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GOP Faces Anger at Town Halls over Obamacare; James Clapper: Trump Travel Ban Unnecessary; Did Flynn Discuss Sanctions with Russia before Trump Took Office; Trump Administration to Implement Iran Nuclear Deal; Pence Swears in Price as HHS Secretary; Mexico Warns Citizens Living in U.S.; Jeff Sessions Takes Over Justice Department. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired February 10, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:00] JASON CHAFFETZ, (R), UTAH: So President Trump nominated --


CHAFFETZ: By far, Donald Trump was the better choice. By far.



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Jason Chaffetz can handle it, I can tell you that. It can handle that stage.

But joining me now to discuss this, Matt Schlapp, the former political director for George W. Bush and chairman of the American Conservative Union; Angela Rye, CNN's political commentator and former executive director of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Matt, watching this, I'm saying, did we all just get back into a time machine and head back to 2009?

MATT SCHLAPP, CHAIRMAN, AMERICAN CONSERVATIVE UNION: Yeah, right. The difference this time is that, you know, those two town halls that you picked, Tennessee and Utah, with very Republican districts, very Republican constituencies, you say when he mentioned -- when Jason Chaffetz mentioned the name Trump, the crowd erupted in boos. The left is doing a great job of making their political points. This is an orchestrated campaign. This is smart politics for their politics. But I don't think it will make much difference in the minds of these legislators who see this for what it is.

BOLDUAN: Angela, do you honestly think, while I'm sure you like to see what's going on at these town halls, that it will make a difference?

ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do think it makes a difference. It's an important and fundamental part of our democracy, is legislators hearing from their constituents about what's happened to them. We can go back to the leaked tape. The Republicans have been struggling with this for some time, what repeal actually looks like. This is the reason Barack Obama stood before us with all types of swag, Kate, saying you show us your plan and I'll support this thing. They've been here, done this. If they had a plan to repeal and actually replace, they wouldn't have voted to repeal 60-plus times in earlier sessions. They would have had a replacement plan.


BOLDUAN: Let's get the --


BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Matt.

SCHLAPP: Let's get the facts straight.

RYE: I have the facts straight, Matt.

SCHLAPP: No. But you should mention an additional fact. A replace plan went to President Obama in a reconciliation package, which the president vetoed. There have been replace packages --


RYE: And I'm sure you know why.

SCHLAPP: Well, it's fine for him to disagree, but not fine for you to say it didn't happen.

And you know there's a Tom Price plan that has been submitted in Congress after Congress after Congress. It's not so much a question of what we need to do to fix our health care problem. It's a question of working through Congress to get it done. That's what Congress is going to do. And our health care system will be the better for it.

RYE: But, Matt, I appreciate --


RYE: Sorry, Kate.

I appreciate your distinguishing of the facts, right? But I think the reality of it is, those other plans would not have worked. They would not have covered some of other things, including covering folks with preexisting conditions. Not having a mandate, maybe the mandate --


SCHLAPP: That's not true.


RYE: Hold on, Matt. It is true. You might not like it, but it's true.


BOLDUAN: We do not know exactly how this is all going to shake out and what the plans will look like.

SCHLAPP: That's right.

BOLDUAN: That's what Republicans are working on and what Democrats say they're not going to work with them on.

But, if 2009 is the model, Matt, this is how it will play out, people protesting at town halls won't get their way. As you said, you don't think this will change where things go. But the Tea Party movement was born largely out of those town halls. Republicans, conservatives, stood up, and they changed Congress after that. Do you fear that this could happen, but it could be the Tea Party of the left this time?

SCHLAPP: No. I agree with Angela completely, this is part of democracy. I think when ordinary voters can have their voices heard, I think it's a great thing.

Remember, the Tea Party, the 2009 moment, the moment that really sticks out in my head is when conservative activists in the community stood up to Arlen Spector, a Republican, somebody you'd thought they would be party they'd be part of.


BOLDUAN: Was he a Republican or was he a Democrat?


SCHLAPP: That's a fair point. He was playing footsie with President Obama, and Republicans didn't like it.

When I see this uproarious behavior at Democratic town halls, as well, I will see that as a grassroots movement. Until then, it's a left- wing play.

BOLDUAN: We will see. I don't think it's going to stop.


BOLDUAN: Matt, great to see you.

Angela, thanks, guys.

RYE: Thank you.


[02:34:16] BOLDUAN: The former director of National Intelligence blasting the president's travel ban in a rare interview with CNN. James Clapper speaking out. He says he's not aware of any intelligence to justify the ban, calling the ban unnecessary. Details ahead. Plus, much more on our breaking news. Did President Trump's national

security adviser, Michael Flynn, mislead his own team in the White House when he claimed that he did not discuss sanctions with officials in Russia before they all took office? Details ahead.


BOLDUAN: James Clapper, the former director of National Intelligence, is speaking out about President Trump's travel ban.

In an exclusive interview with CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, he says this could become a recruiting tool for extremists. Listen.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Does the terror threat necessitate the ban for these seven countries?

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTION, NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCY: I don't believe we in the I.C. were aware of extraordinary threats that we weren't already dealing with. We're using I think some very rigorous vetting processes, which we constantly improved on.


BOLDUAN: Now with me to discuss, let me bring in Republican Senator Mike Rounds, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Thank you for your time, Senator.

SEN. MIKE ROUNDS, (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Thank you. Appreciate the opportunity.

BOLDUAN: A lot to discuss on this busy day. He was the director of National Intelligence as of just a few weeks ago. He's now saying about this travel ban, Senator, it's unnecessary. Clapper says he's confident in the vetting procedures already in place. Why is that not good enough for you?

[11:40:12] ROUNDS: I have a huge amount of respect for Mr. Clapper. He spoke in front of our committee a number of times. Mr. Comey also did, director of the FBI. Back about a year and a half ago, Mr. Comey actually suggested to us at that time that individuals who were coming in from Syria, he wasn't sure if we did have the resources to necessarily go through and properly vet them. That brought about questions within our committee and throughout Congress. So, we asked on a number of occasions what was the vetting process and what is it being fixed. We assumed, and we believed that the last administration was working towards that.

But that doesn't mean that a new administration coming in can't ask those same questions. They've had an opportunity to be briefed by intelligence officials. And they have, you know, the opportunity to dot "I"s, cross "T"s, which means if they don't think it was done or have questions, they can say time out, let us go back in a temporary way and make sure our procedures are correct.


ROUNDS: That was a temporary ban, a temporary ban. And that's the part I would like to emphasize, is that during this time period, I hope they are going through, they are vetting it, they're making sure that the procedures are correct and, hopefully, we can expedite this process.

BOLDUAN: So Clapper also shares the concerns of Republicans, like Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who think that this ban basically creates a recruiting tool for extremists. Do you accept that, do you agree with that?

ROUNDS: Lindsey Graham and John McCain have been around for a long time, and they have a lot of insight, so I would not disagree with my colleagues in terms of the warning that we've got to be careful about how they are being interpreted. We most certainly don't want this to be seen as a Muslim ban. We should recognize, in some parts of the world, there are dangerous parts and we know they have tried to infiltrate and to get in with refugees. Turkey has had a terrible experience with this in the past. So --


BOLDUAN: So, Senator, you would like to see this written?

ROUNDS: Look, I think one of the easiest ways to do this would be to have the executive order rewritten. Now that we've got Jeff Sessions in place, I think Jeff Sessions is going to bring a huge amount of professionalism into this, and perhaps a second opinion and, hopefully, we'll be able to get this resolved. The whole thing should be, do we have a process in place which protects Americans, and that's what we should all be focused on.

BOLDUAN: Senator, I want to ask you about Russia. You've been very aggressive, saying sanctions need to stay in place unless their behavior changes. What do you think when you hear the president's national security adviser has been noncommittal with Western allies about keeping those sanctions in place?

ROUNDS: As we move forward and they get all their information and so forth, and as they start listening to more and more of what's going on and getting full details, I think they're going to come to the same conclusions we have. While we want to work with Russia where we can, we also have to let them know -- and this means, in many cases, and it gets old sometimes, but it's peace through strength. And if we say we're --


BOLDUAN: Do you think --


ROUNDS: Sometimes -- any time you're beginning with a new administration, there's going to be a transition period. I think that's what we're in.

But there's also an opportunity to open up. I think the president has been very straightforward with the fact that he would like to have better relations. A lot of us are saying, we understand you want to have good relations, we support you having good relations, but let's not forget that there are clear activities that we've disagreed with Russia on in the past, and we continue to disagree with them on, including what they're doing in the Ukraine, what happened in Crimea, the fact that they've actually -- and they did their best to impact our confidence in our last election cycle. Those are things we can't let go. We have to address.

BOLDUAN: Exactly to that point, this reporting coming out, that Michael Flynn, the national security adviser, that was in talks with Russian officials before the president had taken office about the issue of sanctions and where they stand.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intel Committee, just put out a statement about all of this news, and he said, "If this is the case, and that's where the reporting stands right now, Flynn should no longer serve in this administration, or any other."

Do you think Michael Flynn should go?

ROUNDS: I think the first thing we'll do is get all the facts. If the facts lead us in the direction that say we've been misled or there's been misinformation provided, he's an employee of the president, we would expect the president to take appropriate actions. And if there needs to be discussions within Congress, that will happen. But the president is in charge of his employees. And I think -- and I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt on this -- I think he'll act appropriately at the appropriate time with full facts.

BOLDUAN: If the full facts do lead to this as true, do you think the appropriate action is that Michael Flynn should go?

ROUNDS: I won't go that far yet. What we will say is that the president should have the first opportunity to correct anything that's out there or to correct any information we have that's wrong. At that point, then we can move on. But I don't think we should make all the decisions right now without all the facts in front of us.

[11:45:08] BOLDUAN: A lot of questions being asked now, for sure, and I'm sure you share in those questions.

Also, in other foreign policy news -- because there's a lot going on, Senator -- you, like many Republicans, are against the Iran nuclear deal. E.U. officials are saying, just today, that the Trump administration in meetings has committed to fully implementing the nuclear deal. What's your reaction?

ROUNDS: What do we have to lose at this stage of the game? So far, what we've got is all the things we promised we would deliver. Now, it's an executory contract. They have to live up to their end of the deal. If they don't, there should be repercussions. Part of that is, if there's an understanding that there are missile tests that shouldn't be done, then they should live up to that. But that wasn't part of the nuclear deal. It was an implied part of it. So, we've got a little bit of an issue there, which is separate from the nuclear deal.

BOLDUAN: But that was a campaign promise. It was a campaign promise, Senator, coming from this White House. Mike Pence, in October, said, when Donald Trump becomes president of the United States, we're going to rip up the Iran deal.

ROUNDS: Well, look, I think Mr. Pence can speak for himself. He does a very good job. He'll be able to share with you exactly what he meant.

But remember, facts don't change, but timing will, in terms of what comes out and what's going on. What we're discovering is, in terms of our ability to actually influence that deal, it's all gone. We've given them back their money. Now the only issue is, is when we find that they have failed -- and we believe that they will fail, that they will not honor their end of the deal. When that happens, then we're going to have to be in a position to respond to it appropriately.

BOLDUAN: All right. Where it stands, it stays in place.

Senator, great to have you on. Thanks so much.

ROUNDS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: All right. Thanks so much.

Now let's get you over to the White House. The vice president, who we were just talking about, Mike Pence, swearing in Tom Price to be secretary of Health and Human Services. Let's listen.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- to name Dr. Tom Price as the new secretary of Health and Human Services. Dr. Price is uniquely qualified to step into this leading role during this time of reform in the life of health care in America. For nearly 20 years, Tom Price worked in private practice as an orthopedic surgeon, mending broken bones, and giving people health and hope to lead lives to the fullest.

And you passed on your wisdom by training rising generations of physicians at a local college and hospital. An impressive career in health care.

But your patients weren't the only ones that benefitted by your leadership and by your example. And you would carry your leadership qualities into the Georgia state Senate where you served for eight years, becoming the majority leader of the Georgia state Senate, and helping to steer a time of real reform and renewal in the state of Georgia.

Then it was on to Congress, where I first met Dr. Price. He would serve in the Congress now for more than 12 years, Chairman of the Budget Committee. But without question, emerging as the most principled expert on health care policy in the House of Representatives, if not the entire Congress.

And now President Trump has transformed -- leading the Department of Health and Human Services on behalf of the American people.

And, Mr. Secretary, we're both confident that you will bring that experience as a physician, at the state level, and that singular experience at the national level, to ensure that President Trump's vision for a health care system in this country that works for every American will become a reality in the years ahead.

So, with that, on behalf of President Trump, it is my great privilege to administer to you the oath of office.

Please place your left hand on the Bible, raise your right hand, and repeat after me: I, Thomas Price, do solemnly swear.


PENCE: That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

PRICE: That I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States.

PENCE: Against all enemies foreign and domestic.

PRICE: Against all enemies foreign and domestic.

PENCE: That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

PRICE: That I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same.

PENCE: That I take this obligation freely.

PRICE: That I take this obligation freely.

PENCE: Without any mental reservation.

PRICE: Without any mental reservation.

PENCE: For the purpose of (INAUDIBLE)

PRICE: For the purpose of (INAUDIBLE0.

PENCE: And that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties.

PRICE: That I will well and faithfully discharge the duties.

PENCE: Of the office upon which I'm about to enter.

PRICE: Of the office upon which I'm about to enter.

PENCE: So help me, God.

PRICE: So help me, God. PENCE: Congratulations, Mr. Secretary.


[02:50:10] PENCE: We're going to sign some official documents. But would you join me in welcoming Betty Price to this event as well.



PENCE: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Tom Price, now the new head of Health and Human Services after a brutal confirmation battle. Now Secretary Price better hit the ground running. Tasked with dismantling Obamacare and implementing whatever goes in its place next.

Next for us, some breaking news out of Mexico. The country warning its citizens inside United States to take precautions. Details are next.


BOLDUAN: This just in. Mexico has now issued a warning for Mexican citizens living in the United States. Part of the warning is this: Take precautions and stay in contact with the nearest consulate.

This comes after the deportation of this Arizona mother of two. Her case has gotten a huge amount of attention. She was convicted -- arrested and convicted for living in the country with false papers, false identification for years.

The statement says this: "This case demonstrates a new reality for the Mexican community living in the United States."

That mother of two, Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos, was one of the first undocumented individuals to be deported since President Trump took office."

Her 14-year-old daughter spoke out against the decision. Listen here.


STEPHANIE GARCIA DE RAYOS, DAUGHTER OF DEPORTED MEXICAN WOMAN: No one should ever go through the pain of having their mom taken away from them. No one should go through their mother's clothes seeing all is they going to need this, is she going to need that? No one should be packing their mother's suitcase.


[11:55:11] BOLDUAN: That's her daughter. Her children will remain here in the United States with her husband, living in Arizona.

Let me bring in right now Matthew Miller. He is a former spokesman for the Justice Department under President Obama.

Thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: What's your reaction? What's your take on this case?

MILLER: It's really heartbreaking. When you look at the woman who was deported, she's been here for two decades, she has two children who are American citizens. This is not the type of person who we ought to be prioritizing for deportation from the country, someone who is obviously a longstanding member of the community. Yes, we ought to be sending violent criminals to the front of the line to be sent back to Mexico, but not mothers who are here or the parents of American citizens. I think it's a real heartbreaking and is a real warning of what we're likely to see as immigration policy from the Trump administration.

BOLDUAN: Again, but what the administration will say is she broke the law, and this is -- they're putting in place -- they're enforcing immigration law. And kind of, when you take a step back, Matt, you have immigration advocates -- of course, we all remember. They called President Obama the deporter-in-chief because of how many people he deported under his watch. This is one of the first to be deported under President Trump's watch. What's different here?

MILLER: So what's different here is, yes, advocates did use that term for President Obama. But then you saw a big shift in the last few years of the administration where, obviously, the DOCA program that he put in place, and then other prioritization or removals. What you see are, yes, she had committed a crime, but it wasn't a violent crime. She was working with false papers, something that millions of people have done. She wasn't a threat to anyone.

What I think you see here is, no matter what Trump says I is going to do about immigration, people at these agencies take signals from the White House, and they want to please the president. And I think you're going to see aggressive removal efforts out of ICE because they know that's what the White House wants. So, you see someone, like this mother, who had been checking in with authorities for years, and then suddenly finds herself removed from the country.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about the ninth circuit's decision to not reinstate the administration's travel ban. Justice attorneys, it was their job, it was their -- they were tasked with arguing this case before the ninth circuit. They lost this case. Where did they go wrong?

MILLER: You know, I don't think the president made their case very easy for them in two ways. They did the best they could. But the executive order was, obviously, put together very poorly. It included people who had obvious due process rights in the courts, green cardholders, and they were smacked down very hard by the court for that. Then the president, through his comments outside the court, both in talking about how he would give prioritization to Christian refugees in the future, and then his attacks on the court, I don't think did those lawyers any favors either.

And one of the arguments you have to go into court and make is that the president has unreviewable authority in this area, which is the argument they made. When you have a president, who is out attacking judges and showing that he thinks he is accountable to no one, that burden gets even higher for the government, I think. And so, they did their best but --

BOLDUAN: One thing the court definitely didn't rule on --- what was the question of was there religious discrimination here?



BOLDUAN: But today, I do want to get your take. It was not long ago that you were over in that Justice Department. Today is Jeff Sessions first full day on the job as attorney general. What can he do to reassure and bring together Justice employees after what was a pretty brutal confirmation process for him?

MILLER: I think he needs to do two things. One, he needs to assure people that he is going to enforce the law, and that means enforce all the laws, including civil rights laws that he has been hostile to throughout his career, not just as U.S. attorney but even in the Senate. He could start by reaching out to employees in the Civil Rights Division. He could reach out to civil rights groups that have been hostile to him and try to make peach and assure them that he is going to enforce the law.

And, second, he needs to show that he can be independent from the president. That's one of the biggest questions. You have right now the FBI investigating members of the Trump campaign, apparently, still looking at General Flynn's phone calls with the Russian ambassador. Sessions needs to show that he can be independent. And the first way to do that is to recuse himself from those investigations and show he is not going to tamper with them in any way at all.

BOLDUAN: At this point, Matt, do Democrats need to give him a chance since he is the attorney general? We have Elizabeth Warren, who obviously spoke out very forcefully against him. She said she believes he would -- he will, would, absolutely discriminate as attorney general. Is it fair to make that judgment when he hasn't even found his office yet?

MILLER: We do need to give him a chance. We need to see what he does. But he really needs to show, also, given his track record -- look, it's a longstanding hostility to civil rights. He has been very vocal about it.


BOLDUAN: Republicans say in is 20 years in the Senate that he was not hostile to civil rights.

MILLER: Yeah, that's just not true. I can tell you how many hearings I sat through where Sessions questioned DOJ witnesses about why they were enforcing civil rights laws. He needs to prove he will actually enforce that law. And I think the burden is on him.

BOLDUAN: Well, we will -- and we will watch along with you.

Matt, thanks so much.

MILLER: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Thanks so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

"Inside Politics" with John King starts right now.