Return to Transcripts main page
Mexico Warns Citizens in U.S.; Trump Loses in Court; Did National Security Adviser Lie?. Aired 3-3:30p ET
Aired February 10, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Beyonce leads the charge with nine nominations, including Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and the night's most competitive prize, Album of the Year.
The singer's latest collection, "Lemonade," faces off against Adele's "25," Justin Bieber's "Purpose," Drake's "Views," and Sturgill Simpson's "A Sailor's Guide to Earth."
Awards aren't the only thing on deck at the Grammys. Expect some big collaborations. Lady Gaga with Metallica and The Weekend with Daft Punk are just a few of the duets set to hit the stage.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Let's continue on, top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Breaking news today, President Trump just gave got his on-camera counterpunch to the biggest blow of his administration thus far.
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, right, they ruled this week unanimously not to week reinstate the president's temporary ban of citizens and refugees from these seven Muslim majority nations.
Let me play some sound for you, the president speaking just last hour at a joint news conference in the East Room of the White House with Japan's prime minister.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are going to keep our country safe. We are going to do whatever is necessary to keep our country safe.
We had a decision which we think we will be very successful with. It shouldn't have taken this much time because safety is a primary reason, one of the reasons why I'm standing here today, the security of our country. The voters felt that I would give it the best security.
So we will be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security for our country. You will be seeing that some time next week. In addition, we will continue to go through the court process and ultimately I have no doubt that we will win that particular case.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That is not the only issue putting the White House on defense here.
"The Washington Post," we're about to speak with the reporter here who broke this open. "The Post" sites nine current and former officials who all say the national security adviser, Michael Flynn, talked privately about sanctions with the Russian ambassador. This is something that Flynn had denied multiple times. Did he misspeak? Did he lie, especially when he was talking to the vice president? We will talk about that in a second.
But, first, let's go to the White House to CNN's Jeff Zeleny on the headline there, hearing the president say new steps next week to keep the country safe.
Could that mean rewriting of an executive order?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, it certainly could mean that.
We are told that they are looking at the possibility of rewriting the executive order, but that would also signify a defeat in a sense. And that is something that this president certainly as a candidate and so far as president has not liked to acknowledge, that there was anything sort of wrong with what he was doing.
So I'm told they are looking at potentially at a new executive order, potentially looking at making some changes to this one or introducing something altogether new next week. That is something that is going to keep this White House busy this weekend.
But the president was talking about the urgent need for securing the nation's borders, conflating it what he says are urgent terror threats facing this country. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: And while I have been president, which is just for a very short period of time, I have learned tremendous things that you could only learn frankly if you were in a certain position, namely president.
And there are tremendous threats to our country. We will not allow that to happen. I can tell you that right now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZELENY: So, the president there saying there are urgent threats, but not saying exactly what those are. But, Brooke, I can tell you right now I can hear the helicopters behind me coming over the White House, Marine One. The president will be leaving shortly to go to Florida with the prime minister there. So as he does that, his team will be working on this immigration order.
But one other thing going into your next story here with General Flynn, the national security adviser, he was in the room of the East Room, had a brief exchange with the vice president, who, of course, was involved in all of this here. But Mike Flynn was essentially standing alone, so this is something that the president was not asked at the news conference unfortunately, but this is something that is keeping this White House very busy this afternoon -- Brooke.
BALDWIN: Ah, to have been able to have eavesdropped between those two. Jeff Zeleny, I'm glad you pointed that out.
That's precisely exactly what we want to talk about next here. You're going to be looking at what has got to be a pretty tense handshake -- here's a replay -- to what Jeff was just talking about, between Donald Trump's national security adviser here, Michael Flynn, and Vice President Mike Pence.
Now, administration officials say the vice president and the White House press secretary were both misinformed about whether Flynn talked about sanctions with the Russian ambassador during this phone call made before General Flynn was officially on the job.
So I have Greg Miller, intelligence reporter with "The Washington Post," who wrote this just phenomenal and deeply sourced piece that blew this whole thing wide open, and Dana Bash, our CNN chief political correspondent.
Great to have both of you on.
Greg, to you first, reading your piece, and all these sources telling you Mike Flynn absolutely discussed sanctions with the Russian ambassador. So you have Mike Flynn going from, no, I didn't talk about sanctions to I can't quite recall.
GREG MILLER, NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, that was a walk-back that happened even for us in about a 24-hour time frame, because one of my colleagues who was interviewing him at the White House on Wednesday evening raised the subject with him.
We have been working on the story. We have been talking to all these sources. Again issues of a categorical denial. Was asked ever, like did you ever raise this subject with the Russian ambassador? No.
Next day, when White House was told that we're still going forward, we still feel very confident in our sources, then that started to crumble. Then we got a second signal from the White House that Flynn actually could not recall whether this subject came up.
BALDWIN: To me, Dana, in also watching that handshake and knowing -- let's take Flynn out of it.
DANA BASH, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Ice cold.
BALDWIN: Ice cold. You take Flynn out of it, and you think about the vice president. You covered Congress for years and years. Mike Pence has this reputation on credibility and honesty.
Either he was lied to or there was some misspeak happening, but bottom line what do you think is happening behind closed doors and do you think Flynn is going to have a job?
BASH: Let me answer that in a second.
But I think first maybe I will play for our viewers why this is an issue between the two of them, because the vice president, then the vice president-elect, went out on television and was asked about Mike Flynn and whether or not he brought these things up with the Russians and here is what Mike Pence's answer was.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They did discuss anything having to do with the United States' decision to expel diplomats or impose censure against Russia.
JOHN DICKERSON, HOST, "FACE THE NATION": So, did they ever have a conversation about sanctions ever, on those days or any other day?
PENCE: They did not have a discussion contemporaneous with U.S. action.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Now, given "The Washington Post"'s excellent reporting, the Pence team is being very clear that the reason the vice president said that is because it's what Mike Flynn told him.
He did his due diligence. He asked the national security adviser, did you have these conversations? And the response was no.
So there's -- probably that caught-on-camera moment was probably due to the fact that he's not very happy. I mean, who would be, right? Not just because of the fact that he felt he did his due diligence, but also this, Brooke. The vice president understands that this is a White House, this is an administration that has been challenged time and time again on its, for lack of better way to say it, truthiness, that you have to be able to -- questions about whether you can rely on what they say, really from the president on down on, in asking questions about very important facts.
The vice president has kind of been an oasis in that. He has credibility. He tries to protect it. I can tell you that. And that's why he feels like he got burned here. And so unclear what's going to happen with Mike Flynn. It is possible that Mike Flynn might come out and find a way to prove that he didn't have these conversations, but based on the excellent reporting of "The Washington Post," that seems unlikely.
BALDWIN: Greg, we know that the FBI is looking into this. Do we know, just quickly, if Mike Flynn has talked to the FBI yet?
MILLER: That's a really important question, because the law that pertains to his conversation with the Russian ambassador is problematic. It goes back to 1799. It's never been prosecuted. It just doesn't seem like that's a viable hook for investigators.
But if he's been interviewed by the FBI and he give them an answer like the way he gave Vice President Pence an answer, that would be more trouble for him.
And I would want to add to what Dana was just saying.
MILLER: In addition to the issue with truthiness, as Dana put it, has heard this sort of Russia problem, right? So, this is a swirling suspicion, area of suspicion around this administration. Why does President Trump continue to have such, express such admiration for Vladimir Putin? What are the financial connections?
It's just been over this administration a long time. So, getting a bad answer on a really important question about whether they talked about sanctions before they were in office is huge.
BALDWIN: It's a credibility issue. It's a credibility issue obviously of General Flynn and then by extension the administration.
Greg Miller, thank you so, so much for weighing and for breaking the story.
Dana, let me just keep you around here just to fill the audience in. We are looking at these live pictures. We just heard in the Jeff Zeleny live shot the rotors of the Marine One leave the White House. And they're already here at Andrews.
It is President Trump, Prime Minister Abe of Japan and Melania will be joining them, correct?
BASH: That's what we're told. We're told that she came to Washington to go to Joint Base Andrews to get on the helicopter and get on the plane to go to Mar-a-Lago for the weekend. We do expect to see her, along with the leader of Japan, who we obviously saw earlier today give a rather unusual press conference with the new president in the White House.
BALDWIN: As we stay on the pictures, we will see him hop out of Marine One in just a second here.
He's had a very busy three weeks and he also had, of course, with this meeting with Japanese prime minister today. Next, I think it's Monday Trudeau from Canada and then a couple of days later Netanyahu from Israel.
BASH: That's right.
He is starting to get acquainted with his counterparts around the world, which is incredibly, incredibly important. And David Gregory was on earlier. And he and I covered the Bush White House together. And we were kind of laughing in the halls here about the fact that we haven't seen such warmth between a U.S. president and a Japanese leader since back in the Bush years, when he used to constantly talk about the fact that their fathers fought each during World War II, and look at where the countries are now.
It wasn't that kind of personal connection today, but clearly you saw President Trump try to reach out in every way, shape or form to try to continue the good relationship with Japan, which I think shouldn't be noteworthy in any normal circumstance, but against a backdrop of a very tense conversation with another very deep-seated ally, Australia, and the contentious relationship he's had with another longstanding ally, Mexico, it is noteworthy that things seem to be OK.
We might find out there was some tense conversation, but there are some back and forth about U.S. troops in Japan that have remained there since World War II and so forth. But for the most part, at least, in public, it seemed to be all systems go, which again is noteworthy considering we can't rely on that with this president based on the first three weeks.
BALDWIN: Dana, thank you.
We're going to stay on these pictures, though. I know a lot of people love seeing Marine One, and of course Air Force One, watching also really this is the lady's first test. This is Melania going to the winter White House with the prime minister and his wife.
So, we will stay on the pictures.
But let me move along. An E.U. announcing just a short time ago that the U.S. is committed to the -- quote, unquote -- "full implementation" of the Iran nuclear deal.
Just think about that, especially given the context, the president slamming the deal repeatedly as he was candidate Trump first and as recent as a week ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: The nuclear deal is a disaster. This is going to lead to nuclear proliferation all over. That horrible, disgusting, absolutely incompetent deal with Iran where they get $150 billion. Look at the deal with Iran. It's a disgrace. It's a disgrace.
They can do whatever they want to do because I know many of the people involved in the negotiation. The Iranians are very good negotiators. The Persians are always great negotiators. They are laughing at us back in Iran.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: That is not the only policy switch we have heard coming from the White House. The president, as Dana and I were just discussing, now vowing to honor the one China policy, acknowledging Taiwan is part of China, something Trump had challenged in recent months.
Remember, one of his first phone calls was to Taiwan.
Let me bring Tom Countryman, former undersecretary for arms control at the State Department.
Tom, just bear with me. We're going to stay some of these pictures of Marine One as well. We're waiting and watching for the president and the Japanese prime minister.
But, Tom, welcome back.
THOMAS COUNTRYMAN, FORMER U.S. UNDERSECRETARY OF STATE: Thanks very much. It's an honor to be here again.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
On Iran and the nuclear deal and China and acknowledging one China, you know, what is happening? Because this is such a reverse from what we heard from the president and also candidate? What's happening and how much of this do you think is Rex Tillerson pulling some of the political strings?
COUNTRYMAN: Well, what we can hope is that it, in fact, reflects something we have been waiting for for months, a change from the loose cannon campaign mode to the responsible leadership role that any president has to embrace.
I'm particularly hopeful that the reports are accurate and that U.S. officials have reassured our allies in Europe and elsewhere that we will stick by the JCPOA, by the Iran deal, because it's a deal that's being implemented and that continues to prevent Iran from further progress on a nuclear weapon.
It's one thing to confront Iran, but if you're going to confront Iran and all of your most important friends of the world at the same moment, you're setting yourself up for a losing hand.
Whether this is Secretary Tillerson, I don't have inside information on that. I want to hope so. As I have said before, it's important that this administration pursue a foreign policy that is informed by experience and by the practical guidance of professionals. We don't want to see the kind of amateur foreign policy that we have already had examples of.
BALDWIN: Tom, what about, as I'm looking at the prime minister and his wife and the president and his wife boarding Air Force One down to Mar-a-Lago, we know golf is on the table for the two men, talking of diplomacy, and many presidents, right, are known for playing golf with world leaders. You could call it golf course diplomacy.
How effective do you think that is in general?
COUNTRYMAN: Well, it's always important for leaders to form a personal connection and a connection of trust between themselves and other world leaders.
And I hope that the president is successful in doing that. But golf still remains secondary in the process of building trust to saying what you're going to do and then being consistent in following through on that. And I think that the actions that this administration takes will have a lot more with that building of confidence than 18 holes of golf.
BALDWIN: Tom Countryman, a pleasure. Thank you so much for coming back.
COUNTRYMAN: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Let's just -- let's also circle back to what we just heard from President Trump on his travel ban.
With me now, former Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli. He's now president of the Senate Conservatives Fund.
Ken Cuccinelli, good to see you again. How are you, sir?
KENNETH CUCCINELLI (R), FORMER VIRGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Brooke, good to see you. I'm doing fine.
BALDWIN: Let's just begin with President Trump. We saw him at that joint news conference in the East Room just a little while ago, the news that he made, that he says he will take new steps next week to keep the country safe.
Might that mean rewriting an executive order? We still don't know yet, but do you think it would be a good idea?
CUCCINELLI: I think it would be a brilliant idea.
I think that they have already conceded a while ago that the rollout of this particular executive order was a little rough and the courts have made it rougher still. But one thing they have now is a ruling from the appellate court in the Ninth Circuit, the toughest circuit for this administration and it will continue to be so.
But it breaks out categories of individuals, some of whom -- actually all of whom are not American citizens, they may be lawfully present, there were those who were not lawfully present, et cetera, all of whom were addressed and discussed by the court. They can write an executive order to deal with each one of those classifications, as the underlying statute gives the president the power to do.
And several of those more discrete executive orders will be completely bulletproof, A, from court review at all, in one instance, and also it puts them in a position much stronger from a legal standpoint to win all across the board when the inevitable legal challenges do come.
BALDWIN: So I'm hearing you correctly. You would go category to category, separating these and in pieces...
BALDWIN: ... perhaps better argue to make it, your word, bulletproof?
CUCCINELLI: That's exactly right. And let's describe the biggest single category.
BALDWIN: Please do.
CUCCINELLI: It's people in these seven countries who have never had a visa and have never been to this country. That's of course is 99.99 percent of all the people covered by the executive order that is being litigated right now.
And it contains presumably the people the president is most concerned about, most legitimately concerned about. And they have absolutely no constitutional rights or rights to court review of anything the president does to block them from coming in the country.
It is the other people, the people who have had a visa and worked at the University of Washington, for instance, their family members that you heard mentioned by Attorney General Ferguson of Washington. It is those folks that are the hook for litigation.
So carve them out, treat them separately, and you will get 99.99 percent of the national security protection the president wants with no court review. And then they can fight the battle on all the other pieces.
BALDWIN: I understand, but let me just ask you.
BALDWIN: I had Peter Bergen on yesterday, national security analyst and renowned author.
And he wrote this piece wrote for CNN.com, essentially saying when you look at that list of I want to say it was 78 terror attacks that the White House alleged that we the media didn't cover, wrong, and he was saying it is actually something like 9 percent.
When you look at the countries that Trump wants to ban from coming to the U.S., it represents just a teeny-tiny piece of the 78. They point out Brussels, Belgium attacks, France, and, of course, that's not going to be on the list, but how is that fair?
CUCCINELLI: Well, it doesn't really matter whether it's fair or not.
Under the Constitution, the president doesn't have to be fair. That sounds odd to Americans, but remember we're not talking about Americans. We're talking about whether or not we're going to let non- Americans into this country.
BALDWIN: Well, ultimately, it is about Americans' safety.
CUCCINELLI: Absolutely. It's a national security issue.
So let me share with you what I think is the strongest pillar that President Trump is standing on. And that's his reliance on President Obama's determination and Congress' determination that seven nations in particular these are unusual problem spots as sources of terrorism and the threat of terrorism.
That was not President Trump's discretion. He relied on their judgment. And so this attack that you have seen made on the president, oh, this is a Muslim ban, this is just him shooting from the hip, he borrowed the analysis of the Congress and the last president.
I think it makes his fundamental position nearly bulletproof, particularly given the extraordinary dispositive authority under the Constitution and the law with the president of national security issues. The courts hardly ever invade them in the manner that you have seen happen here in the Ninth Circuit.
BALDWIN: I understand. You're absolutely right about those seven countries identified by the Obama administration. I guess the stark difference is the previous administration didn't ban those people from those countries.
CUCCINELLI: Right. That's right.
BALDWIN: But I hear your argument. He is the president. We will see how it plays out. We will also see what these new steps are they alluded to for next week.
BALDWIN: Ken Cuccinelli, thank you very much. Thank you.
CUCCINELLI: Good to be with you.
BALDWIN: Some breaking news now out of Mexico, the country warning its citizens inside the United States, take precaution. We will take you straight to the border and see what is going on.
Also ahead, Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz didn't exactly have a great night at his town hall in Utah. He got a lot of boos. Look at this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe in science? Because I do.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
Mexico now is warning Mexican citizens living here in the U.S. "to take precautions and stay in contact with your nearest consulate," and this coming after the deportation of this mother of two. She was convicted of living in this country with false papers and is one of the first undocumented individuals to be deported since President Trump took office.
And CNN Espanol just talked to her husband.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My wife is not a threat for the United States. She's a great person. She's a good citizen, regardless of her status.
We are a normal family, just like any other American family. It was kind of surprising. Since Trump took -- since he was elected president, we knew that the -- what the outcome was going to be, not a being president yet and he already talking bad about immigrants and all that of any other race. We know that he was going to attack the Hispanic community and other communities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's talk about this.
With me now, Kevin de Leon, a state senator from California who actually wants the state to become a sanctuary state.
Senator, nice to see you. Thank you for joining me.
KEVIN DE LEON (D), CALIFORNIA STATE SENATOR: Thank you, Brooke, for having me today.
BALDWIN: I saw this piece today in "The Washington Post" that I just wanted to talk about. Here in California, you have these immigrant advocate groups who are claiming -- normally, it one or two people.
And now they're saying it's more than 100 people who have been taken up into custody by federal immigration officers in Southern California. Does that jibe with what you are hearing?
DE LEON: Well, Brooke, it should go without saying that America is and always has been a nation of immigrants.
And what took place yesterday with raids in personal homes is part of the cog of the Trump deportation machine. The reality is, is that Donald J. Trump has planted the seed of fear, of confusion and doubt in many immigrant communities, not just in California, but throughout the entire nation.
BALDWIN: I want to ask you know about the raids and the numbers.
But as I'm hearing your criticism of the president, I just have to interject and say it was President Obama who had the largest number of deportations in this country during his eight years. Where was the outcry then?
DE LEON: Well, let me tell you this, Brooke, because I have been on the record publicly criticizing the president, then President Barack Obama, with his deportations during the eight years of his presidency.
But I don't believe -- and I don't want to be partisan -- I don't believe that President Barack Obama actually campaigned on the promise that he could massively deport residents who love this country, who are law-abiding residents, who pay their taxes -- very different and a different political environment today with Donald J. Trump as president.
BALDWIN: Tell me about these raids. What's happening here in California?
DE LEON: Well, we're trying to get the information. It's been very difficult to access ICE.
I made a personal phone call to the head chief of ICE in Los Angeles. They have not been forthcoming. When President Barack Obama was president, there was a much more collaborative, cooperative relationship. It was much more transparent.
The reality is, we don't know if, in fact, they are holding individuals who are, in fact, hardened criminals, or, in fact, they're innocent mothers and fathers, hardworking residents who respect this country and who have U.S.-born children in the United States.