School District Sued on Racial Bullying of Students. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 23:00   ET

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


[23:00:00]

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

DON LEMON, CNN HOST: This is CNN Tonight. I'm Don Lemon.

And we're going to answer four big questions in the hour ahead. Why is the president lashing out, anger-tweeting, directing an aide to fall on his sword, tying the government into knots to cover up his mistakes?

NOAA putting out a statement today disavowing a tweet from its own Birmingham, Alabama, office, an absolutely truthful tweet that set the record straight on Hurricane Dorian in Alabama. I'm going to talk to the former NOAA official who predicted last night on this show that something like this would happen.

Also, just how bad will the final toll be in the Bahamas? An official warning people to prepare for the unimaginable as the death toll rises to 43 with hundreds or thousands still missing. We're going to take you to one of the hardest hit communities.

What is the true cost of the president's family separation policy? This is a story that we don't want to get lost. The government report on the heartbreaking trauma suffered by immigrant children separated from their mothers and fathers.

And could a lawsuit in Minnesota change the way schools handle racist bullying? Parents say their children were subject to blackface, the n- word, and threats of violence.

We're going to get to all of that in this hour, but right now I want to talk about the president.

The president spending his week digging in his heels and refusing to back down over his false claim that Alabama was in hurricane Dorian's path. That's our big picture tonight.

Let's discuss with Brian Stelter, Susan Glasser, and former Congressman Charlie Dent. Good evening to all of you. Thank you for joining us on this Friday evening. Charlie, I'm going to start with you. What do you think about how the leader of the country and the leader of your Republican Party spent his time this week?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, again, this is just simply inexplicable. I'm kind of old-fashioned, Don. I always thought the words of the president were policy. Well, that's not been the case with this administration.

You know, I mean, obviously he's certainly not the sharpest sharpie in the sharpie box based on what he has stated. I mean, why can't the man simply own up to a mistake? He made a mistake when he mentioned Alabama being in the path. He should move on, talk about his government's response to this hurricane, which from what I can tell has been fairly effective.

But he's not doing that because this is always about him. It's always about him instead of the people who are in the hurricane's path unfortunately. And it's sad that we're talking about this because we should be talking about things like his trying to diversity military construction funds without the consent of -- without the consent of Congress. There are all sorts of things. So, I'm not sure if this is an attempt at a distraction. I don't think it's a very good one, though.

LEMON: You say that this calls into question his fitness for office. Tell me why.

DENT: Well, I said that during the primary of 2016. I called into question his fitness. You know, look, Don, I mean you watch stuff like this, you get the sense there's a lifetime's worth of work for a therapist here. What can you say?

I mean, he's so obsessed with all of this. It's absurd that he would be so focused on something like this when there are so many more important things he could be spending his time on.

So, I haven't spent a lot of time talking about his fitness. I'm not a therapist. I shouldn't be making medical diagnoses, and I won't, but boy, there's something seriously wrong. And Scaramucci knows him well, and he's said much stronger things than I have.

LEMON: The president and the White House, various offices in the administration focused on making the lie true. Can you imagine what they'd be able to get done if they focus on actual, real emergencies? So, Susan and then Brian, I know you're going to weigh in on this, and I'll get you in. Susan, you first.

SUSAN GLASSER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Don, I mean that's the thing is that we're living the unimaginable, right? You know, you asked to imagine. What I'm struck by right now is that there's almost nothing that you could tell me right now that the president just tweeted that wouldn't at least have a certain plausibility to it because he's taken us so far down the road of the unimaginable, right?

You know, we are actually talking about the president doctoring an official weather forecast with a sharpie pen in order to make a false tweet true. And that's where we are in September of 2019. You know, so there's sort of a fantasy element to the whole thing, and

yet I think we have to step back and say, it's a measure of the success of President Trump's project that we are all now living inside of this narrative.

[23:05:07]

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Interesting.

GLASSER: I think it is -- we are talking about the absurd as if it is real here in this nice CNN panel framework, you know?

LEMON: I say that every day. Susan, you're channeling me. I think of this every day. We have to talk about the absurdity --

GLASSER: Right.

LEMON: -- as if it is not absurd, as if it's logical, as if it's normal.

GLASSER: Right. We fit it in this frame.

LEMON: It's crazy. It's really crazy.

STELTER: He can't read a map. That's a serious problem for the United States, not a problem for Trump but a problem for the United States. I think what we've seen in the past few months, Don, is this sense that the president is getting worse. That's the uncomfortable part of the past few months, whether it's racist attacks against the city of Baltimore or against Democratic lawmakers, whether it's any of his other antics lately, he's getting worse in some fashion.

And this week with Alabama is another illustration of that. Now, what's the underlying cause? I don't know. Nobody knows for sure, but he's barely been in front of the cameras this week. He's mostly only been on Twitter, and he's wasted yet another week.

(CROSSTALK)

LEMON: When he's in front of the camera, he's doing the sharpie thing.

STELTER: Right. He's trying to reinforce his lie.

LEMON: But also, this is straight up your bailey wick, this is your bailey wick because media is your expertise. He's trying to use the media to make a lie true, right? Because he tweeted out a forecast from this very program four days --

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: Yes, from your show, like Wednesday, August 28th

LEMON: Wednesday. But then his -- the Trump campaign tweeted out, put the actual date on it, which still it wasn't -- right, doesn't make his lie and the sharpie thing true. And then he tweeted out, left the date off, which still doesn't make it true. But he's trying to use the media to make a lie true.

STELTER: Right. He's trying to use true information --

LEMON: Right.

STELTER: -- in a way that's twisted to prove his lie is correct. Look, on August 28th, there was a slight chance that maybe Alabama would be affected in some small way. Obviously, by Sunday when he was saying Alabama was threatened, Alabama was not threatened. The National Weather Service knows that.

The incredible workers there that have been keeping the public safe note that. And that's why it's a shame that today NOAA, this government agency, put out a statement trying to support the president's lie. That's really disturbing, whenever we see government agencies doing this.

Our taxpayer dollars are being wasted in this way by the White House press secretary who is out there misleading the public, by these government agencies that are trying to prove Trump's falsehoods true. That's ultimately why this story matters.

It doesn't matter that, you know, the president got it wrong three times on Sunday. It matters that we've spent a week seeing government agencies employed with our taxpayer money trying to prove it right.

LEMON: This is -- Charlie, this is -- my gosh, this goes to Susan's point and I guess to your point, and I guess to everybody's point on this panel. But the absurdity of it all, the Trump campaign is promoting, Charlie, this marker that you can buy from their web site. And this is as our fact checker Daniel Dale put it, this seems to be a first. The Trump campaign selling memorabilia of its dishonesty. That is a whole new level.

DENT: Right. Well --

LEMON: What do you say to that?

DENT: They must see some political advantage. They must see some political advantage to sharpie-gate.

STELTER: They do.

DENT: I'm just sitting a couple miles from the Crayola factory. I prefer crayons, which may become the writing instrument of choice in the White House if this continues by the way.

Again, I get asked to explain the inexplicable. I simply can't do it. The sad part is it just seems that the president has -- you know, he seems to be at war with the truth and fact. And the serious question is, you know, how do we recover from this someday? I just hope that this doesn't set a precedent for the future that others will think they can go ahead and manipulate facts and the truth and just hope that we'll just all support them because he's the president or she's the president. LEMON: Susan, meanwhile, CNN is reporting that national security

adviser John Bolton and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo rarely speak to each other outside formal meetings, recently went weeks without talking at all. I mean these are two people that are really crucial -- critical to our national security. Is the administration falling apart while Trump focuses on Alabama?

GLASSER: Well, right, it's time to turn down the lights on the circus. That was the phrase that Mike Pompeo used in March of 2016 when he was campaigning against Donald Trump before he was for Donald Trump.

And, you know, it's interesting that report. I think it's very significant. A few weeks ago, in my piece about Pompeo, I reported that they were not on speaking terms, the national security adviser and the secretary of state.

And, you know, this is at a moment where while the president is enmeshed in sharpie-gate, we're talking about the meltdown of the United Kingdom, and the president was supposed to visit Europe this week. He canceled that to monitor the hurricane, and to apparently engage in sharpie-gate.

[23:09:56]

We're talking about the administration seems to be having a big internal feud and possibly feud between these advisers and President Trump over a possible peace deal in Afghanistan. This is America's longest war. Have you heard the president address that in any substantive or meaningful way? No. You've had a complete breakdown in that process.

The president meanwhile appears to be withholding aid from Ukraine. He's once again demanding that Russia be readmitted to the G7, another source of tension with John Bolton, his national security adviser. You're talking about questions about the trade war with China and are we going to have a new round of negotiations or not?

The prospects for the U.S./Canada/Mexico renewed free trade agreement which is crucial to Trump's agenda, any other president would be desperately lobbying and working to save that where the prospects for passage are getting dimmer by the moment. Not a word that I've heard from the White House about that. Questions about the economy and who is in charge of economic policy in the White House and what is it, we're not talking about any of that because we're talking about magic markers.

LEMON: Yes.

GLASSER: We're talking about magic markers.

STELTER: The magic marker is about lying in an emergency.

LEMON: Right.

STELTER: It is about lying during an emergency. (CROSSTALK)

GLASSER: Right, I understand that.

STELTER: I think that's very serious.

GLASSER: But the point is if the secretary of state and the national security adviser aren't speaking to each other and it's not clear on what terms, if at all, they're dealing with the president, meanwhile the president has sent Vice President Trump to Europe, by the way, it's not even the first foreign trip that he canceled in a month's time. It's the second foreign trip that the president of the United States canceled in order to stay at home and watch TV and tweet.

LEMON: Yes. Brian, I want to ask you about this because, you know, the president might as well be on the Fox News marketing team for the opinion folks, right --

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: Right. So, the pro-Trump talk shows.

LEMON: The pro-Trump, yes, because --

STELTER: These are best P.R. folks.

LEMON: There are folks on the network who are calling him out --

STELTER: True.

LEMON: -- but he doesn't really tweet out about them --

STELTER: Yes.

LEMON: -- because it's an attempt to drive people who are favorable to him, right, to drive viewers to people who are favorable to him on Fox News.

STELTER: Yes. And that is ultimately what a lot of these stories are about. What he focuses on is what he hears on the pro-Trump talk shows on Fox, and that is to the detriment of everybody from Alabama to California and everywhere in between.

The country suffers when the president is obsessed with what he hears on TV. But that is why sharpie-gate or emergency-gate has been a big story this week, because he was angry at the fact checks on television. And those were on channels other than Fox, but even Fox news anchors and reporters were correcting Trump on this story and others.

President Trump only wants sycophants. He doesn't want reporters. In fact, he started the week by saying that his main opponent is not Democrats. It's the fake news media. That is what he wants. That's why he's putting out a video today with the CNN logo being driven off the road. He's creating that kind of dangerous environment for journalists on a daily basis. And if I were the Democrats, that's what I would be talking about all the time, the kind of behavior that is so outlandish, so beyond the pale. Usually Democrats are pretty quiet on a Friday night, but you know, that's just what I notice.

LEMON: It's really just --

STELTER: What a world. Upside down, Don.

LEMON: Charlie, let's switch gears because I want to talk about this. According to a letter obtained by CNN, the House oversight committee is investigating money spent by the U.S. military at the airport closest to Trump's Turnberry resort in Scotland.

The letter from Elijah Cummings says $11 million was spent and the airport on fuel and the airport offered cut rate prices on rooms to some crews and free rounds of golf at the Trump resort for Americans, specifically military crews. Does this sound like a conflict of interest to you?

DENT: Well, as a former chairman of the House ethics committee, I can tell you it certainly smells very bad, and it appears that -- it looks like so much of this seems to be self-dealing. You know, the whole issue with the vice president in Ireland staying at the president's hotel. The whole issue about bringing the G7 to his resort down in Florida.

I mean, how blatant can he be? This would get you investigated -- if it were a house, if it's -- remember of the House of Representatives doing this sort of thing, they would immediately come under investigation by the House. It's that simple. So, I think this is very problematic. I think Cummings is going to have a field day with this.

(CROSSTALK)

STELTER: Great reporting. Let me just add one sentence.

LEMON: Hold on. Hold on. Can you, no, this is a tease. No, no, you're going to come back. That's the tease. So, we're going to hear what Brian has to say on the other side of the break as well as Susan. We have a lot more to talk about. We'll be right back. Don't go anywhere.

[23:15:00]

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LEMON: All right. We some breaking news to tell you about here on CNN. I want to bring in CNN's Manu Raju with the breaking news. He's going to tell us where an impeachment probe in the House of Representatives, where that stands now.

You have the news, Manu, what can you tell us?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. The House judiciary committee is expected to take on Wednesday its first formal step to essentially make it clear the procedures for moving forward with an impeachment probe. Now, we have heard the chairman of the committee, Jerry Nadler, make

clear in recent weeks both in court filings and in public statements that they are conducting formal impeachment proceedings. But what does that look like? That's been a big question going forward.

Now we are learning that they're drafting a resolution detailing exactly how that investigation will look like. What they're saying is that among other things in this resolution, I am told by multiple sources familiar with the matter that the chairman will be authorized to call full committee and subcommittee hearings in connection with impeachment deliberations.

Also, it would allow the committee to have hearings, allow staff attorneys to question witnesses at hearings. That's something that is not typically allowed to be done. Members of the committees are typically the ones who ask the questions, but this will allow staff attorneys to question witnesses.

[23:19:58]

We'll also see some language in there saying how the president's attorney can respond to questions in writing, also discussing how grand jury -- secret grand jury information can be handled by the committee in a classified setting.

Now, what I'm told, Don, is that this will essentially mirror the precedent set by the 1974 Nixon impeachment proceeding under the House judiciary committee. They are essentially going to be following a similar process, but they expect a very full fall schedule starting with mid-September hearings with Corey Lewandowski, the former Trump campaign manager who is mentioned in the Mueller report in connection with the suggestions allegedly to thwart the Mueller probe.

We could see other matters that could come to a head including questions over potential emolument violations under the Constitution, questions about whether the president is enriching himself, and also some questions about whether the president did such dangled pardons to officials to break immigration laws.

Among of those are some of the matters that we could see these procedures really play out, but expect on Wednesday --

LEMON: Yes.

RAJU: -- this first formal vote by this committee to make it clear what an impeachment probe actually looks like, Don.

LEMON: All right. Manu, I want you to stand by. If you're just tuning in, again, this is the breaking news here on CNN. A House panel to make formal steps on impeachment probe starting next week. Manu said look for that to happen on Wednesday.

The House judiciary committee is prepared to vote next week on a resolution laying out the procedures for its investigation now that is actively considering moving to impeach President Donald Trump, a major step towards formalizing its sweeping probe. That's according to multiple sources familiar with the effort.

Manu, I have a couple questions for you here. It's saying that this -- sources are telling CNN that this resolution is expected to spell out that Chairman Jerry Nadler has the authority to call hearings to either the full committee or subcommittee levels in connection with its impeachment deliberation. So, what is this? Is this a look at how impeachment proceedings would work?

RAJU: Yes.

LEMON: Before they actually get to the process and into the nitty- gritty?

RAJU: Yes. It will actually be as part of their information gathering, evidence gathering before they actually recommend articles of impeachment. What they're essentially saying here, Don, is that Jerry Nadler will have the authority going forward to say, hey, we want to look into potential campaign finance violations involving this president as it relates to those hush money payments that occurred in 2016.

That's going to be in connection to this impeachment probe. They'll call a hearing saying this is tied to impeachment -- this is tied to this impeachment deliberation.

Also they could say, for instance, that the president -- his efforts to pitch his Miami golf resort as a location for the G7 summit in 2020, that could be a violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which essentially limits foreign influence on a president -- tries to limits the president's ability to enrich himself in office.

They could say that is also part of the impeachment probe. They're trying to make it very clear the things they're doing in the committee, tie it all back to impeachment, and then ultimately make the decision, Don, that they could vote -- actually the next step after these hearings would be to decide whether to vote to actually impeach the president.

LEMON: OK.

RAJU: And that would occur on the committee level and then the full House would have to vote, Don.

LEMON: Yes. All right, Manu, I want you to stand by because I want to bring in the group of folks that we have assembled to talk about it. Brian Stelter, Susan Glasser, and Charlie Dent. Charlie Dent, I'm going to bring you in. Thoughts on the breaking news, what you've just heard.

DENT: Well, it's pretty clear that Jerry Nadler is trying to lay down a predicate for potential articles of impeachment. And given the president's referral, referral of business to his properties or trying to refer business to his properties, as Manu said, this raises issues of the emolument's clause, self-dealing. There are problems. Now, as a political matter, I'm not yet convinced that Nancy Pelosi or

those Democrats in swing districts thing impeachment is a good idea. There may be a lot of merit to what Nadler is doing, but as a political matter, I'm not so sure this is where Nancy Pelosi and many of those district democrats want to go right now.

LEMON: Susan Glasser?

GLASSER: Well, look, I think what is happening is that Congressman Nadler has made it increasingly clear in recent months since the delivery of the Mueller report that, you know, he was going to be pursuing the investigations, call it an impeachment inquiry or not.

So, in effect, what Manu is reporting right now is the codification of what was already under way in ways that set more clear parameters about it. It doesn't lock the House in or even the House judiciary committee in to actually moving forward with impeachment. What it does is to set the terms and rules and conditions under which this investigation would proceed.

[23:25:02]

So, I don't think it's a final determination of a political decision in how they're going to move, but what it says is that they're going to keep that option open. I'm sure that it's going to make President Trump furious because it means that, you know, there's no clearing of him despite his many, many efforts to claim complete and utter vindication.

It's something that he's very likely to head into this election season with this threat hanging over him and, in fact, by setting a structure around impeachment, you're in effect making it a permanent political reality for the president even if Democrats haven't resolved their own internal fight over whether it's good for them or not.

LEMON: Yes.

GLASSER: To move forward.

LEMON: Follow up on that, Brian, because, you know, if just this part of the proceedings, right, will be the news.

STELTER: Yes, absolutely.

LEMON: This is --

STELTER: It is significant to Americans all around to hear that there is another step in this direction. CNN is adding new details about this right now. But what this is going to look like next week, what it looks like to formalize an impeachment probe because it has seemed up until now the Democrats are investigating, but to what end?

It is clear most Democrats want to see this president impeached, but there is this fear about the political ramifications of such a move. Nancy Pelosi just said a couple weeks ago that she does not think there is public support for impeachment. Well, what are Democrats doing to gain public support? What are they

doing? Pelosi not necessarily doing a lot. Maybe that's going to start to change now. I think historians will look at the Trump presidency and say every week there are news stories that are about impeachable conduct, but it's all about politics. It's all about the Democrats and what they want to press.

LEMON: And timing as well, Charlie Dent. What do you make of the timing?

DENT: Of the timing? Well, I think the timing probably isn't that bad. I mean, just given what happened this week, given the self- dealing, Nadler is smart, I think, to drop it.

Now, that said, if I were Nadler, you know, he probably has -- he probably has those articles of impeachment already written. They're drafted. He's just waiting for the go-ahead from up high from the speaker to move forward, and I just don't see that permission slip coming. I don't see it coming anytime soon because the American public is simply isn't there on impeachment.

STELTER: But who is trying to persuade the American public to support it? That's my point. Who is out there in the Democratic Party loudly leading this charge? I don't see anybody leading this charge right now. Nobody with a loud voice like Trump has.

LEMON: Go ahead, Susan.

GLASSER: If you go back and look at the Watergate precedent, in fact it was the impeachment inquiry and the investigation itself that created the narrative and created and built a story for the American people to engage.

And it really -- it's fascinating to look at that history in the context of where we are right now and to see how Peter Rodino from right where I grew up in New Jersey took that committee and basically turned it on as a way of getting the American people to understand the story of Watergate that up until that time they had tuned out.

And it involved actually having real people and a real investigation too. And up until now, that's something I have to say that Congress has really lost a lot of investigative capacity even that was there when Congressman Dent first came into office.

I mean, you know, there used to be legendary investigators on Capitol Hill. They weren't just sending political letters to people. They had people who could actually turn up new information and new facts and get witnesses who could build a story in the way that great investigative reporters can.

And I haven't seen any of that really coming out of this Congress. What we talk about as a congressional investigation is basically like a political letter that is tweeted out the second that somebody writes a news story.

LEMON: Yes. That's got to be the last word. Susan Glasser, thank you for helping us with the breaking news. Charlie Dent, Brian Stelter. Manu, thank you as well. I appreciate it. If you look at your screen, the House panel to take up formal steps on impeachment probe next week. We'll continue on right after the break.

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[23:30:00]

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LEMON: NOAA releasing a statement today trying to back up the president's false assertion that Alabama was going to get a piece of Hurricane Dorian, saying this, "The information provided by NOAA and the National Weather Center to President Trump and the wider public demonstrated that tropical storm-force winds from Hurricane Dorian could impact Alabama."

But that statement doesn't match NOAA's own guidance from its Birmingham, Alabama office, that Alabama would not see any impacts. So, Monica Medina is here. We're glad she's here. She's a former NOAA general counsel. Appreciate this. Good evening to you.

You said last night on this show that in the future, the White House could intimidate the weather service into not correcting the president's false claims about weather emergencies. Well, today NOAA actually went a further step. They actively disavowed the National Weather Service in Birmingham, Alabama's correction. So what do you make of this -- it's a stunning development.

MONICA MEDINA, FORMER NOAA GENERAL COUNSEL: It is shocking, and I'm going to lose a lot of sleep over it. I have to tell you, this is an unprecedented move and I can't imagine a prior NOAA administrator ever agreeing to change the forecast this way and to undermine all those workers who have been working around the clock for days to come up with these forecasts and make sure they're as accurate as possible.

It's just shocking and unbelievably disappointing that the people around the president and at NOAA, in the leadership, didn't make this stop, didn't say no, didn't put their foot down and didn't threaten to quit if the president wouldn't back down.

[23:34:56]

LEMON: Does this damage, Monica -- does it damage NOAA's credibility when it comes to the next storms to come?

MEDINA: Absolutely. Totally. And, you know, I've been like you, following this story all week for "Our Daily Planet," the publication I write, and it is just unbelievable. Each time the president has gone out with a new statement, it has taken a huge whack at the agency and undermined its credibility, and tonight was just the last straw.

And you see it in the news media, in Twitter. People have lost faith in NOAA, and it's just sad to me. So many great people who have worked so hard around the clock, flying through hurricanes, trying to bring these forecasts to the public as accurately as possible. And then the entire weather enterprise of all the forecasters on

networks like CNN accurately giving those forecasts out to the public to make sure that people are warned and can be safe. And that the president would undermine that is just unbelievable. It's out of control and I'm speechless and I'm sleepless over it.

LEMON: Yes. Well, you say that you would have quit NOAA if you had been directed to put out this statement. Should leadership at NOAA resign?

MEDINA: I honestly think that it would be hard for them to look at themselves in the mirror after having undermined the entire national weather service and the hurricane center and still lead that agency. I don't know how they can do it with credibility.

LEMON: Monica Medina, appreciate your time. Thank you. Have a great weekend.

MEDINA: Thank you.

LEMON: Thank you. The Trump administration's family separation policy at the border taking a terrible toll on immigrant children. A report by a government watchdog outlines the devastating trauma they're facing and how facilities are struggling to cope.

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[23:40:00]

LEMON: A very important and frankly devastating report came out this week on the Trump administration's family separation policy. The report was released on Wednesday in the midst of breaking news on hurricane Dorian, so you may not have heard about it, but it's important that you know what family separation has meant to immigrant children held in terrible conditions and suffering heartbreaking trauma.

One program director quoted in the report saying, "Every single separated kid has been terrified." I want to discuss this now with Professor Warren Benford and Dr. Julie Linton. So good to have both of you on. Thank you so much.

Professor Benford, I'm going to start with you. You detail these dangerous and neglectful conditions happening at the U.S. border facilities. This was back in June. I just want to read some of the excerpts from this report that came out in the midst of the hurricane this week.

It says some separated children expressed acute grief that caused them to cry inconsolably. Others who believe their parents had abandoned them were angry and confused. A 7 or 8-year-old boy was separated from his father without any explanation as to why the separation occurred.

The child was under the delusion that his father had been killed and believed that he would also be killed. Much of this is consistent with what you saw, right? WARREN BINFORD, PROFESSOR, WILLAMETTE UNIVERSITY: Yes, and it wasn't

just on the June visits that we saw this. We actually had previously interviewed separated children and they told us horrific stories of being put on buses in the middle of the night and being driven across state line to locations that were hours and hours away from where their parents were.

Having siblings dropped off at other locations, not knowing where they were going and being just terrified. They didn't know where they were being taken or what happened to their parents. So, this is consistent.

LEMON: Dr. Linton, can the psychological trauma these children go through turn into -- can it be shown physically, some physical symptoms?

JULIE LINTON, PEDIATRICIAN: Absolutely. What we know about trauma that is as serious as this, known as toxic stress, can have symptoms like headaches and abdominal pain and also manifest in a number of ways. Kids may really have difficulty eating, sleeping, toileting.

They may have behavioral symptoms or developmental regression, things like speech delay or going backwards in the things they had already learned how to do.

LEMON: Yes. Professor Binford, you say that there are foster care homes available under contract with HHS that are really just sitting empty right now. The law even requires children to be placed in the least restrictive situation possible. How is the Trump administration getting around this?

BINFORD: You know, we have no idea. I think this is one of the examples of how this administration is breaking the black-letter law. The Trafficking Victim Protection Reauthorization Act clearly requires that children be placed in the least restrictive environment possible in the child's best interest.

And there's no question that the facilities that I've seen, 1,500 kids being kept in a Wal-Mart in Texas. Another 2,000, over 2,000 kids being kept in a tent city in Tornillo, Texas, that these are not in the children's best interest.

And we need to start to place these children in appropriate environments for the short period of time until they can be reunited with their families here in the United States.

LEMON: Dr. Linton, in your congressional testimony about the administration's policy on family separations, you said that the harm that this is causing can be irreparable and lifelong. Talk to me about the consequences of that.

[23:45:01]

LINTON: Absolutely. What we know about trauma, particularly when it's as serious as something like forcible separation of a child from a parent, is that the buffer for stress is essentially stripped. And everything that that child is experiencing is done in terror, in absolute terror.

And that kind of serious stress with hormones that are meant to be only used when you're fleeing a tiger, going through the body in an ongoing way, can cause short and long-term health impacts, things like the short-term effects I've already shared, pain, suffering, depression, anxiety.

And in the long run, can really place children at very serious risk for serious short and long-term health problems such as diabetes, depression, cancer, post-traumatic stress disorder.

LEMON: Wow. Before we run out of time, I know this is important for you, Professor Binford, can you tell us about the Amplify the Children Project and how it will help to keep this issue in the public eye?

BINFORD: Yes. Next week we'll be launching Project Amplify and the intent of Project Amplify is to educate the public about the children's experiences in these facilities.

As Dr. Linton has explained, not just the separation of the children from their parents is traumatic for them, but being kept in facilities in which they're being abused and neglected, layers another -- adds another layer of trauma to their experience.

And so we have asked for actors, artists, songwriters, musicians, theater performers all across the country to come together and organize events that can share these children's stories with the public.

And so we have people from Los Angeles to Portland to Chicago and New York all organizing events in the coming months in order to share these children's stories because we want to make sure that the American public knows what this administration is doing to these kids because it's causing long-term damage.

LEMON: Warren Binford, Julie Linton, thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

LINTON: Thank you for having us.

BINFORD: Thank you.

LEMON: We'll be right back.

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[23:50:00]

LEMON: The parents of six African-American former and current students are suing a Minnesota school district in federal court over allegations of racial discrimination and bullying in elementary, middle and high schools across the district. The alleged incidents including using the "N" word, posing in black face, harassment and threatening violence. Sara Sidner has the disturbing details.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) TAYLIN BURSCH, MIDDLE SCHOOL STUDENT: I was really mad about it too.

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In 2018, Minnesota middle school student Taylin Bursch says he opened his locker to find someone had written the "N" word several times on his gym shirt and the words "leave now."

BURSCH: I was worried. I felt really bad.

SIDNER (voice-over): He and his family say that wasn't the first time he had been targeted because of his race.

BURSCH: I have been kicked in my knees. I've been called monkey, lots of other stuff.

SIDNER (voice-over): His family says for years they complained about incidents to school officials.

A.J. BURSCH, TAYLIN'S FATHER: Everything that has happened is more of a step to take so they don't look at fault.

SIDNER (voice-over): That was 2018. Now, his family and five other families of black students are suing the district of Eastern Carver County Schools in Minnesota.

ANNA PRAKASH, ATTORNEY: It's not a situation of a little bullying here, a little bullying there, an isolated incident. It's not that. It's a system-wide problem. It's a system-wide problem that we allege the district knew about all along and failed to remedy.

SIDNER (voice-over): The allegations in total read like a page from the beginning of school integration in the segregated south. It alleges another black middle school student was punched in the face by a white student. Called the "N" word and had food thrown at him.

At Chaska high School, more harassment. This image became national news showing 25 black students from Chaska High super-imposed on a Google map labeled "Negro Hill."

During Black History month this year, a white student posted a picture of himself holding a gun on Snapchat while threatening to shoot a list of black and other students if they attended a school assembly on racism, the lawsuit says.

Another photo went viral of white students wearing charcoal masks they hashtag #blackface. One month later in the yearbook, a photo taken during a football game of a white child wearing black face. The yearbook was recalled before it was distributed. Four of the six black students left the school due to the harassment the lawsuit says.

PRAKASH: We have alleged emotional distress. We have talked about the substantial disruption on these kids education, and those are very real things.

SIDNER (voice-over): The school district told CNN it cannot comment on specific litigation, but in a statement when the racist photo went viral, the district said racism and bigotry has no place at Chaska High School and it also formed an equity task force to address the issue. Legal analyst Jessica Levinson says that could play into the district's defense.

JESSICA LEVINSON, PROFESSOR, LOYOLA LAW SCHOOL: I think in that case they'll say it's terrible that this happened. We're taking steps to train our teachers, to train our administrators, but we didn't necessarily have a duty to act in a different way. We can't prevent all types of bad behavior on school grounds.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SIDNER (on camera): But lawyers for the parents say that the parents did try everything possible and the lawsuit was a last resort to try to get justice for their kids, Don.

[23:55:03]

LEMON: Could the result of this lawsuit have a larger influence on how schools handle this kind of racial harassment?

SIDNER: It certainly could. It depends on, you know, what happens with the lawsuit, whether it's settled for example and whether the plaintiffs actually win in this case. They're asking for monetary damages.

But really, ultimately, what their lawyers say the parents and students want is justice. They want to make sure that no other child feels like they can't get a good education without being harassed just because of the color of their skin, Don.

LEMON: Sara Sidner, thank you so much.

SIDNER: Sure.

LEMON: Thanks for watching. Our coverage continues.

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