Return to Transcripts main page


Protesters on the Streets Against President Trump's Travel Ban; Reshuffling Top Posts in the National Security Council; Cell Phone Screenings May Be Next; Judges Block Part Of Trump's Immigration Order; U.S. Service Member Killed In Raid On Al Qaeda In Yemen; Islamic Group To File Suit In Response To Trump's Travel Ban. Aired 2- 3p ET

Aired January 29, 2017 - 14:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, FOX HOSTANCHOR Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Sunday, I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We begin with this breaking news. Two key Republican leaders coming out staunchly opposing the president's executive order on immigration.

Just moments ago, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham releasing this statement saying, it is "Clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump's executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security. Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self-inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism."

That confusion is turning into chaotic scenes across the country today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are being detained inside. We came with proper representation documents and we were not allowed in to see them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And I have another daughter in Lebanon stuck in the air with four children, they cannot get here.

WHITFIELD: Impassioned protests entering their second day in major cities after President Trump's travel ban suspends nationals from seven Muslim majority countries from entering into the U.S.

You will get live pictures of a march in New York's Battery Park. Airport officials are still deciding the fate of some American bound passengers. At least 109 people have been detained at U.S. Customs this weekend thus far.

But after federal judges in several cities granted an emergency stay for citizens subject to the travel ban, some were released, 42 people still await their fate. But the White House and the Department of Homeland Security say the ban will stay in place regardless of those court orders.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Inaudible) Muslim ban?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I told you, it's not a Muslim ban but we're totally prepared to work it out very nicely.

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: If there are folks that shouldn't be in this country, they're going to be detained. And so apologize for nothing here.

WHITFIELD: And now, we're also learning the ban could go even further. A White House official tells CNN they may enforce cell phone and social media screenings upon entering the U.S. The politicians on both sides of the aisle are calling the executive order unconstitutional. New York Senator Chuck Schumer issuing this emotional vow.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), N.Y.: This executive order was mean spirited and un-American. It was implemented in a way that created chaos and confusion across the country and it will only serve to embolden and inspire those around the globe who will do us harm.

It might be reversed immediately. Senate Democrats are going to introduce legislation to overturn this and move it as quickly as we can and I as your senator from New York will claw, scrap and fight with every fiber of my being until these orders are overturned.


WHITFIELD: All right. Right now, we're awaiting a press conference from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. We'll bring that to you live as it happens.

Meantime, demonstrators are gathering at Battery Park in New York to protest President Trump's immigration ban. CNN's Jessica Schneider is there joining us live. Jessica.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- for one of us, they come for all of us, right?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fredricka, we saw these hundreds taking their message to JFK yesterday. Wellnow, they have moved their message right here to Battery Park.

Take a look at this scene around me. This has just kicked off. They're right here on the base of New York Harbor overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Of course, this was the welcoming point for thousands of people when they first came to this people country and now people are gathering here to send that message. They say no ban, no wall.

One person I spoke with who's out here rallying is Hamsa Hamsa (ph). Can I grab you for a second? I know you're here, you're holding her sign. But you told me that this issue, this ban against these seven countries is very personal to you just because of your connection to refugees.

HAMSA HAMSA (PH), PROTESTER: Yes. I think my family came from Sri Lanka. There was like a huge genocide of the Tamil people there and my cousins came here on refugee status.

So this ban is like personal to me on that account but also we live in New York City, this is one of the most diverse cities in the world, there's Muslims everywhere and I don't want our country to be less diverse because of these (00:05:00) ignorant policies.

SCHNEIDER: Do you think that these protests, you saw them yesterday, you're out in full force today, will this get the message through, will anything change?

HAMSA: I'm sorry?

SCHNEIDER: Will anything change? Are you hopeful that things will change?

HAMSA: It's hard seeing what the administration has done lately; it's hard to have hope. But as long as we are challenging the narrative that they're putting out, this is not America, we will continue to fight back.

There was just that recent district court decision saying part of change Muslim ban. We can stop this. And we will chip away. We will not stop.

SCHNEIDER: Hamsa, thank you so much. Hamsa did mention, of course, that that district court ruling that did put a say on that executive order as the administration and courts work things out.

But take one more look at this crowd here. It's continuing to fill up. They're expect to hear from the mayor here, Mayor Bill de Blasio who was called this executive action a horrible mistake. We also have seen a flurry of statements from politicians here in New York City. The attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, also saying that this represent a new low in American foreign policy.

These people for the second day now taking to the streets, taking to this very symbolic spot on New York Harbor to try to get their message across that they don't want any sort of ban that they are calling a Muslim ban. Fredricka.


WHITFIELD: All right, Jessica Schneider, thank you so much in lower Manhattan, appreciate that. We heard that impassioned pledge coming from Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer of New York. He also took the opportunity to highlight the voices personally affected by Trump's travel ban. One father whose family was detained and then released spoke out after being reunited with his loved ones.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am a good citizen. I have my own business. I have my own house. But I don't have my children with me. It's very hard to see people being killed right and left and I can't save my own children.

And I have another daughter in Lebanon stuck in the air with four children. They cannot get here. And I appreciate Senator Schumer for his efforts. And he's going to fight this nonsense because America is built on refugees and people like us building America. And we're going to build it better than what Mr. Trump wanted it and I promise you that.

And this future of America -- I've been bringing my kids here to be good citizen. I'm teaching -- my wife is a teacher, educators. She teach them -- well we all teach them to be good and do good for America, for everybody.


WHITFIELD: All right. Six of 14 people detained at New York's JFK airport have been released. Travelers from those seven countries named in Trump's travel ban were stopped upon landing in the U.S.

New York Congressman Hakeem Jeffries is hopeful the detained travelers will all be released from JFK soon calling Trump's ban a smoke screen.


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D), N.Y.: And we're hopeful that moving forward, the Department of Justice, the Trump administration, will abandon this reckless, unconstitutional unsavory, un-American effort and help us all come together to deal with the challenges that are facing the American people.


WHITFIELD: CNN's Rachel Crane just spoke to some of the travelers who were released at New York's JFK airport. So Rachel, what are they talking about in terms of their experiences?

RACHEL CRANE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Fred, we've seen several tearful reunions here this morning of detainees being reunited with their family. We've seen, like I said, many tears, deep hugs.

We had a chance to speak to some of the people that were detained. We talked to one Iranian gentleman who was detained for about 24 hours. He lives in Texas. He described how he felt humiliated as he exited the plane and he was pulled aside with four fellow passengers. He described the suspicious stares that he got from the other passengers that were exiting the plane.

We also spoke to a gentleman named Muhammad who is getting his PhD at Ohio State University. We spoke to him last night. He was incredibly worried about his wife who was coming on an F-2 Visa. She had been detained for about 24 hours. We saw them get reunited today. He was obviously incredibly happy to see his wife but both incredibly tired.

Now, however, there are still people being detained. But everyone that we have spoken to has also taken time to praise the lawyers that have been working around the clock to help these people get released.

And we did speak to one of the lead (00:10:00) volunteer attorneys who's working here today named Steven Rook (ph). He said that they are preparing for more people to be detained today as flights continue to come in. Fred.

WHITFIELD: And as far as you know then, Rachel, do you have any idea of that process that many of them will likely to be enduring once they get to JFK or any of the other nation's airports?

CRANE: Well, the gentleman that I've spoke to who lives in Texas, he described the interrogation process that he underwent. He said that the CBP officers that he spoke to seemed very confused, that he didn't really know what was going on. He said that they would tell him that he would be released in ten minutes and then it would be hours later, he was still being interrogated.

He also said that they admitted that some of the questions that they were asking him were incredibly silly. They refer to them as silly questions like asking his address. But all of the people that have been released here today and are still being detained have certainly undergone thorough interrogation. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Rachel Crane, thank you so much at New York's JFK airport.

All right. Protest are also taking place right in front of the White House. That's where we find CNN's White House correspondent Athena Jones.

So Athena, there is some distance between the White House lawn where you are and the protest there generally outside of Lafayette Park. But it is something that likely the White House will take notice of or can at least hear if not see some of those protesters, right?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. They can absolutely hear them. I can hear them right now. We're talking about at least several hundred people gathered over there. I saw people streaming onto the protest site carrying signs saying things like make America kind again, Muslims welcome.

Several signs quoting Emma Lazarus' famous poem, 'The New Colossus'. That's the poem on the Statue of Liberty that says "Give us your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free."

So a lot of emotional reaction not just from people who are directly affected by this new move but also by people who say they are concerned about a policy that they see as unconstitutional and un- American; a policy that is sow in chaos and confusion.

But if you talk to the White House, the White House officials are standing their ground. And they say, what chaos? Take a listen to what Chief of Staff Reince Priebus had to say about all this on "Meet the press".


PRIEBUS: It wasn't chaos. I mean, the fact of the matter is 325,000 people from foreign countries came into the United States yesterday and 109 people were detained for further questioning, most of those people were moved out. We've got a couple dozen more that remain. And I would suspect as long as they're not awful people that they will move through before another half a day today.

And perhaps some of these people should be detained further and If there are folks that shouldn't be in this country, they're going to be detained. And so apologize for nothing here.


JONES: So he said they're apologizing for nothing. And I can't stress enough, Fred, that these moves are moves that the president's supporters would applaud. This is something that Trump ran on doing. And so now he's doing it. That's how the White House views this, it's a promise kept.

President Trump also tweeting this morning saying our country needs strong borders and extreme vetting now. Look what is happening all over Europe and indeed the world, a horrible mess.

A couple of hours later he tweeted, Christians in the middle east have been executed in large numbers. We cannot allow this horror to continue. So the White House is standing its ground and defiant. They see this as an action that they believe needs to be taken. Fred.

WHITFIELD: In the meantime, President Trump and his administration wasted no time responding to those who oppose the travel ban, even a statement coming out to say that despite some court orders, it will still be exercised.

JONES: That's right. The Department of Homeland Security said they're complying with the court ruling but then the White House is also saying that the rulings don't impact the implementation of the executive order.

And in a pretty strongly worded statement that my colleague Ryan Nobles got this morning saying, they say all stopped visas will remain stopped, all halted admissions will remain halted, all restricted travel will remain prohibited. The executive order is a vital action toward strengthening America's borders.

So they say they're going to continue with this policy; this policies stands. The rulings are not going to affect the overall implementation.

WHITFIELD: All right. Athena Jones, thank you so much from the White House. Now on to New York, Governor Andrew Cuomo speaking -- about to. Let's listen in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEFFRIES: Many of you may have heard earlier this week, a Muslim

worker at JFK airport was abused, mocked, physically and verbally assaulted by a man who was enraged because of a simple fact that she is Muslim.

A brief summary of the facts. Rabeya Khan (ph) was in her office at an airport lounge when she was approached by a traveler. The traveler asked Ms. Khan if she was sleeping. And then asked if she was praying. He punched the door. He threatened her. He kicked her in her right leg (00:15:00). He tried to block her from leaving her office. And then got on his knees to mock a Muslim in prayer. When Ms. Khan asked what she had done to her attacker, he told her nothing.

Based on public reports and the criminal complaint that's been filed, his only reason for assaulting Ms. Khan was because of her religious beliefs. This recent incident was a despicable act that we all should take very seriously. The Queens District Attorney's Office is actively investigating this matter. And we're offering any and all resources that they might need.

And in light of this attack, we are proposing new actions to protect airport workers. The Governor will be advancing legislation --


WHITFIELD: OK. We're going to return to that. They are talking about a hate crime. And we will try to get a little bit more detail on that and how the office is flushing that out.

Meantime, soon to come, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo who we expect will be addressing the number of protests that have taken place not just in New York but we know now across the country. But particularly, he will be addressing all that has unfolded as it relates to a number of people detained at JFK airport as a result of the executive order that went into place on Friday. We will get back to that.

All right, meantime, a brand new images of President Trump on the phone, we understand, with the King of Saudi Arabia today. Trump took the call in the oval office today. This is just his first call with foreign leaders for today that are scheduled.

Later, we understand that Trump will be speaking with the crown prince of the United Arab Emirates and the acting president of South Korea.

Overlooked in the uproar of President Obama's travel ban was another executive order. Let me rephrase that because that copy actually isn't correct. We're talking about the travel ban that has been imposed by our new president, Donald Trump, also was another signing of an order that took place yesterday.

And with the stroke of the pen, President Trump has effectively removed the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of the National Intelligence from the committee saying that they would be invited when issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are discussed. Arizona Republican Senator John McCain praising the president's

national security team but then also expressing that he has some concerns about who would be at that meeting.


SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZ.: I think the national security team around President Trump is very impressive. And I think you couldn't ask for a better one, whether it be General Kelly, General Flynn, is great, General Mattis and the ones they are bringing onboard on their team.

I am worried about the National Security Council, who are the members of it and who are the permanent members? The appointment of Mr. Bannon is something which is a radical departure from any National Security Council in history.

Remember Karl Rove, when he sat in on one and Axelrod when he was supposed -- look, the role of the the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff has been diminished, I understand, with this reorganization. One person that was indispensable would be the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff in my view. so it's of concern this, "Reorganization."


WHITFIELD: All right. So for more, now on this, I'm joined by CNN Washington correspondent Ryan Nobles in addition to John McCain talking to the Sunday show this morning on "Face the Nation", Reince Priebus came out on "Meet the Press" and he was pressed on that very issue and Reince Priebus said in trying to make it clear, he said, "The chairman of the joint chiefs and the director of National Intelligence 'are invited as attendees at any time.'"

So it help sort out the confusion as to whether invitation is open or welcome to the meetings is the same as the expectation as they would always be there.

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there are certainly some concern here in Washington by both Republicans and Democrats by this new memo that was put out by the White House which does reorganize this Principles Committee of the National Security Council, which is a pretty important committee.

This is usually the committee that only sits in front of the president. So the National Security Commission will hash out some issues but when the president is involved, it's this Principles Committee that takes part.

And as you mentioned before, according to this memo, both chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the director of National Intelligence will only be a part of those meetings if what they're talking about is pertinent to their areas of expertise but not everybody thinks that's a good idea, you heard there from John McCain.

But President Obama's Ambassador to the United Nations' Susan Rice really went off on this idea in a series of tweets over the past 24 hours. She laid in to the Trump administration for this move (00:20:00). She said, "This is stone cold crazy. After a week of crazy, who needs military advice or intel to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan or DPRK which is, of course, North Korea?"

She then went on to criticize another part of the memo that says that in the president's absence that the vice president, Mike Pence, can sit in. Susan Rice said that Pence may chair the NSC meetings and lieu of POTUS that never happened under Obama, U.N. ambassador sidelined from cabinet and sub-cabinet level meetings.

Now, this is different than what's been done in past administrations. But as you mentioned, Fred, Reince Priebus pushback on the idea that there is anything wrong with this. He believes that this will be a more streamlined process when it comes to intelligence gathering and decision making on behalf of the president. Listen to what he said this morning on "Meet the Press".


PRIEBUS: They're included as attendees any time that they want to be included, Chuck, if you read the order.

CHUCK TODD, NBC HOST: So it is not correct then because in the order, it said it was sort of as need.

PRIEBUS: If you read the order, they're invited as attendees to the security council at any time.


NOBLES: So, of course, that has some concerned but of course the big concern from people like John McCain is the fact that Steve Bannon will be on this committee at all times, the Principles Committee.

And he has thought of as being a political adviser to the president, not necessarily a military or intelligence strategist. So that's why folks like John McCain are concerned about having someone like that in this role on the Principles Committee. But, of course, Fredricka, this is under the purview of the president of the United States and this the decision that he made. Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Brian Nobles at the White House, thanks so much. All right, coming up, I talk to a former senior advisor to Trump's campaign and get his reaction to this National Security Council reshuffle and his former boss' decision to ban millions of foreign nationals from entering the U.S. This as we continue to watch the protests across the country.


WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Atlanta. Live pictures right now. Protests breaking out across the country as confusion takes hold at airports in the fallout from Donald Trump's executive order barring 134 million people from seven mostly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. Meantime, as all of this unfolds, Donald Trump has made another unprecedented decision adding his top adviser Steve Bannon to the National Security Council while simultaneously removing the director of National Intelligence and chairman of the joint chiefs of staff from their regular duties at that council meeting.

Susan Rice, President Obama's national security adviser was simply shocked at Trump's decision and she tweeted her feelings about all of this. Rice saying this is stone cold crazy. After a week of crazy, who needs military advice or intel to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK.

Take a listen now to how Trump Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded to her tweet this morning on ABC.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: With all due respect, I think Ambassador Rice might want to wait and let them see how we handle this. Because I think so far, they've got an expert team of folks that have come in to understand the national (inaudible) intelligence systems and how we can modernize --

MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC HOST: But streamlined without the chairman, without the DNI.

SPICER: We've got an unbelievable group of folks that are part of the NSC, they are making decisions to get the -- the president gets plenty of information from the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. He continues to meet with them on a regular basis. He gets briefed by the secretary of defense.

But what they have done is modernize the National Security Council so that it's less bureaucratic and more focused on providing the president with the intelligence he needs to make --

RADDATZ: And Steve Bannon? What does he provide?

SPICER: Well, he's a former naval officer. He's got a tremendous understanding of the world and the geopolitical landscape that we have now.


WHITFIELD: All right. Joining me right now, Jack Kingston, a former senior advisor to Trump's campaign and a former Georgia congressman.

So under the law -- good to see you -- these positions we're talking about are actually the only two statutory advisers to the National Security Council. And streamlining these conversations from experts on national security seems dangerous if you listen to some of the critics already. Even John McCain, senator of Arizona, was saying he's very concerned about this.

What's your reaction to how these decisions are being made in terms of who comes to the table of this National Security Council? JACK KINGSTON, FORMER GEORGIA CONGRESSMAN: Well, a couple of things,

Fred. Number one, the president, as all presidents, has the right to assemble his team as he sees fit and put them in the right positions.

But Senator McCain certainly has his right to question it and that's the good thing about the division of power that you do have a legislative branch. I know when President Obama took office, he appointed a number of czars, somewhat outside of the senate approval process and we in the legislative branch raised Cain about it.

Susan Rice, she certainly is a private citizen, has her right to criticize. I would point out she's the one who went on national news saying that Benghazi was caused by a video and had nothing -- the Benghazi attack on our embassy in which our ambassador was killed, that was her immediate statement to go on five major news networks --

WHITFIELD: That's in a side issue because the issue at hand is who is at the table? And when you have a number of people from Senator McCain to Susan Rice who talk about just some real trepidation in trusting this kind of decision making instead of being more inclusive, it's excluding positions that are customarily part of that process. That's not concerning to you?

KINGSTON: Well, let me get back to Susan Rice. I'm just saying she doesn't have the credibility that a John McCain has and that John McCain has questioned this move.

And I think his criticism will probably be heard by the White House and I think as it goes by, they're talking about including people by invitation but probably a permanent slot, I think the White House could reexamine that. But I do think they have their right to assemble their team as they see fit.

And the ultimate goal here is, of course, to protect the American people. And yesterday's executive order about come up with a 90-day plan on fighting terrorism, that's part of this. And I think this fits into it as well. So criticism is valid. It comes with the turf.

WHITFIELD: OK. Well, since that you do respect the thoughts and opinions of Senator McCain on this and you do feel like he has a place in which to inject his opinion. He also says he's very concerned that it appears as though this White House avoided consulting with Homeland Security or even state department about this executive order before putting into place and that this order was not thoroughly vetted. Do you agree or disagree with that (00:30:00)?

[14:30:02] KINGSTON: Well, I think that sometimes a president might not ask everybody's permission because he wants to move along with it. As you know, Washington resists change this week and this administration has been about implementing a number of new policies and doing it quickly so that they can get off to the right start fulfilling a number of campaign promises.

But the other thing is we know Donald Trump is the kind of guy who doesn't sit around and wait for consensus. So this is part of his leadership style and the American people knew that when they elected him and so he's just following through.

WHITFIELD: Is it your concern or even worry that this executive order would be used as a propaganda tool for terrorist groups such as an ISIS?

KINGSTON: No. I know we always hear that. I think ISIS is capable of using anything they want at any time. They're masters with social media. But, you know, often we were politically correct under President Obama and yet, it did not stop lone wolf attacks in the United States and it did not stop recruitment.

ISIS, as you know, did not exist when President Obama was sworn into office. It came about under his watch and he went out of his way not to offend certain people, certain groups and not send signals and it did not work. So I don't think we can say because you're doing this, ISIS is going to be recruiting more.

WHITFIELD: What is your view when you look at -- these are live pictures out of Boston, when you see these protests that erupted across the country, people who are expressing their concerns and their fears as a result of this executive order and especially after reportedly no terrorists who have carried out any attacks on the U.S. come from any of those seven nations that are now singled out in this executive order?

KINGSTON: Well, first of all, let me say this is a great example of freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. It's an example of different branches of government. Judges have gotten involved. Bipartisan group of legislators have as well. I think that this is going to get sorted out.

I think there's clearly people, veterans and soldiers, and business people who will be quickly expedited. Their passports and paperwork will get straightened out quickly as Reince Priebus pointed out, 325,000 people traveled to America yesterday, 109 people were detained. That's going to get faster and faster. But remember --

WHITFIELD: You mean faster and faster meaning many of those people who were detained who have been released say were detained for upwards of 12 to 17 hours.

KINGSTON: Yes. That's disturbing but remember there were still 325,000 people who entered the country without a glitch. But the list of seven countries, those are seven countries of concern that were outlined by the obama team, the intelligence team.

WHITFIELD: As being places where there were terrorist camps. Jack Kingston, thank you for your time. Appreciate it. We have so much more straight ahead. Appreciate it.

We are trying to get a lot in to a little bit of time. Coming up, a federal judge blocking part of President Trump's executive order on the travel ban. Will more lawsuits overturn the controversial ban and is the case headed to the U.S. Supreme Court? When we come back, we'll discuss that scenario and talk about the political implications of Trump's executive orders.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Vocal protests outside of the White House there in the nation's capital. People who are protesting the executive order in place now for just two days, mostly nationals of mostly Muslim nations, seven nations, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Iran barred from entering the U.S. and this is what is playing out across the country.

You just saw right outside the White House and now live pictures of Boston as well. Let's discuss this travel ban with our panel. David Gergen is a CNN senior political analyst, and Paul Callan is a CNN legal analyst. Good to see both of you, Gentlemen.

So David, let me get your reaction first on this new report that CNN has that the Trump administration is discussing the possibility of asking foreign visitors to disclose all websites and social media sites they visit as well as their cell phone contacts and what is your thought to this ban now including those kinds of rigors?

DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Fredricka, as we said yesterday, the president has a right, I think, to defend our borders. He made it clear in his campaign he was going to strengthen the vetting process.

But that said, you know, it's very, very important from here on out after the chaos and confusion and frankly the damage to America's public face around the world and the harm that came or the pain that these families felt, I think it's imperative that the White House do this in a much more orderly thoughtful fashion bringing in Homeland Security and others.

These things about getting into websites and social media and who your contacts are and so forth, maybe they'll work but there ought to be evidence before we move down that track. We should not do things that invade people's privacy too much. We ought to ask questions that are reasonable.

It's worth remembering we have strengthened enormously our vetting process since 9/11. In the years that followed the -- the 15 years or so that followed, if you come in as a refugee, you've been vetted for two years. People paying close attention to you.

So I think the administration is really important that they do it carefully. They do it thoughtfully. They do it with empathy for the people involved and to show the world that we're not an anti- Muslim nation.

The message we've sent out so far is Muslims are not welcome in America anymore. That is not where we want to be. That's what a lot of these demonstrations are about.

WHITFIELD: Well, when the administration has been challenged on the selection of these seven countries, Reince Priebus this morning reiterated, if anything, there may be expansion and may consider including other nations.

[14:40:00]And at the same releasing a statement that despite court orders, they will proceed as the executive order spells out. So what in your view, David, is the big consequence or perhaps even the biggest gain from this White House digging in its heels about this executive order?

GERGEN: Well, you know, they are being very defensive. They are new to their jobs and so forth. This controversy has become the biggest single action of his presidency and frankly is damaging him politically. His supporters will rally around but much of the world is aghast and just very upset.

You have demonstrations to prove that. I think going forward the additional question Paul Callan can respond to this much more than I can, as lawyers who are involved trying to help the people who are coming in, they have expressed a fear and passed a message to me that their biggest fear is that the administration may flout the law.

That it may essentially say the judges -- they'll dismiss the judges and there's already been conflicting reports coming out of the White House itself about whether they will respect what these judges have said.

I think if they dismiss it and flout the law, this could move into the area of constitutional crisis. I doubt that will happen, but Paul will be able to shed light on it.

WHITFIELD: So Paul, do you see this as going to the U.S. Supreme Court?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I do see this going to the Supreme Court and frankly David raises a very legitimate issue here. If the Trump administration shows to flout the orders of these federal judges, you would have a severe constitutional crisis. But people should understand when I last checked, I think four federal district courts have ruled against the Trump administration.

Now, those orders tend to be binding only in the districts in which those courts exist. So, for instance, the Boston Federal Court has issued an order which will be enforced by federal marshals in Boston.

That's the reason why I think ultimately we have to see this go up to the U.S. Supreme Court so that the same rule exists throughout the United States and hopefully in the districts where federal orders have been issued, the administration will obey those orders as has been the custom and practice throughout the history of the United States or David is right, we would have a real constitutional crisis on our hands.

WHITFIELD: All right, Paul Callan, David Gergen, we'll leave it right there. Thank you so much, Gentlemen. We'll have much more right after this.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back. A U.S. service member died from wounds suffered during a raid against al Qaeda in Yemen. Three other service members were also wounded. President Donald Trump authorized this operation and he just released this statement saying "Americans are saddened this morning with the news that a life of a heroic service member has been taken in our fight against the evil of radical Islamic terrorism.

My deepest thoughts and humblest prayers are with the family of this fallen service member. I also pray for a quick and complete recovery for the brave service members who sustained injuries," end quote.

I want to bring in CNN's Pentagon reporter, Ryan Browne. What more do we know about this service member killed?

RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, the service member was fatally wounded during a raid on an al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula headquarters that's al Qaeda's local affiliate in Yemen. The raid was what's called a site exploitation raid, which is designed to gather as much intelligence as possible to facilitate further raids down the road.

Now a big fire fight broke out, about 14 al Qaeda members were killed. Three additional service members were wounded. While they were leaving, a U.S. V22 Osprey aircraft crashed and the U.S. decided to destroy that. It was a hard landing. They destroyed it to prevent it from falling into enemy hands.

WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan Browne, thank you so much in Washington. Coming up, members of the Muslim community rejecting claims that the travel ban is not a Muslim ban. One Islamic advocacy group is threatening to launch another legal challenge with the White House.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The Trump administration insists the travel ban is not a Muslim ban but many Muslims don't see it that way. CAIR, the Council on Islamic Relations, plans to file a lawsuit tomorrow challenging the president's executive order.

I'm joined now by Ibrahim Hooper, the national communications director for CAIR. Good to see you. So what grounds are you making this complaint -- filing this complaint?

IBRAHIM HOOPER, NATIONAL COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN ISLAMIC RELATIONS: Well, we're making the complaint based on constitutional grounds. We believe it is a violation of the establishment clause of the constitution that says you can't favor one religion over another. You can't discriminate against people based on their religion. It will be based on that because taken in its entirety, it's

clear that this is a Muslim ban. More than a year ago then Candidate Trump said he wanted to ban all Muslims from entering the United States and nothing he said since that time would indicate that he's changed his mind.

In fact, we believe the author of this latest iteration of the Muslim ban is this white supremacist, Steve Bannon, who is on the National Security Council. It is really disturbing that we would be violating the constitution by basically singling out people based on their faith.

And the president said it himself within the last couple days. He said Syrians and others who are Christians will come in. Syrians who are Muslims will not come in. So it's from his own lips that he's pronouncing that this is a religious ban.

WHITFIELD: I know your opinion that Steve Bannon is a white supremacist, but we don't have anything that substantiates that claim.

HOOPER: All you have to do is read Breitbart where he was publisher of Breitbart News and you'll see clearly from what is published there and his past statements in support of this suppose alt right movement, which is just another word for White supremacist.

WHITFIELD: OK, so let's keep to this complaint that you are filing and on the grounds that, you know, some religions may be favored over others in this executive order. It also talks about trying to expedite some protections for practicing Christians in any number of these seven states. With the removal of some of that language, do you believe that that would weaken your claim?

HOOPER: I think the courts have traditionally given presidents wide latitude to bar people from the United States, but you can't bar them. There's a law that says you can't bar them because of national origin, and there's a constitution that says you can't bar them because of faith and this executive order does both.

WHITFIELD: All right. Ibrahim Hooper, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it. Tomorrow your filing will take place, right?

HOOPER: Yes. Tomorrow at 1:00 p.m.

WHITFIELD: All right, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it. The next hour of the NEWSROOM starts right after this.



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Stephanie Elam live on the red carpet from the 23rd Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards. You can see the preps are still happening. Everything is getting in place here to honor the best in television and film from the previous year.

But a lot of the talk right now is all about the Muslim ban and the travel ban. A lot of stars and heavy weights from Hollywood are tweeting about that. Of course, we expect to hear more of that as this red carpet gets under way and as more of the stars make their way here and onto the stage. We'll have more on NEWSROOM after this.


WHITFIELD: Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for being with me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. We have breaking news on the president's executive order on immigration. Two key Republican leaders voicing staunch opposition.

Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham releasing a statement saying, quote, "It is clear from the confusion at our airports across the nation that President Trump's executive order was not properly vetted. We are particularly concerned by reports that this order went into effect with little to no consultation with the Departments of State, Defense, Justice and Homeland Security.

Ultimately, we fear this executive order will become a self- inflicted wound in the fight against terrorism," end quote. A confusion is turning into chaotic scenes across the country today.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're being detained inside. We came with proper representation, documents and we were not allowed to see them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have a daughter from Lebanon stuck in the air with four children and they cannot get here.


WHITFIELD: We continue to monitor protests and marches in major cities at this hour across the country.

Six of 14 people detained at New York's JFK Airport have been released. Travelers from the seven countries named in Trump's travel ban were stopped upon landing in the U.S.