Return to Transcripts main page
Scaramucci talks about Leaks; White House Briefing Today; Scaramucci on Lizza; Transgender Ban by President; Graham on Sessions Treatment; White House Press Briefing. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired July 27, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:20] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Good to be with you.
If you need to get caught up on all the chaos in Washington, here you go. Try to stay with me.
One, the president's new guy publicly knives the president's chief of staff.
Two, the president threatens to veto a veto-proof bill.
Three, a Republican senator warns of holy hell to pay if the president fires Jeff Sessions.
Four, a Trump cabinet official threatens a U.S. senator over her vote.
Five, after seven years to get something together, Republicans are writing a new health care bill over lunch.
Six, the Joint Chiefs didn't even know about the president's transgender ban.
And, seven, just in to us here, we have this statement, the Boy Scouts are now apologizing for the president's wild speech.
All of that in the last 24 hours.
And at any moment, the White House is expected to brief the press on all of the above.
So let's begin with the infighting. The new White House communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, calling out Chief of Staff Reince Priebus to explain that he is not leaking stories to the press.
Let me back up. Scaramucci is outraged after Politico put this piece out about the millions of dollars he's making as he's revealed in financial disclosure forms. And he then sent out this tweet in response. I'm quoting Scaramucci from last evening. In light of the leak of my financial disclosure info, which is a felony, I will be contacting the FBI and the Justice Department. #swamp. And then he tags Reince Priebus. The form, by the way, where this reporter from Politico got all this information on the money is actually publicly available and this reporter with Politico asked for it. Scaramucci then later deleted that tweet that I just read for you, but Ryan Lizza from "The New Yorker" sent out an explainer tweeting, quote, in case there's any ambiguity in his tweet, his tweets being Scaramucci's, I can confirm that Scaramucci wants the FBI to investigate Reince for leaking.
Scaramucci now says he was not blaming the president's chief of staff when he tagged Reince Priebus in that tweet, but Scaramucci sure did seem to point a finger at Reince Priebus this morning when he talked for 30 minutes on the phone with Chris Cuomo on "NEW DAY."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: When a journalist who actually know who the leakers are, like Ryan Lizza, they know the leakers. Jonathan Swan at Axios. These guys know who the leakers are. I respect them for not telling me, because I understand and respect journalistic integrity.
However, when I put out a tweet and I put Reince's name in the tweet, they're all making the assumption that it's him because journalists know who the leakers are. So if Reince wants to explain that he's not a leaker, let him do that.
And I understand the sausage factory and the process of the way it was leaked. It's dishonest.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": I get you.
SCARAMUCCI: Shady. It's dirty pool. Pick another neighborhood expression from Queens, OK, you know it's not right.
CUOMO: I understand.
SCARAMUCCI: But what it's done to do, it's done to weaken me and undermine me with the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: All right. So let's begin there at the White House in the Briefing Room. Sara Murray is ready to roll.
Let's begin with, I just had this mega set-up. I hope everyone's following along because I know this is changing like rapid speed.
Here's my question on the chief of staff, on Reince Priebus. Has he responded to any of this from Scaramucci and essentially calling him out as a leaker?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No, we have not heard anything from the chief of staff in response to Anthony Scaramucci. And, Brooke, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is going to be in the unenviable position of getting dragged into the middle of all of this. Yes, we see a lot of in-fighting. We see a lot of back biting from this White House. But what is playing out today is stunningly public, even for a White House that's been marred by staff in-fighting and dysfunction.
So, you know, Sarah's going come out here. I'm sure she's going to field questions about whether the president still has confidence in his chief of staff. It's telling that we've not heard from the president defending Reince. We have not heard from others in the White House defending Priebus. We did here from the House speaker, Paul Ryan, saying he thinks that Priebus is doing a good job and that the president still has confidence in him. You know, that's a view from outside the White House. So we'll wait and see how that plays out.
And, obviously, this is just one of the things she's going to be asked. People are still wondering what's going on between the president and his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, the person he has been lashing out at for over a week.
And then all of that before you get into some of these policy questions. What exactly is going on with the president's tweets about transgender troops serving in the military? What does that mean for people who are currently serving the United States of America, risking their lives? What's going to happen to them?
[14:05:08] So she's going to have a lot to cover. We'll see how long she stands out here and parries our questions today, Brooke.
BALDWIN: Sara Murray, we'll take it live. Any moment now we'll be seeing Sarah Huckabee Sanders brief everyone on all of the above.
Thank you. We'll talk to you on the back half of that.
Meantime, CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash is with me, in addition to a number of other voices.
But, Dana, let me just -- begin with you. And I feel like oftentimes you say the phrase, the walls are closing in. We've said that over and over. But with all of the above that I just listed that's happened in the last 24 hours, the walls are closing in.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: I think at this point the walls are spinning, you know, I mean because it's dizzying to try to keep up with.
BALDWIN: It is.
BASH: As you said, I mean, I thought that your set-up was brilliant in just showing the sort of frenetic sense of all these different issues. Big issues. I mean the in-fighting is important, but big, big issues.
Health care, who knows. You know, how the military deals with the president's random tweet changing policy about transgender Americans being allowed or not being allowed. You know, and the list goes on and on.
The Boy Scouts. I mean, finally, three day later, coming out and saying, the president basically endorsing bullying in front of lots of young boys.
BALDWIN: Young boys. Right.
BASH: Probably not great. We apologize.
But, look, I think that maybe the best thing to do is to kind of wrap it all in a big bow of trying to understand this, which is, this tends to be how the president -- this tends to be the president's comfort zone in how he operates, chaos. Some of it is because that's just his M.O. Some of it is because, like in the case of the transgender men and women in the military, that they are -- that they -- that this is a distraction, frankly, because he was getting pounded by the very base that this maybe, you know, reaches out to because of the way that the president was treating Jeff Sessions.
And, you know, I think at the end of the day, that is what we have to realize, that this is how this guy operates. And it wasn't, you know, when he was doing "The Apprentice" or he was Donald Trump the real estate developer, he could do this in a very small kind of -- a very small coon. Now it's the entire U.S. government. It's the entire world. He's a leader of the free world. And it is a major, major difference in anything that we've seen ever from the Oval Office.
BALDWIN: Right. No, even, I think to your point, even the minute detail that we heard about this succession of tweets on the transgender ban and the third tweet taking him nine minutes to get to the third tweet and had, you know, members of the military on pins and needles essentially wondering, is he about to -- what might he do with North Korea.
BASH: Yes. Exactly.
BALDWIN: You know, and stay tuned for the next tweet sort of thing.
BALDWIN: Ryan Lizza, you have come up in all of this, not just as someone who we love talking to on TV, but, you know, you were name checked by the, you know, chief coms guy over at the White House this morning here on "NEW DAY." Can you just walk us back, for people who are sort of just tuning in and trying to follow along, your involvement in all of this.
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes. And I don't want to be coy, but I'm going to have a piece posting at thenewyorker.com that will explain all this with a lot more detail any -- any minute.
BALDWIN: But you heard it here first. Tell me.
LIZZA: So -- but let me -- the bottom -- you know, the bottom line is, I -- as Anthony noted this morning in his interview with Chris, you know, he called me last night. Anthony called me last night after I reported about his dinner with the president and Sean Hannity and Bill Shine (ph). And we had a long conversation.
And after we had that conversation, Anthony tweeted what he tweeted. And so I'll explain all this in a little bit more detail, get into the details of what he said, but that's -- you know, that's the bottom line. And, you know, he retracted -- deleted and sort of retracted the tweet, but this morning, with Chris Cuomo on CNN, he was pretty clear that this war with Reince is not over and he, you know, he wasn't as explicit as he was in other settings. But he was pretty clear that he believes that Reince is leaking against him.
BALDWIN: He's obsessed with leaks, is he not?
LIZZA: Absolutely obsessed. Absolutely obsessed with leaks. Ferreting out -- that's why he called me last night, you know, as was -- as we talked about this morning on "NEW DAY."
So he is -- I will say this, he's not, you know, he's -- he believes that he has an extremely wide mandate from the president. He believes that the president has basically given him carte blanche to go in there and get rid of anyone that is not serving the president's interests. And, frankly, from what I can tell, the president still has his back. He was at dinner last night with, you know, with Trump, and they talked about some of these issues.
[14:10:22] So if you were trying to read the tea leaves and see where Trump is right now, despite the chaos of last night and this morning and this tweet and deleting this tweet, Trump appears to be -- have a thumb on the scales for Scaramucci, not Reince.
BALDWIN: But just, again, to -- all the -- the details matter. And when you, you know, read the tweets from the Politico reporter -- and, general, I promise we're going to get to you in just a second.
But to follow up with you, Ryan.
BALDWIN: You know, the fact is that this reporter says she got this financial information that he will continue to make, you know, the millions of dollars from Sky Bridge, that the form is publicly available from Ex-Im, the bank.
LIZZA: Yes. So --
BALDWIN: This would not be from a leak.
LIZZA: So it doesn't seem like he had a very strong case of taking this to the FBI, right?
LIZZA: I think -- I think this frankly is a little bit of paranoia in both camps. So, Anthony Scaramucci sees a story in Politico, it's got what he believes is an advance notice of his financial information, and he overreacts, frankly, thinks it's Reince, frankly without any evidence that I've seen, and he sort of goes nuclear, you know, talking about getting the FBI involved. And then I think he sort of thought about it. He realized that this
was going to be a public document anyway and he started to, you know, to at least wind that allegation back a little bit. But he certainly hasn't backed off from accusing Reince in general of leaking. And the one guy we haven't heard on this story yet is Reince.
BALDWIN: Reince Priebus. Reince Priebus.
LIZZA: I e-mailed him and he hasn't e-mailed back, but I think a lot of people would like to hear what both the president think about this and what Reince thinks about it.
So we have this piece, which we're waiting to hear I'm sure many, many questions thrown at Sarah Huckabee Sanders on this.
But the other piece, not just on policy, general, is, you know, the transgender ban. That the Joint Chiefs didn't even know when Trump put out this succession of tweets, you know, and refused to actually change anything until they hear from the president himself. You know, CNN military analyst, retired Major General James "Spider" Marks. I mean, sir, have you heard of something like this?
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: No, I haven't. But I've got to tell you, Brooke, you know, your lead-in is the -- has the makings of a mini-series. You need to capture that.
So let me talk to you about this. This is, in my mind, this is a solution looking for a problem. I don't know that the problem exists. In my time in uniform, I may have served with transgender soldiers and I didn't know it. And who cared? Nobody cared because the number one thing that you worry about, that you focus on, that you pay attention to is readiness. You subordinate what I would call those individual struggles, you embrace them, but you've got to subordinate them because the unit is what's most important.
You, as a taxpayer, want that unit to be at the highest level of readiness. I don't care how you got there. And, at the end of the day, you're either a male or a female. Transgender is simply a process. So I don't care how you got there. And we -- you know, we can discuss this in more detail, but I don't think -- I would say, quite confidently, this isn't an issue.
BALDWIN: Yes. Well, the word "readiness" is, you know, listening to Sarah Huckabee Sanders yesterday in the briefing, that was what -- and I think she had a tough time defending this for the president --
BALDWIN: But the word she kept coming back to in defense was "readiness," which it did sound like to you --
MARKS: And victory.
BALDWIN: Right, readiness, victory, winning, but it sounds like to you that that doesn't pass muster.
MARKS: No, if you -- you can too your job -- my job as a commander, my job as a leader, is to ensure that this organization, that the nation has put in my care, is ready to do what it is assigned to do to the maximum capability. I don't care how you got there. I need you to do your job. If you can't do your job, I'm going to ask you to leave in a whole bunch of ways. But I need you to do your job and the transgender issue simply is not a concern.
MARKS: And any type of medical care in order to sustain that transition is a tiny blip on the radar in terms of cost and expense.
BALDWIN: Let me just --
MARKS: And plus -- I'm sorry.
BALDWIN: No, go ahead. Go ahead.
MARKS: No, I was going to say, you've got to put a face on it --
MARKS: Because every one of those transgender soldiers, service members, has a desire to -- you know, nobody wakes up trying to screw up. Everybody wakes up trying to do the right thing. And I think that's the way we've got to approach this. You've got to put humanity first. We've got to maintain the readiness of the organization. And we have the most incredible military we've ever had. I don't know what the problem is.
BALDWIN: We're talking to a trans veteran next hour.
BALDWIN: You know, she was a sniper in the '80s and '90s and she -- not everyone even wants the surgery, right? A lot of this is they -- one side says coming out (ph) in the cost. She didn't even -- she didn't want the surgery.
BALDWIN: And so I suppose if she wanted to reenlist -- there's just -- there's a lot of ambiguity on that.
We should -- we should point out that the Joint Chiefs chairman, General Joseph Dunford, did send out this memo and at the very end, that they're waiting for some sort of guidance from the president. He said, in the meantime, we will treat all of our personnel with respect.
[14:15:07] MARKS: You bet.
BALDWIN: Let's move on as I'm sort of ticking through my made for a mini-series one through seven, you know, notes of things that have happened in the last 24 hours, next being, Dana Bash, Lindsey Graham, Republican senator from South Carolina, talking about -- talking with Manu Raju up on The Hill about the A.G., Jeff Sessions, who the president has called beleaguered and weak and is very supremely irked that he didn't -- that he did recuse himself because of the Russia investigation. Lindsey Graham promising holy hell if something happens to his former senator colleague.
BASH: And he's articulating the feeling of pretty much all Republicans in the Senate. And this isn't just about them getting upset about the way a former colleague is treated.
BALDWIN: What's it about?
BASH: This is about -- well, that's part of it, but it's also about the fact that a lot of people realize that a big reason why the president is going after Jeff Sessions isn't just because he got surprised by the recusal, isn't just because he showed weakness with the recusal, which is what some people close to the president have told me. It's also because he's clearly freaked out that this special counsel investigation that the recusal kind of led to is moving in. And there were a lot of tells in the president's interview with "The New York Times" a week ago about this, talking about his financial situation, Russian condos, things -- Russians in his condos, things like that. And so he's trying to find a way to fix that. And whether or not that means getting rid of his attorney general and finding a way to, you know, kind of circumvent or at least shrink the special counsel investigation, unclear.
But I think the point is, is that they have his number on Capitol Hill. These Republicans -- I'm not talking about Democrats, we're talking about Republicans, they get that this is part of it, and that they're going to try to figure out a way to stop it, whether it means promising, as Chuck Grassley, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee said in a tweet last night, we're not going to schedule a confirmation hearing for the attorney general if there's a new nominee, and then also pushing back on the notion that Ted Barrett and I reported, that the president is apparently being urged in some quarters to consider is a recess appointment because to do that you need the Senate to actually go into recess.
BALDWIN: No dice on that says the Senate.
BASH: And it doesn't look like that's going to happen.
BALDWIN: So, big picture. If this is really about Russia and maybe it's not about Jeff Sessions, we don't know. I can't crawl into the president's brain. But at the end of the day, I mean if Sessions were to go away, and then you have Rosenstein, and he could quit. And then Grant (ph). And then maybe she won't', you know, want to do anything with Mueller.
BALDWIN: At the end of the day, the Russian investigation doesn't go away, correct?
BASH: Probably. But there are -- our colleague Laura Jarrett sort of laid out a series of what if's.
BASH: If Jeff Sessions goes. And one of the what if's is, there are ways to kind of move people around within the Justice Department and for him to try to find somebody who could help to do that. There -- if he wants to go that route, there are some tools at his disposal, meaning if the president wants to really find a way to put a kibosh on the special counsel, there are tools at his disposal.
But he also has to remember that he does have another -- well, two other branches of government, in particular Congress, where even his fellow Republicans who are in charge would not be very happy with that. And that would be a big question about whether they would finally figure out a way to act on what they have been saying rhetorically, which is they didn't like the president's behavior.
BALDWIN: Ryan Lizza, question. Is there anyone in the White House, or is this just, you know, the president himself publicly berating his A.G.? I mean is there anyone saying, Mr. President, you really should fire him?
LIZZA: You know, I don't want to -- you know, I don't want to -- I don't have any reporting about that, Brooke, to be very honest.
BALDWIN: OK. OK.
LIZZA: What I've -- what I've seen publicly, other people have reported, is that you've got the typical splits in the Trump world. You've got some people who say that this is a bad idea because if you play out what happens, if you get rid of Sessions, it's just a series of bad outcomes, and I think that argument is pretty strong, just in terms of the president's own self-interest. I think it would be a political mistake for him to do this. Just as a lot of bad things flowed from his decision to fire Mueller, he ended up with a special counsel after that.
LIZZA: But you have other people who are saying, you've got to fight this, especially some of the outside advisers, some of the more campaign-oriented advisers who say you've got to fight this. They look back to -- they think that the Clintons, when they had Ken Starr and the independent counsel, they were, you know, fighting him every day and there really were no consequences for that. That's their argument. And they think it's fine to sort of let everyone in the Justice Department know that, you know, maybe -- you know, maybe their job hangs in the balance if they don't -- they don't do Trump's bidding.
[14:20:11] But I think it's all backfiring. You finally have congressional Republicans standing up and saying, don't do this. I think you have now Sessions probably creating more of an independent space from Trump because of this. And just politically, Trump made an error here by launching this war against this guy.
BALDWIN: OK. So we're watching that. That should be coming up in this briefing that
is late, but we'll take it live.
Dana, back over to you, just continuing on my list, health care.
We watched some of the activity yesterday. Today, this -- what is being dubbed vote-a-rama happening a little later. Debate is still open. Just explain to everyone what to expect today as far as the vote is concerned and also what the, you know, folks within the Trump administration, we know Senator Lisa Murkowski was a no. We saw the tweet from the president. And now this --
BASH: She was a no even coming into start the day.
BALDWIN: From the get. Yes. Just --
BASH: She and Susan Collins.
BALDWIN: The threat now to the state of Alaska.
BASH: Right. I mean there are -- there are a lot of threats. There are a lot of people who are in the Republican Party who are saying, oh yes, you did this, you didn't stick with the party, and from their perspective you didn't stick with your conservative constituents who voted you in on a promise among other things.
BALDWIN: Hold that thought.
BASH: Oh, there you go.
BALDWIN: Here's Sarah Huckabee Sanders.
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Before we get started on some of the Q&A, I'd like to bring up Tom Homan (ph), which some of you guys may know and remember, the acting director of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and Rob Hur, the principal deputy attorney general, to talk with you about what the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice are doing to eradicate criminal organizations like MS-13.
Mr. Hur will speak to the Justice Department's work first and then Mr. Homan will discuss the I.C.E. component and Tom will stay and answer your questions.
As always, I'd like to put out a friendly reminder for you guys to stay on topic and after that I'll come back up to take your questions.
ROBERT HUR, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, Sarah.
Good afternoon. My name is Robert Herr.
About five weeks ago I was sworn in as the principal associate deputy attorney general at the Department of Justice. In that role, I serve as the principal adviser to the deputy attorney general. I appreciate the chance to talk to you about the Justice Department's aggressive efforts to achieve this administration's goal of dismantling the trans-national gang, La Mara Salvatrucha, also known as MS-13.
As you all know, the president is traveling to Long Island tomorrow to talk about our fight to eradicate the violent threat of MS-13. And as we speak, the attorney general is in El Salvador, where he will spend the next two days addressing the root of this problem, the San Salvadorian prisons that house the leaders of this dangerous gang.
While there, the attorney general will meet with members of the Justice Department's transnational anti-gang task force on the ground in El Salvador and the attorneys general from the northern triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to discuss joint efforts to disrupt and take down MS-13.
Earlier in my career, I served as a federal prosecutor in Maryland, where I personally prosecuted a number of MS-13 racketeering cases. These included capital cases in which the defendant's crimes were so violent and so heinous that the government saw fit to pursue the death penalty. Through these prosecutions I learned firsthand from the victims, their grieving and heartbroken families and other members of terrorized community just what a scourge this group of thugs really is.
This gang's chilling motto is (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE), which means kill, rape, and control. They seek to live up to this motto through truly shocking acts of violence, designed to instill fear, vicious machete attacks, execution-style gunshots, gang rape and human trafficking. They use whatever they can get their hands on, guns, knives, machetes, baseball bats, tire irons, or their fists and feet, not just to inflict violence. They use violence to shock, to send a message, and to control territory here in the U.S. and in Central America.
The attorney general has answered the president's call, and we at the Justice Department are moving forward aggressively up against MS-13. Specifically, pursuant to the president's direction and executive orders, the attorney general has directed the department's law enforcement agencies, ATF, DEA FBI, and the Marshal Service, as well as federal prosecutors across the country to prioritize the prosecution of gang members, specifically MS-13. The attorney general has issued charging guidance regarding violent crime and criminal immigration enforcement, both of which directly target MS-13 members and their associates.
In addition, the Department of Justice has requested funding for 300 more federal prosecutors to focus specifically on violent crime and criminal immigration enforcement. We've also prioritized multiagency and cross-border collaboration in order to attack MS-13 from all angles.
[14:25:15] The Justice Department and the Department of Homeland Security are coordinating our anti-gang efforts to ensure that we bring both criminal and immigration laws to bear in the fight against transnational gangs.
We continue our critical partnerships with state and local law enforcement around the country whose brave men and women are truly on the front lines in the fight against MS-13. And we work, of course, hand in glove with our law enforcement partners in the northern triangle countries of El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras. They are helping us take to fight to MS-13 on its home turf.
It speaks volumes that the attorney general himself has traveled to the nerve center of MS-13 and is standing in solidarity with our partners in Central America. Indeed, earlier today, just hours ago, El Salvadoren prosecutors announced they have filed charges against and arrested over the past 36 hours, hundreds of members of MS-13 in El Salvador. Many of the defendants are members of MS-13's (INAUDIBLE) clique who are centered in the La Paz Department (ph) of El Salvador.
Earlier this year, members of this MS-13 clique committed several high-profile murders in El Salvador. The shooter in these murders fled to the United States and is now in I.C.E. custody pending immigration proceedings. This prosecution showcases just how closely we are working with our partners in El Salvador to combat MS-13. Specifically, U.S. law enforcement agents with I.C.E., who are on the ground in El Salvador, are coordinating with their counterparts here in the U.S. to ensure that the shooter is removed from the United States as quickly as possible to face charges in El Salvador.
This investigation is being handled by Salvadoran gang prosecutors who are trained and mentored by embedded DOJ prosecutors in El Salvador and Salvadorian police officers who are trained and mentored by the FBI and advisers from the State Department. At the request of Salvadorian prosecutors, the Justice Department has also arranged to have an essential witness to the murders transported to El Salvador for court proceedings.
The United States law enforcement and federal prosecutors recently targeted leaders and members of the same (INAUDIBLE) clique operating here in Maryland, charging 16 defendants with racketeering offenses involving murder and attempted murder. The last of whom was sentenced this year to life imprisonment. These are very significant blows to MS-13 and are made possible by our close cross-border coordination.
We've also revitalized the institutional hearing program, which brings immigration judges to bureau of prisons facilities to adjudicate the immigration status of federal criminal alien inmates while they're incarcerated. This results in much quicker deportation after these criminals serve out their prison sentences here in the United States.
Finally, we are also holding sanctuary cities accountable for their lawless conduct. The attorney general will not allow sanctuary cities to become sanctuaries for criminals. Earlier this week, the attorney general announced new grant conditions. Cities and states may only receive Byrne JAG grants if they comply with federal law, allow federal immigration officials access to detention facilities and provide 48 hours' notice before they release an illegal alien wanted by federal authorities. Taking on MS-13 is a top priority of this administration and this
Justice Department. We will not tire. And we will not fail. I'm humbled to once again be in a position to work to reduce and ultimately decimate this gang, to make our communities safe for all Americans.
THOMAS HOMAN, ACTING DIRECTOR, I.C.E.: Good afternoon. I'm Tom Homan. I'm the acting director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as I.C.E.
Targeting, arresting, and removing members of violent street gangs, such as MS-13, sends a clear message to criminal enterprises around the world, you are not welcome in the United States and you will find no harbor here. President Trump made it a priority to get these criminals off our streets and when possible out of our country, and that's exactly what the men and women of I.C.E. are going to do every single day to help keep America safe.
I.C.E.'s homeland security investigation, known as HSI national gang unit, leads our efforts along with our deportation officers to identify and arrest gang members while working to dismantle the organizational structure that supports them. Gang members are involved in a broad range of criminal activity, including murder, extortion, narcotics trafficking, weapons trafficking, human smuggling, and other crimes with a nexus of border security.
[14:30:03] Since the beginning of January of this year, I.C.E.'s homeland security investigation has already arrested 3,311 gang members across the country in a number of targeted operations.