Return to Transcripts main page


Trump: Schumer Cried "Fake Tears" Over Travel Ban; Trump's Travel Ban Unleashes Global Chaos Backlash; Trump: I'll Announce Supreme Court Pick Tomorrow Night; WH: Travel Ban No Longer Includes Green Card Holders; State Department Diplomats Write Trump, Opposing Ban; Soon: Lawsuit To Be Filed Against Trump Over Travel Ban; Terror Attack At Mosque In Quebec, Six People Dead; Sources: GOP Leadership "In The Dark" On Travel Ban; Trump Stuns By Adding Political Aide To Security Council. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired January 30, 2017 - 11:00   ET


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Berman. Breaking news, moments ago, facing fierce bipartisan criticism for his executive order banning refugees and some travel to the United States, President Trump suggested there is no crying in politics, at least not where Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is concerned. This weekend, Senator Schumer became emotional, promising to fight the president's ban. First watch the senator and then the president's critique.


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

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I noticed that Chuck Schumer yesterday with fake tears. I'm going to ask him who is his acting coach? Because I know him very well, I don't see him as a crier. If he is, he's different man. There's about a 5 percent chance that it was real, but I think they were fake tears.


BERMAN: The president denies that his seven-nation travel ban is in fact a Muslim ban. He also denies that it caused chaos at the airport, which he blamed in part on a Delta computer glitch that didn't happen until Sunday night.

BOLDUAN: The executive order sparked weekend protests in cities and airports across the country. Students, tourists, and people with green cards were caught off guard by the order and many of them stopped at airports here and around the world.

It wasn't just travelers to the United States that were confused, apparently folks at the Justice Department and Homeland Security and Capitol Hill were left in the dark as well, despite the White House defending their move by saying the people who needed to know, knew.

CNN's senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny is joining us now with much more on this. Jeff, it was a wild weekend following this travel ban. Where do things stand right now?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John and Kate, it was a wild weekend indeed and the White House is standing fast, not apologizing at all, at least publicly, for the confusion that was sown. But they're getting an earful from top Republicans on Capitol Hill, throughout the government.

There is concern and widespread agreement this was rushed through and pushed through. I do not expect the president or his top advisers to admit any wrongdoing or say that this happened too fast, but there is an acknowledgement, at least inside, that this was not rolled out as smoothly as it could have been.

Perhaps that's an understatement here. You saw the president deciding to go after Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader there, talking about how he was faking his anger about this.

But the reality here is the White House is beginning its second week with an angry Capitol Hill and there are Republicans angry at this, Democrats angry as well. Look for them to try and smooth this over as the day goes forward. Look also for this president to try and change the subject. He gave a hint of what that would be in a tweet this morning.

BERMAN: So Jeff, along those lines, you know, either in spite of this anger or maybe because of it, the president is saying he is going to announce his Supreme Court pick tomorrow night.

ZELENY: He is indeed. Tomorrow evening at 8:00 p.m., doing it in prime time, this is a key announcement for him. We always expected it this week. Earlier he said it was come on Thursday, but we were getting an indication over the last couple of days that he wants to do it before Thursday.

There are three top leading contenders, all three on the federal judge appellate bench. The announcement will come tomorrow in prime time. I'm told by White House officials that it's being modelled after the John Roberts announcement, which came from President George W. Bush also a prime time announcement here, to get maximum exposure.

But this is going to set off another major fight here in Washington. Senate Democrats are saying that, you know, it needs to be a nominee who appeals to the mainstream. And two of those judges on that list there, Judge Hardiman (ph) and Judge Gorsuch (ph), were in fact unanimously approved by the Senate.

So they already have been approved for their current positions. Most of the smart thinking in Washington is that one of those two gentlemen will be at the president's side tomorrow evening. But we will just have to wait and find out. Of course, he would like to move beyond this.

But we'll see if this immigration ban now will be front and center in the Supreme Court confirmation hearings as well, which would captivate all of Washington for the coming weeks and likely months. BERMAN: No doubt. Look, if there's Republican disunity over the travel ban, you can bet there will be Republican unity in all likelihood over the Supreme Court. Jeff Zeleny at the White House, thanks so much.

Over the weekend, there was visible confusion on how to enforce this travel ban, just to detain, and then protests because it happened in the first place.

BOLDUAN: The Department of Homeland Security now saying that no one from the initial group affected and detained because of the order is still being held at airports.

CNN's Rachel Crane is outside JFK Airport in New York where the site of some of the protests where some of those folks were detained over the weekend, what's happening there now, Rachel?

[11:05:01]RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the scene here a far cry from what we saw over the weekend with hundreds of protesters and family members waiting for their loved ones to be released. However there are still lawyers stationed at every single terminal here.

And I want to point out, hundreds of lawyers showed up over the weekend, and not just New York-based lawyers. Now the DHS saying no one from the initial group impacted by this ban is currently detained.

However, lawyers here on the ground with the New York Immigration Coalition are concerned of the possibility of one person still being detained, that's because they're not dealing with CBP officials. They're only allowed to speak directly to the family members.

Now, yesterday we saw many tearful reunions, family members and loved ones. One young lady, a Ph.D. student at Stonybrook University studying linguistics, she is Iranian, at one point she was actually put back on a plane to be deported, but that was before the stay was announced.

But lawyers were able to get her off the plane, she was released yesterday after 48 hours of not sleeping. Take a listen to what she had to say.


VAHIDEH RASEKHI, COLLEGE STUDENT: I was scared. I was super scared. That I'm going to go back. I'm going to be deported. I came here legally.


CRANE: Now, lawyers here on the ground have said that they have seen the number of new cases, they've gotten since yesterday, dwindling. But they say for them this is actually a cause for concern. To them, it implies the people are either too scared to go to the airport and get on airplanes or are being turned away at the airport from traveling to the U.S. -- Kate, John. BOLDUAN: Rachel, thanks so much. We'll keep our eyes on those airports and the responses there.

In response also to the president's order, some career diplomats have drafted a memo actually arguing against the executive order to send to two of the top leaders at the State Department. Their argument, the travel ban will actually hurt efforts to prevent terrorist attacks here in the United States.

BERMAN: CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott, has seen this. She joins us now. Elise, what does it say?

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, John and Kate, you know, by and large, most career diplomats served various administrations, both Republicans and Democrats. This is a rare objection to a U.S. policy by a president.

There are dozens of diplomats drafting this memo that says not only will it not keep America safe, because the majority of those countries, there hasn't been any terrorist attacks from those countries.

But it will also prevent those countries from working with the United States, alienate those leaders, alienate the Arab world and Muslim world, and really sour relations, create an anti-American sentiment that will only help with recruitment of terrorists, John and Kate.

And also the memo goes on to say that this order stands in opposition to the core American and constitutional values we as federal employees took an oath to uphold. It says that this harkens back to when the U.S. detained Japanese-Americans during the World War II period.

And said that the U.S. will look back on this and show that it made some of the same mistakes. So they're not really sure on what they want to do with this. Obviously, this is just a draft right now, circulating among career diplomats.

But I'm getting e-mails from a lot of them who are very concerned that this will not make America safer. It will make it more difficult to protect America. And they are looking to give this to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when he comes to office. He hasn't even started yet -- John and Kate.

BERMAN: Again, that dissent coming from within the U.S. Foreign Service, within the State Department, which makes it notable. Elise Labott, thanks so much.

As to the law which Elise was talking about, attorneys general in 15 states and the District of Columbia are calling this executive order from the president unconstitutional. Several federal judges have temporarily halted the deportation of visa holders.

In just a few hours the Council on American-Islamic Relations plans to announce that it is a filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of some 20 people challenging the travel ban. BOLDUAN: So where does the law stand on this? That's the complicated question. With us right now is Marielena Hincapie, the executive director of the National Immigration Law Center, and Lara Finkbeiner, who is deputy legal director for the International Refugee Assistance Project at the Urban Justice Center, both groups involved in lawsuits against this executive action. Thank you for joining us, both of you.

Marielena, your group is one of the groups behind the lawsuit against the executive order. With regard to the two men who were detained at JFK Airport, they are no longer being held. What does that mean for your lawsuit?

MARIELENA HINCAPIE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NATIONAL IMMIGRATION LAW CENTER: Sure. So thanks, again, Kate and John, for the invitation. The National Immigration Law Center along with the International Refugee Assistance Project filed a lawsuit with the ACLU and the Yale Clinic on Saturday morning on behalf of those two individual Iraqi refugees but actually it's a class action.

We are seeking to represent every individual in the country that is in a similar situation and the initial victory, it's the first victory that immigrants and refugees have had against the Trump administration.

[11:10:06]Which was the nationwide order that the judge in the Eastern District Court of New York issued on Saturday night, applies across the country to all of the airports, any individual that finds themselves in a similar situation.

BERMAN: Just some housekeeping here, Lara, first of all that applies to people with valid visas, who already had valid visas coming in, number one. Number two, the Trump administration says that 109 people, the 109 people that were detained in airports or elsewhere, they're all gone now, they're either in the United States or somewhere else. Do you believe that to be the case?

LARA FINKBEINER, INTERNATIONAL REFUGEE ASSISTANCE PROJECT: I do not believe that to be the case. We have organized attorneys across the country who have spent hours and hours at these airports. We're still hearing reports that people are being detained in at least SFO, JFK, LAX, and Houston, and perhaps other airports. So no, we don't believe that to be true.

BERMAN: So the administration you're saying is lying, that there are still people within these airports?

FINKBEINER: According to our attorneys who are in direct contact with customs and border patrol, yes, I believe that they're not speaking the truth there.

BOLDUAN: Marielena, why do you think there's confusion on that point, why do you think DHS would be lying on this?

HINCAPIE: I think, Lara, so I completely agree with Lara, since we're working together, I mean, here at LAX in particular. We even have lawful permanent residents, and we've heard this at other airports as well, who are being forced to sign documents that would make them basically rescind and say they're no longer wanting to be permanent residents.

So we're receiving very, very troubling reports. I think what's happening, Kate, is that this order was issued in such an impulsive way, so characteristic of this president, with no -- not thinking about the consequences, not ensuring that the agencies including border patrol had the information to enforce this in the right way.

We at the National Immigration Law Center believe that this is unconstitutional to begin with. Our lawsuit is only right now focused on the individuals that were detained this weekend and that continue to be detained.

BERMAN: There are apparently two things going on, one, there's criticism from both sides of the aisle on how this was carried out over the weekend, we were talking about the chaos, and then there's the law itself, Lara.

There is the 1952 law which gives the president broad power over foreign policy and immigration control, it says, quote, "He can suspend entry of all aliens or any class of aliens, immigrants or non- immigrants if the president determines their entry would be detrimental to the interest of the United States. That seems pretty clear, it does seem like he has wide latitude here.

FINKBEINER: The president does have wide latitude. However, we also have a Constitution that says you cannot discriminate against people based on religion. Even though the executive order doesn't specifically mention Muslims, we know from everything he said during his campaign and the fact that the seven countries listed are Muslim majority countries, this is clearly a ban that's discriminating against Muslim people.

BOLDUAN: One final thought, Marielena, the administration, as you mentioned, the seven countries, they were already identified by the Obama administration for further scrutiny previously. This White House, the president's aides say that they couldn't telegraph what they were going to do because they basically would give the bad guys a heads up to get into the country. Do you hear that point?

HINCAPIE: No. I don't think anyone is asking that they issue that and telegraph ahead of time before it's final. But what they should have done was ensure that every agency that is responsible for enforcing it was informed, that they had input into drafting it, that they had lawyers reviewing it to make sure it wasn't unconstitutional. What they issued on Friday is clearly unconstitutional, un-American, and unconscionable and we're seeing the consequences of that today.

BOLDUAN: The Trump White House feels differently on that point, no surprise there, that is why this will now continue its way through the courts. Thank you both very, very much.

We are also following this breaking news overnight, Canadian authorities are investigating a shooting inside a Quebec City mosque as an act of terrorism. Witnesses said at least two gunmen wearing black entered the building and then randomly shot into the crowd of worshippers. Six people were killed. Eight others wounded.

BERMAN: Two people now in custody. Security at mosques in Canada as well in the United States is being beefed up as investigators trying to figure out why this happened and if more suspects could still be on the loose. CNN's Paula Newton is live for us from Quebec City. Paula, what are you learning up there?

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, what's really nagging at them about this investigation is the fact that they don't know if there were accomplices. This is a different attack than what authorities were preparing for. This was a coordinated attack, two of them coming in, some people say with assault rifles.

Police had a press conference, where frankly, John, they didn't give us a lot of information, and that is unnerving. They say they did not know these suspects, they were not known to police. The investigation continues. They would not talk about the kind of arms they had.

In the meantime, this community really trying to keep together. Imagine what it was like to go into places of worship throughout this province today with police escorting you in and out. It's been a very chilling day, especially with police saying so very little about the suspects.

[11:15:05]BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Paula newton is on it for us. Paula, thank you so much.

BERMAN: All right, mind-blowing. Inside reaction from Republicans who are, and this is a quote, "pretty pissed," and stronger words we can't say on TV. Major frustration about being left out of the loop on the travel ban, that's next.

BOLDUAN: And who are among those banned from coming into the United States? Ahead, the former Iraqi ambassador to the United States has been told he's not welcome. Why he calls this executive order a betrayal.

Plus -- stone cold crazy that's what Obama's national security adviser is saying about another new move by President Trump. Details on that, ahead.


BOLDUAN: We have new details about what went on behind the scenes as the president rolled out his travel ban against seven Muslim majority countries. Several aides to Republican lawmakers tell CNN that they were kept out of the loop. One called the rollout by the White House "mind-blowing." Another says the administration is, quote, "clearly winging it." Again, those are from aides to Republicans.

BERMAN: All right, we're joined now by CNN senior congressional reporter, Manu Raju, who is on Capitol Hill right now. Manu, we're hearing some pretty naughty words here from Capitol Hill directed toward the White House, they're mad.

[11:20:05]MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes indeed, guys, they were expecting that something so controversial would have been discussed at length with Republican leaders. There would be a clear communication strategy to sell this to the public and to sell this to their own party.

But a lot of Republicans that I have talked to said the first they heard of this was when it came out by the president of the United States on Friday, and then they had to deal with the fallout immediately after.

A lot of Republicans surprised when they even heard a senior administration official telling reporters last night in a briefing that this is something that was discussed at length with top immigration staffers on Capitol Hill.

That's something that a lot of Republican leaders and other members say that they did not -- they were surprised to even hear the White House pushing back on that remark. Now the question going forward is how Republicans deal with it because we're seeing growing criticism from Republican senators and members.

And do they join the new Democratic effort to try to kill this executive order and try to overturn it. Later this afternoon, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was going to go to the floor and ask for a vote on a bill that's being drafted by Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat, to reverse this executive order.

Now Republicans are probably going to block that from having an immediate vote, but will any Republicans eventually support this plan? That's a big question going forward. Expect this to be a question to be put forward to other nominees, other Trump nominees on whether they support this travel ban as well.

So this is clearly shifting the debate and something that Republican leadership was not expecting late last week, guys.

BOLDUAN: Manu, real quick, though, on blocking the measure that Schumer will bring forward, blocking it because they think it's being pushed through too fast as well or blocking it on the principle that they disagree with him?

RAJU: Well, they want to block it because they disagree with it on the principles, they disagree with him, that's on the Democratic side. The question is will Republicans agree with them on the merits as well. We're hearing different concerns from Republicans, whether it was just not thought through extensively, or whether or not it's going to be an effective measure to counter terrorism. That's a question, how they respond to it as well, guys.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Manu, great to see you. Thanks so much. A lot of the focus shifting there today.

Coming up for us, "stone cold crazy" after a week of crazy. Those are the words of Obama's national security adviser not pulling any punches about President Trump's shake-up of a key White House staff. Why an invite list to a White House meeting has Washington talking?



BERMAN: The collective eyebrows of Washington and the national security establishment had an extreme raising overnight with word of a reorganization in the National Security Council. The biggest news, the president's top political strategist, Steve Bannon, will now be a regular formal member on the Principals Committee.

BOLDUAN: Former adviser to President Obama, Susan Rice, says "Trump's reorganization is "stone cold crazy," she tweeted, after a week of crazy. CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto is joining us now with much more on this. So Jim, what is going on here? What do we actually know?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, a few things, one, it's not just Susan Rice, who of course worked for a Democratic administration, but Bob Gates, who worked for both Bush and Obama, called it a big mistake to make these changes to the Principals Council.

A couple of big things here going on, one, you have the elevation of Steve Bannon who is a strategist to the president, not Senate confirmed, a political adviser, really, being added to a Principals Committee meeting that under both George W. Bush, under Obama, under previous presidents, those kinds of advisers have been intentionally excluded to make it just national security and intelligence voices.

So those decisions, for instance, there was not a Karl Rove on George W. Bush's Principals Committee, there was not a Valerie Jarrett on President Obama's for that reason, keep it not political, make it intelligence and military. So that's one thing, his elevation.

The other thing is not so much the demotion, but perhaps the selective exclusion of the director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from these meetings. They're still going to be there. They're just not there every single time.

And I've spoken to people in their agencies who said they don't feel that their council is being excluded, they still think they have a line to the president, but they're not going to be there every day.

And again, another distinction is, those folks, they have access every day to the prime and latest intelligence reports from the field, the soldiers, et cetera, why would they not be there at every meeting? It's a fair question.

BOLDUAN: Jim Sciutto, thanks so much. David Axelrod was in on some meetings in the White House, that's one of the defenses they put out in the face of this criticism.

BERMAN: Just not part of the permanent council, which is different.

BOLDUAN: Which is different. All right, let's turn now back to the backlash over the president's new travel ban.

President Trump's executive order temporarily halting travelers from seven Muslim majority countries.

BERMAN: Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is joining us now live. Senator, I know you were out this weekend working on behalf of some of those people who were directly affected by this and we do want to talk about that in a second.

But first, I want your reaction to something that President Trump just said a few moments ago about your Senate leader, Chuck Schumer. President Trump basically said he was faking it when he got emotional over the weekend and seemed to be close to tears. Do you think that Senator Schumer was faking it?

SENATOR AMY KLOBUCHAR (D), MINNESOTA: No. Senator Schumer actually is someone who has a lot of passion and is --