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Woman Separated from Children; Williams Penalty at U.S. Open; Trump Hunt for Op-Ed Author; Tight Race in Tennessee. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired September 10, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The only thing I have to live. The only reason I get up in the morning, I ask God, please, please, help (ph) me.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): But help hasn't come. She's not sure it ever will. Her harrowing 20 day journey from El Salvador seeking asylum has instead brought even more pain. Her oldest boy was recently reunited with his grandmother, but her youngest son, who is nine and is autistic, is still being held. Raquel doesn't know when they'll be together.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's so difficult to lie to my son and tell him, my love, I'll be with you tomorrow. Then tomorrow never comes. He tells me that he wants to go home, he doesn't want to be there anymore.

VALENCIA: HHS declined CNN's request for an interview, saying, they do not comment on specific cases. The government does say, in some instances, families aren't reunited because parents are unfit or are criminals.

According to federal court filings, hundreds of children remain separated from their parents. That's including the more than 400 parents who the Trump administration deported without their children. It appears, for most of those, the government has no idea where they are.

Lee Gelerent is the ACLU's lead attorney challenging the government in court over its immigration practices. He says the Trump administration has failed and continues to fall short.

LEE GELERENT, ATTORNEY, ACLU: The hardest part are the families that were -- the parents that were deported without their children, that's the last leg of this. That's who we're looking for now. Why is the ACLU down there in Guatemala doing a manhunt and where is the government on this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It broke from (ph) pure blows.

VALENCIA: Raquel says she fled El Salvador with her children after being brutally assaulted by the local police there. After days in U.S. custody, ICE said it received information from El Salvador that she was a documented MS-13 gang member. Raquel, who says she's done nothing wrong, eventually posted bond and was released, but without her children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ICE says that it was an (INAUDIBLE) tip, but if they would have requested official word from the government, they would have gotten the (INAUDIBLE) thing that was sent to my attorney where it says that I'm not a gang member. I'm a victim. I do not victimize.

VALENCIA: An ICE spokeswoman says Raquel's case is pending.

VALENCIA (on camera) (speaking in foreign language): Being here separated from your children, is it worth it?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Being here separated from your children, was it worth it? I don't know. What gives them the right to take away the only thing someone has. What? It's not just. This is a nightmare, not a dream.


VALENCIA: Raquel believes that the same police officers that beat her up in El Salvador are the ones who contacted the U.S. government to say that she's an MS-13 gang member.

And, John and Alisyn, you heard from Lee Gelerent there and the pleas (ph) from the ACLU. He says, in his 25 years of human rights work, this is the worst thing that he's ever seen, the zero tolerance policy. I asked him if he believes that the U.S. administration will suffer any consequences for missing these deadlines ordered from a federal judge. He says time will tell but he did say that in some cases some of these children will be permanent orphans.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, an odyssey that continues to plague so many families.

Nick Valencia, thank you very much for being with us and thank you for that report.

VALENCIA: You got it.

BERMAN: Serena Williams handed a game penalty and a $17,000 fine for protesting this umpire's calls at the U.S. Open women's final. Is there a double standard in tennis? Was she treated differently because she's a woman? We'll discuss, next.


[08:37:35] BERMAN: All right, Serena Williams, she received a $17,000 fine after three violations during the U.S. Open women's finals match where she lost to Naomi Osaka. Williams was given a warning for coaching, then a point penalty for smashing her racket in protest, and then she was penalized a game, a whole game, for saying this to the umpire.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, she -- I don't know if you could hear her, but she was saying, you're a thief, too.

This is the video that I took because I was in about the fifth row there.

BERMAN: It says courtesy of Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Alisyn -- I'm glad that they spelled my name right, number one. But, anyway, this is -- it was so -- it was such an emotional event for everybody. I mean everybody in the stands and obviously the players and just watching the pressure get, you know, sort of heated up, up, up, up to just sort of a final explosion.

So what -- what's happening here is she's arguing with tournament officials that male players get away with outbursts all the time. "Washington Post" sports columnist Sally Jenkins says chair umpire Carlos Ramos, quote, took what began as a minor infraction and turned it into one of the nastiest and most emotional controversies in the history of tennis, all because he could not take a woman speaking sharply to him.

And Sally Jenkins joins us now.

Sally, great to have you here.

What an event.


CAMEROTA: What makes you so certain that this was rooted in sexism from the chair ump?

JENKINS: Well, because I've covered many matches where male players did far, far worse with no penalty at all. I mean I covered a U.S. Open match with Andre Agassi where he called the umpire an S.O.B., used the "f" word and then spit at him and played on without penalty.

BERMAN: I will say, as a tribute to Sally Jenkins, I honestly, in the minutes after this happened, I thought to myself, I want to read what Sally Jenkins has to write about this because, again, as Sally notes, you know, you've seen all of this type of thing before.

I just want to lay out, so people are clear about a few things, and then explain to me again why it's different.

Serena Williams' coach admitted that he was coaching. He did admit after the fact that he was coaching. That is a violation. It isn't called, usually, but it does happen.

The racket. Breaking the racket. That is a clear violation, which is always given a warning. And then the third thing, calling the ump a thief. Those were the

three infractions there.

What is different in this case? Again, you told us you've seen men do worse.

JENKINS: Correct.

BERMAN: But what exactly could or should the ump have done?

[08:40:00] JENKINS: So the chair umpire has incredible latitude and discretion. Most chair umpires issue a warning. So coaching is almost never called. I think in the entire U.S. Open tournament this year, maybe it was called three times. With -- with -- you know, it's a -- it's a real minor infraction. It's something that her coach did, not the player. It clearly didn't affect the play on the court. And so most chair umpires would issue a warning and say your coach is trying to signal you, that needs to stop. Instead, he assessed her a code violation.

In the second instance, she broke her racket. He had to do something, no question about it. It's pretty cut and dry there.

The problem is that he had already assessed her the first code violation for really a terribly minor infraction. So now he's got her on the edge of the precipice. A third violation is a mandatory deduction of an entire game. She's standing on the edge of the cliff there. All she says to him is, you stole a point from me, you know, and basically he pushes her off the cliff. It was a terrible abuse of his discretion and his authority in the U.S. Open final. Nobody's ever seen anything like it really. It was unprecedented, at least in my experience. It was unprecedented in Billie Jean King's experience, in Chris Everett's experience, all the most veteran announcers and players who watched this match thought it was absolutely incredible.

CAMEROTA: And, Sally, it was so unfortunate.

JENKINS: And, by the way --


JENKINS: A number of male players have come to her defense.

BERMAN: Djokovic, after he won yesterday, said it should never have gone that far. The winner of the men's U.S. Open too. I mean --

CAMEROTA: Yes. I mean and one of the heartbreaking things about it is that for Naomi Osaka, who end -- she was playing really well. OK, Naomi Osaka was playing really well. She might have won on her own.

BERMAN: She was going to win. I think she was going to win.

CAMEROTA: I mean right -- I mean who knows what would have happened in that game that was taken away from Serena, OK, who knows? But Naomi was playing really, really well.

JENKINS: Well, the problem --

CAMEROTA: And so her victory, then, feels, you know, false, I mean, for her. It feels like -- it feels hollow.

JENKINS: Yes. Well, it marred the entire match. So we will never know. Serena Williams has come back in the second set of more grand slam finals than anyone can count. She has a tendency to use her competitive rage as a -- as a spur to herself to get back into a match. That is what appeared to be happening when the chair umpire inserted himself into things, as he did. And so the problem is that it really robbed both players of the occasion.

You know, Osaka was the better player for a set, no question about it. That's the problem with him muddying the waters here. It really was so unfortunate.

And, you know, players from Andy Roddick to James Blake to Djokovic have all said, I've done far worse on the court and never experience this type of penalty.

You know, we have a quite demonstrative series of videos on YouTube that anyone can go to. Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, all these players have used profanity, have broken rackets and never suffered this sort of penalty. So it really is, you know, very concrete here that he overstepped his authority by a lot.

BERMAN: And I will say this is also not happening in a vacuum, right, when it comes to women's tennis and a double standard in this sport. You've heard me complaining all week. What happened at the French Open with Serena Williams, what she was wearing, I think is absolutely absurd. She should wear whatever the heck she wants as long as she can hit the ball on that court. The idea that she's not allowed to wear a certain outfit is absurd. It just would never be said to male player.


BERMAN: Period. Full stop. And then the other player, during the U.S. Open, who changed her shirt when it was 7,000 degrees on the court also clearly doesn't happen to men's players.

JENKINS: I mean, look, this -- this is a fairly archaic sports, you know, in some ways. The rule book definitely needs upgrading. The sensibility needs upgrading and updating. You know, Billie Jean King has a very powerful editorial in "The Washington Post" this morning, you know, talking about how badly those things need to happen.

Women's tennis has actually come a long way in terms of equal prize money, but it's just -- it's so unfortunate that we're still at a point where a woman cannot express anger in public without being, you know -- without experiencing this sort of backlash.

CAMEROTA: Sally, very quickly, we're out of time, but Carlos Ramos, the chair ump, are we ever going to hear from him? Will he say anything about how he changed, you know, the course of history possibly here? JENKINS: No, I don't -- I don't think he'll ever comment on this. I

don't. And I don't think it would be appropriate for him to comment on this.

What I do think needs to happen is he doesn't ever need to sit in the chair for a Serena Williams' match again. That would be really a terrible situation for everyone concerned. He needs to stay off of her matches from here on in.

CAMEROTA: OK, Sally Jenkins, thanks so much for your perspective on this incredible game.

BERMAN: And congratulations to Naomi Osaka. Again, I don't want to lose sight of that.

CAMEROTA: For sure. She played really well. And it just was unfortunate how the whole thing ended.

Meanwhile, President Trump's hunt for the critic inside his administration, how far can he really go? We have a CNN "Reality Check," next.

[08:45:06] BERMAN: Plus, a (INAUDIBLE) Democrat takes on a Trump Republican for a deep red Senate seat in Tennessee. Stay with us.


BERMAN: Time now for a CNN "Reality Check."

CNN's senior political analyst John Avlon joins us.

Give us that reality.

CAMEROTA: Give us reality.


The White House has a new obsession, as you know, the hunt for the anonymous author of "The New York Times" op-ed. Combined with the Bob Woodward book "Fear," which comes out tomorrow, the one-two punch has Trump on the war path, looking for leakers and calling for new libel laws.

Check out this tweet from last week. On the same day he raised the specter of treason via Twitter and demanded that "The New York Times" unmask the anonymous author for national security reasons. On Friday in South Dakota, back at it again, he asked senators to change libel laws. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Hey, Mike and John, could you do me a favor? Create some libel laws that when people say stuff bad about you, you can sue them.

(END VIDEO CLIP) [08:50:04] AVLON: Trump also called on his attorney general to launch an internal investigation. And on Sunday's "State of the Union," Kellyanne Conway followed suit.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: There can be an investigation if there is criminal activity.


AVLON: Now, while the administration's anger may be understandable, their remedies require a reality check. First, the president's call for new libel laws against, quote, totally made up stories that are, quote, literally the exact opposite of the fact, sounds a lot like, well, the current definition of libel, which was laid out in the unanimous 1964 Supreme Court case. It requires actual malice defined as, quote, the knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not. The problem is that every -- from everything we know, the op-ed and the Woodward book are far from totally made up.

And then there's the proposed leak investigation with the possibility of criminal charges being floated. Look, every president is frustrated by leaks, but past efforts to force newspapers to divulge sources were derailed by something called the First Amendment. That's why it's significant that team Trump is suggesting national security could have been violated. And, keep in mind, there is no evidence of that. But the primary mechanism used to prosecute leakers is the 1917 Espionage Act. That's what the Nixon administration invoked in their fight to block publication of the Pentagon papers, and they got smacked down big time by the Supreme Court.

Look, dissent, including and especially leaks, is sometimes described as democracy's safety valve. And there's at least one senior member of the administration who's on record defending the free press against these kinds of inquisitions. That would be Mike Pence, who sponsored a, quote, media shield law as a member of Congress back in 2007 to protect journalists from revealing their sources. Back then Pence said, quote, it is imperative that we preserve the transparency of the American government. And the only way you can do that is by preserving a free and independent press.

Now, that stand caused the "Columbian Journalism Review" to call Pence, quote, journalism's best ally in the fight to protect anonymous sources. But where you stand is often a matter of where you sit. And just yesterday Pence called the anonymous op-ed an assault on democracy.

And that's your "Reality Check."

CAMEROTA: Very interesting historical context for us, John. Thank you so much.

AVLON: Thank you. CAMEROTA: All right, set your calendars. There's just 57 days until voters head to the polls for the midterm elections. One key Senate race is going from leaning Republican to now a toss-up. Democrat Phil Bredesen is gaining support in Tennessee and CNN's Martin Savidge has more.


MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's dove season in Tennessee, but Phil Bredesen's hunting something much more elusive in this reliably red state. He's a Democrat aiming to win the Senate seat of retiring Republican Bob Corker. And many believe Bredesen actually has a shot. The former Nashville mayor and two-term governor is a moderate who is widely known and liked.

LOGAN YARDELL, BREDESEN BACKER: MR. Bredesen has a proven track record for fighting for this state against the federal government or with the federal government.

SAVIDGE: But, Bredesen isn't the only popular politician in the state.


SAVIDGE: Donald Trump swept Tennessee, winning 61 percent of the vote and 92 of 95 counties. The last time Bredesen faced voters, he got nearly 69 percent of the vote and won every county. But that was 12 years ago and Tennessee's a lot redder.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Is popularity enough for him?

TOM INGRAM, POLITICAL CONSULTANT: No. He will have to persuade enough of the middle, undecided, undetermined voters that he will be independent of the Democratic national leadership if he goes to Washington.

SAVIDGE (voice over): Which means attacking Trump, a tactic Democrats can use elsewhere, won't work in Tennessee.

SAVIDGE (on camera): You go after the president?

PHIL BREDESEN (D), TENNESSEE SENATE CANDIDATE: No, I make a point of saying, you know, I'm not running against the president.

SAVIDGE (voice over): Bredesen may not be attacking Trump, but Trump is attacking him.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This guy will 100 percent vote against us every single time.

SAVIDGE: The president's backing Republican congressional firebrand Marcia Blackburn. She's a Trump stalwart, which conservatives like.

SAVIDGE (on camera): Is that appealing to you? Does that work for you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I'm pro-Trump. I'm all the way.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think Marsha more fits with where I am politically.

SAVIDGE (voice over): We repeatedly reached out to the Blackburn campaign for an interview. They never responded.

Blackburn's message is simple as she told Fox News, a vote for Bredesen is a vote to put Democrats in control of the Senate.

MARSHA BLACKBURN (R), TENNESSEE SENATE CANDIDATE: What they're going to do is to repeal the Trump tax cuts. They're going to push for government-run single payer health care. They are going to push to abolish ICE.

SAVIDGE: That kind of polarized politics may fire up her base, but it could turn off moderate Republicans.

INGRAM: It's a risk. I mean she's got to tell us who she is, not who Trump is.

SAVIDGE: According to campaign officials and election finance records, Bredesen's already winning support from some of Tennessee's top GOP donors. Tom Cigarran, co-owner of the Nashville Predators hockey team, and Pitt Hyde, the founder of AutoZone.

[08:55:04] SAVIDGE (on camera): Do you think there's still a place for a moderate like yourself in today's very polarized political environment?

BREDESEN: Yes, I really do. I think that people are -- that a lot of real people are just yearning for, you know, someone to find some compromises and just to stop -- stop standing on opposite sides of the room and shouting at each other and throwing bricks at each other and start to move some things forward.

SAVIDGE (voice over): Martin Savidge, CNN, Bell Buckle, Tennessee.


CAMEROTA: Well, it's nice to imagine that moderates are not extinct.

BERMAN: It -- we'll see.

CAMEROTA: Yes, we will.

BERMAN: We will see what happens on Election Day.

CAMEROTA: That's right.

BERMAN: It takes me to the Grateful Dead song, like, Tennessee, ain't no place I'd rather be, which Martin -- was going to be Martin's sign- off, but they edited it. They took it out.

CAMEROTA: Oh, I wish you would hum a few bars.

BERMAN: After.

CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks up right after this quick break.

CAMEROTA: We'll be singing.

BERMAN: This is how the song goes.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Monday morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

Right now Hurricane Florence is gaining strength and taking direct aim at the Carolinas. Forecasts predict it will be a category three or maybe even a category four storm when it hits land in just a few days. When it strikes, we're hearing that winds could be as high as 150 miles an hour. We'll get to that in a moment.

[08:59:57] Also, a smooth-running machine. President Trump insisting no chaos in the White House, says Bob Woodward's book "Fear" is hours away from hitting store shelves. This as top administration officials try to combat the bombshell "New York Times" op-ed, that anonymous one, and the shouts of it wasn't me are ringing