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U.S. Judge Blocks Deportation of Banned Travelers; 11 People Detained at Atlanta Airport; Yazidi Woman Left in Limbo After U.S. Travel Ban; Trump Speaks with Russian President Putin; Twitter Founder Visits Syrian Refugee. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired January 29, 2017 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[05:00:00] GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Following the breaking news here on CNN. I'm George Howell.
CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Cyril Vanier. A federal judge is putting on pause parts of Donald Trump's travel ban. A court granted an emergency stay for citizens of seven Muslim majority countries who have already arrived in the U.S. and have valid visas.
HOWELL: That stay also covers those who are in transit. That basically means that they will not be deported immediately. The ruling came after a day of protests at airports across the country.
VANIER: A U.S. Homeland Security official says that in the roughly 24 hours between the executive order being signed and that court ruling, the U.S. had denied entry to at least 109 people. And abroad nearly 200 others were told not to board their flights headed for the U.S.
HOWELL: The American Civil Liberties Union, better known as the ACLU, filed the lawsuit against the travel ban. They released this statement, saying, quote, "The ruling preserves the status quo and ensures that people who have been granted permission to be in this country are not illegally removed off U.S. soil."
People across the United States, they were quick to protest this travel ban.
VANIER: And demonstrators flooded major airports around the country that included San Francisco, New York and Chicago.
HOWELL: I spoke earlier with Gabe Cohen, a news reporter for KOMO TV in Seattle, covering the protests at Sea-Tac Airport.
GABE COHEN, KOMO TV AFFILIATE REPORTER: This has become the story that I hear, protesters blocking those security checkpoints chanting, "No one gets in until they get out." And I want to bring you over here for a second to show you protesters have blocked off some of the exits here at Sea-Tac. That's where we've seen some of the most tense moments tonight as arriving passengers, getting off flights, tried to exit the airport only to have some of these protesters block their way. We saw some minors scuffles. Police, though, have tried to stay ahead
of the game as these hundreds of protesters have occupied the airport. They opened up a side entrance to the building. That's how they were trying to let arriving passengers out. But the protesters picked up on that. They formed lines outside and again we saw some of those tense moments. Police also trying to open up a checkpoint just behind where these protesters are standing here. They were carefully, struggling travelers through but protesters again forming lines, trying to block those travelers from getting through.
At this point, we don't know of any major delays tonight or tomorrow morning, but these protesters have vowed to stay here through the night, George.
HOWELL: A lot of people there in a very busy part of that airport that I know well. The protests, have they remained peaceful?
COHEN: As far as we can tell they have remained peaceful. We have seen some pushing and shoving again between arriving passengers, even people trying to leave the airport, trying to go through to get their flights as well as officers.
Officers, for the most part, the police have remained cool, calm and collective as protesters push up against them. They've tried to keep them formed in a line, but police telling me tonight that they have no arrests. So as far as we can tell, it has remained peaceful, George.
HOWELL: That was Gabe Cohen with KOMO force in Seattle. And, you know, the protest in Seattle, we've seen the same in New York and San Francisco. And there's an expectation that there may be more protests today.
VANIER: We're expecting two more in the coming hours.
HOWELL: Absolutely. We'll continue to monitor that. We're also getting some clarification as to what will happen to those now covered by the emergency stay.
One of the drafters of the motion to halt the president's travel ban is telling CNN, quote, "The judge's order is that they -- those with a lawful visa or green card not be removed from the U.S. It doesn't immediately order that they be released from detention."
The Department of Homeland Security has looked over the recent rulings and it's saying this now, quote, "It will comply with judicial orders, faithfully enforce our immigration laws and implement the president's executive orders to ensure that those entering the United States do not pose a threat to our country or to the American people."
The department says the travel ban affected less than 1 percent of the international air travelers who arrived in the United States.
VANIER: We're joined now by Jonathan Turley, law professor at George Washington University. Jonathan, I want to look at the legal side of this with you and
examine where this may or may not conflict with American law and the American Constitution. What do you think?
JONATHAN TURLEY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR: Well, first of all, the judge likely issued the stay because people were going to be put into an irreparable situation where they'd be sent home. So often judges will freeze the action of the case. They'd say, all right, stop, let's take a look at this before anyone has anything done to them that won't be easy to reverse. So the stay has to be considered separately from the merits and the sense. Ultimately to prevent --
VANIER: So essentially that's means they decided to put the whole situation regarding immigrants and refugees on pause until such time as they could rule on the merits of the case? Is that what you're saying?
TURLEY: Right. In order to get even a preliminary injunction, the ACLU is going to have to establish that they're likely to prevail upon the merits.
[05:05:07] That's a very tough standard because what President Trump is using here is historic power by presidents -- the president's power is at the zenith at the borders of the country. And unfortunately our history is replete with examples of immigration laws that have singled out particular countries or groups. These are not the proudest moments in our history. It's ironic today being the Chinese New Year, many of them deal with the exclusion of Chinese individuals in our country.
Those laws were upheld. Those actions by presidents were allowed. Even President Obama just last year argued to the Supreme Court that courts should not be second-guessing a president's decision, decisions on immigration and national security. So it will be a tough call to make for a court to reverse the president who's saying for national security reasons, I want a halt any immigration or entry from these countries.
Now President Obama -- sorry, President Trump has made this a little more difficult for his lawyers by giving an interview and saying that he wants to give priority or some type of favoritism towards Christians who have been discriminated against. That's certainly going to add an argument for the ACLU. But overall presidents have been granted pretty wide authority in determining who can cross the border.
VANIER: On the grounds, if I follow you that it's an issue of security. Correct?
TURLEY: It is. And courts generally don't second guess a president's decision in that regard. I happen to think that this executive order is a terrible move and I believe it does contradict the values of our country. But that's separate for a court from the legal question of whether a president can do that. Now it's also important to remember that the stay reminds everyone that we are not a one grant system. There are two other branches that can be heard on issues of this kind.
VANIER: Let's run you through the details of the travel ban. The executive order that was signed on Friday. It forbids people from seven countries from entering the U.S. for three months while vetting procedures are reviewed. Those countries are all predominantly Muslim. You see them on the map. Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq and Iran.
HOWELL: The order also suspends the U.S. Refugee Admissions Program for 120 days until so-called extreme vetting procedures are put in place. Syrian refugees, they are barred indefinitely. Also people holding certain visas will now have to undergo in-person interviews in order to renew them.
Before the travel ban, here's what Syrian refugees went through in order to get into the United States. The average refugee application takes 18 to 24 months to process. The Syrian applications can take longer. The applications are then screened by several government agencies including the State Department, the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security. Homeland Security then conducts a detailed review of Syrian cases. That includes eye scans, fingerprints, documents collected, then biographic security checks are carried out. More than 12,000 Syrian refugees were admitted to the United States in 2016.
VANIER: All right. Let's get the view from the Middle East now, and in particular from Turkey. Let's bring in CNN's Ben Wedeman.
HOWELL: Ben joining us now at the Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey.
Ben, just a question to you. You know, we've seen a lot of reaction here in the United States but have you seen or heard those stories of people who have been denied entry into the United States?
BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Actually here outside the main entrance to the airport we have not run into anybody who was turned back but our producer did speak to a member of the security company that deals with flights to the United States and he told us that since yesterday around 80 people have been stopped from boarding flights to the United States. There are seven flights to the U.S. today from Istanbul.
He said that about 90 percent of them were actually in transit and were told they could not board the flight. And this same member of the security company told our producer, "I can't believe what we are doing but we have to carry out our instructions."
Now the Turkish government hasn't officially commented on the ban from these executive order but we did see a tweet from the deputy prime minister Mehmet Simsek, who said, "Refugees welcome in Turkey, the world's largest refugee hosting country." There are about 2.8 million registered Syrian refugees in Turkey. He went on to say, "We'd happily welcome global talent not allowed back in the United States," which reminds me of a bit of history actually.
[05:10:09] At the time of the expulsion of the Jews from Spain back in the late -- latter part of the 1500, 1400s, the Turkish sultan welcomed Jews to the Ottoman Empire because he said they were a good source of talent. So we have a little bit of history, perhaps, repeating itself.
VANIER: Ben, I want to ask you something, as you pointed out, Turkey has had little choice but to welcome almost three million Syrian refugees from the terrible war in neighboring Syria. Now today the U.S. is saying it's barring Syrian refugees from entering American soil indefinitely. I mean, how do you think that's going to make people in Turkey feel? And you told us about the government. I'm thinking about, you know, the man on the street.
WEDEMAN: Well, you know, the Turks are of two minds when it comes to the influx of -- the massive influx of Syrian refugees. The government has spent billions and billions of dollars to provide food, shelter, education to these Syrian refugees. But of course there is a concern that the presence of so many Syrians has been somewhat disruptive to the security of the country. But by and large, the government here is standing by its position that as a fellow Muslim country, as a neighbor to Syria, it is morally obliged to help the people of Syria and many Turks seem to be generally supportive of that position -- Cyril.
VANIER: Ben Wedeman, senior international correspondent in Turkey, thank you very much. Thanks.
And earlier on Saturday the U.S. president responded to the controversy. That was before the stay was granted.
HOWELL: He stood behind his executive order saying that it's already successful.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not a Muslim ban but we're totally prepared. It's working out very nicely. You see it at the airports, you see it all over, it's working out very nicely and we're going to have a very, very strict ban, and we're going to have extreme vetting which we should have had in this country for many years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: And it is important to point here on the CNN U.S. international simulcast, we're getting reaction from around the world. Millions of people, people who are protesting, people who are against this travel ban, but in the United States there are also millions of people who supported President Donald Trump, people who believe that this was the right move.
VANIER: Yes. And earlier we spoke to CNN political commentator Jeffrey Lord who has been a Trump supporter and who supports the travel ban. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFFREY LORD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: President Trump deserves the profile of courage award for standing up and doing this. He's going to -- he's going to get tremendous amount of criticism. But I assure you, I can totally tell you this. If in fact somebody came in here through one of these refugee situations and wound up killing Americans, you would start seeing immediately things in the media saying, he was incompetent, he paid no attention, he ignored things.
That's just the way human life is, I guess, and certainly that's the way it is in the media. So bravo to him for taking all these flack.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VANIER: And we continue to look at worldwide reaction over this travel ban. Just one day after meeting with the U.S. president in Washington, the British Prime Minister Theresa May says she is not pleased with Mr. Trump's executive order. Earlier she released a terse statement to express her disapproval.
HOWELL: It reads, "Immigration Policy in the United States is a matter for the government of the United States. Just the same as immigration policy for this country should be set by our government. But we do not agree with this kind of approach. And it is not one that we will be taking. We are studying this new executive order," she goes on to say, "to see what it means and what the legal effects are. And in particular, what the consequences are for U.K. nationals. If there is any impact on U.K. nationals, then clearly we will make representations to the U.S. government about that."
VANIER: And Mr. Trump's rival in last year's presidential race is also speaking out about the travel ban. That's Hillary Clinton, of course. She tweeted this. "I stand with the people gathered across the country tonight, defending our values and our Constitution. This is not who we are."
HOWELL: Australia, the president there says that Donald Trump will honor the refugee settlement deal to the two countries that was agreed to last year. The topic was discussed during a 25-minute phone call between Mr. Trump and the Australian Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull on Saturday.
VANIER: That deal says that hundreds of asylum seekers held in offshore detention centers will be moved to the United States. Mr. Turnbull says the plan is a one-off agreement and it will not be repeated.
HOWELL: CNN NEWSROOM continues with breaking this hour. We examine how President Donald Trump's travel ban is impacting Syrian refugees in the Middle East.
[05:15:00] CNN international correspondent Jomana Karadsheh is live next from Amman, Jordan. Stay with us.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VANIER: More protests against the Trump administration's travel ban are expected in the coming hours across the U.S. From New York to California, demonstrators gathered at airports on Saturday to protest the ban. The executive order signed by President Trump on Friday bars citizens of seven Muslim majority nations from entering the U.S. for the next 90 days.
HOWELL: Late Saturday a federal judge granted an emergency stay ruling that citizens of the affected nations who had already arrived in the U.S. and those who were in transit and held valid visas could enter the country.
President Trump's decision to deny refugees entrance to the U.S., it is being felt around the world.
VANIER: He and his supporters say that the travel ban will stop terrorism but the head of one humanitarian group begs to differ. I spoke earlier about Mr. Trump's order with World Relief's president Scott Arbeiter. His organization works with churches here in the U.S. to resettle refugee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT ARBEITER, WORLD RELIEF PRESIDENT: The American people very rightly look at the flow of refugees going into Europe. It's an unregulated flow. They don't know who's going in and they would rightly say that's a security issue that we don't want. But no refugee comes to the United States because they chose to come. They only come if in fact the State Department chooses them, then vets them for 18 to 24 months, and goes through screenings from the FBI, Homeland Security, biometric screenings, multiple interviews. Only then are they allowed into the country.
And the Cato Institute just did a study and the danger posed by refugees and concluded that the likelihood of you or I as American citizens being harmed by a refugee where 1 in 3.64 billion. I think that's probably about the likelihood that we would win the lottery and get struck by lightning in the same day.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: The ban is affecting Syrian refugees across the Middle East.
VANIER: And for more on its impact there, CNN's Jomana Karadsheh joins us now from Amman, Jordan.
Jomana, what's the reaction likely to be, not just in Jordan but across the region?
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think there's a lot of shock here and uncertainty of course. While, you know, these seven countries are impacted now, when you talk to people even here in Jordan, a country that is a U.S. ally, not impacted by this ban, there is also this concern that this current U.S. administration is unpredictable. [05:20:07] These decisions seem to be happening so fast. The people
are also concerned that this could just be the beginning, that it could impact more people. For example, you have so many students from the Arab and the Muslim world who are studying in the United States. Including some Jordanian students and there is this fear that if they leave America on holidays, they come back to their home countries they might not be allowed back in all of a sudden. So there is that concern and there is that fear.
There is also that feeling of seeing this as an insult. And we're hearing this also coming from different officials in Iraq. There's been no official comments about this just yet from Iraq but we're hearing this also coming from different officials in Iraq. There's been no official comments about this just yet from Iraq but we're hearing certain calls by different members of parliament, different officials, according to some reports, calling for some sort of a reciprocal treatment here where Americans would be banned from entering the U.S.
This is really seen an insult where you have millions of people who have just been branded as a terrorist threat to the United States. And when you look at, for example, countries like Iraq, these are countries that face -- that's seen threat of terrorism on a daily base where people there feel that they are at the forefront of this fight against global terrorism. And they are fighting it in their own countries. So really mixed feelings at this point but mostly I would say there is real uncertainty in this region about what comes next.
HOWELL: Just drawing, Jomana, on your own experience reporting there in the region yourself, Ben Wedeman, we have so many people who have spent many years getting to know so many people there but help our viewers in the U.S. and around the world to understand many of these people as has been reported by yourself, by Ben, have helped the United States in conflict zones, have offered intelligence in some cases.
KARADSHEH: Of course if you look at, for example, Iraq. There are so many people there, George, who have applied for resettlement in the United States, not because they want to. It's not an easy decision. You know, we spent time talking to people there who tell you it is probably the hardest decision they've ever had to make about packing up their life and starting a new life in a whole different culture and a whole new country. But so many people feel that they were forced to do this because of what they did.
So many thousands of Iraqis who work alongside the United States, whether they work for private companies, whether they work for media companies, or the thousands who worked as interpreters alongside U.S. troops in Iraq. These are citizens who feel under threat. So many of them have been targeted in the past. So many of them have received death threats and their families are in danger because of their association with America. They are branded as traitors and collaborators.
And if you look at the situation in Iraq right now, you have that threat from extremist groups like ISIS, you also have threats from emboldened Shia militias who would also see them as collaborators. So you have these people who have been forced to try and leave Iraq to go to the United States, for example. They have felt abandoned over the past few years. We have so many who spent years waiting for admission into the United States and now they don't even know if they will ever make it to the U.S. and they feel that they have sacrificed so much for that country -- George.
HOWELL: A great deal of questions in the wake of this new executive order. Our Jomana Karadsheh, live for us in Amman, Jordan.
Jomana, thank you for the reporting.
VANIER: And as we've saying throughout this newscast the U.S. refugee travel ban has left countless people in limbo. CNN spoke to one Yazidi woman who was ready to board her flight from Iraq to the U.S.
HOWELL: But officials there told her she would not be allowed on that plane. Our Arwa Damon has the story for us.
ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Talal and her husband, Yazidis, were in Sinjar when ISIS stormed to the area on a killing and kidnapping rampage. They barely escaped. For them, that was the end of any notion that they could build a future in Iraq.
Talal is not her real name but she is afraid that by speaking out she might ruin whatever chance remains to reach the United States. Despite it being the land of free speech.
TALAL, YAZIDI WOMAN (Through Translator): My dream was to go to America because it's the strongest country in the world. We feel that it's safe, it's the safest country. It has the strongest human rights.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And this is the Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry.
DAMON: But with one signature, that vision of America shattered. Talal says her husband worked as a translator for the U.S. military for years and applied for asylum under the Special Immigrant Visa Program. It was granted and he arrived in America last summer. On Saturday, Talal was on her way to finally reunite with him.
[05:25:07] TALAL (Through Translator): I was about to get on the plane and they called my name. I went and they said, you can't board, you can't travel. I was shocked. I cried, why? Why me?
DAMON (on camera): Talal was given this document from Homeland Security at the airport that basically tells her how she can put in an inquiry and figure out why she was denied boarding, although that's pretty clear at this stage. What isn't clear is when she can apply again and what she's supposed to do next. So she and all the others are basically right now in a state of limbo. (Voice-over): She is hardly on her own. The temporary travel ban on
seven Muslim-majority nations to the U.S. and the indefinite ban on Syrian refugees has left countless people reeling. Wondering how it is that the new leader of the so called free world can have so little compassion for their suffering.
TALAL (Through Translator): My brain isn't working. I'm in shock. If I think of something, I start to cry. I'm not crying because I'm weak, but because I have small dreams. And I thought if I went to America, they would benefit from my small dreams. And I could make them come true there. And I could be safe.
DAMON (on camera): What's your message right now to President Trump?
TALAL (Through Translator): My message is that we don't hate President Trump. We don't hate anyone. We love the American people. Have mercy. We don't have mercy in our country.
DAMON (voice-over): But mercy, even for those that have suffered the most does not seem to be on Trump's America first agenda.
Arwa Damon, CNN, Irbil, Iraq.
HOWELL: The breaking news coverage continues this hour here on CNN. Still ahead, more than a million refugees and migrants have flocked to Germany in the last year and a half.
VANIER: And as we continue getting reactions from around the world, we'll be heading to Berlin, next.
Plus Donald Trump phones several international leaders including Russian president Vladimir Putin.
HOWELL: Details ahead on that conversation live in the United States and around the world this hour. This is CNN breaking news.
[05:30:35] HOWELL: 5:30 on the U.S. East Coast. Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. Continuing the breaking news coverage on CNN. I'm George Howell.
VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier. Here are the headlines this hour.
Part of the travel ban put in place by U.S. president Donald Trump has been temporarily stopped. A federal judge granted an emergency stay for citizens of seven Muslim majority countries. Those who have had -- those who have a valid visa and are already in the U.S. or who are in transit will not be immediately deported.
HOWELL: There are more protests planned against President Trump's travel ban. Protests that will take place across the United States on Sunday. Demonstrations planned in Washington, D.C., in Atlanta, Georgia, Chicago, Illinois, and various other cities. Protesters say the ban is un-American and is putting some people in danger if they are forced to return to their home countries.
VANIER: And the responses are coming in quickly to the president's travel ban. Iran calls the ban an insult saying it's considering what action to take. Also several colleges and universities in the U.S. have sent to advisory e-mails to students and faculty because the ban could affect their travel in or out of the country.
HOWELL: Aside from the backlash to the ban, the U.S. president has been reaching out to several major world leaders including the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin. You see him there talking to the Russian president. It was the first phone conversation between the two leaders since last week's inauguration. The Kremlin says the two leaders spoke about strengthening relations and agreed to coordinate efforts in Syria.
VANIER: More protests against the travel ban are planned to start across the U.S. in just a few hours. As we're saying hundreds of protesters were out in a number of U.S. airports on Saturday.
HOWELL: One of those protests at Dulles International Airport just outside of Washington, D.C. Cheryl Conner with our affiliate WJLA has more.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHERYL CONNER, WJLA REPORTER: Travelers at Dulles International Airport are getting an unexpected welcome home. People rolling suitcases looked at signs showing support for refugees and all nationalities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have a friend who can't have her family come for her wedding now.
CONNER: A woman from Iran who only wants us to report her first name, Janan (PH), says she has a legal resident here on a green card but she was detained for questioning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where do you live and are you're working or not? Your husband was working.
CONNER: Similar stories in the baggage claim area Saturday night as Border Patrol agents dealt with the changes in President Donald Trump's executive order which affects people from seven Muslim- majority country including Iraq and Syria.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's my niece who's a green card holder and she is a student here and she just went to Europe and Turkey to meet a couple of friends and come back.
CONNER: Civil rights attorneys gathered to help legal residents.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They are being detained inside. We came with proper representation documents and we were not allowed in to see them.
CONNER: Throughout the night we heard dozens of people were held for questioning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm just waiting to see my mother, you know.
CONNER: Voices louder than a jet engine filled the airport all night.
VANIER: Julian Reichelt joins us now from Berlin. He's the editor- in-chief of Bild Digital. That's a Germany daily.
Julian, immigration and security are huge issues in Europe given both the vast number of migrants and asylum seekers who came into the continent and also the number of terror attacks. What's the take likely to be on the executive orders and the new immigration and refugee policy in the U.S.? What's the reaction going to be in Germany, you think?
JULIAN REICHELT, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, BILD DIGITAL: Well, the reaction in the media will certainly be these strong criticism against that executive order by President Donald Trump. But if you ask more average people I would predict that it's likely to find at least some support because what -- behind this executive order, the vetting process, is something that has come under huge criticism.
Also here in Germany after enacting policy to let so many people into the country. Many people here now say that the vetting wasn't done right, that the government has no idea who actually entered the country and that this process has -- can be renewed, and that we have to come up with a whole new process.
[05:35:04] So I would predict a split reaction to this. You will see strong criticism in the policy circuits and the media, but when you ask more average people, many here are concerned, with the question who is actually coming into the country and do we know who's coming into the country, especially with a couple of terrorist attacks in the past month, one that killed 12 people in Berlin. So there will be different kind of reactions here in Germany to that executive order.
VANIER: And Julian, you seem to be describing a big split between authorities and the man on the street as to how they react to this.
REICHELT: Absolutely. I think that is very similar to what we're seeing in the United States. There is some sort of division. There is a certain part of society that very much agrees with Merkel's policies that very much supported her approach to helping so many people, that really renewed this country. You know, it really gave a whole new standing to Germany. But there is also a lot of concern among many people because it has become very obvious that the government has lost track about who is coming into the country and what do we know about those.
For example, the terrorist of that previous attack in Berlin who used 14 different identities. No one really knew who he was, no one really know where he was staying. And that obviously is -- a lot of concern of, you know, average people.
VANIER: And that was Julian Reichelt there, editor-in-chief of the German daily, Bild Digital, speaking to me a short time ago.
And President Trump has another busy day scheduled on Sunday. He'll speak by phone with the leaders from two Muslim nations and Saudi Arabia's king and the crowned prince of the United Arab Emirates.
HOWELL: The president conducted a series of phone calls with world leaders Saturday including a call with the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin.
VANIER: And for more on that conversation we're joined by Ivan Watson live from Moscow.
Ivan, I want to ask you about the tone. You've told us in the previous show, the tone between the two countries is really changing. I'd also like you to address the fact that, you know, there's the elephant in the room here which is the sanctions.
VAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, the tone did dramatically change if you consider the outgoing days of the Obama administration earlier this month where one of the decisions was made to expel 35 Russian diplomats from the U.S. amid allegations of hacking and then just a few weeks later you have this new president, Donald Trump, having an hour-long phone conversation with the Russian president. And the White House says, quote, "The positive call was a significant start to improving the relations between the United States and Russia, that is need of repair."
The Kremlin going further to say that the two leaders talked about possible partnership and cooperation in the fight against terrorism, in cooperating in the Middle East, the Arab-Israeli peace process in the Korean Peninsula, nuclear nonproliferation, and also saying that the two leaders agreed to, quote, "stabilize and develop Russia-U.S. cooperation on a constructive, equitable and neutrally beneficial basis."
Now no formal decisions came out of that or we haven't heard of any formal decisions or steps forward but certainly a dramatic change in relations between two leaders of two countries where just a few weeks ago the situation was much, much more fraught, much, much more strained between the two capitals -- George and Cyril.
HOWELL: The U.S. president has indicated it's too soon to talk about lifting sanctions, in fact these sanctions, we understand, will remain in place for now. But the president's desire to create this closer relationship between the United States and between Russia, it's met with a great deal of skepticism by many of President Trump's Republican counterparts, by many Democrats in the House and Senate, even members of the president's Cabinet, see it differently than the president.
How is the divide between President Trump and his many critics -- how is that being viewed there in Russia? WATSON: You know, there's a very outspoken Russian lawmaker by the
name of Aleksey Pushkov and he sent out a number of tweets today, saying, that capitals like Kyiv, Vilnius, Riga, Tallinn, Warsaw, Oslo, Stockholm and NATO, they're all, quote, "horrified by the results of the Putin-Trump conversations." So he's basically calling out governments that have been very critical of Russian policy particularly in Eastern Europe, particularly with the annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, and arguing that this is the beginning of a big change. And that there is certainly anxiety in many of those countries about what a rapprochement or a detente between Trump and Putin could bring to them when they perceive a threat coming from the Kremlin to their borders and to their sovereignty.
[05:40:13] The Trump administration, Trump himself on Friday said it was too early to start talking about lifting sanctions and he does face serious opposition from senior lawmakers within his own party if he is to try to move forward with that measure. So it is perhaps too early to say. But again, we all do appear to be en route for a new -- at least for now, a new period of apparently cooperation between Moscow and Washington, which is quite a dramatic change amid many changes that we've seen since President Trump took office.
HOWELL: You know, Ivan, there have been many attempts to reset relations between these two super powers. The question now, will this time be different?
Our senior international correspondent Ivan Watson live for us in the Russian capital. Ivan, thanks for your reporting.
Still ahead here on CNN NEWSROOM, French voters go to the polls to pick the country's socialist presidential candidate. Who is favored to win? We'll have that ahead.
VANIER: Plus a Syrian refugee has made a new life for himself in the U.S. that he might not have been able to do it without Twitter. We'll explain when we come back.
VANIER: Welcome back here on CNN. We continue to look at reactions around the world to the travel ban signed in that executive order on Friday by U.S. President Donald Trump. Well, Mr. Trump spoke Saturday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande. Earlier this month Mr. Trump called Mrs. Merkel the most important leader in Europe but he was critical of her refugee policy. Officials say the two leaders discussed NATO and other topics during their call on Saturday.
[05:45:06] HOWELL: Mr. Trump later spoke with President Hollande who said that NATO is indispensible and that the Syrian crisis requires a political solution. The White House says President Trump renewed his commitment to NATO in the call.
The final round of primary voting has begun in France to decide the Socialist Party candidate in the upcoming presidential election. VANIER: And early indications are that surprise candidate, Benoit
Hamon, the former Education minister, could beat former prime minister Manuel Valls. The former Economy minister Emmanuel Macron abandoned the race after finishing third in the first round of voting.
Now in Malaysia, search and rescue operations are underway for a tourist boat that sank in the South China Sea.
HOWELL: Chinese state-run news agency reports 28 Chinese tourists are adrift along with one crew member and awaiting rescue off the coast of eastern Malaysia. The Catamaran left the dock Saturday morning headed for a popular island to celebrate the Lunar New Year. Two other crew members reportedly made it to land to alert authorities of the sinking.
VANIER: All right. Let's take a look now at weather conditions near the search plus the bitter cold impacting much of Europe. We're going to turn to meteorologist Julie Martin at the International Weather Center -- Julie.
VANIER: Julie Martin from the World Weather Center here at CNN, thank you very much.
HOWELL: Two of the greatest players in men's tennis are slugging it out right now in the Australian Open. Roger Federer of Switzerland and Rafael Nadal of Spain -- last men in the men's finals in Melbourne in 2009 when Nadal was in five sets after a grueling match.
VANIER: This is twelfth time that Federer and Nadal had met in the Grand Slam Final. Nadal has won the Australian Open just once, Federer, however, has won it four times.
VANIER: Welcome back. Twitter found Jack Dorsey is voicing his concerns about the travel ban signed by Donald Trump on Friday, tweeting this, " "The executive order's humanitarian and economic impact is real and it's upsetting. We benefit from what refugees and immigrants bring to the U.S."
HOWELL: Our Laurie Segall has the exclusive story of Dorsey's visit to one of his newest customers, a refugee, who opened a restaurant in America after fleeing the Syrian civil war.
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY SENIOR TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Walk into Yassin's Falafel House and you'll see this sign. It's a message of inclusiveness.
YASSIN TEROU, OWNER, YASSIN'S FALAFEL HOUSE: We welcome everybody. Whatever they're coming from, whatever background, you are safe at Yassin.
SEGALL: Yassin Terou understands how important it is to feel welcome. In 2011 he fled Syria and came to the United States here to Knoxville, Tennessee, as a refugee. He struggled to find work and to find a sense of community.
TEROU: OK. So I have to create my own work with very minimum cost. And there was, like, the idea to make sandwiches. So I decide to give and to start with falafel sandwiches at our mosque and start from there.
SEGALL: The sandwiches were so popular at the mosque that it spurred a business. But Yassin soon faced another hurdle -- accepting credit cards.
TEROU: For someone like me who doesn't have perfect English to make contracts, working with Square was very clear and easy.
SEGALL: Fast forward a few years and his business is growing. And today's a big day for Yassin. His friends, family, customers are all gathered to welcome a special guest.
Jack Dorsey, the founder of both Twitter and Square, the payment system used by Yassin and lots of businesses like his.
JACK DORSEY, CEO, SQUARE: Square has always stood for inclusivity and inclusion. And you know, when we started the company almost eight years ago now, one of the things we found were that people were being blocked from participating in the economy because they couldn't accept credit cards, because they couldn't go through a credit check or they were denied for whatever reason.
SEGALL: Yassin's story is part of a film series produced by Square profiling business owners who use its platform.
TEROU: This last year has been hard on me and my family. It is like, are we still welcome here?
SEGALL: His story has never been more timely.
(On camera): Donald Trump has essentially blocked Syrian refugees from coming into the United States. How do you feel when you see this?
[05:55:04] TEROU: It's very sad. But in the same times I think we have to talk a little bit positively, we have to change these ideas. We have to work more, show more love for this community. And we are sure this community will get the love back to us.
SEGALL: Jack, you're a tech founder in Silicon Valley, which is a place where immigration has helped pave the way for some of the biggest companies. You know, do you worry that some of the immigration policies put forward will impact innovation?
DORSEY: We benefit from immigration. We benefit from diversity. We benefit from including more people because we see different perspectives. And you know, the goal of the companies that we build in San Francisco and New York and anywhere within this country is to have global impact. And to have global impact you need to really understand the world. And to understand the world you need to have people from all over the world inside your companies.
SEGALL (voice-over): Yassin's success has provided jobs for three other refugees like him.
(On camera): Is this, you know, your version of the American dream?
TEROU: Oh, yes. Oh, yes.
SEGALL: You believe in the American dream.
TEROU: Yes. And I will keep believing. It's not only about businesses and economy. It's about freedom. It's about respect. If you work smart, you will get his dream in reality.
HOWELL: A great deal of reaction to this travel ban. We will of course continue to follow that reaction around the world. I'm George Howell.
VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier. Take care. Stay tuned now for "NEW DAY." You're watching CNN.