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Trump Signs Sweeping Order on Refugees; Actor John Hurt Dies at 77. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired January 28, 2017 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:12] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: A temporary ban on refugees. President Donald Trump promised to protect American borders during the campaign and now he is delivering.

Plus, Theresa May did a lot of talking after her meeting with Mr. Trump. How she may have changed his mind on NATO.

And he gave us The Elephant Man and so many other great performances. Legendary British film star Sir John Hurt passed away.

Hi everyone. Thank you for joining us. I'm Cyril Vanier in Atlanta, and CNN Newsroom starts right now.

President Donald Trump is taking swift and sweeping action against refugees and immigrants. He says it's to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States. Let's take a look at what changes with the executive order that he signed on Friday. People from seven predominantly Muslim nations are barred from entering the U.S. for three months. The target countries Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Iran.

The orders also suspends the U.S. refugee admissions program for four months. Syrian refugees for their part are barred from the U.S. indefinitely. And people holding certain visas will now have to undergo in-person interviews in order to renew them.

All right. Jim Acosta is joining us now, senior White House correspondent. Jim, Donald Trump campaigned on controlling boarders and a tougher vetting of people coming into the U.S. He's delivering on that promise.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Cyril. He is. But make no mistake, these are some very sweeping actions coming from the new president. He signed this executive order earlier in the day over at the pentagon. We just got our hands on the executive order. This is it right here.

But the actions are fairly dramatic. He is talking about suspending visas for people coming into the United States from seven countries that have links to terrorism, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Sudan, Somalia are among those seven countries. Those visas have been suspended for 90 days as part of this action. They're also implementing what they're referring to as extreme vetting methods for people coming into the United States from terror-prone parts of the world. That would include biometric scanning, more lengthy interview process. It's going to be a much more draconian step that's being taken here as part of that extreme vetting process.

And then I think that the part that is really going to send shock waves around the world, and that is the suspension of the U.S. refugee program. This is for political refugees, religious refugees coming into the United States. That program is suspended for 120 days while they get these new measures up and running. And permanently ended by the Trump administration is the Syrian refugee program which was bringing in people from that part of the world under the Obama administration. That program now ends and so you will not have Syrian refugees coming into this country as part of this executive order. So it is a very sweeping decision coming from the president.

VANIER: Jim, you mentioned religious refugees. During the campaign, Donald Trump raised a lot of eyebrows and got a lot of criticism for advocating a ban on Muslims entering the U.S. To what extent is this executive order a Muslim ban?

ACOSTA: Well, all the countries listed in that temporary ban on those visas coming into the country for 90 days, those are all Muslim majority countries. And so, you have critics already coming out and making statements about this, Senator Kamala Harris from California, she's a brand-new senator but she's been talked about as a potential 2020 candidate and the next election if you can believe it we're still talking about that. Even though Donald Trump has just entered the white house. But she said make no mistake in a statement tonight, this is a Muslim ban.

The senate minority leader Chuck Schumer put out a statement saying that there are tears rolling down the cheeks of the statue of liberty. So Democrats are really up in arms about this. But as you said, this is something President Trump campaigned on repeatedly throughout the election. He is delivering on that promise. But we're going to have to find out what the details are in the coming days.

The White House issued this executive order, put out this paper statement to everybody detailing somewhat what is in here but there's still lots of open-ended questions that the White House did not sit down with reporters and give us a briefing. That is something you would have seen in the previous administration. We did not get that today. So, lots of questions about what the president decided to do with his executive order, Cyril.

VANIER: And look, Jim, just before I let you go to be clear, different categories of immigrants refugees are barred from entering the U.S. different periods of time while procedures are reviewed. That's what it says in the executive order. Is it possible in your mind that, you know in, two, three, four months things will be back to business as usual once that review is complete?

[02:05:02] ACOSTA: It's possible. It is possible. We just don't know at this point. And one thing that we should point out about this 90-day suspension of visas coming in from seven countries that have ties to terrorism, those seven countries may not be all of them. We've been talking to White House officials this evening who said that there may be more countries added to this list. And so, make no mistake.

This is a very aggressive action that's being taken by the Trump administration. They talked at length during this executive order, at the top of this executive order about 9/11. Something that occurred 16 years ago. And so, President Trump campaigned during that election cycle as someone who was going to crack down and ramp up the war on terrorism, the war on ISIS. And this is just the beginning of that process, I think.

VANIER: All right. Jim Acosta, senior White House correspondent. Thank you very much for your time.

ACOSTA: Thank you.

VANIER: And CNN's U.S. security analyst Juliette Kayyem served -- who served in the U.S. Department of Homeland and Security under President Obama told me earlier that the U.S. has never seen anything quite like this.


JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN'S U.S. SECURITY ANALYST: This is a order or series of executive orders by President Trump that are using national security in 9/11, the memory of 9/11. In fact, 9/11 is referenced three times in the executive order to justify sweeping refugee ban, immigration ban, country-specific ban that we've never seen proposed before, that we've never seen anything quite like it in the United States. It's a pretty historic moment and not in a good way I would say for the United States today.

VANIER: Did the vetting process for the immigrants or refugees deserve to be tightened in any way?

KAYYEM: Well, look, I think any vetting or immigration process is constantly changing having served in the Department of Homeland Security, the agency that does this work. You're constantly trying to make things better, make them tighter, quicker, more efficient, as well. So there's no question that any of these programs could get better, but the idea that you end it in the process of trying to reform it would never have crossed I think anyone's mind either in the Bush administration or the Obama administration. For one, it is, you know, obviously the statement it makes to the world about who the United States is and who they'll accept.

But the other is the terror threat even assuming that that's what this is about, the terror threat is not country-specific at this stage. France certainly knows that. Belgium knows that. Germany knows that. We know that a lot of the terror threat is actually coming homegrown and we've seen it in the United States.

VANIER: But have there been instances where either refugees or immigrants posed a terror threat or helped a U.S. national who posed a terror threat? KAYYEM: No, there's not. So they said the only case that you have actually in the last couple of decades is of course the San Bernardino case where she came in on not on a refugee visa but actually on a marital or fiance visa, the wife of -- and the couple that killed in San Bernardino. So that's one case out of millions.


VANIER: So how many people are we actually talking about? Well, here's a look at the number of immigrants that the U.S accepted last year from the seven countries targeted by the executive order. A little more than 12,000 refugees coming from Syria. More than 9,000 each from Iraq and Somalia. Much smaller numbers as you can see from Iran, Sudan and Yemen. And just one person from Libya in 2016.

And one more number for you to remember, about 110,000 refugees came in in 2016. That, of course, was under the Obama administration. When this program resumes, the Trump administration has signaled that it is willing to take in less than half of that, 50,000.

The three-month ban on refugees provoked several angry responses. A statement from New York mayor Bill de Blasio said, "These policies do not reflect the values of the United States or of New York City. We must continue to embrace refugees in need who are victims of terror not terrorists. We must protect and celebrate religious pluralism. In this great city of immigrants, we will remain true to our values and always welcome all who yearn to breathe free."

This reaction now from Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, "I am heart broken that America is turning its back on a proud history of welcoming refugees and immigrants. The people who helped build your country, ready to work hard in exchange for a fair chance at a new life."

And this from the Iraqi Mutual Aid Society which aids refugees from Muslim countries, "By halting immigration and refugee resettlement from targeted countries, the administration would be splitting up families who have parents and children in the process of approval for immigration and refugee resettlement."

On the same topic, Google is warning its employees from the affected countries to stay in the United States. CNN obtained an internal advisory that was said in a frequently asked questions format.

[02:10:03] One question asks, "I'm a national of a listed country and in the U.S., should I cancel my travel abroad?" Google says, "Please do not travel outside of the U.S. until the ban is lifted." You see it there.

Another question asks, "What if I have urgent international business travel plans?" Well, Google answers pretty unequivocally saying, "Please cancel your trip as you will not be able to reenter the U.S. until the ban is lifted."

Joining me now, J.D. McCrary, executive director of the International Rescue Committee that helps resettle refugees here in the United States. You have about a decade of work under your belt working with refugees. What's your reaction to what we heard on Friday, the executive order suspending the arrival of all refugees for a period of time to the U.S.?

J.D. MCCRARY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE INTERNATIONAL RESCUE COMMITTEE: It is an unfortunate day for the United States. America has shut its door and betrayed its very founding of welcoming the stranger and being a cornerstone of refuge for the world's most persecuted.

VANIER: But you understand the security concern that drives the executive order which is to vet the procedures until such time as the government is confident that all people who are going to be coming in will be people who are safe for the U.S to welcome?

MCCRARY: Correct. But the truth is that vetting process was already well-established and had a long history of working very effectively.

VANIER: So, you've dealt with this issue. You know about the requirements to accept refugees into the U.S. Have you, at any stage, ever felt well, this deserves some tightening? We should take a closer to look at these people.

MCCRARY: Absolutely not. We are welcoming mothers and children and fathers and they are the very people who are fleeing the persecution that the president outlined today that we are trying to avoid. These are folks who have also been through that and are seeking a safe refuge to start over here in America.

VANIER: But if you look at what happened in Europe, for instance, and there was a flow of refugees coming in particular from -- but not only from the Middle East from, Syria, going to Europe. And we know because ISIS said as much that terror groups wanted to use that opportunity to get some of their people infiltrated into Western Europe to carry out attacks and strengthen their networks. Do you understand the concern there, that that could happen in the U.S?

MCCRARY: That is correct. But it could not happen in the U.S. because there is a path to Europe that does not involve the extensive vetting that American refugees go through before they arrive here into the United States.

VANIER: So you're saying they're already -- essentially much better vetted when they come here.

MCCRARY: Much more so. Much more so. We know exactly who they are, we know exactly where they're from, we know exactly what they've been through. They have been -- their names, their contact information, all of their data has been put through every security and in law enforcement database that the United States has. It is impossible to make it all the way through the vetting process and wish to cause harm in the United States.

VANIER: What are you hearing from the refugees?

MCCRARY: They are very concerned. They're very concerned for their families. Specifically the Syrians, for instance, they have families in Syria, in the refugee camps, in Turkey, in Lebanon, in Jordan. They may also have family in Europe and they're all spread out through the process as well. So they're very concerned that they may not see their families ever again.

VANIER: Now, certain categories of refugees are to be prioritized under the new refugee policy of this administration, and that's the religious minorities. That means essentially that's going to ensure that Christians from the Middle East are prioritized over Muslims. Is that something that concerns you?

MCCRARY: It's not that Christians don't face persecution as well, but the entire United States system is based on need. And the most vulnerable people, the most vulnerable families, the most vulnerable individuals in any specific situation are then offered the opportunity for refuge. So it's unfortunate to pull out a specific religion, a specific ethnicity, a specific nationality and prioritize them over someone else who is also in desperate need.

VANIER: All right. J.D. McCrary, thank you very much for your voice. We needed to hear from the refugee community and from people who work with them.

MCCRARY: Thank you.

VANIER: When we come back after the break. U.S. President Donald Trump hosts British Prime Minister Theresa May. What the two leaders had to say about Russia and NATO ahead.


[02:16:39] VANIER: Welcome back. U.S. President Donald Trump has held his first meeting with the world leaders since taking office. He hosted British Prime Minister Theresa May at the White House on Friday. Mrs. May told reporters that they may disagree at times but she promised an open and frank discussion with the U.S. President on thorny issues and that could include NATO. Mr. Trump has repeatedly called the alliance obsolete. The British Prime Minister insisted that the U.S. still backs it.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: On defense and security cooperation, we're united in our recognition of NATO as the bulwark of our collective defense. And today, we've reaffirmed our unshakeable commitment to this alliance. Mr. President I think you said -- confirmed that you're 100 percent behind NATO, but we're also discussing the importance of NATO continuing to ensure it is as equipped to fight terrorism and cyber warfare as it is to fight more conventional forms of war.


VANIER: On Friday, Mr. Trump also spoke to Mexico's president over the phone and he will speak with Russia's president Vladimir Putin later on Saturday. Our Jeff Zeleny has more on the president's busy week engaging with foreign leaders.


DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: Actually, I'm not as brash as you might think.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump welcomed British Prime Minister Theresa may to the White House, pledging to uphold the special relationship with the United Kingdom.

TRUMP: Madam Prime Minister, we look forward to working closely with you as we strengthen our mutual ties in commerce, business and foreign affairs. Great days lie ahead for our two peoples and our two countries.

ZELENY: The world was watching the east room of the White House for Mr. Trump's first meeting with a foreign leader. Yet, it was the more challenging diplomatic test he's facing with Mexico and Russia that took center stage. The president is taking steps to cool an escalating standoff with Mexico. He spoke on the phone for nearly an hour today with the Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto, who canceled the trip to the U.S. over Trump's demand that Mexico pay for a border wall between the two countries.

TRUMP: I have great respect for Mexico. I love the Mexican people.

ZELENY: Yet he stood his ground insisting that Mexico would, one way or another, pay billions.

TRUMP: As you know, Mexico with the United States has out negotiated us and beat us to a pulp through our past leaders. They've made us look foolish. The United States cannot continue to lose vast amounts of business, vast amounts of companies, and millions and millions of people losing their jobs. That won't happen with me. We're no longer going to be the country that doesn't know what it's doing.

ZELENY: A statement from the Mexican government said, "The presidents also agreed at this point not to speak publicly about this controversial issue." That line does not appear in the White House statement about the call.

A week into his presidency, Mr. Trump said it's too early to say whether he will lift sanctions imposed by President Obama against Russian President, Vladimir Putin. He's set to talk with Putin by phone on Saturday. After being criticized for his praise of the Russian leader, Mr. Trump took a more measured approach today.

TRUMP: How the relationship works out? I won't be able to tell that you later. I've had many times where I thought I'd get along with people. And I don't like them at all. And I've had some where I didn't think I was going to have much of a relationship, and it turned out to be a great relationship.

[02:20:03] ZELENY: Standing by his side, Prime Minister May conceded America's election had taken the world by storm.

MAY: I'm delighted to be able to congratulate you on what was a stunning election victory.

ZELENY: It was also Mr. Trump's first time taking questions from the foreign press. Like this one from the BBC.

LAURA KUENSSBERG, BBC REPORTER: What do you say to our viewers at home who are worried about some of your views and worried about you becoming the leader of the free world?

TRUMP: This was your choice of a question?


TRUMP: There goes that relationship.

ZELENY: The president said he believes waterboarding and other forms of torture work, but would follow the lead of Defense Secretary James Mattis, a retired general who opposes such extreme measures.

TRUMP: I don't necessarily agree but I would tell you that he will override because I'm giving him that power.


VANIER: CNN's Jeff Zeleny reporting there. Millions around the world are ringing in the Lunar New Year. When we come back, how Asia is welcoming the year of the rooster.


VANIER: Long time British actor John Hurt has died. That's him as wandmaker Garrick Ollivander in the first two Harry Potter movies. Hurt became a prominent film actor in the 1950s cited for a breakout role in "A Man for All Seasons." Among his extensive movie and T.V. credits were the "Elephant Man", Midnight Express", "1984", "Alien" and "Indiana Jones."

He was honored with the numerous awards over his long career. He was knighted in 2015. No specific reason was given for his death. John Hurt was 77 years old.

Millions of people around the world are spending the next couple weeks celebrating the Lunar New Year. Beijing started off the year of the rooster with fireworks at midnight to begin the first day of this Lunar New Year.

David McKenzie joins us from the Chinese Capital. David, in Beijing, just how big is the CCTV spectacular?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's not just here in Beijing. In fact, it's all over the country. And it's really to give it a sense of scale, it's bigger than the Super Bowl audience, it's bigger than the Emmys, Oscars, Golden Globes, any of them pale in comparison to more than 700 million people who tune into this full and a half hour long spectacular. It's kind of like a traditional review show with mostly singing and dancing but also comedy and traditional Chinese opera. This year, I have to say the reviews on line from Chinese, the netizens, mostly positive perhaps compared to last year which was considered one of the worst ever. After people sit down for several hours as a family watching this, sometimes, falling asleep they get to the midnight hour and then the fireworks begin across China.

Here in Beijing last night, I have to say, there were still many fireworks despite local officials asking people to maybe cool off a little bit because of the pollution issues in this country. But it does all kick off this year of the rooster. A very important time for Chinese both here and across the world, in fact. Cyril?

VANIER: And tell us how China is trying to export this Lunar New Year.

MCKENZIE: Well, certainly, since when I first arrived in China permanently and then have now come for several weeks, you do see a noted shift of the way the Lunar New Year is exported.

[02:25:08] You know, the spectacular itself is put on YouTube and Facebook both of which are banned here in China. But I watched certainly all across the world by Chinese diaspora and others. You now have it being reciprocated.

Theresa May, the Prime Minister of Britain, making a statement and address, congratulating Chinese on the Lunar New Year. This has happened for several years now from the U.K. And also across the world in embassies and Confucius Institutes, China is explicitly saying that this New Year's celebration is a way to push their soft power around the world and to celebrate Chinese culture. Cyril?

VANIER: And David, I have another question for you. This Lunar New Year brings with it a lot of uncertainty.

MCKENZIE: Well, that's right. I mean, certainly, at the government level there's uncertainty. The ministry of foreign affairs is traditionally closed during this period. But I can promise you they have people on standby because of the incoming President Trump because there is a sense that he might bring up the issue of trade between the two countries. It's something he did throughout his campaign and threatened the tariffs on the world's second biggest economy. That's something people are very worried about here in government and in big business, and certainly waiting to see if he puts pen to paper in the coming days. Cyril?

VANIER: David McKenzie reporting live from Beijing, thank you so much.

And tennis fans just an hour away from a major showdown at the Australian open. The queen sisters of tennis squaring off in the final. That's Venus and Serena Williams of course. They're challenging each other for another title. But this one is likely Serena's to lose. The world number two is ranked 15 spots higher than her sister.

Also look on the men's side. Hardly anyone expected another chapter in this legendary rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal that it is happening. They haven't faced each other in more than six years. Sunday, however, will be there be their ninth match-up in a grand slam final.

And that's it from us. Thanks for watching CNN Newsroom. I'm Cyril Vanier back with the headlines in just a moment.