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President Trump Turns His Attention To Relatives Of People Killed By Undocumented Immigrants, But He Is Silent On The Fate Of Hundreds Of Migrant Children Taken From Parents At The Border, Federal Law Barring The News Media From Taping Or Even Talking To Any Of The Migrant Children In US Custody, Prosecutors Try To Prevent Indicted Former Trump Campaign Chairman Paul Manafort From Arguing That Politics Played A Role In The Decision To Charge Him. Aired: 5-6p ET
Aired June 22, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, changing the subject. President Trump turns his attention to relatives of people killed by undocumented immigrants, but he is silent on the fate of hundreds of migrant children taken from parents at the border. Is there a plan to reunite them?
Keeping cameras out. Federal law barring the news media from taping or even talking to any of the migrant children in US custody, but CNN got exclusive access inside one facility housing about 100 traumatized young people.
Not backing off. Prosecutors try to prevent indicted former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort from arguing that politics played a role in the decision to charge him. Will the judge deal Manafort another set back?
And prior review. The "National Inquirer" reportedly let President Trump's long time attorney and fixermichael Cohen review articles about Mr. Trump before they were published. Did the President himself pitch stories to the tabloid. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in "The Situation Room."
The chaos unleashed by President Trump shifting immigration policies has hundreds of migrant children unaccounted for tonight. The administration says 500 families separated at the border have been reunited, but there is no known plan for returning hundreds more children scattered across the country who were taken from their parents before the President reversed his policy.
We'll talk about it with Senator Ben Cardin of the Foreign Relations Committee and our specialists and analysts are also standing by.
First, let's go straight to our Chief White House Correspondent, Jim Acosta. Jim, the President was talking about immigration yet again today.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He was, Wolf, but the President was downplaying the separation of children from their parents pointing instead to families greeting relatives who were allegedly killed by undocumented migrants, but the White House has yet to explain, as you said, what is happening to the children who were taken from their families at the border, raising the question where is the plan?
So far the silence from the administration is deafening.
President Trump appeared to make light of children separated from their parents at the border turning his attention to families who say their relatives were killed by undocumented immigrants. Calling them permanently separated.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: These are the American citizens permanently separated from their loved ones. The word "permanently" being the word you have to think about it. Permanently.
ACOSTA: The President then took a swipe at undocumented immigrants, suggesting they commit more crime than native born Americans despite studies that show that is not true.
TRUMP: The answers is it is not true. It's like they are better people than what we have, the our citizens. It is not true.
ACOSTA: The mayor of El Paso, a border city, begs to differ.
DEE MARGO, MAYOR, EL PASO, TEXAS: El Paso is the safest city in the United States. We have no issues on the criminal side.
ACOSTA: Two days after, the President seemed to reverse course and announced he was halting the practice of separating migrant children from parents.
TRUMP: We're going to have a lot of happy people.
ACOSTA: The White House briefing room sat empty. For the second straight day, there were no officials to explain how the children will be reunited with their families.
But there were plenty of reminders the issue isn't going away. Protesters played audio of separated children outside of the home the Homeland Security secretary.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty three hundred babies and kids. I think the American people need to hear this.
ACOSTA: As did Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu up on Capitol Hill.
As some of the children were returned to their mothers, lawmakers who have visited the detention facilities talked about the kids who are still locked up in cages, the administration is hiding from the public.
PETER WELCH, US REPRESENTATIVE, VERMONT, DEMOCRAT: What we saw was a lot of kids in cages. We weren't allowed to talk to them, but you know, the real issue here is these kids are removed from their parents. So they are bewildered and they are scared.
ACOSTA: Attorney General Jeff Sessions even tried to cover up his own comments telling Christian broadcasting that the administration didn't intend to split up migrant families.
JEFF SESSION, US ATTORNEY GENERAL: It hasn't been good and the American people don't like the idea that we are separating families. We never really intended to do that.
ACOSTA: Even though he warranted that last month.
SESSIONS: If you are smuggling a child, then we will prosecute you. And that child may be separated from you as required by law.
ACOSTA: Over on Fox News, one host said the kids coming over the border just aren't American enough.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like it or not, these aren't our kids. Show them compassion. But it is not like he's doing this to the people of Idaho or Texas.
ACOSTA: No surprise, the President is now abandoning efforts to pass immigration reform tweeting Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration until after the November elections, that's after he tweeted earlier this week, "Change the laws. Get it done."
TRUMP: They're also wanting to go through Congress. We will be going through Congress.
TRUMP: We're working on a much more comprehensive bill.
ACOSTA: Now, still the question remains whether the administration really has a plan to return all of these children to their families as one top GOP Congressional aid put it to me earlier today, "I'm not sure what the plan is."
As for the White House, the Press Secretary Sarah Sanders we should note, Wolf, has had only one briefing this week, that was on Monday. We could show you the video from that. That is the one that featured the Homeland Security secretary four days ago.
Wolf, the briefing room as it has been all day today and all day yesterday is empty this evening. There it is right now. You could see some reporters in there doing their job, but no briefings yesterday or today. No officials, no answers -- no answers to where the plan is to return these kids to their parents, Wolf.
BLITZER: Jim Acosta over at the White House. Thank you. The President's policy reversal appears to have stopped family separations at the border, at least for now. But it could take weeks to sort out the mess the former policy created.
Let's go to CNN's Paulo Sandoval, he is in Texas near the US-Mexican border for us. Polo, so what is the situation there?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, here in the south Texas City of Weslaco, we heard from Federal officials as they walked the step by step over about how these families are apprehended only eight miles south of where we are here in Weslaco.
And as we heard from officials today, Wolf, it was clear that there is still plenty of confusion about how this family reunification is actually supposed to happen.
Tonight, confusion and questions about the Trump administration's zero-tolerance policy. How and when will parents and children separated at the border be reunited?
EFREN OLIVARES, TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT: Today was the first day that we went in and among the people being criminally prosecuted for the misdemeanor of illegal entry, there were no parents.
SANDOVAL: The Department of Health and Human Services says there are 2,458 children under 13 in their care with nearly 500 five years and younger.
President Trump signed an executive order allowing families who have crossed the border illegally to be detained together, the zero- tolerance policy has been curtailed, at least for the moment.
Based on e-mails obtained by CNN, Customs and Border Protection has told its field offices to suspend referrals for prosecution for parents who cross the border illegally with their children. In a statement, Border Patrol says around 500 children have already been reunited with their parents.
Friday morning, an emotional reunion for a mother from Guatemala and her seven-year-old son who arrived at Baltimore Washington International Airport on a flight from Phoenix, six days after she sued the Trump administration for violating her rights when they took Darwin from her at an Arizona Immigrant Holding Facility in mid-May.
Many of the children separated from parents since May are in shelters and foster homes nationwide. This makes the process of reunification chaotic.
EVELYN DIAZ, HEARTLAND ALLIANCE: These children are scared when they arrive at our doors, and I can tell you that my staff are doing everything in their power to make a horrible situation less scary.
SANDOVAL: An HHS spokesperson says the children are sent to locations around the country for a variety of reasons including space, available shelter accommodations, demographics of the children and proximity to potential sponsors.
HHS does not have a publicly accessible data base to track children.
SANDOVAL: And at this Border Patrol station today, Immigration and Customs Enforcement addressed these reports that some of these children are staying behind in the United States as their parents are deported. ICE saying that ultimately, it is up to the parent to decide if they want to -- especially those parents who are in the process of deportation, if they want to be sent back with children or if those children stay behind in the care of a family member, perhaps, that certainly would place a parent in a very difficult position here, Wolf.
These parents having to do decide do they fight deportation prolonging that separation or are they repatriated with their child back south of the border.
BLITZER: Polo Sandoval on the Mexican-US border, thank you very much. Let's get more on all of this. Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland is joining us. He is a key member of the Foreign Relations Committee. So senator, what do you know about how this reunification process right now is actually working?
BEN CARDIN, US SENATOR, MARYLAND, DEMOCRAT: Wolf, we know very little because the administration has not made the facts available. But we do know is that the President created this crisis by this just cruel policy of calling a parent who is trying to protect the life of his child a criminal at a border, creating unaccompanied children who are taken away from their parents.
We don't know how many are still being separated and where they are and where their parents are. That information has not been made available and we need to get that information and get the reunifications as quickly as possible and stop this cruel policy.
BLITZER: So what is the President's executive order that he signed a couple of days ago really do?
CARDIN: It does -- it does one thing. It says that when they come to the border, they'll be kept together -- the parent and the child for up to 20 days -- but they're still going to be treated as criminal and therefore it is still very likely the child will be taken away from the parent and create an unaccompanied child here in America.
That is not what should be done. The parent should not be treated as a criminal. The prosecutor should have discretion as to whether this case warrants criminal prosecution or not. But certainly children should be kept with parents. Unless there is a reason for a separation.
BLITZER: Yes, do you think Congress needs to pass what's called standalone legislations specifically focused that would specifically address these children and ensure that they are, in fact, reunited with their parents and it doesn't happen again?
CARDIN: This policy has to end now. And the President of the United States can end it now. It doesn't have to wait for Congressional action. So, we're calling upon the President to end this policy and let children be able to stay with their parents.
That is what America is about. That is our values. Should Congress make sure this never happens again and pass some laws, fight for protection, absolutely I am for that, but let's end the practice now with the President's actions, and yes, Congress needs to work together.
There is a group of bipartisan members who are trying to figure out how we could look at a narrow bill. But don't let that be the excuse for the President delaying the reunification of children with their parents.
BLITZER: The Trump administration, Senator, says that the so-called zero-tolerance policy is still in effect. That policy as you know aims to criminally prosecute everyone caught crossing the border illegally. But Customs and Border Protection e-mails obtained by CNN show that Border Patrol right now isn't referring parents caught with children for criminal prosecution. What do you take away from that?
CARDIN: I take away that there is massive confusion right now as to what the policy is and what the facts are on the ground, we need to have transparency. We need to know where people are being held, where children are being held, what is happening when they are at the border? What is the policy of this country?
This is the United States. We need to have an understanding and we need to be compassionate with people that are at risk. If a parent is seeking asylum, then there needs to be a process in which that plea is heard in a fair manner, not but intimidation and taking your child away from you.
BLITZER: But what about legislation? Can you guys in the Senate and the House of Representatives get your act together and pass this kind of legislation -- legislation presumably the President might be ready to sign?
CARDIN: Well, I doubt that the President is ready to sign any legislation because he normally says, "Look, if you want to do this, then I want my border wall or I want changes in immigration laws," that make it very punitive on people.
The President changes the rules all of the time. I think Congress needs to be prepared to act and there are bipartisan discussions that are taking place, but once again, I underscore this, the President created this crisis, he can end it with a stroke of a pen. Let's have American policies at our border and not these cruel, harsh policies that the President has created.
BLITZER: Do you believe that the Trump administration will succeed in their legal efforts right now to detain families together, the children and the parents, for longer than 20 days?
CARDIN: Well, the 20-day restriction is for a different reason. It is for truly unaccompanied child making sure that they are in a proper placement within 20 days. What the President is doing is using that for children that he has created being unaccompanied because he's taken their parent and charged them criminally when they shouldn't have been charged. That is what created this crisis. While the courts allow the children
to stay with their parents longer, I'm sure they will as long as it's in a nonrestrictive setting. There is no reason why someone should be held in a prison-type facility when there is no risk of them -- they could be tracked through an ankle brace, there are other ways of dealing with this. But they shouldn't be locked up unless there is a reason for it.
BLITZER: This morning, the President accused your party of using what he called phony stories of sadness and grief to your favor in the upcoming mid-term elections. Let me read to you what he tweeted. "We must maintain a strong southern border. We cannot allow our country to be overrun by illegal migrants as the Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief hoping it will help them in the elections. Obama and others have the same pictures and did nothing about it." What is your response, Senator, to that?
CARDIN: Wolf, this is not a matter of politics. This is about a child being taken from his or her parents. This is cruel.
CARDIN: This scars the child for life. There is no justification. The President is using this for -- to deter people from coming to our border, using children as pawns. There should be no place for this in America, allowing children to be taken from their parents unnecessarily. That's wrong and the President should acknowledge that.
BLITZER: Senator Ben Cardin, thanks so much for joining us.
CARDIN: Thank you, Wolf.
BLITZER: Up next, new developments in the showdown between House Republicans and the Justice Department, will lawmakers get the Russia related documents they're demanding? Plus details of another possible legal setback for the indicted campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
BLIZER: The standoff between House Republicans and the Justice Department over subpoenaed documents on the Russia investigation may be coming to a head. The top lawmakers threatening contempt charges.
Let's go to our senior Congressional correspondent, Manu Raju. He has the very latest from Capitol Hill. So, Manu, where does the showdown stand right now?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now, lawmakers are telling us that they're not fully satisfied yet with the response from the Justice Department over a wide range of records that were requested by Republicans as part of two subpoenas that had been issued by the House Intelligence Committee Chairman, Devin Nunes and the House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte, a wide range of records relating to the Clinton e-mail investigation, the Russia investigation and surveillance documents involving Trump associates and Carter Page. They had asked for the Justice Department to turn over all of these
records by a deadline by this Friday. And in a closed door meeting this morning, Goodlatte, Nunes and House Oversight Chairman, Trey Gowdy all met with House Speaker Paul Ryan to discuss this issue about whether or not the Justice Department complied by this Friday deadline, but three Republican sources briefed on the matter tell us that the Justice Department has provided some documents but not all of the Republican documents.
Now, the documents the Republicans are questioned -- well then now, the big question for the Republicans going forward is whether Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General will be held in contempt of Congress, which is what these Republican lawmakers have been warning for weeks.
Unclear yet whether or not Republicans will take those steps, but it's something that is solely on the table and it is also unclear if the Justice Document will provide even more documents and the Democrats worry, Wolf, this is all a pretext to give the President some cover to fire Rod Rosenstein who of course is head of the Mueller investigation, Wolf.
BLITZER: You know, Manu, on another subject, what happened in a Federal court today with the case against the former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort?
RAJU: Well prosecutors in that case said that Bob Mueller's team are asking a judge to bar Manafort for alleging that the charges against him are politically motivated. They want to make sure that he cannot argue in court that Manafort is saying -- can't say that the charges were tied to his role in the Trump campaign and that they are not within Mueller's mandate.
That has been a key part of Paul Manafort's defense going forward. But, Wolf, you'll remember the judge in that Paul Manafort case is the same one who last month raised some concerns that the prosecutors may not be trying to convict him on bank fraud as was been alleged in that case, but instead maybe looking for -- to go after the President, possibly impeach the President, possibly prosecute the President and that is given the defense, that's given the Trump people some cover to push back and argue that this is politically motivated, but the Mueller team is trying to make the case that that is not the case and the judge -- they want to make it clear that Manafort cannot make that argument in the court case going forward, Wolf.
BLITZER: All riht Manu, thank you very much. Manu Raju up on the Capitol Hill.
Coming up, CNN gets exclusive access inside a shelter for unaccompanied immigrant minors. Plus, how President Trump's long-time personal lawyer and fixer reportedly controlled coverage of his client with one of the world's biggest tabloids.
BLITZER: Tonight, yet more uncertainty for the migrant families separated at the US-Mexico border and new questions about President Trump's so-called zero-tolerance policy for entering the country illegally.
Our experts are here with analysis on all of today's top stories. Samantha Vinograd, a lot of federal agencies are involved in this effort to reunify -- to unite these kids with their parents, Customs and Border Protection, Health and Human Services, Justice Department and the US Military is getting involved. Why is it so difficult for the Federal government to take these kids, almost 500 of whom are five or younger, and get them together with their moms and dads. It should happen within a day or two?
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: It should. But this is what happens when you wing it on policy. The administration did not do their homework. We saw this on the travel ban. We've seen this on tariffs and now, we are seeing this with these children and there is a human cost to the administration making a decision that haste was what they were out there.
There is an ironclad rule on policy making -- do your homework, identify your objective, identify the resources that you need and the assets that you need to mobilize. Now, these government agencies are playing catch-up while these children suffer.
BLITZER: Now, they clearly were not prepared. Is this the results of overloaded bureaucracy?
VINOGRAD: I don't think so, I think again, there is a process and I hate to be a stickler for details, but within the White House, you have various branches that are there to coordinate among these government agencies and to lay out a play and a strategy at the front end so that you're not doing this kind of cleanup.
BLITZER: The President says he wants to show compassion, but he tweeted this earlier in the day, Gloria. "We must maintain a strong southern border. We cannot allow our country to be overrun by illegal immigrants as the Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief hoping it will help them in the elections. Obama and others had the same pictures and did nothing about it." He says these heartbreaking stories are phony.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is ridiculous. First of all, it is a lie. They are not phony.
And anybody who sees any of these pictures can -- can testify to that. And the reason he's doing it, honestly, is a political reason. I think he's made a calculated decision here, Wolf, and the calculated decision is that he wants to motivate his base and his base is with him on immigration, like nothing else. He doesn't want to have to explain a vote on DREAMERS that say his, his support for DREAMERS, so he's back doing -- to the hardline president telling Congress, never mind, don't do anything because he doesn't want to have to sign anything that he would have trouble explaining to his base. And you know, this is clearly just a political ploy here, blaming the Democrats, saying it's all phony. But by the way, his daughter doesn't think it's phony. And so, I think it's just clearly political from him and I'm not -- honestly, I'm not surprised.
BLITZER: You know, Jeffrey Toobin, we don't know -- and this is hard to believe but we don't know whether or not the president's so-called zero-tolerance policy is actually still in effect. There's a lot of confusion going on. Shouldn't the federal government be able to clarify all of these details with precision in a sensitive moment like this.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, in the best of circumstances, issues relating to the border are among the most complicated and multi-jurisdictional in the entire American government. I mean, you have the military involved, you have the Department of Homeland Security involved and the Justice Department involved, you have the local police involved. So, even if you had a meticulously planned operation, it would be complicated to implement. Here, there was a chaotic plan even when they started taking these kids away from their parents. Now to try to undo a disaster, it's always harder to cure a disaster than to cause one. So, the situation seems to me deeply dysfunctional and with no, no solution anywhere in sight. I mean, we're talking months here, not days.
BLITZER: Yes, it's pretty heartbreaking when you think of those little kids and almost 500 of them, either five or younger, still separated from their moms and dads. Joey Jackson, the president as you know, he's ridiculed the notion of hiring more judges to adequately deal with the asylum claims at the U.S.-Mexico border. He tweeted once again today: You've to build a wall, you got hire a lot more border agents. How much of this crisis from your legal perspective comes down to a lack of federal resources in the judicial system in processing these people?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Zero. Let me be clear about that. Money is always relevant, it's always important. It has no role here whatsoever. Let me get this straight. This is not at all a money problem. It's a political and humanitarian problem. So, we have -- what are the estimates? $70 billion to build a border wall? Plenty of money for that, right? $25 billion. Let's put it in a bill and see if we can get some compromise on immigration; plenty of money for that but you don't have $200,000 to hire -- what do they cost -- an immigration judge because what judges do is they try to mete out justice, and judges would have to adjudicate claims. And goodness, the bid is they're adjudicating those asylum claims. They would leave one of the brown people infest -- those are the words the president used, right at the borders of the United States to over run the country with illegal immigration. It has nothing to do with resources and has to do with having the political will and has to do with being humane enough and has to do with solving the problem. Look at the tweet itself. He's talking about building structures and walls. Having border agents on the wall. This plays very well politically, but from any other point of view, it's just a boring -- it's a shame. What country is this any way?
TOOBIN: Well it's --
TOOBIN: I'm sorry. Go ahead, Gloria.
BORGER: On the point of whether this plays well politically, I think you're right when you're talking about the base. I mean, we've had interviews with people on CNN saying, you know, I agree with the president on this. But in key districts, if you're talking about control of the House, the suburban Republican women, this does not play well with those voters and I think he could suffer as a result.
BLITZER: Jeffrey, go ahead.
TOOBIN: Well, I just think -- you know, it is worth-noting that that notorious left-wing radical Ted Cruz proposed adding judges as part of his solution. And even that, the president rejected. So, I mean, he is really out on his own here. And as Gloria said, he's hoping that the base both approves of this story and thus turns out in sufficient numbers in the election. Look, I'm one of the many people who predicted Hillary Clinton would win last time so you I don't know what's going to happen in the midterms, but it's quite clear this is a base-driven strategy by the president.
[17:35:11] BLITZER: You know, Samantha, the president likes to frame this whole debate as one of security, border security; you've to deal with crime; these immigrants coming in illegally, they're much more likely to commit crime against U.S. citizens, the native-born Americans. But the figures don't necessarily fact that up. Let's put some numbers up on the screen. As you can see, criminal conviction rates in Texas at 2015: native born, a lot higher rate than undocumented immigrants or all immigrants, legal immigrants. What the president is alleging is not necessarily true.
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It's a lie. I mean, the numbers -- the numbers don't lie. And at fact is that illegal immigrants are much less likely to conduct a violent crime than national born Americans. What the president did today was tragedy shifting. He wanted to divert attention away from the suffering at the border, so he manipulated the tragedy that these parents suffered when their children were killed by illegal immigrants and try to shift the baseline. But the point is, Wolf, that if the president cares about saving American children, let's look at the leading causes of death among American children -- like gun violence or mass shootings. Instead, he's taking a political issue -- illegal immigration -- twisting facts to fit his narrative.
BLITZER: All right, guys, we're going to take a quick break, but there's a lot more news we're following, including new developments involving the president's long-time personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen. We've got details on that. We'll be right back.
[17:11:12] BLITZER: Now, let's get back to the panel. And Jeffrey Toobin, I want your reaction to the story in the Washington Post today. You've done a lot of reporting on this yourself, that during the presidential campaign, the National Inquirer supposedly would routinely send their reports before publication to Donald Trump's long-time personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, for approval and review. Based on all the reporting you've done on the National Enquirer, American Media, and the parent company, what's your reaction?
TOOBIN: Well, you know I read a profile of David Pecker, who was the Chief Executive of American Media, the Head of the National Enquirer for the New Yorker, and he very openly told me that he used the National Enquirer to help Donald Trump get elected. And if you look at the coverage -- all through 2015 and 2016, it was relentlessly favorable towards Donald Trump and very hostile to Hillary Clinton earlier Ted Cruz and his Republican rivals.
I did not learn that there was this actual showing of stories in advance, but as far as I could tell, there was no need. Because the pieces were so favorable that why would they need to bother? You know, Donald Trump had a long history with the National Enquirer. He was a source, he was a subject. So, this was consistent with the treatment. Now, I don't really understand what the criminal behavior is that the government is looking into here. I mean, this is shabby journalism. I don't know about crimes that may have been committed. I don't quite understand why there are subpoenas being issued but we'll see.
BLITZER: In-kind campaign contributions, Gloria?
BORGER: Yes, that was what I would think -- I'm not sure, Jeffrey, you know -- I think it would be campaign contribution. It does seem like a bit of a stretch.
TOOBIN: That seems like a legal stretch to me. But as with so much of these investigations, I suspect there's much we don't know about what's going on.
BLITZER: I think you're absolutely right. Joey, what do you think? Because if you don't report in-kind campaign contributions, that's illegal. You've got to publicly report that kind of stuff.
JACKSON: No, that's without question. And it wouldn't be the first time that prosecutors stretched in terms of attempting to build a case to do what they do, but I think it also speaks to a more significant issue and that is the role that Michael Cohen had and the relationship he had with the president. This is a person who's vetting stories, and however favorable they are, well, maybe they weren't favorable enough to be reported. And so, it speaks to just the relationship he had with the president and that's significant because what's the elephant in the room?
Will he flip? Will he tell us all? Could we put enough pressure on him to do so? And so, there's no question he's valuable to prosecutors. And then the final point of the matter obviously -- you know, in assessing it is when you look at Donald Trump and you look at Michael Cohen, and to the extent that he actually does flip and he does tell all, what that would mean to the president and what it would mean in terms of any presidential criminality. And so, I think it's important in that regard. BLITZER: You know, Sam, CNN has an exclusive new poll on American
public opinion attitudes involving the Russia investigation. Let me put it up on the screen: "Approval of how Robert Mueller is handling the Russia probe." Take a look at this. Right now, 41 percent approved of the way he's handling it. In May it was 44 percent. In March it was 48 percent. That number clearly declining.
VINOGRAD: It did. And the president's ongoing attack on the investigation certainly can't help. But the truth is, Wolf, unlike the president, I don't think that Mueller is overly concerned with what the public approval ratings are. I think that he's doing his job and even if the numbers dip, he's not obsessing over them like the president does on a daily basis. He's just going to work, and some polling interestingly show that Putin's approval -- or disapproval I should say, has actually remained constant over the past several months, which is amazing when you think about it because he's involved in so much malign activity; he's not stopping and Americans don't seem to be changing their opinions.
BLITZER: And Gloria, very quickly, we asked another question: Should the president be impeached? 51 percent say they don't feel that way. And 42 percent -- four out of ten say he should be impeached.
BORGER: Yes. Well, we clearly have a very divided country here. But if you delve into the numbers a little bit deeper, you'll see that it's completely divided along party lines. Less than 10 percent of Republicans think that he should be impeached. But more than 70 percent of Democrats think that he should be impeached. So, this is where we are as a country right now.
[17:15:40] BLITZER: Lots of interesting numbers. Guys, stick around. Coming up, CNN has an exclusive look inside of the facility housing unaccompanied immigrant children. Plus, as the federal government scrambles to react to the president's executive order, families are left to wonder how long the reunification process will take.
[17:20:39] BLITZER: New tonight, an exclusive look inside a shelter for unaccompanied immigrant minors. Brian Todd is joining us from a facility in Bristow, Virginia. Brian, I understand some of the children in this shelter were separated from their parents as a result of the president's policy. What are you learning? What are you seeing?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Some of them indeed were, Wolf, and some of them arrived here traumatized both physically and emotionally. We just came from inside this facility where staff members worked themselves almost to exhaustion in trying to turn around the fortunes of those children.
TODD: There's typically three boys to a room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three may be two. TODD: A clean, modest and comfortable room for three immigrant boys who've had a harrowing journey. 46 boys live in this 18-bedroom house -- many have to be taught some of the most basic life skills.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do it all. They know how to wash clothes, do their laundry.
TODD: This is part of a 200-plus acre campus operated by a non-profit called Youth for Tomorrow. It's in Bristow, Virginia, about 30 miles outside Washington. It was founded by a former Washington Redskins Coach Joe Gibbs in 1986 and one of its primary roles is to house unaccompanied immigrant minors. Today, it's also sheltering children separated from their parents at the border because of President Trump's zero-tolerance policy. Many arrived here in an extremely fragile emotional state.
GARY JONES, CEO, YOUTH FOR TOMORROW: They have been physically beaten. Many of the girls have been sex trafficked, and sexually abused, sexually exploited. Many of the boys have been threatened with their lives if they don't sell drugs.
TODD: CNN got exclusive access inside the facility. But due to federal law, we were not allowed to film any children or even to talk to them off camera. Officials here say that if images of the children are shown to the public, they could be targeted by gangs or human traffickers. Most of the more than 100 immigrant children here are between 10 and 17 years old. All of them are unaccompanied. But there are also some infants who are housed here with their mothers -- some of those babies were even born here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will have a crib for the baby and the mommy. And two girls -- you know, two teen girls came, then they will be able to share a room. When mommy and me comes, we just give them a room for the two of them.
TODD: CNN has reported extensively in recent days on abuses, neglect and poor conditions in detention facilities faced by many immigrant children in the current wave of migration. Officials at this group home want to show another side of that story. A place that takes pride in caring for the most vulnerable and traumatized of the recent immigrants. Virginia Senator Tim Kaine was coming out of the facility as we entered.
SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: This is a high-quality program. These are all-girls homes for domestic and immigrant children.
TODD: There are ten spacious houses on the complex. They have a library here. Well-appointed classrooms, a soccer field and a gym. The immigrant children are housed and schooled here. But are kept complete separate from American children. The American children here are troubled, many have criminal backgrounds and behavioral problems. The work here for staff members is challenging -- tough and emotionally exhausting, all channeled toward one goal.
JONES: Our goal with every immigrant child who comes here is to reunite them with family in America. So, we are parents to those children until they are reunited with someone in the family.
TODD: Now, in recent days, some advocates for immigrant children and some political leaders have said it's going to be extremely difficult to reunite separated children with their families. And some have said that some of these kids will never be reunited. But officials here say they have a 99 percent success rate in reuniting children here -- immigrant children with a family member in the United States. Wolf?
BLITZER: Brian, in talking to the staff members there, I understand you've learned that many of them have had to act almost as police detectives. What's that all about?
TODD: That's right, Wolf, it's really an incredible story. Some of the case workers here -- we have talked to several officials and case workers here. In interviewing these children when they get here, finding detailed information about how they got here, who they encountered on their way to the United States. Officials here said they have uncovered some human-trafficking rings and reported those rings to authorities. They really have acted like detectives.
BLITZER: Brian Todd on the scene for us. Thank you very much.
[17:24:59] Coming up, how does the Trump administration intend to reunite hundreds of migrant families it separated at the border? Questions are growing but tonight, the White House is silent.
BLITZER: Happening now, executive disorder. Some separated families are reunited, hundreds more remain divided and confused about President Trump's immigration policy and what will happen to them next. After claiming compassion, is Mr. Trump ignoring their plight?
[18:00:01] Forget about it. The president tells Republicans they shouldn't bother passing the immigration legislation he had been demanding, changing his position again and undermining the work of his party. Will GOP leader seek a vote anyway?