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Trump and Putin to meet this summer. TRANSCRIPT: 6/20/2018. The Last Word.

Guests: Peter Schey

Show: THE LAST WORD WITH LAWRENCE O`DONNELL Date: June 20, 2018 Guest: Peter Schey


And I was fascinated by the statements that you read earlier in your hour from American Airlines and United Airlines about they do not want to participate in way moving these children out of the areas and moving them around the country. I flew down to Brownsville using American Airlines and so, naturally, we wouldn`t be really seeing anything going on there.

But I came out of there this morning on United Airlines, that`s basically the only two ways in and out. And we were looking on that plane for exactly that possibility. We didn`t see any kids on that plane that looked like they weren`t related to and very much a part of the families that they appeared to be with on that plane. Actually, very few children at all.

RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST, "TRMS": Yes. But what you were doing there on that plane is something that Americans are doing all over the country as we start to learn through all sorts of different means about where they put these kids. This surreptitious program essentially to hide these kids all over the country, it`s local media, local whistle blowers, local anonymous sources talking to local media in many cases, and local public officials sort of narcing out the Trump administration as to where these kids are being hidden. And it`s all over the country. It`s even here in New York City.

O`DONNELL: Yes, and there`s no flight out of that area. If you fly out of Brownsville, you`re going to have to stop in Dallas, or you`re going to have to stop in Houston. You`re going to have to change planes. So, some of these kids who made it up to New York City, Michigan. They have changed planes at least once, in the case of Michigan possibly twice to get up there.

And so, it`s something you can be on the lookout for anywhere in the country.

MADDOW: Yes, and you can expect I think local activism and protests and mobilizations and efforts to get legal aid and resources to those kids wherever Americans can find them. We know that these kids have been farmed out to at least 17 states.

And so, Americans all over the country are now trying to figure out, are they in my town? Are they in my state? And if so, how do I help?

O`DONNELL: And, Rachel, one thing before you go, I just want to let you know, we have an attorney on the show tonight, Peter Schey, who`s actually one of the attorneys involved in the Flores case, which is now become the most famous case we`re all concentrating on in the last 24 hours. This Flores case, a civil lawsuit that has basically controlled now for years the rules of handling children in custody like this, and the lawyers in that case, on the plaintiff side of that case, have unique papers.

Peter Schey has told me they are authorized to enter and examine any of these detention facilities anywhere in the country at any time. They are the only people who can do this. And that is news to me. And I think he`s going to bring some real news to this discussion tonight.

MADDOW: Wow! That`s -- I`ve never heard that at all. That`s -- that`s what we call whoa if true. That`s a big deal.

O`DONNELL: They have a set of leverage points that they can bring to this issue in court and they do bring on an ongoing basis. It`s very much an alive lawsuit that is constantly being -- entertaining motions and changing the nature of the rules.

MADDOW: Well, if that lawsuit basically precludes the Trump administration from doing what the Trump administration said they were going to do as of today, this new policy that`s in effect because of the executive order literally can`t happen because of that court order. If that court order also means we can have a window, we can visibility into the places they`re stuffing these kids all over the country, that`s going to change everything.

O`DONNELL: Well, Peter Schey has been studying the court order. We`re going to get his reading of it this hour.

MADDOW: Well done, my friend. Thank you.

O`DONNELL: Thank you, Rachel.

MADDOW: Thanks, Lawrence.

O`DONNELL: Well, President Trump got the headlines he`s been fearing tonight. "The Chicago Sun-Times" says, Trump caves, using kids as pawns triggered crisis of his own making.

"Trump caves" is the headline that Donald Trump fears politically more than any other. The Trump false image is that he never backs down, but the truth of his career and business is the opposite. Donald Trump has always publicly claimed for example that he never gives up and never settles lawsuits then he very publicly gave up and settled a fraud lawsuit for $25 million. That was $25 million for defrauding the student victims of Trump University.

And, of course, most famously as president, the very first thing Donald Trump did, first thing, was to back down on Mexico paying for the wall. And after Donald Trump backed down and gave up on Mexico paying for a wall on the southern border, the president was captured in a transcript of a phone call to the Mexican president begging the Mexican president to please stop saying that Mexico would not pay for the wall.

And, of course, President Trump begged the Mexican president to stop saying it because that hurt Donald Trump`s image of never backing down. President Trump backed down on having Mexico pay for the wall, completely backed down on it. And that`s why the president is now begging Congress and the American taxpayer to pay for the wall and Congress is refusing to pay for the wall.

President Trump started jailing babies and toddlers and children of all ages in April and he did it without legislation from Congress. He did it without an executive order. He just did it through a memo issued by the attorney general to federal prosecutors on our southwest border states entitled "zero tolerance".

And that memo to prosecutors was a change in the policy of how these children were handled. It was a change in the way the Trump administration was handling these children right up through March of this year. The president to do that just needed to tell Jeff Sessions, to tell his prosecutors to do that.

And now, all the president would have to do is tell his prosecutors to stop doing that, to stop prosecuting every family who crosses the border without the proper documentation. And but today, the president issued an executive order, an executive order that helps none of the 2,300 children and babies who are in federal custody tonight because of the Trump zero tolerance policy.

The executive order seems to indicate that the Trump administration will continue to pursue a zero tolerance policy, and instead of separating children from their parents when they are arrested, the government will, quote, to the extent permitted by law and subject to the availability of appropriations, maintain custody of alien families during the pendency of any criminal improper entry.

So the big change in the executive order is that children who enter the country with their parents will be allowed to go to jail with their parents instead of going to jail alone.

So, the question tonight is, what has really changed and what is going to change because of this executive order?

As I told Rachel, we will be joined by Peter Schey. He`s one of the lawyers in the Flores case, which is the federal lawsuit that sets the rules for and continues to control the rules for the handling of children in these cases.

The executive order tells the attorney general to, quote, promptly file a request with the U.S. district court for the central district of California to modify the settlement agreement in Flores versus Sessions. When Jeff Sessions files that request, he will meet Peter Schey in court.

And in a moment, attorney Peter Schey will tell us how he will respond in court to the attorney general and to President Trump.

But, first, joining us now from McAllen, Texas, are MSNBC correspondent Jacob Soboroff and MSNBC`s Chris Hayes.

Chris, you`ve been spending a couple days down there now. The story has changed but the question is how much has it changed? What does this executive order do?

CHRIS HAYES, MSNBC HOST, "ALL IN": That`s the question. The folks we`ve spoken to down here, particularly the advocates who are working with this population, people at RAICES and the Texas Center for Civil Rights, the public defenders` office, those are the lawyers that are in contact as this process sort of rolls through, are -- don`t know what tomorrow brings and what Friday and Monday will bring.

Tomorrow, there will be people in federal court who have had their children separated because they`re being processed a day late. But there`s a real question -- just an open question to everyone down here which is, come Friday morning, when those 75 people for the morning session in federal court in McAllen come in and they have their sort of intake interview with the public defender and the public defender says, have you been separated from their child, and everyone says no, or people still say yes.

And also, whether they`re still separated from their kids to go to the courthouse and be charged, whether it`s going to be a short period of time, two or three days, and then they`re going to be reunified. All of that is utterly an open question.

And I guarantee you, it is not just an open question to me, to the American people, to the public defenders and the advocates here. It`s probably an open question right now if I had to bet, inside CBP, inside these facilities, inside the federal facilities that are tasked with carrying this out. If I had to bet, I would imagine that they don`t know the answer to that either.

O`DONNELL: Jacob Soboroff, that`s what we`re getting in quotes to the media in Washington is that the people in the relevant agencies don`t really have the answer to what happens next, especially the question of what happens to the 2,300 children who are already in custody.

JACOB SOBOROFF, MSNBC CORRESPONDENT: And in that regard, Lawrence, there`s nothing new about that. DHS and HHS didn`t seem to be talking to each other before President Trump signed that executive order. The secretary of homeland security stood up on that podium and said she didn`t know where the girls and the toddlers were just a couple days ago, and they`re still not talking to each other.

Earlier tonight, HHS told me, an official at HHS, had told me that as far as finding out where these 2,300, 2,500 kids are and whether or not they were going to be grandfathered into that executive order, we have to go over and ask to DHS. It was going to be up to DHS, and only a matter of maybe an hour later, we get a statement on the record from a spokesperson, Brian Marriott (ph), at HHS, which basically took that back and said, you know, honestly, we can`t give you any answer.

So, what we told you before were actually, maybe that wasn`t quite so true. The ball is not necessarily in DHS`s court. And now, again more questions and answers, we still, Lawrence, don`t know where the girls are and don`t know where the toddlers are.

O`DONNELL: And, Chris Hayes, we have reports from inside the White House indicating that John Kelly and White House counsel McGahn were arguing against an executive order in this case that the president was only going to complicate things by issuing this executive order.

The president was out there tonight in his rally crowd where he seemed to have as usual the full enthusiastic support of his rally crowd and they seemed to be greeting him as if he had accomplished something. What`s your reading politically of where this stands tonight for the president?

HAYES: You know, I think that one of the things we`ve seen happen before. I remember it happened with the travel ban where it was a complete disaster and then it got enjoined in multiple federal courts. And there were stories, Steve Bannon wanted this to happen, this was all part of the plan.

I`m a little skeptical of that. I mean, if they were so proud of this policy, they wouldn`t have lied and hidden it. They wouldn`t have come out and said we have no child separation policy, what are you talking about? They wouldn`t have come out and said, no, no, it`s not us. It has to be Congress.

It`s the law, it`s Flores. It`s this. It`s that.

They spent weeks and weeks hiding the ball, obfuscating, acting like they were taking the candy bar out of the store. And today, they acted like they were caught. I mean, that`s really what happened here. I mean, they got caught today.

So, the idea that they`re spinning it that this was all part of their like master, you know, three moves ahead political strategy because they like to be talking about immigration, I just don`t buy it all. I think -- here`s what I think, I think they didn`t think anyone would care about little children from El Salvador and Honduras and Guatemala being taken from their parents. I think they thought no one would care. And they were wrong, people did care. And today, they were caught.

It doesn`t mean they`re going to change it. It doesn`t mean the policy stops. I mean, all of that really remains unclear. But in terms of the politics, like they got dealt a loss today. I think that is clear and unambiguous.

O`DONNELL: And, Chris, one thing they probably didn`t anticipate, the president didn`t anticipate, is Republican senators, a group of them, including Orrin Hatch and -- led by Orrin Hatch would take the president out of this.

I want to read a tweet that Orrin Hatch put out saying: Tender age shelters is a chilling phrase. We will not soon forget. The child separation policy should be halted now.

And that was before the president took his action today. And, of course, the concept of tender age is apparently an old legal concept that refers to children of very young ages. And in the current usage of it by the Department of Homeland Security, they -- and HHS, they apparently mean children age 4 and under, and that`s who they are referring to in the report that we got last night, that was news last night about what they`re doing with the children age 4 and under.

HAYES: You know, there`s this -- the language from Orrin Hatch there is interesting to me. Orrin Hatch is someone who said the president has the potential or could be the greatest president we ever had. He has like basically every Republican, including Jeff Flake, basically moved lock step with him from a policy perspective.

There`s been a question all along about what the binding constraints on this presidency are and whether the institutions of American civil society and rule of law will hold in the face of someone who manifestly has no care for them sitting in the Oval Office, that being the president. And in the past, what has constrained him has been politics, the Obamacare fight, when John McCain gave him the thumbs down, and largely the courts. I mean, the DACA order was held up in the courts, and enjoined, travel ban 1.0 and 2.0, held up in the courts, 3.0 before the Supreme Court, we should get a ruling soon.

What this to me was a different thing. It was civil society essentially. I mean, it was kind of the moral conscious of the nation rising up and saying, no, this is a line that cannot be crossed. The binding constraint on what our government does is here. It is tearing a 12-month-old baby from a mother and throwing them into, quote, a tender age shelter.

And I think it`s really the first time that has happened, honestly, in the Trump administration. They`ve had setbacks. They`ve been constrained in ways, but it was either sort of politically in Congress, John McCain and the ACA fight or the courts.

This was something more than that. This was really a sort of victory of the conscious of civil society in the face of the Trump administration.

O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now by phone from California is Peter Schey. He`s the president of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law.

Peter, thank very much for joining us tonight.

And you are also in the center of the story. You are part of this executive order, even though you`re not mentioned by name because the president`s executive order does specifically cite the Flores case, which has been controlling the rules of how the federal government treats children in custody in cases like this.

What is your interpretation of the president`s executive order?

PETER SCHEY, CENTER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND CONSTITUTIONAL LAW (via telephone): Well, I think, firstly, that the president says that Congress needs to act in this 1997 Flores settlement that we reached with the federal government dealing -- requiring the humane treatment of immigrant children in the federal custody and it`s a very detailed settlement. But it requires the humane treatment of immigrant children in federal custody and it also requires (INAUDIBLE) to release from custody unless, of course, they are a flight risk or they`re a danger to themselves or others, or they`re detained with a mother or father and the mother or father does not wish the child -- wants to keep the child with them in custody. That`s really the bottom line of the Flores settlement.

However, the president really for several months has been identifying the failures of Congress and the Flores settlement for the children and parents coming into the United States. He talks about a catch and release policy that doesn`t even exist. And I think in his executive order today, he states that this Flores case puts the administration in the position -- this is a quote from his order -- in a position of separating alien families to effectively enforce the law.

This is completely false. I mean, it`s completely untrue. Neither Congress nor the Flores settlement agreement have ever required the separation of children from their parents. And this agreement has been in effect for 21 years, several administrations.

No administration has ever interpreted this agreement. No court has ever interpreted this agreement to require the separation of parents from their children. So --

O`DONNELL: Peter Schey, can I ask you your reaction to one NYU law professor tonight has called this an unqualified retreat for the president. Do you see it that way?

SCHEY: You know, I think it`s a qualified retreat. I wouldn`t say that it`s an unqualified retreat. I got it all from the Department of Justice today telling me pursuant to the instructions of the president, they intend to be in court to possibly as soon as tomorrow, in our case, in order to request that the judge modify the agreement.

And according to the conversation with the Department of Justice they want to not only request, in essence, that parents can be detained with their children, which is kind of ridiculous because nothing in the settlement precludes that in the first place. But they also told me something that`s not in the executive order. That they`re also under instructions to try to modify the settlement which currently says that any facility where minors are detained must be a licensed facility. And they want that part of the settlement stricken or modified so they can start detaining parents with children in military-type facilities or other types of facilities that are not in any way licensed to ensure the safety and the well-being of children.

So, I think it is a retreat. I think it is a major retreat. But on the other hand, he simply cannot accept responsibility for a catastrophic and irrational decision to separate children in the first place.

And instead he blames Congress, where they have no blame. He blames the settlement when the settlement has no blame. And even if he does retreat, there are several thousand children right now in this country separated from their parents with no effective plan by this administration how to reunite those children with their parents.

O`DONNELL: Peter Schey, let me just underline the news you`re making here tonight in your report on your conversation with the Justice Department.

You`re saying that the Justice Department, when it goes into court, where it will face you and the other side on the Flores case to modify it, one of the modifications they want is that they will be able to put children in unlicensed facilities, and you indicated that those unlicensed facilities could be on military bases, which links up to one portion of the executive order. The homeland security secretary, of course, is mentioned in the executive order, but surprisingly, the secretary of defense is the other cabinet member, along with the attorney general, mentioned in this executive order.

And in that part of the executive order, it says, the secretary of defense shall take all legally available measures to provide, upon request, any existing facilities available for the housing and care of alien families and shall construct such facilities if necessary and consistent with law. And your indications from the Justice Department is one of the reasons they want to be able to use military facilities for these children is that they can then escape the state and local licensing procedures that they might otherwise have to deal with.

SCHEY: Exactly. Under the Flores settlement, it not only calls for the humane treatment of children and treatment that takes into account their unique vulnerabilities as children, it also very clearly says in some detail that if you are going to detain children beyond the short period of time that they`re in border control custody early on after being apprehended, they have to be detained in a facility that is licensed, which basically means, in so many words, that the staff at that facility, the people that are running that facility, that they have training and they have guidelines that deal with the safety and the well-being and the psychological well-being and the health of the children being held in that facility.

And what the call to me from the Justice Department indicated today is that when they go into court, and they told me it could be as soon as tomorrow, that one of the things they would like to have reversed or vacated from the Flores agreement is that requirement that children be held in licensed facilities. That could obviously have a very, very detrimental affect on the well being, the health and safety of these children, whether they`re detained with or without their parents.

O`DONNELL: Peter Schey, could you stay with us across a commercial break because there are a couple more points I`d like to cover with you if you have time to stay with us.

SCHEY: Certainly, yes.

O`DONNELL: OK, great.

And Chris Hayes and Jacob Soboroff in Texas again tonight, thank you both for being there covering the story close up as you`ve been doing it. I really appreciate and thanks for joining us tonight

And Sunday night, Jacob Soboroff will be doing an hour on the border on "Dateline" Sunday at 7:00 p.m. Eastern on NBC.

When we come back, Republicans in Congress are now scrambling to react to this Trumpian chaos. John Heilemann, Ron Klain will join us on Washington`s reaction.

And we`ll hear more from Peter Schey about his unique legal authority to enter and examine any facility holding children in custody in these cases anywhere in the country. And we`ll hear more from what he expects from the Justice Department in litigation possibly starting as early as tomorrow.

We`ll be right back.


O`DONNELL: Here`s what President Trump told his supporters tonight in Minnesota about his executive order.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I signed an executive order, we`re going to keep families together but the border is going to be just as tough as it`s been. We`re going to make it great for Americans and we`re going to take care of people. We do want people coming across our border going through our ports of entry, but we want people to come in through merit, not just through luck or happenstance.


O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion now, John Heilemann, national affairs analyst for NBC News and MSNBC. He`s also a co-host and executive producer of Showtime`s "The Circus", and Ron Klain, former chief of staff to Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore, and a former senior aide to President Obama.

And back with us by phone is Peter Schey. He`s the president of the Center for Human Rights and Constitutional Law. And Peter Schey is the lawyer handling the Flores case, which is the case that controls the rules for handling children in federal custody in these kinds of matters.

And, Peter Schey, just quickly, the reason I wanted you to stick around is I wanted you to explain more about your legal authority to enter and examine the conditions in any one of these facilities anywhere in the country at any time.

How did you obtain that authority, and how do you use it?

SCHEY: We obtained that authority when we first entered into this nationwide settlement after many years of litigation, the case going to the Court of Appeals, the case went to the United States Supreme Court, and when it came back down, we eventually entered into a nationwide settlement.

That settlement, of course, set conditions, children had to be held in humane conditions and children had been to be eligible, there`s a presumption of release. Now, it`s a fairly complicated settlement. It`s much more detailed than what I had just explained.

But it was important to us that we had the ability to effectively monitor the terms of that settlement. We did not trust future administrations, and luckily, so because this administration is not to be trusted at all when it comes to complying with the settlement.

O`DONNELL: Peter, on that point, can I ask you, do you have people in Texas examining the facilities that are at issue tonight?

SCHEY: We do. We have the power, under the terms of the settlement -- or I should say the authority of the settlement to interview any class member detained anywhere in the United States. And any class member means any minor, whether accompanied or unaccompanied, who is in the custody of the federal government.

So, yes, we commenced these visits. We have the power to inspect the facilities and we have the power to interview minors who are detained in these facilities. We have about 100 lawyers right now, volunteer and pro bono lawyers, started about a week ago, and we`ll continue for the next two weeks conducting interviews with class members in detention facilities in California, in Arizona, in Texas, in Pennsylvania that will go on for about the next two weeks.

So, yes, we`re doing this. We`re serious about monitoring. And so, this mechanism, we can learn what is otherwise hidden to anybody other than in a inner circle of this administration.

O`DONNELL: Peter Schey, thank you very much for joining us tonight with that important news and the breaking news of how you expect to handle this new legal confrontation with the Justice Department that could begin as early as tomorrow. Thank you very much for joining us, Peter Schey. Really appreciate it.

And, John Heilemann, Washington has now seen the president go in reverse. It`s something we`ve seen actually many times before, starting with the who`s going to build the wall? Mexico is going to build the wall. In fact, we are here. We are here because Mexico did not pay for the wall. And so the President decided it was time to take some hostages to see if he could get the American people and the Congress to pay for the wall.

JOHN HEILEMANN, EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, THE CIRCUS: Yes. It turned out that in this the hostage taking backfired. And I think you know to the point you were talking on the phone with Chris before, I do think that part of the thing here is that you both sides of this argument are right.

The President wants this fight, but also thinks he could get away with it without a lot of people noticing it, right. He thought the right people would notice it and that everybody else wouldn`t pay attention. And so, you know, he is fed by the political wisdom, the genius of a guy like Stephen Miller who can go to the "New York Times" and say this is a 90/10 issue. And if we define it the right way, border security versus open borders, if we define it that way, 90 percent of the American people are with us. As if people don`t understand that`s not what this issue is about and that baby jails is not the same thing as secure borders.

The President I think, is in that bubble. He listens to people like Stephen Miller and he comes to the conclusions that somehow he can some get away with this kind of vileness and not pay the political price and will also get the credit for it from the people he wants to get the credit from who like this kind of toughness. It turns out there are cameras everywhere in America and you can`t do that targeting politics anymore in quite the President though he could.

O`DONNELL: And as Rachel pointed out in the previous hour, there are people working inside this system who want the story out and are telling the story in ways that they can.

Ron Klain, I want to read you some of Nancy Pelosi statement. She said, the President Trump`s executive order seeks to replace one form of child abuse with another. Instead of protecting traumatized children, the President has directed his attorney general to pave the way for the long term incarceration of families in prison like conditions.

And Ron, we just learned from Peter Shey (ph) that the justice department called him and told him they want to do that by going into court as early as tomorrow to try to get a modification in the Flores case, which is a case you know dating all the way back to attorney general Janet Reno when the case was first brought.

RON KLAIN, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE TO BIDEN AND AL GORE: Yes, Lawrence. I mean, today was not the end of this fight. It wasn`t even the beginning of the end. It was the end of the beginning.

I mean, there are number of fronts on which this will proceed with red hot political intensity. First of all, our country made 2,000 orphans in the past few weeks and those orphans are not just ineffectively separated their parents. They are probably perpetually separated from their parents and that is going to be a tragedy and story that will be followed up.

And then there`s the question of what the President`s order purports to do. Which is as you said, it`s supposed to save the tragedy of locking up children separately from their parents and replaces it with the tragedy of locking up children with their parents for an indefinite period of time. That`s the new move here. Which is Trump`s proposal that he would keep all these people locked up for the full pendency of their criminal proceedings. That could be months, that could be years that these people would be locked up. And that`s an ongoing controversy that I think is going to dog him.

O`DONNELL: And John, the President tonight with his rally crowd chanting about paying for the wall. And they were all chanting build the wall. No issue about Mexico paying for it anymore. And the President, of course, saying he started to build the wall, and he cited the $1.5 billion that has been appropriated to repair and replace already existing structures, especially near San Diego. No new wall building whatsoever.

HEILEMANN: The President is -- his political instincts on this in winning the Republican nomination were ugly, but unerringly accurate and on point. In the broader American electorate his instincts are horrible. And he has got to end up having to climb down from the wall because Mexico is not going to pay for it. It`s not going to get built. These pledges legislatures are not going to happen.

And on top of that, the reality that you are alluding to earlier just come back to your first question which is feeds in your second question. The reality is, you know, I was about here last night with Mike Murphy. And we were talking about this, and again to go back to the Stephen Miller thing, where they were on this policy was going to put 100 Republican seats in jeopardy. The reason he has to climb in, and he has backed down from various things before, this was different. As you pointed out, the Republican senators were writing to him, people were freaking out across the party not because they care about what we care about, which is some version of Japanese internment brought to Hispanics crossing the border but over the fact that this was going to be a detachment of killing field with suburban women voters where Republicans need to hold if they have any prayer of holding the house. His instincts are terrible on this and he is learning that now. He is going to learn it more between now and November.

O`DONNELL: John Heilemann, thank you very much for joining our discussion.

When we comeback, last night on this program, the head of the immigration and customs enforcement warned us that babies and children who have already been separated from their parents under the Trump policy might never ever be reunited. What will happen to those children now? That`s next.


O`DONNELL: So what happens now to the 2,342 children who we know have been scattered around the country in secret detention centers after being separated from their parents? Some of them might never see their parents again according to our next guest, the former acting director of the department of immigration and customs enforcement during the Obama administration.

Joining us now is John Sandweg.

John, 2,342 is the number as of June 9th. It`s been going up by dozens a day, so it`s a few hundred or maybe several hundred more, close to 3,000 by now. With your expertise, what happens to them?

JOHN SANDWEG, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, ICE: Well, the children are obviously taken away from their parents. So they are going to be placed in foster care facilities or with a relative. That places can be done by health and human services.

The parents, of course, are going to stay in immigration detention. I think really that is the idea behind all this. It is the Trump administration knows that if you detain an adult parent they will get an expedited hearing before an immigration judge which means they are likely to be deported more quickly.

The problem is that the opposite is true for the children. So these children are in foster care around the United States but their case move slowly. Moreover, at some point, state courts get involved and get appointed guardians of these children. And because this is a legal fact, because the parent is in detention, the state court decides the parent abandoned their child. It consent (ph) their parental rights. So that is the dilemma.

I was hopeful that Trump was going to reunite the parents quickly. Very disappointed to hear that that might not be the case.

O`DONNELL: John, there is an awful lot of government involved here. You have multiple departments of the federal government involved. You also have multiple departments of state government involved and some local government involved. Everybody knows what it`s like if you lose your license plate and you go to the DMV trying to get that replaced. What is it like if you are trying to find your child? What is it like if you`re a 4-year-old trying to find your mother somewhere in this world when you are stock in this system?

SANDWEG: Good luck. It sad to say that because look, this is not a function that any agency that have done before, right. We never permanently separated families. We always kept families together for this very reason. You take that and then you add to the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that there was any planning done, any interagency planning done prior to the implementation of this policy. And it is a recipe for disaster.

O`DONNELL: John Sandweg, your expertise is in valuable to us on this. Appreciate you coming on the show again tonight. Thank you very much.

When we come back, President Trump`s long-time personal lawyer and so- called fixer, Michael Cohen, of all people has turned against the President on putting immigrant children in jail.


O`DONNELL: The President`s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, whose home and office and hotel room was raided by the FBI turned against the President of the United States today.

Michael Cohen said, as the son of a Polish holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart wrenching. While I strongly support measures that will secure our borders, children should never been used as bargaining chips.

That was in a letter Michael Cohen sent to the Republican Party resigning his position as deputy finance chair to the Republican Party. So getting caught arranging payoffs to keep porn stars quiet for presidential candidate was not enough for the Republican Party to fire Michael Cohen from that position. Having his home office and hotel room raided by the FBI was not enough to the Republican Party to fire Michael Cohen from that position. Apparently, the Republican Party would have left him in that position forever.

So why did Michael Cohen finally quit his high-ranking position in the Republican Party today? Was it on the advice of his new criminal defense lawyer, Guy Petrillo, amid reports that Michael Cohen is considering cooperating with prosecutors in the southern district of New York. The office where Guy Petrillo worked for years as a federal prosecutor.

"The Wall Street Journal" is reporting a new legal complication for Michael Cohen tonight involving another payment to a woman who said she had a yearlong sexual love affair with Donald Trump. "The Wall Street Journal" reports that federal investigators are looking into Michael Cohen. Have subpoenaed the publisher of the "National Inquirer" for records related to its $150,000 payment to a former playboy model for the rights to her story alleging an affair with Donald Trump.

According to the general investigators are probing any potential efforts by Mr. Cohen to suppress damaging information about Mr. Trump during the Presidential campaign including whether he coordinated with American media to pay with Karen McDougal and then not publish her account.

Donny Deutsch knows has been a friend of Donald Trump and Michael Cohen. Here`s what he told Ari Melber today.


DONNY DEUTSCH, FORMER HOST OF NBC NEWS: It`s a fantasy to think anything that Donald Trump did that Michael Cohen didn`t know about. And this is me speaking but if I were Donald Trump I`d be very worried right now. Very worried.

ARI MELBER, MSNBC HOST: You sound like someone who knows something.

DEUTSCH: I`m a very analytical kind of guy, you know. Everything I know about the universe and everything I believe about humanity, and I would be surprised if Michael Cohen doesn`t end up a very pivotal character in history.


O`DONNELL: So for children born today will Michael Cohen be the answer to an AP U.S. history question when they are taking the SATs?

When we come back, Ron Klain and Maya Wiley will analyze that question.


O`DONNELL: Here is more of Donny Deutsche talking about his friend Michael Cohen, the man who he expects is going to take a very important place in U.S. history.


DEUTSCH: Saying as if he`s been working for any President. That at the end of the day, Michael is going to have to do what`s best for his family, of course, certainly. He does not have any loyalist on the other side of the equation.

MELBER: Do you think today he understands that more than previously?

DEUTSCH: I think every day he has understood it more and more.


O`DONNELL: Joining our discussion, Maya Wiley, a former assistant U.S. district attorney in the southern district of New York and former counsel to the mayor of New York City, and back with us Ron Klain.

And Maya, the expectation now of Michael Cohen cooperating with federal prosecutors gets higher and higher. And Donny Deutsch who knows him well, is fuelling it.

MAYA WILEY, FORMER COUNCIL TO NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: It`s hard to imagine -- I wasn`t born today, but it is hard to imagine him not cooperating, quite frankly. Remember that Michael Cohen is someone who was already very unusual for there to be the kind of search warrants that we saw on his residences, his offices and hotel because he is an attorney and because he had been an attorney for a sitting President. Nonetheless, though, searches happened. They happened because there was a lot of indication that he may have been, obviously, that he may have been involved in criminal activity. He is looking at bank fraud, wire fraud. Obviously there are questions about election criminal election violations. If he is not doing something to protect himself, then essentially all he is going is falling on his sword. Why would he do that?

O`DONNELL: Ron Klain, John Dean has a large role in U.S. history if you zoom in on the early 1970s in the Watergate scandal. It sounds like Donny Deutsche is saying Michael Cohen could be the John Dean of this era.

KLAIN: Well, I do think he will be the answer to questions in American history tests. But I think the question is going to be name the only Trump lawyer more incompetent than Rudy Giuliani. And I think Michael Cohen is going to be answering the question.

Look. What you are seeing playing out, Lawrence, is an incredible public negotiation between two people who don`t know what they are going, Donald Trump and Michael Cohen. Today, Michael Cohen both hired a new lawyer signaling a desire to cooperate with the prosecutor. And kind of publicly put out a call for Donald Trump to pay his legal fees. But both those things can`t happen.

And you add to that this ridiculous spectacle of Michael Cohen speaking out against the internment of children at the border as he resigns his seat from the RNC, a seat that previously held by Elliot Brody, who paid off someone he insult (ph) with and then Steve Wynn who was guilty of sexual harassment before that. The moral of -- great moral authority of that position seeing Michael Cohen speak out, I mean. This is an effort from the bargain with Trump, and Trump, really, I think just all he can say back is like too goof ball. I mean, I don`t know really know where this is headed.

O`DONNELL: And Maya, Rudy Giuliani, Trump`s TV lawyer is now admitting that he was interviewed by FBI agents. He says they interviewed him in his hotel room at the Trump hotel in Washington D.C. asking about his comments during the Presidential campaign indicating that a big surprise was coming and that was right before the Russian hack of the DNC.

WILEY: Well, that`s right. And remember, Rudy Giuliani can`t hold himself out as an attorney and ask for attorney/client privilege during that time because he was simply a campaign supporter not acting as an attorney representing Donald Trump. So that makes sense.

I actually think Ron is actually completely right, and Giuliani falls in the category of someone who has not shockingly given his history, not behaved as someone with a strong understanding of the law which is rather surprising.

O`DONNELL: And it wasn`t specified whether Rudy Giuliani was interviewed for the inspector general`s report and he is not mentioned in the inspector general`s report as someone they interviewed. And they seem to mention everyone they interviewed or whether he was being questioned in the Robert Mueller investigation.

WILEY: Right. And actually, which everyone he was questioned in, Robert Mueller can still use it even if he didn`t question him. So it does -- it is interesting what he may have said. We don`t have any indication that Rudy Giuliani had any direct information about what was transpiring during the campaign on that front. We know that Roger Stone was already making those statements publicly. Right? About what would be forthcoming.

So I think the real question here is there is a lot of keystone cops here. And that we know that Michael Cohen has always been a big question mark in terms of whether he would flip, and if he flips, how he connects Donald Trump potentially to a whole range of potential crimes.

O`DONNELL: Maya Wiley and Ron Klain, thank you both for joining us tonight. Really appreciate it.

Tonight`s LAST WORD is next.


O`DONNELL: We are out of time. That is tonight`s LAST WORD.