Return to Transcripts main page
Trump's Travel Ban Ignites Protests Across U.S.; Crowds Nationwide Protest President's Travel Ban; Trump's Fresh Defense of New Travel Ban; American Muslim Group Agrees with Trump's Travel Ban; U.S. Service Member Killed in Raid on Al Qaeda; Susan Rice: Security Council Reshuffle is "Crazy". Aired 6-7p ET
Aired January 29, 2017 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump's executive order was not properly vetted. We fear this executive order maybe more to help terrorists recruitment than improve our security. The White House is standing firm saying that the travel ban is going to stay in place.
I want to go now to the White House where correspondent, Athena Jones, is covering this for us. Tell us what President Trump is saying, Athena.
ATHENA JONES, CNN REPORTER: Hi, Brianna. Well, it's a pretty lengthy statement. He mentioned the media quite a bit in the statement which is pretty unusual.
I'll read for you, I'll read to you part of it. He says, "We will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and voters." He added, "This is not a Muslim ban as the media is falsely reporting. This is not about religion. This is about terror and keeping our country safe."
He said, "Its first priority will always be to protect and serve our country but as president I will find ways to help all of those who are suffering." So this is a defense that the president coming out, and defending, and justifying this move, which the White House has said is necessary because the screening process, the vetting process for people coming into the country is will fully inadequate.
So that is his statement there responding to this criticism that it seems clearly the White House knew that this move would please the supporters, the president supporters, the people who elected him to office but they seem to be a little taken aback by the reaction around the world and including from members of their own party.
KEILAR: But Athena.
KEILAR: You have Republicans who are pointing out that they don't think this was done in any sort of conjunction with the advise even say from the Department of Homeland Security in any big way. What is White House saying to that to these charges that they ruled
this out in sort of a haphazard way without any buy-in, or without even making sure that this was a good idea or they were able to execute it in the way they want to?
JONES: Well a couple of things, Brianna, for one thing, the White House would not agree that this has been carried out in a haphazard way. We heard from the president himself that we have heard from senior administration officials in a briefing yesterday, they feel that this is being able to manage just as they wanted it to be, they talked about professionalism, and skill, and seamless nature of the implementation of this executive order.
But so they stand by it and believe it's doing what they want it to do and what they feel is necessary. Brianna.
KEILAR: All right, Athena Jones at the White House, thank you.
And at the same time the President Trump was defending his travel ban, people across the nation have been protesting it. Crowds gathered right now in Boston, San Francisco, Washington, and New York as chaos and confusion continues to ripple through U.S. airports.
Dozens of people are still detained. They're stuck in legal limbo even after judges and several cities granted an emergency state for those affected by the ban targeting seven Muslim majority nations.
The legal maneuver did help get nearly 70 people release though including this five year old boy at Washington's Dulles Airport. He was detained for hours while his mother waited and worried about him. An also this American citizen in the Bronx says the ban may keep him from moving his grandkids now stuck in a danger zone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP):
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.
So, and I have another daughter at Lebanon stuck there with four children. They cannot get here.
(END VIDEO CLIP):
KEILAR: I want to take you around the country right now. CNN's Jessica Schneider is in New York, Polo Sandoval in Atlanta for us, Rosa Flores in Chicago, and we also have Dan Simon reporting at LAX Airport in Los Angeles.
Jessica, I want to start with you first. Tell us where you are. We know you started at Battery Park. It seems like this procession has gone a considerable distance. And what are people there telling you they want?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, we have gone a considerable distance. We're in the midst of the protest right now. Still going strong about four hours after this started.
So to give you a glimpse, we're at Federal Plaza. This is sort of the seat of the federal government here in New York City. We're surrounded by the federal district court, also the offices for the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, also the Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
These people marched about a mile up. We're hearing from some of the protesters now, they started at Battery Park, an interesting and symbolic place to start of course on the banks of New York Harbor overlooking the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island where millions of immigrants entered this country.
The people out here saying that they want to get that message to Donald Trump that we are a nation of immigrants, that this executive order is out of bounds. The people here also got their voices joined by politicians today.
Mayor Bill de Blasio here in New York was out saying that this sends a horrible message to the rest of the world. New York senator, Chuck Schumer saying this is just bad for humanity. So the people out here echoing those same sentiments by politicians.
People I talked with really didn't have personal stories. I spoke to one man from Iran, he came here seven years ago, he has a green card but because of all the uncertainties surrounding this he just cancelled a family reunion he was supposed to have in Europe this summer.
So a lot of concern out here, a lot of unity though in that one message has tagged; No Ban, No Wall. Brianna.
KEILAR: Thanks, Jessica.
And let's head now to talk to Polo Sandoval. He is at the busiest airport in the country, Hartsfield Jackson in Atlanta. Tell us about the scene where you are, Polo.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The message here Brianna seems to be Trump Out and refugees in. It's really much of what we have seen across the country.
And what I can tell you Brianna is that we have seen these crowds continue to grow by the hour. And as you mentioned this is one of the countries largest airports. So this is presenting a challenge for airport officials to try to continue the operations. Because what we have seen just outside the arrivals gates here in Atlanta, hundreds really, well over a thousand people that have gathered here with that message for President Donald Trump, that they feel that this executive action is not just unconstitutional but also un-American, Brianna.
And finally I could tell you that we have at least 11, (INAUDIBLE), rather 11 individuals that are detained here. Yesterday we are told that they were eventually released, withheld from city officials and also with the Representative John Lewis, I know are very vocal critic of Donald Trump. And so now as we just heard a few moments ago from the Mayor Kasim
Reed, of the city of Atlanta, the concern now is about trying to make sure those resources are there for some of these individuals. Brianna, I want you to hear directly from the Mayor what kind of steps he has been taking, and also what the position is from the city of Atlanta with respect to some of Donald Trump's (INAUDIBLE). Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP):
SANDOVAL: (INAUDIBLE) a message, and then finally of course the message that you would like to send at President Trump, as a mayor of one of the most culturally diverse cities in the country, what is your message (INAUDIBLE) sir?
KASIM REED, MAYOR OF ATLANTA: Well I mean my message is that we need to remove and repel the executive order and have a real conversation. The fact of the matter is, is we believe very strongly that President Trump's order is illegal and improper.
And at least if the order is going to go forward, we have to have a firm rule that individuals who are detained have access to counsel. I mean the fact of the matter is we have 11 individuals who are impacted last night but any individual who was impacted by this order, just think about this, should have the right to see an attorney. And that right should not be impeded.
KEILAR: All right, that was Mayor Kasim Reed, the mayor of Atlanta.
I want to talk now to Dan Simon. He is at LAX. Tell us about what people there are telling you, Dan?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well hi, Brianna. It is an extraordinary situation here at LAX. This crowd that you see behind me, it goes for at least a football field. We're talking about thousands that have gathered here in the international terminal.
But Brianna, we have some news that we want to share for you. We told you about the story of a 25-year old woman who had been detained for 24 hours, and we're just told that she has now been released. I want to talk to an attorney who helped secure the release.
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Inaudible).
SIMON: OK. You spoke to this woman, I know she doesn't want to use her name but she is 25 years old. What did she tell you about her detainment?
UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: OK. Well she didn't want to talk that much but we know that she's been detained since yesterday at 4 o'clock. The Turkish Airlines flight landed at 4:00 pm , and her family member has been waiting for her since yesterday and they just released her just under 24 hours.
And I think it's because (INAUDIBLE) he was here earlier, and he told them that if it is past 24 hours then we will take extreme measures. So they released most of them under 24 hours. And this is a victory for us because we attached for the demonstrators and (INAUDIBLE) office, and everyone, all the attorneys, (INAUDIBLE) she was here since last night, we were here, she left at 3:30, I left at 1:00, and we came back here this morning to be with the family. And the family, she was just released, she said she's going to talk to us a little later. She doesn't want her name to be known because of course she's a refugee and she doesn't you know any repercussions of this.
But it's a huge victory for us. We are very happy and this is what America looks like, and this is the democracy. And we are not going to stand for anyone who is going to take away our civil liberties and I want everyone to know that they made a difference today.
We all made a difference. Thank you to all attorneys and to all demonstrators, to the mayor's office, and everyone who were instruments in this. We thank you.
SIMON: Thank you very much for your time. I appreciate it. And Brianna, that really tells the story. You can just feel the passion that she is exuding and that's really the story here at LAX. So many people here who are angry about this order, coming together trying to express their disapprovals and we never really expected to see kind of crowd.
The people who put it on, maybe a few hundred but now we're definitely seeing well more than several, I don't three or four thousand people. And you just heard about one story of a person who the least we know that others apparently as well detained.
But we haven't got many official work from federal immigration authorities who are still trying to figure out how many people still maybe detained and trying to get information on a bunch of aspects will be released. Brianna?
KEILAR: Dan Simon, at LAX for us.
Let's turn to Chicago now. That's where we find Rosa Flores. And you've been seeing, behind you we see protesters. Where are you in the airport there? And tell us about the protesters and what they've been telling you, Rosa?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well you know Brianna, these protesters telling me that they are exercising their first amendment right for all of those people who can't because they're either detained, or because they are too afraid to speak for themselves.
But I want to show you around because this terminal, and this is the arrivals terminal for all the international flights has turned into a mini-immigration law clinic. So you can see here that this is the arrival so this is where we've been seeing reunions of families coming in from Iraq, coming in from Syria, and families being very, very emotional.
But as you walk over and I'm going to show you here right now, there are group of attorneys who have been here since yesterday. They have been talking to the families and the people who have been held. From talking to them they tell me that there's been between 18 to 25 people held here in Chicago O'Hare's airport yesterday.
Today they say that, that number is a bit fluid because these people have not been held as long as they were yesterday. Now yesterday Brianna, hear this, they told me that even U.S. citizens were being held but after questioning they were released.
But here's the other thing that is a bit mind boggling, I talked to them about access to these people because they're right here, you saw the arriving terminal here very, very close by. They told me that they don't have access to these people. And I asked why, why would in the United States if someone ask for an attorney while someone is being questioned, why they wouldn't have access to an attorney.
They said that the answer that they received was this was an administrative matter so that they don't have access to these people. But you know we're going to be here, we've seen several families come through, Brianna, very emotional, there's a lot of emotion and a lot of fear in this community.
And they're all expressing that they're so grateful for other protesters around the country who are voicing the, raising their voices and speaking out for them. Brianna.
KAILER: All right, Rosa, we know you'll continue to follow this story there at Chicago O'Hare airport. Thank you to you as well as to Dan, Polo and Jessica.
And you are looking now at live pictures from Portland. So, the airport there where you see protesters around the country; New York, Chicago, they've been in Houston, and now here in Portland, Oregon as protests are up across the U.S.
You're looking at Washington Dulles where we had seen detentions as well, people holding signs there in the areas people will be arriving, coming into the Washington D.C. area.
Let's take a look now at New York. This is as well where we've been seeing protests, this down, the protesters are coming from Battery Park and they've walked up past city hall, and we are going to continue to monitor that protest as well.
And we will be back in just a moment.
KAILER: President Trump is defending his travel ban with fresh words emphasizing compassion. The president says, "We will continue to show compassion to those fleeing oppression, but we will do so while protecting our own citizens and borders. America has always been the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave. We will keep it free and keep it safe, as the media knows but refuses to say ." That is the end of that quote.
And this comes amid a second day of protests over Trump's order, barring those from seven Muslim majority nations from entering the U.S. I want to bring in our panel now, we have David Gergen, Senior
Political Analyst and former aid to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Clinton. And also with us is David Drucker, he is a Senior Congressional Correspondent for the Washington Examiner.
And to you first David Gergen, you have attorneys general from 16 states now condemning this ban and protests even in traditionally red areas I guess you could say like Kansas City. Have you ever seen something like this, this much of a pushback over a president's executive order especially as his presidency is so nascent?
DAVID GERGEN, SENIOIR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well we had plenty of demonstrations in this country over time and of course the demonstration against the War in Vietnam, and demonstrations against Nixon in the '60s and '70s were huge and had a huge impact on the conduct to that war.
But I must tell you this is the biggest pushback we've seen in modern times. We've never seen anything like this happen at the beginning of a presidency. We've never had a sense of embarrassment that what our president was doing was not expressing our values to the world.
You know so I think there is some huge differences. And I think this is big, important. And by the way it's sending a different message that American citizens have a very different view. And welcome immigrants and welcome refugees. The Statue of Liberty has not become you know passe.
KAILER: David Drucker, the policy director for the White House has said, "Look, this is just hysteria that the media is capturing. And people are behind what the White House is doing here. Obviously there are a number of people who support what the White House is doing. A number of people who voted for Donald Trump and like this promise that he made.
But what is your assessment to where this is politically for Donald Trump and how this allows him - I mean has he spent capital in a way that is going to hurt him here?
DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT WASHINGTON EXAMINER: I don't know if it's going to hurt him so much just because we're at the beginning of his presidency and there is so much yet to happen. I would say that I think a lot of the sensitivity and concern on the part of the protesters and even Republicans that don't like how broad the executive order was has to do with what the president said on the campaign trail.
There was a point during the campaign when he called for a complete ban on immigration of Muslims into the United States causing just about every Republican that we you know can think of who they are, they're prominent Republicans, to reject that and say it goes against the constitution, it goes against the values of the Republican party.
I think if Trump had never proposed that and never said that, the reaction to this particular executive order might have been a little different. And you know I finally say Brianna that we saw late today the president come out with a statement showing that they are sensitive to some of the criticism.
And if you read this statement which you have done a couple of times, it sounds in and of itself like any other Republican that might have been like the president had a (INAUDIBLE) Trump could have given that statement.
And I think it might have caused, if that would have been Donald Trump's redirect during the campaign might have caused people to look at this executive order a little bit differently even if they had issues with how it was worded.
KEILAR: It's a really interesting point, David Gergen, that David is making there because the folks behind Donald Trump will say, "Look, President Obama had a pause in refugees coming in from Iraq." The difference is he didn't have the redirect that we've heard from Donald Trump over really the last month, and having some people look at this and saying this is the Muslim ban that you promised on the campaign trail.
GERGEN: Well I think David Drucker is right. Had Donald Trump not gone there and called for complete ban, I think this would be read differently.
Because also, he was also right that Donald Trump you know said in the campaign he was going to do something like this. He was going to go to severe vetting as he called it.
So I do think there are some justifications from a Trump point of view for what he is doing but the way they have done it and it's very different from the way Obama did. I think it's wrong to go back and say, yes, there are some parallels to what Obama did but Obama limited for a very brief time refugees.
He never touched a green card holder which has caused a huge fury about all of this. Obama never put, prioritized bringing Christians in as opposed to refugees more generally without regard to religion as Donald Trump has.
And the context in which Obama spoke was so very different. Well Obama was a man who welcomed refugees. He after all was the man that proposed that we allow in hundred thousands, we raise the number to a hundred thousand next year, Donald Trump wants to cut it to 50,000.
You know Obama made it very clear that he likes Muslims here, that he wants them here. He was very sympathetic to that. And Obama said as David pointed out, he was saying, "We don't want them here," and the way this was done and frankly it was in confidence and kind of a putting this together, they run up to it, they should have consulted these departments, they should have prepared people, they should have prepared people who are going to be flying.
This could have gone down much more easily I think had they been more thoughtful. But right now they've got a mess on their hands and I am afraid it's giving the country (INAUDIBLE) you know and the leadership in UK, France, Germany, Italy have all rejected this executive order. KAILER: David Drucker, we're running out of time, but I want you to
just quickly settle this for us. The White House has pushed back on the suggestion that this was hand fisted in the way that they rolled this out.
What is your reporting showing you, what you're hearing about really how much consultation that they should have done I think in any situation like this they actually did do or did not do?
DRUCKER: Look I think that there are a lot of Republicans on the Hill that it conceptually support what Trump is trying to do, which is impose stricter vetting measures because there is such a concern about terrorists that want to strike in the U.S. using the refugee program to their advantage and getting by our screens.
But what they would have liked to have seen, some of them are supportive but the ones who have been critical would like to have seen this done in a better fashion so they would have crossed their eyes, dotted their Ts, not gotten Iraqis who are translators for us, helped us overseas, kept the American safe caught up in this, and other things like that.
And I think they've think it could have been handled smoother. On the other hand there are Republicans that are OK with this and have not been critical.
KAILER: Yes, that's right. All right, David Drucker, David Gergen, thank you to both of you.
And with this to be heating up over the travel ban, some critics are noting the president's wife is an immigrant. Is her story an example of how the ban could have unintended consequences. We'll be talking about that next with Melania Trump's own immigration attorney. You are live in the CNN Newsroom.
KAILER: Within hours of President Trump's travel ban going into effect, federal judges in New York and Massachusetts temporarily blocked part of the executive order. Attorneys general from 16 states have issued a joint statement condemning what they call President Trump's "unconstitutional, un-American, and unlawful executive order."
I want to bring in now Michael Wildes, he is a U.S. Immigration Attorney, and an immigration law professor. And for full disclosure, we should also mention you also represent Trump Models and you represented Melania Trump in her immigration case.
Talk to us about these legal challenges were because there is language about religion, and who would be treated preferentially if they are from a religious minority in a country. Tell us if this is OK under the constitution?
MICHAEL WILDES, U.S. IMMIGRATION ATTORNEY: Personally I don't think it's constitutional. With all difference to Mrs. Trump and to our president, both who I believe in their hearts are genuinely inclined not only about compliance and law but the safety of our country, I believe that this process is not constitutional, that there are more effective legal ways of protecting and keeping America safe.
[18:30:10] America is great and the President, no doubt, has a sincerity in mind in making it great again. Focusing on the seven Muslim countries exclusively, with Saudi Arabia in the shadow with 16 out of the 19 hijackers, doesn't click with me, and particularly the way they're going after this where Section 3 or Article 3 of the executive order focuses on aliens from. That means, presumably, dual nationals with U.S. citizenship or green card holders.
Now, we know, Brianna, that green card holders have a diminished expectation. You know, American citizens have a diminished expectation of privacy when they go to airports. Well, green card holders have the same diminishment unless they marry an American citizen. Three years later, they can get citizenship, or five years later, they can get citizenship based on employment.
The bottom line is, during this caretaker period of time, they are part of the arsenal of America. They know from no other flag mostly. They pray whatever day of the week they want to. And now, they are in jeopardy.
I believe that this system was designed to have people just stay their cook properly for citizenship, but it wasn't designed in a way for us to take away the privileges of permanent residents.
KEILAR: So, Michael, when you look specifically at this order and, you know, it's several pages, you mention Section 3 -- I would encourage people to take a look at it and educate themselves on exactly what is in here -- when you say it's not constitutional, what specific part are you pointing to? Are you pointing to Section 3 about green card holders, or is it the language about religion? What is it that you say, this is not going to pass muster?
WILDES: Well, I think there are arguments to be made and, obviously, the federal court judges -- there are two judges that opined consistently that there were problems.
Now, is it creating a problem under equal protection of the laws? Federal prosecutors -- I'm a former prosecutor myself -- are going to argue that the equal protection provision doesn't work at airports or off U.S. soil and foreign nationals don't have that privilege.
Is it deprivation of due process? Certainly if they are being stripped of their rights upon entry to the United States, having achieved the status of permanent residency or significant visas.
Or is in violation of the Immigration and Nationality Act as amended in 1965 where Congress has the power? And historically, the courts have always turned to immigration as a political question and deferred to the plenary power of Congress.
The President here is stepping up, saying, I want to make America safe. This is how I would like to start this process. Well, there is, again, a vacuum that has been created in Congress right now. I wish to God -- this is like the gang who can't shoot straight -- our
leaders in Congress, that they get together Monday morning, and they should have been at this over the weekend, to prevent something like this from happening.
Let me just say this. Mrs. Trump is the Biblical Esther, if you would. She has the ear of the President and she was an immigrant herself too. She is one of the finest people I have ever met, and I'm a Democrat.
You should know that I took on her case this summer because I was impressed with the handling of her papers and the compliance and the dignity with which she handled herself. She is an immigrant, and she is the best of what I think exemplifies what we should be attaining, which is to have people to avail professional work visas, permanent residence, and citizenship.
We have to still keep ourselves safe. And I admire the President for keeping his promise in trying to do this, but I don't think this is the proper way. And we have to make sure we get this right.
KEILAR: Michael, you bring a very unique perspective. We do thank you for joining us.
WILDES: My pleasure.
KEILAR: Michael Wildes, an immigration attorney. A prominent American Muslim group is preparing to challenge the constitutionality of President Trump's travel ban in court. Not all Muslims are opposed to it.
[18:34:16] Coming up, you're going to meet the leader of a Muslim group who supports the President's executive order. You're live in the CNN newsroom.
KEILAR: The Council on American-Islamic Relations is getting ready to file a federal lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of President Trump's executive order banning travel from seven majority Muslim nations. This order also suspends all refugee admissions for 120 days.
In a statement on CAIR's website, a lawyer for the group says, quote, "Our First Amendment is under attack. We, as attorneys, are foot soldiers of the American Constitution and took an oath to protect all from being targeted by the government because of their faith."
But the leader of another American Muslim organization agrees with the President's executive order. American Islamic Forum for Democracy founder and president, Dr. Zuhdi Jasser is joining me now via Skype from Phoenix to talk about this and bring his perspective.
So tell us about this. You agree with President Trump on this. Why?
DR. ZUHDI JASSER, FOUNDER AND PRESIDENT, AMERICAN ISLAMIC FORUM FOR DEMOCRACY: Well, as we've said from the beginning, Brianna -- and thanks for having me on -- the issue here is not Muslim. The word "Muslim" isn't even in this executive order. It's about pausing immigration until we can start to vet against what is a very American principle, which is not theocrats into the country who believe in jihadism, who believe in the Islamic state concept, but allowing those who believe in freedom and liberty.
And so far, all of the vetting mechanism has been against terror groups, against their tactics. And while it might be comprehensive, there has been no vetting for Islamism and global jihadism in these seven countries. It makes sense to block those until -- and by the way, I think Saudi Arabia should have been included. I think Qatar should have been included, Pakistan.
We need to pause until we figure out what's going on. And our Muslim reform movement understands what's going on.
KEILAR: OK. I do want to challenge you on one thing because I hear what you're saying. They're not identifying people as Christian or Muslim in this order. But let me read from the order so that our viewers know.
It says, "To the extent permitted by law, to prioritize refugee claims made by individuals on the basis of religious-based persecution provided that the religion of the individual is a minority religion in the individual's country of nationality." So that, even without naming religions, starts sorting people into different categories that would allow them to be prioritized.
This is a problem, coupled with President Trump's rhetoric, about promising a Muslim ban that -- this is what people are looking at and they're having a problem with. Do you understand where they're coming from on that?
JASSER: I understand, but they're misreading what's written there.
[18:40:00] I mean, the way I see it, I sat on the U.S. Commission on Religious Freedom for four years. And in that tenure, that Commission focused just as our ambassador for religious freedom focuses on the plight of minorities.
It is very American to stand up for minority persecution. There's no specific religion identified. And I can tell you as a reformist Sunni Muslim, I believe that also includes minority beliefs within the majority Sunni population and others. So there's no prohibition there for persecuted Muslims, be they Ahmadiyya, Ismaili, Sunni Muslim, Shia, to be included in those minority groups that the President's executive order is laying out.
KEILAR: But you're assuming if they would be grouped out, not just if you're Muslim, you're Muslim. But you're talking about, you would think that different Muslim minorities would be separated from Muslim majorities, and that it wouldn't just be recognized as an umbrella religion, but more the different parts of Islam.
JASSER: Not only different parts of Islam, but the other faith minorities by not saying that -- remember, when we protect people by what the statue of liberty means, it means religious freedom. So whether it's Christian, Yazidi, Jewish, atheist, whatever those beliefs are, they're persecuted in Syria and Somalia and Yemen and these countries. And we need to vet against that and for those who believe in freedom.
And we should not apologize as Americans to say that we want people to be brought here not just in a Darwinian policy of first come, first serve, but actually in policy of those who want to be free that are minorities within the majority or minority faiths that have been persecuted.
KEILAR: But, Dr. Jasser, when we hear people from the Trump administration explaining it, they're not making that distinction that you are making. And that seems to certainly cause some confusion or lead people to believe that, maybe, it isn't going to be implemented as you're describing it. Do you see why they have that concern?
JASSER: You're right. And I think this is why it was done a little hastily. I think they need to engage our Muslim reformist leaders that are diverse leaders in the Muslim community that believes we need to stop, block, theocrats from coming in. Not just terrorists, but theocrats.
And that needs to be part of the conversation, which is very American. And unfortunately, the way it's been rolled out, it's being misrepresented and, you know, some of the verbiage from the campaign is being used. And we're not seeing that now that we have a little more savvy folks putting these things together.
But, again, the messaging is very important. And I, as an American Muslim, will not give up one iota of my civil rights, but on the other hand, I also believe that my civil rights and religious freedom are key to defeating Islamic theocracy globally, within these countries, and for those with the privilege of coming into the United States.
KEILAR: Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, thank you so much for being with us. We do appreciate it.
JASSER: Thank you, Brianna.
KEILAR: And still to come, a U.S. service member was killed this morning during a raid on al Qaeda. This marked the first military death under the Trump administration.
We're going to give you some details on what happened, next. You're live in the CNN newsroom.
[18:45:40] KEILAR: All right. We have some breaking news to bring to you. This, coming to us from some reporting out of the Homeland Security Department.
They're actually going to be easing the way for green card holders to abide by this executive order, this travel ban put in place by the Trump administration. There have been a lot of co confusion about whether green card holders could either leave the U.S. and be able to make it back in; or if they were out of U.S. as this was put in place, if they would be able to return.
So this is what we are hearing, this clarification coming from Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly. This is a statement clarifying this. It says, "The status of these green card holders that lawful, permanent resident status will be a dispositive factor in our case by case determination."
So another official at Homeland Security telling CNN that green card holders who are returning back to the U.S. are still going to be going through additional security screening. They'll be going through these national security checks when they land, but the government is trying to ease their entry back into the U.S.
So a signal that they are aware this was perhaps creating unforeseen problems, these green card holders who could not either leave and be sure they could come back, or were being detained and it was confusing whether they would be able to get back into the U.S. We're going to keep following that for you.
Meantime, U.S. Central Command announced the first American combat death under President Donald Trump today. And this actually happened during a raid against al Qaeda in Yemen, one of the seven countries included in the travel ban. Three other U.S. service members were wounded in this raid. And we have CNN Pentagon Reporter Ryan Brown with us to tell us more.
Ryan, what can you tell us?
RYAN BROWNE, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY PRODUCER: Hi, Brianna. You're right, this service member was killed during a targeted raid against an al Qaeda headquarters in Yemen. This raid is what's called kind of -- they're trying to gather additional intelligence, so it's not targeted at any specific al Qaeda leaders, but it was a raid looking to get more intelligence about potential plots.
Three additional service members were wounded, as you've said. Now, we were told just now that those wounds are not serious and that some of them have actually returned to duty.
Additionally, the V-22 Osprey aircraft sent to support these troops crashed in what's called a hard landing. The U.S. decided to destroy it to prevent that from falling into enemy hands. Three additional service members were injured during that crash, but it's called minor injuries and they're since returned back to duty.
Yemen is considered al Qaeda's most successful kind of dangerous franchise, and we're kind of seeing some ramped up strikes and drone strikes at Donald Trump's first day in office against the terror group. So this group was behind the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. So we're kind of seeing an increasing amount of targeting strikes against the terror group in the first week of Trump's presidency -- Brianna.
KEILAR: All right. Ryan Browne, thank you so much for that report.
We have much more ahead. Stay with us.
[18:51:44] KEILAR: One other executive action signed by President Trump this weekend has nothing to do with banning travelers from a list of countries. It reorganized the White House's National Security Council in a way that a former national security adviser calls quote, "stone cold crazy."
That, coming from Susan Rice, the last national security adviser for President Obama, so perhaps, David Gergen, back with me now, that may not be a surprise that there's some disagreement there.
This is what she tweeted. She said, "This is stone cold crazy. After a week of crazy. Who needs military advice or intell to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, or North Korea?" She's referring to the removal here of the DNI, of the Director of National Intelligence and then the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Sure.
KEILAR: What do you think about what has happened, about this move? And then let's talk about the tweet. Let's split up these topics. What do you think about this reorganization?
GERGEN: Well, I think you have to make careful distinctions here. It has been true for a number of years that someone from the domestic side of the White House has become a principal in the international counsel. And the person that the Security Council --
KEILAR: You're talking about Stephen Bannon, the President's arguably --
GERGEN: Stephen Bannon. So --
KEILAR: -- top adviser now becoming a principal in this principal's committee?
GERGEN: Right. And he is now becoming a principal, like David Axelrod served in that role during the Obama administration. Karl Rove had that position in the Bush administration. The W. Bush administration.
And let me tell you, Brianna, for a period of time, in the Clinton administration, I was a principal in the National Security Council. I know there are some people who thought, what the hell is he doing in here? But President Clinton thought that and subsequent presidents have thought that someone who brings an understanding of America and American politics and what the country will sustain is worthwhile.
So I have no problem with that. If that's what --
KEILAR: Yes. GERGEN: -- you know, Steve Bannon is not one of my favorite people.
If that's what the President wants, that's it. But I will tell very strongly --
KEILAR: Sure. And there's an argument for that you should know what is politically feasible within the options --
KEILAR: -- for national security, but without having the DNI, without having the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, does that concern you?
GERGEN: Absolutely. I must tell you, it is extraordinarily important to have not only visitation basis, the Chairman the Joint Chiefs comes in. The Chairman ought to be there as a principal for every meeting.
It is fine to have the Defense Secretary there. But they represent two, sometimes conflicting, points of view, sometimes slightly different points of view. And it's really important for the President to have the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs sitting in front of him every time he has his Defense Chief sitting in there for the National Security Council. But it's also to have the Director of National Intelligence.
In the Clinton years, the first person who spoke in the meetings was usually the CIA Director because you wanted to get the intel straight before you went on to talk about, OK, what are we going to do?
KEILAR: OK. And so let me ask you about the -- the tweet, to me, is interesting from Susan Rice because it brings up this issue --
KEILAR: -- of how the Obama administration, former administration officials are going to be responding to Donald Trump. You see that tweet. What do you think and what do you think about their response on, really, a broader basis?
[18:55:12] GERGEN: Well, you know, we are into a radical change of policies. And millions of Americans voted for radical changes. They wanted big change, but this is heart-wrenching. And frankly, there are a lot of people in the previous administration or administrations who think we're moving in a terribly dangerous direction.
So I don't think there's a problem with Susan Rice speaking up as a former -- you know, she ran the NFC under Obama and she had her own controversies. But nonetheless, I don't think there's anything wrong with that at all. It does seem to me, if we're going to have such controversial initiatives, then the debate needs to be joined.
KEILAR: And I think we expect it's going to be. This is just a preview of more to come. David Gergen, thank you so much for being with us.
GERGEN: I think it's a preview of more to come. I think President Obama's going to be off the bench and into the field, you know, for --
KEILAR: And that is the big question, yes.
GERGEN: On a regular basis before this is over.
KEILAR: Yes, we will see. That would be very, certainly, unprecedented, I would say, especially considering what we saw from George W. Bush. But as you said, this is a very different White House that we're talking about now.
KEILAR: And I also want to tell our viewers, you can see what we're looking at here, live pictures on the screen. Several protests in cities across the country in response to this travel ban.
Straight ahead, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who's a former Chief of Staff to President Obama, just told our Rosa Flores something. We're going to share with you what that is. We'll bring her in for a report after a quick break.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.