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State of the Union

Town Halls Gone Wild; National Security Adviser Under Fire; Travel Ban Battle; Interview With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie; Interview With Minnesota Senator Al Franken; Trump Administration Exploring Options On Ban; GOP Town Halls Flooded With Protesters. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired February 12, 2017 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Travel ban battle. Is President Trump's immigration order headed to the Supreme Court?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have no doubt that we will win.

TAPPER: What is his next move in this political showdown?

TRUMP: We will be doing something very rapidly, and you will be seeing that some time next week.

TAPPER: New Jersey Governor and former Trump adviser Chris Christie joins us live for an exclusive interview.

Plus, bombshell: "The Washington Post" reports government officials say National Security Adviser Mike Flynn did talk with Russia about revisiting sanctions while Obama was still president.

TRUMP: I don't know about it. I haven't seen it. What report is that?

TAPPER: The latest on the investigation into Trump's ties with the Kremlin.

And town halls gone wild. Republican congressmen get an earful...

AUDIENCE: Do your job! Do your job! Do your job!

TAPPER: ... over the future of Obamacare.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You want to take away this coverage and have nothing to replace it with?

TAPPER: Will it have any effect at all?

SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: Show us your plan now.

TAPPER: Senator Al Franken is among those leading the resistance to President Trump, and he will be here live in minutes.

Plus, the best political minds will be here with insights on another whirlwind week.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is currently on dictator watch.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to be testing new President Trump, launching a ballistic missile, in defiance of a U.N. resolution. Even more pointedly, the launch came as President Trump was hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at Mar-a-Lago. Abe called the act intolerable.

But President Trump did not directly address the missile launch, giving instead this 14-second statement.


TRUMP: I just want everybody to understand and fully know that the United States stands behind Japan, its great ally, 100 percent. Thank you.


TAPPER: By this morning, President Trump had moved on to domestic matters, tweeting about the Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, raids over the last few days, saying -- quote -- "The crackdown on illegal criminals is merely the keeping of my campaign promise. Gang members, drug dealers and other are being removed!"

ICE said, in one operation in Los Angeles, 164 nationals had been arrested and 37 of them were deported to Mexico. But not everyone swept up in these raids is a gang member or drug dealer or otherwise violent criminal.

We asked the White House for a guest to discuss these and other matters with us this morning. They did not respond to that request.

I'm joined now by the Republican governor of New Jersey and former adviser to President Trump Governor Chris Christie.

Governor, thanks so much for joining us. We really appreciate it.

GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Pleasure to be here, Jake. Good morning.

TAPPER: So, I want to start by asking you about the ICE raids, because it seems untrue that all of those being deported are dangerous individuals.

Let's posit that deporting dangerous people who are here in this country illegally is a good thing. But one of those deported was Guadalupe Garcia de Rayos. In 2008, she illegally used someone else's Social Security number for employment at a water park, for which she was later charged with a felony.

The mayor of Phoenix, Greg Stanton, put out a statement after she was removed from the U.S., saying -- quote -- "ICE is spending its energy deporting a woman with two American children who has lived here for more than two decades and poses a threat to nobody" -- unquote.

What's your message to the undocumented immigrants in New Jersey, your home state, who are not drug dealers, who are not gang members, who have not committed any sort of violent crime? Should they be worried about being deported?

CHRISTIE: Well, Jake, this is the problem with the whole failure of the federal government over the course of the last 12 to 16 years in not dealing with trying to reform the immigration system and bring some sense of order to this.

When that's the case, then the laws that are in effect right now have to be enforced. And that's what's happening right now. Now, you know, I know that the president's focus and his desire is to make sure that first they get violent criminals out of the United States, people who have been charged with violent acts.

That is, I think, what ICE is attempting to do. But as I can tell you, Jake, from having run a government for seven years and been involved for many years as a U.S. attorney, things always don't go perfectly. And so you are going to have some people who also, by the way, have violated the law, but don't fit that one category.

But that will be the overwhelming minority in all this. And what -- what people should focus on is what the president is trying to do, which is to keep a campaign promise on making sure that violent criminals who are here illegally are taken out of the country in order to make America's streets safer.

TAPPER: But, as you know, Governor, this is a big concern in the Garden State of New Jersey. Princeton officials are -- are distributing information letting undocumented immigrants know how to avoid deportation. New Brunswick, there's a debate about whether New Brunswick becomes a sanctuary city.


What's your message to the citizens of your state about undocumented immigrants who, like the woman I just discussed, are not violent criminals, who have children who are American and are now in fear?

CHRISTIE: Well, Jake, first off, it should be surprising to no one that institutions like Princeton University, where, by the way, I'm a member of the board as governor of New Jersey, are going to take a very progressive, liberal position towards this and will try to grandstand this during a time of -- of political debate.

Listen, our position has been the same all along. The federal government should be enforcing federal law. And they have to make clear that federal law will be enforced. If that's the president's desire, then he should go ahead and make sure that that's done. On the state level, we're doing the things that we have already done

in New Jersey to try to keep our streets safe. That's why our prison population is at an all-time low and crime declined again in New Jersey this year.

So, we're doing what we need to do at the state level to keep people safe. And the federal government should be enforcing federal law. And if they don't like the federal law, then they should go to Congress and get it changed.

TAPPER: Let's turn to Russia. CNN has now matched that bombshell "Washington Post" report that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, according to several government officials, privately discussed U.S. sanctions against Russia with that country's ambassador right around the time that President Obama was imposing new sanctions and before President Trump took office.

I guess there are two issues here. One is the White House not telling the truth about this conversation, and the conversation itself. Let's take them one by one.

If General Flynn did tell the Russian ambassador something along the lines of, don't worry about these sanctions President Obama is imposing, we are going to revisit them later, would that trouble you?

CHRISTIE: Well, listen, I don't think that you can have any more than one president at a time.

And, you know, General Flynn has said up to this point that he had not said anything like that to the Russian ambassador. I think now he's saying that he doesn't remember whether he did or not. So, that's a conversation he is going to need to have with the president and the vice president to clear that up, so that the White House can make sure that they are completely accurate about what went on.

But I have always been a person who believed that you have one president at a time, and that's the way things should be done.

TAPPER: Well, and you touched on this in your answer. Because of General Flynn's original adamant denial, although, as you point out, he's now walked it back, saying he can't recall, Vice President Pence, Sean Spicer have now said things to the public that are apparently not true.

Take a listen to Vice President Pence on January 15.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I can confirm, having spoken to him about it, is that those conversations that happened to occur around the time that the United States took action to expel diplomats had nothing whatsoever to do with those sanctions.


TAPPER: If General Flynn lied to the vice president, what should the consequences be?

CHRISTIE: Well, that would be up to the vice president and the president.

And so I'm sure that there will be conversations between the vice president, the president and General Flynn to make sure that everybody gets the accurate story on this matter and that it's cleared up.

And I think that's the obligation of General Flynn, his national security adviser, to have those type of candid conversations with the president and the vice president. And then they will act as they see fit, given all the circumstances.

TAPPER: Let's -- let's turn to the fact that there are a lot of Republicans who are concerned about the rollout of President Trump's travel ban. You yourself said last week that President Trump was ill- served by his staff on the issue.

I know that you're focused on finishing your job as governor of New Jersey. And you still have a year left. But after your term is over, if President Trump were to come to you and say, Chris, I need to help you run things, would you be willing to serve in the Trump administration?

CHRISTIE: Ah, Jake, you know we're not going to get into hypotheticals like that.

My view is, I have got a year to go, as you aptly put in your question, a little short of a year, as governor of New Jersey. And then, after that, as I have told everybody, my intention is to go to the private sector and work to help support my family in a different way than I have been able to over the last 16 years as U.S. attorney and as governor.

But, as always, Donald Trump, the president of the United States, has been my friend and Mary Pat's friend for the last 15 years. And whenever he calls and -- or I call him, and we have conversations, I'm always willing, if he asks, to give my opinion on things.

But I have absolutely no intention, nor any understanding, that I will be asked to be in the administration in the years to come.

My view is, I have got a job to do as governor, and then my intention is to go off to the private sector and to help support my family.

TAPPER: There are reports that President Trump, because his wife and his son are often in New York, that he makes a lot of late-night calls to friends and confidants.

Are you among them? Have you -- have you talked to the president recently?

CHRISTIE: You know, Jake, I have always said this before he was elected president, and it's even more important since he's been elected president.


The conversations between me and the president of the United States, to the extent they occur, will always remain between me and the president of the United States.

TAPPER: Do you still talk to him, just as a -- as a vague concept? Do you still talk to him?


CHRISTIE: I -- you know, I don't know what vague concept means, Jake.

Like I said, to the extent that those conversations occur, they will remain between me and the president.

What I will say is that Mary Pat and I still consider him to be a very good friend of ours. We have for the last 15 years, both he and the first lady. And that friendship, I'm confident, will continue during the time that he's president and when he leaves the presidency.

TAPPER: Let's turn to health care.

You took a lot of heat in national conservative circles when, as governor, you expanded Medicaid in New Jersey as part of Obamacare. Recently, you said that the naysayers have been proven wrong and you touted the fact that an additional half-a-million people in New Jersey now have health insurance who didn't have it before.

Have you asked President Trump to keep the Medicaid expansion in place, even as the Congress and he vow to repeal and replace Obamacare?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I think repealing and replacing Obamacare was something that I was for when I was a candidate for president of the United States and one that I'm still for now.

And how that will happen is going to be the part of what I hope will be a really vigorous, open conversation between the executive branch and the Congress and the nation's governors, since the Medicaid program was 50 percent funded, for the most part, by the nation's governors and our state taxes, over the course of the next number of months.

And I'm really hopeful that we are going to be able to be a participant in that conversation. And I will certainly share with the president and the administration the experiences we have had here in New Jersey on the Medicaid program.

For instance, five times the number of people are now getting drug abuse treatment in New Jersey through the Medicaid program than got it three years ago. I think that's a good thing. I think it's a good thing for America's future and for our children.

And so I certainly will share those stories. And then the president and the Congress will make an overall policy determination as to how they want to move forward. But I'm convinced the president and the Congress are both committed to repealing and replacing Obamacare. And I support them in doing so.

The nuances of that, Jake, is something that I hope the governors get a chance to participate in. And, if we do, you can count on the fact that I will participate in that conversation.

TAPPER: Is it fair to characterize your position, though, as you don't want those half-million people who now have insurance who didn't have it before the Medicaid expansion and Obamacare, you don't want them to lose their insurance?

CHRISTIE: Well, Jake, I -- I want them to continue to be able to have coverage.

Now, there can be lots of different ways that that can happen through the repeal and replacement of Obamacare. And there are great minds inside the Congress, led by Speaker Ryan, who are going to have ideas on how to do this.

There will be great minds in the administration, like Secretary Price, who has been a longtime leader on this, who have ideas to do it. And what the president will do is what he's always done. President Trump is a deal-maker. He knows how to bring people together and to close deals. That's his greatest strength as a leader.

And I think he will bring these folks together, along with the nation's governors, since we're stakeholders in this, and make sure that we get something that will take care of the people of the United States. He has always said he does not want a system where people are without health care. He said that from the beginning of his time as a candidate.

I take him at his word. And we're going to work together to make sure that happens. Whether it's through Medicaid or another vehicle is something that we will have to see as time goes forward and the ideas get fully fleshed out.

TAPPER: New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, thanks so much for joining us today. We appreciate it.

CHRISTIE: Always great to be with you, Jake. Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: Coming up: What's really said about the president behind closed doors in Congress? Senator Al Franken says it might surprise you. He's here for a live interview.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

As progressives bind together to fight President Trump, Minnesota Senator Al Franken is emerging as a real liberal hero. And after years of playing it straight in the Senate, the former "Saturday Night Live" star is finally deploying his secret weapon, humor.

Here he is on what his Republican colleagues are telling him about President Trump.


FRANKEN: Some will say that he's not right mentally.



FRANKEN: And then some are harsher.


TAPPER: That was Senator Franken on "Real Time With Bill Maher."

And he's here right now, not Bill Maher, but Senator Franken.

Thanks for joining us.

FRANKEN: I'm -- I'm with Jake Tapper.

TAPPER: So, I know that was comedy, but is it true that Republican colleagues of your express concern about President Trump's mental health?


TAPPER: Really?

FRANKEN: Yes. It's not the majority of them. It's a few.

TAPPER: In what way?

FRANKEN: In the way that we all have this suspicion that -- you know, that he's not -- he lies a lot. He says thing that aren't true. That's the same as lying, I guess.

He -- you know, three million to five million people voted illegally. There was a new one about people going in from Massachusetts to New Hampshire.

TAPPER: Thousands and thousands in a bus, yes.


And, you know, that is not the norm for a president of the United States, or, actually, for a human being.


TAPPER: So, let's turn to Michael Flynn.

"The Washington Post" and CNN are reporting that he, according to many government officials, spoke to the Russian ambassador about the Obama sanctions against Russia before President Trump took office...

FRANKEN: Mm-hmm.

TAPPER: ... suggesting, hold on there, we will revisit them after we take office.

FRANKEN: Mm-hmm.

TAPPER: House Minority Leader Pelosi tweeted last night, "General Flynn should be suspended and have his intelligence clearance revoked."

Do you agree? What do you think the consequences should be?

FRANKEN: Well, you know, I mean, either he was lying about not having discussed that or he forgot.

TAPPER: You don't believe the for -- your smile says you don't believe that he forgot.

FRANKEN: I don't think you want a guy who would forget that.


FRANKEN: Your national security adviser would forget that he was talking about lifting the sanctions with the Russian ambassador. I don't think you -- you want a guy in either of those scenarios to be in that position.


TAPPER: But it's not a Senate-confirmable position.


TAPPER: So, what can you do? And what do you think should happen?

FRANKEN: Look, there's going to have to be investigations, and an independent investigation, into the Trump campaign and the Trump administration's relationship to Russia.

Russia interfered in this campaign. There's -- we know that, although Trump denied it for a long time. We have not seen the president's income tax. His -- his son said a few years ago that an inordinate amount of money was coming in from Russia investing in them.

The president said that he couldn't release his income tax because he was under audit. You can release your income tax when you're under audit. And, also, he hasn't proved -- provided any proof that he was under audit.

There is a lot here that we need to look at. And we need to have an independent investigation on it.

TAPPER: When you say independent, what do you mean? Independent counsel? Select committee?

FRANKEN: I think an independent counsel would be terrific.

But I know that Lindsey Graham and Sheldon Whitehouse in Judiciary are doing -- doing hearings and an investigation. I trust those guys.

There's something going on in Intelligence, but that's so opaque. We need something transparent. And we need an investigation, because we don't know what he owes Russia. We don't know how many Russian oligarchs have invested in his -- his business. We don't know.

He has sidled up to Putin in so many ways: What he's doing in Syria is great.


FRANKEN: He didn't, you know, annex Crimea, going after NATO.

There's -- there's something -- he's got a bit of a Putin crush. And there's -- I want to know how much of that is tied to maybe financial strings.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the president's travel ban.

According to the Department of Justice, ISIS recruitment efforts have targeted the Somali community in your home state of Minnesota. If we know ISIS is targeting the refugee population or immigrant population in the Twin Cities, does it make sense to put in some kind of new and more thorough vetting system, even if you don't agree with the travel ban?

FRANKEN: Well, the people that ISIS has targeted and those people in the Somali community and in our vibrant Somali community in Minnesota, they have in a couple -- in a few cases gone back to Somalia to fight with Shabaab, and they have gone to Syria to fight with ISIS. That's just a couple handfuls.

This is -- this is not what it appears to be, in that there -- we -- I just got a 4-year-old girl -- and this is what we're talking about -- who was supposed to come in on January 31 to join her family and her mom and two older sisters, and...

TAPPER: From Somalia?

FRANKEN: From Uganda, where she was in a refugee camp.

I actually called General Kelly. He -- he helped do that. I'm very grateful for him doing that. That's who is being hurt here.

Now, this 4-year-old had been vetted for five years. And she was...

TAPPER: How could she be vetted for five years if she was 4?

FRANKEN: That was a joke.



FRANKEN: But I'm saying, a 4-year-old is not...

TAPPER: Right. I got it. I got it.

FRANKEN: Yes. Yes.

It's just -- and I agree with Senator McCain and Senator Graham that, actually, this kind of ban is -- makes us less safe, because it gives a recruiting tool to ISIS and to other jihadists saying that America is anti -- is anti-Muslim.

The Syrian refugees, they are fleeing terror. This -- you know, terror is -- the whole point of terror is to make you afraid.

TAPPER: Right.

FRANKEN: I think that Trump and his group are trying to make Americans more afraid. I think that's part of how they got elected: Just make us more afraid.

TAPPER: You're accusing the president -- president of terrorism by making -- by scaring people?

FRANKEN: Just because the purpose of terrorism is to make you afraid and the president has tried to make people afraid doesn't mean he's involved with...

TAPPER: Right. OK. I just wanted to define the language. That's all.

Listen, I want to turn to Senator Elizabeth Warren and the increasingly prominent role she's playing in the Democratic Party.

Let me show you what President Trump said about her this week. He was meeting privately with 10 senators at the White House. And he told the Democrats in the room, "Pocahontas is now the face of your party."


That's an obvious reference to the controversy over Elizabeth Warren's claim of Native American heritage.

What is your response when you see that, "Pocahontas is now the face of your party"?

FRANKEN: I heard this from a couple of my colleagues who were there.

And I -- I would have said something. I mean, I'm not...

TAPPER: What would you have said? FRANKEN: I said -- "Mr. President, with all due respect, that's

racist. Don't -- please stop doing that. I -- I'm on Indian Affairs. This is completely unacceptable. You really should stop doing this. It doesn't serve anybody" -- something like that."

TAPPER: I want to ask you a question about Betsy DeVos, the newly confirmed education secretary who you voted against. You were a very strong voice against her.

She was physically blocked by protesters. I think they were teachers, D.C. teachers, from entering a public school in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

So, I know you opposed her and you don't think that she is going to be a good secretary of education, but shouldn't she have the right to walk into a D.C. public school?


TAPPER: I mean, shouldn't that be something that we embrace?

FRANKEN: Yes. Yes.

And it would have been her first time ever in a public school.

TAPPER: Is that true?

FRANKEN: No. I don't -- I don't know.


TAPPER: Last question.

FRANKEN: No, she should be able to go into a -- she should be able to do her job. They should not prevent her from doing her job that way.

I thought she -- she was the least qualified nominee I have ever seen. The hearing was embarrassing.

TAPPER: With all this buzz, I want to ask...

FRANKEN: But she's -- she's the secretary now.

TAPPER: She's secretary of education. She should be...

FRANKEN: And I'm eager to work with her.


TAPPER: With all the buzz about the possibility of you running for president -- and there is buzz out there.


TAPPER: And I'm sure you have heard it.


TAPPER: I wanted to ask you a personal question.


TAPPER: Is there ever a time, when you hear this buzz, and you're at home, you look in the mirror and you say to yourself, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and, doggone it, people like me; maybe I should be president?

FRANKEN: No. That's never happened.


FRANKEN: That has never happened.

But I appreciate the shout-out to my character Stuart Smalley, which was an extremely popular character on "Saturday Night Live."


TAPPER: Senator Franken, thank you so much for being here. Always good to have you.


TAPPER: Good to see you.

FRANKEN: Good seeing you.

TAPPER: Have a good Sunday.

Coming up: Will President Trump rewrite his travel ban or take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court?

Our panel joins us next.




TRUMP: We will be doing something very rapidly having to do with additional security for our country. You'll be seeing that sometime next week. In addition, we will continue to go through the court process and ultimately I have no doubt that we'll win that particular case.


TAPPER: President Trump vowing to take more action after the Ninth Circuit Court's ruling against his travel ban on Thursday. The Trump administration says all options are on the table, including perhaps another executive order. Let's talk about it now with our panel. We have with us Ken Cuccinelli, former Virginia attorney general, Neera Tanden, President and CEO of the Center for American Progress, CNN political commentator Alice Stewart and Congressman Andre Carson, Democrat of Indiana. Thanks one and all for being here.

Congressman Carson, let me start with you. You're one of two Muslims serving in the U.S. Congress. You have accused the president of demagoguery on this issue. Is there any form of tighter vetting that you could support?

REP. ANDRE CARSON (D), INDIANA: It takes 18 to 24 months to vet as it stands right now. I think Mr. Trump has already shown his hand. He's trying to now put lipstick on a pig, pun intended, and this is discriminatory against Muslims.

TAPPER: How is it if it's seven countries that...


TAPPER: ... how is it against Muslims?

CARSON: Well, here's the thing. None of the country that were involved in 9/11 were even lifted and we're talking Egypt and Saudi Arabia. I'm not suggesting that they should be listed but this is hurting our partnerships internationally.

We rely on these countries for intelligence. We rely on these countries for the investments that have been made by those folks who come to this country, start businesses, and they are hiring Americans and putting Americans back to work.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Jake, in terms of this being a Muslim ban. Look, if this was a Muslim ban specifically targeted at Muslims they would have gone after every 51 Muslim majority countries. However, they are only focused on seven that were identified under the Obama administration, and that is critical to remember, and with regard to 9/11, a Senate committee came out last year and said that since 9/11 60 people from these seven countries have committed acts of terrorism in the United States, not to mention ones they have carried out in Europe, so that is a serious concern.

TAPPER: In the U.S. and Europe you mean?

STEWART: Yes, absolutely.

CARSON: America is not Europe. This is a precursor to ultimately discriminate against Muslims worldwide. He's using the language of religion to enforce his policies and it simply will not work as evidenced by the protests we've seen.

NEERA TANDEN, PRESIDENT AND CEO, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS: Look, I think the issue here is the court adjudicated this and they said, you can take into account the president's words in the campaign to look at what happened here.

He called it a Muslim ban. He called it a Muslim ban multiple times. It's not my words, it's his words. And then the court looked at this.

So in -- we have Republican and Democratic, the judges -- judges who were nominated by Republicans and Democrats so far unanimously say that this is -- this is beyond his purview. And, you know, actually the -- no one is arguing, at least I'm not arguing that there can't be additional vetting or that the reality of this was sloppily put together and that they are actually in a way I think to get to a Muslim ban and that's why the court found as it did.


KEN CUCCINELLI (R), FORMER VIRIGINIA ATTORNEY GENERAL : Yes. This is radically overbroad of an injunction. This --

TAPPER: By the -- by the Ninth Circuit.

CUCCINELLI: It's outrageous. It gives constitutional rights to just to pick one of the countries, to Somalians who have never been to this country, who have never had a visa, 99.99 percent of the people covered by this executive order have no constitutional rights, have no claims to anything and yet this court beyond even what the Washington attorney general asked for gave an injunction against all of that. It is outrageous.


TAPPER: So do you think if you were advising President Trump would you say, take this to the Supreme Court, you can win?

CUCCINELLI: No. As I've said on this network earlier this week, rewrite this order. You've now got the set of complaints from the court basically. Write a separate order for each category identified and the 99.99 percent of people I just talked about will never ever have that order heard in court because there's no one to sue on it and then we can debate -- then we can debate the rest of it, the lawful permanent residence, people with visas who's never been -- break it down however you like and they -- many of them have different levels of due process rights and then write each order for each category.

TANDEN: I think what you're seeing in this -- in this whole episode here is that we have a president who didn't go through the normal processes and didn't really consult with the Justice Department and didn't really consult with DHS. Slapped together essentially an executive order to do his campaign promise, and it is being -- it is being challenged by -- in the courts, and he's actually losing because he's done such a poor job.

And I think he realized -- I think the challenge here -- I mean, you've just said it. He should rewrite it. He could have rewritten -- he could have written it better from the beginning.


CUCCINELLI: Isn't it amazing that what we're fighting over is how fast a politician is keeping their promises? When was the last time -- (CROSSTALK)

TANDEN: He's not -- he's not keeping his promise.


STEWART: We can all agree -- we can all agree that this rollout was shoddily done, that's understandable across the board.

TANDEN: Right.

STEWART: But, look, the fact that the three-judge panel referenced comments Donald Trump made on the campaign trail and didn't at all reference the actual statutes (ph) is the foundation of this executive order, 1182 which gives the president the authority to suspend entry of aliens into this country that he deems detrimental to this country, that speaks volume, that speaks volume that this is a political ruling by the courts.

And, I think, I agree with Ken we need to rewrite it in a more strict order, but I think with regard to the appeal to the Supreme Court, we need to slow roll the appeal and fast track the nomination of Gorsuch.

TAPPER: So, I just want to show this tweet by Donald Trump on February 5th.

"Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril. If something happens, blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!" -- exclamation point.

Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe called this not just preemptive scapegoating but an attack on the role and rule of law. Congressman?

CARSON: I agree. I mean, I think that Mr. Trump, his impulsivity concerns me. I've said it over and over again. The fact that he's publicly battling with the judges via Twitter, it says that he, one, is unfit to be commander in chief, and secondly I think it speaks to his deeper need for validation.

He hasn't demonstrated the same kind of policy depth as a President Obama or President Clinton. He hasn't demonstrated the kind of discipline necessary to be commander in chief and who is he listening to? Obviously no one but himself.

CUCCINELLI: Congressman, did you criticize President Obama when he in person bullied the Supreme Court over Citizens United or when -- in May of 2012 when he attempted successfully I might add to intimidate the Supreme Court over Obamacare? I don't remember this sort of hand wringing and gnashing of teeth.

CARSON: President Obama was being anti-bully.

CUCCINELLI: No, he isn't.



CARSON: Donald Trump is a classical bully. He's a textbook bully.

TANDEN: OK. Just to be clear --

CUCCINELLI: President Obama did it in person.

TAPPER: Go ahead, Neera.

TANDEN: Can I just say this is a huge difference. There is a difference between saying, you know. What I disagree with the rules of the court and to talk about the ruling itself. Not to -- what Donald Trump did was say these judges, the judges, "so-called" judges, he's attacked the judiciary independent writ large.

If Barack Obama had gone to the well of the Congress and said, these judges have no right to make a decision about Citizens United or they are imperiling us at writ large that would be very different than saying, you know, I disagree with the ruling. Every politician has a right to say the merits of a decision. What the problem with Donald Trump and what should worry constitutionalists who for years have been lecturing liberals about separation of powers is that this president is attacking a third -- a separate part of -- branch of government as if it doesn't have any say.

I don't need to ...

TAPPER: Ken, I'll come to you next.

TANDEN: ... over the years.

TAPPER: We're going to take -- we're going to take a very quick break. I'll come to you next, I promise.

Coming up -- it's getting hot in the here. Republican congressmen taking heat from their constituents at feisty town halls across America. What effect are they having? That's next.






TAPPER: Vice President Mike Pence's name booed at a town hall in Utah, of all places, held by Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz. Democrats around the country have organized in part to show their opposition to a potential Obamacare repeal as well as other Trump policies. Chaffetz accused the protesters of being paid and shipped in from out of state although we're still waiting for the evidence of that.

The panel is back with me and. And, Ken, I wanted to give you the last word on this (INAUDIBLE)...


TAPPER: ... the court issue. Yes.

CUCCINELLI: Look, I'm an idealist lawyer. I don't think any executive should browbeat judges, but it has gone on a long time all the way back to -- a switch in time (INAUDIBLE), and unfortunately even with President Obama we saw that it worked. And when you have a practicalist type president like Trump you're just -- you're going to see more of it because he thinks it can work.

TAPPER: All right. Let's turn to the town halls.

Alice, what is your response to this? I've heard a lot of people saying this reminds them of the Tea Party protests at town halls we saw in 2009 and 2010 down to the fact that party leaders are saying it's a bunch of billionaires shipping these people out.


STEWART: I don't see it that way. Look, Frank Bruni has a good piece in the "New York Times" this morning. He said, the outrage of the Democrats is consistent with the outrageousness of President Trump, which is true but at the same time yelling is one thing but without a consistent message it's for not.

And you have to remember the Tea Party had a good message. It was about doing away with the tremendous debt, government spending and pushback on Obamacare, and they stuck with that message. To date I don't really see with the town halls we're seeing now in these groups a consistent message and I think if they can do that I think it would be helpful but at this point it just seems as though it's a lot of people getting together and being vocal.

TANDEN: I couldn't disagree more. I think the town halls are really focused on the ACA and government overreach...

TAPPER: The Affordable Care Act.

TANDEN: ... the Affordable Care Act. The Affordable Care Act.

I mean, you're seeing people rise up who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act and simply tell their stories, not only in Utah but really in Georgia, in Florida, in deep red districts which were plus 24 Republican districts. You're finding people really tell their stories.

And I think the message of these town halls is that people are scared of what Donald Trump is going to do to them. They don't want a repeal of the Affordable Care Act and they don't want the government overreaching. A little bit like the town halls before. But you're seeing incredible action and it's gaining every week. There have been protests every weekend in places like South Bend, Indiana, places in deep -- in the middle of the country.

TAPPER: Ken, you don't buy it?

CUCCINELLI: I'm listening -- this is amazing. I'm going to mark this day on my calendar. Government overreach. This is a problem now.

TANDEN: Yes, with the Muslim ban -- with the Muslim ban, yes.

CUCCINELLI: That is not a Muslim ban. And here -- this is a president who has emphatically enforcing law and we can debate how he went about doing that and with President Obama it was completely -- it was completely rewriting the law.

TANDEN: You're (ph) just criticizing (INAUDIBLE). A minute ago you literally said he has to rewrite it. You were critical (INAUDIBLE).

CUCCINELLI: And he's -- and he's going to win -- and he's going to win in court when they do that. They are going to be set up to win.

TAPPER: Have you seen any protests at any town halls, sir?

CARSON: Listen, I've watched the protests. I lived through the protests in 2010. I think that we're seeing a pushback against these European-style austerity measures, proposals to cut Social Security and other entitlement programs.


CARSON: Well, listen. Republicans are making it harder for Americans to purchase a home and even talking about repealing the Affordable Care Act causes angst. Now, reapportionment, redistricting makes it much more difficult to recapture the House but the movement on the ground says that there's hope.

TAPPER: Well, I guess, one of things, Alice, about these protests is I was reminded on Twitter by a conservative that these protests were definitely a foreshadowing of Republicans retaking the House in 2010, but they did not stop the Affordable Care Act from passing.

STEWART: Absolutely, and -- and it didn't hurt that Barack Obama had both the House and the Senate at the time, too, so that was helpful, but what it did do it helped Republicans gain seats in 2010, and it really started a groundswell which led to more houses at the state level, local and state level and here in Congress, which has led us to where we are today having the House and Senate and that's key, and that's one of the focuses of the Tea Party movement was to get people involved on the local level and have good representation at the state level and in Congress.

TANDEN: And if you're --


CUCCINELLI: ... the Tea Party to you is the same today as it was seven years ago when it started.

TANDEN: Alice makes a phenomenal point. And we're seeing that. We're seeing more people run. People are getting excited about running. State progressives are looking at city council races, state and local races, assembly at (ph) Senate as well as Congress.

We're seeing a groundswell. It's exactly -- she makes an excellent point that that's what you need to see and that's what we're seeing even earlier. And it's true the Affordable Care Act passed but we had 60 votes in the Senate, they don't have 60 votes. And the problem for the Affordable Care Act is even Chris Christie cannot tell you what the replacement is.

That is the big challenge for them and these people in these town halls are simply asking this. Do not repeal the Affordable Care Act without telling us how I'm going to be better and these members of Congress are getting booed because they cannot answer that simple question.

TAPPER: Ken, I want to give you the last word. When you see this groundswell, does seem to be a lot of energy with the left right now.


TAPPER: Whether you think that George Soros (ph) has a role in it or not.

CUCCINELLI: Well, look, Donald Trump has a special talent for inspiring the angst and anger of his opponents to a degree that I can't name anybody else really in politics can do, and that is not long term strategically helpful for him or for Republicans either. Because anger, whether we like it or not, and I don't like it, is the most motivating single form of reaction.

Hope is nice. There's two kinds of ways to motivate, hope and fear, and I prefer hope but fear rains in politics as much as we cry about it because it works and that's what these folks are playing on.

TAPPER: Great panel. Thank you so much one and all for being here. I really appreciate it.

Coming up next, what does Sean Spicer and Beyonce have in common? The answer might surprise you. The politics of tonight's Grammys. That's next.



TAPPER: Welcome back.

Award shows have been ripe with politics this year. And the Grammys this evening will likely be no exception. While most of the nominees probably did not vote for President Trump it almost sounds like some of their songs were written about the Trump White House if you listen close enough. It's the subject of this week's "State of the Cartoonion."


TAPPER (voice-over): This year's Grammy nominees are quite relevant to our current political situation. Perhaps President Trump was channeling Adele's megahit "Hello" when he called Vladimir Putin.


Perhaps White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was thinking about Beyonce's hit "Formation" when he criticized State Department official over the controversial travel ban.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think that they should either get with the program or they can go.

TAPPER: Rihanna's popular "Work" might have been motivation for senior counselor Kellyanne Conway's comments about her many, many media appearances.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: I've spoken literally millions of works on T.V. I'm sure. I've been on CNN over 1,000 times in my career. I'm sure.

TAPPER: And is it possible White House Senior Strategist Steve Bannon is channeling Demi Lovato.

Just think of our current White House drama using those beautiful songs and maybe it will be much easier to listen to.


TAPPER: Thanks for watching.