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Trump's Travel Ban Sparks Protests; Lawmakers Criticize Ban; Democrats Call for Repeal of Travel Ban; Bannon on National Security Council. Aired 12-12:30p ET
Aired January 30, 2017 - 12:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[12:00:19] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thanks for sharing some time today.
The second full workweek of the Trump presidency begins in crisis. The president's executive order blocking and restricting U.S. entry from seven majority Muslim nations set off a firestorm here at home and around the world. Now he says the complaints are overblown and that his bottom line is keeping America safe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Actually I had a very good day yesterday in terms of homeland security. Some day we had to make the move and we decide to make the move.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Democrats call it cold-hearted and will try today to get Congress to repeal the order.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHARLES SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: This executive order was mean- spirited, un-American. It was implemented in a way that created chaos and confusion across the country and it will only serve to embolden and inspire those around the globe who will do us harm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Emotion there from the Senate's top Democrat. President Trump, though, not impressed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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 a different man. There's about a 5 percent chance that it was real, but I think they were fake tears.
(END VIDEO CLIP) KING: Significantly, though, this is much more than a partisan fight between the president and the Democrats. Many Republicans are condemning this action too. Some on the substance, arguing the order is a recruiting gift to ISIS. More Republicans, though, are furious at the Trump White House for rushing the order out without giving key agencies and the Congress time to understand it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: This process and these conclusions were not vetted. There's so many questions that, for example, it didn't filter down to our customs people. Who can come in? Who can't? Is a green cardholder, as was originally interpreted, who's legally in this country, can that person be barred from coming into the country?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: And protests are now a Trump administration constant, and this weekend spread overseas. Key U.S. allies condemning the order as out of step, they say, with American and western values.
KING: With us today to share their reporting and their insights, Jackie Kucinich of "The Daily Beast," CNN's Manu Raju, Reid Wilson of "The Hill," and CNN's Dana Bash.
So, here we go. Senate Democrats say they're going to try today to overturn this. I assume their chances of doing that are nil.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Yes, nil at least today. There -- it's going to go to the floor. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is going to ask for a vote on this bill that Dianne Feinstein has drafted that would kill this executive order. Now, the bill hasn't been drafted yet. Republicans haven't seen it yet. Democrats haven't seen it yet. But expect a Republican to object to prevent a quick vote. Now, does that mean that they're not going to get support down the line for a bill to do just that, to kill the executive order? No, because we're seeing a lot of Republicans come out and voice their opposition. So presumably they could eventually get a vote, but it's going to take a little bit of time to build support, get a deal and use the levers of the Senate to force a vote on this issue. But suffice to say, there's a lot of concern among Republicans and presumably some could get on board behind this idea because a lot of them were caught off guard and think it's not the right approach.
JACKIE KUCINICH, "THE DAILY BEAST": And you saw -- it's not just the usual suspects. I think we're all kind of getting used to Lindsey Graham and John McCain speaking out. Not saying it's not important, but you -- we're getting used to them speaking out against President Trump.
You saw Bob Corker, you saw Lamar Alexander, you saw Tim Scott, you saw Marco Rubio, all of them coming out saying there are problems with this. You saw Tom Cotton speaking out particularly because of the Iraqi translators that were being -- that were having trouble getting into the country. So there is -- there is a -- there is broad support particularly among Republicans, you're absolutely right.
KING: And so the question is, is this a one shot wonder? Meaning, they're mad about this executive order and either the president will recalibrate or he won't. We'll talk more about that part later and they'll move on. And when we get to the Supreme Court pick that's coming, when we get to the budget fight or taxes, it's a clean slate, or is this something that out of the box poisons the environment that has a lasting effect, like we saw early in the Obama administration?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think necessarily so. I don't think it's necessarily poison the well already for things to come. And I think that the fact that the White House is moving up their Supreme Court announcement to tomorrow is a way to make sure that it's not poisoned because there's -- there are very few things that rally Republicans together as much as a Supreme Court pick and one that we expect to be conservative and one that most Republicans are going to like.
[12:05:11] But one thing -- I've been talking to folks on The Hill about this and one thing that I think, if we take a step back and look at -- in some ways what this is an early lesson of is that checks and balances works. That this is an executive who made an executive order, and what happened, the judicial branch said, no, no, no, no, no. A judge agreed to stay and to stop it temporarily. And then Congress hasn't acted and might not, but they might not have to because of the Republicans that you talked about from across the board, from the Senate Foreign Relations chair, to somebody like Senator Tom Cotton, who has been pretty supportive of Donald Trump, even when he was a candidate. That tells you something about perhaps the way that this is going to work if the executive, Donald Trump, overreaches, then the levers of government will pull him back.
REID WILSON, "THE HILL": Tribal politics. Keeping the Republicans all in one corner is a benefit to Donald Trump when the Republicans have so much power in Washington right now. That's what the Supreme Court pick is going to do.
But I think what worries Republicans on Capitol Hill more than anything is the lack of coordination --
WILSON: That this executive order demonstrates. And this is not the way you run a government. You telegraph what you're going to do. You make sure that everybody is on the same page. Everybody knows how to implement the order that's actually signed. And that, very clearly, was not the case. There were customs and border patrols officers getting their assignments at 3:00 a.m. on Saturday morning, just hours after this thing was signed, and -- because they hadn't laid the groundwork. They hadn't gone through the Office of Legal Counsel and all the various departments. And we saw over the weekend there were several senior, you know, cabinet officials who were really upset by the lack of coordination. That' a big problem going --
KING: And you had -- you had attorneys representing the United States government going into court and the judge would ask a question, they would say, I don't know, because they didn't have the guidance and they were going into court.
To the point about Congress. Mike McCaul, a Republican, the chairman of the Homeland Security Committee, issued a statement that said, in part, "in the future, such policy changes should be better coordinated with the agencies implementing them," to your point, "and with Congress to insure we get it right and don't undermine our nation's credibility while trying to restore it."
This is one of the Republicans who says, absolutely. If you want to strengthen the vetting process, strengthen the vetting process. You ran out in the campaign. You won the election. You have every right, every reason to do this, but it's how you do this.
KING: It's how you do this.
RAJU: And it's interesting that you point to the McCaul statement. McCaul actually was involved in some discussions during the Trump campaign to figure out how to do this extreme vetting proposal. They created some white papers to discuss this more broadly. But when they drafted this executive order, they did not discuss with Mike McCaul and his staff about how to draft this, according to an aid who's familiar with these discussions. Instead, they went forward with it and catching one of the key allies by surprise, and it goes to Reid's point, that you need to coordinate with your allies on such a controversial issue, not just for how to implement it, but just messaging. I mean --
KUCINICH: Congress hates surprises.
RAJU: They had surprises.
KUCINICH: They really do.
RAJU: And when he comes out and says their needs to be adjustment to it, perhaps he could join some sort of effort for legislation.
KING: And they're getting peppered with questions too and they don't know the answers because they weren't brought into the process.
To that point, you don't think -- you don't see long-lasting breaks with the Republicans? What was interesting to me yesterday was, one, McCain and Graham, you're right, they've been constant critics. But the president wasted no time, typical Trump, trademark Trump, he went back after them on Twitter. "The joint statement of former presidential candidates John McCain and Lindsey Graham is wrong. They're 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."
So, you know, sometimes you have these early missteps. You think, OK, just step back. Turn down the temperature. Not with this president who -- BASH: That's right.
WILSON: This is his M.O. He never backs down. He never apologizes. He will always double down, to borrow the expression, the cliche. But Trump does not -- is not the kind of person who is willing to back off gently and say, all right, well, we'll make the fixes that any other president has done. George W. Bush did this, Barack Obama did this in sort of stepping back and calming down, allowing cooler heads to prevail. But it's not his style.
KUCINICH: Well, but it's only a matter of time, I think. Right now they're easy targets for Donald Trump. They've been targets for a while. But once it becomes -- I mean it's not hard to imagine him attacking Congress --
KUCINICH: And Congress becoming a new villain for him. And that's when things get complicated because he needs them to implement his agenda.
KING: Well, he's -- he won with 46 percent of the vote. And to his credit, if you're a Trump supporter, he's been very loyal to his base in the early days about immigration, about Obamacare, about this ban. The issues that were important to his base is what he's dealing with early on. But if you got elected with 46 percent, that's hard enough to begin with. You can't afford to lose ground. My incoming yesterday was remarkable in that a lot of these Republicans you're talking about, some of their public statements were tough. But privately, for them and their aides, they were getting -- remember, he ran around the whole campaign saying we were stupid. We didn't know how to do anything. We were -- not just Democrats, the Congress, the Republicans, they were the stupid people --
[12:10:01] BASH: Exactly.
KING: And he knew how to get things done.
BASH: Well, that's exactly right. And this is a first test of the Trump M.O. But not just Trump. It's specifically -- let's just sort of dig deeper here -- Steve Bannon, who has unbelievable power inside this White House, and his policy aide, who we worked with as Jeff Sessions' press secretary for years on Capitol Hill, Miller, Stephen Miller, who were basically the authors of this, and their whole point in this was Congress has done things a certain way for so long. It hasn't worked. We are going to do this differently. We're going to just push this through. And for the people who say, well, wait a minute, you have to have things ready, you have to tell your allies, you have to tell the people who are going to execute this, the response, I'm told, was no, no, no.
WILSON: Or we --
BASH: That's the way people did things in the old days.
BASH: We promised we were going to come in here and do something new.
KING: Despite saying for three years that Barack Obama was the imperial president because he was using executive powers.
BASH: Well, there's that. That's --
WILSON: So many -- too many politicians, and this politician in particular --
WILSON: Love to say that we should run government more like a business. Well, here's the executive of a business who has just offered a new policy without doing any of the groundwork, and he's going to start to learn that government isn't like a business. That there are, you know, 535 members of the board of directors who are going to have -- want to have a say in it, in the House and the Senate, and they -- and half of them are hoping that you fail.
KING: Yes, this was new Coke, not the iPhone. Everybody sit tight.
Up next, how this all happened and whether team Trump will learn a lesson or dig in.
[12:15:57] KING: Welcome back.
If you've been paying attention the last year plus, you know Donald Trump is not a man who easily admits he's wrong, but he did recalibrate time and time again during the presidential campaign when his words or his actions provoked a crisis point. Will he do that again now? Not that he listens to the media, but the conservative and generally Trump-friendly "Wall Street Journal" editorial board is offering a little nudge. Listen to this.
Quote, "Mr. Trump is right that the government needs shaking up, but the danger of moving too fast without careful preparation and competent execution is that he is building up formidable political forces in opposition. Political disruption has its uses, but not if it consumes your presidency in the process."
And that's where we are now. The question being, and from all the president's words and all the president's tweets so far, he's digging in. He says, I'm right, you're exaggerating the problem. And even if we messed up the implementation, I still think I'm right and I'm sticking with this. But we've seen this before and we've seen him retreat. With all this pressure, do we expect some recalibration or is it just keep going?
RAJU: It's an open question. We -- it will be interesting to see when his own party comes out against him how does he respond? Does he dig in? Does he fight back like he did yesterday going after John McCain and Lindsey Graham saying they're trying to start World War III by their own criticism of his executive order? Does he listen to the likes of "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page and the rest of the growing number of Republican lawmakers?
RAJU: "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page used to be very influential with Republican presidents and Republican leadership. When they say something, then they would listen. Donald Trump is not one necessarily to listen to that line of criticism. And I think that the question is going to be, does the Steve Bannons of the world view that as the establishment pushing back against this president or do they try to do something to unite their party? I don't know if we know that yet.
BASH: I actually think it's possible that more than "The Wall Street Journal" editorial page or even "The National Review" or "The Examiner" or any of the other historically influential conservative editorial boards that it's the people who -- the images, the imagery of the people out there screaming and yelling against him. I mean it is, if you kind of take a step back and think, this is the TV producer president, right? I mean he just gave a promo for his 8:00, you know, big speech tomorrow night announcing his Supreme Court nominee. And yet with this particular issue, he went in without a script. He didn't anticipate that the people out there would rally so quickly at the airports and elsewhere against him. And my sense is that he is so sensitive to the crowds and the protests and he wants people to like him. He wants to do the -- so it's sort of the mind versus the soul and this is something that a smart Republican just said to me this morning, debate that every politician and every president deals with, he's just dealing with it on a level that is heightened on both sides.
KUCINICH: But you can see him building a defense on this already on Twitter. I'm just trying to keep you safe. They don't want to keep you safe.
KUCINICH: They're being politically correct. And I think that can be --
BASH: He might be -- he might be successful with that.
KUCINICH: Well, right, and that could be (INAUDIBLE) --
KING: You could side -- without a doubt sell that to the public. There's been polling out there that shows, you know, pluralities of Americans are in favor of this. He campaigned on this. He has every right to do it. He campaigned on it, said he was going to do it. It was controversial, but he won. The question is how you do it. And then I think they came up earlier is the, who does it for you? Because I'm told over the weekend that General Kelly, now Secretary Kelly, the Homeland Security secretary, General Mattis, now Secretary Mattis, the defense secretary, and Rex Tillerson, who is in line to be secretary of state, all privately vented about this saying, this is not what I signed up for and this is not how to run a railroad, especially in the case of the generals. They're the people whose folks have to implement this. They're whose people, in the case of the Pentagon, President Trump signed this at the Pentagon. It's Secretary Mattis' troops that are in harm's way in the Middle East where ISIS says, this is a great recruiting gift to me. I'm told they're thinking, you cannot do it this way. That we're with you, sir, we want stronger vetting too. We want to go after the terrorists too. But you can't do it this way and rely on your insular circle at the White House that has no government experience.
WILSON: And Secretary Kelly began some of the walk-back of this executive order that we saw. It was early in the morning over the weekend when he issued a statement and said that people with green cards would be able to come in even from those seven countries. But the longer-term question here is the balancing act that every president faces between a cabinet and a White House staff that becomes more and more insular. And, frankly, in the last several White Houses, power has drained away from cabinets and away from the Departments and towards the White House. Now the Trump administration has senior officials, they're going to put senior officials in place at all of these cabinet departments to oversee the secretaries, which raises the question of how much power a Secretary Kelly or a Secretary Mattis is actually going to have.
[12:20:38] BASH: It was supposed to be different for this White House.
BASH: I mean as the CEO president, the reason why he wanted people who not only looked the part, as secretary of defense and state and so forth, but people who could do the jobs because he doesn't have the experience at -- not just in government, but --
KING: But -- I hate to interrupt, but falling on that thought, if you were Steve Bannon or Stephen Miller at the White House and you wanted to implement this and you watched those guys at their confirmation hearings, you knew that if you turned --
BASH: One hundred percent.
KING: If you turned it over to them, you were not going to get what you wanted.
BASH: Which is why it's happening fast and quickly --
BASH: And not without a lot of planning and execution.
RAJU: And that's what's so -- so interesting and fascinating to watch how this White House plays out and how Donald Trump makes his decisions and who he listens to specifically because, you know, as Dana noted, I mean there are different power centers within this administration and people will have such conflicting views on some core issues. And Trump is hard to pin down where he is on some core issues. So who is he actually listening to and how does that inform his decision making?
KING: And on this question of the National Security Council and decision, they have given Steve Bannon a role, which is unusual, outside -- now, Karl Rove, senior strategist, David Axelrod, senior strategist, in Republican and Democrat administrations, were invited in sometimes. Steve Bannon, according to this new order, gets a seat all the time at the so-called principles meeting. Among those, and you mentioned he's a constant critic, but he has a little experience in this regard. Among the critics, Senator John McCain, who says, wait a minute.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: I am worried about the National Security Council, who are the members of it and who are the permanent members? The appointment of Mr. Bannon is something which is a radical departure from any national security council in history. You remember Karl Rove? There was a -- when he sat in on one and Axelrod, when he was supposedly -- look, that is -- and the role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has been diminished, I understand, with this reorganization. One person who is indispensable would be the chairman of the Joint Chief of Staff in my view. So it's of concern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: Again, if you -- you might view Senator McCain through a partisan prism, but, remember, he's a war hero. A war hero. That came up in the campaign. But he's a war hero. Democratic Senator Jack Reed, a former Army Ranger, said the same thing about Bannon, and he added this to his statement. "As we saw with this hasty and sloppy refugee order, he is choosing ideology and unsound policy over the expertise of those with decades of military, intelligence and foreign policy experience and expertise." So Mr. Bannon has become a lightning rod.
BASH: Absolutely. And, look, it is news. It is something that we haven't seen in recent history. Somebody like Steve Bannon. Never mind that he doesn't -- I mean he was in the military as a young man, but he doesn't have the experience in the government or in the military, and it's certainly not his role traditionally in the White House structure to be on the National Security Council.
My understanding is that at the highest levels of the White House right now, they are taking some incoming from senior members of Congress and others about Bannon, but also questions about the chairman of the Joint Chiefs --
BASH: Be -- and saying, wait a minute, is it true that the Joint Chiefs chairman is not a steady member of the National Security Council? And the response has been that they insist that the order and the way that it was worded in the -- the list of National Security Council members is exactly as it was in the Obama administration. I -- we have to see if that's actually true, but they insist that the role of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs is no different in this administration than the Obama administration.
BASH: Now, that doesn't answer the question about Steve Bannon.
KING: Right. Right. And the joint -- chairman of the Joint Chiefs also was not briefed on the memo before the president of the United States went to his house, the Pentagon, to sign it.
Before you jump in, I just want to get to the point you were talking about earlier. The president is on pretty good ground when he looks the American people in the eye and says I'm trying to keep you safe. But it's also the -- if you listen here, if you listen here, they're -- during the eight years of the Obama administration, there were no fatal terrorist attacks from any kind in sighted by somebody who came to the United States from the seven countries coming in this order, and yet, if you listen to team Trump sell it --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It was a very short period of time in which we had something to execute that insured that the people of the United States were safe. Nobody -- everybody has been protected. The safety of individuals -- what happened if we didn't act and somebody was killed?
STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE POLICY ADVISER: And if we waited five days, ten days, six months to begin establishing the first series of controls, we would be leaving the homeland unnecessarily vulnerable.
[12:25:04] And I just want to say something very clearly to everyone listening this morning. Our task, in this new administration, is to prevent what happened in parts of France and in Belgium and in Germany from happening in the United States, where you have large pockets of radicalization that extend through generations and have become a serious long-term security problem. We have to act now to prevent that from happening tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: At least right there he moved off 9/11 and San Bernardino, neither of which would have been impacted by this.
KING: Need to hang tight. Save the thought for the next break. We'll be right back.
The debate over the travel restrictions goes global. ISIS says it's grateful for the propaganda gift. And key U.S. allies wonder whether this is the first page of a new chapter in Trans-Atlantic relations.
KING: Welcome back. The getting to know you phase of President Trump's relationship with
critical U.S. allies is off to a bit of a rocky start. In London today, the prime minister's office said the United Kingdom strongly disagrees with those new U.S. travel restrictions we've been talking about. But despite a petition drive that has so far garnered more than 1 million signatures, 10 Downing Street says there are no plans to cancel the planned Trump state visit later this year.
[12:30:06] France's president criticized the refugee policy and the restrictions in his weekend call with President Trump.