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134 Million People Banned from the U.S.; Lawsuit Filed After Refugees Detained at Airport; Tech Companies Criticize Trump's Refugee Ban; Twitter Co-Founder: "We Benefit From Diversity"; Soon: Trump To Talk With Vladimir Putin; Trump Talks Military And Trade With Japan's Prime Minister. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired January 28, 2017 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:27] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
All right. The power of the pen already affecting people in the U.S. and around the world just hours after President Trump signed a controversial executive order suspending refugees and many Middle Eastern nationals from entering the U.S. We're now seeing real-life consequences.
At JFK Airport in New York, two Iraqis who had been granted visas are being detained after arriving in New York last night. One, a U.S. government employee. Another visiting his wife and child. They have now collectively filed a lawsuit saying their detention is illegal.
In Cairo, Egypt some passengers with airline tickets for the U.S. turned away at the gate. An airport official telling CNN, quote, "This is a new era we are witnessing," end quote.
Tech giant, Google, has issued emergency policy changes for some of their international employees telling them to cancel travel abroad even if it affects urgent business.
Trump suspended the entry of more than 134 million from seven Middle Eastern countries mostly, some in Africa, for at least 90 days. Refugees from Syria will be blocked from entering the U.S. indefinitely and the entire U.S. refugee program is suspended for four months.
Refugee families are pleading with President Trump, urging him to remember the people affected by the policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE ((Through Translator): We send a message to President Trump as a helpless people who want to stay away from terrorism and war, away from all these problems. We want to live in peace. We do not want to go to the United States to carry out terrorist operations. We are against terrorism. Our religion Islam is a religion of peace, not a religion of terrorism or killing. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (Through Translator): President Trump is talking
to us from his ivory tower. He is a privileged man who has lived a life of privilege. He has not seen our suffering. They do not know what happened to us in Syria and outside of Syria. Do you think that we are comfortable being refugees? Not at all. Some days we wish we were back under the shelling rather than suffering like this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. CNN's Rachel Crane joining us now.
So, Rachel, we mentioned a lawsuit that has already been filed. We understand there's at least one other that will be filed on Monday. What can you tell us about what has already been filed?
RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the lawsuit that has been filed on behalf of those two Iraqi men who are being detained at JFK could represent the first legal battle against Donald Trump's controversial executive order. Now -- on immigration obviously.
Now yesterday -- I'm sorry, today these men have been detained for up to now 14 hours at this point. One of them was -- both of them actually were legally allowed to enter the U.S. before that executive order. One of them was granted a special immigrant visa. Now that's the type of visa that is granted to people that work with U.S. Armed Forces as an interpreter, translator, physicians. The other Iraqi gentlemen was granted refugee status. Just a couple of days ago, his family also granted refugee status, had been in the U.S. for about two years at this point.
Now we spoke to one of the lawyers working on this case. He said that they tried to access their clients. They spoke to some of the Border Patrol officials, asking why they couldn't speak to their clients, who they could talk to. And the Border Patrol officials told them to speak to Donald Trump -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right, Rachel Crane, thank you so much. Keep us posted as you learn more.
Meantime, let's bring in an attorney working with the two people detained at JFK Airport in New York. Joining me right now on the phone is Mark Doss. He is the supervising attorney at the International Refugee Assistance Project. And he is working with Hameed Khalid Darweesh and Mr. Alshawi.
All right, so, Mark, thank you so much for being me on the phone. So what more can you tell me about where things stand? These two travelers being detained at JFK Airport?
MARK DOSS, INTERNATIONAL REFUGEE ASSISTANCE PROJECT: Thanks so much for having me. We've been at JFK all night. I'm still at JFK right now. We've had attorneys here since they've arrived and none of us have been able to speak with our clients in person.
[11:05:06] We've had a phone call with one of them. But as far as we know, they are still detained. They are still with CBP and we have been unable to actually meet with them in person.
WHITFIELD: So this executive order signed yesterday, effective immediately clearly by way of these two examples, what do you -- what are you most concerned about as you filed your lawsuit about this detainment? What is it that you're challenging about this executive order that is calling for a stoppage to this kind of travel and how it then led to the detainment of your clients?
DOSS: I mean, this order is unconstitutional. It is wreaking havoc on the lives of refugees who are trying to reunite with their families and their loved ones, and so we filed this emergency legal motion to prevent the U.S. government from sending back our clients and individuals like them, back into the danger that they fled from. They're being persecuted. They're coming to the United States with a valid status. These are individuals who are supposed to be in the United States to be protected because they were persecuted and now they're being detained unlawfully. And so we are doing everything we can to release them from tensions that they are able to live peacefully in the United States which is supposed to welcome refugees and immigrants.
WHITFIELD: And so, Mr. Doss, what more can you tell me about these two people? It mentioned that one is a government employee and the other is visiting family members. What more can you tell me about their allowances to come and go, particularly as it relates to this trip entering the U.S. at JFK?
DOSS: So they actually -- both individuals who have been targeted because of their U.S. affiliation, and so our special immigrant visa applicant worked on behalf of the United States. He was an interpreter, he was an electrical engineer. He provided faithful and valuable service which is a legal determination made by the U.S. government about his status and they determined that he was facing serious threats that were ongoing because of his service to the United States. And so that's how he was actually able to be given this visa after going through all the necessary security checks, interviews, medical exams. And then detained at the airport upon arrival.
Our other client is a refugee from Iraq who also has -- his wife's family and his wife all worked on behalf of the United States as well. And his wife is here in the United States, but based on her status, he was also given refugee status, who went through the same incredibly rigorous vetting procedures, and had a valid status to come to the United States and again was detained here at the airport.
We have clients who just came yesterday, same type of status, and were allowed entry, but because they were in midair when this order was signed, they are now being unlawfully detained here at the airport.
WHITFIELD: So in reading this executive order there is a section where it talks about more extreme vetting and already as you just established the vetting for some refugees seeking this kind of emergency status, they are already subjected to a level of vetting unlike anyone else who usually experiences when trying to get a visa when entering this country. So what's your understanding of whether your two clients will be subjected to being held at the airport, interviewed further, or what the process will happen to follow or is it your understanding they would be turned away and returned to their originating countries?
DOSS: So like you just said, this is one of the most rigorous processes we have for anyone coming into the United States. In fact, it's the most vetted process for refugees. And so this executive order is completely pretextual targeting Muslim majority countries creating, you know, a false monster, kind of blaming everything on refugees when these are really in fact the most vetted individuals.
Our clients take often two years or longer to come to the United States. And these are incredibly vulnerable individuals who have gotten through multiple interviews, multiple security checks. It is not an easy process. It's not taken lightly to come here to the United States. And so to be unlawfully detained here at the airport after determining that they're vulnerable is really just disgraceful.
[11:10:05] And in terms of it happened to them, we're filing this lawsuit to obtain their release and we are fighting very hard to make sure that they are not deported back to the countries where they could be killed. It is a violation of international law to do so when they have a very valid fear, a well-founded fear of persecution by very definition of being a refugee and being able to come to the United States, they've already demonstrated that. And so to send them back would be just a heinous act that would really undermine the credibility of the United States and our responsibilities as a country.
WHITFIELD: So, Mr. Doss, where do you turn at this point? Do you make your way to JFK to meet with your clients? Are you reaching out to the State Department? We know there's been quote the shakeup at the State Department, the removal or the retiring of a number of people in a high level position at the State Department, many of whom may have been involved in this kind of vetting and visa program or do you reach out directly to the White House? What do you do?
DOSS: You know, so I've been here since about 1:00 a.m. here at JFK. And, you know, we are obviously trying to see our clients face-to- face. When we spoke to the CBP officer right in front of the secured area he would not let us. And when we asked who we could talk to about this he said call Trump. And so, you know, it is really upsetting that this is not being taken seriously here. I mean, these are people who are in serious danger and we're doing everything we can, assuming all avenues of advocacy, litigation to ensure them speedy release of our clients.
WHITFIELD: OK. And Mr. Doss, real quick, quickly kind of give us a synopsis of what is entailed in this lawsuit. You said that it is an emergency motion, but what is the argument -- the legal argument?
DOSS: The argument is that it is unconstitutional to be holding these individuals in detention right now based on several different provisions of the constitution from the establishment clause, due process.
WHITFIELD: OK. DOSS: It is illegal to be detaining them right now. And so that is
what a writ of habeus is -- these people have valid status and should have been admitted are being unlawfully detained and we're requesting their immediate release.
WHITFIELD: OK. Mark Doss, thank you so much for your time. Please keep us posted as you are there at JFK to meet with your clients who are currently being detained as a result of this executive order signed by President Trump last night. Thank you so much, Mark. Appreciate it.
We're going to talk much more about this, the next steps and the constitutionality of this executive order. I'll be right back.
[11:16:35] WHITFIELD: Hello, everyone. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
United Airlines just issuing this statement about the new executive order coming from President Donald Trump banning the entry of Muslims from seven countries. This is from United Airlines saying, quote, "We are aware of the directive and are working with the federal government to comply," end quote.
I want to bring in Ryan Nobles to explain exactly what the executive orders mean overall, the intention.
Ryan, what do we know about these orders signed just last night?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, Fredricka, as you've demonstrated this is having a direct and immediate impact around the world. Essentially what it does is it limits access to the United States to some 130 million people from seven different countries. Now these are countries that the Trump administration has designated as prone to terrorism. And they are all Muslim-majority countries.
So what is happening as you've shown already today is that means that people that are trying to get on planes to travel here to the United States from these countries are not being allowed on planes. They are being turned back and in some cases people that were on planes flying here to the United States but landing after the executive orders was signed, are now being sent back to their home countries. And that's what led to that lawsuit that you talked about at the beginning of your program.
Now this isn't just folks that are trying to travel here in the United States. There's also been a holt to the United States refugee program, and this means that no refugees are going to be able to come here to the United States for at least the next 90 days or so and there is an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees from coming here to the United States. And this is leading certainly to some political fallout. People, Democrats in particular, are criticizing the Trump administration for this move. But it's important to point, Fredricka, this is Donald Trump making
good on a campaign promise. He talked about this issue repeatedly on the campaign trail. At one point actually calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States. So this is Donald Trump and the Trump administration in particular making good on that campaign promise -- Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And then, Ryan, what more do we know about the reaction particularly coming from Capitol Hill? Apparently some senators can't hold back.
NOBLES: Yes. And Fredricka, this really isn't a surprise. You know, Democrats were very critical of these proposals that Donald Trump had during the campaign and now they are not holding back at all in reacting to this executive order. They're outright calling it a Muslim ban even though the Trump administration hasn't described it as such.
Take a look at what Senator Chris Murphy who is a Democrat from Connecticut tweeted earlier today. And I do want to caution, this is a disturbing image he showed, that picture of a Syrian boy who was killed and left on the coast there near Syria. And he said, "To my colleagues, don't ever lecture me again on American moral leadership if you choose to be silent today."
And Senator Dianne Feinstein from California, she also showed that same image and she said, "There is no legitimate national security reason to ban refugees. The vast majority of whom are women and children who have experienced absolute horror."
Now it's important to also point out, though, Fredricka, that when writing this executive order the Trump administration evoked September 11th on numerous occasions. They believe that this is a necessary step to keep the United States safe. This is certainly something, though, that's going to be debated not only on Capitol Hill here in Washington but in the courts as well -- Fredricka.
[11:20:03] WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much. We've blurred the image on that Chris Murphy tweet because it is such a disturbing image. I think most people recall it. And so that's the explanation for that.
Ryan Nobles, thank you so much.
All right. Let's talk more about the implementation of this travel ban now with CNN contributor Michael Weiss, CNN political analyst Josh Rogin, CNN's military analyst Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, and CNN legal analyst Page Pate.
All right. I want to highlight now for you, gentlemen, you know, part of the executive order temporarily suspending the refugee programming saying this, quote, "It is the policy of the United States to protect its citizens from foreign nationals who intend to commit terrorist attacks in the United States and to prevent the admission of foreign nationals who intend to exploit United States immigration laws for malevolent purposes." So, Lieutenant Colonel, you first. How do you see the implementation
of this executive order being complicated?
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yes, well, you know, when you cast a wide net, you pull up a lot of things you don't want. I think that's what we're seeing today with these two Iraqis at JFK. They've already been vetted. They've already gone through the process. There's no reason to keep these people out. I understand what Mr. Trump is trying to do. And he's trying to reset, you know, how refugees are let into the country. That's fine. But let's reward those people that have actually served this country. And this is going to have a very chilling effect on recruitment of these people. These people performed a valuable service at great risk. And I don't know how we're going to recruit them if we -- if this is the way we treat them once they're allowed in or supposed to be in.
WHITFIELD: So I wonder, Lieutenant, is it your feeling, too, that trying to interpret this executive order is going to take some time and perhaps the detainment of those two, might it exemplify the message is being misconstrued or is this supposed to be the application of this executive order even if you have been rigorously vetted just as these two, according to the attorney, have undergone?
FRANCONA: Well, I think that's what we're going to find. And hopefully it resolves itself that way. This order I don't think was meant to apply to these people. And so you have to have case-by-case exceptions, of course. But I think CBP may be overly zealous in interpreting these executive orders. This would be sorted out but this is the kind of thing that puts a human face on this. And I think I'm glad it's happening right away so we can get this resolved instead of dragging this out.
WHITFIELD: And so, Michael, what are your concerns about potential repercussions as it pertains to how the reliance of good relationships between the U.S. and some of these Muslim nations that have been singled out?
MICHAEL WEISS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, so you have 135 million people, most of them, all of them perhaps, Muslims being told they can't come to the United States because they're guilty until proven innocent.
This is exactly -- this is to read from the hymn sheet of ISIS. I saw an article today that said ISIS has been surprisingly quiet about Donald Trump's moves in the last week. I think it goes back to the old saying, you know, when your enemy is making a mistake, don't interrupt it. This is exactly what jihadists want the United States to do. They want us to build virtual and physical walls that say Muslims have no place here because we are inherently suspicious of them, they cannot integrate well into a democratic society. And, you know, we're worried that ISIS is sending sleepers in these waves of refugees.
The statistics also do not bear out Mr. Trump's policy. No Syrian refugee who's come over since the crisis began almost six years has been accused or found guilty of committing any kind of terrorist or jihadist attack. So I think this is, as Rick said, casting an overly wide net and also, look, the requirements for being -- for gaining access to this country as refugee are already pretty stringent. It takes about two years for a Syrian to be welcomed into the United States. They're in holding patterns in Europe and other Middle Eastern countries.
So I'm frankly appalled. I think this is -- even if you take it purely on a utilitarian level which is to say you don't care about the Constitution or human rights, all your concern is national security, this is a self-defeating move.
WHITFIELD: So, Josh, there have been 14 executive orders thus far from the president in seven days now. Is this the most consequential order that he has signed thus far?
JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, they're all consequential in different ways but what I think we see is a pattern of the administration rolling out these executive orders without sort of vetting them through the agencies, without using the teams of lawyers. For example the Department of Homeland Security who have been dealing with this issue for over decade, without consulting with Congress, without consulting with allied countries who may be impacted by this.
So this approach, you know, if you step aside, step away from the -- all of the controversial points that are actually in the executive order, the sort of bullying aspect of just releasing a bunch of executive orders and then dealing with the fallout afterwards, that's what's really going to be tested here. And this will be the first test.
[11:25:02] And the pushback will come from lawmakers. It will come from the human rights community. It will come from lawyers representing these affected people and it will come from countries all over the world who see this as sort of arbitrary assault on bilateral relations. And the other point in here is that, you know, George W. Bush made a very strong effort to impart on us that we need the Muslim world in order to fight terrorism. And that mantra, that sort of idea is really what's under assault here.
WHITFIELD: And so, Page, Donald Trump campaigned on the fact that he -- it was his point of view that President Obama overused, overstepped his bounds by using executive orders, you know, aggressively, too frequently, et cetera, and he started his first week as doing just that so what kind of legal, potentially legal or constitutional battle might he be setting up with Congress who will say we are supposed to be more involved in here, there are protections that say we should?
PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: right. I think what he's doing is basically turning the argument on the table. I mean, they criticized -- Republicans criticized President Obama for using executive orders because they said what you're doing is violating the separation of powers. Our constitution gives Congress the right to write the laws, the president the right to enforce those laws and the courts interpret those laws.
WHITFIELD: So this is violating the law and separation of power. PATE: Exactly. That's the argument at least. But a president does
have a right to issue an executive order, but that order has to be limited to what the president has discretion to do. Let's take immigration. This recent refugee order. The president certainly has the right to determine how the immigration laws are going to be enforced. It's the Department of State's job to review these visa applications, to vet people who are trying to come into the country. And they have a lot of discretion to do it.
But if the president issues an executive order and said, I'm not going to vet anyone, I'm simply going to simply exclude everyone from this particular class or this particular country, then he's really not following the law that Congress wrote and he's writing something else.
WHITFIELD: And we're not talking overall as it pertains to all 14 executive orders thus far. We're talking specifically about this one.
WHITFIELD: Signed that involves banning of people from these seven Muslim nations.
PATE: Right. Right. And even aside from the fact that the order is constitutional, the detention of these individuals raises another constitutional concern. You can't just hold somebody in lock up because the president says so. There has to be a legal basis for it and that's what this lawsuit is challenging.
WHITFIELD: And so the attorney that we just spoke with who said he filed an executive motion, is this tantamount to suing the federal government?
PATE: Yes. That's exactly what he did. He filed both a petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, in other words saying release these folks and then secondly he wants to certify all the folks who are trying to come in from these countries as a class and then challenge that in court, the executive order itself.
WHITFIELD: All right. Gentlemen, thank you so much. We'll talk more about that.
All right. Straight ahead, one of Silicon Valley's biggest name is now weighing in saying the refugee ban or let's call it the executive order as it pertains to the banning of Muslims from seven nations, well, they're saying this is bad for business. We'll discuss.
[11:31:03] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Some of the world's largest tech companies are criticizing Donald Trump's executive order banning some nationals from seven mostly Muslim nations saying not only is it a violation of civil rights, but it is also bad for business.
CNN tech senior correspondent, Laurie Segall spoke with some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley. What are they saying? LAURIE SEGALL, CNN TECH SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: You know, it's interesting, I actually had the opportunity to sit down with Jack Dorsey, who is the CEO of Square and Twitter, so two massively influential tech companies.
We actually speak at the business of a Syrian refugee who built his business for his idea of the American dream, and I asked him because he was so friendly. I said, you know, what do you think about this ban? What does this mean for innovation? Listen to what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JACK DORSEY, FOUNDER AND CEO OF SQUARE, CO-FOUNDER OF TWITTER: We benefit from integration. We benefit from diversity. We benefit from including more people because we see different perspectives. And you know, the goal of the companies that we build in San Francisco and New York, and anywhere within this country is to have global impact. And to have global impact you need to really understand the world, and to understand the world, you need to have people from all over the world inside your companies.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SEGALL: And Fred, it's a not just Jack Dorsey. We are talking with Google CEO, Mark Zuckerberg weighing in because you have to remember, Silicon Valley, the tech community was built by highly skilled workers, by immigrants to an extent.
The Google CEO actually sent out an internal memo last night saying he was worried about folks traveling. He said come back to the United States immediately. He said over 100 people will be impacted by this.
We have to have a statement from Google they just sent to me. They say, "We're concerned about the impact of this order and any proposals that could impose restrictions on Googlers and their families or that could create barriers to bringing great talents to the United States. We'll continue to make our views known."
So we are really beginning to see folks speak out. Mark Zuckerberg wrote a Facebook post yesterday saying he was concerned and he talked about his wife, Priscilla, who he says, you know, her parents are refugees.
You have to remember Steve Jobs, you know, Apple's former CEO, the great creator of some of the products we use every day, his father was a Syrian refugee. So a lot of these folks are concerned.
I think there's really this question of what does this mean. There's this kind of this gray area and a lot of tech companies who have folks working to build out these products, who travel a lot and are from many of these countries, are concerned.
WHITFIELD: We're finding out many people are finding out the hard way as soon as they arrive at an airport whether they are denied or stopped like the case of two at JFK. All right, thanks so much, Laurie. Check back with us. Appreciate it as you get more information.
Also coming up, lawsuits already being filed after President Trump files this executive order suspending refugees and many Middle Eastern nationals from entering the U.S. When we come back, we'll talk about with an attorney from one of those organizations filing a lawsuit against this executive order.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So the power of the pen already impacting people in the U.S. and around the world. Just hours after President Trump signed a controversial executive suspending refugees in some Middle Eastern and African nationals from entering the U.S., we are seeing real life conflict (inaudible).
At JFK Airport in New York, two Iraqis who had been granted visas are being detained after arriving in that city last night. One is a man who worked with the U.S. government in Iraq. Another was visiting his wife and child here in the U.S. They have now filed a lawsuit saying their detention is illegal.
In Cairo, Egypt, some passengers with airline tickets for the U.S. turned away at the gates. Lawsuits are already being filed following these detainments.
Joining me right now to discuss is Omar Jadwat. He is the director of the Immigrants' Rights Project for the ACLU. Omar, thank you so much for being with me. What can you tell me about the lawsuit your organization either has filed or is about to file?
OMAR JADWAT, DIRECTOR, IMMIGRANTS' RIGHTS PROJECT, ACLU: Has filed. We filed early this morning. And, you know, I think what we're seeing now is the real human cost immediately of President Trump's Muslim ban orders and his anti-refugee moves.
You know, the -- one of the petitioners in our case, one of the people who got held up at JFK Airport is somebody who had been working for the U.S. military in Iraq for ten years.
To ban people like this as so-called national security risks are under the rule break of trying to improve national security is worse than laughable. It's despicable. The government is discriminating against people based on their religion.
That's the only thing that explains what the government has done to all these people and, in fact, you know, President Trump himself has been clear about saying that he wants to disfavor Muslims and favor Christians with respect to immigration.
[11:40:11]WHITFIELD: So Omar, let me ask you this, because in reading the executive order, I know you've had a chance to go through it and there's a portion where it really kind of breaks down or gives a synopsis about what may have provoked in part this policy. I'm reading saying, quote, "Perhaps in no instance was there more apparent than the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, when State Department policy prevented consular officers from properly scrutinizing the visa applications of several of the 19 foreign nationals who went on to murder nearly 3,000 Americans."
Spelling out rather a justification as it spells out what this new executive order is about. Your response to that?
JADWAT: I mean, just look at the facts, just look at the fact that one of our clients who had to satisfy the U.S. government that he had worked with and provided assistance to the U.S. military putting his life on the line in Iraq for our country and our military.
To say that keeping him out of the country is something that will make us safer, think about the message that we're sending. We are not sending a message that says, you know, the United States is committed to treat people fairly and to be the beacon of hope that it's always been.
We're sending a message that says even if you have put your life on the line for this country in very difficult circumstances, just because you're a Muslim and we associate people like you with events like that, we're going to keep you out.
Even though we've gone through an entire process designed to make sure that you in fact did provide the assistance you say you did to the government, you know, getting testimonies from people you worked with in the military. I mean, it's just -- I find it hard to imagine a situation that's more clearly just wrong headed.
WHITFIELD: Is it largely that you take issue that these are mostly Muslim nationals from these seven nations? Is it that it is a ban, period, involving people who may have already been vetted, who have endured the scrutiny of upwards of two years of vetting? Is it the fact that there would be a ban at all of anyone to this nation?
JADWAT: Well, I think it's a combination. I mean, each of those elements is offensive and problematic and contrary to our values. The idea that is holocaust remembrance day that this government would say no refugees will be allowed into this country except potentially, you know, people fleeing minority religious persecution, which is defined in such a way as to sweep in Christians with those claims and disfavor other people with those claims.
So except for some Christians fleeing minority religious persecution, we're not going to let anybody into this country as a refugee for four months and in fact the way that plays out over time means that there's going to be an even greater interruption in refugee's ability to come to this country.
The idea that we would do that on a day that's supposed to commemorate the holocaust and should remind us of the awful mistake that this country made in not providing refuge to more Jews that were fleeing the holocaust in those years is astonishing in and of itself and deeply disappointing. But when you couple it with the fact that, you know, Donald Trump has been promising for a long time now to institute a ban on Muslims entering the country and now he has, in fact, followed through on that promise by creating a system that targets Muslims for exclusion and that favors Christians over Muslims.
And that he's told us that's what he wants to do with his program, I mean, it is a huge assault on our values as a country.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it right there. Omar Jabwat, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.
JADWAT: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, President Donald Trump, while there have been 14 executive orders, this one thus far seemingly the most controversial. It is a busy day already. He has phone calls with five foreign leaders scheduled in one day.
[11:45:03]He's talking German Chancellor Merkel this hour and then next hour, Trump will be speaking to Russian President Vladimir Putin. We understand that the vice president will be on that call with him. Stay with us. We'll have a live report coming from Moscow and we'll also discuss the stakes involved in all of today's talks.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Just hours after President Donald Trump signed a controversial executive order suspending millions of nationals from Muslim majority countries and refugees from entering the U.S., he is speaking with one of the biggest champions of asylum seekers, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
This is new video of Trump on the phone, just in to CNN. The president has four other phone calls scheduled with foreign leaders today. Next hour, he will be speaking with Russian President Vladimir Putin. At 3:00, Trump will sign two executive orders, details of what they may cover have yet to be released to the media.
Let's talk more about this very important phone call between Trump and Putin and let's talk about it right now. Joining me to discuss this is Cynthia Hooper, who is an associate professor at the College of Holy Cross, where she is the director of Russian and Eastern European Studies. Good to see you, Cynthia.
So is this a call of promises made or assurances being relayed or is this strictly a congratulatory call, an introduction?
[11:50:04]CYNTHIA HOOPER, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, COLLEGE OF HOLY CROSS: Well, I think that no fundamental shift in policy is going to come out of this phone call, rumors to the contrary. I think Trump prides himself on being a businessman. So it's not likely he's going to pick up the receiver and say, "Hey, Vlad, let me just lift those sanctions for you."
You know, he's going to try to make a deal and if I were Putin's intelligence adviser, I'd recommend to Putin that he congratulate Trump, flatter him, maybe crack a joke or two and then immediately move on to discussing joint operations in fighting terrorism, working against ISIS or possibly setting up a summit in Iceland together.
WHITFIELD: So this is not sounding like a very short phone call when you bring into the equation. You're talking about -- potentially talking about striking a deal or how to work together as it pertains to Syria.
HOOPER: Well, maybe just dropping a few nuggets of possibility into Trump's lap. That said, I think that Vladimir Putin is really loving the publicity that this phone call has been given. You know, he's -- it's completely pushed to the sidelines the phone call that you just mentioned that took place between Trump and German Chancellor Merkel.
And I think we have to be really careful as a society in playing into the Putin myth and sort of building him up to being the most powerful leader of the world, kind of the current line that sort of echoing internationally.
Putin is now the man that swung the U.S. presidential election to Donald Trump. I don't think that's accurate and I don't think that serves our national interests and I think that catapults Putin into nearly mythological status at home. His popularity was always high and now it's astronomical.
WHITFIELD: And British Prime Minister Theresa May just meeting with Trump yesterday, she even warned beware. So meantime, Trump has expressed wanting to lift sanctions against Russia, those sanctions imposed by the Obama administration, congressional leadership including Senator John McCain have been very cool on that instead saying they want to do the opposite. They want to impose more. This is what Trump had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I don't know the gentleman. I hope we have a fantastic relationship. That's possible and it's also possible that we won't. We will see what happens. I will be representing the American people very, very strongly, very forcefully.
And if we have a great relationship with Russia and other countries and if we go after ISIS together, which has to be stopped, that's an evil that has to be stopped, I will consider that a good thing, not a bad thing.
How the relationship works out, I won't be able to tell you that later. I've had many times where I thought I'd get along with people and I don't like them at all. And I've had some where I didn't think I was going to have much of a relationship and it turned out to be a great relationship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So sometimes being charming works, got a little laugh in the room, but what do you interpret from that?
HOOPER: Well, I think that Trump is keeping his options open. I this I that what this phone call really does signify, however, is that the United States is prepared to move -- shift foreign policy towards promoting national interests rather than grand ideals and I think that actually has global significance.
Because that means now that the leaders of all three super powers and I include China then along with Russia and the United States are dedicated to principles of (inaudible) what some analysts call "Illiberal democracy."
And that means that states should be considered moral actors, but should be governed solely by the determination to promote their economic and strategic interests. I think that means in terms of the refugee story that is breaking now, the United States is no longer aspiring necessarily to be a beacon of hope for the rest of the world and I think that's a great lost.
And I find it really ironic that Trump borrowed so much from Ronald Reagan during his campaign most notably even his slogan, "Make America great again," which Reagan used in 1980.
One thing he's not borrowing from Ronald Reagan is Reagan's insistence in speech after speech that being American is about aspiring to be better, to be self-sacrificing and to fight the fight for good in the world and I think that's something the Trump administration is missing.
WHITFIELD: Then he also said trust but verify as it pertains to Russia. So we'll see. All right, Cynthia Hooper, thank you so much.
HOOPER: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right, we'll be right back.
WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. So among the five world leaders President Trump has spoken with today is Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and it is clear that Trump is putting a lot of value in the U.S./Japan relationship.
CNN's Will Ripley joins me now from Tokyo. So President Trump and Abe spoke for 45 minutes, I understand, and two major issues came up, trade and the military. Did they get into specifics as far as you know?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They certainly did talk for quite a long period of time, Fred, as you mentioned. Just as President Trump is putting a big priority on the Japan/United States alliance, it is the number one foreign policy objective for the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, to make sure that there is a good relationship with President Trump. Economically very important, trade huge, and of course, President Trump just walked away from a major trade deal that Abe and President Obama spent years negotiating, 12 nations in the Pacific Rim, excluding China from this trade deal.
So Abe will try to convince President Trump to reconsider and they'll also talk about the possibility of negotiating a trade deal between Japan and the U.S. talking about things like car sales, very few American cars sold here in Japan, one thing that President Trump brought up during the phone call today.
Also he is sending his defense secretary, James Mattis, to Japan this week. He'll be here in Tokyo. He's also going to South Korea. The military alliance, the threat for North Korea, increased assertiveness from China will be on their agenda when they have a meeting.
They have agreed to meet two weeks from now on February 10th. And also Fred, interestingly, President Trump passed along a greeting from his daughter, Ivanka Trump, to the prime minister.
Ivanka Trump very popular here in Japan, very highly regarded and she actually met the prime minister when he went into New York in November for that unofficial meeting at Trump Tower.