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Sources: Family Reunification Process Now Underway; Rep. Scalise Defends Jordan Amid Allegations; Kavanaugh Was Lead Author For Clinton-Era Starr Report. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired July 10, 2018 - 12:30   ET


[12:34:23] DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Welcome back. It's deadline day for the Trump administration. A judge ordered the government to make sure that the youngest children who are here in the United States, came with their parents, undocumented parents, are put back with them. They've been separated. They need to be reunited today.

About half of these immigrant families, however, are expected to be reunited. Only half. There are about 102 total.

Now, the administration is struggling to keep up with the pace of these deadlines, struggling to find some parents, either because they've been released into the U.S., into criminal custody, or been deported.

[12:35:01] CNN's Miguel Marquez is in Harlingen, Texas. And Miguel, where does the unification process stand at this hour?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it has begun in cities across the country. ICE vans are pulling up to centers that are housing children, picking them up. We saw this in Phoenix, Arizona, for instance. Several kids there at two different facilities were picked up, taken to another ICE Facility where their parents were so that they could be reunited.

We know of one happening in Grand Rapids, Michigan fairly shortly. We expect some of that to happen here in the Rio Grande Valley in South Texas as well. Two things really happening today.

So that is happening, 54, perhaps 59 by the end of the day, children reunited with their families. The others, the government says, is just not going to be possible to do today. That will be discussed in court.

But the bigger issue that will be discussed in court, what about the thousands of kids over five, five and over that need to be reunited with their parents? The judge in California going to basically work out a process because the Trump administration doesn't have one for how that is going to happen. Lawyers for the ACLU that brought this suit want a truncated process, two to three days with existing documents, fingerprints, maybe if necessary, DNA tests.

The administration -- Trump administration says, no, we have to have these people treated like unaccompanied minors. That process could take a month, perhaps two.


BASH: Miguel, thank you so much for that update. Appreciate it.

Back here with the panel. Look, this is about as difficult as it gets. But, you know, it bears repeating as much as we can, the immediate deadline, these are children five and under. Children five and under who are not with their parents. And the difficulty getting little less than half of them back with their parents is pretty astounding.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It makes you wonder, really, what were they planning on doing before they were forced to do this? Were they planning on just simply orphaning these children into the system in the United States, the ones who they've already deported?

It's shocking and it's astonishing. And I think that's kind of what the judge is saying in these rulings. The judge is saying it is astonishing that the government can take a child from their parent and not have enough information to reunite that child with their parent, barring some profound reason why they cannot or should not be reunited.

And the Trump administration doesn't seem to really care all that much about the time it's taking. The president was asked about this, this morning and was kind of like, well, just don't come --

BASH: Well, let's play that. Let's play what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a solution. Tell people not to come to our country illegally. That's the solution.

Don't come to our country illegally. Come like other people do. Come legally.


BASH: So he's basically saying -- let me just translate. I want to bring you in, Rachel, but it's a deterrent. He is admitting this is a deterrent, except guess what, it's not working. Look at this graphic.

If you see this new policy was announced a few months ago, Aprilish. And it hasn't deterred people and their families from coming, I mean, at all. Look at that. It's all the way up this month to almost 10,000.

RACHAEL BADE, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, POLITICO: Look, the president's trying to change the subject here. The story is that the Trump administration, they don't have the infrastructure or are not willing to put the energy into creating an infrastructure to unite these kids with their parents. The interesting thing is they're really on their own here. You know, in Congress when this first started, we heard a lot of Republicans on the Hill saying, oh, we're going to pass some sort of legislation that helps them.

Well, my House sources say that they have no plans to pass anything anymore, especially after the president burned them on their own immigration bills just a couple weeks ago. They are not going to pass anything unless the White House actually forces their hand on this.

Meanwhile, the senate is distracted. Of course, they have the Supreme Court, that's what they're going to be looking at. And this immigration issue, the issues just keep piling up. It's not just the families, it's also the DACA kids. And there's going to be another court ruling on this.

BASH: I'm so glad you brought that up because there's so much news, it's sometimes hard to keep on top of for our viewers the things that are and aren't getting done. And that was a huge issue. There was so much pressure the president, you know, for the first time did a 180. He reversed himself with the executive order.

There was pressure on Congress to act on this. And then the broader immigration issue. And then they punted and now there's no discussion about it right now.

LISA LERER, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: But this is just -- the family separation is egregious. I mean, we had -- AP had a story that was recounting a 1-year-old in court, in a hearing, and the 1-year-old cried when he was passed from one caregiver to another. How can a 1-year-old tell anyone where his or her parents are? I mean, it's a humanitarian crisis.

And the president -- I'm really curious to see whether the president will pay the price for this.

[12:40:03] Our history tells us that he tends not to pay a political price for these kinds of actions, but I wonder whether that's true.

BASH: Well, the pressure needs to stay on, and obviously, you know, we're covering it and hopefully that will be at least a little bit of pressure to make sure that at least these families are reunited as the judge has ordered, and as the president has ordered with his executive action.

OK. Up next, Congressman Jim Jordan facing allegations he turned a blind eye to sexual abuse while he was a coach at Ohio State. He denies it, and now he has the support of a top Republican.


[12:45:01] BASH: Topping our political radar, Rudy Giuliani tells the Washington Post he is still working for foreign clients while serving as President Trump's attorney, and it's an arrangement me says that is OK but experts say it could break conflict of interest laws. Giuliani told the paper he maintains clients in Ukraine, Brazil, and Colombia and also gives paid speeches for a controversial Iranian exile group. He also says he doesn't need to register as a foreign agent because Trump doesn't pay him for his advice and he doesn't directly lobby the U.S. Government.

Ex-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn takes his -- makes his way rather to court, his first court appearance since admitting he lied to investigators. A judge telling prosecutors and Flynn's legal team he doesn't have a problem delaying sentencing because Flynn has been assisting the special counsel's investigation. Flynn's team says their client is eager to proceed with sentencing in order to bring an end to the process. Both sides are required to provide an update on possible sentencing dates or delay by late August.

And House Majority Whip Steve Scalise is defending Congressman Jim Jordan amid accusations that Jordan knew about alleged sexual abuse while he was an Ohio State wrestling coach but did nothing about it. In a statement to CNN, Congressman Scalise says, "I have always known Jim Jordan to be honest, and I'm confident he would stand up for his athletes just like he has always stood up for what's right. I'm glad Jim is committed to working with the investigators to see that the full truth comes out and justice is served."

Congressman Jordan tells CNN he's working to set up a time to speak with investigators.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Yesterday, six coaches came out and said the exact same thing that I said. And you know why they said that? Because it's true.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you meeting with investigators this week? Can you tell us when?

JORDAN: We're working on setting up a time to talk, yes. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You said you were unaware of the abuse but you were aware of locker room talk. Can you tell us more specifically about that?


BADE: Well, a lot of Republicans on the Hill have been sort of quiet, sort of watching to see what happens with Jordan and whether, you know, there would be pressure on him to either step aside or would this hurt his influence. And that makes Scalise's comment all the more interesting. Scalise is the first member of Republican leadership to come out and support him. Scalise also received a boost from GOP leaders a couple years ago when reports came out that he had spoken to a White Supremacist group when he was in the state legislature which is interesting.

So, he said, of course, I'm not racist, I didn't know what the group was, and they saved him. GOP leaders saved him. So it's interesting that as a leader, he's lending a hand to Jordan.

And coloring all of this is of course the race to replace Paul Ryan. Obviously whoever succeeds Ryan is going to need the support of the Freedom Caucus. Jordan is a member of the Freedom Caucus, and Scalise clearly wants to make friends in that regard.

BASH: Yes, nothing is simple but it certainly was -- it's a very noteworthy statement that Steve Scalise gave to Jim Jordan.

Up next, the president's Supreme Court pick has been a D.C. fixture for years. His past work in the Ken Starr investigation and why one of his writings from 2009 are making headlines.


[12:52:44] BASH: The president's pick for Supreme Court is no stranger to high-profile work. Brett Kavanaugh is an appellate judge now. In the past, the 53-year-old served in both Bush administrations, and in the 1990s, he worked on the Ken Starr investigation involving President Clinton. Sol Wisenberg was deputy on that independent counsel investigation and worked with Kavanaugh for two years. Thank you so much for joining me.

So Saul, he was 33 years old when he became a lead author of the Starr report. I want to read part of it to you and to our viewers. Here's what he said. "The president has a manifest duty to ensure that his conduct at all times complies with the law of the land. In sum, perjury and acts that obstruct justice by any citizen, whether a criminal case, a grand jury investigation, a congressional hearing, a civil trial, or civil discovery are profoundly serious matters. When such acts are committed by the president of the United States, we believe those acts may constitute grounds for an impeachment."

Very tough words for the responsibility and role of the president, which I can get to in a second which he changed now. What was your experience with him in those days on this issue?

SOLOMON WISENBERG, FORMER PROSECUTOR: I don't know what you mean by -- that he changed now. I think you he would absolutely agree with that statement today. Who could disagree with that, that a president committing perjury and obstruction of justice, that it may be grounds for impeachment. I think it was right then and it's right now.

BASH: Right. I guess my point is that, in 2009, he wrote an article where he said, I guess more broadly the idea that he has -- since working in the administration, he has learned more about what it takes to be president. And in fact, in that 2009 writing, he talked about -- he said, "Having seen first hand how difficult and complex that job is, I believe it's vital that the president be able to focus on his never-ending task with as few distractions as possible". Going into his argument why a president shouldn't be indicted.

I understand that that's not contradictory to saying that the focus should be on impeachment, but the point is that he has come to understand, he said, more of the difficulties and the role of the president vis-a-vis dealing with an investigation like the two of you worked on.

[12:55:11] WISENBERG: Right, that it can be a great distraction. But it's important to know in this article he's talking about statutory reforms. He specifically talks about Clinton versus Jones, which of course held that constitutionally the president has no right to defer a civil suit. But the court in Jones which was a unanimous decision, said look, if Congress wants to pass a law providing for a deferral, just defer until you're out of office, like Congress has already done for some military members, Congress can do so. And that's what Brett argued in that article, that he thought as a policy matter, Congress should do that for civil cases and criminal cases.

Then when the president's no longer president anymore, he can be indicted or sued or anything you want.

BASH: Since you have unique experience, just talk to me about the kind of work he did on that report, the Starr report.

WISENBERG: Well, you said he was the lead author. I'm not sure that he was. Certainly, he played a role in it. He was -- our office was basically roughly divided into the prosecutors who had a lot of prosecutorial experience with the Department of Justice, and then kind of the brain trust and the people who handled the legal briefings and things like that. And Brett was part of that group and did very brilliant work.

Of course, he was also involved in the Foster investigation. So he wore a couple hats but he was a young guy. You know, he wasn't married yet. And very bright guy, very quiet guy, but with a really good sense of humor. Just a delight to work with.

BASH: Unfortunately, we're going to have to leave it there, but I appreciate your insight. And I'm sure we're going to get back to you in the months that we're going to be covering what we expect to be a lengthy confirmation process. Thank you so much for your time.

And thank you for joining us in the INSIDE POLITICS. Jim Sciutto is in for Wolf Blitzer, and he starts after a quick break.