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Trump Blasts Australian Prime Minster over Refugees; U.S. Puts Iran on Notice over Missile Launches; Violent Riots at U.C. Berkley over Milo Speech; New U.S. Defense Secretary Travels to South Korea; Trump Blasts Australian Prime Minster over Refugees; U.S. Terror Attack Survivors Weigh in on Travel Ban; Plea of Christian Leaders to Trump on Travel Ban; World Leaders Call for Calm in Eastern Ukraine.. Aired 2-3a ET
Aired February 2, 2017 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:59:46] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm John Vause, in Los Angeles.
We began with that breaking news. U.S. President Donald Trump berating the Australian prime minister, on the same day his national security advisor issues a blunt warning to Iran.
Standing by in Canberra is Australian reporter, Tim Lester. He has details on that hostile conversation between President Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
CNN military analyst, Lieutenant Rick Francona, will have more on the Trump administration's blunt warning to Iran. And joining me here in Los Angeles, talk radio host, Mo Kelly; and Republican consultant, John Thomas.
ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: And also, the U.S. defense secretary on his first trip overseas. CNN's Paula Hancocks is in Seoul for us. Matt Rivers is standing by along China's border with North Korea.
VAUSE: We'll start with that extraordinary phone call with the U.S. president and the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.
Sources telling CNN the conversation was heated with President Trump upset over a deal negotiated during the Obama administration, which would see a thousand asylum seekers traversed to the U.S. The refugees are currently held in Australia's remote detention centers on Manus Island. Many are from Iran, Iraq, Sudan, and Somali, countries on Trump's travel ban.
Mr. Trump, according to sources, repeatedly called it a bad deal, saying one of the refugees would be the next Boston bomber, and then the call was abruptly ended. A short time ago, President Trump tweeted this, "Do you believe it? The Obama administration agreed to take thousands of illegal immigrants from Australia. Why? I will study this dumb deal."
To parliament House and 7 Australia reporter, Tim Lester.
Tim, what is the reaction from the prime minister but also from ordinary Australians?
TIM LESTER, PARLIAMENT HOUSE & SEVEN AUSTRALIA NETWORK REPORTER: Well, there is a deal of shock, because, John, diplomatic relations between Australia and the United States have never been carried on this way in living memory. And it suggests a changed dynamic for Australia in relations with its most important, certainly, its most important security partner. It's also, of course, like the rest of the world, getting to know how relations will be done with Donald Trump.
But the tweet you mentioned is especially damaging. Just a couple of hours ago, our prime minister was telling us, no, I have a guarantee from the president of the United States that the refugee deal will continue. Well, we now know, at least on Twitter, the U.S. president says it is under scrutiny and might not proceed.
VAUSE: Tim, the tone and the hostility from the U.S. president is especially remarkable, given the close relationship between United States and Australia, one of its oldest allies.
LESTER: This underlines the surprise here. Certainly, a strategic and a military closeness can't be underestimated. One of the five eye security intelligence cooperators in the five countries with U.S. that exchange intelligence. We're enmeshed, in military terms, deeply. We fought alongside the U.S. in wars since the First World War and been perhaps its best and most reliable military ally since the second. So, you can imagine the Australian prime minister would be completely bemused by this. Diplomatic analysts here say this beckons a rethink of the relationship, not necessarily a downgrade, anything of that kind, but taking an independent and less reliance U.S. approach to our global relations.
VAUSE: There was talk before this phone conversation that these two leaders would have a strong relationship. They're both conservative. Malcolm Turnbull is a wealthy self-made businessman. They have a lot in common. And they would work well together. That may not be the case.
LESTER: John, perhaps, that was a little bit of a once over lightly in terms of Prime Minister Turnbull's background. Yes, he certainly is a self-made businessman. So, they share an understanding of business and commerce. But at the same time, Prime Minister Turnbull is still a liberal and reasonably moderate and he is quite a soft- spoken man. The Trump approach, you would think, would be quite challenging for him. And I think it does pick up a wry smile for a lot of Australians to think how a person like Malcolm Turnbull would cope with a phone call like the one "The Washington Post" has described.
VAUSE: Tim, thank you very much for being with us. Tim Lester there in Parliament House in Canberra.
Well, with me here in Los Angeles, for more on this, talk radio host, Mo Kelly; and Republican consultant, John Thomas.
OK, we have a crisis with Australia now. OK, here is more about reporting on the phone call with the Australian prime minister. His interactions are naive -- this is from a source -- in that he keeps suggesting that we will have the best relationship ever with a broad amount of countries, but there is no substance to back it up. When he counters a policy like with Turnbull, he responds with a tantrum.
Mo, does any of this surprise you?
MO KELLY, RADIO TALK SHOW HOST: It doesn't surprise me. We've discussed his temperament for the better part of a year. His decisions are either going to create concern or they're going to create confidence. This is Australia. We're not talking about Iran or somebody we don't have a long historical relationship with. If you can't get along with our friends, how will you create these coalitions that you need to keep this world order and world peace if necessary?
[02:05:18] VAUSE: John, this seemed to be very Donald Trump transactional, this is a bad deal, I don't like it. There is no sort of regard, if you like, for the history between these two countries. And also, having a fight with Australia while there is still not a bad word for Russia.
JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: No, it is fascinating. I suspect Russia, once Tillerson gets embedded, will be next on the list.
But here is how Donald Trump approaches things. It is very transactional. And where the last eight years really are irrelevant as Donald Trump sees it. If he has a refugee ban, no one is going to force Donald Trump to do something he doesn't want to do just because past history was different.
VAUSE: Or just because you're locked into a legal arrangement?
THOMAS: Well, with Donald Trump, everything is up for negotiation, according to Donald Trump. But you look at places like Israel. They could not be more thrilled with Donald Trump because our interests align currently with Israel. I think it will be a case by case basis. I'm sure we'll continue to get along with Australia, just not on this issue.
VAUSE: OK. We also have details about a phone call with Mr. Trump and the president of Mexico. This was on Friday. The U.S. president saying you have pretty tough hombres in Mexico that you may need help with, we're willing to help with that big league, but they have to be knocked out and you have not done a good job of knocking them out."
Mo, again, a contentious phone call with the leader of a country which is meant to be a very close ally.
KELLY: I don't know if you can be transactional with foreign policy. There needs to be a sort of schematic of how he wants to get from A to Z, and knowing there will be repercussions along the way. I don't know if you can have the fights with the leaders on an individual basis, on an individual issue basis, and say, well, we may not get along with Australia on this one or we may not get along Mexico on this one but also showing utter contempt in the expression of it. Those will have consequences after this transaction. VAUSE: And that is the point. I mean, these relationships are taken
as a whole. You can't take the bits that you like and throw away the bits that you don't when it comes to foreign diplomacy.
THOMAS: I would look at the 2016 primary process that was as brutal as it could possibly be, but they moved past it once they were not directly foes. Now Ted Cruz is a strong Trump ally. Trump understands how to heal relationships. But he also understands how to be firm. Look, it's a dramatically different course, I'm not going to disagree, than Obama, and even George Bush, who tried to get along and take their lumps. Trump is not willing to do that.
VAUSE: Stay with us.
Earlier on Monday, the president's national security advisor made a surprise appearance in the White House briefing room. He delivered a blunt warning to Iran over its most recent test of the ballistic missile which the U.N. says violates a U.N. Security Council resolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: President Trump has severely criticized the various agreements reached between Iran and the Obama administration as well as the United Nations as being weak and ineffective. Instead of being thankful to the United States in these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened. As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: CNN's military analyst, Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, joins us.
Colonel, what does "officially on notice" actually mean? It sounds like a threat.
LT. COL. RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It sounds like a threat. I really don't know what it means. But you know, I understand Mr. Trump is not a fan of the Iran deal and that is what this goes to. And you will remember that General Flynn was the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency while all of these agreements were being negotiated under the Obama administration. So, he does not like them either.
And when he puts Iran on notice, he is primarily talking about the ballistic missile tests. which were illegal under the old U.N. resolution. I think it was in 1929 in 2010. The words were Iran "shall not" develop ballistic missiles. That was changed as part of the Iran deal, a Russian initiative to change the words, and Secretary of State John Kerry agreed to the change where it says "Iran is called upon not to develop ballistic missiles." It's that wording that the Iranians took full advantage of.
And you know the Iranians looked at the nuclear deal as a real victory in their foreign policy. President Obama looked at it as a victory in our foreign policy and he hoped that it would rehabilitate the Iranians and change their behavior on the world stage. It did not. The Iranians became emboldened. I think the general is right there. So, I think they're trying to walk back some of Iran's behavior. How they do that? I don't know. But we'll find out soon what "put on notice" means.
VAUSE: Well, apparently, there is no change in the U.S. military stance in the region, no additional deployments. The change came while the defense secretary was on his official trip overseas. Do you read anything into that?
[02:10:07] FRANCONA: No, not really. There is enough fore-structure in the Persian Gulf and the surrounding area to do what we need to do. It's just a matter of giving the orders to do that.
If you look at some of the things happening in the Persian Gulf over the past several years, the Iranians are becoming much more aggressive and harassing the American naval vessels as they transit the Strait of Hormuz. We also see a lot of operations in the Red Sea. We have U.S. Navy vessels coming under fire from units based in Yemen. We believe those to be Iranian-sponsored Houthi units. So, I think we're telling the Iranians we're not going to put up with that. And if we see any more actions in the Red Sea, I think you will see a direct military response. The Persian gulf, we have to tread more lightly there.
VAUSE: OK, Colonel, thank you very much. Colonel Francona there with some analysis there.
Back to our panel now, Mo Kelly and John Thomas.
John, many are seeing these comments by General Flynn as either hollow intent or an intent to go to war.
THOMAS: Here is the challenge that the Trump administration has. They're coming off the last eight years where a country like Iran could literally walk all over the administration knowing there were no consequences. The Trump administration is basically like a step- parent coming in where the parents let the kids do anything they want. Now the administration has to retrain these countries, saying we're not going to allow you to get along with these actions. So, they have to walk a line.
VAUSE: Retrain the region, I guess I understand. But it's not clear what "official notice" means.
This is how Phillip Mudd, our terror analyst, saw it earlier on CNN.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHIL MUDD, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: I can't figure out what he is talking about. This is like a line out of the greatest movie, "Caddie Shack." Ron is now on double secret probation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Phil later apologized, that was from "Animal House." The point is, Mo, no one knows what is really going on or where they stand.
KELLY: This would have to do with the lack of wisdom and how they implement their foreign policy. You could have waited until Rex Tillerson was in place and then read up and then you could have doled up this foreign policy in a slow, coherent fashion. This goes back to Mexico, Iran, Australia. Instead, we have these executive orders with immigration and you have all of this disarray, as opposed to seamlessly doling out this policy which makes sense to everyone and also provides a unified front from the Trump administration. But it seems like Trump is going it alone. This president is not trying to use anyone in his administration other than Steve Bannon, because we know how the National Security Council has changed while the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is now optional in the meeting as opposed to mandatory.
THOMAS: President Trump doesn't want anything to be perceived as weakness, so I'm sure Rex Tillerson will be involved from this point going forward. But he didn't want to wait one second to be perceived as weak in this project.
VAUSE: It's one thing to lash out at Meryl Streep, "Saturday Night Live" and CNN, but, John, what happens the next time Iran tests another missile? What happens then?
THOMAS: At some point, you can't just have tough talk. You have to have action. And that is what the Trump administration is gauging.
KELLY: He's going to draw a red line the first two weeks in office? That doesn't leave a lot of room to maneuver or negotiate after that.
THOMAS: Well, you also have to teach people how to treat you and what to expect from you, so you can't let them walk all over you in the first week.
VAUSE: OK, General Flynn talked about Iran feeling emboldened instead of grateful that they had this nuclear deal. Brad Rhode (ph), foreign policy advisor to President Obama, he tweeted this, "The agreement was not meant to make Iran thankful to the U.S. It was intended to peacefully roll back Iran's nuclear program, which it did."
Mo, that really says a lot about the difference between these two administrations.
KELLY: Yeah. I have to wonder, if we start here, where do we go? So, if Iran tests another ballistic missile, does that mean we go to war? Is that where we really are at this point? Two weeks into this administration? That would scare the hell out of me. Let me put it another way. At what point should I, as an American citizen, become concerned with the direction of this foreign policy.
THOMAS: The problem is, our back is against the wall over the last eight years. Trump was handed a raw deal and he's trying to unravel it.
VAUSE: OK, we'll leave it there.
Mo and John, also Rick Francona, Tim Lester, who joined us earlier, thanks to all of you.
SOARES: Now, the new U.S. defense secretary is expected is Asia soon. Just ahead, what to expect when James Mattis makes his first official overseas trip.
Plus, a speech by a right-wing commentator is cancelled as violence protests erupt at the University of California. We'll have the details coming up. And both the stories right here on CNN NEWSROOM.
[02:18:30] VAUSE: Just coming up to 19 minutes past 11:00 in Los Angeles. Welcome back, everybody.
Violent protests erupted at the University of California in Berkeley, forcing the cancellation of a speech by right-wing commentator, Milo Yiannopoulos.
SOARES: Well, some demonstrators set fires and destroyed property there. You can see the fireworks at police.
Yiannopoulos spoke to FOX News a short time ago. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MILO YIANNOPOULOS, BREITBART EDITOR & SPEAKER: We knew there going to be protests from the social media activity. We knew from the police. I have a pretty good sense of when things are going to get a bit rowdy. I mean, we UC Berkeley was going to be a problem, not the least of which because they have a big free speech problem. Obviously, it's a liberal campus so they - they hate any Libertarians or conservatives who dare to express an opinion on their campuses. And they particularly don't like me.
And so, this evening, we got into the building, started to prepare for the show. And people started to arriving in black clothes and masks. They were clearly carrying concealed shields, weapons and things. And then stuff started to be hurled at the building. There were rocks being thrown, various other things being thrown at the building. Eventually, the ground floor was breached and I was evacuated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Kyung Lah reports now from the site of the protest and has more on the riots.
[02:19:38] KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Amid a wave of national post-election protests, U.C. Berkeley students formed a protest of their own, a very specific goal, to stop a right-wing speaker. The protests happened here outside the student union in this square. That speaker was "Breitbart" editor, Milo Yiannopoulos. 1500 students gathered here to protests, according to the university, with the specific goal of trying to stop him, saying he is not free speech, he is hate speech.
Well, early on into the protest, about 30 minutes in, the protests became violent. These barricades were used to smash in the windows of the first floor of the student union where he was scheduled to speak. Students also -- the protesters, that is, that set fires, they faced off with police, officers who were forced to use tear gas.
The university says they believe, and they are blaming this violence on about 150 outside agitators. The university says they are a problem in the city of Oakland.
Six people were injured. And the protests became so violent that the event had to be cancelled. When that became news to these protesters, there was celebration.
The irony here, of course, is that U.C. Berkeley, in the 1960s, was the birth place of the free speech movement. That movement, those students then fought for the right to express their political opinions.
Kyung Lah, CNN, Berkeley, California.
SOARES: Now, new U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis is in South Korea right now. He arrived a couple of hours ago. It's his first official trip overseas as U.S. defense chief. Mattis hopes to reassure South Koreans of the U.S. commitment to their security, especially regarding their North Korean threat. He is also expected to push ahead with deployment of a controversial missile defense system known at THAAD. From South Korea, Mattis then heads to Japan.
Let's get more on this story. CNN's Matt Rivers in China on the border with North Korea.
And Paula Hancocks joins us from Seoul in South Korea.
Paula, the defense secretary said he is there to listen to the allies, but how much of this trip is about gauging the North Korean threat?
PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we had a very measured response from the defense secretary, Mattis, as he was just touching down in South Korea. Speaking to reporters, he said he is basically here to listen, to engage and to understand. He said he was first here back in 1972 as an officer when he was in the military himself. He says he has not been here for a long time but is aware of what is going on. He wants to know from the U.S. leadership and the U.S. military here and from the South Korean military here what the potential is and the potential options are. So, he was not pushed too far on his opinions of what was going on, although he was asked about North Korea, inevitably, that threat just 40 miles north. He said that North Korea has often acted in a provocative way and it's hard to anticipate what they do, specifying they needed to have this missile defense system here in South Korea because of the provocations, as they call them, that they have seen recently from North Korea -- Isa?
SOARES: Paula, stay with us.
I want to bring in Matt.
Matt, the defense secretary saying the deployment of the advanced anti-missile system that Paula was just talking, THAAD, to South Korea, he says it is needed as a defensive measure to protect allies. How does China see the missile system? Is it a threat to them?
MATT RIVERS, CNN ASIA-PACIFIC EDITOR: Well, they see it in a very negative way on two different fronts. On the one hand, when it comes to protecting South Korea and U.S. interests in South Korea, the Chinese say that the deployment of this anti-missile defense system would only provoke the North Korean regime and make the system worse. But further than that, on a more geopolitical strategy level, I think what you hear from the Chinese is that they view the deployment of this defense system as nothing more than a thinly availed attempt to try to constrain China. They see this attempt to work at the borders as just the latest South Korean attempt to make China doesn't expand militarily the way Beijing would like to -- Isa?
And Paula, this re-estimation of ties could be critical, could it not, given what we have had from President Trump. He previously questioned the cost of such alliances, going as far as saying, during the election campaign, that they should pay for their own defense. So how wary is the region of President Trump, rather, and his America First policies?
HANCOCKS: Well, I think last week they were far more wary of the Trump administration than they were this week. We're had a phone call between President Trump and the acting president here, where he said there was an iron-clad commitment to protect South Korea. Also, point out that the North Korea threat is an imminent and a very important one, which is what South Korea wants to hear. Of course, North Korea itself has made its voice heard just today in a KCNA statement media wire saying if the joint drills between the U.S. and South Korea go ahead later this year in about a month or so then they will beef up their nuclear strike capability. This is rhetoric we have heard before, but really the first time we've heard this type of rhetoric this strong during the Trump administration -- Isa?
[02:25:26] SOARES: And, Matt, let's focus if we can on China and how China views this alliance between South Korea and Japan. Are they worried about this harder stance the Trump administration appears to be taking in the region?
RIVERS: I think they are. And I think you can really look right at Secretary Mattis' comments during his confirmation hearing when he was asked especially about China and this part of the world and China's expansion in the South China Sea. And Secretary Mattis said the United States should rely on its allies in the region, South Korea, Japan, in order to modify, as he put it, the misbehavior of a country like China, in his view. So, that is something that China definitely worries about in terms of being contained in the area.
I think the one area that China hopes to move forward with all these parties involved is on what is going on, on the border behind me. China says the way to solve the issue of North Korea and its nuclear program is to return to those six-party talks that failed some years ago. That is where China sees an opening, but in the meantime, there seems to be tension on both sides.
SOARES: Matt Rivers in China, and Paula Hancocks in Seoul, thank you to you both. Very good to see you.
VAUSE: Well, it's time for a short break. And then more on President Trump's heated phone call with the Australian prime minister. Up next, we'll go live to Canberra for more on what sparked the president's anger.
Plus, two U.S. terror attack survivors, one of them a Trump voter, make their case for why they are against the president's travel ban.
[02:30:12] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back everybody. You're watching CNN news, live from Los Angeles. It's 11:30 here. I'm John Vause.
ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isa Soares. In London, the time is 11:30 in the morning.
Let me bring you up to date on the main news headlines we're following.
SOARES: U.S. President Trump reportedly had a heated phone conversation with the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, over the weekend. Sources say the president objected to an agreement of the U.S. to receive more than a thousand refugees. One source says President Trump ended the call briefly.
VAUSE: For more on that phone call between Donald Trump and the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, veteran political reporter, Paul Bongiorno, is live from Canberra.
Paul, the official read out from the Australian side in describing this conversation between the two leaders said it was constructive. So, was that an attempt by the prime minister and the Australian government to mislead the public or was that just how international diplomacy is done?
PAUL BONGIORNO, AUSTRALIAN POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, I think this is the old rules, what international diplomacy looks and sounds like. And the Australian government and prime minister thought that the rules that even President Trump would play by. In fact, it looked that way at first because the White House characterized the meeting as positive and a re-affirmation of Australia and the U.S.'s long- standing alliance and friendship. But we now know, thanks to reports out of both CNN and "The Washington Post" and a tweet from the president himself, that it was a hostile meeting, that while we still may be allies, we're not the warmest of friends, because Donald Trump thinks that we've foisted a dumb deal on him.
VAUSE: With regards to that dumb deal, as the president described it, what are the details? Why would the United States accept these refugees?
BONGIORNO: That's a very good question. I think there's got to be a dose of humanitarianism here. Australia, through it's harsh, many would say cruel, policies in regard to refugees who attempt to come to this country by boat, has about 2,000 people holed up in New Guinea. They have been there for four years. And Australia says we'll look somewhere else for them to go to, but they're not going to come to Australia. Donald Trump, it seems, with some logical it's hard to question, wants to know, if Australia will not take these people, why should he? He even went further saying they're trying to send the next Boston bomber to him.
It should be noted that the asylum seekers or refugees -- because the people we're talking about have been declared this way by the U.N. HCR -- many of them are from Iran or Iraq, two of the countries that are under the present ban in the U.S.
VAUSE: And we get back to the phone conversations, this exchange between the two leaders, what does it now say for other world leaders who are looking to do business with Donald Trump?
BONGIORNO: Well, exactly, what does it say? There are new rules here, the Trump rules. They're not the rules, the time-honored rules of diplomacy. Now, some may see this as terrific. We're cutting through the fog. We're cutting through the bull, if you would like. But others would say well, hang on, is this the way you deal, for example, with allies and other adult leaders? I mean, that you take it upon yourself to berate them and yell at them and cut short a phone conversation?
I must say our prime minister is adamant that Trump did not hang up. He cut it short. But that is a question I'm sure that leaders around the world will be asking, except perhaps for Vladimir Putin. Apparently, the phone conversation with Putin on the same day went like a treat, as far as Donald Trump was concerned.
SOARES: Interesting times.
Paul, thank you so much. Appreciate you being with us.
BONGIORNO: Thank you, John. Bye
SOARES: Now, President Trump says his ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries is meant to keep "bad people" out of the U.S. There have been a number of terror attacks in the U.S. over the past couple of years, but refugees did not carry them out.
Stephanie Elam asked two survivors of the San Bernardino attack what they think of that travel ban.
[02:30:09] JULIE PAEZ, SAN BERNARDINO ATTACK SURVIVOR: I was shot twice, once through my pelvis, once through my pubic bone, and went through my rectum and had severe internet damage. I almost died.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Julie Paez is a survivor of the San Bernardino attack, the day an American man and his Pakistani-born wife walked into the room and began shooting. 14 people killed, dozens more wounded physically and emotionally.
For her, it's personal.
PAEZ: I don't want it to be a rhetorical talking point just to get attention and to get sympathy for something that has nothing to do with San Bernardino really.
ELAM: In light of his executive order, temporarily banning entry to people from Libya, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Yemen and Syria, President Trump has invoked the tragedy as a reason for travel restrictions.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't want terror in this country. You look at what happened in San Bernardino, you look at what happened all over.
PAEZ: That kind of ban on those seven countries would not have made a difference in the attack here in San Bernardino.
ELAM (on camera): I think people would think that your view may be different based on the fact that you went through what you went through. You were shot twice, correct?
PAEZ: Right. I was shot by radicalized Muslims. And that is the truth. Unfortunately, one of them was radicalized here. He was an American citizen who has a brother who served U.S. military.
You would not use the Westboro Baptist Church as a gauge for all Christians. I don't use ISIS as a gauge for Muslims.
ELAM: But there are a lot of people that are happy he is following through with his main campaign promises.
PAEZ: Absolutely. Yeah.
ELAM: But as someone who was impacted, what do you say to them?
PAEZ: I think it's a false sense of security.
HAL HOUSER, SAN BERNARDINO TERROR ATTACK SURVIVOR: I think it's a poor implementation of a potentially good idea.
ELAM (voice-over): Hal Houser also survived the shooting. He says he leans conservative and voted for Trump.
HOUSER: Somebody who wants to harm America and not to live by our constitution and live by our laws, I don't want them in this country. But Muslim ban? God, no.
ELAM: Both survivors believe the U.S. should not completely close its doors.
PAEZ: I want us to be a place that you know can give that hope to those people that are in need of a place to live their lives.
ELAM: Stephanie Elam, CNN, San Bernardino, California.
VAUSE: Well, the U.S. president's ban on refugees has Christian leaders worried. When we come back, their plea to the president in just a moment.
[02:41:09] VAUSE: Some of the strongest criticism in recent days of the U.S. president's travel ban has come from Christian leaders, despite a promise from Donald Trump that Christians fleeing from persecution would be given priority.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because it relates to persecuted Christians, do you see them as a priority?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You do?
TRUMP: They have been horribly treated. You know, if you were a Christian in Syria, it was impossible, very, very -- at least very, very tough to get into the United States. If you were a Muslim, you could come in. And I thought it was very, very unfair so we are going to help them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: There is no evidence the Obama administration gave preference to Muslim refugees more than Christian refugees.
And more than 2,000 faith leaders have signed an open letter urging the president not the ban people based on their religious or nationality
This is what it says, "We ask our elected officials and candidates for office to recognize that new Americans of all faiths and backgrounds contribute to our economy, our community and our congregations. Refugees are an asset to this country. They are powerful ambassadors of the American dream and our nation's founding principles of equal opportunity, religious freedom and liberty and justice for all." Hundreds gathered on Tuesday in Omaha, Nebraska, for an interfaith
vigil to show support for all refugees.
But as a candidate, Donald Trump made a Muslim ban and extreme vetting a key campaign promise, and an executive order is the direct result. And yet, 80 percent of white evangelical Christians voted for him in November.
For more on this, CNN's religion commentator, Father Edward Beck, joins us from New York.
Father Beck, good to see you.
FATHER EDWARD BECK, CNN RELIGION COMMENTATOR: You, too, John.
VAUSE: From Pope Francis, on down, Christian leaders say you can't turn away somebody in need and still call yourself a Christian, but yet, it seems that is what many in the United States are doing right now.
BECK: John, you know, it's not only even the Christian tradition, it's the inter-faith tradition and the Judeo-Christian tradition. If you look at the Hebrew scriptures, there was no country more besieged than ancient Israel. And yet, in the Book of Exodus, God is saying, right after the Ten Commandments, there is the famous quote, "Do not cast off the stranger. Welcome the stranger. Remember, you, too, were once strangers."
Remember when Pope Francis was flying back from Mexico, and all that talk about the wall, he said, you know what, you can't be talking about walls and not bridges and call yourself a Christian, directly calling out Donald Trump.
VAUSE: Well, given all of those lessons and what the Holy Father has been saying how much of the support for this Muslim ban among Christians is being driven by fear, whether that fear is real or not?
BECK: Well, I think certainly, it's partly fear, not just for Christians, and they're playing on that fear. But you know, if you look at a lot of the Christian population, it has been about one or two issues that they have supported Trump on, and it has been the driving force. Abortion being one of those. So, Trump campaigned on being a pro-life candidate, that he was going to repeal Roe v. Wade, and a lot of evangelicals and more conservative right-wing Christians like that rhetoric. And they said, if he can do that, it's worth our support.
Except that there are so many other issues that are important, not that that is not important for Christians. But what about his comment on torture, the environment? Pope Francis wrote about it. He basically questions global warming. What about the treatment of women? We all heard that audio tape of what he said and how he debased women. This is not Christian response. The indiscriminate killing of families of terrorists. All of these issues, you can go down and down. You think, you can say, OK, you're a right to life candidate. But is this the full spectrum of human life? Or are you just talking about the unborn? What about when a child is born and how do we then follow through that respect for life.
And I think this is where Christians really, and not only Christians, have to have the real conversation. What does it mean to be a right- to-life candidate? Now, are we talking about all human life?
[02:45:31] VAUSE: Well, given the conflict, which you have outlined there, some very important issues which Donald Trump appears to be following through, especially if you look at his appointment to the Supreme Court. And the other issues, which, you know, obviously, are just not in keeping with what Christians are taught within the Bible and, in many ways, are a moral imperative.
BECK: Most definitely. Christianity is not just about rhetoric, not just saying you believe something. Or Donald Trump says he is a Presbyterian, OK, fine. But this Presbyterian said, I'm not really sure, I have to ask God for forgiveness. I'm not really sure. And maybe when I eat the cracker and take the little bit of wine, I suppose that is kind of forgiveness. Well, you know, Christians are offended by that keep of language. So, you don't call yourself something and act a different way. If anything in the scripture, in the Gospel, if you want to know what salvation looks like, you turn to Matthew 25. Jesus is quite clear. Did you feed the hungry? Did you cloth the naked? Did you visit the imprisoned? Did you welcome the stranger? If you did that, yes, you can call yourself part of me. If you didn't, out of my sight. So, you really have to walk the walk. It's not just about mouthing the rhetoric.
And I think this is where Christians really have to hold this administration's feet to the fire and say, OK, this is important to us. Many of these values are. But we can't be single-value faith community.
VAUSE: Well, from your lips to God's ear.
Father Beck, thank you so much. We appreciate you being with us.
BECK: Thank you, John.
SOARES: Up next on CNN NEWSROOM, more deaths in eastern Ukraine, as the threat continues to outlive another ceasefire. We'll have that story for you after a short break. Don't go anywhere.
[02:51:17] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. Nine minutes until the top of the hour.
World leaders are calling for calm in eastern Ukraine as clashes intensify between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatists. This conflict has been going on since 2014, outlasting a few ceasefires, including potentially the one in place right now. There's been a surge in casualties with reports of more than a dozen killed since the weekend. NATO chief, Jen Stoltenberg is asking Russia to use its influence over the separatist forces to help end the violence.
VAUSE: Former CNN Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty, joins us for more.
Jill, there seems to be two narratives. Either the Russians are testing this new administration or the Ukrainians are playing up the violence as a way to keep the sanctions on Russia. So where does it stand?
JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Where it stands is that this is very serious violence. Number one, you have 17,000 people affected in that area where Nick was and 2500 are estimated are children, and so this is a serious issue.
Now the fighting has been going on since 2014. So unfortunately, it has not been in the headlines recently. But now you have this real challenge because you have Donald Trump intimating or indicating that perhaps he would consider lifting sanctions on Russia, sanctions that were imposed specifically because of Russia's actions in Ukraine and in Crimea. And then President Poroshenko of Ukraine, looking at the situation and saying, how could you possibly even think of lifting sanctions at this point? So, the political significance of this is very high. And the question will be, how will the United States -- one of the big questions will be, how will the United States respond? So far there's nothing directly coming from President Trump.
VAUSE: Yeah. In fact, with that in mind, the response we had on Wednesday from the White House is telling. Here's what an official statement, which came from the State Department, said, in part: " To avoid a larger humanitarian crisis, we call for immediate sustained ceasefire and full and unfettered access for OSCE monitors. We also reaffirm U.S. support for full implementation of the Minsk agreement."
It seems fairly boilerplate, but there is no mention of Russia. And there are reports that administration officials even questioned why the Minsk peace agreement needed to be mentioned. So, this is a significant departure from the Obama administration.
DOUGHERTY: It is. But the plot thickens because, if you look - and I have it right here -- there's a statement from the U.S. mission to OSCE, which does very much mention Russia. It says, "Russia and the separatists initiated it violence and we call on Russia to stop the violence, honor the ceasefire, withdraw heavy weapons, et cetera."
So, you actually do have a contradiction between both of those statements. Or at least you'd have to say a different focus of both of those. The one that criticizes Russia would be much more similar to what the Obama administration did. And now the State Department statement appears to be what the Trump administration is doing which is not specifically calling out Russia.
VAUSE: OK. Jill, thank you for being with us. Jill Dougherty with some analysis and insight. We appreciate it.
[02:54:49] SOARES: Now former U.S. President Barack Obama seems to be doing a good job of ignoring the political turmoil in Washington. He's been hanging out in the Caribbean with Richard Branson. You can see there the Obamas spending time in the British Virgin Islands. British media captured him with the billionaire on one of Branson's private islands.
And super star singer Beyonce is having sweet dreams. She announced via Instagram that she's pregnant with twins. She thanked her fans for their well wishes. Beyonce and her husband, Jay-Z, have one other child together, 5-year-old Blue Ivy.
And that is CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Isa Soares, in London.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause, in Los Angeles.
Stay with us. The news continues with Max Foster and Rosemary Church after a short break.