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Trump Adopts Right-Wing Hosts' Incendiary Theory on Wiretapping; Official: Trump Signs New Travel Ban; New Briefing on Trump's New Travel Ban. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired March 6, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] AMY KREMER, CO-CHAIR, WOMEN WITH TRUMP: It's interesting because wasn't it about two weeks ago that the FBI and CIA, the intelligence world, didn't get into refuting or propping up stories that that's what happened when Reince made that statement and they didn't want to get involved with it, but now everybody's calling on him to do it. There's double standard continuously.
PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTAQTOR: That's why we need an independent --
BOLDUAN: Go ahead, Paul, final thoughts.
BEGALA: That's why we need an independent investigation.
Here's what we know. We know that Russia hacked the Democrats. We know that Putin wanted Hillary to lose because he feared her. We know he favored Donald Trump. We know that Donald Trump took remarkably pro-Russian positions, even having his aides change the Republican platform to make it more pro-Russian. We know that Trump aides were in close touch with Russia. CNN says constant contact with Russia. And we don't know that there was any collusion. But we know all of those things. The Russians hacked, they tried to tilt the election toward Trump.
By the way, Amy, when you talk about the American people, they voted overwhelmingly against Donald Trump. Hillary won the popular vote overwhelmingly. But he was able to sneak in with the help of his friend, Vladimir Putin. We need to know --
BOLDUAN: Don't even go there, Paul.
BOLDUAN: Don't even go there right now.
BOLDUAN: Stop needling that.
(CROSSTALK) BEGALA: But this is a crisis in our democracy.
KREMER: Paul --
BOLDUAN: I'm just saying, we can talk about this very highly charged, wild accusation that we have yet to see any evidence. I would be the first to report it, if there were any evidence.
BOLDUAN: Guys, we have to leave it. We've gone over a million minutes already.
BOLDUAN: Amy, Paul, please come back. Let's continue this discussion.
KREMER: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.
OK. We do have breaking news to get to. President Trump has just signed his new travel ban. He's just signed this new ban, this executive order. One country jumps off -- has dropped off the list of banned nations. Why? The live announcement is just moments away. We'll bring it to you.
[11:36:08] BOLDUAN: Following breaking news right now. An administration official says President Trump has just signed an executive order. This executive order is the big executive order, revising his travel ban. It is about to be revealed publicly any moment now.
The original ban sparked protests nationwide and around the globe. The first one was, of course, struck down by a federal court. It's caught up in the court system as we speak.
You're looking at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington where it is all going to be laid out shortly. We expect to see shortly Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly, the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. We're not to expect the president himself, we're told. We'll bring that to you live.
As we wait for that, let me bring in the panel, a whole group of folks smarter than me.
Jeffrey Toobin, we've talked about the original travel ban. What you know about the revised ban? Will this one pass legal muster?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANAYST: It's certainly considerably watered down. It has a better chance. It only applies to six countries. It apparently takes out the exception for religious minorities who have a better chance of getting in, that is to say, Christians. And it explains the basis for including these six countries in a way that defines them other than by their Muslim majority nature, that they are countries --
TOOBIN: -- which are uniquely chaotic and have no legal system in place that would allow substantial vetting. Those are designed, I think, to address the problems that the courts found with this case. Certainly, the ACLU and the other groups who are challenging it will continue to challenge it. But this is a loss more defensible than the original executive order.
BOLDUAN: Put the legal aspect aside, does this fix all the problems with the ban politically?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it's going to fix a lot of them. First of all, the president will find a lot of support on the Hill, vocally, open, public support. Republicans have always supported the underlying policy behind the travel ban. They didn't like the nature of it as a religious test. And when the president rushed it out initially, they didn't have a chance to understand it. It was slipshod. You had things in there such as green card holders being included. You had translators that have helped our troops on the battle front being included. This was something Republicans couldn't support. But they have said they have felt long before Trump took office that they felt like there are certain countries where of rule of law are such that you can't do proper vetting or you at least need to rethink how you vet. So I think this will go a lot smoother for the administration.
TOOBIN: If I could add one point --
TOOBIN: -- the new order makes clear that green card holders and people who have visas now are not affected by the executive order --
TOOBIN: -- which is also one of the reasons the chaotic nature of the first one was so evident.
BOLDUAN: Let me bring in chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, right now.
Gloria, as I laid out at the very top, we're going to hear from, we're told, the secretary of state, the secretary of Homeland Security, and the attorney general. We're not going to see the president. And from all that we've see -- it looks like they're standing right there right now -- we didn't see the president sign this thing.
You know what, let's go there. Let's listen in.
[11:39:31] REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Good morning. Thank you for joining us. The executive order signed by the president earlier today, Protecting
the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States, is a vital measure for strengthening our national security. It is the president's solemn duty to protect the American people. And with this order, President Trump is exercising his rightful authority to keep our people safe. As threats to our security continue to evolve and change, common sense dictates that we continually reevaluate and reassess the systems we rely upon to protect our country. While no system can be made completely infallible, the American people can have high confidence we are identifying ways to improve the vetting process and thus keep terrorists from entering our country.
To our allies and partners around the world, please understand this order is part of our ongoing efforts to eliminate vulnerabilities that radical Islamist terrorists can and will exploit for destructive ends.
The State Department will coordinate with other federal agencies and implement these temporary restrictions in an orderly manner. Our embassies and consulates around the world will play an important role in making sure our nation is as secure as it can be. And the State Department will implement the provisions in this order that allow for the admission of refugees when it is determined they did not pose a risk to the security or welfare of the United States.
Upon the president's initial executive order, issued on January the 27th, the State Department's consular affairs and diplomatic security offices immediately undertook a review in coordination with the Department of Homeland Security to identify additional measures that would strengthen our vetting of those seeking entry the United States from seven named countries. These early efforts were concentrated on Iraq. Iraq is an important ally in the fight to defeat ISIS with their brave soldiers fighting in close coordination with America's men and women in uniform.
This intense review over the past month identified multiple security measures that the State Department and the government of Iraq will be implementing to achieve our shared objective of preventing those with criminal or terroristic intent from reaching the United States.
I want to express my appreciation to Prime Minister al Abadi of Iraq for his positive engagement and support for implementing these actions. The United States welcomes this kind of close cooperation with countries in every region of the world who share our commitment to national security.
This revised order will bolster the security of the United States and her allies.
Now, we've spent the morning briefing the Congress, the press, and we will continue to talk with key stakeholders this afternoon. Experts from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Justice, and the State Department hosted an hour-long call with the media on this topic this morning. Our collective teams will continue throughout the day to follow up with the Congress, the media, and stakeholders to answer your questions.
I will now turn it to the attorney general for his comments.
JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
And good morning to all of you.
One of the Justice Department's top priorities is to protect the United States from threats to our national security. Therefore, I want to discuss two points. First, the national security basis of this order and, second, the Department of Justice's role in defending the lawful orders of the president of the United States.
First, as President Trump noted in his address to Congress, the majority of people convicted in our courts for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from Iran. We also know many people seeking to support or commit terroristic acts will try to enter through our refugee program. In fact, today, more than 300 people, according to the FBI, who came here as refugees are under an FBI investigation today for potential terrorism-related activities.
Like every nation, the United States has a right to control who enters our country, and to keep out those who would do us harm. This executive order seeks to protect the American people as well as lawful immigrants by putting in place an enhanced screening and vetting process for visitors from six countries. Three of these nations are state sponsors of terrorism. The other three have served as safe havens for terrorist countries, countries where governments have lost control of their territory to terrorist groups, like ISIL or al Qaeda and its affiliates. This increases the risk that people admitted here from these countries may belong to terrorist groups or may have been radicalized by them. We cannot compromise our nation's security by allowing visitors entry when their own governments are unable or unwilling to provide the information we need to vet them responsibly or when those governments actively support terrorism. This executive order responsibly provides a needed pause so we can carefully review how we scrutinize people coming here from these countries of concern.
[11:45:25] Second, the Department of Justice believes that this executive order, just as the first executive order, is a lawful and proper exercise of presidential authority. This Department of Justice will defend and enforce lawful orders of the president consistent with the core principles of our Constitution. The executive is empowered under the Constitution and by Congress to make national security judgments and to enforce our immigration policies in order to safeguard the American public.
Terrorism is clearly a danger for America and our people. The president gets briefings on these dangers and emerging threats on a regular basis. The federal investigative agencies, the intelligence community, the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, and the United States military report to the president. Knowing the president would best possess such extensive information, our founders wisely gave the executive branch the authority and the duty to protect the nation. This executive order is a proper exercise of that power.
Now, I will turn things over to our able secretary, John Kelly, of the Department of Homeland Security -- John?
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Thank you, Mr. Attorney General.
Well, like the secretary of state and the attorney general, I welcome you here today.
My comments will be relatively brief.
Last week, the Department of Homeland Security celebrated its 14th anniversary, first opening its doors on 1 March 2003. This secretariat was established in response to the devastating attacks of September 11th when foreign terrorists turned a beautiful but ordinary day into a nightmare. Those attacks taught us that we could not take our nation's security for granted, that homeland security must be our top priority, and that we need to overcome our collective inability to connect the dots of intelligence and arrange them into a more comprehensive picture of the threats posed to America and our way of life.
Much has changed over the past 14 years, both in the world that is more dangerous, and at DHS, which is much better. The fact remains that we are not immune to terrorist threats and that our enemies often use our own freedoms and generosity against us.
Today's executive order, which President Trump signed this morning, will make America more secure and address long-overdue concerns about the security of our immigration system.
We must undertake a rigorous review and are undertaking a rigorous review of our immigration vetting programs to increase our confidence in the decisions we make relative to visitors and immigrants that travel to the United States. We cannot risk the prospect of malevolent actors using our immigration system to take American lives.
This executive order is prospective in nature. Its focus is on preventing the entry of new foreign nationals from the six designated countries. Accordingly, it is important to note that nothing in this executive order effects existing lawful permanent residents or persons with current authorization to enter our homeland.
Unregulated, unvetted travel is not a universal privilege, especially when national security is at stake.
The White House worked closely with the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Justice, and Department of State to create an order that addresses previous concerns and protects the homeland and every one of our citizens.
The men and women of the Department of Homeland Security, like their brothers and sisters throughout law enforcement, are decent men and women of character and conscience. They are no less so than the governors of our states and territories, of our Senators and members of Congress, of our city mayors and advocacy groups. These men and women are sworn to enforce the laws as passed by the United States Congress, and would be in violation of the law in their sworn oaths if they did not do so. We do not make the law but are sworn to enforce it. We have no other option.
We are going to work closely to implement and enforce it hue manly, respectfully, and with professionalism. But we will enforce the law.
I want to thank the president for his leadership on this issue and for his steadfast support for our law enforcement, security and counterterrorism mission.
Again, as previously mentioned, I have spent much of the day today on the phone with members of Congress, the leadership, explaining the in's and outs of this E.O. And I did the same thing last week. So there should be no surprises, whether it's in the media or on Capitol Hill.
Thanks very much, and thanks for your time.
[11:50:31] UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is this an acknowledgment that the first order was flawed in many ways and not well thought through?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. Secretary, have you spoken to FBI Director Comey today?
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are Christians still given priority under this executive order?
BOLDUAN: Just trying to listen in there and see if any of the three secretaries did take any questions on their out. It did not appear they did at all.
A lot to talk about as the administration is now laying out the revised travel ban coming from the president. It will be phased in starting on March 16th. It's a narrower version, to say the very least, of the original ban.
Let me bring in Gloria Borger first on this.
Gloria, you see that playing out there at Department of Homeland Security. Just as they're speaking, the White House releases a picture of the president signing that executive order with none of the fanfare that we've seen when he signed other executive orders. What's your take on this?
BORGER: Well, that's because this is a do-over, and what they are effectively saying is that we made some mistakes in the first executive order that we're trying to fix. I don't know that Mr. Trump is known for admitting mistakes. So what you have is his representatives out there promoting a much-narrowed-down version with a 10-day implementation, taking out one of the country's, Iraq, because they say that they have enacted multiple security measures to ensure that they should not be on this list. We do not have any idea what those security measures are. We do know that we fight alongside them, as Rex Tillerson said, in the war against ISIS. We know that they're not prioritizing religious minorities here.
There is one statement that the administration is saying, that the FBI has reported approximately 300 persons who entered the U.S. as refugees who are currently subjects of counterterrorism investigations. We don't know anything more than that about this, although, on a background call, they did acknowledge that some of these people have been radicalized while they were in the United States. You know, so overall this is --
BOLDUAN: Gloria, do we know what has come from the nations on this list?
BORGER: We don't even know that. We don't even know that. What we see here is an administration that is trying to offer no surprises, that is trying to walk back a great deal of the policy that they offered the first time around, and that is clearly trying to pass court muster.
Gloria, stand by with me.
I'm going to go overseas and go to Iraq. Let's go to Ben Wedeman listening with all of us.
As I say that, I also want to welcome our viewers from the United States and around the world as we continue this conversation.
Ben, an important part of this revised travel ban is the fact that Iraq is no longer on the list of nations that are going to be facing this temporary ban. The secretary of state speaking directly to that at length. What's the reaction you expect to hear from Iraqis on this one? Especially when you hear that the prime minister seemed to have a heavy hand in making the case for Iraq to be taken off that list.
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, even before this announcement was made, it was -- the leaks coming out of Washington all indicated that Iraq would be removed from that list of seven. And we received in advance in a statement from the Iraqi foreign ministry describing it as a step in the right direction that will bolster the alliance between Washington and Baghdad, particularly in the area of terrorism. We heard Secretary Tillerson there talking about the fact that Iraq is indeed an important ally in that fight. He was praising the brave soldiers, and he focused on the Prime Minister Al Abadi's important input in this. And, therefore, the Iraqis who were extremely upset to be included on this list, given that there are more than 5,000 U.S. military personnel in Iraq right now providing support in the war against terrorism, they will be very happy to see this. In fact, it was just back in January, very soon after the first order went into effect, the Iraqi parliament voted in favor of reciprocal measures against U.S. citizens. In fact, I was lining up at passport control in Baghdad to get into the country when they voted. But it was a symbolic vote. It didn't actually go into effect, but it certainly reflected the level of consternation many Iraqis felt when they were included, their country was included in that list -- Kate?
[11:55:29] BOLDUAN: All right. Stand by with me, Ben. Let's go to Istanbul, Turkey. Arwa Damon standing by for us.
Arwa, you spent a lot of time in Iraq and also in Syria. And another important element in the change in this travel ban is that Syrian refugees are no longer going to be facing an indefinite ban, I think, because that's probably the best way to put it. They're no longer going to be treated any differently than any other refugees. There still will be 120-day ban on refugees coming in. What's the impact on the ground? What's the impact that you see happening?
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, at the end of the day, this is a watered-down version of what was already out there. And, yes, for Syrians, for example, who are so desperate to cling to any little bit of hope, assuming they were going to go to the United States, perhaps this will give them that for now. At the end of the day, they won't know what will be happening after this 120-day period. And then it's more about the broader image that this is creating of the United States. At the end of the day, so many people do view this as being discriminatory. They fail to comprehend how it is that America is choosing to single out these countries, claiming that their nationals are terrorists, effectively telling entire populations, we don't really want you here, we don't really trust you, so we're going to look a bit further into your background. Populations of countries that have been ravaged by war, countries that are suffering things like famine, extreme poverty. And no matter what happens, at the end of the day, the impression that America has now created, at least Trump's America, it's not the same impression that people used to have of the United States. And it is still going to continue to create a lot of uncertainty because you also have a change in atmosphere in America itself. You do, yes, have a good segment of the population, the American population, that is trying to welcome in immigrants and still reaching out and upholding the American values, but you also have a lot of immigrants, when you do spoke to them now, that tell you that their lives in America, they already feel as if they're becoming more difficult. People are now hesitating a bit more to go to the United States.
Added to all of this, just briefly, ask anyone who has tried to get a visa for America, and they will tell you it is already a very tough process.
BOLDUAN: Arwa, great to see you.
She is standing by live in Istanbul, Turkey, for us.
David, I want to get your final thought on this.
Some of the details, the big details of this leaked out, but now just your take kind of on how this played out today. The announcement coming from the three secretaries and them making the case. They're filling their role very well. Tillerson, this is going to be rolled out in an order manner. Iraq is our partner and no longer on the list. Attorney General Sessions, this is lawful, and we will defend it. The DHS secretary saying there's a need to protect Americans. The president is at the White House. He is not the one talking about this. DRUCKER: Right. I think that this is the way Republicans hoped
things would operate under President Trump from this regard. He is a businessman. He has operated companies that have had to deal with profit and loss and bottom lines. You can't just get things wrong forever, even though his business career was sometimes spotty. And I think they were hoping for organization from him. This is the first time we have seen something major from the White House. Not just the first one, but in terms of executive orders and pieces of legislation that was orderly and disciplined and ran according to how government is supposed to operate. And I think for Republicans on the Hill watching this today -- and I mentioned them because they need -- he needs them to stand up for his policies and to help him -- I think this is going to make them feel good that maybe the White House can get its act together over time.
BOLDUAN: Gloria, final thought from you on this one. Does this get -- does this get the president back on track with his agenda, I say?
BORGER: Well, you know, it may calm Republicans down. I don't think it's going to calm Democrats down at all. And I do think it raises some additional questions about, did the Iraqis really change their security measures, or did the administration just realize that, in fact, they're our allies in the fight against terror and they should not have been on this list originally. And, you know, there are also questions about what happens with the Syrians, and on and on. So I think, you know, while it's clearly better, lots of questions left.
BOLDUAN: Yeah. If it was an urgent national security priority and that's why they had to roll it out so fast so the bad guys couldn't rush in, what does it mean now that it's being phased in and they're giving this lead in to it.
Guys, it's great to see you. A lot of news happening this hour. We'll continue throughout the day.
Thank you for joining us AT THIS HIOUR.
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