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FBI Agent Testifies Learned Of Manafort Storage Unit From Associate Press Reporters; Dems Demand Family Reunification Plan From Trump Admin; Democratic Senator Calls For Ice To Be Abolished; White House Denies Kelly Replacement Reports; Report: Trump Wants Out Of The World Trade Organization. Aired 12:30-1p ET
Aired June 29, 2018 - 12:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:30:04] KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And not ignore the President's rhetoric in light of that.
PERRY BACON, SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: All right, great. Yes, I must add there. I mean, I was concerned about the President, one of the media every day. You know, Monday I was concerned about it, today I'm concern about it, we're concern about next. The shooting they can do with is, the rhetoric is still deeply, deeply problematic. And I would argue anti-Democratic.
JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Perhaps a little lesson here. We're going to interrupt this conversation because we're following some other breaking news today. A court appearance in Virginia for the President's former campaign Chairman Paul Manafort. Let's get to our Justice Correspondent Evan Perez. Evan, what happened in the courtroom today?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well John, this is a court hearing that is one of the civil court hearings that we're going to have before Paul Manafort goes on trial here in Alexandria, Virginia in late July, later in about a month. Today's hearing was really supposed to be about suppressing some evidence. The Manafort team wants to remove some evidence because they believe that the searches that were done of a storage facility and of his home were done improperly.
One of the things that came up in this hearing was a bit of a surprise. It was a federal agent, an FBI agent who conducted one of the searches, and he said that they learned of a storage unit, a storage facility that Paul Manafort used to store some of his files, business files, business records. They said they learned about this storage facility from a group of A.P. reporters, Associated Press reporters, that came in to meet with prosecutors back in April of 2017.
Now, it's a bit of a stunning revelation because one of the things that we know in this story is obviously there's been a lot of accusations that there were leaks from the government to the media. The President has made that allegation, Paul Manafort's own team has made that allegation in court filings. But today, at least according to this FBI agent who just testified before this court, he said that they learned some very key information, that the existence of this storage unit where Paul Manafort was storing important business records about his business, long-time business with Ukrainians and Russian oligarchs. They learned about it in a meeting with the Associated Press, reporters who came in and provided this information to prosecutors.
Now, we should note that this allegation has been out there before. We've seen it on Fox News and so on. The Associated Press has denied that their reporters provided any information to prosecutors. We haven't heard yet today whether or not they have another response in response to what this agent said today. But it really, John, will I think give additional fuel to this idea that there's a conspiracy between the media and the so-called deep state against the President and against Paul Manafort and people around the Trump campaign. John?
KING: Remarkable new reporting. Evan Perez outside the courtroom, appreciate that update. We'll keep an eye to see if we do get a response. My former employer, the Associated Press.
Coming up next here, we are the Trump administration is housing migrant children and the many questions now about the pace of reunifications.
[12:35:57] KING: Welcome back. A migrant mother reunited with her 7- year-old son today after being separated from him for a month. You can see the pictures here. Brenda Romero Garcia and her Kevin brought back together this morning at an airport, just outside of Washington, D.C.
She said she last saw her son on May 27, a day after crossing the border illegally in Arizona. Romero Garcia said she spoke with her son in June and that was at a children's facility. He was then at children's facility in Miami. It puts into the public spotlight, those emotional pictures, the whole question of what now after the President signed that executive order saying that families will be reunified, families separated because of the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy.
We know as we ask the government, 16 states in the District of Columbia have facilities housing of these children. Getting the numbers has been interesting as you go through. When the President signed the executive order, a little more than this, but 2,053 immigrant children in HHS, the Department of Health and Human Services care, according to the latest government statistics. That is down only six fewer that was on the list put out just days ago. So the administration having some difficulty in having speedy reunifications.
Who are these children? Of the 2,050-plus, 1,045 children are under the age 13, 36 under the age of five, three -- look at that, three of this in custody under one year age. This part matters the most because of a court decision out in California that says children under five have to be reunited by July 10th. The government gets until July 24th for those all over the age of five. The administration doesn't like this ruling, but has yet has not challenged it in court. The administration says it is doing this as quickly as it hand, as carefully as it can and the promises to get it right. If you listen to Democrats, they think the administration actually doesn't know what it's doing.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: We asked some very basic question. How many children do we have separated from their parents and have in our custody in our government? They said, we don't know. The President's executive order apparently may have stopped them from separating parents and children for the time being. But when it comes to reunification, there wasn't a word about it in the President's executive order.
And as we listen to them today, it doesn't sound like they have any plan whatsoever.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BACON: You can imagine the President said there are 2,000 kids separated. We need to get this done in the next three days. That is not the President we're seeing right now. I know it's complicated. I know there's logistical challenge. This does not appear to be a very organized process and one that the President is leading aggressively himself.
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS; WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well I think that's right, but it's also the case that in making this policy in the first place, they gave zero thought to how they were going to reunite these parents potentially with their children and now they're faced with the situation where if you take a child from a parent who is illegally and unlawfully crossed the border, even with someone who is seeking asylum, somebody's come across the border with papers saying that they are allowed to, that child then get shifted to a totally different legal track. You have deportation proceeding for the parent, you have a completely different legal proceeding often with separate counsel for the child, and it's very, very complicated and challenging, and in some cases impossible to get those two tracks closer to, you know, to merge together in a timely way. And so that's what they're facing now.
And it's not really a surprise because these children are being treated like unaccompanied minors who crossed the border by themselves. That's not what they were. They came with their parents and they're unaccompanied now because of the Trying administration, and they didn't have a plan on the front end for reuniting them, so now they're having to come up with one on the fly and they have very little time to do it.
KING: And as the Democrats ask questions, anybody should be regardless of party ask questions. Where are they? What's the process? How are doing in getting them together? There's been another debate about this. The Democratic base particularly outraged by the family separation, putting more and more pressure in an election year on members of Congress, including some saying that ICE, the government agency, immigration control, should be eliminated or significantly changed. That they're part of the problem that it's become more of a police state.
Listen here, Kirsten Gillibrand, one time viewed as more of a moderate, Senator from New York now thinking about running for President in 2020. Someone who wants back much tougher immigration policies now saying, you know what, ICE could be the problem.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[12:40:12] SEN. KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND (D), NEW YORK: I don't think ICE today is working as intended. I believe that it has become a deportation force, and I think you should separate the criminal justice from the immigration issues and I think you should re-imagine ICE under a different agency with a very different mission and take those two missions out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Please listen, here's the response from the director of ICE saying, no, no, no, no, no. Congress writes the laws. If he wants to do things differently, fix them.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS HOMAN, ACTING ICE DIRECTOR: If the American public wants to know who to blame for family separations, the first people they need to blame is Congress. We went up to the Hill several months ago and told them what the loopholes about the Flores settlement agreement. We said, you can fix this. If we can fix the Flores settlement agreement, we can keep the families together in a family facility until they can see a judge, but they failed to fix it.
They don't want to fix it, so we're doing an operation on the border what Congress failed to do. So if member of Congress were upset of family separations, they need to look in the mirror.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Congress needs to do a lot of things that Congress doesn't do. We can talk about what the ideal situation is which is the Congress would get together and write laws that actually straighten out. All the way falls (ph) and everything would be perfect. The Congress does not do things that it doesn't absolutely have to do like tough budget and sometimes too hard. So, I mean, it's just not -- or keeping the government funded just to take aside in that said argument.
So, look, this is a perfect fusion, though, of multiple things, right? You have the crisis right now with the family separation, with the children at the border which is appalling to people in both parties, right? You also have the trickle-up of people in the Democratic Party like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and others who have been saying, ICE is a problem, get rid of it. And this fusion of those two has led to people like Gillibrand now saying actually maybe that's not the terrible idea. It's not --
KING: Because sell (ph) that in San Francisco and --
DEMIRJIAN: And in New York.
KING: -- in New York. Can you sell that in Middle America where if you look at the map it's all red?
DEMIRJIAN: Polarization is going to happen even more which leads you to a situation where Congress is even less equipped to solve this problem. So, welcome to midterm election year.
KING: Well, to the midterm election part, nothing is good. The only thing that might happen in Congress this year is a narrow bill about the family separation issue, right? Everything else collapses last week that show vote in the House so that people can go home and run an ad saying, I voted for this. You know, it was going to fail, (INAUDIBLE) become law.
But we're done, right? We're done? If you're a dreamer in this country, you have to hope the courts keep protecting your status, right? If you want tougher borders, we'll see if the President gets his wall money when we get to the budget question. But he won't get it in a big immigration bill.
BACON: I view Gillibrand's comments on a much longer context in maybe 2021 when there is a Democratic president, maybe. This is when we're talking about abolishing ICE even then they're not going to abolish ICE. We're always going to have some kind of immigration force in the country.
And the question is, is ICE too aggressive now in terms of deporting people and is it kind of beyond this -- is doing too much? I do think the next Democratic president will not only do things Trump didn't do but also not be as aggressive as Obama was. The question here is, I think that on the left now, there's a view that Obama's immigration policies were too tough, too, and that's where the pushback is coming from as well as Trump.
COLLINS: Yes. So, where will these polls to abolish ICE when Obama who is (INAUDIBLE) the deporter-in-chief was in office. We never heard this from Gillibrand then, but now we are hearing now that immigration is an issue that is really tugging at people's heartstrings with these family separations, now we have these Democrats and we'll likely to see more and more come out with the same phrases.
DEMIRJIAN: Yes. And this is real notion (ph). You're seeing how it's going to have splintering effects within the GOP and within Democratic Party too. It's just going to be a giant political mess if you try to figure out --
KING: Immigration has been a political mess for a long time. The emotions behind it are escalating even more because of the family separation issue.
Up next for us, Kellyanne Conway says pay no attention to all those stories about the White House Chief-of-Staff.
[12:48:20] KING: Topping our political radar today in case you missed him, Barack Obama is back in the spotlight with a message for Democrats. Stop moping, he says, and instead of complaining about civilization collapsing, well do something about it. The Democratic Party fundraiser in Beverly Hills, the former President warning against complacency, saying a string of special election doesn't guarantee success in the midterms. He told the crowd, quote, if we don't vote, then this democracy does not work.
In a secret vote, a U.S. official says a United Nations agency voted down President Trump's pick to lead the international body in charge of helping migrants. You might remember Ken Isaacs from a CNN KFile investigation that revealed tweets showing anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant sentiment, including this one. Austria, Switzerland. Consider building a wall on the Alps to control their borders from refugees.
More about at the White House Chief-of-Staff, John Kelly, could soon be heading for the exits. We know the President for months has been quizzing aides outside advisers about who should take over if Kelly leaves. Well, according to sources, possible candidates include, the Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and the Vice President's Chief-of-Staff, Nick Ayers.
This morning, though, Presidential Counselor Kellyanne Conway says if General Kelly is planning on leaving, he hasn't told her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: I don't understand the stories in that the media sort of like ants on a sugar cube always go and focus on one thing. It seems to come up every month or two or three months. But here you got responses directly from the President and from Chief-of-Staff John Kelly yesterday that it's all news to them.
We know that it's easier and may be more fun for folks to learn play the polar game and learning the intricacy of policy. As far as I know, General Kelly wants to stay and he is staying. He hasn't said anything differently to me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[12:50:02] KING: Stay tune on that one. Up next, the President who likely call himself Mr. Brexit, now talks about breaking up the rest of the European Union.
KING: Welcome back. Today, new signs of a potential crisis moment for the west. New evidence the President wants to remake the world order more to his liking. A European official telling CNN the President made an offer to his French counterpart, Emmanuel Macron. Break up with the European Union and the United States will reward you with a lucrative trade deal. The official ads, the American President made the same offer to Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel. Expect the President attempt to fracture the E.U. to loom over a critical NATO summit schedule for next month. Also, anticipate another potential breakup to come up.
Axios reporting today the President has talked about walking out of the world trade organization. Asked about that this morning, though, the Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin says, wait a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[12:55:09] STEVE MNUCHIN, TREASURY SECRETARY: There's no breaking news here, so anybody who is reporting an Axios story as breaking news, it's not right. This is an exaggeration. The President has been clear with us and with others he has concerns about the WTO, he thinks there are aspects of it that are not fair, he thinks that China and others have used it to their own advantage, but we are focused on free trade.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Is it an exaggeration? We know the President vents about a lot of international organizations. Does he say, let's get out or does he just say, I don't like these people?
COLLINS: Well, he vents about a lot of things. But you saw Mnuchin there, he did not deny the story, he just said it was an exaggeration, and other White House officials essentially said, yes, the President is frustrated with it, and yes, he does complain. But we don't expect him to do anything. But these, of course, people who can't truly speak for the President because he could change his mind.
KING: And he did get out ahead of Brexit while Europeans didn't like that. They said leave it up to the people of the U.K. Don't get out, the President was out there. So he says to Macron and to Merkel, hey, get out of the E.U. and we'll negotiate a bilateral trade deal. That sounds out there, but the President does talk quite a bit about his disdain for the E.U. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The European Union, of course, was set up to take advantage of the United States, to attack our piggy bank, right? And you know what, we can't let that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BACON: Are Macron and Merkel less inclined to listen to for advice than Donald Trump at this point? I don't think so. My guess, they will be an E.U. more since he suggest it. I don't think that they care what he thinks about much on policy. But these are pretty big ideas like getting out of the WTO, breaking up the E.U, him saying this to people. These are -- it suggest -- I mean, I hate to talk about this, but the Putin meeting next month, it is a weird thing. If you were asking what is Putin's agenda for the world, it would sound like this that is worth thinking about. But these are pretty radical ideas.
KING: When Trump talks like this, Putin wins.
DEMIRJIAN: Yes. I mean, it's ripping a page out of the Putin playbook. I mean, Putin just trying to do with smaller of all countries like Greece and Hungary and other people who were more inclined maybe, you know, say, oh we could really use that trade deal because our economy is a completely a mess.
But, look, there is nobody right now that's more pro-Europe than Angela Merkel who is less than inclined to do I think a deal with President Trump and Angela Merkel and Macro. And that didn't go so well the last time he was here. That bromance kind of got a little bit, you know, marred by the way that Macron was cheated.
And so, it's a very America-centered view of the world. I know that we have the America first view of the world, but to say, if we offer you a trade deal, that's going to make him break up the European alliance. But basically, yes, it can be stressful for France and Germany at times, but is what gives them so much standing at the international table is very far-fetched. And it's very Putin-like, just a little bit too ambitious I guess. And it's not a fair trade.
KING: Which is why, though, because of the strength of the American economy, the central vital absolutely unique role of the United States in NATO, they get nervous. The other leaders get nervous. You're right, they're not inclined to agree with the President, but now they understand that they have to organize and argue against this. When you see other forces at a time he's going to leave the NATO meeting and go to a Putin meeting.
This from Senator Marco Rubio today, essentially throwing the President on Twitter. "It's fine for @POTUS to meet with Putin. U.S. and Russia possess large nuclear arsenals in world. But would be a grave mistake to downplay the fact that Putin is an accomplice to war crimes, interfered in our elections and assassinates his political opponents. Don't trust, always verify."
The Wall Street Journal, again, generally reliable friend of Republican presidents, but saying, "Mr. Assad and his backers figure that Mr. Trump wants to proclaim mission accomplished in Syria and bring U.S. troops home. The White House's limp reaction to the fighting in southwestern Syria shows they're probably right. Mr. Putin has been watching all this and wondering if Mr. Trump can be conned as easily and as often as Barack Obama was." Those are supposed to be the President's friends.
DAVIS: Well, and I mean, this is the worry and this was the worry going into his meeting with Putin last year is that he is going and somehow be taken advantage of, that he is going to say things or accept things that Putin says to him publicly or privately that are damaging to the United States. And not just to the United States but to, you know, the west in general. I mean, when you have the President talking in advance about breaking up the E.U. and wanting to undermine that alliance, and he's sort of approaching it like a businessman. Well, if you break up with them and then do a deal with me -- but it's not about that. This is about a bigger thing than just, you know, do you want to do a deal with Donald Trump? This is about, you know, national order.
And so, when he does that on one hand and then he's going into this meeting with Putin on the other, and we know how much he's talked about wanting to get along with him and wanting to have a nice meeting, that is the big concern that you hear Rubio making and I think you hear some of those concerned inside the White House as well.
KING: They don't trust their President. I think that's the way to put that one. Well, we'll see. Interesting month ahead, interesting month behind us, very interesting month ahead.
Thanks for joining us today in INSIDE POLITICS. Appreciate you're dealing with us for the breaking news. Hope to see you back here on Sunday morning. (INAUDIBLE), I'll give you a wake-up call if you want.
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