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STATE OF THE UNION

Federal Judge Halts Trump Immigration Ban; Interview With Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Interview With Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders; Trump Attacks Judge Who Ruled Against Travel Ban; Town Hall Protest In California; Political Football In "State of the Cartoonion". Aired 9-10a ET

Aired February 5, 2017 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:04]

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Not so fast. A federal judge halts the immigration ban, letting thousands of travelers into the United States. But President Trump vows to fight back. What will the White House do next?

Plus, going nuclear? President Trump makes his pick for the nation's highest court.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Judge Gorsuch, he is the man of our country and a man who our country really needs.

TAPPER: And he urges Republicans to do whatever it takes to get him confirmed.

TRUMP: I would say, if you can, Mitch, go nuclear.

TAPPER: Will the Senate majority leader take the Trump's advice? I will ask him next.

And the resistance. From protests to boycotts, the left is fighting President Trump's every move and jamming the phone lines in Congress. Will it work? Senator Bernie Sanders will be here live.

Plus, the best political minds will be here with insights on a whirlwind week.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is getting a little lesson on the separation of powers.

Early this morning, a federal appeals court denied for now the Trump Justice Department's emergency request to resume President Trump's travel ban. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision for now of a Washington State judge who suspended the ban. Both sides are being asked to provide briefs.

President Trump attacked that federal judge in a series of tweets, scolding: "What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a homeland security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into the U.S.?"

We will get into Article III of the Constitution in a little bit.

The president is at Mar-a-Lago this weekend, but he will make an appearance at the Supreme Court via an interview with FOX News' Bill O'Reilly that will air during the pregame show. Here is a little clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: A lot of people, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get along with them. He is a leader of his country.

I say it's better to get along with Russia than not. And if Russia helps us in the fight against ISIS, which is a major fight, and Islamic terrorism all over the world, major fight, that is a good thing.

BILL O'REILLY, HOST, "THE O'REILLY FACTOR": Right.

TRUMP: Will I get along with him? I have no idea. It's possible that I won't.

O'REILLY: He is a killer, though. Putin is a killer.

TRUMP: A lot of killers. We have got a lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: "We have got a lot of killers."

Let's get right to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who joins us from Louisville, Kentucky.

Leader McConnell, thanks for joining us.

Let's start right there. Are you comfortable with the president of the United States seeming to equate U.S. actions with those of Putin's authoritarian regime?

SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Well, Putin is a former KGB. He's agent. He's a thug.

He was not elected in a way that most people would consider a credible election. The Russians annexed Crimea, invaded Ukraine, and messed around in our elections.

No, I don't think there is any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does.

TAPPER: Does it trouble you that he said this? I mean, I'm trying to imagine your response if President Obama had defended the murderous reign of Putin by saying, "You think our country is so innocent." MCCONNELL: Well, look, I'm not going to critique the president's

every utterance, but I do think America is exceptional.

America is different. We don't operate in any way the way the -- the Russians do. I think there is a clear distinction here that all Americans understand. And, no, I would not have characterized it that whole way.

TAPPER: I'm not going to spend the whole interview on this, but you say all Americans understand. Are you confident the president understands it? Because he just said something that could have been broadcast on R.T.

I mean, he said: "We have got a lot of killers out there, you think our country is so innocent?" when asked specifically, by Bill O'Reilly, no less, about Vladimir Putin being a thug.

Again, if Barack Obama had said this, I can't imagine there would not be protests in the street.

MCCONNELL: Look, Jake, I can speak for myself, and I already have, about my feelings about Vladimir Putin and the way the Russians operate. I'm not going to critique every utterance of the president. I obviously don't see this issue the same way he does.

TAPPER: All right, let's move on, turn to another topic that came up during President Trump's pre-Super Bowl interview.

Bill O'Reilly asked the president about this evidence-free claim that Hillary Clinton received three to five million illegal votes in the presidential election. Here's how President Trump responded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: People have come out and said I'm right. You know that.

O'REILLY: I know, but you have got to have data to back that up.

TRUMP: Let me just tell you, let me just tell, when you see illegals, people that are not citizens, and they're on the registration rolls, look, Bill, we can be babies.

[09:05:04]

But you take a look at the registration, you have illegals, you have dead people, you have this. It is really a bad situation. It's really bad.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Do you want to spend taxpayer money to hunt for these apparently nonexistent three to five million illegal votes?

MCCONNELL: Well, you know, this sort of thing is handled at the state level. And the Democrats always claim there is no election fraud at all. That is, of course, not true. Election fraud does occur. There is no evidence that it occurred in such a significant number that would have changed the presidential election.

And I don't think we ought to spend any federal money investigating that. I think the states can take a look at this issue. Many of them have tried to tighten their voter rolls, tried to purge people who are dead and otherwise not eligible to vote. And I think we ought to leave that at the state level.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the travel ban.

A week ago, when you were asked if you the travel ban had gone too far, you said this is a question for the courts to decide. They're in the middle of doing that right now.

MCCONNELL: Yes.

TAPPER: On Friday, a federal judge in Seattle issued a ruling blocking President Trump's executive order. Early this morning, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a request by the Justice Department to immediately restore the travel ban.

This policy would, of course, be much more durable if it were passed into law by Congress, not merely by executive order.

Up until this point, you have avoided explicitly taking a stand on the travel and immigration ban. Would you be willing to offer legislation to carry out the ban through the Senate?

MCCONNELL: Well, I don't know that that is necessary.

I mean, the courts are going to decide whether the executive order the president issued is valid or not. And we all follow court orders. The administration is following the court order, as I understand it. And the courts will ultimately determine the validity of it.

Let me just say, I think proper vetting is important to the American people. But there is a fine line here between proper vetting and interfering with the kind of travel or suggesting some kind of religious test. And we need to avoid doing that kind of thing.

TAPPER: Do you worry that the sweeping travel ban, as it's been described by many of your Republican colleagues, too broad? Do you think it went too far?

MCCONNELL: Well, the administration was modifying some of it already. And we will see where it ends up. The courts are going to determine whether the initial executive order, as it was issued, is valid.

TAPPER: Do you have an opinion on what you would like the courts to do?

MCCONNELL: No, I'm not going to give them any advice. We all want to try to keep terrorists out of the United States. But we can't shut down travel. We certainly don't want Muslim allies who have fought with us in countries overseas to not be able to travel to the United States. We need to be careful about this.

TAPPER: The president has not had the same cautious reply as you just offered the American people, sir.

As you know, on Saturday, he repeatedly attacked a federal judge who issued the ruling. He called Judge Robart, a George W. Bush appointee, a -- quote -- "so-called judge." And he tweeted -- quote -- "What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a homeland security travel, and anyone even with bad intentions can come into the U.S.?"

You consider yourself a constitutional conservative. Do you have any concerns about the comments the president is making about the judiciary?

MCCONNELL: Yes, I think it is best not to single out judges for criticism.

We all get disappointed from time to time at the outcome in courts on things that we care about. But I think it is best to avoid criticizing judges individually.

TAPPER: Let's turn to President Trump's pick for the Super Bowl.

As you know, Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon is vowing to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch because he believes that you and your Republican colleagues, in his view, stole the Scalia seat.

Merkley writes -- quote -- "Senate Republicans are in the middle of pulling off one of the great political heists in American history."

So, the question is, if Merkley makes good on his threat to filibuster, will you indeed take President Trump's advice and, Mitch, go nuclear?

(LAUGHTER)

MCCONNELL: Well, first, with regard to the theft of the seat, you would have to go back 80 years to find the last time a Supreme Court vacancy in the middle of a presidential election year was confirmed by the Senate.

You would have to go back to the Grover Cleveland administration in 1888 to find the last time a Supreme Court vacancy in the middle of a presidential election year was confirmed by the Senate of an opposite party. Joe Biden said in 1992, a presidential election year, had a vacancy existed, they would not have filled it.

We all know that that seat would not have been filled in the middle of a presidential election year, no matter who was the president or who was the Senate.

TAPPER: Well...

MCCONNELL: Now, with regard to the new...

TAPPER: Go ahead.

MCCONNELL: ... nominee, the president has picked an incredibly qualified, well-qualified individual.

The search was handled extremely well. I want to commend the administration for that. He picked an outstanding nominee, who has got a sterling background, outstanding accomplishment at every phase of his life. And I'm very confident he will be confirmed.

[09:10:08]

The issue you asked me about is, how would that occur? And I would say that's up to our Democratic friend. Any one senator can require the entire Senate to cast 60 votes to stop a filibuster and move to what we call an up-or-down vote, a simple majority vote on a nominee.

So, any one senator could make us get 60 votes. That has happened before. We had to get 60 votes for Justice Alito about 10 years ago. If we have to get 60 votes, I'm confident we will.

TAPPER: Just in point of clarification, obviously, justice -- President Reagan introduced a nominee in 1987. And then he was confirmed in 1988.

So, it's not as though he's never -- no -- no Supreme Court has ever been introduced during a presidential election year, although it was -- he was introduced in 1987.

MCCONNELL: The vacancy -- the vacancy did not occur in a presidential election year, Jake. That's what I said.

TAPPER: Right. OK. No, I just want to make sure that people understand that.

But I just want to underline this point. You just asserted, basically, that if Democrats attempt a filibuster, you will change the rules and use the nuclear option, correct?

MCCONNELL: No. No, I have not said what will happen at that point. I'm confident that we will get 60 votes.

Look, this justice -- this nominee ought to be treated just like President Clinton and President Obama were treated. In the first term of President Clinton, two Supreme Court nominees, no filibuster, no filibuster.

We were in the minority, like they are right now. President Obama, in his first term, two Supreme Court nominees. My party was in the minority. No filibuster.

What we're arguing here for is equivalency. They're having a very, very difficult time, Jake, trying to come up with arguments against Judge Gorsuch. This is an outstanding nomination, you could argue the most outstanding judge in the current appellate court system.

So, they are really struggling to try to figure out some basis upon which to oppose him.

TAPPER: I want to ask just you one quick question on foreign policy, sir.

On Friday, House Speaker Paul Ryan said that the nuclear agreement conducted by President Obama's administration with Iran is probably going to stay in place. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. PAUL RYAN (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: A lot of that toothpaste is already out of the tube. I never supported the deal in the first place. I thought it was a huge mistake, but the multilateral sanctions are done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Do you agree with Speaker Ryan that, basically, this deal is going to stay in place?

MCCONNELL: Well, it was an executive agreement only. It was not a treaty. So, the Trump administration is going to have to take a look at this and decide whether they want to continue it.

I'm -- the Iranians obviously have not changed their behavior. We issued some additional -- the administration issued some additional sanctions related to their behavior the other day. I think they did the right thing.

I -- I don't know where this will go, but I know the president can alter the strategy himself, because it's not a treaty.

TAPPER: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, always nice having you on the show, sir. Thank you so much. Enjoy the rest of your day.

MCCONNELL: Thank you.

TAPPER: Coming up next, the breaking news: a CNN poll revealing what Americans want to see happen to the Supreme Court nominee.

I will ask Senator Bernie Sanders about the Democrats' plan next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:17:17]

TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.

President Trump loves to talk about his TV ratings, if not his current approval rating, so he must be pleased to know that 33 million people watched the prime-time rollout of his Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch. But what do Americans think of the choice? Well, a brand-new CNN poll

shows that a plurality, 39 percent, were left with a positive first impression. That compares with 45 percent for President Obama's never-confirmed pick, Judge Merrick Garland, and 54 percent for now Chief Justice John Roberts.

But when it comes to confirming the new nominee, opinions are sharply divided along party lines. Just 22 percent of Democrats think the Senate should vote to confirm him, while an overwhelming 84 percent of Republicans do.

So, what will Senate Democrats do?

Joining me now live from Burlington, Vermont, is Senator Bernie Sanders.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us. We always appreciate it.

Let's start with the Supreme Court.

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley is vowing to filibuster Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's pick. Senator Merkley believes that McConnell and the Republicans stole that seat from the Democrats. He is, of course, Merkley, the one senator who endorsed your presidential bid. Will you be joining Merkley's filibuster?

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: No, I think there is no question but that the nomination should get serious debate and have 60 votes, have 60 votes.

To do it less, to change the rules under which we have been operating for many, many years, would be absolutely unacceptable. And I will tell you why, Jake.

We're living in a dangerous and unprecedented moment in modern American history. What this Supreme Court decision is about is whether or not we continue Citizens United and allow billionaires to buy elections. It's whether or not we continue Roe vs. Wade and allow a woman to control her own body.

It's whether or not we have a Supreme Court which protects the right of the government to make sure that climate change is dealt with, whether workers have the right to join unions. So, this is a major, major nomination. It should require 60 votes and a very serious debate.

TAPPER: So, you are going to be joining Jeff Merkley in requiring 60 votes cut off any sort of filibuster?

SANDERS: Look, Obama's nominations required 60 votes. So should Trump's, absolutely.

TAPPER: So, let me show you what you said after Justice Scalia died last February. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SANDERS: The Supreme Court of the United States has nine members, not eight. We need that ninth member.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: So, how does what you're saying now square with your desire for a ninth member on the Supreme Court?

SANDERS: Well, it's perfectly consistent. Obama had to get 60 votes. That's the rules of the United States.

[09:20:00]

And if 60 people vote to confirm Judge Gorsuch, he will become the next nominee. That is the process. Those are the rules that we operate under.

But, again, I worry very much, Jake, that, under these very exceptional times, when we have a president who I fear very much is moving us in a very authoritarian direction, a president who apparently has contempt for the entire judiciary, suggests that a judge who makes a decision against them is a so-called judge, a president who attacks all of the media as fake media, who attacks our intelligence agencies as operating in neo-Nazi fashions, I want a Supreme Court that is going to stand up for civil liberties, for our constitutional rights, for the rights of workers, for environmental rights, for the rights of women.

So, yes, 60 votes to appoint the next Supreme Court justice.

TAPPER: President Trump took steps on Friday to begin dismantling the Dodd-Frank financial regulations that were put into place following the economic crash of '08.

Take a listen to President Trump talking with Jamie Dimon, the CEO of J.P. Morgan Chase.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I have so many people, friends of mine, that have nice businesses, they can't borrow money. They just can't get any money, because the banks just won't let them borrow because of the rules and regulations in Dodd-Frank. So, we will be talking about that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: You have long called for stronger banking regulation.

There is this study by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government that found that community banks were having a difficult time complying with the regulations in Dodd-Frank.

Do you see any upside at all to relaxing any of the Dodd-Frank regulations?

SANDERS: You know, it is hard not to laugh to see President Trump alongside these Wall Street guys.

I have to say this, Jake. And I -- I don't mean to be disrespectful. This guy is a fraud. This guy ran for president of the United States saying, "I, Donald Trump, I'm going to take on Wall Street. These guys are getting away with murder."

And then, suddenly, he appoints all these billionaires. His major financial adviser comes from Goldman Sachs. And now he is going to dismantle legislation that protects consumers.

This is a guy who ran for president saying, "I'm going -- I'm the only Republican, I'm not going to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid."

And then he appoints all of these guys who are precisely going to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

So, I hope that all of those folks who voted for Mr. Trump because he -- thought that he would stand up for working people, man, this guy is -- you know, he's a good showman. I will give you that. He's a good TV guy.

But I think he is going to sell out the middle class and the working class of this country. And that business on Wall Street, he told us -- in fact, it's in the Republican platform -- he is going to bring back Glass-Steagall, we're going to be dividing up commercial banks from investment banks from insurance companies.

Then he has all of the big Wall Street guys on his side, and now he's working for Wall Street.

TAPPER: But, Senator Sanders, while you very strongly made the case throughout the campaign after Hillary Clinton got the nomination that President Trump would do this, and that, even though he was using some of the same rhetoric you used when it came to Wall Street, not to believe him and trust him, there were a lot of Sanders supporters out there who I think believed President Trump, then candidate Trump, partly because there had been so many accusations of Hillary Clinton being so tied to Wall Street.

SANDERS: Well, here is my only point, Jake.

Look, it is one thing if you run a campaign that says, look, I think Wall Street is great, I think the drug companies are great, I think we have to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

And, if people want to vote for that, that's fine. That's democracy.

But you have a president who I think, in a totally fraudulent campaign, said that, "I'm going to stand up for the working people."

Look at his Cabinet. We have never had more billionaires in a Cabinet in the history of this country. Look at his appointees. These are people who are going to after the needs of working families, the elderly, the children, the sick, and the poor. That is called hypocrisy. And, by the way, I think people like Mitch McConnell, who you just had on, who is a mainstream conservative politician, are going to be put into a very, very difficult place.

And I would hope that people like Senator McConnell and other Republicans have the courage to stand up, A, to Trump's movement toward authoritarianism, toward a situation where Trump says, "Everybody is terrible and wrong. I'm the only guy who can protect the American people."

You know what? Many women in our military did not stand up and fight and die to lead us in a direction of an authoritarian society. We're a democracy, not a one-man show. We are not another Trump enterprise. It's called the United States of America. We're not a business run by Mr. Trump.

And I hope that Senator McConnell, who is a decent guy, conservative guy -- I disagree with him on everything. But I would hope that he and his Republican friends will make it clear to Trump that this country belongs to all of us, and it's not a one-man show.

[09:25:06]

TAPPER: Senator, there's a big fight going on right now, as you know, about who will lead the Democratic National Committee.

It is starting to shape up as something, a bit of a proxy battle between the Sanders wing and the Obama-Biden wing of the Democratic Party. When former Labor Secretary Tom Perez picked up the endorsement of former Vice President Biden, you said, "Joe Biden is a friend of mine," but you went on to say that the question is simple. Do we stay with a failed status quo approach, or do we go forward with a fundamental restructuring of the Democratic Party?

Is that what you think of Vice President Biden, that he represents a failed status quo approach?

SANDERS: Look, I like Joe. And I certainly have enormous respect for President Obama.

But the facts are that, despite the fact -- that, despite the reality that we have an extreme right-wing Republican Party which is way out of touch with the American people on every issue, they now control the White House, the Senate, the House, and two-thirds of the governor's chairs.

If we continue along the same way, I think you are going to get the same result. So, what I believe is, we have got to open up the door of the Democratic Party. You have got to bring in working people. You have got to bring in young people.

We have got to raise money by small donor donations, rather than being dependent on wealthier people. And I think we need to fundamentally change the way the Democratic Party does business and how it is prepared to stand up to the big money interests. You can't be on both sides. The Democratic Party has got to say, yes,

we're going to take on the greed of Wall Street, the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, the greed of corporate America that throws American workers out on the streets and moves to Mexico and China. We are on the side of the elderly and the workers, not on the side of big business.

That is a decision that the Democratic Party has got to make. I think you know where I am on that.

TAPPER: Senator, I have a lot of questions for you about Obamacare, but I'm going to save them until Tuesday night, when CNN brings the debate between you and Ted Cruz live on CNN on Obamacare.

I want to ask you, as a closing question, about something that is admittedly rather frivolous. I want to ask you about this bizarre sighting at Paris Fashion Week from Balenciaga. Take a look.

These are a number of people, models on a runway in Bernie -- Bernie clothes.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Did you ever -- did you ever think that you would become a fashion icon?

(LAUGHTER)

SANDERS: No, not quite, Jake. I think, of my many attributes, being a great dresser is -- or a fashion maven is not one of them.

TAPPER: Well, apparently, there's a designer out there who begs to differ.

Senator Sanders, thank you so much.

(LAUGHTER)

TAPPER: Really appreciate it.

And, of course, Senator Sanders will join us again Tuesday night for the next CNN debate. Make sure to watch as he and Senator Ted Cruz go head to head on what comes next for Obamacare, as President Trump seeks to repeal and replace it. That's this Tuesday live at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Our thanks to Senator Sanders.

Coming up: President Trump has got a beef with a federal judge. Sounds familiar?

Why picking this fight could threaten his Supreme Court nominee, potentially.

That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:32:14]

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: If you are saying he can't do his job, because of his race, is that not the definition of racism?

TRUMP: No, I don't think so at all. He's a Mexican. We're building a wall between here and Mexico.

TAPPER: But he's not -- he's not from Mexico. He's from Indiana.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That was President Trump last year attacking a different judge, the one who ruled against him in the Trump University case. This weekend he took aim at the judge who reversed the travel ban calling him a so-called judge and that the ruling was ridiculous and would -- quote -- "open our country to potential terrorists."

With me now to talk about this and much more Neera Tanden, president and CEO of The Center for American Progress, Congressman Jason Lewis, Republican of Minnesota, making his debut appearance here. Thanks for being here. CNN political commentator, Bakari Sellers and Sarah Isgur Flores, spokeswoman for attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions.

Congressman, let me start with you. Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader says, Trump's attack on the Judge Robart in Seattle will become an issue when the Senate considers Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.

He issued a statement saying -- quote -- "With each action testing the constitution and each personal attack on a judge, President Trump raises the bar even higher for Judge Gorsuch's nomination to serve in the Supreme Court. His ability to be an independent check will be front and center throughout the confirmation process."

This does put Judge Gorsuch, his qualifications aside in a tough position because he's going to be asked to condemn what President Trump said about Judge Robart.

REP. JASON LEWIS (R), MINNESOTA: Jake, we all want an independent judiciary. If you go back to Thomas Jefferson, if you go back to the beginning of the Republican there's criticism of the court, Jefferson didn't like judicial review.

Andrew Jackson famously said, well, the court has made this decision, now let's see him enforce it. You've got FDR, who when they were striking down the New Deal threatened to pack the Supreme Court. And you had a recent president (INAUDIBLE) the Supreme Court (INAUDIBLE) the House chamber and then derided them over a recent decision. So I don't think anyone has got a monopoly on virtue on criticizing the judiciary here.

TAPPER: Neera. NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: You know, I think the difference is that Republicans, Democrats, can obviously criticize what the court does, but attacking a judge and attacking him as a "so called judge" really threatens the independence of the judiciary which oddly enough conservatives.

I mean, conservatives throughout history, conservatives recently have attacked FDR for what he did against the judiciary. Attacked people for this precise action.

LEWIS: No. I would say --

TANDEN: And I think -- that I think the challenge here is and I applaud what Mitch McConnell did here which is to actually defend an independent judiciary. And the problem here for President Trump is that he has now made it much more difficult to get his confirmation through -- from his own words.

LEWIS: But we -- we all want an independent judiciary...

TANDEN: Exactly.

LEWIS: ... but threatening to pack the court, attacking the Supreme Court judge, this putting them in the well of the House and then upgrading them.

TANDEN: OK --

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: Is that threatening the independent judiciary?

TANDEN: No, it is not because president -- all President Obama did -- I think you are (INAUDIBLE) President Obama is he criticized Citizens United which everyone -- anyone can criticize but you should not attack the judiciary.

[09:35:08]

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Congressman, I do take -- I think that the American public deserved for you and the rest of the elected officials and members of this August body, the Congress and the Senate, to stand up when Donald Trump does something wrong.

And if you say that throughout history that something has been done wrong to judges and the judiciary then so be it, I'll grant you that. But you also need to be able to sit here and say that what Donald Trump said about Judge Curiel, what Donald Trump said about this judge in Washington State was wrong, and it does threaten the independent judiciary.

Look, I wasn't around when FDR was criticizing judge --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I don't think the congressman was here. SELLERS: I don't know -- I don't know if you were there.

LEWIS: I was actually (INAUDIBLE) before (INAUDIBLE).

(LAUGHTER)

SELLERS: But I will tell you that what we're looking for is not just yourself, but Speaker Ryan and Mitch McConnell and everyone to stand up and say look, Donald Trump, although I'm a Republican, although I'm a conservative and I support you, what you're saying is wrong.

And to sit here and just throw it back to history I think is disingenuous (ph) to the American public.

SARAH ISGUR FLORES, SPOKESMAN, ATTORNEY GENERAL DESIGNEE JEFF SESSIONS: Jake, let's step aside from this and nothing brings out hypocrisy like a judicial confirmation hearing but the politics of these are pretty easy.

There are 10 Trump state Democrats, who Trump won their state, they are now going to have to decide whether their voters, and one out of five voters in the country said they voted because of the Supreme Court, 57% of those voted for Donald Trump. So Supreme Court voters are mostly Trump voters. And for those Trump state Democrats up for reelection, they have to know that most of their constituents wanted Donald Trump to pick the next Supreme Court nominee. And then you have Democrats in disarray in their own chamber within their own caucus saying, on the one hand, Judge Gorsuch is going to be too cynical when it comes to administrative and agency authority. But on the other hand we're worried he won't be an independent check against Trump.

They haven't really coalesce around the single message because Judge Gorsuch is so --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: I'd just say I also disagree --

(CROSSTALK)

TANDEN: Can I just say here -- look, I think you had it actually in your poll Democrats really believed that what happened here was a travesty. That --

TAPPER: With Judge Garland.

TANDEN: With Judge Garland, with the way he was treated was a travesty. And I think that the --

LEWIS: The Biden Rule.

TANDEN: Not the Biden Rule. The rule in which he gets a hearing, et cetera.

And so, I think the issue here is Democrats are looking at this nominee and they want Democrats to actually test it out. And I think the interesting thing that happened this morning is Mitch McConnell saying he is not going nuclear but this which is an important issue --

TAPPER: I don't know that he -- I don't think he ruled it out.

TANDEN: He didn't rule it out but he said he needs 60 votes, not 50, which is an indication we're going to be -- he's not going to do the nuclear role (ph). And I think the challenge here is that everything Donald Trump does makes this more difficult, not easier, and is actually -- in making more Democrats stand (ph) up (ph) and -- to the issue of the states, Democrats -- the public in those states want an independent check on Donald Trump. His popularity is the worst of anyone. He does not -- he is not even a majority --

FLORES: Judge Gorsuch's record screams the issue of independence.

TANDEN: Judge Gorsuch's has the lowest approval ratings of anyone --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

SELLERS: As Mitch McConnell was listing off to you his litany of historical facts and reasons of why they were just obstructionists when it came to Judge Garland. One of the things he forgot to mention is now Judge Garland -- he serves as the person who was the longest -- it was the longest vacancy in the history of the Supreme Court since his nomination. And so we do believe that really unfair to Barack Obama. But now that we're here, what you're seeing is Democrats even in those states that you were talking about are coalescing around this resistance. And I believe like they believe that he deserves to get a hearing, he deserves to get heard, he deserves to have these things, but he needs at least 60 votes --

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: ... coalesce here on Gorsuch. I mean --

TANDEN: No it's coalesce --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: ... coalesce around -- we're coalesce around --

(LAUGHTER)

LEWIS: No. Let me just say, to point out to the hypocrisy, the night of the nomination, there was a sign on the Supreme Court steps that said opposed by extensively (ph) your side. It was blank.

TAPPER: Yes, they wrote it down.

LEWIS: The protestors were waiting until the nominee was announced.

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: ... should write it.

TAPPER: Let's take a break.

(LAUGHTER)

LEWIS: That is called obstructionism.

TAPPER: Nobody go anywhere.

LEWIS: That's called obstructionism.

TAPPER: Nobody go anywhere. We're going to come right back.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: We're going to come right back. More marches against President Trump and his policies this weekend. Are the protests having any sort of an impact? That story is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:43:31]

TAPPER: That was the scene outside a town hall hosted by a Republican congressman in California yesterday. The overflow of crowd demanding Representative Tom McClintock come out and meet with them. The congressman had to be escorted out of the venue by police. So the voices opposed to President Trump's agenda are increasingly loud, but are they making an impact?

Let's continue to talk to our panel. You will be holding a town hall presumably soon. If there are protests like that from Minnesotans will it matter to you?

LEWIS: Well, of course it matters. You listen to everybody. It's important. But the governor says the Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable...

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: The governor of Minnesota.

LEWIS: ... Mark Dayton, a Democrat. The Congress commission says that Obamacare has brought an emergency situation to the individual market. Premiums in Minnesota went up 67 percent this year, 55 percent last year. The state just passed emergency legislation to subsidize residents' premiums in Minnesota by $310 million. That does not sound like a plan that's really working too well.

TANDEN: You know, what is fascinating is that Republicans lead by Marco Rubio did things to destroy the insurance pools, like reinsurance et cetera. Now they're talking about reinstating that to pay up the insurance companies.

I think what you're seeing out there in the public is that the fact that there is no answer. That they want to do repeal and replace three years later. What is your plan right now, congressman, to actually save the Affordable -- or actually make sure people have the same amount of coverage as they did before which is what Donald Trump promised --

LEWIS: Minnesota had one of the best insurance pools, high-risk pools in the country.

[09:45:01]

TANDEN: Which failed in most states.

LEWIS: It was -- it was -- I'm talking about Minnesota.

TANDEN: I know they failed in most states.

LEWIS: That's why I represent my district. And it was undone by the ACA.

TANDEN: It was not undone --

LEWIS: Yes, it was undone. It was undone -- replace by something called MNsure which has been a total debacle. What we're going to do is allow people to buy the healthcare plan they want instead of the plan you think they --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: So what he's saying is that he doesn't have a plan because what's happening here is that what we have is congressman after congressman after congressman, senator after senator, they rail (ph) for seven and a half years using rhetoric, and people literally are -- their lives are being saved...

TANDEN: That's what --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: ... you know, families are being able to live when they have -- they're not going bankrupt when they have a catastrophic injury, and congresspersons are coming on TV, FOX News, CNN, everywhere else, and they're giving you these talking points. And what happened the Representative McClintock yesterday? Senator Cassidy he has failed to show up for two town halls. People are just sick and tired --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: I want to keep the topic on the discussion because we're going to have a whole town hall on Obamacare on --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: I'm actually (INAUDIBLE) to that.

TAPPER: What I would like to do is talk about these protests if possible. FLORES: Sure. Democrats have been in their own echo chamber for the last eight years convinced that the American people are with them on any number of issue. Now that Donald Trump has been elected they simply will not accept his election.

And yet, over the last eight years -- this is why Barack Obama lost over 1,000 Democratic seats. The Democratic benches then wiped (ph) out (ph).

TAPPER: State legislative seats.

FLORES: State legislative seats, governor seats, senate seats, they are down on every category.

TAPPER: The House.

FLORES: I forgot the House. It's why they're down to five states are under Democratic control. That's 25 are under Republican -- full Republican control. And so the inability to accept Donald Trump's election is continuing --

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

SELLERS: Let me give you -- let me give you -- let me give you one red light. There are many of us who will not -- we accept Donald Trump's election, but we will not accept Donald Trump.

I refuse to...

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: ... I refuse to --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: No, because he will probably kick the puppies.

(LAUGHTER)

SELLERS: I refuse to be -- I refuse to normalize what Donald Trump represents. But what I -- but what we will say is, what you're seeing, which your boss is seeing -- and Senator Sessions. What we're seeing with Betsy DeVos, what we're seeing with McClintock running and...

(CROSSTALK)

TANDEN: And it's a conservative district. It's a Republican district (INAUDIBLE).

SELLERS: ... police that we thought he was Lady Gaga -- I know.

What we're seeing is we're seeing this resistance. And look, this is democracy. Either you embrace it or you get out of the way. FLORES: I have all of the confirmation from George Washington to Barack Obama. What we're outstanding by this point in their presidency add them all up and Donald Trump has more because Democrats refuse to confirm --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: No, no, no.

(CROSSTALK)

Hold on -- but hold on. This is very rich, the hypocrisy is getting really thick around the table. Because what we did see was when Barack Obama was trying to get his EPA secretary sworn in Republicans didn't show up. What we did see -- they literally boycotted the meeting. This is not --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: But I believe in --

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: At this point in the Obama administration, all but one cabinet nominee was (INAUDIBLE).

SELLERS: They were also vetted.

(CROSSTALK)

TANDEN: Were also vetted by --

(CROSSTALK)

TANDEN: He was not put forward --

FLORES: ... 50,000 pages, what more do you need to know?

SELLERS: I need to know a lot about Jeff Sessions but that's another story.

FLORES: He has answered every question. All those 700 questions. The 150,000 pages. He turned --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: There are a lot of -- there are a lot of -- there are a lot of -- there are a lot of vulnerable Americans. There are a lot of Hispanics, African-Americans, LGBT --

FLORES: (INAUDIBLE) about that.

SELLERS: LGBT community. Yes, there is vetting because we have a lot of questions to ask to make sure the attorney general is going to be independent.

The fact of the matter is I have a huge problem who someone called the voting rights act, an intrusive piece of legislation.

FLORES: (INAUDIBLE) the Supreme Court.

SELLERS: But that's -- but that's going to --

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: The important rule nowadays...

TANDEN: Just a week ago.

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: ... Section V as you all you know --

(CROSSTALK)

TANDEN: Just a week ago, Donald Trump fired a member of the Justice Department for standing --

FLORES: Of Obama's --

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: An Obama holdover.

TANDEN: Yes. But fired that person for saying that the Muslim ban is unconstitutional. Which was found yesterday --

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: Wait a minute. First of all -- first of all, why do you keep calling it a Muslim ban?

SELLERS: Because it is.

LEWIS: There are 203 million Muslims...

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: ... Asia...

SELLERS: Because --

LEWIS: ... where this doesn't affect. Why (INAUDIBLE)?

SELLERS: Because it affects 12 percent of Muslims throughout the world. That's simply like saying that it's not --

(CROSSTALK)

SELLERS: only in (INAUDIBLE) states (ph).

LEWIS: It's not -- it's not a complete Muslim ban.

SELLERS: It doesn't matter, it's a Muslim ban. TANDEN: It is a complete Muslim ban.

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: We're making -- we're making progress with some of the (INAUDIBLE) going on here.

TANDEN: The reality -- can I just point out that what we learned over this weekend is that the -- a judge throughout this entire order, right, and into the entire order, importantly because they found it was an aggregation -- the president does not have this power.

The president chose to rush --

(CROSSTALK)

FLORES: ... throw it out --

TAPPER: They did throw it out the Ninth Circuit is going to hear our votes out.

TANDEN: Yes, it was also -- it was the Ninth Circuit last night that agreed with a temporary ban, with the temporary restraining order. The reality here is that Trump rushed through an order. He did -- had very little consultation and we've been dealing with the results of this.

(CROSSTALK)

LEWIS: And a Boston judge affirmed it. And a Boston judge affirmed it so let's -- look, I agree with you. Let's let the court -- I agree. Let's let the courts decide this. And then you will support the decision.

TAPPER: To be continued because it is still proceeding through the judicial branch, which we respect, and everyone at the table respects the judicial branch.

SELLERS: That's right.

TAPPER: Thanks one and all. Great round table.

Coming up -- President Trump's favorite team plays in the Super Bowl tonight, will his presence be felt on the field? It's a Super Bowl Sunday "State of the Cartoonion."

[09:50:00]

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:54:21]

TAPPER: Welcome back. The Super Bowl is tonight. And this season has been full of politics from Colin Kaepernick to various coaches supporting the Trump campaign to Meryl Streep's slugging the NFL along with President Trump. So, the question for you, tonight, are you ready for some political football? It's the topic of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER (voice-over): Tonight's Super Bowl showdown between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots might be flagged for interference.

President Trump is so close to the Patriots, he's practically part of the team.

TRUMP: They're friends of mine. They're great people. They're great champions.

TAPPER: Team owner Robert Kraft attended the Trump inauguration.

[09:55:03]

TRUMP: Bob Kraft. So good luck, Bob.

TAPPER: Head coach Bill Belichick is a supporter.

TRUMP: He's a champ. This guy is a true champ.

TAPPER: But in Trump's eyes the real star is quarterback Tom Brady.

TRUMP: A great friend of mine. A great, great champion. Unbelievable winner.

TAPPER: President Trump of course loves a winner and Brady seems to be happy to play on Trump's team.

TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: He's been a friend of mine. He's supported our team. He's supported the Patriots. He's been on the Patriots sideline a lot.

TAPPER: But is being a Super fan enough to earn you a Super Bowl ring? Yes, if you are Vladimir Putin who you might see somebody supporting Robert Kraft's 2005 victory ring.

ROBERT KRAFT, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS OWNER: They're all in a drawer except for my third one. The original is in Russia with the president of the country.

TAPPER: Talk about Russian interference.

KRAFT: I showed it to him and he put it on and he sort of enjoyed it so he kept it on.

TAPPER: A confrontation between two of President Trump's allies. That would be a dicey situation for him to resolve. Either way enjoy the game, Mr. President.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Thanks for watching.

"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" is next.