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CNN NEWSROOM

Protesters Gathering in Major U.S. Cities; President Trump Defends Controversial Travel Ban; Sixteen State Attorney Generals Slam Executive Order as Un-American and Unlawful; Lawmakers Joining Protesters; Hollywood Blasts President Trump's Travel Ban Oscar Nominated Iranian Director Banned; President Trump Plans Supreme Court Nominee This Week. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 29, 2017 - 19:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:00:27] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Brianna Keilar in Washington. Poppy Harlow is off this evening.

Breaking news. President Trump defended his controversial travel ban even his attorneys general from 16 states slam it as quote 'unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful." Protesters gathering in cities across the United States from New York to Boston, Los Angeles and beyond. All of this in response to the order which effectively bans 218 million people from seven Muslim majority states.

The president issuing this statement quote "we will continue to show compassion to those flees oppression, but we will do so while protecting our citizens and border. To be clear, this is not a Muslim ban as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion. This is about terror and keeping our country safe."

Congressional Democrats are going to hold an event tomorrow night. They will demand at that event that the president withdraw the executive order as emotions run high.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: This executive order -- was mean spirited and un-American.

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. It's very hard to see people who kill right and left and I can't save my own children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: Now, to be clear, Republicans are also voicing concerns. You have Senator John McCain and Senator Lindsey Graham, who said in a statement quote "it is clear from the confusion in our airports across the nation, that President Trump's executive order was not properly vetted. Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self- inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism." The president tweeting in response to that, now, the joint statement

of former presidential candidates, John McCain and Lindsey Graham is wrong. He says there are sadly weak on immigration. The two senators should focus their energy on ISIS, illegal immigration and border security instead of always looking to start World War III.

Let's get now to Chicago where a loud and large crowd has grown all afternoon there at O'Hare airport. And that's where CNN's Rosa Flores has been.

Rosa, talk to us about this because you spoke to the Chicago mayor a few minutes ago and we have been seeing that in many of these cases, it is the mayors who have come in to put pressure and get some of these detainees released.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Mayor Rahm Emanuel has been very vocal from the get go, Brianna, saying that Chicago is and will remain a sanctuary city. That it is a city of immigrants. Him, even telling us his story about how his family is a family of immigrants, getting a bit emotional. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MAYOR RAHM EMANUEL, CHICAGO: Look. Chicago, just say this, 100 years ago, 100 years ago, my grandfather came to this city. 1917 from the (INAUDIBLE) of Eastern Europe. His parents put him on a boat, 13 years old, by himself. He came to a place called Chicago. This generations later, his grandson is the mayor of this city.

We have always welcomed people whether they are from Ireland or Israel, whether they are from Mexico or mull dove where my grandfather is from or whether they're from Pakistan and Poland. Chicago has been b a place where immigrants have always found the American dream available to their children and it always will be.

I am both the son and grandson of immigrants and our values are clear of who we are. And I want to thank all the lawyers here who ensure people when they come, what their met with is support, security and safety. And that's who we are and that is what we are doing. And tonight, my office is putting out, Amy and I are hosting this week dreamers at our house for dinner. So they know that they are welcome in the city. I'm calling on all Chicagoans to open up their home, open up their hearts and make sure in this kind of uncertainty, that the dreamers who go to schools, they know that Chicago is their home.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

FLORES: And now as you can see, this protest just moved outside. Take a look. It has grown Brianna, in the past probably 15 minutes.

From talking to a lot of these people, they are very passionate about expressing their first amendment right, a lot of them telling me that they want to be out here because they know that some immigrants in these communities are too afraid to speak out for themselves.

Now, I want to tell you a brief story because there was a Syrian family who arrived here in Chicago. It was a mom and a son and he was very, very emotional, Brianna, saying that he was afraid. The quote was "I was terrified" because he was held for about two, two and a half hours with his mother and he says that he has been accepted to dental at a university in Indiana and he was afraid he was going to be sent back again from Syria. He was going to be sent back to Syria and he was going to lose his American dream in that process -- Brianna.

[19:05:51] KEILAR: All right, Rosa Flores at Chicago's O'Hare airport. Thank you.

Let's get now to Los Angeles. There's a loud gathering at LAX. That's Los Angeles International airport. That's where CNN's Dan Simon is there.

Tell us what's happening around you, Dan.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Brianna. We are in the arrival area in the international terminal. And you can see this very large crowd of people, people congregating back in and outside of the terminal. Obviously, being very loud. Have lots of signs, anti-Trump signs. Obviously, opposed to this immigration order.

We just got word that at least one detainee was released within about the past hour or so. We don't know if in fact more people here detained at LAX. But just want to share with you a little bit of information about this woman.

She is 25 years old. And she was detained for approximately 24 hours. She is a refugee from Iran. She had a work permit here in the United States, living in Los Angeles, working at a grocery store. And when she got here, she was told that she couldn't leave. We were told that border patrol looked through her cell phone, looked at her luggage. And after questioning her again for about 24 hour, decided that she could go.

And once again, you see this crowd here at LAX. And these people are not going anywhere anytime soon -- Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, Dan Simon at LAX. Thank you.

Earlier today, President Trump tweeted, he said our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting now. Look at what is happening all over Europe and indeed the world, a horrible mess.

But we want to show you some numbers now. The CATO institute, a conservative think tank has tallied the number of Americans killed by citizens of the seven countries banned from 1975 to 2015. They are as followed: From Iraq, zero. From Iran, zero. From Syria, zero. From Somalia, zero. From Libya, zero and from Sudan, zero.

The same set of statistics shows that nearly 3,000 Americans were killed by citizens from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt in that same time period. Those are nations that are not on this list of countries that are part of this travel ban.

I want to bring in now CNN's international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson.

So, you look at those numbers, Nic, and what does that tell you about how this ban has been implemented and even how it is being received overseas.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It's been rolled out in such a way that people overseas in particular in the countries affect e affected among the allies in Europe and elsewhere in the world that they can't understand because the logic hasn't been laid out for them.

However, that said, there will be understanding because they will look at countries like Yemen. Al-Qaeda's best bomb maker, if you will, lives there. He made the underpants bomb that a Nigerian wore on the plane that landed in Detroit Christmas day 2009 and tried to blow up that plane landing in Detroit.

So although it wasn't a Yemeni on board with the bomb, it was a Yemeni that made the bomb and certainly Europeans are very aware that ISIS attacks are being plotted and planned at headquarters in Syria, possibly even Libya these days. Those attacks taking place in Europe. So, they will understand that.

But the real concern among the alley lies is the way that this has been rolled out. The fact that it hasn't involved them. The fact that they can't, if you will, sell this message to allies. They all - all these countries work together on counterterrorism term, intelligence security terms to tackle the tariffs. But here they are in a key part of this tackling this issue. Feeling like they are being left out in the dark.

KEILAR: A spokesman, Nic, for the German chancellor Angela Merkel said that she deeply regrets the new U.S. immigration orders and that she spelled out the Geneva Convention to him on the phone. What are you hearing about that, especially as this is a country that is welcomed in lot of refugees. And actually number of Germans have been very upset with Merkel for that.

[19:10:03] ROBERTSON: She has paid a big political price. She made on (INAUDIBLE). She has election later this year. She is still in a good shot at victory. But it is enabling, the sort of smaller populist nationalist parties in Germany and in France and in Holland, all both having elections this year.

Those countries feel that those parties, Merkel feels that those parties are being enhanced, if you will, given an extra platform because of Donald Trump's policies. It's multiple things going on here, but we have heard from the Dutch and French foreign ministers joint statement tonight saying that they don't think the thinking here essentially is joined up in the rollout of this travel ban program that they think that it is counterproductive on terrorism.

And of course, just British Prime Minister Theresa May here a couple of days ago, very close to President Trump, now having to distance herself from this issue. That's what she has been doing.

KEILAR: All right. Nic Robertson, bringing that international perspective for us. Thank you so much.

And coming up, protests are growing in cities across the country tonight. You are seeing some live pictures coming to you from Dulles, Virginia. Will the president's travel ban hold up under this public and also legal pressure?

Plus, new reporting on an idea that's been kicked around by the White House, asking foreign visitors to hand over the name of all of the websites that they visit, also, their cell phone contacts. We are going to discuss that live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

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[19:14:30] KEILAR: Well, this was the scene outside of the White House earlier, part of the fallout of President Trump's travel ban affecting some 218 million people from seven Muslim majority countries. And despite images like those being repeated in cities all across the country, CNN's own Jake Tapper has learned that White House policy director, Steven Miller, told government officials yesterday that the American people are firmly behind this executive order and not to be distracted by what he calls the hysterical voices on TV.

Donald Trump's chief of staff also refusing to apologize for any confusion.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[19:15:06] REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: It wasn't chaos. I mean, the fact of a matter is 325,000 people from foreign countries came into the United States yesterday and 109 people were detained for further questioning. Most of those people were moved out. We have got a couple dozen more that remain. And I would suspect as long as they are not awful people, that they will move through before another half a day today. And perhaps some of these people should be detained further. And if they are folks that shouldn't be in this country, they are doing to be detained. And so apologize for nothing here.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: I want to bring in my panel now. We have CNN senior political analyst and former advisor to four president, David Gergen, Ryan Lizza, he is Washington correspondent for the "New Yorker" and David Drucker, senior congressional correspondent for the "Washington Examiner."

So, David Gergen, to you. Sources telling our Jake Tapper that the policy director for the White House is saying look, there are a lot of people who are behind this move. And be you know, don't be dissuaded by what you are hearing people who disagree with this. I mean, obviously, David, there are a lot of people because Donald Trump ran on this very thing and here he is delivering it. What do you make of that advice and whether it's something the president should take?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I am sure there are millions who agree in this country with Donald Trump and support him for it. And it's well possible that the White House has overnight polling that they have done on this and they are tracking it closely.

But Brianna, the President Trump would not have issued that statement today which was a form of damage control. I'm talking about his compassion how he welcomes refugees and the like did they not feel that they had a problem on their hands. They better adjust it very quickly. And they have also corrected themselves on the green card issue apparently and homeland security has. So they are trying to put things right. I think they know they have got a mess on their hands. But they are trying to put best face they can on it!

KEILAR: Ryan, I think a lot of people look at this and considering what the executive order was, coupled with, as David Drucker pointed out in the previous hour, the rhetoric that we heard from Donald Trump on the campaign trail. I think a lot of people feel like this isn't surprising, this response. But the White House does seem surprised.

RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I think -- very surprised. I think the statement that the White House put out earlier was very defensive, sort of atypically defensive from Trump. He actually said this is not a Muslim ban. This is the first time I can remember Trump saying that clearly that he was essentially no longer in favor of a Muslim ban, right?

And it looks like a bit of a climbed down. I think they are shocked by the outrage from the public and these protests that are on TV. The legal defeats that they are experiencing in courtrooms around the country. And a lot of Republicans today who came out and said they don't agree with this. And not just the usual ones like Ben Sass and John McCain and Lindsey Graham who have, you know, well-known opinions about Trump. But some other Republicans as well and some major conservatives in the media. So, I think if you add it all up and they are a sort of a little shell shocked about how -- about the backlash against this.

KEILAR: And David Drucker, you saw, there was a statement and while there was certainly a defensive tone to it, really, the White House was standing by the plan here, but then the head of the homeland security department comes out and softens this, right? Tell us about that and what the calculation was there.

DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: You know, earlier today, Brianna, White House chief of staff Reince Priebus had said during a Sunday show interview that people that hold green cards were not impacted by this executive order going forward. And he was questioned about that pretty directly and kept repeating that.

So, what we saw from Secretary Kelly at the department of homeland security is not surprising. And I think this is a case in which the administration feels as though it's in the right because in a sense, there has been a desire among many people to try and beef up our screening of refugees because there is a concern among people focused on national security that people in the Middle East that want to do us harm could use the refugee program as a way to sneak into the country and that it's difficult in certain war torn nation, Syria particularly, to do proper vetting. That you just can't talk to the kind of people you need to talk to and see the kind of documentation you need to know that the vetting has been done properly.

And so, I think that's why some of this might have caught the administration by surprise. But this is what happens when first of all, you are new on the job and even with people that are experienced in politics, you rush through something, you don't talk to all the different agencies.

And the administration even said today, look. We didn't want to tip our hand and have terrorists move up their timeline. This is, though, what can happen if you don't know exactly what you're doing. And so I think what the administration has tried to do is say to everybody, look, we didn't intend for this to be as problematic as it sounds. But as, you know, we have discussed earlier, one of the reasons why people have sort of jumped to this conclusion is because of how the president has talked about this issue for the last 18 months.

[19:20:37] KEILAR: Yes, it is a really good point that you make.

I want you all to listen to something that Kellyanne Conway, one of the top advisors to the president, what she said. She basically said that these detentions are a small price to pay to keep Americans safe. Here's what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: I was stopped many times, weren't you, after 9/11? I didn't resemble or share a name with or be part of any kind of terrorist conspiracy, but this is what we do to keep a nation safe. I mean, there are, this whole idea that they are being separated and ripped from their families, it is temporary and it's just circumstantial in terms of with whether you were one of the 300 and some who was already on an aircraft or try to get on an aircraft as opposed to the over 3,000 children who will be forever more separated from the parents who perished on 9/11.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: David Gergen, what do you make of her saying that? Is she right in that regard or is this a much bigger PR problem than she's admitting?

GERGEN: I must couldn't tell you that, Brianna, that - I didn't come through clearly here.

KEILAR: OK.

GERGEN: Can you summarize what she said?

KEILAR: No. She was basically saying that so many people are going to be kept safe by this, that really having, you know, a dozen b or two dozen people detained is a small price to pay for that.

GERGEN: Listen, it is not just the people who are being detained and everything else. It's the message that the United States is sending to the world about our values. And that message is, you know, it's been so important to our, what is often been called in recent years, soft power, and that is the capacity of a nation to exercise authority in the world because so many people respect it and look up to it and look up to its leadership that kept away to practice its democracy. And for us to hang out a sign in effect that says, you know, Muslims not welcome, really hurt us in the eyes of the world. Two billion people in this world are Muslims.

And let me just say on the question, you know, Rudy Giuliani it's quoted as saying on FOX News that after Donald Trump said he wanted the ban on all Muslims coming to the United States, he called Rudy Giuliani, said, how do I make this legal? How do I get this done? And you figure out a way to do it. And Giuliani said basically, that we went, a group of us went to work and here's what you see. So, you can't, that heavy suggestion that there is an intention here block out a lot of Muslim.

KEILAR: Real quick to you, Ryan, because I'm running out of time here. But if he goes to Rudy Giuliani, and he did ask that, if Rudy Giuliani, if we take what he said to the bank, then why wasn't that a priority here?

LIZZA: I'm not getting David's audio, so --

KEILAR: OK, sorry. What he was saying was Rudy Giuliani said Donald Trump called him and said how do I do this legally, a Muslim ban?

LIZZA: Right.

KEILAR: And I guess my question is, why didn't the Trump administration take greater pains to make sure that they were doing this well within the bounds or even just knowing that they were?

LIZZA: I don't know. It's sort of amateur hour. Listen to some of the legal experts out there who know how executive orders are vetted in an administration. They apparently, the reporting is that they did not vet this through the office of the justice department, which is the typical way to do this. And frankly, they have left themselves open to the ACLU and others coming in and having a victory in the courts because they didn't vet it. They didn't have the lawyers ready with arguments. So I assume that this is part of just a new administration trying to do something and not knowing how to do it properly. But the opponents of this executive order, that's sort of good news because it's left them with some decent legal arguments to attack it.

KEILAR: All right, Ryan Lizza, David Drucker, David Gergen, thank you so much to all of you. I do appreciate it.

Coming up, a man who advised President Trump on national security issues, defends this travel ban. We are going to ask him how the president might react to protests going forward.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:28:23] KEILAR: People opposed to President Trump's travel ban gather to protest today from Los Angeles to Kansas City to Atlanta. And the president defended his ban saying this is not a Muslim ban as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion. This is about terror and keeping our country safe.

Let's talk it over now with a man who has advised Donald Trump on national security issues. James Carafano, he is the heritage foundation's vice president of foreign and defense policy studies. He was a member of the Trump transition team.

And James, it is interesting because you actually were an adviser when it came to DHS, to the department of homeland security. And really between the election and between the inauguration, you knew that this was going to be coming. Why then was this not, you know, a lot of people looked at it and said this could have been rolled out a lot better. He could have had a better understanding of how this was going to go from department of justice lawyers and the department of homeland security could have been looped in a lot better.

JAMES CARAFANO, VICE PRESIDENT OF FOREIGN AND DEFENSE POLICY STUDIES, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: So, I did work on the transition team. And the first thing is there's only one president at a time. So, you really can't go into a department and start issuing orders before January 20th. So there is a limited amount of things you can do.

And I will also say, in terms of the drafting of the orders, if there's one thing the transition team didn't lack for it was a lot of lawyers. So the notion that, you know, no lawyer looked at this, didn't have competency on that. I'm not sure that is fair criticism.

So I think what is fair to criticize is the administration hasn't been out there kind of depending this thing as vociferously as they might have could. And I think part of that is because they have been so anxious to roll so many executive orders out the door. You know, I'm actually - I think, you know, by next week, you know, we will probably have another wrap of executive orders and we will be talking about something else.

[19:30:14] KEILAR: Well, why didn't they defend this vociferously. And it also seems as if and you say that, but Donald Trump himself issued a statement today and he seemed to try to put a softer spin on this. And then you had the head of the department of homeland security talking about how green card holder aren't going to get caught up in this.

CARAFANO: So I would say is the president's tweet is actually 100 percent accurate. That the purpose of the executive order is to deal with the emergent threat. So it is not about politics. It's not about campaign promises. It's about the reality that tens of thousands of foreign fighters flowed into Iraq and Syria and as ISIS loses space, the remaining foreign fighter are going to outflow.

KEILAR: But you see how it can't be divorce from the campaign promise, right? I mean, he made a promise at a time when there was a big concern about ISIS.

CARAFANO: Yes, look. All I can talk about is the reality of what we talked about on the transition team which is not about politics and not about campaign promises but about national security. And everybody in the world, not just the United States agrees that the foreign fighters are going to go to outpour to those seven countries and that the two likely avenues of exit, if you want to go to terrorist attack is by getting a visa or going to the refugee stream. And we know that because we have seen it happen in Europe. And that was the purpose of the executive order. Period.

KEILAR: OK. I want to listen to what the former British foreign secretary David Miliband said about this travel ban.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID MILIBAND, FORMER BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Remember, the only people celebrating today are extremists around the world who want to tell Muslims around the world that America is shutting their doors to them. The only people celebrating this propaganda gift are ISIS and al-Qaeda, who for whom this plays into their co-narrative of a clash of civilization.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: And James, we have heard some Republicans raise this issue, too, that this is something that will ostracize Muslims, that could make them even more sympathetic to terrorists and their message and this could be a great recruitment tool for ISIS and al-Qaeda. Is there a point there?

CARAFANO: No. So, you know, I have heard that silly criticism before. There are the facts that we know. President Obama came into office dedicated to show a more positive face and more positive engagement in Islam. And that started with a speech in Cairo. So this administration spent eight years in a sense trying to show positive face in this issue. And the face of terrorism has exploded over the last eight years or more terrorist attacks globally. There are more victims globally, there are more terrorist plots against the United States.

So if it was just about talking nice, then, we wouldn't have seen the threat metastasize like what we have. And I think it is really simplistic and stupid to argue there's a linear relationship between one thing and another. I mean, that's almost true for nothing to do with terrorism just as suggested it should his place. That's - I think --

(CROSSTALK)

CARAFANO: Wait. Let me finish. Let me finish. It is mostly what we see here. And it says people's view on this is based on their politics, not based on the facts.

KEILAR: James, he is, and this isn't my opinion. I'm talking about people who have given advice to Donald Trump or publicly said things. For instance, General David Petraeus in the past has said you engage in talk like this, and it is a recruitment tool. You basically, you just - I mean, you agree to disagree. CARAFANO: Well, so for example, one of the things President Obama

said was that Gitmo was the greatest recruitment tool.

KEILAR: But - no, no. That's not my point. James. No. No. James. My question is, I'm not talking -- I see the difference between President Obama and Donald Trump on this. I'm talking about something like General David Petraeus, who Donald Trump considered having as a part of his cabinet and also Republicans who are saying this. I'm not talking about President Obama. Are you saying that they don't have a point?

CARAFANO: Well, I'm not talking about any advisers, right, because they can defend their own comments. I'm just saying as an analyst who factually looks at the data, right. We haven't seen that kind of correlation. People said that Gitmo was the greatest tool recruiting tool that ISIS ever had. And yet people have actually looked at the data. Actually found that was not true. They could not fight a direct correlation between Gitmo and the propaganda that ISIS was using.

KEILAR: I'm talking about the language. I'm not talking about --

CARAFANO: Well, but I'm saying is ISIS hasn't done any recruiting yet. So for people to draw that conclusion, what they are doing is they are projecting their politics and their views and their beliefs and that's fine. They can do that. They are entitled to their opinion. But as an analyst that looks at the data, traditionally what we have seen is when we have these arguments about this is ISIS training recruiting tool, 99.99 percent of the time, that reflects a political opinion as opposed to the reality of what ISIS does and what actually motivates people to take up the cause of terrorism.

[19:35:05] KEILAR: All right. I will say there are some certainly military voices out there that disagree with you on that perspective.

CARAFANO: Well, that's fine. They can do that. \

KEILAR: Yes, they can.

CARAFANO: I'm just hear with the data.

KEILAR: All right, James Carafano, thank you so much. We certainly appreciate you being with us in bringing your insight especially as someone who advised the Trump transition. We really glad you could be on with us.

And we are going to be right back.

CARAFANO: Thank you.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:38:31] KEILAR: President Trump plans to announce his pick to fill the vacant Supreme Court position this week. Trump says that he already has a candidate in mind, but Democrats are warning the president they will fight the nominee if they are not in the mainstream.

Here is CNN's Victor Blackwell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have outstanding candidates and we will pick a truly great Supreme Court justice.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Trump is done interviewing candidates according to a senior administration official. And Trump now making it clear he has windowed down his list of potential Supreme Court nominees, saying he will announce his pick on Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will it be from the list you gave out during the campaign?

TRUMP: The answer is yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Will it be original list?

TRUMP: I don't want to say that. You're going to see on Thursday.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you made your decision?

TRUMP: I have made my decision pretty much in my mind, yes. There's quite a subject to change at the last moment. But I think this will be a great choice.

BLACKWELL: If approved, the president's nominee will replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away last February. The seat has remained vacant since then, after Senate Republicans refused to hold a vote for then President Obama's nominee Judge Merrick Garland.

The administration official tells CNN that Trump has narrowed his list to four candidates, three men and one woman. They are Judge Neil Gorsuch, who sits on the tenth circuit court of appeals in Colorado. He is former clerk for justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. He closely aligns with Antonin Scalia's conservative philosophy. Gorsuch is 49 years old.

Also under consideration is William H. Pryor Jr. who serves on the 11th circuit court of appeals in Georgia. He was appointed by George W. Bush in 2005. Pryor is 54 years old and disagrees with the Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion.

Judge Thomas Hardiman sits on the third circuit court of appeals in Pennsylvania. He was nominated by George W. Bush in 2006. He serves on the same court as Trump's sister. Hardiman is 51 years old.

The fourth finalist is Diane Sykes. She serves on the seventh circuit court of appeals in Chicago. She was also nominated by George W. Bush. And Sykes is a former reporter for the Milwaukee Journal. She is 59 years old.

Whomever the president picks, finding support from Democrats still upset over the treatment of Obama's court nominee may pose a challenge.

SCHUMER: If the nominee is not mainstream, we absolutely would keep the seat open. I'm hopeful that maybe President Trump would nominate someone who is mainstream and could get bipartisan support, we shall see. But if they don't, yes, we will fight it tooth and nail, as long as we have to.

BLACKWELL: Victor Blackwell, CNN, Atlanta.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[19:41:10] KEILAR: Thank you, Victor, for that.

And still to come, as protesters fill the streets in several U.S. cities, I will ask a lawyer from the ACLU how they plan to challenge Donald Trump's immigration order.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:45:01] KEILAR: Across the country, lawmaker are joining protesters voicing opposition to President Trump's travel ban affecting more than 200 million people in seven Muslim majority countries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GAVIN NEWSOM, LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: I just want to thank people for being here and I'm just here as a guy who's pissed as everybody else is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Feels like the only thing is to come out in mass and to like show with the sea of bodies how the public feels about some of these policies.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: I want to bring in see Cecilia Wang. She is the deputy legal director of the American civil liberties union.

And we are hearing from lawyers, judges, lawmakers, just regular citizens about their concerns over this policy, Cecilia. What is the ACLU's stance on this and what are really the next actions at the ACLU is going to be taking?

CECILIA WANG, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, ACLU: Well, when President Trump campaigned on a promise to ban Muslims from the United States, we began to roll into action. And when he was elected, we really began to roll into action. As you know, we brought a major lawsuit and obtained a nationwide injunction against the deportation of people under Trump's executive order. People as you have reported already, have been rolling out to airports in mass. The American people, from members of Congress including Republican members of Congress, to volunteer lawyers to just regular folks are out there in the streets and at the airports saying we will not stand for President Trump tarnishing our constitutional national values in this way.

So look for more litigation. We have got two injunctions now from federal courts in Boston and in Brooklyn, both saying that President Trump at least temporarily, cannot detain in one case in the case of the Boston order and cannot deport people on the case of both orders.

There are volunteer attorneys at the scene of every airport in the country that takes international arrivals. They are struggling with customs and border protection, which has not been complying with the federal court orders. So we are staying on top of that situation and we will be taking further legal actions.

KEILAR: We have seen that. There does seem to be this confusion and different situations at different airports. So tell our viewers, Cecilia, what is the basis because talking to different lawyers, some have said equal protection. They have also said there are a number of things that could be used by opponents of this in court to make their case.

WANG: Right. Well, first and foremost, what President Trump's executive order does is to discriminate against people on the basis of their religion. As I mentioned, he campaigned on a promise to ban Muslims from the United States. The Friday executive order goes after people from seven majority Muslim countries and blocks all refugee resettlement, but indefinitely blocks Syrian refugee resettlement.

And if you will notice in the order, he actually makes a case by case exception for people who belong to religious minorities in their home countries. And the president himself said it on Friday. That provision is intended to help Christians immigrate to the United States.

KEILAR: Let me red that real quick, Cecilia. It says to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious based persecution provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality.

So you make that point but then people who support him say, look. This is his prerogative to try to protect the country and that's going to hold in a court of law. But you're sure it won't.

WANG: We are sure it won't because what President Trump is trying to do in banning Muslims from the United States is contrary to our core- founding values. America is a country where the government doesn't get into your personal business of religion. It's not the government's business what religion you practice and what President Trump is doing in trying to bar members of one religion is un- precedent. This is a radical and extreme measure as we have seen from the outpouring of support around the country. And resistance by the American people and members of Congress from both sides of aisle. President Trump is going to fail on this.

KEILAR: All right. With we will see, Cecilia Wang. We know that ACLU is in overdrive right now. We thank you so much for joining us and giving us the ACLU's perspective. Now coming up, President Trump's travel ban is also impacting

Hollywood's big night. The story of an Iranian Oscar nominee, who may be kept from next month's academy awards.

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[19:53:19] KEILAR: Hollywood is blasting President Trump's travel ban after word that an Oscar nominated Iranian director might be kept from the academy awards. That director has chosen to not seek an exception to the travel ban and skip the Oscars all together. Asghar Farhadi's "the Salesman" is up for best foreign language film. But under the president's ban citizens from Iran cannot enter the U.S. for the next 90 days. The award show is of course later next month.

I want to bring in CNN's Stephanie Elam live from the red carpet at the SAG Award in Los Angeles tonight.

And Stephanie, I think it would be no surprise that Hollywood would be reacting in a generally negative way towards this travel ban, but the fact that it is potentially affecting an Oscar nominated director really brings it home for folks there.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For a lot of people, it's really about the artistry and the fact that there are people being silenced. There are people I talked to on the red carpet who were saying that they really would have been at the protest at LAX today, the airport here. But they were coming here to the carpet.

I also talked to (INAUDIBLE). She is an actor on the "Big Bang Theory." He said I know that the SAG awards are important but I'm here to have my voice heard because what's happening in Washington right now is disgusting. And so, she is saying that she wanted to come out here and have her voice heard to talk about this and to talk about the fact that so many of the people who are here on the carpet are children of immigrants, children of refugees who have made their way here and so that they feel very strongly that they need to make their voices heard.

It's no surprise that a lot of people in Hollywood are very liberal and a lot of them have no problem speaking up. Viggo Mortensen who is nominated as well tonight for "Captain Fantastic" also for an Oscar - had an Oscar nomination as well also speaking about that too. A lot of people are very upset about that and they were using their platform here on the red carpet to speak to that, Brianna.

[19:55:11] KEILAR: I can't imagine we won't be hearing from people as they do accept some of their awards as we've seen at past award shows.

Stephanie Elam will be watching that for us. Thanks, Stephanie.

And coming up next, the White House is defending its travel ban despite thousands protesting across the country. Now a closed door briefing for reporters. We will tell you what President Trump and his aides are saying. We'll have that next.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:59:20] KEILAR: Top of the hour. I'm Brianna Keilar in Washington, in for Poppy Harlow tonight. Welcome to our international viewers. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

And we have breaking news. President Trump defending his controversial travel ban even as attorneys general from 16 states slam it was quote "unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful."

Protestors are gathering in cities across the nation to show angry opposition to the order which effectively bans 218 million people from seven Muslim majority nations from entering the U.S. Congressional Democrats will hold an event tomorrow to demand that the president withdraw the order. Confusion rippling through U.S. airports, some people are still detained even after judges in several cities granted an emergency stay for those affected by the ban. The legal maneuver did help get dozens released, though, including a five year old at Washington's Dulles airport.