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U.S. Supreme Court Weighing Travel Ban; Concerns over Trump's VA Secretary Pick; Macron Breaks from Trump on Issues While Addressing Congress. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired April 25, 2018 - 11:30   ET



[11:33:22] KATE BOLDUON, CNN ANCHOR: We have breaking news coming in. The Supreme Court right now hearing oral arguments on one of the president's top campaign promises and one of his controversial acts since taking office, the travel ban. What are the justices saying in oral arguments and what does it mean for the country?

CNN justice reporter, Jessica Schneider, is outside the Supreme Court and she was inside listening to it all.

Jessica, what are you hearing?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Reporter: Kate, the arguments are just wrapping up here. What I can tell you is the arguments did break down along ideological lines and we heard from Neil Gorsuch, of course, the newest justice on the Supreme Court as well as Justice John Roberts and they asked mostly procedural questions and they asked if the people had a standing to bring it considering they weren't the aliens who were not discriminated against by not being allowed in this country. What was most interesting is the extensive line of questioning from Justices Kagan and Sotomayor. In fact, Justice Kagan asked questions that pertained to the travel ban, and the third iteration of the travel ban, and in particular she asked a hypothetical that was poignant. She asked if a president was ever elected who had expressed anti-Semitic statements would, in fact, a perhaps ban on all people from Israel, would the Supreme Court be able to look at the campaign statements of that president? So a little bit relating and a hypothetical to some of the comments that President Trump made during the campaign. Of course, the solicitor general in this case has said that this is not a Muslim ban. That this only pertains to seven different countries that are not, in fact, Muslim-majority nations. He said a lot of Muslim-majority nations were left off the list. But Justice Sotomayor and Kagan kept coming back to the poignancy and the disturbing aspects of President Trump's statements throughout the campaign. Even at times, Kagan got a little bit of a laugh. She said, we don't know what's in this president's heart of hearts. So acting very disturbed or concerned, at least about what the president may have intended. Of course, the solicitor general in this case said that this travel ban underwent extensive worldwide review of the worldwide vetting procedures and security measures undertaken by every country, and when it came down to it, these seven nations they ended up putting on third travel ban, they just weren't you have to snuff and they didn't have the right security procedures. But what concerned some of the justices here, look, you didn't give up the information as to what the Department of Homeland Security reviewed and what conclusion are collusions they came to. How do we know that this all wasn't just window dressing for the president and his previous statements of a Muslim ban? [11:36:07] Kate, I'll tell you at the end of these arguments it was

quite interesting, the campaign tapes came back up, and the lawyer for the challengers here said, look, if President Trump disavowed his anti-Muslim statements during the campaign, if he disavowed some of those tweets that he put out in the end of November in 2017, he re- tweeted anti-Muslim videos, would that suffice? And the attorney for the challenger said yes. I've said this, I've said this to the Ninth Circuit Court when I argued there, and the president should disavow his statements and that might change the arguments here and that might change the game a little bit. So far, the president hasn't done this, and the solicitor general got back up and he said the president has said he never intended a on a Muslim ban and they also pointed to the fact that again, this went -- this underwent extensive, worldwide review.

So a very long argument here, Kate, where we did see those justices brake down along ideological lines and they will consider this and issue an opinion in the next few months -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: The next three months. An amazing moment to be in that court.

Jessica, thank you very much for bringing that out for us. Appreciate it.

Let me bring in right now, CNN legal analyst, Page Pate, a criminal defense attorney and constitutional attorney, as well.

Page, you were listening there as Jessica were laying out the questions the justices were asking and, of course, everyone tries to get into a window about how they could possibly -- what the decision would look like and what the ruling would look like later, maybe likely in June. What do you think? Everyone was wondering if the campaign statements would play big in oral arguments.

PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Kate, I think they did play a factor with those justices who agree that this particular ban is discriminatory, but unfortunately, there are enough justices to strike down this ban. One thing about the ban, travel ban 3.0, if you will, it isn't the same ban he first came out with right after he was elected. It's been watered down significantly. And the time that has passed since the initial ban has given the government an opportunity to at least say they've developed some evidence that this was done for national security reasons. We've reached out to certain countries and they haven't adequately told us they're doing what they should do as far as back ground checks. So at least they have a protectoral reason for it. So I think based on the fact that the Supreme Court let the ban go into effect earlier this year and based on the arguments we heard today, there's simply not enough justices to strike down this watered-down ban. But I think they would have struck down the initial ban had it been the one that was challenged.

BOLDUAN: Page, there have been now three versions of the travel ban.

PATE: Right.

BOLDUAN: What's before the court right now, is it about the legality of the travel ban itself or is it about limits of presidential power.

PATE: It's about both, Kate. The Supreme Court identified four issues for the lawyers to argue. They got into all of them today. One is, can the court even consider a challenge like this because we're supposed to stay out of presidential politics and the Constitution and the immigration laws give a lot of discretion to the president on matters of immigration. But they're also considering whether this particular presidential act is consistent with immigration law and consistent with the Constitution. So we don't know what their opinion may say. They may answer one of their questions affirmatively but go on to limit a president's power going forward. So we'll have to wait until I think June until we see an opinion in the case.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. A huge day, though, at the Supreme Court.

Page, thanks so much.

PATE: Thank you, Kate.

[11:39:49] BOLDUAN: Right now, French President Emmanuel Macron, we're showing you live pictures from inside Congress. He's addressing a joint meeting of Congress and after yesterday's public displays of friendship, Macron is making, though, clear that he and President Trump still have big differences on big issues. We'll lay it out for you. That's ahead.


BOLDUAN: We've talked about how lawmakers with serious concerns right now about President Trump's nominee of the V.A., Dr. Ronny Jackson, but how would the people most impacted by this decision feel about it?

Here's part of the statement from one veteran service organization, AMVETS: "No matter whether these allegations about Dr. Jackson prove true or false, whether they continue to delay his confirmation indefinitely or sink it altogether, it's the latest in the chain of unforced errors for which veterans are continuing to pay the price."

Joining me now AMVETS strategy officer and Marine Corps veteran, Sherman Gillums.

Thank you for coming in.


BOLDUAN: Thank you.

So AMVETS very clearly had issues and concerns with Jackson before all of this has come out. What do you think now? GILLUMS: Well, at the Marine Corps we have a term we use, Charlie

Foxtrot, and it's a cluster expletive that would pretty much sum up what we've watched over the last week. And the best way to describe our reaction is a military strategy, it's called decapitation and that's where you take out the command element of the enemy, it paralyzes the enemy, and makes them indecisive. It also works when you self-decapitate. When you cut off the head of the large organization like the V.A., you can expect the same result. That's what's bothersome. This was a self-inflicted wound that didn't have to happen, and it started with the firing of Dr. Shulkin, which should have never happened in the first place, given all of the success that the V.A. enjoyed under his leadership.

BOLDUAN: I have to ask you, the president is standing by Dr. Jackson right now, but he also said at the very same time when asked about his nomination that if it were him, he wouldn't do it. He wouldn't go through this process. He wouldn't put himself through this vetting, if you will. It seems surely a mixed message to Ronny Jackson, but what also of a message does it send to you and millions of veterans?

GILLUMS: What it sounds like, it's not that important of a decision. You don't just swipe right to pick your cabinet-level secretaries. You have to go through a deliberative process. There's talent out there, that each branch of service has a surgeon general and the CDC, and you have talent out there that would be ideal. How about a woman veteran as the secretary of the V.A. You have General Lori Sutton (ph) and Admiral Raquel -- you've got all these people that are qualified, Raquel Bono (ph), who would have made a good candidate for this job. But right now we're treating this as if it's another episode of "The Apprentice." And it's disturbing because right now you have veterans who are in need of help, who are committing suicide in huge numbers, and you have health care access issues. Things that were getting resolved just a month ago have come to a stop, and that's not a good thing. This is not how you treat people who defended this country.

BOLDUAN: Do you think at this point -- Ronny Jackson, let's say he gets a hearing and he's asked all of these questions and he answers them and denies them and he said that this was a smear campaign against him. Could he answer these questions to a level that would make you comfortable having him be the next head of the Veterans Affairs?

GILLUMS: It boils down to whether the Senate does his job. They have a purpose. The Senate confirmation hearing is there for a reason. If he were to successfully navigate the issues and answer questions. The most important thing is what's good for V.A. I don't care what's good for Dr. Jackson. What's good for the Department of Veterans Affairs. And if he makes it through that, that gauntlet, and proves himself worthy of the job, then we'll support whatever outcome happens.

BOLDUAN: Thank you for your service. Thank you for coming on. Let's continue this conversation because this ain't going anywhere.

GILLUMS: Thank you. BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, French President Emmanuel Macron just

wrapped up his message before a joint meeting of Congress, and he also, in his speech, broke with President Trump on some major issues, and did so very publicly. That's coming up next.


[11:52:37] BOLDUAN: The presidential bromance faces a new test today. French President Emmanuel Macron speaking to Congress, laid bare more than one big difference he has with President Trump.

Here, first, on the Paris Climate Accord. Listen.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: Let us work together in order to make our planet great again and create new jobs while supporting our earth.


MACRON: And I am sure, one day, the United States will come back and join the Paris agreement.


MACRON: And I'm sure we can work together to fulfill with you the ambitions of the global compact on the environment.


BOLDUAN: So there's that. And there's more.

CNN politics reporter, Lauren Fox, is joining me from Capitol Hill.

So, Lauren, what else did President Macron say to members of Congress?

LAUREN FOX, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: The environment was one of the key differences that the French president addressed before Congress today. Obviously, this is an issue that Republicans and Democrats in Congress are very divided over. You know, he discussed that there was no Planet B when it came to the environment and he encouraged the United States, like we heard earlier, to rejoin the Paris climate deal.

But that wasn't the only difference. The next difference that he addressed was the differences between France and the United States when it came to the Iran nuclear deal. That has hung heavy over the meetings that the French president has been having with President Trump over the last few days. He's been trying to encourage President Trump diplomatically to reengage in discussions about what to do with Iran and not just to pull out of the deal without some kind of Plan B.

Here is what he said to Congress today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MACRON: It is true to say that this agreement may not address all concerns. This is true. But we should not abandon it without having something substantial and more substantial instead. That's my position.



FOX: And one of the things that we saw he was trying to be very diplomatic here. We know that the president of France and President Trump have a close working relationship, and I think that what he was trying to do is discuss the differences but not do it in a way that was too decisive. He wants President Trump to continue to work with him and he views his relationship with Trump to be very important as European leaders continue to try to talk Trump into not leaving the Iran deal.

[11:55:12] BOLDUAN: Lauren, it's clear that President Trump has an affinity for President Macron. How was he received among members of Congress?

FOX: It depends on if you're a Democrat or Republican. There's so much pomp and circumstance that goes into one of these joint meetings. Lawmakers are respectful of the French president, but there's going to be disagreements with whether or not Republicans agree with what he had to say on climate change or Iran. Some of the Democrats were applauding and just standing up when he was talking about rejoining the Paris climate agenda and what he was hoping to see from the United States going forward on that.

BOLDUAN: Lauren, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

Coming up, with big concerns swirling on Capitol Hill over Donald Trump's pick for V.A. secretary, the White House is launching a fierce defense for Dr. Ronny Jackson. Much more on this and what his future holds after a quick break.