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President Trump Defends Executive Order On Immigration Ban; Protests Across U.S Airports on Immigration Ban; President Trump Reorganizes National Security Council; Soldier Killed in Yemen; Hollywood's Reaction to President Trump's Travel Ban. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 29, 2017 - 17:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[17:00:28] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I am Brianna Keilar in Washington. We're going to begin now with breaking news on the growing opposition to president Trump's immigration ban. We are monitoring protests and marches in major cities this hour. Some demonstrators filling the baggage claims of international airports, others marching in their state capitals.

Protesters are calling the executive order unconstitutional and un- American and they're demanding the president release the people who are still detained at airports nationwide. President Trump responding to the nationwide protest -- he issued a statement just a few moments ago defending this extreme vetting as he calls it.

We have CNN White House correspondent, Athena Jones, following the story. She's joining me now from the White House. Tell us about the statement, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi Brianna. This is pretty remarkable. The president clearly consuming the media, watching what is going on in terms of the coverage of this executive order and putting out a defense, a justification of those steps.

Here's part of what he said in the statement, "America is a proud nation of immigrants and we will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression. We will do so while protecting our own citizens and border. America has always been the land of the free and the home of the brave. We will keep it free and keep it safe as the media knows, but refuses to say.

My policy is similar to what president Obama did in 2011 when he banned visas for refugees from Iraq for six months. The seven countries named in the executive order are the same countries previously identified by the Obama administration as sources of terror."

So, pretty defensive statement there. You don't often see the media referred to directly in terms of -- he goes on to talk about the media falsely reporting things. You don't often see that, certainly in the White House statements that we've seen over the last eight years or so. One thing that I think is notable here Brianna is that in this statement, he's pointing to the Obama administration and saying, you know, that we're kind of just following up with what they said. Well if you talk to Obama officials, they'd say look, to say that

maybe these people from certain countries should get extra scrutiny is not the same thing as instituting a total travel ban. And when it comes to refugees, those are the people who get the most vetting, the extreme vetting. Their undergoing extreme vetting already, vetting the last up to two years or more in order to get through all the hurdles to get into this country.

I will also note that in the briefing yesterday with senior administration officials, there was no mention of the Obama administration's approach when it comes to the specific list of seven countries. Instead they talked about congress. They said that Congress identified these seven countries at high risk and so the seven countries -- that list comes from a congressional statute so, their justification is changing just a little bit.

I also want to talk about the two tweets that we just saw from the president. I believe if we have them we can put them on the screen. This is in response to the joint statement put out by Arizona senator John McCain, a Republican and also Republican senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, who are opposed to this-- to this travel ban.

He said in response, "The joint statement of former presidential candidates John McCain and Lindsey Graham is wrong. They are sadly weak on immigration. The two senators should focus their energies on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III."

This is interesting for a couple of reasons. One is he's suggesting that the senators shouldn't speak their minds. That they, you know, he's suggesting they don't really need to be weighing in on this policy. Of course, this is part of the system of government we have, a government of checks and balances, and these senators are not going to not weigh in. They are very, very vocal.

And I think what this reflects, Brianna, is the fact that, you know, in many ways, the White House is just happy with this. They talked yesterday about how everything was going well when it comes to implementing this order. They know this is something that the people who put them in office, put the president in office would have thought but it seems as though they weren't quite ready for the reaction to this globally and also from members of their own party, Brianna.

KEILAR: Now, it appears that is the case. Athena Jones, covering this for us from the White House. Thank you. And for a second day in a row, protesters are gathering at Los Angeles International Airport to voice their opposition to this travel ban by President Trump. That's where we find CNN's Dan Simon, he's there. And tell us what you're seeing there at LAX.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Brianna. This crowd is absolutely extraordinary. L.A. has a very large and variety of American community so, it's thought that the crowd would be very large, but it has exceeded all expectations. [17:05:04] And you're seeing people going from all walks of life and

all ethnicities. Families coming out with their children. You could see this gentleman here with his son on his shoulders. In terms of the number of people detained, Brianna, it is something that we have not really been able to get a firm handle on. We've heard from lawyers here at the airport who is friends and family, that at one point, it was in the dozens of people.

But at this point, we don't know how many people are still in custody because the federal authorities simply haven't released that information, but you can see how big it is. Certainly thousands of people here have descended her at LAX and if you have a flight in the international terminal, the airport is saying you better be prepared for a long wait, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right. Even disrupting some of the travel there it sounds like. Dan Simon, for us at LAX. I want to go now to Battery Park. This is in New York. It's where travel ban protest has been going on and it's going on as we speak. That's where we find CNN's Jessica Schneider. You're live for us there from this protest. Tell us what you're seeing, Jessica.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, we've actually made our way up through New York Cityabout a mile right here to Federal Plaza. We started off at Battery Park, now, the hundreds if not thousands of protesters have made their way here. This is the seat of the federal government here in New York City. You have the federal court houses. You also have the FBI building as well as Department of Homeland Security.

But to give you a glimpse of how this all unfolded, this rally started around 2:00 this afternoon. It started at Battery Park right on the banks of the New York harbor, overlooking the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island. Of course, Ellis Island, welcomed -- was the gateway for millions of immigrant entering this country, welcomed into this country.

So using that as the juxtaposition as to what's happening now with this executive order from president Trump, these people coming out for the second day in a row, making their voices heard. Of course we saw the rallies and the marches last week as well when it came it to the Women's March. Now they're focusing their efforts. Their hash tag is #NoBanNoWall.

I talked to many people out here. They say that they have been affected, some of them, personally, by this. We heard from speakers down at Battery Park. One woman who said that her parents fled south Sudan. She was born in a refugee camp and then made her way here to the United States, living in New York City now.

I spoke with a man who is from Iran. He's been here in New York City with a green card for seven years. He was hoping to reunite with his family on a trip to Europe this summer. They've just canceled that trip because of the uncertainty surrounding this executive order and what goes forward from here. So, really, just a mass of people in this area. They're taking to the

streets. They're chanting. They're trying to get their message to President Trump. We've heard also from politicians today. The mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio saying that this sends a horrible message, this executive order. We've heard from Chuck Schumer as well, saying that this is bad for humanity. So now the people here making their voices heard as they have been for the past two days and of course, all over the country, Brianna.

KEILAR: Jessica Schneider for us there in New York. We know you'll continue to monitor this protest as it moves through the city there. CNN just spoke with a Syrian physician. This is someone who has been working in the Washington, D.C. area for two years now. He is from Aleppo and his wife was on her way here. They hadn't seen each other in two years.

His wife actually had a valid visa for a spouse. But she was detained at Dulles Airport outside of Washington and according to the family's attorney, she has since been released, but here's what he told CNN earlier as he was going through this ordeal.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So my wife is going the stay here tonight. She's in the holding area in this airport so she must say here tonight.

KEILAR: In a holding area.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In a holding area, and then tomorrow she will have an interview with one of the asylum judge and then he will decide if she can -- if she's can go to the asylum thing (ph) or she should do something else. So, it depends on what's going to happen tomorrow with the interview.

Most likely she's going to go through with the local jail (INAUDIBLE) I think, but this scenario is to get her released tomorrow night. I'm very worried about her. I'm really worried about here. She is very tired. She (INAUDIBLE) for like -- she did not sleep since (INAUDIBLE) so I'm very worried about her. I don't know what's going to happen with her tomorrow. I don't know what's going to happen -- where she's going to sleep tonight so I'm very worried about her for sure.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what if she -- what if she's forced to go back to Syria?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think (INAUDIBLE). She cannot go back to Syria.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why? She fears for her life.

[17:10:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: For sure -- for sure. I think the best option for her, she came on J2 visa, so she should be admitted on J2 visa. I think this is like the fair thing that should happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Scary.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's really scary. This is her first time here. She stays outside, like, outside by herself. And she doesn't speak English so it's just, it's really scary.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: So much uncertainty that these families are feeling and still ahead, we're going to talk about these protests. More about that. Also, legal challenges that are growing over the president's travel ban. Where do they go from here? We'll have our panel weigh in next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: There are protests springing up across the country in opposition of President Trump's new travel ban. You're taking a live look there at Chicago on your left and this is DFW, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport on your right there.

A Republican congressman, Will Hurd, just released a statement in response to the president's travel ban highlighting the danger that he feels it poses to Americans. He says, "A one size fits all solution is not the way to solve one of the most complex national security challenges that we face, that's Islamic terrorism."

And he goes on to say, "We cannot fight the scourge of Islamic extremism alone. This visa ban is the ultimate display of mistrust and will erode our ally's willingness to fight with us. The ban also provides terrorists with another tool to gain sympathy and recruit new fighters." And we should mention that Congressman Hurd has a background in intelligence in addition to being a GOP congressman from Texas.

Democratic senator Chuck Schumer of New York held a press conference earlier today highlighting the voices personally affected by Donald Trump's travel ban. One father, whose family was detained and then released, spoke out after being reunited with his loved ones.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a good citizen. I have my own business. I have my own house, but I don't have my children with me.

[17:15:00] It's very hard to see people being killed right and left and I can't save my own children so -- and I have another daughter in Lebanon stuck -- here wit four children. They cannot get here and I appreciate mister -- Senator Schumer for his efforts, and he's going to fight this nonsense because America's built on refugees and people like us building America.

And we're going to build it better than what Mr. Trump wanted it. I promise you that. And this future of America, I've been bringing my kids here to be good citizen -- I'm teaching. My wife is a teacher, educators, she teach them. We all teach them to be good and do good for America and everybody.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And we have been monitoring protests. We have some live pictures to show you of protests that are coming out of Dallas. This is in the arrivals area and this a scene that's been playing out at airports across the country, in places where people caught up in this travel ban have been detained. So we're going to continue to monitor this at Dallas.

We're seeing protests in New York and around the country. We'll keep an eye on that.

Coming up, President Obama using executive action to reorganize his national security counsel, actually, President Trump I should say. Pardon me for that typo -- why there are some major concerns over who is now going to be in those meetings and who may not be in those meetings.

[17:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: You're looking at live pictures of Chicago O'Hare airport where people are protesting President Trump's travel ban and a statement just in from Bob Corker. He is the chairman, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and he is saying that the administration should basically change this order immediately.

Here's what he said. "We all desire, we all share a desire to protect the American people, but this executive order has been poorly implemented especially with respect to green card holders. The administration should immediate make appropriate revisions and it is my hope that following a thorough review, an implementation of security enhancements that many of these programs will be improved and re-instated."

So some oppositions and criticism there coming from Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- significant as well because this is someone who is actually considered to be Donald Trump's secretary of state. So we have a lot to discuss now with this and with other issues involving this travel ban.

We have our panel with us now. Mark Krikorian is the executive director of the Center for Immigration Studies. We also have Alice Stewart, she's a CNN political commentator and a Republican strategist and also with me is CNN political commentator, Maria Cardona, who is also a Democratic strategist.

Thank you so much to all of you for joining me, and I want to ask you first, Alice, because of this statement coming from Bob Corker, what does this say about the way this was rolled out if you have someone like Bob Corker saying this needs to be changed immediately and there are a lot of people being caught up in this who should not be.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It says that they probably do need to make revisions. Clearly from the very get go, the idea behind the executive order was clear. We all knew this was going to happen. He campaigned on securing the border. He campaigned on making America safe and we knew this was going to happen.

The intent was to make America safe and prevent those from coming from areas that were terror prone to come into this country about to commit acts of terror. However, the execution of this order has not gone smoothly to anyone's stretch of the imagination and they do need to make revisions.

What we're seeing in these pictures across the nation is not good and it's not safe. Our airports are vulnerable to violence any way and to have this added is not good. So, I do think sooner rather than later, some revisions and pullbacks on this executive order need to be made for many reasons, not the least of which, to calm the fears of those who are out traveling and those who are out protesting.

KEILAR: And Mark, we have seen a number of interventions by judges across the country, dealing with this. I want to talk to you about the legality of this. It's an executive order banning travel from seven Muslim majority countries. Is it legal?

MARK KRIKORIAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: The answer is yes, of course it is. But the first thing to note is that there is a whole lot of people who really need to switch to decaf. This is a 90-day pause. It's not a ban. It's a temporary pause, likewise with the refugee issue -- a 120-day pause in the resettlement of refugees.

Of course there's no question that it's legal. The president has plenary authority to keep out and this is the words of the law, "any person or any class of persons," so there's no question, it's legal. Now, the only issue is people who were in transit, but there's only literally something like 25 people left that are sort of were in transit and haven't already been entered into United States. That's the relevant issue.

KEILAR: Well, but you also may have -- you also may have green card holders who have left the country and are in other countries and perhaps, they are in between point A and B but they are certainly stuck in other countries, where they do not intend to be. Do you think it's effective? I mean you're looking at these protests. You're seeing all of these Republicans -- not all of them.

I would say a number of prominent Republican voices, who are taking issue with what's going on and then a lot of others who are just sitting back and not backing up the president on this. Is this an effective way to roll this out?

KROKORIAN: There's a couple of ways that -- there's a couple of issues here. One is the green card holders are almost all going to be able to get back in, but there's going to be -- we're going to get another look at who these people are as they come back into the United States. As to whether it was an effective --

[17:25:00] KEILAR: So, you're saying you think the process of them going through and getting a green card, you think that they haven't been effectively vetted and they need to be vetted again?

KRIKORIAN: You mean like the San Bernardino shooter's wife? The answer is yes. That's why it's these seven --

KEILAR: In fairness, she would not have been caught up in this net and you know that. She was coming to a country that was not one of the seven.

KRIKORIAN: She will not, that's why this is a very limited, actually extremely limited, narrow measure that only applies to seven countries of concern as are defined in the law which Congress passed and President Obama signed. And the idea that we shouldn't have enhanced -- further enhanced scrutiny of people coming from Somalia or Yemen is frankly kind of nuts.

KEILAR: Well, and Maria, respond to that.

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So many things here to respond so. First of all, nobody is arguing that we should not take extensive measures to keep our country safe. Everybody agrees with that. Nobody is arguing that there shouldn't be extensive vetting of people coming from those seven countries. In fact, the Obama administration did want that. That is very different from an all out Muslim ban of people come -- of Muslims coming from those countries.

KRIKORIAN: There is no Muslim ban.

CARDONA: And the question of illegality, of course there's a question. There's not only a question as to whether it's illegal, there's a question as to whether it's constitutional. The constitution says you cannot have a religious test, this is executive order very plainly says there should be a religious test.

There is a law in 1965, immigration law that says you cannot keep people out that are from other nationalities simply because they're from that nationality. So, extensive vetting is one thing, but when you ban a whole swath of people, that is not only illegal, it is not only unconstitutional, but it makes our country less safe a place into the hand of ISIS.

KEILAR: Alice, you're it.

STEWART: Now, let's make sure and stick with the facts here. This is not about religion at all. This is about terrorism. And there's no religious test involved in this executive order whatsoever.

KEILAR: Well, it's outlined --

CARDONA: There is though. There is

STEWART: No, there is not.

CARDONA: Yes.

KRIKORIAN: No, look --

STEWAR: This is about --

CARDONA: You should read it.

KEILAR: Alice, Alice, I have a question.

KRIKORIAN: Ninety percent -- KEILAR: So when you read the order --

KRIKORIAN: -- of the world's Muslim were not covered by this rule.

KEILAR: When you read the order and you hear the description coming from members of the Trump administration, you're saying there's no discussion of religion.

STEWART: There's not a religious test involved in this executive order whatsoever.

CARDONA: Alice, there is.

STEWART: And the seven -- the seven countries --

CARDONA: Rudy Giuliani said it was a Muslim ban and it says in the order that Christians are going to be prioritized over Muslims. If that's not a religious test, I don't know what is.

STEWART: The seven countries that were identified as we just heard in the statement from the White House, these were identified by the Obama administration. Congress during the Obama administration, these countries were named as areas and sites of terror. That's why these countries were named and that is --

(CROSSTALK)

KEILAR: But Alice, definitely --

KRIKORIAN: And something to interject here, excuse me --

KEILAR: -- definitely been something -- Alice, we've been seeing, no, I want to ask Alice a question about that. We have seen that initial, that's something that wasn't even brought up initially. It seems to have been something to I guess to give cover to the Trump administration --

CARDONA: From all the blow back.

KEILAR: As they -- when they've been criticized here, it doesn't seem to be an initial justification for this. And to that point, I mean, just what Mark was talking about, the San Bernardino shooter. So you're saying, yes, it's these seven countries identified in a list of some sort, maybe not with this in mind, but what about Afghanistan or Pakistan or Saudi Arabia or a number of other countries?

CARDONA: Places where terrorists have actually come from and done harm to the United States.

STEWART: Well look, the point is that these nations -- these countries were named as I said, from the Obama administration and the reason it's being brought to like now is because of the false accusations that this has to do with religion and not terror and that's why it's being addressed at this point --

CARDONA: The (INAUDIBLE) was very poorly written. It was very poorly written because in the executive order itself it says Christians from these nations can be prioritized and let in but not Muslims.

KRIKORIAN: No, it does not. Excuse me, Maria.

CARDONA: Yes it does. Yes it does.

KRIKORIAN: It says in refugee, excuse me, in refugee resettlement, it says that Christians -- religious minorities, Christians and Yezidi can be prioritized.

CARDONA: Religious minorities in this country, that is correct.

KRIKORIAN: It has nothing to do -- it has nothing to do with the travel ban, number one. Number two, the reason for that is that the UNHCR does not refer Christians for resettlement. Ninety-seven percent at least of all refugees we've taken from

[17:30:00] Syria are Muslims even though 10 or 12 percent of the population are Christians and they're the ones in the firing line so it's a kind of compensatory thing.

CARDONA: We have resettled almost as many Christians as we have Muslims, Mark, so do not --

KRIKORIAN: From Syria we have not settled more than a handful of Christians from Syria. A tiny number.

CARDONA: So, you know, so don't start spewing --

KRIKORIAN: Is that true or not? I mean are you --

CARDONA: -- spewing things that aren't correct. You're misguiding the viewers.

KRIKORIAN: -- are you (INAUDIBLE) excuse me, 97 percent --

CARDONA: And so when it comes to -- when it comes to action.

KRIKORIAN: -- of the refugees in Syria have been Muslim.

CARDONA: -- when it comes to actions that are effective, this is not an action that is effective in keeping us safe. When you have ISIS --

KRIKORNIAN: And now, you're changing the subject.

CARDONA: When you have ISIS --

KRIKORIAN: Now you're changing the subject.

CARDONA: When you have ISISI that is gleefully tweeting about this news, about the Muslim ban, President Trump is playing into the whole story that ISIS wants the world to believe that it is ISIS and the Islamic world against the United States. And we have absolutely played into that and that makes us less safe.

KEILAR: And Alice, Mark and Maria, I am going to have to leave our conversation. I know we have so much more to discuss and we will at a future time, I promise. I do want to tell our viewers about some of the live pictures that they're seeing. This is coming from the Detroit International Airport. You can see protesters there. You can see the cars coming in for the departures area moving very slowly and a number of them honking.

And we also have pictures coming to us from Dallas inside of the terminal there at DFW, protesters as they welcome people in what appears to be the international arrivals area. Let's take a look now at Chicago where we're also seeing some activity of what appears to be a smaller group there just from this vantage point that we are getting. But around the country, especially in these airports, where we have seen people detained who seem to be in transit as this executive order came out.

You're seeing people come out and protesting President Trump's travel ban. We're going to continue to monitor that activity around the country and we'll be right back.

[17:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: And we have -- let's talk about this. Overlooked in the uproar of President Donald Trump's travel ban was another executive order that he signed yesterday. This was reorganizing the National Security Council. And with the stroke of his pen, President Trump effectively removed the Chairman of The Joint Chiefs ff Staff as well as the director of National Intelligence from the committee, from the principles committee, saying they would be invited when their issues pertaining to their responsibilities and when their expertise was needed.

And for more on this, I'm joined by CNN Washington correspondent Ryan Nobles. Ryan, this is something that a lot of people in the national security committee are saying, you know, make no mistake, we are just adding names or taking names off of the list, this is a big deal.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes Brianna and it's not just about who was subtracted from this Principles Committee but is who was added to that list. And for those who aren't familiar with it, the Principles Committee is basically a permanent group of people who are there in the room when the president is being advised of national security and intelligence matters.

So it's a select group for sure, but generally, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of the National Intelligence Agency are people that are there. Now, added to that list as those two individual are taken off in the Trump White House, will be Steve Bannon, who is the chief strategist and senior counselor to President Trump Trump. And Bannon is not someone who is considered to be a military expert or an intelligence expert for that matter.

He did serve in the military. He was in the navy, but he is not someone who is thought to have expertise in that field. Instead, he's thought of as being more of a political expert and a political strategist. And Susan Rice, who was of course the former National Security adviser herself in the Obama White House, she really went off on the Trump administration for this decision to add Bannon to the permanent committee.

Listen -- let me show you what she said on twitter. She said, quote, "This is stone cold crazy after a week of crazy. Who needs military advise or intel to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan or the DPRK" which is of course North Korea.

And Rice was also critical of the fact that this memo which outlines how the permanent committee this Principles Committee will work in the National Security Counsel allows for President Trump to not be in attendance and for Vice President Pence to take his place. And Rice said in another tweet that, "That never happened in the Obama White House." She said that, "Pence may chair NSC meetings in lieu of POTUS and that never happened under Obama."

So this is certainly shaking things up here, Brianna, but it's important to keep in mind that this National Security Council is President Trump's council and he can set it up any way he chooses.

KEILAR: So, some people, Ryan, will point out that David Axelrod occasionally was in this meeting, although he wasn't I guess a regular sitting member as we're going to see Steve Bannon. And we're talking about people with more political expertise than national security expertise. Is that really the issue or what you're hearing the criticism more about who Steve Bannon is and the fact that many people find him to be extreme and there were even Republicans who had a concern that he was someone so close in an advisory role to President Trump?

NOBLES: I think it's a little bit of both, Brianna. And keep in mind, even when David Axelrod and even Karl Rove before him would, you know, kind of pop in on these meetings. This is a little bit different because Bannon's going to be a permanent member so, he will be in all of these conversations.

But you know, there's a concern among some in the national security committee, community I should say, that when you place someone who is, you know, advising the president on political matters, that they may come at it from a different perspective than someone who would from a military or intelligence perspective. And they're fearful that it sets a bad precedent in terms of how the president may make these decisions. But the White House believes this is going to streamline the effort. Make it more efficient and they believe ultimately keep Americans more safe.

KEILAR: All right, Ryan Nobles at the White House. Thank you for that report. And joining me now is Jim Walsh. He is an international security analyst and he is here to give us his reaction to this reshuffle. So, what do you think when you hear about this, that Steve Bannon is added -- is a permanent member and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the DNI are not going to be permanent members anymore?

JIM WALSH, INTERNATIONAL SECURITY ANAYST: Well Brianna, to be fair, every president tweaks the National Security Council process. It's been true since the first one under President Truman, but this is unusual. And given the week we've had, questions of competency and rolling out these executive orders, you know, it makes me worried. And so, there are two questions here, Brianna.

[17:40:00] One is substance. What will be the quality of national decision making? Will we get good decisions? The second issue is what signal is it sending to other parts of government? And so on the quality issue, if you're taking intel, the intel community out of it, you know, they can come when they want or when they're invited. I mean, this is a president who has no foreign policy experience. You would think intelligence would be important in any issue of national security -- economic or with respect to the military.

So, I find that very odd, and what I'm concerned about on the second dimension, that is what signal it sends. This is a president who's been skipping his daily briefing, who has said disparaging things about the intelligence community, who went over to the CIA and had a disastrous speech there and now, he's telling that community we're demoting you. We don't think you're important enough or relevant enough to be part of the permanent process. I feel very uneasy about that.

KEILAR: But what does it tell you about these positions or what are your concerns about them not having a permanent seat at the table? Does this perhaps indicate some sort of internal power struggle over who gets to be more prominent in this body?

WALSH: I've read some media reports about this and suggesting that Mr. Flynn is trying to affect it. I have no idea and I'm not going to speculate about intention. I'm going to stay focused on the outcomes here. And the outcome is you have the chairman of the Joint Chiefs and head of U.S. Intelligence and they've been demoted, and you have a political guy who has no national security background. I mean he doesn't.

Just because he served doesn't mean he knows anything about national security. He's not a national security professional. And then he's a permanent member, which means he's getting all the memos and you know, part of the discussion process.

Now, to be fair, you could argue and this is true sometimes. Sometimes, these process changes, you know, moving the organizational chart, shifting the chairs around, you know, it doesn't really amount to much at the end of the day, you know. People could focus on process all day long and it ends up not mattering.

But there are other occasions when who gets to sit at the table, who's in the room, who gets a vote and whose voices are being excluded, that can matter and that's the argument that says this is more than organizational changes. It's more than process. This is about how decisions will get made.

Now, we just don't know. We don't know how it's going to work and we're in our first week, you know. I mean it's still -- it's mind- boggling we're in our first week. But given what we've seen in the first week, changes like this to how decisions will be made, it seems to me it makes things even more uncertain than they were before.

KEILAR: Sounds like you are waiting to see if this is used in practice, if these positions are generally excluded or if they are excluded at key moments and really the jury is still out on that. Jim, thank you so much.

WALSH: Exactly.

KEILAR: We do appreciate you talking to us and giving us your expertise. Jim Walsh.

WALSH: Thank you.

KEILAR: And we're back in a moment.

[17:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: Just in the CNN, a Republican showing public support for Donald Trump's travel policy. Congressman Devin Nunes who is the Chairman on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, had this to say about the administration's executive order on refugees. "Based on my studies of this issue during numerous trips abroad related to intelligence matters, I've stated repeatedly that refugee flows from certain war thorn region pose a serious national security threat to the United States.

In light of attempts by jihadist groups to infiltrate fighters into refugee flows to the west along with Europe's tragic experience coping with this problem, the Trump administration's executive order on refugees is a common sense security measure to prevent terror attacks on the homeland."

And turning now to another major story that is making headlines today, a U.S. service member has died from wounds suffered during a raid against Al-Qaeda in Yemen. This is the first service member to be killed under the Trump administration. And president Trump authorized this operation and he did release a statement.

It says, "Americans are saddened this morning with news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism. My deepest thoughts and humblest prayers are with the family of this fallen service member. I also pray for a quick and complete recovery for the brave service members who sustained injuries."

And there were a number of those as well. I want to bring in now CNN's Pentagon reporter, Ryan Brown. So Ryan, tell us what you know about this one service member who was killed.

RYAN BROWN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That' right. This service member was fatally wounded during a special operations raid in Yemen that was targeting an Al-Qaeda headquarters and this is what the military calls, you know, site exploitation raid, where they're attempting to gather up as much intelligence. When intense gun battle broke out, 14 Al Qaeda fighters were killed. Several U.S. service members were wounded in addition to the one that was killed.

Now, in attempt while they were leaving an area, a U.S. aircraft, the V-22 Osprey also crashed and was subsequently destroyed. Another service member was wounded during that, so this goes to show there's a lot more intense operations in Yemen. There were drone strikes on the first day of Donald Trump's presidency. So Al Qaeda in Yemen, which is considered the terror group's most capable franchise, is really becoming a target in the new administration in its early days, Brianna.

KEILAR: How unusual is this for -- this hasn't happened very often. Obviously we don't have -- the U.S. doesn't have a number of troops operating overseas, but there are quite a few and they tend to be Special Forces and we've seen casualties from time to time, but how often does that happen?

BROWN: It's pretty rare an again, the objective has to be considered very valuable, one, to make it all the way up to the presidential level to authorize it. That just shows you how rare it is to kind of take those additional risks. So obviously, they thought the intelligence that could be gleaned from this operation was valuable enough to take the risk of sending boots on the ground as opposed to trying an air strike from a drone or something like that. So, clearly, the objective here was considered critical to kind of furthering the fight against Al-Qaeda in Yemen.

KEILAR: Big risks in these raids of cours. Ryan Brown, thank you so much for that report. We'll be right back.

[17:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: The effects of Donald Trump's ban, travel ban, also making their way to Hollywood. Iranian director Asghar Farhadi is nominated for an Oscar but he cannot attend the Academy Awards next month because of this travel ban. Stephanie Elam is on the red carpet for the SAG Awards in Los Angeles. And Stephanie, normally we're talking about things that are more frivolous than this, but this is reaching all the way there to Hollywood. How are people reacting?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Definitely Brianna and you could start seeing the tweets that started coming out as soon as we heard more about this travel ban. And I just want to give you an idea of some of the tweets we're seeing. I'm going to show you first of all from Jesse Tyler Ferguson who's on "Modern Family." He tweeted, "I hope that the world knows that our president does not represent all Americans. Most of our country is horrified by this immigration ban."

They are nominated tonight so it will be interesting to see if we hear more from some of these stars as they come up to accept their awards if they talk a little more about politics. Just to give you another example of this, Kerry Washington who is nominated for her role in "Confirmation." She tweeted, "Sick to my stomach today about the #Muslimban. Don't understand why." And then she goes on to say, "that people can learn more about the awful history of U.S. rejecting refugees."

So, a lot of conversation about this already here and you could probably expect more. Think about at the Golden Globes when Meryl Streep got her lifetime award. She took that time to speak about President Trump without actually mentioning him by name. So, we might see more of that here in Hollywood. And just to give you an idea of how the carpet looks here, it's starting to get a little bit more (INAUDIBLE) as we're getting closer to show time here.

[17:55:00] But yes, a lot of people here already talking about what is happening in D.C., politics and the ban. As you probably would not be surprised to hear, Brianna, most people here are saying that the ban is not the way to go.

KEILAR: All right Stephanie, we know you'll be our ears there as we see what happens tonight. Thank you so much for that report. The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM is going to start after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: It is the top of the hour. I'm Brianna Keilar in Washington in for Poppy Harlow tonight, and you are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. We begin with a brand new response from President Trump defending his travel ban that bars people from seven Muslim majority nations from entering the U.S.

Donald Trump's fresh defense comes after a second day of angry backlash from protesters in cities like Boston, Washington, New York and San Francisco. Plus staunch opposition from two leading Republican senators, John McCain And Lindsey Graham who released this statement, "It is clear from the confusion of our airports across the nation that

[18:00:00] President Trump's executive order was not properly vetted. We fear this executive order may do more to help terrorist recruitment than improve our security. The White House is standing firm saying that the travel ban is going to stay in place.