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White House Fires Acting U.S. Attorney General; Barak Obama Responds to Trump Travel Ban; Fareed Zakaria Talks Travel Ban; White House Fires Acting U.S. Attorney General; Trump Promotes Bannon to National Security Team; Pentagon Works on Waivers for Travel Ban for Iraqi Interpreters; Trump Supporters in Pennsylvania Support Travel Ban. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired January 31, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[02:00:01] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause. It's 11:00 p.m. in Los Angeles.
And we have breaking news on CNN. The United States has a new acting attorney general after a legal dispute over Donald Trump's controversial travel ban. U.S. attorney, Dana Boente, was sworn in late Monday and order the Justice Department to follow Mr. Trump's executive order on immigration on immigration and refugees. Mr. Trump fired Sally Yates as acting attorney general after she said she wasn't sure the travel ban was legal and told Justice Department layers they should not defend it.
The White House says, "The acting attorney general, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States." The order was approved as to form of legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel. Mr. Yates is an Obama administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration."
For more, we're joined her in Los Angeles by California talk radio host, Ethan Bearman; California national committeeman, Shawn Steel; and CNN senior political analyst, Ron Brownstein.
And, Ron, first, up to you, that was a blistering statement put out by the White House.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: It was. Look, it is not shocking that a president would dismiss an acting attorney general from the previous administration who refuses to support one of his initiatives in court.
It is surprising to see the kind of language that was applied here. The word "betrayal" is an extraordinary word from the White House about a public official in the government. And it is indicative of the way the lines are deepening so quickly around this administration on the same day the president can attack John McCain and Lindsey Graham and Chuck Schumer. We are seeing sharp lines being drawn in every possible direction around this administration only eight or nine days after the inauguration.
VAUSE: Shawn and Ethan, our legal analyst, Mark Geragos, says, as Ron says, that the president was well within his rights to fire Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, but he added this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARK GERAGOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, yes, he's within his rights to fire her, but for all of those who keep calling her an Obama holdover, remember, yes, she was appointed by Obama, but so is the gentleman who is now the acting attorney general. They are both Obama appointees. And she specifically was asked by the Trump administration to act as the acting attorney general until such time as Sessions is confirmed or not confirmed.
The president's got the ability to fire an A.G. but, ironically, it has taken Donald Trump only 10 days to match what Richard Nixon years to do, which is fire an attorney general who wouldn't do what you wanted him to do.
Now, you have to understand something. Part of the press release put out there today by the administration was they had cleared this with the Office of Legal Counsel at the Department of Justice. The problem with that is that the Office of Legal Counsel only looks at whether or not the form, whether or not it's facially constitutional. She was looking beyond that. There are two prongs to this. Is it constitutional, number one, as a law? And number two, as its applied? And it was her judgment, as it's been two district court judge's judgments, that it is not constitutional as applied.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Shawn obviously, the legal arguments can go around and around and around. But there are a lot of comparisons being drawn between the Trump administration and the Nixon administration, especially when it comes to Nixon directed the attorney general to investigate the special prosecutor for Watergate and the attorney general resigning. There are similarities.
SHAWN STEEL, CALIFORNIA REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEEMAN: There is a sense of betrayal here. Trump goes out of his way to give this woman, who is a liberal, who was appointed and brought in by Obama, a chance to be an acting attorney general, and as soon as she has a chance to attack him and make him look bad and to misdirect the justices that are sworn to follow the president's lead, she does so. And, of course, she has to get fired.
But what we don't understand and what the media is missing is that Trump is not surprising anybody. He clearly said what he was going to do. He is setting an agenda. He is very upfront and transparent about it. The left is going crazy. They can't understand why they are losing their power and their way of life and the control they've had. They don't understand the rest of America supports Trump. He is a disruptor. He was not elected to be a nice man but to un-do the damage Obama did.
VAUSE: Ethan, even if he was elected on campaign promises, those campaign promises still must still be in the Constitution.
ETHAN BEARMAN, CALIFORNIA TALK RADIO SHOW HOST: Absolutely. That's what's so interesting in this case. By firing the acting attorney general, he has moved our attention away from the fact that the order itself is very likely unconstitutional under the 14th Amendment Equal Protection Clause, people like green card holders and permanent citizens are under attack with this executive order.
[02:05:10] VAUSE: Back in March 2015, the man who is tipped to be the next attorney general, Jeff Sessions, grilled the former acting attorney general Sally Yates, during her confirmation hearing. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R), ALABAMA & U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: Well, you have to watch out because people will be asking you to do things you just need to say no about. Do you think the attorney general has a responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that is improper? A lot of people have defended the Lynch nomination, for example, by saying he appoints somebody who's going to execute his views, what's wrong with that? But if the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or deputy attorney general say no?
SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Senator I believe the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and the Constitution, and to give their independent legal advice to the president.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, Ron, to you. An incredible moment, given what has happened in the last couple hours. Take away from that it is all right to say no to President Obama but not to President Trump?
BROWNSTEIN: There is no irony in Washington, right? Everything -- where you stand depends on where you sit and everything is situational. That is an extraordinary moment, especially because it is Jeff Sessions asking the questions.
I think what's really striking is that his nomination is now hanging in the balance against the backdrop of this extraordinary controversy. You have as many as a dozen Republican Senators who have raised objections of varying degrees to the executive order, including several like John McCain and Lindsey Graham who have rather unequivocally condemned it. They now have a point of research. There are only 52 Republicans in the Senate. If there was a group of Republican Senators who said we're not going to vote to confirm Jeff Sessions until the administration considers some changes in the order, that would be their point of leverage.
Donald Trump is a student of power. He knows that Republican Senators raised objections about Rex Tillerson, his secretary of state, and then they voted for him. If they do it again on the executive order with Jeff Sessions, it would not be surprising for him to conclude, in one of his favorite phrases, "All talk, no action."
VAUSE: Shawn, we have heard John McCain, Lindsey Graham and a few others come out and talking against the travel ban, the executive order. Is there a concern that maybe Jeff Sessions, the appointment will be held up?
STEEL: It's a liberal's favorite dream. The Republicans is going to fracture. I was looking this up earlier. I heard the same thing, but this is December of 2015. It was going to fracture the Republican Party. Every time a liberal pundit says this and they predict a fall for Trump, they have egg on their faces. That's what's going to happen here. All these Senators have committed to Jeff Sessions. He's going to be the attorney general. Get comfortable with that.
But there's two powerful reasons why the liberals don't get it. One is Omar Mateen. He was from Orlando that killed 49 --
@: Who was a U.S. citizen, by the way.
STEEL: He was a U.S. citizen, came from an Afghan family. Was a devotee of ISIS.
BEARMAN: Which isn't on the travel ban.
STEEL: And second, the other one from -- the Tsarnaev brothers.
@: Who were from Russia.
BEARMAN: Which also is not on the travel ban.
STEEL: But let's make this clear. We're taking the worse countries right now, according to Obama, with the greatest degree of terrorism, exporting terrorism to Europe and other parts of the world. This is a just small step in the right direction. And Americans embrace that but liberal pundits hate it.
VAUSE: There are opinion polls out. Not Rasmussen because we don't use it. But Quinnipiac, you look at the poll that says 48 to 42 percent support for that travel ban.
BEARMAN: That's the problem. We're not a direct democracy. We are a representative republic. We're not supposed to be run by mob rule. And by the way, working classes have always resented immigrants in the United States. And it's the beacon of liberty to the world that we accept people who aren't necessarily always the most desirable on the face. @: We know the presidents in the past have used their executive order
when it comes to immigration. Trump isn't the first one. Ronald Reagan used it five times, George H.W. Bush once, Bill Clinton 12 times, President Bush, six times. Barack Obama used it 19 times.
Ron, to you, why is it so different now? Why are there so many people protesting on the streets? Why is this so controversial
BROWNSTEIN: I think it's the sweeping magnitude and the extent to which, both in his own words and the words of the executive order, it directly applies a religious test. In his interview with a Christian Broadcasting Network over the weekend the president talking about priority to Christians from the countries.
And, look, it is important. What we are seeing on the streets is truly unprecedented. To have the first weekend of the presidency, essentially, one in every 100 Americans out on the streets protesting, and following it up a week later over a group that is not inherently the most sympathetic possible target in American public opinion, which are travelers or immigrants from Middle East countries, against the backdrop of concern about terror. To have this many people, again, it is just a reminder, I think of how extraordinarily deep the lines are. And I believe the dynamic for Democrats in Congress is being set in the streets. I think many of them envisioned they would deal with the Trump presidency, pick from the menu, whether to work with them on some things and fight on others. They're scrambling to keep up with their base, which is going to demand a higher level of resistance that many might have expected from the outset.
[02:11:03] VAUSE: Shawn, what are you taking from one Vice President Cheney said last month, "I think this whole notion that we can somehow say, no more Muslims, just ban a whole religion, goes against everything we stand for and believe in. I mean, religious freedom has been an important part of our history and where we came from."
STEEL: He also said that a year ago.
@: He wasn't wrong.
STEEL: And by the way, I don't disagree with him. I don't think I heard Brownstein. He couldn't have said this is a religious test. Everybody else knows it's not. This is a test that simply says restrict people from certain countries that export terrorism.
STEEL: Doesn't mentioned the word religion or any religion at all, but it gives some exceptions in that executive order. One, are persecuted religious minorities. That could be Shia Muslims, the Yazidis or the Christians facing democide. Obama never once mentioned or worried about Christians facing genocide, but Trump lifted it, brought it up and made it a priority. That's very important. But for anyone to suggest -- and I don't think --
STEEL: -- about 24 hours ago, were saying that. It's not true, it's not a religious test.
BROWNSTEIN: And the list of those liberals would include Mitch McConnell, who have raised questions. Lamar Alexander said, in fact, it was uncomfortably a crossover into a religious test. Mitch McConnell said we don't want a religious test. They'll have to adjudicate it.
Look, what we're going to --
BROWNSTEIN: Very quickly, we are going to see the courts decide the answer to this question. It's not going to be me or you who answers the question. It's going to be the courts. And I think it is kind of indicative of how many even Republicans in Congress have raised questions about where this is going, where it positions the party, and where it leaves the U.S. on the world stage.
VAUSE: OK. We're also hearing from former President Barack Obama. His office released a statement, "The president fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion," and added, "The protests are exactly what we expect to see when American values are at stake."
Ethan, are we about to see Barack Obama go head-to-head with President Trump?
BEARMAN: I don't know that he's going to go that far, but I love that he supported First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly and protests in this country. And I 100 percent support the protests. I'm only disappointed I wasn't at LAX on Saturday.
STEEL: I completely support the right to protests. I want a lot more protests because the Democrat Party is going to continue to shrink as more Americans get alienated, especially if you stop my progress at the airport. If you do that, I don't care what your ideology is, you're my enemy forever.
That point aside, Ron, I get this is an indication of what we're going to get from Barack Obama just 10 days since he left the Oval Office and, obviously, he's not going to go away.
BROWNSTEIN: Yeah. That is extraordinary for a former president to be criticizing a successor this fast. But, again, I think it's indicative of what's happening. There are elements of the country that are very excited and supportive of the things that Donald Trump is doing. But he is also stirring an intense and really unprecedented backlash at the outset of his presidency. Gallop has polled on every new president since 1953. Donald Trump is at majority disapproval eight days into his presidency. Typically, it takes presidents 500 days or more to reach that milestone.
Yes, there is a coalition that is supportive of what he's doing, but he's stirred a backlash requiring all institutions to kind of take a stand on which side of the line you are on. Look at all the tech companies that set out at the beginning of the administration to find a working relationship that are now moving into more open opposition, including some that have gone into court to support the governor of Washington who you interviewed in the last hour going into court. You are just seeing a very -- it's a quick and deep, hardening of the lines between blue America and red America. And I think that is the template we're going to be living with for the next many months.
VAUSE: And, Shawn, very quickly, it seems as if the president is trying to change the conversation, moving up the announcement of his Supreme Court nominee to tomorrow night.
[02:15:04] STEEL: Listen, I welcome Obama, all the work he's done creating the Republican Party when we're really on our last messages, just eight years ago. Now 34 governorships, both houses in Congress. I want him to be out there leading the charges in the street.
But more than that, I'm looking forward to the fact that this disruptive president is changing our society right before our very eyes. And he's doing it not trying to make friends, not trying to be apologetic and not backing down. It's working.
VAUSE: Ethan, he's trying to change the conversation?
BEARMAN: No. And I think the Democrats will fight tooth and nail and resist the Supreme Court nominee as long as they can, just like the Republicans. The Democrats ought to take the page from the Republicans. It worked for the Republicans who won everything this cycle.
VAUSE: Ron, last word? We're setting up for a period of conflict wean the Republican and the Democrats? Because that is potentially --
BROWNSTEIN: And not only Republicans and Democrats. I agree with Shawn. Donald Trump is a president -- and with the advice of Steve Bannon, I think, as the ideological godfather - who is trying to change American society. And you're seeing the intensity of the reaction to that. In many ways, Hillary Clinton underperformed the level of resistance there is to Donald Trump's vision. Now Donald Trump is standing on his own, without Hillary Clinton next to her, and it will be his job on his own to build an affirmative majority for his vision of America. That's the challenge, and we'll see if he can meet it in 2018 and 2020.
VAUSE: And on that, I'll say thank you.
OK. We'll take a short break. Much more on this tumultuous start to President Trump's start as president.
America's new acting top court is promising to enforce his boss's controversial travel ban. More of that in a moment.
And that ban sparked chaos and confusion and protests across the United States and around the world. But many Trump supporters are happy about everything. You'll hear from them.
[02:20:58] VAUSE: Welcome back. 20 past 11:00 in Los Angeles.
An update on the breaking news. A shakeup at the U.S. Justice Department. President Trump has fired acting attorney general, Sally Yates. She told Justice Department lawyers on Monday not to defend President Trump's executive order on immigration and refugees. U.S. attorney, Dana Boente, was sworn in to replace her. He's already rescinded Yates' guidance. Both were appointed by former President Barack Obama.
VAUSE: Fareed Zakaria, host of "Fareed Zakaria, GPA," joins me from New York.
Fareed, what are the implications just 10 days into this administration, the acting attorney general has been fired for defying the executive order on the travel ban?
FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, FAREED ZAKARIA, GPS: Look, the whole thing seems extremely chaotic. Whatever interpretation you may have about that specific event and some of the others, whether the orders are unlawful, wise, unwise, it feels incompetent, and I think that is a serious problem for an administration that's sold itself on its competence. Donald Trump's principle point about why he should be president was I'm a competent businessman, I'm a multibillionaire, I know how to do stuff, trust me, nobody else in Washington can handle these issues, these complicated issues, I will make it all work. Well, part of making it work is understanding how to get stuff done, how to get it through legally and politically. If the whole thing feels sufficiently chaotic, unplanned, and amateur that I wonder whether it is making some people recognize, in my view, that government is actually more complicated than business.
@: One of the things that administration, it does seem to thrive on chaos, and we are seeing a lot of chaos right now.
ZAKARIA: You know, it thrived on chaos during the campaign. It remains to be seen if it will thrive on chaos as the presidency. It is one thing to promise a disruptive, to be a disruptive force, to be a disruptive force in a campaign where, frankly, people didn't like any of the other candidates and they wanted the - liked the idea of somebody shaking things up, but when they start seeing what that means, when you're president, that people often said don't take Trump literally, take his seriously. But when you're president, you've got to take him literally and seriously. When he says stuff, it matters. When he says to the attorney general, you're fired, she's fired. When you say there's going to be a ban on people coming in, they are banned, and airports going into chaos. I think that, as the president, as the administration, as the government, people are going to want a degree more of stability, of competence and continuity.
Look, let's be honest, we have all been surprised by Donald Trump. Perhaps he'll surprise us again. So far indications are not that way. His approval ratings are the lowest of any president in 45 years coming into the first week. But perhaps things will turn.
VAUSE: Earlier on Monday, the White House said the travel ban had been a huge success. They said a few people had been inconvenienced at airports and that's a small price to pay for national security. They say everyone complaining about it is simply hyping it up.
ZAKARIA: Well, it's very odd to describe it as a success, because, frankly, nothing has happened and the courts staid the implementation. How they can claim success for an order barbarically implemented, I don't know. It has caused enormous chaos in the United States and most importantly, abroad. Look at the effect it's having around the world. Look at what is happening in Iraq. Where the Iraqi parliament has had a fierce debate in which member after member has pointed out that the Iraqi government and army have allied with the United States for a decade in fighting terrorists. The Iraqi army is right now the principle fighting force fighting is. The terrorist group Donald Trump says he wants to eliminate, guess who's putting their lives on the line for that? Iraqi soldiers. And those soldiers and their families and translators for the American advisors are now told that they are hostile entities who will not even be allowed to visit the United States. It strikes me as just, if you look at the international implications of it, the ban is having very serious negative effects. Internally, it's causing a degree of chaos. Within the government, it's caused the attorney general to be fired. So, I don't know what yardstick you can use to describe it as having been successful. But you're right, that's what they claim.
[02:26:01] VAUSE: What do you think will be the long-term implications of this ban regardless of what happens in the courts whether it's upheld or whether it's dismissed? What will be the implications for the United States and it image around the world?
ZAKARIA: Well, clearly negative. I think the most interesting thing has been to note how people and countries have reacted around the world, recognizing that it's not just about seven countries. It's about the idea that the United States can use national origin, effectively, religion, as a blanket condition. You know, it's not saying dangerous Iraqis. It's saying all Iraqis. It's not saying we're just going to scrutinize people more carefully. It's saying we won't allow anybody from Syria coming in. I think people recognize that violates some sense of common human rights and decency and justice. You have the high commissioner of Human Rights saying that this is essentially an immoral policy that violates universal codes of conduct and injustice. When people are saying that about the United States, it's a sad day. Those are the kind of things you hear people saying about authoritarian governments that have long histories of human rights abuse. To hear it said about the oldest constitutional democracy in the world, about a country that is rightly seen and has been seen as the leaders of the free world, it is a sad day.
VAUSE: OK. Fareed, thank you. Appreciate you being with us.
ZAKARIA: My pleasure.
VAUSE: A short break. When we come back, many Iraqis risked their lives to help U.S. troops during the war in Iraq. Many of them are now banned from coming to the states. We'll hear from one American veteran who says that's just wrong.
Also, Trump strategist, Steve Bannon, elevated to a seat on the National Security Council. A look at how much influence Bannon has in the White House.
[02:31:05] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. If you're just joining us, there's breaking news from Washington. Donald Trump's new acting attorney general says he will uphold the president's executive order on immigrants and refugees. Dana Boente was sworn in late Monday after a shakeup over the controversial travel ban.
We get details from CNN justice correspondent, even Perez.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: An extraordinary series of events as President Trump fired Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, because she had ordered the Justice Department not to defend the president's executive order on immigrants and refugees. The president's order, rolled out chaotically over the weekend, banned travel to the United States of people from seven countries deemed to be security risks.
Yates is an appointee of President Obama and a the nearly 30-year career lawyer in the Justice Department. On Monday, she told Justice Department lawyers that, quote, "I am responsible for ensuring the positions we take in court remain consistent with this institution's obligation to seek justice and seek what is right." She went on to say she didn't think the executive order is lawful.
A few hours later, the White House issued a statement attacking Yates for being weak on illegal immigration. The statement said Yates, quote, "has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States."
The new acting attorney general is Dana Boente, the top federal prosecutor in northern Virginia. He will remain in office until the Senate confirms Senator Jeff Sessions, expected later this week.
Evan Perez, CNN, Washington.
VAUSE: Outrage also in Washington over President Trump's decision to give his chief strategist a seat on his highest level national security team. Many wonder just how much power Steve Bannon has in the White House. Jeff Zeleny reports.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steve Bannon is the White House chief strategist. But even that title may not do justice to his influence in the West Wing. He's driving decisions on every piece of President Trump's agenda, domestic and foreign, including the president's immigration order and travel ban that sparked a global backlash.
ZELENY: But it's his elevation to a permanent spot on the National Security Council that is now outraging even many Republicans, who question why he has a seat alongside the secretary of state and defense secretary in national security. The president said, in a weekend memo, "The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the director of National Intelligence will no longer have a standing seat on the group known as the Principles Committee.
Former defense secretary, Roberts, who has served eight presidents, said it was an unprecedented move.
ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: I think pushing them out of the National Security Council meetings, except when their specific issues are at stake, is a big mistake. I think they both bring a perspective and judgment and experience to bear that every president, whether they like it or not, finds useful.
ZELENY: The White House press secretary, Sean Spicer, brushed aside criticism as nonsense.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This administration is trying to make sure we don't hide things and wait for them kind of after the fact. So, it recognizes the role that he's going to play. Steve is not going to be in every meeting.
ZELENY: Bannon is un-phased by the controversy. In fact, a person close to him tells CNN he thrives on it. Bannon sees his role as disrupting the establishment, Republicans included, and putting his ideological imprint on Trump's presidency.
SPICER: I want to one of our "Breitbart" --
ZELENY: He calls himself a nationalist, who says Trump could create a new populist movement.
STEVE BANNON, WHITE HOUSE STRATEGIST: This whole movement is really the top first inning.
ZELENY: He joined Trump's team last August, taking leave from leading the conservative "Breitbart" website. At 62, he is one of the loudest voices in the White House, who is rarely heard or seen outside, except now at the president's side. Last week, Bannon told "The New York Times," "The media here is the
opposition party." One day later, the president echoed the same sentiment to the Christian Broadcasting Network.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think the media is the opposition party in many ways.
ZELENY: Jeff Zeleny, CNN, Washington.
[02:35:28] VAUSE: A short break. When we come back, Iraqi interpreters worked shoulder to shoulder with Americans during the Iraqi war. Now their country is included in President Trump's travel ban. Why an American veteran says they must be let in.
VAUSE: Recapping our breaking news, the United States has a new acting attorney general after the previous one was fired in a dispute over the travel ban. Sally Yates said on Monday she wasn't sure with the executive order on immigration and refugees was legal. She told Justice Department lawyers not to defend it in court. Now she's out. U.S. Attorney Dana Boente takes over the department and has already overturned Yates' guidance. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Jeff Sessions on Tuesday.
Officials at the Pentagon are compiling a list of names of those who supported U.S. military operations in Iraq. That's one of the seven countries included in the travel ban. The purpose of the list, to make it easier for them to get waivers to somewhere the United States.
For more on this, we're joined by immigration attorney, Nelson Castillo, of the Castillo law firm; and Chase Millsap, an American Marine veteran who served three tours in Iraq and is a former Green Beret.
Chase, first, as a former Green Beret, you're trying to get an Iraqi veteran in the U.S., an Iraqi who saved your life, when you heard about this travel ban, what was your reaction and what has been in the last couple of days?
[02:40:15] CHASE MILLSAP, U.S. MARINE VETERAN & FORMER GREEN BERET: Any initial reaction was, what is this ban, what does it mean, and how is it going to affect the captain? I think just being able to talk to the captain and look at his case, this stops it. It puts it on hold. And it brings up the question, those allies that serve beside us, saved American lives, what does that matter in this policy review? I think there are some causes in there that allow for special cases. And I think this could be an opportunity to evaluate those who have served alongside of us and get them in the United States or at least protected.
VAUSE: Nelson, there is this list the Pentagon is putting together of Iraqi nationals who assisted U.S. forces in Iraq over the last 15 years. There doesn't seem to be clarity on who makes the list and how the decision is made.
NELSON CASTILLO, IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: My hope is that they locate themselves, the Department of Homeland Security, Defense Department. They have to work together as soon as possible to protect the friends of America and bring them in as quickly and use the clause mentioned earlier to allow them, on a case by case basis, to be brought into the United States. They have already done vetting, that's my understanding, and, therefore, they should be expedited, be brought into the United States.
VAUSE: Even the name of the executive order, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorists Entities in the United States. What message does that send to the captain and to other Iraqis who served alongside the U.S. forces?
MILLSAP: It's simple. We don't trust you. And that's very, very difficult. For me as a veteran, but also for those advisors on the ground overseas right now. That's not the message that you want to butt -- put on the battle field. That's going to be in a lot of ways, those there are in damage-control mode, trying to rebuild the relationship.
Back to the list, with Nelson, we have to remember, on the secretary of defense, this is a former Marine general. Like most Marines, you don't go to your commander with just problems. You go with solutions. So actually, getting this list together and figuring out who the names are going to be on the list and what capacity they may be able to help with the national security strategy and also protect American lives abroad, it's the right thing to do. It will get us in a position to act.
VAUSE: But, Nelson, if we go back to the list, does that now mean that for those Iraqi nationals who served the U.S. military and have already jumped through so many hoops and been sort of in line waiting, trying to get the visa, are they back to square one? Do they have to go through the process again waiting for approval from that Pentagon?
CASTILLO: My hope is they don't. They have done all this background checks, and it's just a matter of identifying them, and putting themselves into the national interest to allow them to come in. It shouldn't take them a lot of the time they spent waiting to be classified as refugees and to be brought into the United States.
VAUSE: Have you had a conversation with the captain about this?
MILLSAP: I have. Absolutely.
VAUSE: What did he say?
MILLSAP: At first, he was frustrated, and rightfully so. His case has been put on hold, and he has to wonder, what is his future for his kids. But at the same, I think there's a glimmer of hope and that's to say he saved American lives, and stood by us for almost a decade and committed to our values, and not to mention, he's an asset in the fight ongoing fight against ISIS and non-state actors. These are the kind of people that have the cultural language and experience on the ground that we need in this fight.
VAUSE: He's already been waiting two years in.
MILLSAP: Over two years.
VAUSE: In Turkey, in a country he doesn't speak the language in a small apartment with no income?
VAUSE: Struggling inform.
MILLSAP: Yes. Absolutely.
VAUSE: Now there's another hurdle? He must have heard it and had disbelief.
MILLSAP: Yes. But there's the connection I have that I built. He works with me and says, we fought together. And I told him, I'm not going to leave you behind. That's not who I am. And however, the policy comes out, whatever he looks at, we're going to have to evaluate how we can work for his case. My hope is the captain's case can be an example for what could be possible not only for our national security interests but being able to protect those here at home. We can do it, but it's a matter of getting the information we need and professionals and rising above the fear we have. We can do this.
VAUSE: Nelson, that's the goal and hope. But from a legal point of view, you know how the system works. You know how the laws can be interpreted. The situation at the airport, court orders put in place that said the people at the airport must be allowed through Customs. They must be allowed into the United States. And there were border protection agents who didn't follow it because they didn't get the right word from Washington or there was confusion or whatever. You know even when the rules are implemented, nothing goes as planned.
[02:45:22] CASTILLO: The laws are there but the implementation is crucial, what's important. The executive order is broad and speaks in general terms. They'll come back with specifics about how they're going to implement it. I hope they take into consideration this valid points, and to not make it more difficult as the process already is for those individuals who, up to now, have been exemplary coming in. The refugees have come into the United States from those countries, therefore, those who have served in the battle against our enemies abroad, that we are there for them coming in.
VAUSE: There's a situation right now, a group of Iraqi pilots currently training in Arizona, and as an indication of the confusion, no one knows what to do with them right now. How do you deal with Iraqis currently in the country with visas?
CASTILLO: Again, if you're inside the country, I don't believe the executive order applies to you unless you're violating the terms of your visa. You're protected. You're in. The problem is coming in. You have been admitted. You're in the United States. Abide by the terms, complete your training, do everything by the book, and you should be fine. And already there has been litigation put forth that people who want to be taken out, they're being prevented because they're already protected. It doesn't apply to the executive order.
VAUSE: Chase, this executive order, the administration stresses it's for a 90-day period. It's temporary. Does that make a difference?
MILLSAP: Time is critical, especially in the captain's case. He's been waiting, but there are those Iraqis on their way and have been turned back. There have been some cases where they have to go back into Iraq. And 120 days, 90 days underground in Iraq makes a difference, especially when your live is on the line. Time is of the essence. I hope that's part of the consideration, saying if we're making considerations, look at them, make sure they're being protected but make a decision.
VAUSE: And when you're a refugee, 90 days is a lot more than an inconvenience.
CASTILLO: Of course. Depending on where you are. You heard the description on where the captain is, and there are people in worse conditions. Everybody has a unique story. But especially, most likely, people like the captain that need to be expedited into the United States as soon as possible.
VAUSE: Thank you. We'll see what happens.
Chase and Nelson, thank you for being with us.
MILLSAP: Thank you.
CASTILLO: Thank you.
VAUSE: Take a short break, when we come back the immigration ban is sparking protests, the measure does have supporters. In a moment, we'll hear from them.
[02:51:59] VAUSE: It's eight minutes to midnight on the west coast. We're following breaking news out of Washington. President Donald Trump is responding forcefully to those who resist his executive order on immigration and refugees. He fired acting attorney general, Sally Yates, after she said she was not sure the order was legal. Yates told Justice Department lawyers not to defend the controversial travel ban in court. The U.S. Attorney Dana Boente was sworn in to take Yate's place and has already rescinded her guidance.
Despite protests around the world against President Trump's travel ban, there are plenty of Americans who favor the kind of restrictions.
CNN's Randi Kaye spoke to some of the supporters in Pennsylvania.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have to check out who is coming in. We have to know who is coming in.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Supporters of President Trump and his refugee plan weren't hard to find at the Beltway Diner in Lutheran County, Pennsylvania.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you.
KAYE: After all, Trump won this county with 58 percent of the vote. A major reversal from President Obama's tight victory here in 2012.
(on camera): Do you think this will make America safer and prevent terrorism?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because there's so many of them here now. It's hard to keep track of them. And they just keep coming and coming and coming.
KAYE (voice-over): This Pennsylvania farmer a long-time registered Democrat switched parties to support Trump because he liked his immigration plan.
(on camera): He said this isn't against religion. This isn't against Muslims. How do you feel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not. No, those people have to be vetted. These people are coming off the street. We have no idea who they are. And --
KAYE: But the State Department takes a couple of years vetting these folks and has turned some away. You say it's not enough?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But there's still enough room for those people to sneak through. I don't think they get everybody.
KAYE (voice-over): And if they're coming in from Syria, many told us, don't even bother vetting. Keep them out for good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of bad people there. We don't know their backgrounds. We don't know where they came from. We don't know what they're behind.
KAYE (on camera): You sound like Donald Trump when you say that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can agree with him.
KAYE (voice-over): Not a single Trump supporter here considers the executive order discriminatory. (on camera): What do you say to those who call this discrimination
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't call it discrimination when there's so much violence with the bombings and attacks. It's like he was just trying to keep us safe.
KAYE: Will this make America safer, do you think?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know. I don't know. I'm hoping it will.
KAYE (voice-over): In a diner jammed with Trump devotees, this woman stuck out, an independent who supported Hillary Clinton. She says President Trump is bullying Muslims.
(on camera): What about the bans?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a disgrace. This country is made up of immigrants. He just wants to sign executive orders to show he's doing something. He has no idea what it's about.
KAYE: Is this discrimination in your view?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, definitely. It's discrimination. It's illegal. And it's a disgrace to our country.
KAYE (voice-over): This woman couldn't disagree more. She says it's the only way to stop terrorism.
(on camera): What about the terrorism? What scares you about that?
KAYE: Oh, my god. You never know where it's going to be. You know? You could be shopping or you can go to church. They might want to blow up your church.
(voice-over): Randi Kaye, CNN Hazelton, Pennsylvania.
[02:55:45] VAUSE: Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
Please stay with us for more news from around the world with Cyril Vanier and Rosemary Church right after a short break.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
[02:59:59] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Rosemary Church.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Cyril Vanier. Let's start with the breaking story here in the United States. U.S.
President Donald Trump has fired the acting U.S. attorney general for refusing to enforce his executive --