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CNN NEWSROOM

White House Weighs Next Steps Over Travel Ban; Voters Take On GOP at Town Halls Nationwide; Nearly 200,000 Evacuated Over Dam Threat; Adele Restarts George Michael Tribute, Still Big Winner; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired February 13, 2017 - 10:30   ET

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


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Power of the judiciary and raised questions about, you know, how far it thinks he can go. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

STEPHEN MILLER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: I think that it's been an important reminder to all Americans that we have a judiciary that has taken far too much power and become in many cases a supreme branch of government. One unelected judge in Seattle cannot remake laws for the entire country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: In fact, it can and it did, and it's interesting, Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly.

HARLOW: Because, you know, that's exactly what the White House did, made sweeping law, and the judiciary branch said it went too far in its executive order. What do you make of his argument there?

BASH: That he -- you know, Stephen is a smart guy, maybe he should revisit the Constitution, because you're right, it does allow for the judicial branch to check the executive branch and the legislative branch. It's the way the government works. It's the way it was set up. And it is not unusual to hear both Republicans and Democrats, when the judicial branch does not rule their way, to go after activist judges, extremist judges, and so forth. But -- so, you know, it's sort of the standard response when they're not happy with the decision.

But one thing that is really interesting, as I've been making calls this morning, it kind of speaks to this a little bit, is the fact that President Trump, from my sources, is truly in charge, that he is involved in the decision-making, things that he does do, things that he doesn't want to do on a daily basis, that he's still knee-deep in it, much like he was during the campaign. And the fact that he watched all of Stephen Miller's appearances probably on the Sunday shows, tweeted out about it, that he was happy with what he said right there, and others, kind of gives you a sense of how kind of really -- the palace intrigue, and the fact that the president is still setting the tone and the tenor of the White House in a way that perhaps previous presidents didn't do in a nitty-gritty basis like that.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No. I'll read that tweet from Donald Trump right there over the weekend. He said, "Congratulations, Stephen Miller, on representing me this morning on the various Sunday morning shows. Great job."

And Mark Preston, just to run down the things that Stephen Miller said, you know, the part that Poppy just played right there about the judiciary, you know, cutting General Flynn off at the knees by refusing to support him publicly, and then also saying that there was --

HARLOW: The voter fraud.

BERMAN: -- mass voter fraud.

HARLOW: With no facts.

BERMAN: With no facts, in the Granite State. And that's something that the president went on Twitter and said he liked.

HARLOW: You're right, it's telling, Mark, that that's what the president said great job for. He doesn't laud a lot of his people after they go on the Sunday shows. That's -- I haven't seen tweets like that from him.

BERMAN: Yes. What do you make of that, Mark?

MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: Disturbing. I mean, it's disturbing in the sense that not only you have somebody out there outright repeating a lie, but you don't have somebody close to Donald Trump who we know Stephen Miller is telling Donald Trump that you can't do that anymore. That -- you know, Mr. President, you're in a position now where you can't do it. And then to go out and parrot those lines, you know, really is disturbing.

And as Don as -- as Dana says, the bottom line is, is that Stephen Miller is very, very close now to President Trump, has traveled with him, wrote all the speeches on the campaign trail. But when we talk about all this turmoil in the White House, it really does come back, as Dana said, to one person. It's Donald Trump. He talked about creating factions within the White House, within the West Wing. He likes turmoil. He seems to thrive on it. Chaos is like his gasoline.

But you know what, chaos isn't how you govern the United States, let alone be the leader of the free world. And at some point you're going to start to see some staff, if they're not fired, they're going to start quitting because they're not going to have the confidence in the president anymore to do their jobs.

BERMAN: And we should now, we will hear from the president later today.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: He's with the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau. They will take at least a few questions. You can bet he will be asked about many of these stories we were just talking about. So wait and see what he says there.

Mark Preston, Dana Bash, megastars, thanks so much for being with us.

BASH: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: All right. Voter outrage spilling over at town halls across the country. So is this the second coming of the Tea Party with sort of a Democratic twist?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:38:35] HARLOW: At town halls across the country, lawmakers are getting an earful from a lot of angry voters in scenes some say are pretty reminiscent of the Tea Party movement. Just look for yourself.

(VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: That was from one of those town halls in Georgia, where congressional aides listened as constituents have been sounding off on everything from plans to repeal Obamacare to President Trump's immigration and education policies.

BERMAN: But for Senator Bernie Sanders, he says there's a key difference between the Tea Party and today's progressive protests.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I) VERMONT: It's not a Tea Party because the Tea Party was essentially funded by the billionaire Koch brothers' family. This is a spontaneous and grassroots uprising of the American people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, here to discuss, Larry Cohen, a former senior adviser to Senator Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign. He's also chair of the Our Revolution Board. And Rafael Shimunov, creative director of the Working Families Party.

Rafael, first to you, you were key in getting some of those protests launched or at least filming them, getting the message out from the airports the weekend that the travel ban, the executive order went down. We saw this protest, we saw the women's march the week before, we've seen a lot of people out on the streets. We've seen people out. The question is what have you changed at this point?

RAFAEL SHIMUNOV, CREATIVE DIRECTOR, WORKING FAMILIES PARTY: Well, we're not seeing the normal everyday protester here.

[10:40:03] We're not seeing who we're used to seeing, who are like civically engaged coming out on the streets as they normally would. We're seeing people we've seen before. It's truly a popular movement this time.

HARLOW: I covered Occupy Wall Street very closely and spent months reporting on the movement as it evolved really over a matter of two or three years. The criticism of the Occupy movement was to what end, right? What was the next outcome? Certainly got a lot of people talking in that dialogue.

So I guess I want to ask you, Larry, to what end this time?

LARRY COHEN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER TO SENATOR SANDERS' 2016 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Well, I think several ends. So first of all it is popular resistance. It's people joining in, whether they're in the targeted group or not. Secondly you see massive demand for change inside the Democratic Party.

Our revolution had hundreds of people at the Democratic forum on Saturday for Keith Ellison running as a reform candidate really to change the party itself. There's the Democratic Party in Washington where at the county level people believing in real change got elected in county after county, rural as well as urban. And now the new chair comes from that movement.

But at the same time, I think in the streets We're not seeing the normal everyday protester here. We're not seeing who we're used to seeing, who are specifically engaged and coming out on the streets as they normally would. We're seeing people we've never seen before. It's truly a popular movement this time I think in the streets you see something very much like Occupy. Millions of people representing the majority of country who doesn't approve of Donald Trump and his scapegoating and his trying to turn the clock back on every issue from health care to workers rights.

HARLOW: But I --

BERMAN: But --

HARLOW: Yes, go ahead, John.

BERMAN: No, sorry. The question I was going to ask, and I tried to ask, you know, what have you changed so far, to Rafael, Larry, is again, these people are out there, the enthusiasm is clear.

COHEN: Yes.

BERMAN: But again, Larry, you know, what are you going to implement? To what end? How are you going to hold Democratic office holders accountable? What's at stake for them if they don't respond to you the way you want them to?

COHEN: Well, I mean --

(CROSSTALK)

SHIMUNOV: Go ahead.

COHEN: Yes. I mean, again, I think when we're talking about Democratic office holders, we're talking about both in the Democratic Party, so it clearly is a party that speaks to real change, economic, racial, environmental justice. And then secondly, you know, to say to Republicans, is this really the kind of country you want to have? Because electorally, we are very active, whether it's the working families' party or our revolution, our goals are largely electoral. And we believe that we'll see early results that indicate that the majority of this country believe in fairness, democracy, and social justice.

HARLOW: So you'll see that, Rafael, at the polls in 2018 for the midterms, and in 2020 for the presidential election. A lot of, I should note, what we're seeing in these protests are in really big cities across America where you have generally more liberal demographic. You know, when I travel to small towns across the rust belt or in Kentucky, you're not seeing this play out. I mean, what would you say to that in terms of getting a more broad swath of Americans in demographics involved in the movement?

SHIMUNOV: We're definitely seeing it yesterday alone. We had in Providence, Rhode Island, we had a thousand people show up and confront their returning elected. We're using platform --

HARLOW: That's still a pretty big city.

SHIMUNOV: Resisthere.org where we're organizing people for a Resist Trump Tuesday. We've had on our phone on Sunday 60,000 people on the phone call, ready to organize, ready to come and confront Democrats who we feel need to be encouraged to keep doing good but always do better and use every tool in their toolbox to resist Trump. And also Republicans. We were taking names, we're going to remember who is giving their name to Trump to allow Trump to push his agenda.

BERMAN: You know, no one likes the word litmus test, Larry, but we don't have much time so I'm going to use it here. Do you have a litmus test for Democratic office holders if they, you know, support President Trump's nominees, any of them? Will you work to unseat them or may primary them, if they work with President Trump on, I don't know, tax reform, trade?

HARLOW: And that infrastructure plan.

BERMAN: Infrastructure. Would you hold that up as something that would be worthy of trying to run against them in a primary?

COHEN: Yes, obviously it depends where it is. And I would just add that we helped win a special election in Iowa, to speak to the point on rural versus urban. Just last week, where the Democratic candidate there, who did come out of our populist ranks, overwhelmingly won. So I think that, you know, litmus test is a strong word, but, you know, it's about what are we fighting for. Medicare for all, not Medicare cuts. If we see Democrats support Medicare cuts, yes, we will come after them. If we see Democrats supporting these presidential nominees that we see as the 1 percent of the 1 percent, yes, we'll remember their votes. So I think it's more about what are we fighting for than against, but in primaries both will play.

HARLOW: Because the argument of being obstructionist for obstructionist's sake certainly doesn't help anyone no matter what party you affiliate with. Larry Cohen, Rafael Shimunov, thank you guys very much.

Still to come for us, look at these pictures. We're talking about 200,000 people forced to evacuate their homes in northern California because the tallest dam in the country may not hold.

[10:45:04] Our Paul Vercammen is there live.

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm in Oroville, where as you pointed out, Poppy, there have been massive evacuations. And as you see behind me there is a desperate fight now to try to shore up this dam and its adjoining spillways. That's coming up in just a few moments.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: All right. This morning nearly 200,000 people in California have been ordered to move to safer ground. Evacuations as fears mount over the strength of the tallest dam in the country.

HARLOW: Take a look at this. This is new video just into us. And what it shows you, these crews working overnight, trying to repair the damaged spillway as water is racing down over this down at twice the normal rate. More rain is forecast in the days ahead complicating things to say the least. This is all happening in Oroville, California, 75 miles north of Sacramento. That's where we find our Paul Vercammen.

You can't overstate the urgency here, the tallest dam and the spillways aren't working correctly.

VERCAMMEN: You cannot, Poppy and John, and if you look just behind me, there is the water.

[10:50:01] You can see the spray kicking up in the distance. Imagine the fury of that water right now. You can sort of get a sense for just how big and massive that water coming out of the dam might be.

Now this is part of the strategy. They want to get as much water out of here as possible. It has gone below these damaged spillways for right now. And as you said, there is now a struggle to try to get this water level low so when this next batch of rain comes, we won't have another issue with the spillway.

Now let's talk about that backup spillway. It has a hole in it, and they are now actively trying to shore it up. Among other things, they are breaking up rocks, putting them in bags. They're going to try to address part of that spillway problem with those bags of rocks. The mandatory evacuations continue in Oroville, Marysville, Yuba City. Eerie scenes. As you've pointed out, up to 200,000 residents fleeing at night. Those being ghost cities, no one in them, so to speak.

You can see a couple of stragglers here and there. Officers on foot they described a chaotic and frantic scene as they evacuated those cities and smaller towns below the Oroville and Oroville Dam. So the work will continue. So far they are cautiously, as we said,

optimistic that they do have this under control. But of course they're crossing their fingers and hoping they don't get any more big rainstorms. The next rain expected on Wednesday -- Poppy, John.

BERMAN: They have a few days to try to take care of this, with 200,000 people, you know, forced from their homes right now.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: Paul Vercammen, for us in California, thanks so much.

All right. Don't go anywhere because Adele, are you familiar with her work?

HARLOW: Are you?

BERMAN: She is so talented that she can mess up and still have it be the best part of the Grammys. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADELE, GRAMMY AWARD WINNER: I'm sorry for starting again. Can we please start it again? I'm sorry. I can't mess this up for him. I'm sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:56:31] HARLOW: Music's biggest night, and the night's biggest winner stops the show, literally. But Adele can do that because she's Adele.

BERMAN: Adele.

HARLOW: As Adele demands a do-over during her tribute to George Michael. Watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADELE: I know what it's like to be, (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I'm sorry, I can't do it again like last year. I'm sorry for swearing. I'm sorry for starting again. Can we please start it again? I'm sorry. I can't mess this up for him. I'm sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: I told you, she has a nice voice, you didn't want to believe me. But you know, when she decides to sing, boy, she gets it right. That Adele can really hit the notes. Very brave.

All right. CNN's Stephanie Elam, she was inside the show last night. She is live in L.A. with more.

Stephanie, I saw you last night, a big transformation for you into this morning, I don't know if you got any sleep at all. But quite a show.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Oh, I slept. I was -- made sure I looked fresh for you guys. But I figured you guys didn't want the pompadour hairstyle.

HARLOW: I love -- Steph, you looked smoking.

BERMAN: I always -- I always want that.

HARLOW: You looked smoking last night.

ELAM: Thank you. Thank you. I have to tell you, though, inside it was all about watching the fans that the super stars were watching people like Adele and Beyonce take the stage. And Adele, when she took the stage and she stopped, I actually thought it was a joke at first because we couldn't tell, like, was she serious, this is happening? And then she stopped it.

Remember the year before when she performed at the Grammys, there was that pitch issue. And she didn't want that again. That's what she was referring to. And so she stopped and started again and the crowd was completely behind her. But then what was shocking was she swept the biggest awards of the night, Song of the Year, Album of the Year, Record of the Year. Well, when she won for her album beating out Beyonce, she talked all about Beyonce. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADELE: My artist of my life is Beyonce. And this album to me, the "Lemonade" album, was just so monumental. Beyonce, so monumental and so well thought-out, and so beautiful, and soul-baring. We all got to see another side to you that you don't always let us see and we appreciate that. And all us our (EXPLETIVE DELETED) adore you. You are my life.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: So yes, lots of cussing from Adele and lots of apologies for the cussing. But she did seemed to genuinely mean it. She loved "Lemonade," and a lot of people thought that Beyonce was going to win for that song -- for that album that maybe Adele would win for "Hello," for the song, but you could see, she genuinely thought that, and later there were pictures of her breaking her Grammy for winning that one, but yes, she spent a lot of time talking about Beyonce.

HARLOW: I mean, can we -- let's talk about Beyonce just a little bit more because that was an incredible, incredible performance, for anyone, not to mention someone pregnant with twins. What was it like being there? What was the reaction to her performance? It was just stunningly beautiful.

ELAM: And still in heels. She was still in heels. That's what I kept looking at while she was doing all of this. It was just a visual feat. You were looking at all that was going on, and the performance she's putting on, and very much a lot of commentary about motherhood, with her mother introducing her, her daughter in the audience, and obviously that belly on display. So I think a lot of people were waiting to see what Queen Bey was doing. She delivered.

BERMAN: Stephanie Elam for us in Los Angeles. So we did just show Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, arriving at the White House.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: We were playing the Grammys. I think we should show some rush music perhaps --

HARLOW: In honor of Canada.

BERMAN: In honor of the Canadian prime minister arriving. Thanks so much for joining us today. I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" begins right now.

(END)