Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Claims Victory as Supreme Court Upholds Travel Ban; Trump's Zero-Tolerance Immigration Policy Still in Effect. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 26, 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 ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Upholding Trump's ban. The Supreme Court rules 5-4 in favor of President Trump's most recent travel ban, a decision the president is hailing as a tremendous success. Who will it impact?
[17:00:09] Not so high on the hog. President Trump attacks Harley- Davidson for planning to move some production overseas to avoid tariffs stemming from the Trump trade war. Is the company surrendering as the president claims?
Becoming state media. The conservative corporate owner of more than a hundred local television stations is ordering the news operations to air an interview with the White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. Is she speaking to all Americans or just Trump supporters?
And Putin's plan. Sources now tell CNN that President Trump and Vladimir Putin are planning on a one-on-one meeting possibly in the coming weeks. As the famously fastidious Russian president looking to exploit President Trump's penchant for going with his gut feelings?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. The U.S. Supreme Court narrowly upholding the third version of President Trump's travel ban, a key part of his campaign and one of his first actions as president a year and a half ago.
We'll talk about it with the White House principle deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, and Congressman Eric Swalwell of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. And our correspondents, specialists and analysts, they are standing by.
First, let's go straight to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, the president is clearly very pleased with the court's decision.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSES CORRESPONDENT: He certainly is, Wolf. President Trump is declaring victory after his travel ban was upheld by the Supreme Court. But the high court's decision also appears to accuse the president's past insensitive comments about Muslims, the same kind of rhetoric he's using about migrants coming across the border.
ACOSTA (voice-over): For President Trump, it was supreme vindication.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A tremendous success, a tremendous victory for the American people and for our Constitution. This is a great victory for our Constitution.
ACOSTA: In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the president's travel ban on mostly Muslim-majority countries. Writing for a conservative majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said the ban is squarely within the scope of presidential authority, but in a blistering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote, "The majority here completely sets aside the president's charged statements about Muslims as irrelevant. That holding erodes the foundational principles of religious tolerance that the court elsewhere has so emphatically protected, and it tells members of minority religions in our country that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community."
That was in reference to Mr. Trump's original call for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. from the campaign.
TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.
ACOSTA: Taking a victory lap, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who blocked Barack Obama's pick of Merrick Garland for the high court, tweeted out a photo of Mr. Trump's justice, Neil Gorsuch. The president's one-word reaction in a tweet, "Wow."
TRUMP: The ruling shows that all of the attacks from the media and the Democrat politicians are wrong. And they turned out to be very wrong. I want to thank Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his years of work to make this day very special.
ACOSTA: The president used the occasion to tout his hardline stance on migrants coming across the border, an influx the president said has prompted calls for thousands of new immigration judges, but that's false. There are no serious calls in Washington for thousands of judges.
TRUMP: They want us to choose 5,000 judges. Can you imagine the corruption? Go to the barber shop, grab somebody, make them a judge. Everybody is being made a judge.
ACOSTA: At a rally in South Carolina, the president defended his administration's practice of jailing children who cross the border with their parents.
TRUMP: And what I learned is one thing. Our facilities are cleaner, better kept and better run. That's the one thing I learned. OK? I saw them. But what we have is two extremes, and I liked it.
ACOSTA: On the same day the White House was calling for civility, the president attacked late-night talk show hosts.
TRUMP: Jimmy Fallon calls me up, and he's like, a nice guy. He's lost. He looks like a lost soul.
ACOSTA: And he mocked speculation about the first lady's more private schedule in recent weeks.
TRUMP: They said she got a face lift. No. I would let you know. They couldn't hide that one for long. Right?
They said she left me and moved to Virginia. They said she left me and -- right, moved to New York. So she moved to Virginia, she moved to New York. The only thing they wouldn't say is what happened, and that's OK. And she's private.
ACOSTA: While railing against the press, the White House is turning to conservative media like Sinclair Broadcasting for sympathetic coverage.
[17:05:03] BORIS EPSHTEYN, SINCLAIR BROADCAST GROUP: What's something the people at home don't know about you that they're not seeing when you're sparring with the media or representing the president?
SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Maybe that I'm a little nicer than sometimes --
EPSHTEYN: I think you're nice.
SANDERS: -- the media want to make me out to be. Again, I'm a pretty -- I think a happy person. I love life and I'm a lot nicer, I think, than they make me out to be in the press.
ACOSTA: Now getting back to the first lady, we should point out, in just the last several minutes, CNN has been able to report that the first lady, Melania Trump, will be heading back to an unspecified location to check on immigration facilities where some of the children are being held.
Wolf, we're told by our Kate Bennett, who spoke with Stephanie Grisham, who is a spokesperson for the first lady, that the first lady wants to continue to check on the wellbeing of those children being held in detention and that that visit is supposed to happen later on this week.
Now, the president is also voicing his frustrations today with Harley- Davidson, as you know, and their decision to move some of their production overseas as Europe is retaliating against Trump administration tariffs. The president tweeted a warning to the company, saying, if they move, watch it. It will be the beginning of the end of Harley-Davidson. After so many bikers supported Mr. Trump during the election, Wolf, it is surprising to hear him tell a big part of his base it's his way or the highway -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Very interesting, indeed. Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.
Let's bring in our justice reporter, Laura Jarrett. Laura, take us inside this travel ban decision. How were the justices -- justices divided and why?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: This entire case boils down to how broadly do you view executive power? And for five justices, the fact that the executive order on its face is neutral and it does not mention religion really took the day. And so they didn't care one bit about what President Trump said on the campaign trail.
Now of course, for other justices, the four liberal justices, particularly Sotomayor, she is deeply, deeply troubled by those statements, because for her, they really show the religious animus. But that position clearly did not win the day, and the majority said as long as it's religions [SIC] on its face and it underwent this lengthy national security review, this view is valid.
BLITZER: It was a 5-4 decision. Justice Anthony Kennedy, he's often the swing vote between the conservatives and the liberals. What was his take on this? He voted with the majority.
JARRETT: He's interesting. Obviously, he's always the swing vote to watch, but he really appeared to want to have it both way this time. And obviously, he voted with the majority to uphold the ban.
But he issued this interesting concurrence, Wolf, and he says, in part, this at the end: "An anxious world must know that our government remains committed always to the liberties, the Constitution it seeks to preserve and protect. So that freedom extends onward and lasts."
Now that's a lot of words to basically say, I think, in a thinly- veiled sentence there, I don't agree with President Trump's words, but I'm still going to uphold the order." He's obviously not trying to condemn what President Trump said on the campaign trail, but again, at the end of the day, for the legality of the order, he voted to uphold it.
BLITZER: On another story I know you're working on, a federal judge now has issued a ruling on whether or not the case against Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman, can be tossed.
JARRETT: So this was an interesting one, because you'll remember Judge Ellis out in Virginia was actually the judge that Trump praised at a rally and said that he actually was getting it right, because at the hearing it appeared that the judge was really putting the special counsel's team through the wringer, putting them through their paces, asking about exactly how they were proceeding in this case and whether it was abiding by the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein's, mandate and whether it was going too far.
But at the end of the day in this one, the judge said, "No, the case will proceed forward to July, and I caution the government to be careful how you're using your authority here." But the case is on. It's going in July.
BLITZER: Moving forward. All right. Thanks very much, Laura Jarrett, for that report.
Let's get some more on all of this. The White House principle deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, is joining us.
Raj, thanks very much for joining us.
RAJ SHAH, PRINCIPLE WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Hey, Wolf. Thanks a lot for having me on.
BLITZER: All right. A very important day. The president, as you know, he celebrated today's decision by the Supreme Court, but just last summer, as you well remember, he tweeted this on June 5, 2017. "The Justice Department should have stayed with the original travel ban, not the watered-down, politically-correct version they submitted to the Supreme Court."
Does the president still believe that the travel ban as it currently stands, the version 3.0, is a watered-down, politically-correct version of his preferred policy.
SHAH: Well, I haven't asked him that, but let me step back when we talk about the travel order and the news coverage surrounding this issue to lay out some facts and lay out some history.
The president in early 2017 issued an order stopping travel from a series of countries that the previous administration and the previous Congress had identified as compromised by terrorism, and as a result the citizens -- we could not ensure that they were not a security threat.
[17:10:03] He then issued a global review, administered by the Department of Homeland Security, in conjunction with the State Department, that asks every single country in the world, irrespective of any factor, to provide a basic minimum standard. This is the first global minimum standard for travel based on security that has existed in U.S. history.
And it basically asks a few minimum standards. That tell us who your citizens are and tell us some basic information about them if they want to travel to the United States. A few countries that weren't in compliance were able to raise their standards to get into compliance. And basically, you have now a series of countries, a small list of countries, who are either unable or unwilling to meet that minimum standard --
BLITZER: All right --
SHAH: And for those countries -- hang on, Wolf. I think it's important for your viewers to understand this. That for those countries, they're not permitted, because they can't meet a minimum standard that several other countries have raised to meet so their citizens can come to the United States.
The point here is that the president's order, through early last year and the amended version has raised global security standards; and it's made it safe to come to the United States -- BLITZER: But --
SHAH: People will know -- our government now knows who these individuals are and has a working relationship with the government that they're coming from.
BLITZER: But in his own words, Raj -- and I understand what you're saying, in his own words he says he preferred that original travel ban, which as you know was struck down because it explicitly targeted Muslim-majority countries without sufficient national security --
SHAH: And let me just step back --
BLITZER: Let me just -- let me just -- let me just ask the question.
SHAH: OK, go ahead.
BLITZER: Does he still support -- because he -- even though he had to change in order to get it approved by the U.S. Supreme Court, and the State Department and the Justice Department, does he still support the original version of the travel ban?
SHAH: Well, again, I haven't asked him that. But the amended version that was -- sort of the 2.0, if you will, an activist court in the Ninth Circuit struck down and passed a preliminary injunction against the first order.
And then there was a second order that was a little bit more narrowly tailored. We did that in order to actually implement the president's executive order and comply with some of the court's concerns.
So whether or not -- I haven't asked him specifically on whether or not he preferred the first -- obviously, he signed that one into law, so I'm sure he would.
I think the point here is that the differences between the two are rather on the margins. The overall point here is that, in the interest of protecting America's national security and the interest of ensuring safe travel globally, the president has the authority and the right within the Constitution to raise minimum standards that every country must abide by.
I think this is good for global security not just for the United States, but now these countries have the ability -- the infrastructure and the policies internally -- to raise their standards when they deal with all of our allies.
BLITZER: I understand what you're saying. But let me just remind you and our our viewers what he said as a candidate on December 7, 2015. He said, "Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what is going on."
Does the president still support banning all Muslims from the United States? SHAH: Of course not. He actually implemented a policy, when he talks
about raising security standards for travel to the United States based on the global review the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of State engaged in.
They set the minimum standard. They set the barometer. And the countries that we've identified, as part of the president's proclamation from late last year, are those that didn't meet the minimum standard. It's based on security requirements. It's based on a minimal standard and allows our government to feel confident that we know who these individuals coming into our country are.
BLITZER: When did the president change his mind about banning all Muslims from the United States?
SHAH: Again, it was obviously before the signing of the original travel proclamation in late January of 2017.
BLITZER: Rudy Giuliani, who's now the president's personal attorney, said last year that the president essentially wanted to use the travel ban as a pretext for banning Muslims from coming to the United States. Listen to what Giuliani said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: Tell you the whole history of it. So when he first announced it, he said Muslim ban. He called me up. He said, "Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: So -- so is that no longer the president's goal?
SHAH: Well, look, there are dozens of Muslim majority countries, I believe nearly 40 or maybe more than 40, or countries like India, per se, with over 200 million Muslims that can travel freely to the United States if they apply for -- if their citizens apply for a visa. If that were the goal, this proclamation wouldn't be the way to get there.
The president's order and the subsequent proclamation has a global standard based on security requirements that he wants other governments to engage in, and every single government except for the seven identified -- and by the way, I would stress that countries like Venezuela and North Korea that are not Muslim-majority countries are on that list.
[17:15:10] So it's about security. It's about minimum standards for security, and it's keeping this country safer.
BLITZER: The travel ban, as it currently stands, the 3.0 version, the third version which the U.S. Supreme Court said was constitutional today in that 5-4 ruling, if you go back and take a closer look, it would have not prevented any of the major terror attacks on American soil since 9/11, September 11, 2001. And you can see the 9/11 attack, Fort Hood, Boston Marathon, San Bernardino, the Pulse nightclub, the Halloween car attack. You know, you can see all of that.
So how does this policy, this 3.0 version with these seven countries, make America safer?
SHAH: Well first off, let me say this is -- I guess if you want to count the numbers, it's 2.0. The first version, which was -- had an injunction placed on it from the Ninth Circuit was then separated -- or rather put in place with a second version. Replaced with a second version. That -- that order ordered the global review that I'm referencing and then led to the results of the proclamation issued last year. So I wouldn't call it 3.0. I'd say this is the subsequent results of the global review that the president ordered.
And how it keeps us safe is pretty simple. It applies a minimum standard to all individuals trying to come to the United States from a foreign country. It goes to that government. The State Department interacted with government by government and said, "How can you -- what are you guys doing internally to meet these standards so we know who is coming into the country so you, as a government, can tell us basic information?"
Knowing who is coming into the country, having some verification and trust in the government that is sponsoring their ability to come to this country, is important for us to understand and track individuals that come into the United States.
I know you mentioned that stat, and I'm sure -- I'm sure it's correct. But I think it's intuitively -- it makes sense that knowing who is coming into our country and having the ability to identify these individuals is imperative to national security.
BLITZER: The president has said that the ban was supposed to remain in place until the Department of Homeland Security figures out some sort of system to vet people from these specific countries. As you know, it's now been almost 18 months since the original version, since President Trump first signed that executive order. Isn't that enough time to put a vetting system in place?
SHAH: So I think -- I think what we need -- what we need to understand is there was an initial order. There was an injunction. There was a second order that ordered this global review and now is applying these minimum standards across the board to every single government.
There's going to be a process for vetting visa applicants who want to -- who want either permanent residence or want to stay here for more extended periods of time. But the basic global standard for visa applications for individuals who want to come to the United States has been set by DHS in conjunction with State and now is being applied globally in every single embassy across the world.
So we have already set in place minimum standards that are keeping this country safer, because the government can identify people trying to come into this country.
BLITZER: Now that the Supreme Court has ruled in the president's favor, do you expect him to add other countries to the list?
SHAH: No. I think our standard is objective. It's based on security. We're going to monitor the performance of countries around the world and ensure that they can meet this minimum standard.
The goal is for the countries -- some of them are failed states. Some of them are governments that are hostile to the United States and are unwilling or unable to do this.
But, you know, the goal is to have every country eventually meet these standards so we can know who they are issuing visas to or who we would like to issue visas to, to come to the United States.
So this is security driven. It's based on minimal standards. Those who are on the list, if they maintain their policies and are able to tell us who is coming in here and meeting these minimal standards, should continue to allow their citizens to come to the United States.
BLITZER: Let's turn to immigration. The president's so-called zero- tolerance policy, which calls for detaining everyone suspected of crossing the border illegally, is that still in effect as you and I speak right now?
SHAH: Well, the president's enforcement posture to the Department of Justice obviously has been amended to some extent by the president's executive order from last week. The goal here is to enforce the law to the extent possible without separating families. We're doing that within the administrative constraints that we are given.
But to really do that, we need an act of Congress. We need to be given the legal tools and the resources necessary. Right now agents at the southern border are facing resource constraints because in certain areas there aren't beds and there aren't facilities to hold families together. And they're facing legal constraints by the Flores consent decree that we've talked about extensively from a few years ago that only allows you to hold individuals either -- minors or people -- parents with minors for up to 20 days.
So those legal constraints and administrative constraints that are placed on us are, you know, leaving folks hanging. So our goal is zero tolerance without --
BLITZER: But -- but --
[17:20:09] SHAH: Hang on. Without separating families. But in practical effect, agencies are dealing with that as best as they can.
BLITZER: But Raj, right now the zero-tolerance policy, according to Customs and Border Protection, the commissioner, is no longer in effect. They issued an order calling for the temporary suspension of referrals for prosecutions.
So from what you're saying, what the commissioner has said, that zero- tolerance policy is no longer in effect.
SHAH: What I'm saying is that our enforcement posture is to enforce the law to the extent possible without separating families. The Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Health and Human Services Department, they're all dealing with both the legal and administrative constraints that we have, with that goal in mind.
But there are obviously some constraints, as I outlined. What we really want to do is have a policy in which we can keep families together and responsibly but swiftly detain and then eventually deport them to their country of origin. Do that safely, do that in a -- you know, in a reasonable amount of time. Rather than a policy of catch and release, which is de facto the result of some of the constraints that we have on us.
BLITZER: Very quickly, do you know where all of those 2,000 or so kids who were separated from their parents are right now? And what's taking so long to reunite them with their parents?
SHAH: Well, the secretary of Homeland -- sorry, the secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azar, testified earlier today that their systems can locate every single child, which is a great thing.
What we have right now is a situation in which, for a variety of reasons, we have to vet these individuals. Some of them are not necessarily the parents of these children. We've actually had cases in the previous administration in which people were then handed a -- children were then given to the custody of a -- of an adult who was not actually their parent.
So we have to vet these individuals. Some of them are engaged in law enforcement proceedings for crimes that go beyond just crossing the border illegally.
So this is a complex situation and the Department of Health and Human Services, along with DOJ and other agencies, is working them out. But our goal is to fully reunite as many families as possible as quickly as possible.
BLITZER: Because you understand why a lot of people are worried --
SHAH: Of course.
BLITZER: -- it's taking so long to get these kids back to their moms and dads.
Raj Shah, I know you've got to run. Thanks very much for joining us.
SHAH: Thanks a lot, Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Let's get some more. Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California is joining us. He's a member of both the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. Congressman, did the United States Supreme Court make the right call today?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: No, Wolf, they didn't. This is the United States of America. Our president is calling for a ban on Muslims entering our country, and our country was conceived around the idea of religious freedom. And so I think this issue certainly is one that needed precision to make sure we have security as refugees come to our country and, like many policies the president is bringing a wrecking ball --
BLITZER: Well, let me give you the arguments that the administration is making. Most Muslim-majority countries are not part of this ban. Indonesia, the largest Muslim country, not part; Saudi Arabia, not part. Egypt, with 90 million people, not part of this ban. There are five Muslim-majority countries included, two non-Muslim-majority countries included.
SWALWELL: Well, I will go to the president's own words as a candidate. That he wanted a total and complete ban on Muslims --
BLITZER: You heard Raj Shah just say that he's changed his mind since then.
SWALWELL: Well, I think we should take the president at his word. Typically, the first time he says it, because that tends to be where he takes us.
But again, Wolf, we could continue to vet individuals as they come from countries that have been listed as supporting terrorism. We don't have a problem with that. But when we start to abandon our values of inclusiveness and religious freedom, I think he's taking us to a --
BLITZER: You say there's a Muslim ban. What evidence is there that there's a Muslim ban? Because most of the Muslim-majority countries are not included in this travel ban.
SWALWELL: Well, this list can grow now, as the Supreme Court will now allow. And so the president, again, his intent when he first said it was to have a total and --
BLITZER: But he said that as a candidate. It was December of 2015. As a candidate, as you know, a lot of presidential candidates say stuff, and then they never follow through. They don't implement their campaign promises.
SWALWELL: I actually think this president, if you want to know what he's going to do tomorrow, go back and look at what he said as a candidate. Because when it comes to the wall, when it comes to some of these policies of separating families, he talked a lot about this as a candidate. So I wouldn't be surprised at all to see him expand it.
I think our job in Congress is to not be helpless. We can push the big red button to stop that wrecking ball and to tell the president we're only going to appropriate funds if do you this in a responsible, non-discriminatory way.
BLITZER: Well, you're in the minority, though. The Republicans are the majority in the House --
SWALWELL: We have to change that. BLITZER: -- and in the Senate. So it's very unlikely that
legislation is going to be passed that the president, in turn, would sign into law that is going to do anything along those lines.
SWALWELL: Yes, that's right, Wolf, and we have to change that. I think the American people want us to work with the president where he's workable but, again, to push that big red button and stop him where he's being so destructive.
BLITZER: You also heard Raj Shah say that, for practical purposes, and the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection, that the zero- tolerance policy is not being implemented right now for a variety of reasons. Are you happy about that?
[17:25:12] SWALWELL: Well, yes. But I think the only reason it's not being implemented is because Americans were hurt. They were outraged by the images of mothers being separated from their babies. They called the members of Congress. They called on the president, and that's what moved him. It wasn't the right thing to do that moved him.
And so I think we have to make sure we continue to engage on this issue and reunite these families as soon as possible, but make sure that we also do not set up permanent detention camps across America, as I believe the administration would like to do.
BLITZER: Is there going to be stand-alone legislation in the House of Representatives that you, as a Democrat, could support that would end this notion of separating children from their parents if the parents illegally entered the United States?
SWALWELL: Well, I know that ranking member Gerry Nadler has put forward a "keep families together" bill that would do just that. I could support that. Most of my colleagues could support that.
I think, Wolf, the president's best day in office was when he convened Republicans and Democrats. He said, "You guys pass an immigration bill. I'll take the heat."
They went to work on it. Two days later senators Durbin and Graham brought him an idea. And then he dismissed it, and he said that immigrants come from -- you know, the language that he used to describe those countries, and we've never been able to make progress on that. There is consensus among Democrats, if we're invited to the table and if this president is willing to be serious.
BLITZER: Is there no opportunity right now to work out a deal with the House Republicans, the majority, for additional spending for border protection, including for a wall, in exchange for some of these things that you want, including guaranteeing a pathway to citizenship for a million or two million so-called DREAMers?
SWALWELL: Absolutely there are opportunities for that. And there was the Will Hurd/Pete Aguilar bill on DREAMers that actually put into motion the Republicans bringing these votes up. But again they didn't bring us to the table. Their bill would reduce
the number of DREAMers eligible. It would make folks have to leave the United States and then wait to come back to work. And I don't think it's practical, Wolf.
But I do believe that we can get this right if we, you know, are as collaborative as the American people want us to be.
BLITZER: We certainly want you to be collaborative. These are serious issues, and it's so pain -- heartbreaking to see those kids separated --
SWALWELL: No one wants that.
BLITZER: -- from their parents. No one wants that.
Congressman Swalwell --
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
BLITZER: -- thanks so much for joining us.
There is more breaking news. Coming up, President Trump praises the victory of his latest travel ban which he once called -- and I'm quoting him now -- watered-down and politically-correct. So what changed?
Plus, new details of a possible Trump-Putin summit and why some fear the Russian president could exploit his American counterpart. Stay with us.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Our breaking news, President Trump is hailing today's Supreme Court 5-4 ruling upholding his administration's travel ban, calling it a tremendous victory.
[17:32:20] Let's get the insights of our political and legal experts.
Jeffrey Toobin, break down the majority opinion for us. Why did the court ultimately decide to uphold this travel ban?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Because Chief Justice John Roberts saw this case as about the powers of presidency, not this president in particular. He said, "Let's just look at the order itself. Does it say anything about Muslims?" No. "Does it refer only to Muslim countries?" No. North Korea and Venezuela are also mentioned.
So he said this was about whether presidents can control immigration policy and -- and visa structures. This is something that is uniquely within the power of the presidency. So, because there was nothing in the order itself that indicated any sort of religious discrimination, that was enough for the majority. The dissenters, of course, saw it very differently. BLITZER: They certainly did. And Sabrina Siddiqui, Justice
Sotomayor, in her dissent, she says, "A reasonable observer would conclude that the proclamation was motivated by anti-Muslim animus."
And a statement from the Council on American-Islamic Relations says, quote, "The Muslim ban's bigotry should have been as clear to the Supreme Court as it is to the Muslims demonized by it. Apparently, everyone but the Supreme Court could see the decision for what it is, an expression of animosity."
And the majority five, they disagreed with that. The minority agreed with that, basically, saying there was a history of animus.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, "THE GUARDIAN": Absolutely. And anyone who looks at the president's statement would glean that this was perhaps intended to limit Muslim immigration. He himself has suggested that he would be more explicit if it weren't for political correctness.
I do think that, by the time the administration crafted a third version of the executive order, they tinkered with the language just enough so that it would pass legal muster. And the Supreme Court was willing to show deference on what they claim is national security, even though the Department of Homeland Security in its own internal data did not find travelers from the banned countries to have been involved in terrorism-related activities.
The question now is what next? And a lot of the groups I spoke with who were involved in challenging the travel ban said they are actually already prepping the next legal front. They're not going to be able to overturn, of course, a Supreme Court decision. But they're going to go after the visa waiver process.
So people who are exempt from the travel ban to visit a close relative, to seek urgent medical treatment, who have business ties, they're still not being admitted to the United States. And so the administration is, in some way, violating its own policy. And I think that's where they're going to try and focus their efforts to try and chip away at elements of the travel ban.
BLITZER: As soon as the decision, Jackie Kucinich, was reached, the president wasted no time. He tweeted this: "SUPREME COURT UPHOLDS TRUMP TRAVEL BAN," all in caps, and then he says, "Wow."
[17:35:11] He wasn't as enthusiastic about his own 3.0 travel ban last summer when he tweeted, "The Justice Department should have stayed with the original travel ban, not the watered-down, politically- correct version they submitted to the Supreme Court."
JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, you ask -- you asked Raj Shah this question, and there's a reason he didn't answer it. Because a win is a win for President Trump. That's all he wants. He wins a "W" next to his name. That's simple. He's not -- he's not a details guy. I'm sure if you press him about what the details of this plan were, especially with the differences between the two -- the 2.0 and the 3.0 are, he wouldn't be able to tell you. All that matters is the "W." And the headline saying, "Donald Trump got a win."
BLITZER: You know, Bianna Golodryga, the unprecedented effort by the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to block President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, is clearly paying off a lot of dividends for the Republicans right now.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, in an era where tweets speak louder than words, you saw the tweet from Mitch McConnell's office where he was shaking hands with Neil Gorsuch.
And this is what a lot of Trump supporters who say that they disagreed with his language, with his bluster, with a lot of his actions, they were willing to swallow all of that, because they knew how significant this nomination, a Supreme Court nomination would be, to have a Republican president. And obviously, this was orchestrated by Mitch McConnell.
And it's also interesting, if you think back to just a few months ago, when there was speculation and suggestion that the president was disappointed in Neil Gorsuch and thought that he wasn't being conservative enough and ruling in favor of a lot of his policies in his earlier rulings this year. So wow, how things have changed, but you do see how the president can evolve, as well.
You haven't seen a tweet from the president in terms of Mitch McConnell, necessarily thanking him. But many would speculate that he should be thanking him, because this, of course, originated with Mitch McConnell.
BLITZER: You know, and Jeffrey, Justice Kennedy, who's often the swing vote between the liberals and the conservatives, he voted with the majority. But he issued a very interesting concurrent. Let me read a portion of that to you.
Quote, "There are numerous instances in which the statements and actions of government officials are not subject to judicial scrutiny or intervention. That does not mean those officials are free to disregard the Constitution and the rights it proclaims and protects. The oath that all officials take to adhere to the Constitution is not confined to those spheres in which the judiciary can correct or even comment upon what those officials say or do."
That sounds like some veiled criticism of the president.
TOOBIN: I don't think there's any way to interpret that except as veiled criticism of the president. And the context, of course, is very important.
Anthony Kennedy is 81 years old. He was appointed by a Republican president. He's been a loyal Republican, though he has voted against the traditional Republican position in certain areas.
And the question is tomorrow, which is the last day of the term, will Justice Kennedy announce his retirement? That comment in the -- in the concurring opinion today suggests some discomfort with Donald Trump. Perhaps it's a message that "You don't get my precious seat on the Supreme Court, at least not yet." We'll know tomorrow.
Now there's no requirement that Supreme Court justices announce their retirement on the last day of the term. It's a custom, but just because there's no announcement tomorrow doesn't necessarily mean Anthony Kennedy won't retire. But it would be a good hint. We should know a lot more after 10 tomorrow morning than we know now about his plans.
BLITZER: He clearly -- he would be concerned that this president, President Trump, would nominate someone who's more conservative than he is, and that would, you know, clearly bolster the conservative branch of the U.S. Supreme Court.
TOOBIN: Well, that's true. Although if you look at Kennedy's voting record it is, by and large, conservative. There are certain very important exceptions to that. He is, of course, the most outspoken supporter of gay rights on the Supreme Court. He has voted to uphold Roe v. Wade, the abortion rights decision. He has supported affirmative action in certain circumstances. So in those respects he departs from the Republican orthodoxy.
But in this case, he's the author of Citizens United. He voted majority in the Bush v. Gore. He voted with the majority in today's decision about abortion.
So it would be a net gain for the conservative movement if he retired from the court. There is no question. And he knows that. And we -- we'll see how he acts in light of that.
BLITZER: Where do you see all of this heading, Sabrina?
[17:40:02] SIDDIQUI: Well, I think that, if President Trump were to get another Supreme Court nominee, it would actually tee up a fairly interesting battle, potentially, within the Democratic Party, especially if they retake control of the Senate in November, because there's a lot of pressure on Democrats to give any Trump nominee what we now call the Merrick Garland treatment.
KUCINICH: Merrick Garland.
SIDDIQUI: Do not give a Trump nominee a hearing or a vote, as Republicans did, of course, with Obama's nominee. There are differing opinions on that. I think some Democrats believe they should at least go through the process. But especially as we are in a midterm election year, they're going to face a lot of pressure from progressives not to confirm another Supreme Court justice under this president.
KUCINICH: And --
TOOBIN: If -- if the Democrats retake the Senate, and they confirm a Donald Trump nominee to the Supreme Court, they ought to just close down the Democratic Party and give up. I mean, it would be the most pathetic admission of weakness and defeat. If they -- but I think it's unlikely they're going to retake the Senate.
But the idea of a Democratic Senate giving another seat to Donald Trump when Mitch McConnell stole one from Barack Obama is simply inconceivable to me.
KUCINICH: But if this happens, if he decides -- if Kennedy steps down before the midterms, this is going to give the Republican base yet another reason, other than immigration, to come out and vote. And you can bet that Republicans are going to make sure that happens.
BLITZER: Go ahead, Bianna.
GOLODRYGA: And it will also be interesting. Obviously, the president has not been speaking as much about the travel ban while the Supreme Court was deliberating. Now that they've actually ruled, it will be interesting to see, leading up to the midterms, if the president will now be speaking out about this more aggressively and more along the lines that he had been before he was elected and even the few months after.
BLITZER: Yes. All good points. Very important day here in Washington.
Also today, 17 states and the District of Columbia sued the federal government over the separation of parents and children who illegally cross the border. This afternoon, the New York governor, Andrew Cuomo, told me the states want information on the children's whereabouts in order to help them.
Let's go to our national correspondent Miguel Marquez. He's near the border in McAllen, Texas. Still a lot of confusion about what's going on, Miguel?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there is confusion to go around. Here's one fact that is not confusing at all: 2,047 children remain separated from their parents under the president's zero-tolerance policy. It is still not clear, though, if, when or how they will be reunited.
MARQUEZ (voice-over): Protests against the president's zero-tolerance immigration policy, this time targeting Attorney General Jeff Sessions in Los Angeles.
MARQUEZ: Protests despite Customs and Border Protection saying it will end criminal prosecution of parents traveling with underage children, at least for now. But as many as 2,000 children remain separated from their parents with no indication of when or how they'll be reunited.
"I heard my son sobbing," says Miriam from Guatemala. "It hurt me to hear him crying." Miriam only wanted her first name used. Her 5- year-old son was taken from her in the middle of the night. She is in El Paso. Her son is now in New York. She has no idea when she'll see him again.
"Who is better than a mother or father to take care of their children?" she says. "Please, return them to us."
In New York, MSNBC obtained video of a very young girl named Jessica from inside of a children's facility in Harlem, shot by a former employee.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (SPEAKING SPANISH)
GRAPHIC: Employee: You want to speak to your dad?
MARQUEZ: On a separate audiotape, children are told not to speak to the media, saying it could affect their case.
CNN has asked New York's Cayuga Center about the video. There's been no response.
JODI GOODWIN, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: We have one policy on Monday and then a different policy on Wednesday. And we're still trying to sort of understand what's the policy going to be.
MARQUEZ: Jodi Goodwin has practiced immigration law for over a decade in the Rio Grande Valley. She now represents 150 separated families and says only five of them know where their kids are.
GOODWIN: Things are being looked at sort of on case-by-case basis. There is -- there is not a coordinated, unmasked plan to be able to reunite the parents.
MARQUEZ: Mario's daughter turned ten this week. The asylum seeker from Honduras promised her she would not be taken away. She was.
"They gave us a number to communicate with our children," he said. "I've dialed, but there's no answer. I'm just broken, because I don't know anything about my daughter since they took her."
MARQUEZ: Now the Texas Civil Rights Project that helps people here, immigrants with legal help, says that they have confirmed now that an individual from Guatemala who was picked up here in the U.S. on the 27th, he was deported on June 6th. His son was taken away from him.
He is now in Guatemala. His son is still in custody in the U.S. It is not clear when or how they will be reunited. It is just one small example of the absolute confusion that this policy has prompted, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, heartbreaking situation continuing.
Miguel Marquez, thank you very much.
Coming up, experts are warning of possible dangers if President Trump tries to wing it during a potential get-together with the Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
And later, a Russian pop star's new video spoofs the President, his daughter, Ivanka, and even Stormy Daniels.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
EMIN AGALAROV, SINGER: I don't want to wake up. Not knowing where you sleep tonight. The things that you told me. Made it so hard --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:50:35] BLITZER: A spokesman for the Kremlin today confirmed the U.S. national security adviser John Bolton will be in Moscow this week. The visit is expected to include discussions about a potential meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
CNN's Brian Todd has been checking in with experts.
What do they see happening if the two leaders, Brian, eventually, next month, let's say, get together?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, they envision Vladimir Putin coming in loaded with information about President Trump and ready to leverage that information. We're told by a U.S. official that a Trump-Putin meeting could take place next month in Helsinki, Finland.
Tonight, experts have some advice for the President -- ditch your style of winging it at these summits and be prepared to face off against a man who is a spy at heart and will try to take advantage of you.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, the former KGB colonel and the Kremlin could be doing some important intelligence gathering on his American counterpart.
Diplomatic sources tell CNN President Trump and Vladimir Putin are planning a crucial one-on-one meeting. That it could happen in the coming weeks, sometime around the NATO summit in mid-July.
It's got analysts concerned, knowing that Trump's style is to go into these meetings winging it. The President even bragged about that before his summit with Kim Jong-un.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't think I have to prepare very much. It's about attitude. It's about willingness to get things done.
TODD (voice-over): Putin, by contrast, according to one former intelligence official, will go into this meeting meticulously prepared.
JEFFREY EDMONDS, GLOBAL FELLOW, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: Obviously, he is a very good operator in and of himself, but he has -- his staff will have done a deep psychological analysis of Trump and will be looking for ways to either take advantage of his ego or other things he's trying to do.
Really play up that idea that, you know, Putin and Trump can do things together. They can make things happen. They can seal a deal.
TODD (voice-over): While Trump's style of going with his gut has won him praise for establishing a personal dialogue with difficult to crack leaders like Putin and Kim, experts are worried that Putin might persuade an unprepared Trump to give up concessions that aren't in America's interests.
WILLIAM POMERANZ, DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF THE KENNAN INSTITUTE, WOODROW WILSON INTERNATIONAL CENTER FOR SCHOLARS: I think there's a possibility that he could give implicit recognition to the Assad regime, something that the United States has opposed for several years.
I think there's also a possibility that he could, indirectly, force Ukraine to make concessions.
TODD (voice-over): Putin is a master at playing mind games during these meetings, from his own imposing body language to making his counterpart cringe.
In 2007, knowing German Chancellor Angela Merkel was terrified of dogs, Putin brought his huge black Labrador, Koni, into the room. Putin smirked. Merkel put on a brave face.
ANNETTE HEUSER, MEMBER OF THE BOARD OF DIRECTORS, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: She did not blink because she understands the Russian mindset. She knows that the Russians and, in this case, Vladimir Putin wanted to play Russian chess with her, which means the person who blinks the first has lost.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, a key question, is there a Trump weakness that Putin might look to exploit?
EDMONDS: He might actually play to the fear that Trump may have of looking stupid or not being powerful and really kind of, you know, mention like, you know, if we don't come out with an agreement here, we're both going to look weaker.
TODD: And given what just happened at the G7 Summit in Canada where President Trump angrily broke away from his allies to go and meet with Kim Jong-un, European officials are reportedly concerned that President Trump might do the same thing at the NATO summit. That he'll be more interested in a meeting with Vladimir Putin than he will be with them.
And analysts say Putin could very well exploit that to drive a deeper wedge between the U.S. and its European allies, Wolf.
BLITZER: And, Brian, there was a really ominous remark from the NATO Secretary General recently, indicating that Putin is getting what he wants, a split between the U.S. and Europe. Is that right? TODD: That's right, Wolf. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg
said, in recent days, quote, it is not written in stone that the transatlantic bond will survive forever.
Our own military and diplomatic analyst, Admiral John Kirby, called that remark stunning. Admiral Kirby said it reflects President Trump's abandonment of America's ties with Europe. And analysts are telling us that is just what Vladimir Putin wants.
BLITZER: Yes, good point. All right, Brian, thank you very much.
There's more breaking news. President Trump claims victory as the U.S. Supreme Court upholds his travel ban. Will that influence his thinking on the immigration crisis along the southern border?
[17:54:53] Plus, the Russian pop star who helped arrange the controversial Trump Tower meeting is out with a new music video that appears to be trolling the President.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AGALAROV: Made it so hard to read your mind. Wish you at least could be honest. I wish that you told me the truth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Divided court. In a five to four decision, the U.S. Supreme Court upholds the President's travel ban. Is it vindication for Mr. Trump or a partisan ruling as his critics claim?
[18:00:00] Ruling against Manafort. A federal judge refuses to dismiss criminal charges against the President's former campaign chairman, rejecting Paul Manafort's claim that Robert Mueller overstepped his authority.