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Trump to Speak With 5 World Leaders Today; Russian Official: Trump, Putin Call "Most Important" of Day; 7 Muslim-Majority Nations on Temporary Ban List; Seven Muslim-Majority Nations on Temporary Ban List; Building Trump's Border Wall. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired January 28, 2017 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:00] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: All righty. Lots of news to talk to you about this morning.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Let's get to it, the next hour starts right now.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a great relationship with Russia and other countries. I will consider that a good thing, and not a bad thing.

I'm establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no evidence that any refugees that we have brought into this country have committed any act of terrorism in the U.S.

TRUMP: If you were a Christian in Syria, it was impossible, very, very -- at least very, very tough to get into the United States. We are going to help them.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You say a minimum of 3 million voted? That's a huge percentage. You think 15 percent of the people who are not citizens of this country voted in this last election?

GREGG PHILLIPS, VOTESTAND: When we're complete and we're satisfied, we'll expose the list to the public.


PAUL: So, certainly nice of to you join us at 7:00 a.m. on -- 7:01 to be exact on a Saturday morning. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning.

The president has a busy day. In less than two hours, he will start to speak to the first of a list of world leaders. He's starting with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, followed by four others today -- the leaders of Germany, France, Australia and Russia's Vladimir Putin. PAUL: His call with Russia is what people are focusing on right now.

Sparking some concern among world leaders and U.S. lawmakers, including Republicans, as President Trump said he is interested in warmer ties with Russia but says, quote, "It's too early to start discussing lifting sanctions."

And just moments ago, France spoke out regarding the president's exec of it order, banning refugees and immigrants from seven Muslim countries. The French foreign minister calling it, quote, "worrying."

I want to bring in Ryan Nobles from Washington right now. Obviously, we just went through what the president has on his agenda today. Do we know what is expected to be discussed with these world leaders?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, so much of the focus right now is on that call at noon with Russian president Vladimir Putin, and exactly what is Donald Trump going to talk with the Russian leader about.

Yesterday, during a conference with the British Prime Minister Theresa May, Trump seemed to indicate that the relationship with Putin is open right now. He's going in with no preconceived notions, trying not to go in with somewhat of an adversarial relationship but instead set it at zero and then see what happens. Trump open to the idea that he might not get along with Vladimir Putin. As you mentioned, that's one of five different phone calls that the Trump administration will place today.

The breakneck pace of this administration continues today. He will also sign another round of executive orders at 3:00 this afternoon. Now, we don't know what will be in those executive orders, but this will join a long list of executive orders, some of which have been very controversial.

You mentioned that executive order that was signed yesterday by the president that's going to limit the number of refugees that come into the United States. In fact, putting a hold from completely preventing that group of people from what the us what you is calling terrorism- prone countries from entering the United States.

So, certain, many of these different topics will be discussed with many of these world leaders as you mentioned from Germany, France, also Australia, and including that conversation with Vladimir Putin from Russia. That begins at noon. We'll certainly have to see what the outcome of that phone call is later today.

PAUL: No doubt about it. Ryan Nobles, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.

NOBLES: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: All right. For a view now from Moscow, let's bring in CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson.

Ivan, let's try to pull out what we can glean from this report from U.S. officials tells CNN that the White House requested information on Syria, and sanctions ahead of this call with Vladimir Putin.

What are we hearing about what's going to be discussed today?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the Kremlin has framed this as kind of just a diplomatic, standard diplomatic protocol, Victor, where basically the Russian president would congratulate Donald Trump on officially becoming inaugurated, the American president. And when asked whether sanctions could be discussed or the conflict in Ukraine, he said that he wasn't likely to get into kind of concrete issues like that in this initial call.

But it has to be said that here in Russia, in some official circles, in some media circles, that Trump's election was celebrated. It was cause for some euphoria, and we saw some of that coming in tweets from a senior lawmaker here in the Russian parliament. His name is Alexey Pushkov. He said that the Trump/Putin conversation will, quote, "give a new beginning to the fight against ISIS." And he went and proceeded to launch a dig against Angela Merkel, the German leader, saying that she only has old solutions for some of these crises and problems.

[07:05:09] He said that the conversation with Putin would be a very important one.

So, there is a sense of optimism from circles here. A hope that this could be the beginning of a warming of relations between Moscow and Washington which have been very troubled, and perhaps at the worst state that they've been in years, really, in the waning days of the outgoing Obama administration when fresh sanctions were slapped against Russian officials, against Russian diplomats in response for what the Obama administration said was hacking and Russian intelligence gathering in the U.S. -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right. Ivan in Moscow for us, Ivan, thank you so much.

Let's bring in Errol Louis, CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, and Sarah Westwood, White House correspondent for "The Washington Examiner".

Good morning to both of you.

And, Sarah, I want to start with you. We've got the president saying that it's too early to start lifting sanctions on Russia, but also the information from this U.S. official, telling us that the White House requested information about the sanctions ahead of the call with Vladimir Putin.

How deeply do you expect they'll get into the discussions of those sanctions on this first call?

SARAH WESTWOOD, WHITE HOUSE CORRESONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: You know, President Trump himself has said that he's still in the very early stages of considering whether he'll remove sanctions against Russia.

Keep in mind, there's a couple different layers of sanctions that are on Russians and the Kremlin itself. Some of them are in response to incursion in Ukraine. Some of them are in response to what the Obama administration said was interference in the election. So, President Trump has sort of -- as he likes to say, a buffet of options as to what he can do to sort of walk back the sanctions that have been put on Russian officials.

But, certainly, this is being just being dove as an initial meeting that will open the dialogue between Trump and Vladimir Putin. It's not something that is big billed as an event where we're likely to see major shifts in the policy.

BLACKWELL: Hey, guys in the control room, let's play SOT4. This is Trump yesterday during this news conference with the prime minister, in which he talked about the upcoming conversation with the president of Russia.

Let's watch.


TRUMP: 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.


BLACKWELL: Errol, the president heaped praise on Vladimir Putin during the campaign. What do you make of his tone yesterday at the White House?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, we should start by pointing out he said in the statement yesterday that he doesn't know the gentleman. He has said exactly the opposite. So, either what he said yesterday was not true or what he said earlier was not true.

We know that he's got business interests there that he has not disclosed. So, with that in mind, what I'd make of it is that he's going to, sort of do what he's done throughout which has said, if Putin says something nice about him, then he'll say something nice some return. He's got a very personalized kind of -- very simplistic surface conversation that we're all supposed to laugh up.

Meanwhile, the more serious part of all of this, regardless of what the Russians say and regarding of what the White House says, what this is about are the sanctions -- the oil and gas sanctions that are crippling the Russian economy. The reason that applause burst outside on the floor of the Russian parliament when they found out that Trump won was that they want those sanctions lifted because it is most of what their foreign exchange earnings really consist of, oil and gas exports.

So, you know, regardless of whether they get to that today, it will be on the agenda first thing tomorrow.

BLACKWELL: So, the Putin call, Sarah, is at noon. An hour earlier, there's the call from German Chancellor Angela Merkel. We know that Russia has been a liaison, over the past several years. What do you expect that she'll stay, as we try to gauge the level of cooperation she'll have with this president?

[07:10:01] WESTWOOD: Obviously, Angela Merkel will be expressing her dismay that Trump is lifting these sanctions. He's likely to face that from a number of leaders, Theresa May included, from Great Britain, who's going to tell him that they don't want these Russian sanctions lifted.

I think that Trump is alone among Western leaders in wanting to lift those sanctions. But even so, that's not a surprising position, right? I mean, he ran on a platform normalizing relations with Russia, and he's not even the first president to do that.

If you recall, President Obama came into office saying that he wanted to experience a warmer relationship with Russia. Obviously, that deteriorated when Russia made those moves in Ukraine that were seen as being anti-democratic.

But even so, during this conversation with Merkel, it will be interesting to see whether Trump is open and receptive to that argument. Merkel will likely be speaking for a lot of the European Union leaders when she tells him not to lift those sanctions. It will be detrimental to the world economy.

BLACKWELL: All right. Sarah Westwood, Errol Louis, thank you both.

LOUIS: Thank you.


PAUL: Yes, as we mentioned earlier, President Trump with the immigration policy, what we've been talking about, and next, why he says Christian refugees need to be prioritized.

BLACKWELL: Also, President Trump's border law presenting new challenges and some Texas residents questioning if it will actually work. We'll hear from them, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAUL: Well, it's just a few quick strokes of the pen, President Donald Trump has banned 144 million people from entering the United States.

BLACKWELL: Now, according to a White House official, the seven countries affected are Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia. Now, that ban is in place for 90 days. And then the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program is suspended for 120 days.

[07:15:01] Now, the president's order says the program will only be reinstated for citizens who have been properly vetted.

PAUL: And just to walk you through what else is in the order, admissions for Syrian refugees are indefinitely suspended. There's now a cap on the total number of refugees admitted. It's less than half the current level. And it calls for new screening procedures, cancelling the visa interview waiver program for repeat travelers as well.

BLACKWELL: Now, the president says that Christians need to be prioritized for immigration. He says they often have a tougher time getting from the U.S. into other countries.

But let's show you the numbers, is this what Pew Research Center study found: 38,900 Muslims in 2016 which is a record, and about 37,500 Christians. There were about 1,300 fewer Christians as you can see than Muslims. So, those are the numbers, you decide if the president's characterization is accurate.

Now, the restrictions from President Trump's visa ban already being felt in parts of the world.

Here's some of what our Ben Wedeman is hearing. Watch.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This morning, I spoke with a friend in Baghdad. He moved to the U.S. a few years ago under a special refugee program. He has a green card. But now, he doesn't know and he's supposed to travel back to the United States tomorrow if he'll actually be let in.

And this is the message he sent me. "I'm honestly a bit scared. I'm not sure if they will let me in. I would never imagine this would happen in the U.S. since it's one of the few countries letting in immigrants from across the world to start new life there. I am shocked."

I also spoke with a Syrian on the border of Syria and Turkey, he described this executive order as racist and shameful. I know lots of people who over the years, for instance, in Iraq, worked as translators for the U.S. military, risked their lives for the U.S. military, are trying to get into the United States under this special program for special translators for the U.S. military, but that program has also been affected by the executive order sand they and their families are in despair. (END VIDEOTAPE)

PAUL: Let's talk about the response to this with Stephen Collinson, CNN politics senior reporter.

And, Stephen, I want to go back to this idea that Donald Trump has about allowing more Christians into the country than has been, he says, in the past. Let's listen to what he had to say yesterday to the Christian Broadcast Network.


CHRISTIAN BROADCASTING NETWORK: As it relates to persecuted Christians, do you see them as kind of a priority here?



TRUMP: Yes, they were horribly treated. If you're a Christian in Syria, it was impossible, at least very, very tough to get into the United States. If you're a Muslim, you could come in. I thought it was very, very unfair. So, we are going to help them.


PAUL: All right. So, Stephen, here's the thing, there are many Christian organizations, Christian churches, that are reaching out to help some of these refugees from Syria. How do you think it's going to be received over the mass, let's say?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN POLITICS SENIOR REPORTER: Well, Christi, one of the reasons why this is creating so much criticism is that, you know, if you look at the population of Syria, for example, which is the place where there's the worst humanitarian crisis in the world right now, 87 percent of people in Syria are Muslims. And only about 10 percent are Christians. So, it would not be surprising that if you look at the total number of refugees trying to get refuge in the United States and Syria, the vast majority of them would be Muslims.

So, I think a lot of this is where these executives orders are going to come up against a challenge. People, and credits of what the tread has done are going to say effectively what he's doing is imposing an unconstitutional religious test on people who can come into the United States. So, I think that's where the problem is going to sort of lie.

It's true that there are a lot of Christian minorities in places in the Middle East that have been persecuted and have found it difficult to get into the United States. Iraq, for example. But the issue of imposing discrimination, institutionalizing discrimination against Muslims with these executive orders, is going to be something that critics are going to use to try and challenge the constitutionality of what the president has done.

PAUL: You know, we heard from the French foreign minister today saying this can only worry us welcoming refugees is part of our duty, he says. So, when we look at how world leaders will react, I heard Kimberly Dozier, CNN global affairs analyst, saying maybe this is negotiating. This is big business, this is what he does, he negotiates in an extreme way and someone meets in the middle.

[07:20:00] Do you believe that that could be at work here?

COLLINSON: That's true. And we don't know how this is going to pan out after the suspension periods. Effectively, the White House is saying, we're stopping everything just so we can get in place new vetting procedures.

It's one thing when you talk about people from the Middle East and African countries concerned here trying to get visas to come into the United States, the issue of refugees is completely different one. It's already very difficult if you're a refugee to get into the United States. You already face stringent tests. It takes at least two years in some cases, to actually get into the United States. Most are women and children.

So it's not clear exactly what steps the administration is going to take to make that vetting more extreme, as it says. I think there's a lot we don't know about how this is going to end up. But at the same time, if you look at the U.S. image around the world, you know, the reputation of the United States, as a haven for refugees and the world suppressed, people are going to look at that and start to look at the United States in a slightly different way. And this does represent a massive departure in the way that the United States is considering how it should best fight terrorism. And stop people, who it believes could have terrorist links coming into the country.

PAUL: I wanted to ask you about, one of the other stories that has really been the focus this week. And that was that this major investigation that President Trump announced regarding alleged voter fraud. There's been no significant evidence that this massive voter fraud exists.

Why is there such a point of contention to him?

COLLINSON: I think, and it's very interesting, because the president is basically the only person in Washington that appears to believe that between 3 and 5 million illegal voters were involved in the election. I think a lot of it has to do with his sensitivity to the fact, or accusations that he's not a legitimate winner of the election, because we know he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton, even though he won the Electoral College. I think that has a great deal to do with it.

If you look at President Trump's career in business, and his whole life, he has, you know, brands himself as the ultimate winner. And he's, as he said, he's going to do so much winning for America, that people are going to be tired of it. And I think that's the key, it's part of his personality that has to be seen as the ultimate victor. And the any question in his election where it wasn't completely overwhelming and legitimate, I think it's something that he's very sensitive to. Now, it looks like we're going to have a taxpayer funded investigation

into these allegations. The White House has begun to talk about this in broader terms. I think they've sort of stepped back from the accusations that there are 5 million illegal votes in the election. We're going to see a much broader look at electoral fraud.

Now, electoral fraud does happen in a small number of cases, but there's no evidence to suggest that there's this massive problem, which could actually delegitimized the election.

PAUL: And we had a gentleman, Gregg Phillips, this week, saying that he's got proof there is widespread voter fraud. He's not ready to release that evidence yet. When he does, of course, we will watch that.

Stephen Collinson, thank you so much for your insight.

BLACKWELL: All right. A scary moment here, caught on tape. This pickup truck plowing through the side of the bus. We're stopping the video just before you see the inside of that bus with a different camera. We have that for you, next.


[07:27:01] BLACKWELL: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will not be charged with criminal misconduct in the Bridgegate scandal. Prosecutors say they simply can't prove the charge in court.

PAUL: A probable cause hearing over a criminal summons is scheduled for next week. But back in September of 2013, Christie was accused of orchestrating a lane closure on the George Washington Bridge in an alleged political revenge spot to punish a mayor who didn't endorse him.

BLACKWELL: Actor John Hurt who starred in the original science fiction hit "Aliens" has died. He's known for that famous scene when a creature exploded from his chest during lunch on the spacecraft. We're not going to show it to you. He worked more than six decades in TV and film and there's no word yet on the detail of his death. But he was 77 years old.

PAUL: I want to show you video we've gotten in. Pretty frightening moments. This is in New York. Look at this pickup truck. It just plowed through the side of the bus. According to the police, the driver was getting offer the exit ramp mistakenly hit the gas instead of the brake.

So, the truck driver was fined for speed on a curve and on a highway. You can see the inside of that bus there, eight people were hurt.

BLACKWELL: Well, Syrian refugees in America are already feeling some respect, the heat from Trump's sweeping ban on Muslim majority countries, seven of them. How this ban could impact cities across the country.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:30:29] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, mortgage rates ticked up this week. Here's your look.


PAUL: It's 7:32. I'm on my way. So glad you are. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you.

President Trump will speak with Russian Vladimir Putin today. It's part of a series of calls he has plans to have with five heads of states -- heads of Japan, France, Australia, Germany and Russia.

PAUL: In the meantime, the world is reacting to the sweeping changes to the U.S. immigration policy after the president issued an executive order temporarily banning people from seven Muslim majority countries. It bars those from certain terror-prone countries from entering the United States for 90 days. Those countries include Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Libya, Yemen and Somalia.

BLACKWELL: The president Trump's orders on refugees is expected to spend the program for refugees up to four months, particularly at risk Syrians fleeing war and humanitarian catastrophe. The order would end the program for admitting Syrian refugees indefinitely.

CNN's Randi Kaye has one family's story who are living the impact of this new administration and the hard to was signed just yesterday.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One week, that's how long this Syrian family has been in the United States. They arrived just two days before Donald Trump was inaugurated. Hasan Mansour (ph) was a French teacher. Her husband, an accountant. They fled from Damascus to Turkey with their children to escape the violence. After two years of background checks, they finally made it.

UNIDENTIFED FEMALE (through translator): We were worried about ourselves, our children. We want to live in peace. It's better than the war situation we were in.

KAYE: They are the first of 25 Iraqi families expected to arrive in Rutland, Vermont by September. About 100 refugees in all. Rutland's mayor invited them to settle in his city around the same time then candidate Donald Trump vowed if elected, he'd stop the flow of refugees into the U.S. and deport the ones already here.

CHRISTOPHER LOURAS, RUTLAND MAYOR: This is just the right thing to do from a compassionate and humanitarian perspective.

KAYE: But that's not the reasonable reason the mayor is welcoming the refugees to his city. He's hoping they will revitalize it.

(on camera): The city or Rutland has suffered a major population loss, making it hard for big companies to fill jobs. The mayor is hoping that Syrian refugees will not only add to the population but also the workforce.

(voice-over): The unemployment rate is about 3 percent, dangerously says the mayor.

LOURAS: We've got dozens, scores of employers in this country, saying they've got hundreds of job openings they just can't fill.

KAYE: But now, his whole plan to revive Rutland could be in jeopardy, pending an executive order from President Donald Trump.

LOURAS: I think all of us are concerned about that. The measures in place for Syrian refugees especially coming from Syria will not put this country in risk, that's a fact.

KAYE: This couple is hosting the Syrian family until their apartment is ready.

(on camera): Do you wish that President Trump would meet the trouble you have in their home?

MAUREEN SCHILLINGER, HOSTING SYRIAN FAMILY: I wish anyone would take a snapshot. They're wonderful people. They're not coming here to harm us. They're coming here to escape harm.

KAYE (voice-over): Tim Cook, a doctor in town, says he doesn't want refugees settling in his city. Not because he thinks they're dangerous, but because he thinks they'll end up costing taxpayers money.

(on camera): So, are you saying the mayor and others have got it all wrong?


KAYE: He said he fully supports President Trump's opposition to taking in refugees.

COOK: I think we've done enough in this country. I'm tapped out and this nation is tapped out. We need to fix our own problems first. Then we can reconfigure to see if we can rescue the rest of the world.

KAYE: This family says they're not worried about President Trump's plan. They feel safe and secure in Vermont already.

HASSAM ALHALLAK, SYRIAN REFUGEE: I like Vermont. And the people of Vermont.

KAYE (on camera): The people?


KAYE: Very nice.


KAYE: You might have to learn to ski? (LAUGHTER)

ALHALLAK: I like skiing.

KAYE: A new sport. Exactly.

(voice-over): One week, they hope it's only the beginning of their new life in the United States.

Randi Kaye, CNN, Rutland, Vermont.


PAUL: All right. Let's talk about this with Edward Ahmed Mitchell. He is the executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations in Georgia, and Brian Robinson, Republican strategist and former assistant chief staff for communications for Georgia Governor Nathan Deal.

Thank you for both being here. It was interesting watching both of you watched that piece. You're both smiling and kind of laughing with this family.

What's your reaction to this -- this executive order?

EDWARD AHMED MITCHELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CAIR GEORGIA: Well, look, as an American, as an Muslim, as an attorney, I'm offended on all counts. And let's be clear these executive orders are not about keeping America safe, they're about being keeping America racially, culturally and religiously monolithic.

President Trump over the past year and for longer expressed animus towards Muslims and refugees. He has appointed Steve Bannon, a white nationalist as his senior adviser, Michael Flynn, an anti-Muslim bigot as his national security adviser. He took advice from one of the people who helped write Arizona anti-immigration bill. So, these executive orders are just a natural and logical end result of all of that bigotry, but you saw here the human tool that it will on people on this country and people around the world.

PAUL: Brian, your reaction to that?

BRIAN ROBINSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I think so much of what he says reflects why so many Americans voted for Donald Trump because they're tired of being called bigots. They're not willing to see their country change so fast to bring them in a rate faster than they can assimilate. We're not bringing in engineers and technology experts. We're bringing in people who -- with low education backgrounds that are going to be a burden on taxpayers. And it's a burden that America takes this on.

PAUL: We don't know all are a burden. I mean, there are people that have been coming --

ROBINSON: A vast majority. PAUL: -- who are well-educated.

ROBINSON: It's not been the vast majority of what we're getting. You have a piece earlier in Clarkston, Georgia. It's not a community of engineers, it's not.

PAUL: What do you say to France's foreign minister who just in the last hour said we have an obligation to help these people as leaders of nations? What do you say to that?

ROBINSON: I'd say that there are a lot of stories out there, there's no doubt. Anybody who denies that doesn't have a heart or doesn't have eyes. But France, it's ironic to hear from them because there's been a huge backlash in threats against the refugees coming in there. And how could they not? After the terrible violence that they've seen and the attacks in Paris and other places, where a priest's throat was slits, the truck in Nice. How could they not have a backlash?

You know, France has been much tougher than we have. They banned head scarves for Muslim school girls. We haven't done that here. So, it's ironic that France would point a finger at us.

PAUL: Edward, what do you say to that? Do you understand the fear I guess that some people feel?

MITCHELL: Well, first of all, we govern ourselves not fear, but by Constitution, by logic, right? Now, I work with many refugee groups. Many of the refugees have come to America from Syria are actually educated people. Some doctors and engineers, but because of tyranny of Bashar al Assad, their lives have been ruined, too, and they come here to build a better life.

And America is a nation of immigrants. It's always been a nation of immigrants.

[07:40:00] And President Trump cannot change that with an executive order.

So, that's the moral issue. But there's also a legal issue here.

PAUL: That's what I was going to say, is this constitutional?

MITCHELL: Well, you know, as an attorney, I've got to admit that President Trump has wide latitude who comes in ad out of the country. But he doesn't have unlimited latitude. He's the president, not the emperor.

So, if you're going to sign an executive order as he's done that prioritizes people of one particular faith, as opposed to others, that could be a violation of the First Amendment. To the extent this has also been designed and implemented to the purpose of targeting Muslims and banning Muslims to the extent that he can, that also runs afoul of the Constitution. So, we intend to make a legal argument.

PAUL: Do you support a more stringent vetting process? MITCHELL: Well, that's the interesting thing, is that Syrian refugees

already go through an intense vetting process. In fact, it takes about two years for any Syrian refugee to come to this country because they go through such an intense vetting process. And even under President Trump's administration, I'm sure our law enforcement authorities are sophisticated enough to continue to vet any refugees and any immigrants as they should.

PAUL: OK, I only have a couple of seconds left. I want to get one thing from you and one thing from you then, Brian.

If President Trump were sitting in front of, what would you want him to know, what would you say to him?

MITCHELL: I would say this isn't a game. You know, you might have a prejudice against people, but signing an executive has consequences of people. We are getting reports of people with student visas, touring visas, work visas, being afraid of being deported. People trying to come into the country not being able to get in. And now, you got people who may die because they cannot get out of Syria and other places that are war-torn.

So, this really has human consequences. You fulfilling a bad campaign pledge is not worth it if it's going to cost human life.

PAUL: Brian, how do we unite the country when this is what we're seeing?

ROBINSON: You know, in some ways, this does unite the country, because Trump campaigned on this and he's following through on what he promised. Whether it's politically correct or not, when Trump first went down this road in the campaign, we saw polling coming back showing that Americans were saying, yes, we kind of agree with this.

And it's not always in the narrative in the media, but Americans are concerned. One, look at San Bernardino. Looking at Orlando. You're not just talking about new immigrants. You're talking about second generation.

So, you're bringing in a man, this has been true in Europe as well. It's not always the first generation of refugees that cause the problem. Often, they are radicalized in the second generation.

So, this could be a long term problem.

PAUL: But it's not even refugees either, there have been Americans who can be radicalized as well, just to be fully transparent.

But we so appreciate both of you coming in and having this conversation with us.

ROBINSON: Thank you, Christi.

MITCHELL: Thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you both. Appreciate it. Victor?

BLACKWELL: All right. More negotiations by 140 character tweets, President Trump and President Pena Nieto of Mexico have reached their first agreement on the proposed southern border wall. That's ahead.


[07:46:15] BLACKWELL: President Trump and Mexican President Pena Nieto have agreed to at least quiet their public spat over the payment over the border wall.

PAUL: Yes, the two spoke on the phone. Both leaders called a constructive and productive conversation. Of course, one day after the Mexican president cancelled his trip to meet with Donald Trump. But the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said, quote, they will continue to have the border wall discussion privately.

BLACKWELL: Well, as President Trump prepares to crack down on illegal immigration by constructing that wall with Mexico, some Texans are questioning whether a concrete wall will actually work.

PAUL: CNN's Ed Lavandera takes us on an up close tour of life on the Texas/Mexico border.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This journey across the U.S./Mexico border begins in South Texas, where the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico, and in a rugged ride in an all-terrain vehicle with Robert Cameron. He runs an ATV border tour business in the small town of Progresso.

(on camera): Do you think people have that impression of the border, that it's a scary, dangerous place?

ROBERT CAMERON, TEXAS BORDER TOURS: Scary, dangerous place, absolutely. It's not as bad as people make it seem to be.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Cameron was born in Mexico, is now a U.S. citizen. Was a long-time Democrat until Donald Trump came along and made him a Republican. Living and working on the border reveals a blurry reality.

Cameron fully supports the idea of Trump's border wall, but every day, he sees the holes in that plan.

(on camera): It's part of the border wall that already exists, right?

CAMERON: Exactly. Exactly. This was put back in 2006 by George Bush. It's been around for awhile.

LAVANDERA: A few months ago, while riding along the Rio Grande, he recorded this video of what appeared to be smugglers with packs. It's the kind of story countless people along the border can share. But this is an area where a border fence is already in place, yet drugs and human smuggling keep coming.

CAMERON: It hasn't stopped them. No, absolutely not. So, you got this wall all the way around to eye can see, all the way over there.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Keeps going.

CAMERON: Keeps going, but then, it's like, did they start here? I don't know. I'm sure there's a reason, don't you think?


CAMERON: They ran out of money?

LAVANDERA: This is the landscape in the Big Bend area of Texas. And that is the challenge. How in the world do you build a wall in this kind of terrain?

(voice-over): Marcos Paredes lives in Terlingua, a far-flung outpost in the Big Bend region of west Texas. He's a former Big Bend Park Ranger and now takes visitors on aerial tours of some of the most beautiful landscapes you'll ever see.

MARCOS PAREDES, RIO AVIATION SCENIC FLIGHTS: So, I want to know where, in all of that, do you put a wall?

LAVANDERA (on camera): You think if Donald Trump flew with you, he'll want to build that wall?

PAREDES: I want you to tell Donald Trump that we already have a wall. Thank you very much. And I don't think he can build a bigger one.


PAUL: Well, President Trump is making good on his campaign promises, it seems. Could the courts though kill those headline-grabbing executive actions?

We're going to speak with a constitutional lawyer. Stay close.


[07:53:11] PAUL: Fifty-three minutes past the hour.

President Trump pushing forward with campaign promises by way of several high profile executive actions. Yesterday, he barred more than 134 million from the United States, blocking immigrants from seven Muslim majority nations. A move the administration calls a, quote, "mandate to keep America safe."

BLACKWELL: Now, some are celebrating those executive actions, but some of the actions could be killed by the courts.

Here to help sort it out, attorney Page Pate.

Page, good to have you back.

PAGE PATE, ATTORNEY: Good to be here.

BLACKWELL: Let's start with this ban. There's a tweet came from the ACLU overnight, and we know they do more than tweet, they actually file lawsuits.

PATE: Correct.

BLACKWELL: Let me read it for you, they tweeted out, "Trump's extreme vetting of Muslims goes against Constitution, freedom of speech and religion," and they go on to say prejudice by the Trump administration will not be tolerated there. What's the strength of a potential legal case against this?

PATE: There is some merit to it. Obviously, the president has a lot of authority to control who comes in and out of the United States. That's one of the executive branch's most important duties. But if you use executive orders or if use policy to restrict people based on religion, then you have a problem with the First Amendment.

So, I think it's not so much what's in the order but how it's carried out.

BLACKWELL: OK. Also, on top of the list, sanctuary cities.

PATE: Right.

BLACKWELL: Let's listen to several big city mayors talking about their commitment to some of the undocumented immigrants in their cities. Let's watch.


MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL (D), CHICAGO: I want to be clear, we're going to stay a sanctuary city.

MAYOR MARY WALSH (D), BOSTON: If necessary, we will use city hall itself to shelter and protect anyone who's targeted unjustly.

MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI (D), LOS ANGELES: I'm talking to all mayors in this country.

KYUNG LAH, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are the mayors going to unite to draw a line in the sand?

GARCETTI: We have. We want the federal government to protect those folks who have gotten temporary legal status and we want the overall system to be fixed.


[07:55:00] BLACKWELL: And some of these mayors have said they will shelter people in city hall if necessary. I mean, what's -- explain the municipal authority that protects those undocumented immigrants and the governments from the federal government.

GARCETTI: Well, it's very complicated but I think this executive order is the one most likely to be found unconstitutional.


GARCETTI: What the president is trying to do here is add conditions to laws passed by Congress that gives money to different cities and municipalities. A president can enforce laws, but only Congress can write laws. So, when the president comes in and says, I'm not going to send you money because you're not following a particular policy I want you to follow, there's a constitutional problem, a separation of powers. The president is becoming the lawmaker and not just the law enforcer.

The other problem with this is the federal government cannot tell local officials what to do. They can't basically come in and say, OK, city police officers, you're going to enforce federal immigration law. That's another constitutional problem.

So, if you're a municipality and issued ordinances to officials to do something that's inconsistent with federal policy, the constitutional argument is that Feds can't change that. You have that authority.

BLACKWELL: Certainly, some challenges on the horizon.

PATE: No question.

BLACKWELL: Page Pate, thank you so much.

PATE: Thank you, Victor.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: Well, President Trump preparing for a flurry of phone calls today with global leaders, including Russian President Vladimir Putin.

BLACKWELL: There's a lot to cover. Next hour of your NEW DAY starts after a short break.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have a great relationship with Russia and other countries. I will consider that a good thing, not a bad thing.