Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

President Trump Pick Neil Gorsuch As His Supreme Court Justice Nominee; 1.7 Million People Sign A Petition To Rescind The Invitation To President Trump For A State Visit; More Than 70 Former Federal Prosecutors Are Defending Former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates; Monitors Of Ukrainian Conflict Say Things Are Getting Worse; Who Will Replace Actor Peter Capaldi As The Next Doctor. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 1, 2017 - 02:00   ET

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


[02:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles and London, ahead this hour.

ISA SOARES, CNN NEWSROOM HOST: A made-for-TV prime time event, the unveiling of Donald Trump's pick for Supreme Court Justice.

VAUSE: The firestorm of Trump's travel ban continues to grow with lawsuits filed against the president's order.

SOARES: And the worldwide petition to stop Trump, millions signing an open letter against fear and bigotry. Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers in United States and right around the world. I'm Isa Soares in London.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause, NEWSROOM LA. Starts right now.

SOARES: Now, President Donald Trump is hoping to move US Supreme Court in a more conservative direction. He has nominated appeal court judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy left by the late justice Antonin Scalia.

VAUSE: The 49-year-old Gorsuch is already drawing fire from Democrats and activists for past rulings on healthcare, gun safety and environmental issues. But President Trump says his nominee's qualifications are beyond dispute.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, I'm keeping another promise to the American people by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch of the United States Supreme Court to be of the United States Supreme Court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Joining me now, CNN political commentator John Phillips and Democratic strategist Matt Littman. Thank you for both coming in. I want to play you some sound from Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat minority leader in the House. This is how she responded to Gorsuch's nominations.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY PELOSI, MINORITY LEADER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: It's a very hostile appointment. (INAUDIBLE) lovely family, I'm sure. But for your family is concerned and all the - if you breathe air, drink water, each food or take medicine on in any other way interact with the courts, this is a very bad decision. Well outside the mainstream of American legal thought. Not committed to Supreme Court precedence.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: So, Matt, if that's the case, then why did every Democrat senator vote for Gorsuch when he was up for the federal appeals court.

MATT LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think something similar happened with Merrick Garland and lets just remember that the Republican Party in the Senate wouldn't even give Merrick Garland a hearing. So, in this case, I have to say as a Democrat, I would not - I would do everything possible to not allow this guy to come up for a vote. I will do absolutely everything because that's what they did to Garland. They never allowed him to have a hearing and I would do the exact same thing, and I would do this all along the way with Donald Trump. This is what the Republicans did to Barack Obama. This seat was Barack Obama's to appoint. They didn't let it happen. I certainly would not give the Republicans -

VAUSE: (INAUDIBLE) candidate with a nominee purely because what happened to Garland.

LITTMAN: Two things about that. So, first of all, yes, a lot of it has to do with Garland. He seems like a very intelligent guy, this guy. I do believe that some of his views are not in line with where the American people are on. Campaign finances, I think he wants - he'll be OK with more corporate involvement in campaign finances, on Roe vs Wade, which the majority of America is for. That's one thing.

Number two, there is no way, given what the Republicans did Merrick Garland that I would allow this nomination to go forward.

VAUSE: This guy is going to get approved. There are two different ways the Democrats can block it. One is, if he's not qualified. Well, this guy is not an ambulance chaser that advertises on (INAUDIBLE 0:04:04). This is a guy who was educated at the finest Ivy League institutions. He was voted on by the Senate as you mentioned before, approved unanimously. The other way they can do it is by saying he is ideologically outside the mainstream. We've already heard from Democratic Senators. Nancy Pelosi doesn't get to vote on this. She's in the house. We've heard from Joe Manchin tonight who said very encouraging things. We've heard from Mark Warner, the senator from the State of Virginia, who has said great things about him in the past. I think this guy is going to get the 60 votes because a lot of these Democrats in red states, running in states the Trump won and Trump won handily are going to vote for him.

LITTMAN: I think that would be a huge mistake for those Democrats to vote for him. I really do. I think where the Democratic Party is now, this is not an issue where the Democratic Party will be compromising. People in the Democratic Party - and I think a lot of independents want to fight.

VAUSE: Can you keep Joe Manchin's vote?

LITTMAN: You don't have to because you need 60 votes for a filibuster. If we don't keep Joe Manchin, that's one loss. That's OK.

[02:05:00] VAUSE: But there does seem to be spluttering within the Democrats as to how to approach Gorsuch's nomination here. Do they go for the filibuster or do they approve this, save their powder for a bigger fight for the next nomination?

LITTMAN: I would absolutely not. I would fight right now. They can - if Mitch McConnell wants to, they can take away their filibuster at any time. That's up to Mitch McConnell. That's going to be his decision. But I would absolutely fight right now and I think that the party will not allow it to go -

VAUSE: Just on that, because on the issue of the filibuster, we did hear from the Republican Sen. Ted Cruz earlier tonight on CNN talking about the nomination and the filibuster.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TX: The Democrats will not succeed in filibustering Judge Gorsuch. They may try, but they will not succeed. The Senate will confirm a strong constitutionalist to replace Justice Scalia.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: With that in mind, does that mean that the Republicans could actually scrap the filibuster on this? I don't think they're going to have to. We heard from Dick Durbin on Twitter tonight who said that he thinks that this judge should get an up or down vote. Well, if that's were Dick Durbin is, I think that he will ultimately get that. The Democrats have to worry about outrage fatigue. We've seen people protesting in the streets, the women's marches, we've seen the airport marches. At a certain point, people want to watch the Super Bowl. At a certain point, people want to watch the Oscars. And they're going to get tired of it. And there'll be other judges that might retire during Donald Trump's presidency. Maybe Ruth Bader Ginsburg, maybe other left-leaning judges. And if they retire, that's when the Democrats want to have the fight. This is a judge replacing Scalia.

LITTMAN: I think you're absolutely - the Democratic Party is ready to fight. This is not going to end. These protests are - and even still, even more, we're seeing now people working within the federal government starting to push back against Trump. We're seeing corporations start to push back against Trump. I think we're at the beginning of this.

VAUSE: You don't need the numbers, though. You need the vote. OK, the Democrats have decided they want to fight on, at least a few of the cabinet nominations. They're holding up the confirmations for Tom Price for Health and Human Services, Steve Mnuchin for Treasury, Jeff Sessions for Attorney General, and this was the reaction from the Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), KY: It is time to get over the fact that they lost the election. The president is entitled to have his cabinet appointments. Consider none of this is going to lead to a different outcome.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: And McConnell is right. Ultimately, there will not be a different outcome, so why the theatrics, Matt?

LITTMAN: So, again - these are the people - Mitch McConnell has a lot of never. These are the people who would not allow Merrick Garland to even have a hearing. Mitch McConnell is the person who said they weren't go to do - the day Obama came in, they were going to do everything possible to make sure he didn't win again, no compromises. That was it. So, now, you think that the Democratic Party should compromise with the Republicans? Absolutely not. Also, these people haven't been properly vetted. We're finding out things about them as we go along here. Tom Price, for example, with his insider trading stock issue, that's a pretty big deal, right? So, they are trying to rush - the Trump people are trying to rush these through. These people need a hearing.

VAUSE: They're delaying the inevitable and it's what they're ultimately going to end up doing is demoralizing their base because they're getting their hopes up, they're thinking, OK, well, maybe we can stop some of these people. Ultimately, it's not going to happen and they're just going to say, you know what, we're losing every single battle that we fight.

LITTMAN: John is very concerned about the Democratic Party. I would be - the Democratic Party wants it to fight. We know that we're not going to win on some of these. And you are right. I see these messages on Twitter and Facebook all the time. Why are people voting for this? Why aren't we stopping this? You can't stop it. You're right. Some of these things, you can't stop. But there will be things going along. The change in the corporate attitude toward Trump already is because of people protesting out in the streets.

VAUSE: Just on the issue of cabinet nominees, it does appear that there will be an education secretary who could get the post - who is actually guilty of plagiarism. That's one thing which has come out of these hearings and there are Republicans who are starting to waver on Betsy DeVos.

LITTMAN: Yes.

VAUSE: And you're always going to find problems. Look, when someone's lived a long, healthy life and they've done a lot of things, you're going to find skeletons in every closet. But the question is, does she have the votes? And I predict the answer is yes.

LITTMAN: So, you don't find skeletons in every closet. That's not true. And also the reason why we were able to get this information wasn't because of the hearings, it's because the work that they do behind-the-scenes to research these nominees and because the Trump people are trying to push these through quickly, what you start thinking is, what are they hiding. And they've been able to get more and more information about some of these people. I don't think a lot of the American people are going to have faith in this education secretary.

VAUSE: At the end of the day, there is a process. It will happen, but there is - for the Democrats at least, John, they need to show to the people who support them that they out there at least fighting.

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. But they need to hold their coalition together. And the Democratic Party is a lot of things. The Democratic Party is Nancy Pelosi, who represents a very liberal district here in California based in San Francisco. And then you've got people like Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester and Claire McCaskill and people that represent states like Indiana that voted for Donald Trump. You have to keep those people in the tent and their voters want all of these people confirmed and they want that justice confirmed too.

[02:10:00] VAUSE: Very quickly, the president decided to not rescind President Obama's executive order providing protection in the workplace for the LGBTQ community. A good thing?

PHILLIPS: A good thing, but that doesn't mean that will stay the policy of this administration. I think even for the Trump administration, there is too much going on in these last few days. To do that, that would have created a whole new firestorm.

VAUSE: Not only a good thing, but a historic thing. Imagine this. In 2008, Barack Obama ran as the Democratic nominee opposing gay marriage. In 2004, George W. Bush ran as the Republican nominee on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. And now you have a Republican president that's signing an order like that -

PHILLIPS: Let's run with that. Donald Trump is only a Republican out of convenience. Five years ago, he was a Democrat.

VAUSE: OK. And on that, thank you. Thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.

SOARES: Now, Britain's most prominent Muslim politician says US President Donald Trump's travel ban is cruel, prejudiced and counterproductive. London Mayor Sadiq Khan is one of more than 1.7 million in the UK who want Mr. Trump's state visit to be canceled. European Council President Donald Tusk is denouncing the US president. He called the Trump administration a threat to the European Union in a letter to EU leaders.

Let's get more on this. CNN's Europe Editor Nina dos Santos joins me now with more. Nina, our viewers will know that thousands have taken to the streets here in London, really calling for an end to President's Trump's policy. But we're hearing about this petition. What are the chances that this petition can indeed stop the president from coming here?

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN EUROPE EDITOR: Well, (INAUDIBLE) the chances that it will be debated in the House of Commons. We already know now 100% because we have a date for that. This petition - I should point out, dueling petitions, one pro Donald Trump's state visit here to the UK and one anti-Donald Trump's state visit here to the UK, both garnered enough signatures that they will actually have to be debated. We have a date for that. It's February 20 when lawmakers will have to talk about these two petitions. The one that is against Donald Trump coming here for a state visit is already well past 1.6 million signatures. The one for Donald Trump is only at about 110,000, but still that's above the threshold over which it should be debated. And there's a lot of lawmakers across the UK saying, Theresa May has put herself and also the Queen, by the way, because the Queen officially does the inviting of a state visit. It was just the Prime Minister Theresa May who extended that invitation on her recent visit to Washington DC on behalf of the Queen. Well, both of them are in a very difficult position here because they haven't, it seems, had enough time to gauge what Donald Trump's politics were going to be before extending the full pomp and regalia of a state visit, which by the way is a rare honor that's only awarded to some US presidents. Many of them are invited, some of them, obviously, not even within the first month or two of their tenure. Sometimes some of them are only invited in their second term and only managed to make it over to the UK for this big type of visit. But Donald Trump had the red carpet rolled out, some people in the UK say, well, but prematurely, Isa.

SOARES: And staying with Theresa May, she has, I think it's fair to say, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, some criticism here for not taking a hard-enough stance against President Trump and some of his views. We know we have Prime Minister's questions. What can we expect today?

DOS SANTOS: Well, officially, the House is also talking about the second reading of the so-called Brexit bill. That's another equally divisive issue as well here, if you add the divisive backlash that we're seeing against Donald Trump's travel ban as well to the mix. It's likely to be a very heated session. Some MPs set to vote against the Prime Minister, some from her own party. A number of Scottish MPs are likely to vote against the Brexit plan. And some rebellion among the ranks of the Labour Party too. But it wasn't so much Theresa May of late who has been facing the criticism, it's been her Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, who had had to front a lot of that in the House. At one point, one Labour MP stood up a few days ago and said, for heaven's sake, have the guts "to say when something is wrong," referring to that Trump travel ban.

Isa, as you mentioned before in your introduction, we also have the most senior Muslim politician here, the first London Muslim mayor, Sadiq Khan, he held a big gathering of 100 diplomats, ambassadors, including five ambassadors of those seven countries affected by this travel ban yesterday evening in London, and he urged all leaders around the wild and those ambassadors to relay this message to their leaders to stand up against a travel ban that he said was wrong.

Now, also, somebody else who knows Donald Trump personally is the former First Minister of Scotland Alex Salmond. He is now a Member of Parliament in Westminster, but he's also somebody who Donald Trump had called "mad Alec" because Donald Trump's Turnberry golf course is actually in his constituency and the two of them had a very high- profile battle over wind turbines. This is what Alex Salmond had to say about the travel ban and his dealings with the now President of the United States.

[02:15:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX SALMOND, MEMBER OF PARLIAMENT OF THE UNITED KINGDOM: You should never pick people out on the basis of their nationality. I mean, in that way, madness and very sinister things lie. I'm not even certain that that's Donald Trump's intention, but certainly that will be the effect of his measure. And, of course, it's already caused misery and confusion as well as protests around the world. And the state visit is a very bad idea. I mean, it came about because the prime minister has produced such a position of weakness by saying she is going to come out of the European Economic Area, the single marketplace, that she's basically wanting to meet anybody to try and get any trade deal with anybody at any terms as quickly as possible and she produces the state visit.

DOS SANTOS: So, we have this confluence of two big stories here in Great Britain. On the one hand, Brexit which means the UK will have to try and find as many big, important economic allies as it can - one of the reasons why Theresa May is the first leader to meet with Donald Trump after his inauguration. But then, at the same time, this is a country where 5% of the population is Muslim, the second highest number of Muslims across Europe and that travel ban hasn't gone down well despite the fact, Isa, that UK citizens with dual nationalities are going to be exempt from it.

SOARES: Yes. Here in the UK, as well as in the rest of Europe, we know that Donald Tusk, Chancellor Merkel and Hollande spoke last week on and talked about internal and external threats, hinting their concerns of Donald Trump. Nina, thanks very much. Very good to see you.

VAUSE: It's 11 minutes past - 17 minutes, rather, past 11 here in Los Angeles. When we come back, federal prosecutors speaking out in defense of Sally Yates, the acting attorney general, who was fired by the US president.

SOARES: Plus, millions of people around the world are signing an online protest against President Trump. The organizers say it's just the start of an ongoing campaign against the US president. We'll have both of those stories after a very short break.

[02:20:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Well, the new US president is facing record low approval ratings from American voters. His standing around the world could be even worse. A day after his inauguration, there were huge demonstrations from Sydney to Berlin, in London, Paris, Nairobi and Cape Town. This week, in London, tens of thousands protested his executive order banning people from seven majority Muslim countries from traveling to the United States. And now, more than 4 million people have signed an open letter to the new president, which reads in part, "The world rejects your fear, hate mongering and bigotry. We reject your denigration of women, Muslim, Mexicans and millions of others who don't look like you, talk like you, or pray to the same God as you." The letter was posted last Friday by the activist group Avaaz. Emma Ruby-Sachs is their deputy director. She joins us now from Chicago.

So, Emma, the letter has been online for just a few days. Did you expect this type of response? And is there one issue in particular which is driving all of this?

EMMA RUBY-SACHS, DEPUTY DIRECTOR, AVAAZ: You know, this letter is going viral on the Internet and I didn't expect it at all. I've been watching the names scroll up on the ticker tape from France, Canada, England. It's kind unbelievable. So, I've been glued to my computer screen and it definitely - the minute that travel ban was announced by the Trump administration, we saw a huge surge in attention for this call. One-and-a-half million people and coming up on 2 million people just since this weekend.

VAUSE: Right. Well, there is a criticism, though, that these online protests is just clicktivism. It makes someone feel good, like they've done something, but actually it won't make much of a difference.

RUBY-SACHS: You know, there definitely is clicktivism out there. You see that with petitions that don't go anywhere. But at Avaaz, our global civic movement matches people's opinions that are drawn from all over the world with decisive and concrete action. And this call, it's about building a movement, building our power. It's millions of people from all over the world standing up together, finding their common ground and saying, we're not going to go backwards to that old style politics that divides us. We're choosing a different future. It's going to be matched with a lot of advocacy, with ads in newspapers across the United States with an installation in Washington DC and as you're already seeing these incredible spontaneous protests.

VAUSE: So, you're saying this is just the start of what you're expect to be, what, a long campaign over the next four years?

RUBY-SACHS: A long campaign not just over the next four years, but we've got elections coming up in the Netherlands, in France, in Germany where the same questions that Trump-style politics raises are going to be asked again and people are going to have a chance to reject it resoundingly.

VAUSE: In a way, though, doesn't it sort of play into Donald Trump's strength. He's the leader, he's upset with the status quo. If all these people around the world must be - you know, if they're angry at me, I must be doing something right.

RUBY-SACHS: You know, when you look at what Donald Trump has done, it's true he's delivering on his campaign promises one after another after another and it's different kind of politics. It's a different style and we would be silly not to pay attention to that. But what people around the world are reacting to is something bigger. It's the undermining of basic values. It's the undermining of rule of law, the respect for courts, the undermining of accurate facts. We saw this in the campaign where truth doesn't really matter. Alternative facts become the norm. And now, this is going global. Donald Trump is meeting with other leaders. Breitbart - that fake news site - is expanding into Germany and France. Our movement is the reaction to that.

VAUSE: If you can't influence Donald Trump - because that would seem to be unlikely - do you think maybe you could influence those around him.

RUBY-SACHS: Well, I'm not sure it's unlikely. You know, we did hear rumors there was going to be an anti-LGBT executive order. We know that that was advocated very heavily against and he decided not to do it. So, there definitely is influence. But I think that really what we're going to see here is a broad-based spontaneous coordinated movement of opposition that's going to present a new kind of politics, a new vision, something that the Democratic Party didn't do, something that Trump didn't do, and that's what's going to galvanize Americans and that's what's going to shift the tide in the US politics space.

[02:25:00] VAUSE: We will watch and wait with interest. Emma, thank you for being with us. We appreciate it.

RUBY-SACHS: Thanks a lot for having me, John.

VAUSE: OK. A final note here, more than 1.7 million people have signed a petition urging Britain to withdraw an invitation for Donald Trump to visit London, while a counter petition supporting his state visit has received almost 200,000 signatures. So, the president does have some supporters.

SOARES: Now, more than 70 former federal prosecutors are defending the former US acting Attorney General Sally Yates. President Trump fired Yates on Monday after she defied his executive order on immigration and travel to the United States. Now, the bipartisan group released a strongly worded letter and this is what it said. I'm going to read it out to you.

"Struck by one stunning headline after another, we stop to think if we were called upon to defend the executive order, could we do it within the guidelines we learned and lived by as lawyers for the United States. We could not." Acting Attorney General Yates was right to refuse to do so."

VAUSE: The US Army Corps of Engineers is granting final approval to finish the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline. Last week, President Trump issued an executive action to restart the project. The Standing Rock Sioux tribe, which has been fighting the pipeline, says it will take legal action, claiming the Army Corps does not have the authority to move the project forward while an environmental study is still underway. SOARES: Now, the long simmering conflict in Ukraine once again coming to a boil. While both sides are blaming one another as hope for peace starts to fade. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM LA, we'll be back after a short break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[02:30:00] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles where it's just on 11:30. I'm John Vause.

SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares in London. Let me bring you up to date with the main news headlines we're following for you this hour. US President Donald Trump has nominated 49-year-old conservative judge Neil Gorsuch. Now, if confirmed, Gorsuch would fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last February. The move could cement the conservative direction of the court for decades.

VAUSE: Police have charged a 27-year-old university student in the shooting at a Canadian mosque. Six people were killed. Alexandre Bissonnette faces six counts of first degree murder and five attempted murder charges. He is described as a lone wolf and is known for his far-right views.

SOARES: Monitors keeping track of the conflict in Ukraine say things are getting worse. Ceasefire violations are not uncommon, but officials warn that fighting between pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian armed forces have been escalating lately. Both sides are blaming one another for the violence.

VAUSE: Live to Moscow, now for more on the story, Clare Sebastian joins us. So, Clare, just a few hours the UN Security Council was calling for an immediate return to the ceasefire in Ukraine. Any response there from Russia?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. John, the Russian Foreign Ministry put out a statement yesterday accusing the Ukrainian side of using heavy artillery and weaponry banned under the Minsk protocol in the conflict. Interestingly, the Ukrainian side are saying the same about the pro-Russian rebels. Both sides blaming each other for this latest escalation. But one thing both sides do agree on is that the situation in these areas, these suburbs north of Donetsk is growing increasingly dire. The OSCE monitor saying more than 20,000 people are now without food, water or electricity, in dire need of aid. And we're hearing widespread condemnation of this from overseas. The US State Department issuing a statement calling for an immediate ceasefire saying that they support the Minsk protocol. That was the acting secretary of state. We do expect the new secretary of state Rex Tillerson to be confirmed later today. But as such, the situation grows increasingly desperate in that area north of Donetsk, John.

VAUSE: Could the escalating fighting in Ukraine complicate Donald Trump's desire for closer and better relations with Vladimir Putin?

SEBASTIAN: Absolutely. The two men spoke for the first time on Saturday. The Ukraine crisis mentioned very briefly in passing according to the read-out that we got from the Kremlin, simply saying they mentioned it. We don't know exactly what the new White House will think of the latest escalation. It did coincide with that first contact between the two leaders. Rex Tillerson, the incoming, we expect, secretary of state did say in his confirmation hearing earlier this month that he believes the US should have taken a stronger stance when it came to Ukraine, even suggesting they shouldn't have given military supports to the Ukrainian forces. But as such, we don't know exactly what the next steps from the US will be when it comes to this conflict.

VAUSE: OK. Clare, thanks for the update. Clare Sebastian, live in Moscow.

SOARES: Now, settlers in the West Bank outpost of Amona have set roadblocks on fire ahead of Israel's plans to evacuate the illegal settlement, which is built on private Palestinian land. Israel's High Court has ordered that 40 families which live there to leave. Meanwhile, Israel has just approved 3,000 new settlement homes in the West Bank. This is the third such announcement in less than two weeks or so drawing criticism from Palestinians and the EU. Most countries see the settlements as obstacles to a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

VAUSE: It is 11:34 here Los Angeles. Time for a break. Donald Trump's immigration ban is triggering a flurry of lawsuits. When we come back, we'll have a run-down of all of the major challenges.

SOARES: But there is support for President Trump's move. A Muslim activist will explain why she think the ban is OK in certain cases.

[02:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Rarely has there been a time in American history of such national division and discord. And if the past few days of protest and litigation are any guide, the Supreme Court could have the final say on many of President Trump's controversial policies. Well, for more on the implications of the president's nominee for the court, we're joined by Joan Biskupic, CNN's legal analyst, who has been covering the Supreme Court for almost 30 years.

So, Joan, assuming that Neil Gorsuch is confirmed by the Senate, he will restore the ideological status quo to the court before the death of Justice Scalia. So, in many ways, it's a wash.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is vote for vote because you're exactly right that he is a conservative in the mold of Antonin Scalia. He's been consistent on issues that conservatives - matter very much to conservatives, narrowing the breadth of government, reigning in power of regulatory agencies. He is also an excellent writer as Justice Scalia was, but he's not as provocative. So, even though it's one for one with the vote, you just cannot replace Justice Scalia.

VAUSE: As far as Mr Gorsuch is concerned - or Judge Gorsuch, he's also very young for a Supreme Court judge, 49 years old. BISKUPIC: That's exactly right. And Antonin Scalia was 50 when he was nominated back in 1986 and he served for 30 years. The last time we had someone younger than 50 was back in 1991 with Clarence Thomas who was in his early 40s at the time. So, Neil Gorsuch who will likely be approved just from what we've seen already what we know of the Senate math where Republicans hold the majority, he could serve for our generation and the next generation.

VAUSE: You know, when it comes to Supreme Court justices, there are always some surprises like when Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, he ruled in favor of Obamacare. Is the lesson here, you don't know what you're going to get until you get it?

BISKUPIC: That's right. And I have to say that the conservative activists who are working with Donald Trump have this mantra that I'm not sure all the viewers would understand, but the mantra is no more David Souters. David Souter was appointed to the court in 1990, named by George HW Bush. And people around George Bush said, 'oh, he'll be a home run for conservatives.' Well, David Souter ended up serving in a very liberal vein until 2009 when he stepped down. So, there is a warning in things that you often don't get what you think you have.

[02:40:00] But in Neil Gorsuch, he has ruled enough as a federal judge that I think we know what we have here. David Souter, I should mention, had only been a federal judge briefly. He had mainly been a state court judge. And if you listen to his testimony, he left a couple of clues. I don't think we're going to see those clues this time around with Neil Gorsuch.

VAUSE: Well, in terms of the Supreme Court, though, the real game changer will be President Trump's second pick if he gets that chance.

BISKUPIC: I think that's exactly right. And just so that you know, we've got Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is age 80 and who has talked about possibly retiring, he might do that soon. Then we have Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, liberal icon, who is going to turn 84 in March. If she were - I'm sure she does not want to retire while Donald Trump is president, but if something should happen to her and force her to retire, it would be a big deal.

And ditto with Anthony Kennedy who even though he is in the conservative camp is a centrist conservative who has single-handedly stopped the Supreme Court from going - rolling back abortion rights too significantly or overturning campus affirmative action. Those are two areas where he, in recent years, cast the decisive vote. And as you probably remember, in 2015, Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion and cast the fifth vote to declare constitutional right to same-sex marriage nationwide.

VAUSE: OK. Joan, thank you very much for your insight in the court. We are in for some interesting days. A Senate confirmation to come. I guess we'll see what happens. Joan, thanks for being with us.

BISKUPIC: Thank you. Bye.

SOARES: - immigration ban are being filed at a steady clip. So far, private companies, advocacy groups, various American states and the District of Columbia heading to the courts. The states are challenging the ban's constitutionality. The Council on American Islamic Relations filed suit on behalf of more than 20 people. It claims the underlying motive of the order is to ban Muslims from certain Muslim-majority countries from entering the US. Joining us now to talk more about that, the ban, is Saba Ahmed, she is the founder of Republican Muslim Coalition.

Thank you very much, Ms. Ahmed, for joining us here on the show. Let me get your reaction, first of all, to President Trump's executive order because I think it's fair to say that it has caused some confusion as well as despair for those coming into the US. What was your initial reaction?

SABA AHMED, FOUNDER, REPUBLICAN MUSLIM COALITION: Well, I think he had the right intentions in terms of securing the borders than monitoring every single person from coming in countries who are state sponsors of terrorism. But at the same time, the way this executive order was implemented and executed caused a lot of problems across the United States at all major airports. And I wish that they had thought through how it was going to be implemented and exclude the Green Card holders to old citizens and people with our visas. I think going forward, all future visas could have been scrutinized much further rather than delaying the ones who already were here.

SOARES: So explained to us how you would have liked to have seen this carried out.

AHMED: Well, obviously, it should have been clarified with the office of legal counsel at the Department of Justice, so that there was a clear directive through the Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice. The way it played out was it caused a lot of mess and a lot of people ended up getting deported or put back on flights who should have been allowed entry. And now, yesterday, he talked about that Green Card holders can, in fact, come in regardless of them being from those seven countries and also dual nationals who hold citizenship with Iran and United States should also be permitted to enter the United States. So, I just wish that it was implemented better.

SOARES: As you and I talk, we're showing our viewers a map of the countries of the ban, if we can bring that up again, because you were talking about the fact that some of these countries are terrorists - you can have terrorists coming from these countries. Of course, there's a huge amount of - there are other countries that really have stronger links to terrorism. The majority of refugees go through very rigorous vetting. I think a majority of people know, that could take years. What could a few hours at an airport or 120 days achieve that years of vetting hasn't been able to achieve?

[02:45:00] AHMED: Well, that vetting was done under the Obama administration. I think, obviously, with the Trump administration, they're going to be changing policies and monitoring it much more closely. There are serious threats coming out of Iraq, Syria and other areas where ISISI is trying to infiltrate a lot of different ways of getting into the United States. So, I think, you know, making America safer and having secure entry/exit system is only for the betterment of this country. And, you know, presidential leadership is at full display. President Trump is not going to be weak on foreign policy or defense, unlike Obama, and we can expect to see stronger actions coming from the White House in the future.

SOARES: Let me ask you this. All the seven countries we showed there to which the ban applies, the majority Muslim, in your opinion, is this a Muslim ban?

AHMED: Well, obviously, Trump, during his campaign, had talked about a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. So, people interpreted it as the Muslim ban, but obviously it intended to be a travel ban on certain countries that were previously identified by the Obama administration as countries where terrorism is on the rise and that have interests adverse to the United States. So, I think monitoring them closely is the right way to go. But we just need to be cautious about - we don't offend our own citizens and permanent residents.

SOARES: Briefly, is it discriminatory?

AHMED: No, I think it's in the interest of national security to secure our borders and make sure that people who are coming in from Syria, Iraq and those areas are scrutinized, and so - and we make sure that none of them have anything to do with terrorism. And I think if we can help prevent any sort of future terrorists from entering the United States, it's only for the better.

SOARES: Saba Ahmed, the founder of the Republican Muslim Coalition. Thank you very much, Ms. Ahmed, for taking the time to speak to us there from Chicago.

AHMED: Thank you.

VAUSE: After the break, when we come back, the search for the next Doctor Who. Peter Capaldi says he's done with time travel. We'll look at the (INAUDIBLE 02:18 45).

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

PEDRAM JAVAHERI, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: It's 1 February, the eve of Groundhogs Day upon us across the United States and it really already feels like spring around the Southern US. We have high pressure in charts here. Southerly flow, we are getting very mild temperatures, in some areas approaching 20-plus degrees above what is considered normal for this time of year. Atlanta at 21 degrees, it cools off just a little the next couple of days. Charlotte, same story. Notice Washington into New York, it is warm for this time of year, but big changes in store. The northern tier of the United States there gets blasted with cold air several times over the next few days. Enough cold air over the moisture of the dry Great Lakes region where, I should say a not-frozen Great Lakes region, so we're getting enough energy transfer to produce some decent snowy showers in those favorable spots. Generally, it should be light snow, but notice a few areas just north of Syracuse, some of the snowiest cities in the United States located right there. And we're seeing a potential there for 30+ centimeters of fresh snow in the next couple of days in those narrowband pocket areas.

[02:50:00] So, it's what we're looking at. Chicago around 2 degrees. Denver, mostly sunny skies. And Southern Vancouver, a stunning day with 4 degrees in the forecasts and sunny skies. Next storm system, though, very impressive on satellite imagery. It has a lot of moisture associated with it. It looks the vast majority of that will stay across Northern California into Oregon. In fact, winter weather advisories for the City of Portland, a city that has already seen nearly twice its snowfall average.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

VAUSE: Well, the time has come again when Doctor Who has to regenerate for those who don't want the iconic television show. That means the lead actor has quit. Actor Peter Capaldi, the 12th doctor has announced he will be leaving the sci-fi series at the end of the year. So, now, the search is on for a new time lord. Rumors are swirling over who will take on this role. And for more on that, I'm joined now by film and entertainment journalist and Managing Editor of Entity Magazine, Doctor Who tragic, Sandra Monetti.

Sandra, put the book down. Very good. OK, as you (INAUDIBLE 01:38 50) obviously, this is more than just your average lead role in a cheesy television sci-fi show because this role is iconic.

SANDRA MONETTI, MANAGING EDITOR OF ENTITY MAGAZINE: I'll say it's up there with James Bond, Sherlock Holmes, one of the iconic roles in fiction. And for fans like me, the choice of who gets to step into the Tardis and be the next doctor is huge. Christmas Day 2017 Peter Capaldi will regenerate into the 13th version of the doctor.

VAUSE: How exciting!?

MONETTI: Who will it be?

VAUSE: OK. Well, let's look at some of the contenders, OK? To go with the favorite, apparently, Ben Whishaw, best known as the latest Q for the James Bond movie. Rory Kinnear, also a former bond star.

MONETTI: Who was linked with it last time when Peter Capaldi got it. So, yes.

VAUSE: So he could be second time lucky. Where are we? Ben Daniels from Rogue One. And then this is a bit of an odd one. Rupert Grint, formerly Ron Weasely, from -

MONETTI: Rupert Grint from Harry Potter?

VAUSE: Not a chance?

MONETTI: I think he's too closely identified with another role, but we'll see. It could go in any direction, but I don't notice any women on that list.

VAUSE: Actually, we probably should mention that because if you go online there are a lot of the fans who would like to see a time lady. MONETTI: You know, I think it's time. I mean, the doctor, of course, from the planet Gallifrey and the constellation of Kasterborous. It always has been played by a British man. But as recent episodes of Doctor Who have shown, time lords can be any gender and they can switch as part of the regeneration because the villain, the master, is Missy the mistress.

VAUSE: That's right.

MONETTI: So, maybe it's time for the doctor to have a sex change.

VAUSE: Is there anything which would actually rule out an actor from playing this part in your opinion?

MONETTI: I think probably if they're - I don't think, like, Benedict Cumberbatch is going to do it because he's closely associated with Sherlock. Like I was saying before, if you're known for one part, it's very difficult to jump into something. They tend to go to up- and-coming stars or lesser known.

VAUSE: So, you would, I think, vote for an American for instance.

MONETTI: Absolutely.

VAUSE: Right.

MONETTI: I don't care if it's a man or a woman, so (INAUDIBLE) American. Absolutely not. So, I'm unanimous in that.

VAUSE: OK. This series has been around for decades and has a huge following. A lot of fans out there are pointing to one scene in particular from decades ago has been especially prescient.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

THE DOCTOR: "You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common. They don't alter their views to fit the facts. They alter the facts to fit the views. Which can be uncomfortable if you happen to be one of the facts that needs altering."

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Tom Baker, one of the greats. This episode aired 40 years to the day. It was January 22, 1977. January 22, 2017, Kellyanne Conway, Trump's senior advisor, coined the term alternative facts.

MONETTI: The Time Lord has always been ahead of his time.

VAUSE: He obviously came forward with what she said.

MONETTI: It's funny you mentioned Kellyanne Conway because that episode was called the Face of Evil.

VAUSE: Yes, coincidence as well I'm sure. One of the things about the show is that it is so much part of the fabric of each generation, right? MONETTI: It really is, you know.

[02:55:00] VAUSE: So, now, when we look at the doctors that we've had, Mark Gatiss, a British actor and screenwriter who worked on the show, he tweeted this out, "Profoundly sad that the wonderful Peter Capaldi is leaving at the end of the year, but he is and always will be a great doctor." Is he a great doctor? Where does he stand in the Doctor Who universe?

MONETTI: He's a great actor. And you were saying it's a generational thing. Everyone's favorite doctor is the one that they grew up with. I remember you were saying that Tom Baker was your favorite because he was the one you saw first. So, for a generation of kids now, they only know Peter Capaldi as the doctor, he would be their favorite. I grew up with Peter Davison, my particular favorite was David Tennant. It's a great debate among the fans and it will continue when number 13 comes in.

VAUSE: Exciting times ahead. Sandra, thanks so much.

MONETTI: Can't help it.

VAUSE: You too could make the box. It seems this is all of them here. We've got all of the Doctor Who -

MONETTI: I've brought my collection.

VAUSE: They're all asleep right now. We've got all the doctors with us. All right. You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm John Vause in Los Angeles.

SOARES: I'm available too. And I'm Isa Soares in London. The news, of course, continues right here with CNN with more CNN NEWSROOM coming up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

Footer: