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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Awaiting President Trump's Supreme Court Announcement; WH Claims Travel Ban Is Not A Ban; WH: Order Not A Travel Ban Despite What Trump Has Said; Dems Stall On Trump Picks; Republicans Outraged; Democrats Boycotting Trump Nominees; WH Accuses Fired Acting Attorney General Of Betrayal; Aired: 7-8p ET
Aired January 31, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We miss you already. Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT HOST: OutFront next, breaking news. President Trump about to reveal his Supreme Court pick. Who will it be? We are just moments away. And we're bringing that to you live tonight. Plus more breaking news, chaos on Capitol Hill. Democrats boycotting Trump's nominees while another pick now accused of plagiarizing.
And Trump's travel ban. Will it hurt or help America? Shark Tank star, fellow billionaire Mark Cuban is OutFront tonight. Let's go OutFront.
And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight. The breaking news. President Trump announcing his pick for the Supreme Court moments from now. The president teasing the big reveal all day building the suspense for his primetime announcement this evening.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We'll be announcing a supreme court justice who I think everybody's going to be very, very impressed with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: CNN has learned that the top two candidates, Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, both were summon to Washington today. Hardiman driving himself from Pennsylvania. This drama orchestrated by Trump resembling an apprentice-style announcement tonight, so not tipping his hand on who Trump saying you're hired to. The reason, according to one person close to the process, Trump likes a contest. And as for the one who isn't chosen, it's not that you're fired, apparently. Trump doesn't see second place as a bad thing.
This source telling CNN and I quote, "There will be other openings on the court so the person not picked will be runner-up." All of this perhaps in an attempt to distract from the growing controversies surrounding the president's travel ban. Today the Trump administration tried to deny that it even is a ban. SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOSUE PRESS SECRETARY: It can't be a ban if you're
letting a million people in, 325,000 people from another country can't come in. This is by nature, not a ban.
JOHN JELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Not a travel ban, this is not - I repeat, not a ban on Muslims.
BURNETT: The problem of course is that Trump himself has used the word ban to describe this travel change. Much more on that in a moment, but first, Pamela Brown begins our coverage OutFront. She's outside the Supreme Court. And Pamela, obviously moments away from this big announcement, apprentice-style built up by the president. What do you know?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It does appear to be Supreme Court apprentice. As you point out, one source says Donald Trump likes a contest and this is certainly playing out like one. In fact, we're told from a source that packets of briefing materials on both of the top finalists are being prepared tonight to hand out to the senators. And we're told through our sources that the leading contender here, Judge Neil Gorsuch, was covertly flown to Washington, D.C., from his home in Colorado yesterday.
The other contender, Thomas Hardiman, a judge in Pennsylvania, left his home this morning, in fact, one of our producers know a great caught up with him at a gas station in between Pittsburgh and Washington, D.C. He declined to comment but what's clear here is that the White House is trying to build suspense and it's taking extraordinary measures to conceal the top pick. However, our sources are telling us, Erin that there are increasing indications that Donald Trump will pick Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill Justice Scalia's seat. He is young, he's 49 years old, he has a conservative track record. But again, we'll have to wait and see what happens during this primetime address at 8:00 p.m. Eastern. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Pamela, thank you very much. Everyone awaiting that. Of course Judge Gorsuch interesting enough has never actually ruled on abortion. Much more on this crucial pick if he is indeed that pick coming up as we count you down.
Also tonight, the fallout over the president's travel ban growing and not just among democrats. One of the president's earliest and closest supporters throughout the campaign, the New Jersey Governor, calling the rollout of the ban unacceptable today. But the White House is standing firm against criticism tonight. Jim Acosta is OutFront.
JIM ACOSTA, SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Across the Trump administration, all of a sudden there seems to be a ban on the word ban.
KELLY: This is not a travel ban. This is not -- I repeat, not a ban on Muslims.
ACOSTA: New Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly insisted the executive order barring travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries does not amount to a ban. SPICER: First of all, it's not a travel ban.
ACOSTA: But tell that to the president who tweeted just yesterday if the ban were announced with a one-week notice, the bad would rush into our country during that week. A lot of bad dudes out there. And don't forget President Trump said this on Saturday --
TRUMP: Working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over, it's working out very nicely and we're going to have a very, very strict ban and we're going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.
ACOSTA: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer tried to explain it this way.
SPICER: Using the words that the media is using but at the end of the day it can't -- hold on, hold on, hold on. It can't be -- it can't be -- John, thanks. I'll let Kristen talk.
ACOSTA: Even though Spicer used the word ban himself on Sunday.
SPICER: it's a 90-day pan.
ACOSTA: Then there is what one of the president's top surrogates, Rudy Giuliani, told Fox just over the weekend.
RUDY GIULIANI, CYBERSECURITY ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: When he first announced it he said Muslim ban. He called me up, he said put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally. And what we did was we focused on instead of religion danger.
ACOSTA: Spicer's answer for that?
SPICER: Then you should ask Mayor Giuliani. That's his opinion.
ACOSTA: The administration is still pushing back on the notion that it botched the rollout of the executive order which led to chaos at airports across the country.
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAN SECURITY SECRETARY: We knew it was coming. It wasn't a surprise it was coming. And then we implemented it.
ACOSTA: House Speaker Paul Ryan carefully criticized the execution of the order but not the policy itself.
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: I think it's regrettable that there was some confusion on the rollout of this. No one wanted to see people with green cards or special immigrant visas like translators get caught up in all of this.
ACOSTA: The White House is standing big the firing of acting Attorney General Sally Yates who balked at carrying out the executive order, saying Yates betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. And we're hearing from sources up on Capitol Hill that will Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly did meet this evening with the chairman of the Homeland Security committee over in the house.
Michael McCaul and a source familiar with that conversation that occurred just in the last couple of hours, Erin, is indicating to us that at this point the administration does not have any plans to make any changes to that executive order which of course caused so much controversy over the last several days, Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Jim, thank you. And OutFront now, the democratic congressman Adam Shift, top democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. Thanks for being with me. And I know you just got out of a meeting with the Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. You requested that meeting out of concern about the travel ban. What happened? Did he answer your questions?
REP. ADAM SCHIFF, (D) RANKING MEMBER, HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: A group of us met with the secretary including Chairman McCaul and, you know, he did his best I think to put the best face on a policy which I think has been quite disastrous. The issue that I raised with him was whether any consideration was given to the impact on our allies around the world. I was in Iraq about two weeks ago and I can only imagine where we're competing for influence with the Iranians, what a gift this was to Iran.
Iraqis I think are now in a very difficult position as are Jordanians and just about everybody else in the region about overtly working with a country that would ban people of the Muslim faith from coming to America notwithstanding all their ban on the word ban and the ban on the word Muslim apparently. It is what it is. And I think Rudy Giuliani put it accurately in a rare moment of a non-rehearsed answer that this was a way to put the best spin on a Muslim ban.
BURNETT: And, you know, let me just ask you this, they say it's not a ban. You heard Sean Spicer. Of course Trump said it was a ban as you point out. It doesn't impact though more than a billion Muslims. Well, more than that, they're not impacted by this. They're saying it's temporary until a vetting system is actually put in place. Does any of that convince you? Did Secretary Kelly convince you with any of those arguments?
SCHIFF: No. And I don't think the secretary would downplay the impact on our allies. It's very real. And while it may not affect a billion people who aren't trying at the moment to come to this country, it does affect them and their perception of what America stands for and whether Muslims are welcome in America or whether we are really in a war of civilizations as Al-Qaeda and ISIS would like to portray it. So it has quite a demonstrable impact even on people who are not trying to come here.
Obviously those that came or those that were turned away at the airport overseas who, you know, had a new life, the expectation of a new life in front of them taken away at the last moment are the most impacted. But imagine, you know, we had the king of Jordan we'll be meeting with tomorrow, what pressure he is under not to coordinate too overtly with the United States like in a ban people of the faith that a majority of his citizens hold. BURNETT: Yes. It doesn't surprise you. You know, we just got this
interview in from a man who had worked with the U.S. Military, U.S. Army in Iraq, he was detained coming into the United States. So, one of those who was putting his life on the line to help American troops. What he said when he got released finally and cleared was, asked about Trump, he said, "He's a good guy, he is very good, there is a system, it's OK." When you hear that, are you surprised and do you still have belief as this young Iraqi does that there is a system and it's OK?
SCHIFF: Well, listen, you know, this gentleman comes from a country where it is very hazardous to speak out against the government. He is a new, you know, immigrant on American soil. I think he would be naturally very wary of criticizing the commander-in-chief and whatever concern he might have that that could be taken away from him. But, you know, at the same time, you know, notwithstanding what our commander-in-chief says, people continue to have faith in America.
And, you know, I think unfortunately that is reliant on the view that the President of the United States doesn't speak for most Americans, I think on this subject he doesn't speak for most Americans. But there's only so long you can do go with so many policies like this before the world starts to think he really does represent American values. And that concerns me greatly.
BURNETT: Congressman, I want to interrupt you for a moment. We do have some breaking news from Capitol Hill and I want to go to Manu Raju and bring you back. But first, Manu, can you give us the news on Trump cabinet nominees?
MANU RAJU, CNN CORRESPONDENT REPORTER: Yes. Erin, tensions erupting in the senate's night over several of Donald Trump's nominees this after democrats boycotting a key committee vote earlier today on Donald Trump's choice to lead the treasury department and his choice to lead Health and Human Services. Democrats believe that Tom Price denomination to head HHS and Steven Mnuchin to head treasury did not answer questions honestly in the committee.
So they're delaying a vote in the committee and the question is whether or not Donald Trump will have to recess a point those nominees because of the democrats' lack of cooperation. Now also Jeff Sessions to be attorney general, democrats pushing back the vote for one day by not allowing the vote to happen in the committee today. This is all procedural moves to try to make it as hard as possible for Donald Trump to get his cabinet nominees confirmed but at the end of the day, Erin, expect all of these nominees to eventually get the votes because republicans for the most part are supportive of the nominees except for two which could be close.
Betsy DeVos to be the education department secretary facing criticism over plagiarism allegations. And also Mick Mulvaney to be the budget director, John McCain telling me just moments ago that he may vote against him in a key committee vote tomorrow. But still the money is on Donald Trump eventually getting all these nominees confirmed. Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Manu, thank you very much. And Congressman, you just heard Manu's reporting. Senator Hatch calling democrats idiots and amazingly stupid, it was among what he told Manu about this for delaying the confirmation of so many of Trump's nominees. Are your colleagues delaying the inevitable? I mean, we all know the reality. Almost all of these folks, if not all are going to get confirmed and this whole waiting is leaving America's most important institutions leaderless and dysfunctional.
SCHIFF: I think democrats need to thoroughly vet these nominees even if the result is ultimately going to ne their confirmation because the republicans have their votes. If nominees aren't being fully candid, if their background checks haven't been fully completed, they ought to demand that they get the thorough vetting they should before they -- any of them vote on this. So I think they're doing what they need to do but I think frankly all of this will be overshadowed about what happens beginning later tonight because I think frankly senate democrats need to vigorously oppose any supreme court justice that is in every bit as moderate as Merrick Garland to do anything else to reward the GOP for leaving a seat vacant for an entire year depriving the last president to have an appointment and we will see that happen again unless we insist on a moderate in the mold of Merrick Garland.
BURNETT: We're not -- you're not getting that. right? So --
SCHIFF: We may -- we may not get it and if we don't then I think we ought to filibuster and oppose anyone who does (INAUDIBLE)
BURNETT: All the way. So hold that vacant as long as you possibly can? Making the vacancy even longer and even worse?
SCHIFF: I think we ought to insist on a consensus choice because anything less will reward the senate republicans for what I think was the most severe debasement of the Supreme Court we've ever seen. We will see that tactic again if it is rewarded. So, it's more than just a tit for tat. It is a -- I think a repudiation of what the republicans did. So I think they need to insist on a consensus and moderate candidate or if I were in the senate I would vigorously oppose any new conservative to the court.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
SCHIFF: Thank you.
BURNETT: And as we said, the Congressman pointing out we are moments away from this major announcement. In the meantime, the White House calls it a betrayal, doubling down on firing the attorney general for defying the president.
Plus how are Muslims reacting to Trump's travel ban? Muslims in America?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I say to Muslims in Dearborn, they should have more confidence in joining with Trump, Trump is going to protect them.
BURNETT: Maybe not what you're expecting to hear. And look at it, awaiting Trump's announcement of the Supreme Court pick moments from now right there in the White House. The two finalists are in Washington tonight. Is this the finale of the apprentice?
BURNETT: The breaking news. We are counting down to the announcement from the President of the United States of his Supreme Court pick. His nominee is going to be in the east room of the White House moments from now. We are counting you down to that. As we said apprentice style announcement. The president has been building it up all day. In the meantime, the breaking news at this moment.
More than 60 former federal prosecutors slamming President Trump's decision to fire the acting attorney general after she defied his executive order and travel ban. The bipartisan group putting out a sharp letter coming to her defense calling the order in part, "A thinly veiled attempt to exclude Muslims from certain countries based on their religion." Those of course the crucial words based on their religion. They say if they were in Sally Yates' position, "It would be our job to say no. This executive order is wrong and should not be defended.: Today though, the White House doubled down calling Yates' action a betrayal. Joe Johns is OutFront.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The honorable Sally Yates.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Sally Yates was the acting attorney general until Monday night when Donald Trump fired her.
SPICER: She was rightfully removed. That is a position of leadership that is given to somebody who is supposed to execute orders that are handed down to them properly, of which that executive order was 100 percent done.
JOHNS: The dramatic clash began when Yates told justice department lawyers not to legally defend Trump's widely protested executive order on immigration and refugees. Riding in a letter, my responsibility is to ensure that the position of the Department of Justice is not only legally defensible but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. She was told she was fired by a hand-delivered letter from the president. According to an administration official. And the White House released a statement saying the Acting Attorney General Sally Yates has betrayed the Department of Justice.
JOHN ROBERTS, FOX NEWS CHANNEL WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Is the president laying down a marker now to all of his cabinet secretaries and all of his other officials to say if I give you a directive and you do not follow it, you're gone?
SPICER: Well, I think that kind of comes with the job, right? He has an agenda that he articulated very, very clearly to the American people. And it is his job to lay that vision out and that the people that he appoints and nominates and announces as staff members or cabinet level members or agency heads, their job is to fulfill that. If they don't like it, they shouldn't take the job.
JOHNS: Yates, an Obama appointee replaced Attorney General Loretta Lynch and was set to serve until Jeff Sessions, Trump's nominee for attorney general, was confirmed. Ironically, Sessions had questioned Yates about dissent at her confirmation hearing in 2015.
SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, (R) ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: If the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no?
SALL YATES, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: Senator, I believe that 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.
JOHNS: But Trump is known for doing things his way. And since he's taken the Oval Office it's been no different when dozens of career state department diplomats signed a memo voicing opposition to Trump's immigration executive order, his spokesman said they should find a new job.
SPICER: I think that they should either get with the program or they can go.
JOHNS: And when the national park service re-tweeted a photo comparing Trump's inaugural crowd size to President Obama's in 2009, Trump personally called the acting director to complain. Sally Yates wasn't the only high-ranking DOJ staffer who went out the door at the justice department. When she left, CNN is told by a source that Matt Axelrod, the principal associate deputy attorney general who served as Sally yates' right-hand man, left as well.
We weren't able to reach Axelrod for comment. The significance of the situation is that it's not just about the president firing Sally Yates because he clearly had the power to do it, but it's also about the highly critical language that was used in the public statement from the office of the White House press secretary. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Joe, thank you very much. I mean, it was stunning. And OutFront now, former presidential adviser to four presidents David Gergen, Washington Bureau Chief of the Daily Beast Jackie Kucinich and our Senior Political Analyst Mark Preston. Jackie, Yates was fired by hand-delivered letter. This is something by the way in terms of how Trump will communicate with people he has always done in many years in New York and he will send notes to people, he likes to do that.
In this -- so the White House statement he used the word betrayed, that she was weak. They also used that word. This seems unusually personal. You don't use those words unless you feel personally affronted.
JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: I think for most people that would be correct but Trump uses these words all the time, he calls people weak, disasters, he called Lindsey Graham weak, you know, two days ago. I'm not -- I'm not justifying it. I'm just saying this is very Trump and he still hasn't really settled into the fact that in this role these words really matter. You say someone betrayed you, that means a lot more coming from the President of the United States than from a reality T.V star. It just does. And the connotation it is to a lot of people, particularly in the government and to reporters, that connotation is just disturbing.
BURNETT: And it also shows by the way that -- and granted he doesn't have all his people in position but at least at this moment he is not delegating, OK? He wrote the letter. The words betrayed and weak, we all know came from Donald Trump that we then used in Sean Spicer's statement. So he is micromanaging what the press secretary says where the letter goes.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: We shouldn't be surprised because there's a small group of people that has surrounded -- he has surrounded himself with. And I also think that as government gets built out as we see on the secretaries that go through the confirmation process that start getting placed, I think you're going to see a very small group of people that are going to be making all the decisions.
I mean, the fact that Steve Bannon is going to NSC meetings on a regular basis, you know -- you know, just goes to show you that and quite frankly every time there's a job announcement that comes out, whenever a business goes into the Oval Office and they announce they're going to keep 1,000 jobs Donald Trump is out there tweeting, hey, you know, I got them to keep another 1,000 jobs. He's trying to take ownership of everything.
BURNETT: And David Gergen, I guess the question though is when Sean Spicer made the point that the president has the right to go forth with his agenda which she of course was elected to do by the American people, he says government officials need to get on board. Does he have a point when he says that?
DAVID GERGEN, FORMER PRESIDENTIAL ADVISER: Well, he does. And in fact in the -- in the past I think for every administration especially with political appointees, the notion or the standard had been, listen, you can advise the president up front before he makes a decision, you can tell him anything you want, but once he's made the decision and he said this is where we're going, if you don't want to go that direction you better get out.
That -- he gets elected to do that. I think what's different about this is how severe and I think poisonous his relationships with his -- with the career civil servants and the foreign service officer is likely to be after this sort of initial (INAUDIBLE) park service and that was the justice department. Especially the with the state department. The number -- you know, they have a rule at the state department, they have a process at the state department, you can sign a dissent to the policy of the president and those will be taken into account by the department and you will not be punished.
That's the understanding. But I can tell you, a thousand people or more have now signed this dissent at the state department over this travel ban. Biggest number they've ever seen. Last year only 50 or so dissented on things. And I can guarantee you, they may not be fired but they'll never see an ambassadorship. They're going to -- they're going to -- they're going to take names over the White House and they will be on a list.
BURNETT: Right. And there's no question about that. And Mark, he's pointing at this memo of dissent, it's called 900 state department diplomats have signed it. The question I have though and I think David raised a really good point about the fact that they'll try to take names if they can, there will be repercussions. The question is for Trump. Does this actually energize him? He says look, these are a bunch of Hillary Clinton people, these are a bunch of liberals that worked for the state department, this is proof I'm right.
PRESTON: It may energize him at the moment and it may energize during a presidential campaign but at some point you're going to come to the edge of the cliff and you're going to go over the cliff. You need to be surrounded by people that you can trust which is what we saw with Sally Yates and she wasn't with him, so he -- so he dismissed her, he fired her. But the bottom line is to David's point, you can't go out and be critical of all these employees in the federal government who are basically the ones who are on the front lines that are going to have your back. You're going to engendering a little bit of loyalty and you got to loyalty back.
BURNETT: And that is crucial. And these are people who worked their whole career. They worked for democrats, they work republicans.
KUCINICH: Oh, right.
BURNETT: They have to feel loyalty to the commander-in-chief.
KUCINICHL: Well, right. And it is loyalty to the constitution. I mean, that's another piece of this. You don't automatically get that loyalty when the person sits in office. You build it. And right now, he's not doing it. Sorry, David. Go ahead.
GERGEN: Erin, what happens is, you can't do all of this by rulemaking, you have to -- as Mark says, you have to build trust and loyalty both ways. And what you find in this president, if you really get into a war with the civil service, they can find a lot of ways to quietly sabotage what you're trying to do, just slow it down. They introduce all sorts of complexities. You hadn't expect it. And it's very, very hard to govern. It's far better to try to work with people, build bridges to people, you know, try to reach understandings so you can make the government work effectively. The Trump people are going to discover the civil service and the foreign service officers can really make life very difficult for you if they choose to do so.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you. And next, billionaire businessman, Shark Tank star, Mark Cuban is my guest. He'll weigh in on Trump's travel ban after this. And the breaking news, President Trump about to announce his first pick to the Supreme Court. It is a -- his first primetime speech as President to the nation. The shortlist at this moment down to two. We are moments away, you see the supreme court, you see the White House, we're in the east room, he will be making that announcement moments from now. We'll be right back.
[19:30:42] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news: we are a few minutes away from President Trump stepping before cameras to reveal his Supreme Court nominee in Washington live tonight. There are two finalists. They are waiting right now in Washington.
The announcement we're going to bring to you live. He's built it up "Apprentice"-style.
It comes, of course, at the same time that his controversial travel ban is facing new legal challenges. Tonight, officials in Virginia, New York, Massachusetts, San Francisco all saying they will challenge the ban. They call it unconstitutional and discriminatory.
And tonight, in a story you will see only here OUTFRONT, we travel to a city with one of the largest Muslim populations in America to get their reaction to the ban. Do they hate it? Do they think he's terrible?
Well, what many of them had to say may surprise you.
Jessica Schneider is OUTFRONT.
NEDAL TAMER, PRESIDENT TRUMP SUPPORTER: I'd say to the Muslim in Dearborn, they should be -- have more confident, Trump will protect them.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Nedal Tamer is a Muslim in Dearborn, Michigan -- a city where more than 40 percent are Arab-American, many of them Muslims.
Tamer is still standing strong in his support for President Trump, much like he was immediately after the election.
TAMER: And Mr. Trump should be held as a trophy, as an image of the American dream.
SCHNEIDER: Tamer, a Lebanese immigrant who now runs his own construction company, voted for Trump because of the billionaire's business roots and his support isn't waning in the wake of Trump's controversial executive order.
TAMER: They shouldn't worry because the order, it's not against the Muslims. We have 57 nations, Muslim nations. All of them they can come here.
MIKE HACHAM, VOTED FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I stand by President Trump, I can't say 100 percent but I tell you 95 percent.
SCHNEIDER: Twenty-three-year-old Mike Hacham's parents came from Lebanon. He voted for Trump but is now feeling conflicted.
HACHAM: It has hit home hard. As a Muslim and as a Republican Muslim, I feel that the language in the executive order should have been tweaked.
SCHNEIDER: Many Muslims are mobilizing, holding town halls, and strategizing on ways to resist president Trump's policies.
Fayrouz Saad saying this right after the election.
FAYROUZ SAAD, CONCERNED ABOUT PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm definitely angry. I don't want to say I'm fearful because I still have faith in the democratic process.
SCHNEIDER: And now --
SAAD: I still think about how I said I wasn't fearful and I guess I've become a little more and more kind of fearful in terms of not knowing what's next.
SCHNEIDER: Recent University of Michigan-Dearborn grad Mohammad Emari is also fearing the future. His family is from Iran. His fiancee a dual Canadian/Iranian citizen. But now with the travel ban, she is afraid to cross the border and so is he.
MOHAMMAD EMARI, CONCERNED ABOUT PRESIDENT TRUMP: I'm scared to go myself. Even though I'm a citizen, even though I was born here, I'm scared I'm just going to be stopped for no reason.
SCHNEIDER: And that's a common concern for many people out here. That's why they're spending the week holding emergency town halls. The messages "resist and be informed". Many people out here telling me they'd love members of Trump administration to visit them. In fact, Michigan Senator Gary Peters has sent a letter to Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly, inviting him to the Detroit area to meet with Arab-American leaders. No word tonight, though, Erin, if Secretary Kelly might accept that invitation.
BURNETT: All right. Jessica, thank you very much.
OUTFRONT now, billionaire businessman, "Shark Tank" star, Mark Cuban.
Mark, thank you for being with me tonight.
I know you heard some of the people that Jessica spoke to in that piece are worried. You also heard, though, the Muslim-American entrepreneur. He supports Trump. He supports his travel ban.
Are you surprised to hear that?
MARK CUBAN, NBA OWNER AND BILLIONAIRE INVESTOR (via telephone): You know, who knows, right? I can't speak for other people and, you know, short term versus long term, personal interest, everybody has their own reasons, right?
BURNETT: Do you think that this ban, that it energizes, though, in anyway people who support Trump? CUBAN: Yes, oh, yes. I think, you know, I think a lot of people who
are what Bannon would call the elitists, mainstream media, think this is turning people off to Trump. It's exact opposite. If you supported him and voted for him, you love him even more now. You know, there's a Rasmussen poll that 49 percent of people supported this ban.
[19:35:05] And, you know, the fact that he has that much support and you know he's looking at those numbers, it's just going to embolden him further.
BURNETT: He does look at those numbers. I mean, Mark, you're the owner of the Dallas Mavericks as we all know. The NBA put out a statement actually reacting to the ban. I don't know if everyone knows this. But in part it read, the NBA is a global league and we are very proud to attract the very best players from around the world.
Will the ban hurt America? Hurt American business, hurt our standing?
CUBAN: Yes, totally. Look, let's just be real, real clear. The ban was half assed and half-baked, right? If the goal was security, why do you leave off most of the -- you know, any other countries that hosted terrorism? That's like locking your front door and leaving your windows open and then blaming the Obama seven -- matching up the Obama seven countries to the previous owner because that's what they did. It was half-baked, it wasn't thought out, it was rushed. It was ridiculous.
And when something like that happens, it calls into question the management skills of the guy in charge.
BURNETT: And do you think he has the management skills now for this job? Are you worried about that? I mean, that was the whole reason that he won, right? People said this guy knows how to run a business, he knows how to manage.
CUBAN: Well, am I worried? Yes. Am I willing to give him a little bit of time? Yes. I mean, look, it's not the easiest job in the world and it's not like he's governed anything before.
But I do have concerns about the people he's put around him. I do have concerns that he rushed these things out without his attorney general in place -- you know, most of his cabinet not being in place.
You know, on one hand -- look, in my mind if he was presidential he could have said, look, I want to do A, B, and C, but I want to get all my cabinet in place. I want to make sure I have everybody vet this, because I know every liberal and every Clinton supporter is going to go bananas when I put this out, but I want every I dotted and T's crossed because I'm going to ram it down their throat and do what's best for this country. I'm going to make it the most secure, yada- yada-yada.
He could have said that and done it right and people would not have had a response really, you know? You would have said he did the work, he prepared. He did the exact opposite. And so, now, whenever he does something, when there's a new executive
order, you have to ask yourself, where did it come from, who did the work, how was it vetted, do we have to question it further? You know, and because he's done such a poor job communicating about this -- you know, it's not like when people oppose him in my mind a good leader would say, OK, I need to sit down and talk to the people who oppose me.
CUBAN: Let me let them voice their opinions and get their thought process.
BURNETT: So, can I interrupt you for one second? Because you were one of the most vocal opponents, right? You were at the debate. Did he -- has he reached out to you?
CUBAN: He has not reached out to me. I sent him a congratulatory e- mail, got a thank you and that was that.
But I'm happy to help. Look, he's our guy. I'm an American first. Everything else comes second.
And so, I might -- I've worked with lot of people I've disliked. I've worked with a lot of people that I thought were incompetent and I don't necessarily dislike or think he's completely incompetent, but it's my country. I'll help wherever I can. They may not agree with me, but I'll never back down. I'll always voice my opinion and give my input. They have not reached out.
BURNETT: So, you're talking about his ability. I want to ask you one more thing. The minority leader, Chuck Schumer, he told me Trump isn't taking the presidency seriously enough.
You've known Donald Trump far long time. Obviously, in this election, you were on opposite sides but you've known him for a long time. Do you think he's taking it seriously?
CUBAN: Yes, seriously, in his own mind. When Donald -- the Donald Trump I know, when he gets confident, he's confident, and when he's confident, he works based off his instincts.
CUBAN: And so, I think that's what's happening.
And what I think is happening behind the scenes is Donald is not a reader, he's not a learner, he doesn't dive in and get the foundational issues or elements of an issue.
And so, without question in my mind, there's somebody sitting in front of him with the executive order saying here's what we're doing, here was your promise, here's what we're going to do, here's how the people are loving it, here's why you should sign it, here's the people who complained. It will be the mainstream media. We'll yell at them, you'll yell at them, we'll all yet at them, that will be our excuse, please sign this.
That's the way I think he's doing it right now because things are all going in his favor, in his mind. There may be protests. There may be -- there obviously are protests. Huge protests everywhere. The biggest protests you've ever seen, right?
But he's ignoring those because he's got a fall guy. The fall guy is the mainstream media. And he's got a backbone and that backbone comes from the polls that he's seeing that support the ban. And you put those things together and he thinks he's unstoppable right now.
And so, the point I think the people need to take from this is that rather than just trying -- we have to learn, we have to understand what we learned from the election. The people that voted for him 11 days in are not all of a sudden going to change their mind. To them, it's like, you know, you went to a wedding and you might not think one of the people is attractive, but you're saying the most beautiful groom or bride you've ever seen.
[19:40:05] To them, you know, Donald Trump is the most beautiful president they've ever seen. And they're not going to change their mind just because of strong logic.
BURNETT: All right.
CUBAN: It's going to take time and we'll see what happens. And we have to understand that. And I think one last thing, I think what really could change the tenor of all of this, 25 percent of people voted against him, 23 percent voted for him, 52 percent didn't vote, with those 52 percent, what they do, I think is the most important thing that happens right now, because that's what's going to change the balance of power and all the polls, and that's what he'll listen so.
BURNETT: It's true. And as you often do, boiling it down to a number that is so important.
Thank you so much, Mark Cuban.
CUBAN: Anytime, Erin. Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, President Trump's announcement of a Supreme Court we are just moments away. Two men left standing. They are both probably standing outside the East Wing. Who is going to walk out to the lights and our cameras?
Plus, a source close to the selection process telling CNN, Trump likes a contest. Tonight is looking more and more like the finale of "The Apprentice."
BURNETT: Breaking news: we are just moments away. As you can see the East Room of the White House, that is where the president will announce who he has chosen for the Supreme Court moments away. Earlier today, his press secretary, Sean Spicer, promised that it will be someone who makes every American proud.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:45:04] SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This particular choice is one that the president takes very seriously. Whomever the president selects will be a worthy successor to the brilliant legal mind and constitutional dedication of Justice Scalia.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: At this hour, the two finalists believed to be Appeals Court Judges Neil Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman. There had been two packets of briefing materials we can tell you, that it's been prepared for senators. One source telling us, though, that the Gorsuch package is fuller, has more on it. Hardiman is mostly biographical, a bit thinner.
OUTFRONT now, former White House ethics czar under President Obama and former ambassador to the Czech Republic, Norman Eisen. He attended Harvard Law School with me Neil Gorsuch. Our legal analyst, Joan Biskupic, she has covered the Supreme Court for 25 years. Former Republican senator and presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, who has known Thomas Hardiman and good friends with him for more than two decades. And Mark Preston is also back with me.
President Trump, Senator Santorum, has talked many times about what he wants in a Supreme Court nominee. He has been very clear, right? This is going to be -- he used it all the way in debates, right? This is where I'm a conservative, trust me, because I'll do the right thing by the court. Got Ted Cruz on board eventually because of that one thing.
We know what kind of person this is going to be.
RICK SANTORUM (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We do. And whether Hardiman or Gorsuch, we know what kind of persons -- they're very similar. They're strict textualists, constitutionalists, originalists. Both have tremendous records.
No matter what he decides, he's making a good choice. And, you know, I think a lot of folks believe there's a second choice and so, the fact he sort of highlighted two might give the impression that whoever he doesn't pick is going to be someone that you can look to the future as maybe someone who could replace potentially a Ginsburg or a Kennedy or someone who's older on the court who may retire.
BURNETT: Which, of course, is the decision that could switch the balance --
SANTORUM: I'll be honest, I know what you guys are reporting, but there's -- you can make arguments either way. But I think -- we'll talk once we know the actual decision --
BURNETT: Yes. SANTORUM: -- but they're making a chess play. They're not playing checkers. They're making a chess play with this nomination, they're looking at how likely it is to confirm, how does he fit into the Scalia mold, you know, how difficult the next nomination will be and whether we're going to have someone who can hold up under a much tougher confirmation for the second seat.
So, I think they're putting all those pieces in place and I'll be interested to see what they come up with.
BURNETT: So, Norman, when you look at that, Judge Hardiman when he was put on the court where he is now was 95-0 in the vote. Chuck Schumer voted for him. So, certainly, that is someone who in terms of precedent would do well in confirmation.
You look at Judge Gorsuch, this is someone who's never ruled on abortion but we know how he feels about Antonin Scalia when he says, "the moment he found out, I lost what breath I had left, I'm not embarrassed to admit I couldn't see the rest of the way down the mountain for the tears." He was skiing. He knows, of course, where he was at that moment.
You know him. What do you think of him?
NORMAN EISEN, ATTENDED LAW SCHOLL WITH POTENTIAL NOMINEE JUDGE GORSUCH: Well, he's a fine man. He's thoughtful, he listens, he asks questions. His judicial career has followed the standards that he set.
He is conservative. You used to be in a place in America where you could have a consensus and even liberals could feel voting for a principled conservative. But that consensus was shattered because it has to be a two-way street and the shameful mistreatment of Judge Merrick Garland has complicated the political landscape for any justice nominee moving through the Senate. That has changed the calculus.
But I must say, having know Judge Gorsuch for a quarter of a century, he is a fine man and a fine jurist.
BURNETT: You know, it's interesting, Mark, the point that he raises. Yes, they didn't let Merrick Garland get the job and would have. Chuck Schumer led an effort to do a similar thing the last time around. This is what each party does to each other and payback is unpleasant.
But yet here we are. Congressman Adam Schiff said, "If I were in the Senate, I would do whatever I could. They should stop anybody who isn't Merrick Garland."
Neither one of these is Merrick Garland. Are they going to do that?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Democrats try to do that. You could actually see Mitch McConnell, who Senator Santorum served with, who could evoke the ultimate nuclear option which would then only require 51 votes in order to get a Supreme Court nominee through. Now, if that happens, it is going to be much bigger than who this pick is for the Supreme Court.
BURNETT: Yes, it will change the way our government operates.
PRESTON: It's going to absolutely change how our government operates. He may disagree. The senator may disagree, but the fact of the matter is, what little power the minority has in the Senate, that's an incredible amount of power they do have.
SANTORUM: I agree that it will change the way we operate, but that's already been done.
[19:50:01] Harry Reid did that already. The idea that Supreme Court justices and their appointments are going to be held to a different standard than all other appointments, there's nothing in the world -- there's just no basis for that. That's simply something Harry Reid said but it has no basis in custom.
The bottom line is, we are at a 51-vote threshold for Supreme Court justices and that's what we're going to end up being.
BURNETT: So, Joan, let me ask you, when -- you know, Americans trying to understand what this means. They have a few questions. Judge Gorsuch, Judge Hardiman, which one is more conservative? Are either of them to the right of Justice Scalia? When you look at the world here that we're looking at, how do you answer those questions?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No. Neither would be to the right of Justice Scalia because Justice Scalia was pretty far over on the right wing.
But I'll tell you what he was. He was a very provocative conservative who spoke to generations of students, who then went into things like the federalist society, the conservative group, who then went to law school and wanted to adopt his approach. I think that's what will be different here is, for example, if President Trump goes with Neil Gorsuch, he's going to go with somebody a little more in terms of -- somebody in the mode of an intellectual thinker, who has a pretty concrete approach to things.
And, Erin, I just want to mention one thing about runners-up to touch on what Senator Santorum said. In the past, in fact, the runner-up got it the next time.
BISKUPIC: For example, in 1993, it was Ruth Bader Ginsburg chosen by Bill Clinton and the next year, Stephen Breyer got it. More recently under George W. Bush, after John Roberts was selected for what was first Sandra Day O'Connor's seat and then the chief justice's seat. Samuel Alito who was a runner-up got it for the next point. But it was never this public, never this public.
One final thing, I am just catching a glimpse of what we're seeing in the East Room with all the pomp and glitter there, and I think I caught a bit of Maureen Scalia, the late justice's wife. So, Donald Trump might use the occasion to salute the man whose seat he's filling.
BURNETT: Yes. And we can confirm, you are absolutely right about that. You know, she's covered this more than two decades. She knows. Maureen Scalia is in the room. That certainly will be a part of tonight.
But, Mark, to the point she raises about it never being this public, I mean, we had a camera following a judge at a gas station driving to Washington because at least two of these people were being brought to Washington for the unveiling.
Donald Trump is producing this. He's producing this himself. He's producing this down to the detail, and it is unprecedented.
PRESTON: It's just the next chapter in his book. I mean, he did this when he was interviewing people to be in his cabinet. We had cameras were outside the gold elevators and everybody that walked through had to go up the elevators, everybody came back down, they said nice things about Donald Trump and then they left.
This is a another chapter in the Donald Trump presidency, the very early Donald Trump presidency.
BURNETT: So, Norm, let me ask you again about Judge Gorsuch, because you know him so well. You have referred to him as a brilliant writer, a brilliant thinker, a person of great integrity. And I want to emphasize, you were saying this to someone who disagrees with him on very many of the opinions that he would render. But you think incredibly highly of him.
EISEN: We ought to be a country where even when we disagree, people have different values, you can respect the integrity, the accomplishments, and the character of a person. And that's how I feel about Judge Gorsuch.
But I want to be very clear, I disagree respectfully with Senator Santorum. The Supreme Court justice is not the same as the other nominations that were subjected to the 51-vote threshold. This is a lifetime appointment. This is the one court where the judges do not follow but also make the law.
It should be subject to a higher threshold. Merrick Garland, who I have the honor to know, Judge Garland is every bit as good a judge, every bit as much integrity, every bit as much character as either of these men tonight. He deserved a hearing. He deserved confirmation.
I thought it was a senatorial coup. And some of that anger unfortunately justifiable is now going to apply to the consideration of some very good men. It shouldn't, but it will.
BURNETT: And, Mark, I will mention by the way, not that this should matter, but it is a lifetime appointment. These men are young, 51 for judge Hardiman, 49 for Neil Gorsuch. They will be around for a long time.
PRESTON: For a long time. Which makes them two interesting picks and could really put the Trump legacy on the board for a long, long time.
BURNETT: Right. Especially considering that, again, as widely expect, he may have another pick to make, multiple picks that would completely change the face of the Supreme Court for a generation.
All right. Thanks for joining us.
Our special coverage of President Trump's Supreme Court nominee continues right now with Wolf Blitzer.
[19:55:06] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening from Washington. I'm Wolf Blitzer. Anderson is off.
Welcome to a special edition of 360.
In just about an hour or so, Jake Tapper will be hosting a special town hall with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi. Stand by for that.
But up first, in a little less than seven minutes from now, President Trump will announce his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court seat left vacant by the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. There are two leading candidates we're told.
Thomas Hardiman, a judge on the third circuit court of appeals, the some court as President Trump's sister, Maryanne Trump Barry. He's 51 years old., a George W. Bush appointee with a law degree from Georgetown University here in Washington.
Judge Neil Gorsuch is just 49 years old. He sits on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado. He's also a Bush 43 appointee, a graduate of Harvard law and a former clerk for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.
Whoever gets the nod will go before a sharply polarized U.S. Senate for confirmation.
CNN's Jim Acosta is over at the White House for us right now, as always. He's joining us.
Jim, first of all, what are you hearing about how the actual announcement going to happen?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE: Wolf, this is what happens when reality television meets the Potomac. We are going to see a pretty dramatic reveal here in just a few moments, when President Trump takes to the East Room.
I can tell you, just to give you some of the atmospherics here inside the White House. The Cross Hall as we call it inside the White House has been lit for a dramatic entrance for the president of the United States. And all day long, we've been seeing these dramatics building.
We understand from talking to our sources that both Neil Gorsuch and Tom Hardiman have been making their way to Washington today. Thomas Hardiman as a matter of fact was spotted by one of our producers filling up his gas tank at a Sheetz Gas Station in Pennsylvania, entering into the nation's capital. Presumably, he put enough gas in the tank to get here.
But all indications are at this point, from what all of our sources are saying, is that appellate court judge, Neil Gorsuch, will be President Trump's pick. However, we should point out, this is president Trump. He does have a flair for the dramatic. So, all bets are off until we get the final announcement.
Just to give you some of the atmospherics in the room here -- Donald Trump's son is here, vice president is here with his wife, as well as other top congressional leaders -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Jim Acosta, we're going to get back to you. Stand by as we wait for the president's announcement.
I want to go to our Supreme Court correspondent Pamela Brown. She's over at the high court for us tonight.
Pamela, what are you learning about the candidates?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: Well, increasing indications, Wolf, at this point, is that Neil Gorsuch, a judge from Colorado, is President Trump's pick. He has a conservative track record particularly when it comes to religious liberty, in fact he voted in favor, ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, the closely held corporation that said Obamacare's contraceptive mandate violated its religious liberty. He has a very conservative track record and he's young, he's 49 years old, and that could certainly work in his favor.
Also, he shares a similar judicial philosophy as late Justice Antonin Scalia. Both he and Scalia believe that the Constitution should be interpreted literally. In fact, we're told the two of them were friends and they went fishing together. And also worth noting that his confirmation hearing he sailed through.
The other contender as Jim pointed out is, of course, Thomas Hardiman, a judge in Pennsylvania. We learned he arrived in Washington today. And he has a story that may be appealing to President Trump, particularly the fact that he comes from a blue-collar working background. He was a cabdriver and worked his way up to become a judge on the federal bench. His track record is appealing to conservatives when it comes to guns and immigration.
We'll have to find out and see what happens -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right. Pamela Brown, we're going to get back to you.
Jake Tapper is with us as well. Jake, there's no doubt selection of the Supreme Court nominee, one of the most important things any American can do.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. It's a lifetime appointment. We have with us here, former senator and presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, who took part in the vetting of both judges Hardiman and Gorsuch. He joins us now.
You've been advising? SANTORUM: I've been an advocate for Judge Hardiman. I can't say I've
been vetting Neil Gorsuch, but, you know, Tom has been a longtime friend for 20-plus years.
TAPPER: You're both from Pittsburgh.
SANTORUM: Both Pittsburg, and, you know, I have tremendous respect for him. Look, I'm hearing rumors now as to who it is, but my feeling is that, you know, this pick, if what the rumors I'm hearing now are true, I think is a good pick. I'm very comfortable.
TAPPER: You can say. We've been reporting all day that sources indicate that it's going to be Gorsuch. Unless, of course, President Trump changes his mind at the last second, which is always possible.
TAPPER: But it does seem to be, it will be Gorsuch.
SANTORUM: Yes, I was getting some calls on the way over here from people saying that.