Return to Transcripts main page


Reality Check: Refugees And Terrorism; Trump Reorganizes National Security Council Includes Bannon; Roles Of National Intelligence Director, Joint Chiefs Chairman Downgraded; Legality Of President Trump's Travel Ban. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 30, 2017 - 06:30   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: -- the conservative leaning think tank, the Cato Institute of the more than 3 million refugees admitted from 1975 to the end of 2015, 20 were terrorists amounting to 0.00062 percent. Of those 20, only three attacks were successfully carried out, three people lost their lives.

So how many Americans have been killed by citizens of these countries? None. From 1975 through 2015, Cato research says none. That same figure from Saudi Arabia, 2,369. From the UAE, 314, Egypt, 162. Why? All of these countries were home to the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks and none was targeted by this ban.

Also not on the list countries where President Trump appears to have business interests. So finally, let's take a look beyond all the heated rhetoric. How big is the actual threat here at home? Let's be honest. That's what this is about, fear, right?

According to Cato, the chance of an American being killed by a foreign-born terrorist is 1 in 3.6 million. Looking specifically at refugees that statistic jumps to 1 in 3.64 billion with a "b."

The 2015 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention shows us you're actually more likely to die being struck by lightning, being hit by a bus, falling out of your bed than you are of dying in a terror attack.

The number in that study, by the way, that Cato did does not include the 14 killed in the December 2015 shooting at San Bernardino, however, if you put that number in it's still lower than the other causes of death listed -- Alyson.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you very much for that important reality check, Chris. President Trump shaking up the national security council elevating the role of his chief strategist, Steve Bannon. One former national security adviser calls this move, quote, "stone cold crazy." Our panel is next.



CAMEROTA: President Trump causing another stir with the intelligence community changing his National Security Council in an unprecedented way. The president removing the director of intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from attending this meeting. It's called the Principal's Committee. It's the group instead he has replaced them with his chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

Let's bring back our panel. We have David Gregory, David Drucker, and Errol Louis. Errol, why is President Trump down playing the role of the Joint Chiefs and the director of National Intelligence.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think this goes back to what he says is a media fiction, which is that he is not entirely comfortable with the intelligence agencies that he wants to be able to overrule them for political reasons.

It's hard to see anything that's more clear of a statement and to put somebody -- and Steve Bannon is not just a political operative. He's a political operative with zero government experience to have him making national security decisions instead of the director of National Intelligence, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

Clearly indicates that they're going to try to spin every single thing that he do out of that White House including national security. I mean, you know, let's keep in mind, the Principles Committee was invented by George H. W. Bush.

Before he was president was director of the CIA, I mean, he put this together for a reason to have cabinet level discussions about the most important decisions that have to be made about national security and he specifically wanted political people outside of the room. Donald Trump clearly has an entirely different approach.

CUOMO: David Drucker, Steve Bannon was a Navy officer. It's not exactly how they slept at a Holiday Inn last night, but it's not the highest kind of credential for someone to get on to this kind of appointment. What is the virtue as the administration sees it?

DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": This is really bizarre to me, Chris, and it's also to my mind possibly a bigger story from the weekend than what we have been discussing just because of what it means. It's one thing to elevate your chief strategists if you want him on the Principles Committee, fine.

What I don't quite understand is why you're diminishing the director of National Intelligence and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On the one hand, Trump has appointed a lot of former generals to key cabinet positions, secretary of defense, secretary of Homeland Security.

So he is clearly comfortable with leadership from career military and doesn't have a problem with strong personalities in that regard. I just think it sends the wrong message to the national security community and I can't make heads or tails of it yet.

Simply because part of the president's charge in terms of how he ran and what he said he wants to do is to improve U.S. national security for what he sees as too weak of an approach from the Obama administration.

And let's face it, if President Obama had elevated Valerie Jarred or David Axelrod to the Principles Committee and diminished the director of National Intelligence in a post 911 world that we live in and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs the right would howl.

And I think rightfully so and the administration they feel as though the media is always on their back, but you know, there are times when you do things that are different and you need to explain it and they have not sufficiently explained this change.

CAMEROTA: David Gregory.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think it's that and more. We have to remember how the NFC works. This is not just government sausage making. This is how information is developed and shared throughout the government between the State Department, Defense Department, and intelligence agencies.

This is a critical information flow and when it breaks down people can die because it affects decisions you make in the national security arena. So other administrations have been accused of politicizing the intelligence or the national security process.

But here is Steve Bannon, by all we know, Steve Bannon, who ran Breitbart, who is as he said head of alt right, white nationalists, and he's going to head this platform. He is not just an advisor but somebody who is formulating both domestic and apparently foreign policy.

That's big. The same Steve Bannon who wants the news media to shut its mouth and listen for a while. Now the news media actually has a job here, to scrutinize these decisions and wonder why he has this much access.

[06:40:08]What impact he'll have on the inter-agency process, and why he is more important than the chief military advisor, who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs. So the press is going to make something of this because that's what the press should be doing.

But more to the point you have Republicans like McCain and others that have said they're deeply concerned about this kind of construction going on in these kind of changes.

CAMEROTA: Very quickly before we move on, let me just read, Susan Rice who is the national security advisor's tweet, this is important, she says, "This is stone cold crazy after a week of crazy who needs military advice or intel to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan or North Korea?"

CUOMO: Now she wasn't a military person either, but she was a diplomat and she wasn't put on that committee. All right, so another tweet that actually made some reverberation was from Flynn's son again, "Making America great again #muslimban" and then a whole bunch. Now apparently his account finally got cancelled after this because he keeps embarrassing his father, but what is the relevance of this. LOUIS: Look, when people say that there is no Muslim ban. We just picked seven nations out of a hat and decided to implement all of these different kind of travel restrictions and so forth this kind of puts a lie to it as does the statement on television by Rudy Giuliani over the weekend saying that he was told to implement a Muslim ban.

CAMEROTA: Let's listen to that.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: When he first announced it he said Muslim ban. He called me up and said put a commission together and show me the right way to do it legally. I put a commission together with Judge Mukasey (ph) with Congressman McCaul, Steve King, and whole group of other very expert lawyers on this and what we did was we focused on instead of religion, danger.


CUOMO: Followed his advice, though, because McCaul is against what he sees in the executive order. So your take.

LOUIS: We have clearly some confusion even at that level, but I think something like this, if and when this does end up in court, this is the kind of stuff that I think will be brought forward to show that this was not done with purely national security interests in mind. That this was straying into forbidden territory. Things like discriminating based on religion or even on national origin.

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much for all of those insights. All right, President Trump banning travel for citizens of seven Muslim majority countries as we have been saying. Is this even legal? We look at that ahead.



CAMEROTA: The Atlanta Falcons are in Houston this morning getting ready for a busy week ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl LI. Andy Scholes is there too. He has more on today's "Bleacher Report." Hi, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hello. Good morning, Alisyn. The official week of Super Bowl has begun. Half of the participants already here in Houston. The Patriots actually making a rare decision to not travel in on the Sunday before the big game instead they will be arriving here to Houston later on today, but the Falcons are here in Texas already.

The team arriving on their big charter plane yesterday and as you can see the team all business getting off the plane. No one trying to make fashion statements like Cam Newton did last year.

We all remember on this day last year all that we're talking about were Cam Newton's pants that he wore when he got off the plane arriving at the Super Bowl, didn't work out too well for him as the Panthers lost to the Broncos in that game.

Now the Patriots may not be here in Houston yet, but many of their fans have already made the trip including a group on a giant bus dubbed the "Drive for Five." These fans left Foxboro on Wednesday in this big luxury motor coach.

They're here in Texas ready to cheer on their team in the Super Bowl and a good chance some of them go to what is now dubbed NFL opening night. This used to be called just media day which was a circus in itself and now it's a primetime event that fans can attend tonight.

It's being held at (inaudible) where the Astros play. The event is sold out and on top of listening the players meet with the media for the first time this week there's going to be concerts and a fireworks show.

And Chris, we all know that thousands of media members here want to speak to the man quarterbacking for the Patriots, Tom Brady. How many times he asked about Roger Goodell in deflategate and I'm going to take the over on that.

CUOMO: I heard he's hurt and not playing in the game. Andy Scholes, thank you very much. I'm kidding. He's going to be the big draw. Of course, it is amazing what he continues to be able to do. It's hard to argue he isn't the best. Andy, thank you very much.

President Trump sweeping seven-nation travel ban is under fire. One argument is political. Another is legal. The constitution prohibits any restriction on the basis of national origin or religion. Could this offend both? Legal analysis next.



CUOMO: In a joint statement, attorney generals from more than a dozen states condemning what they call President Trump's unconstitutional, un-American and unlawful executive order. No swing states involved in those attorney generals. Interesting.

Let's dig deeper now on the legality of the Trump travel ban. Joining us now former general counsel to the Immigration and Naturalization Service, David Martin. Mr. Martin, thank you for joining us.

Let's start with the biggest precedent involved, the Constitution. What are thoughts about whether or not the executive order violates the Constitution?

DAVID MARTIN, FORMER ING GENERAL COUNSEL: Well, the executive order is at the very least in deep tension with some very basic constitutional values, values against religious discrimination, values against broad brush actions that take no account of individuals, their potential due process issues and equal protection issue there.

But it's going to be difficult, there are many reasons why it may be difficult to get courts to actually rule in that way in these kinds of cases -- part for two main reasons. Most of the people who were affected by the order are still outside the country.

They would like to come here and they haven't yet been here. The courts are reluctant to find standing and people are outside of the country who don't yet have any significant ties.

CUOMO: Standing is somebody who's been aggrieved by the law under issue and can show some kind of damage from it. Could the attorneys general do that?

MARTIN: The state attorneys general?


MARTIN: That would be a little more difficult to find a connection there, but there are some people who were in the air when the order was issued and who have been in the United States. Some were sent home very quickly or sent back to Europe very quickly even while their lawyers were trying to file papers. They should be able to raise those issues.

The other reason for why it's difficult is that the courts attend to be very differential to the executive branch and the immigration area and areas dealing with foreign policy and they sometimes find room for the executive even when there's constitutional values.

[06:55:12]I think there's still room for making those claims and some of the claims particularly those made in the New York case based on an equal protection clause are claim that this action was animated against a particular religious group.

That's a branch of equal protection doctrine that makes him into play here for just difficult evidentiary issues, but there is a lot of statements made during the campaign by President Trump and by his surrogates that can be invoked by the plaintiffs in those circumstances.

CUOMO: President Obama is an example of the courts giving latitude to the executive orders, but some refer to deference on the basis of inclusion and orders of inclusion versus exclusion, which is what they'd be dealing with here.

And I wonder if in your estimation, the 1965 Immigration Act as an articulated extract from our constitutional precepts you were talking about would come into play for instance put it up on the screen.

"No person shall receive any preference or priority or be discriminated against in the issues of an immigrant visa because of the person's race, sex, nationality, place of birth or place of residence." That's from Title VIII. what do you think of that as being the applicable statute here?

MARTIN: Well, that's a thought that's been introduced really fairly recently into the overall discussion. That statute is a pretty powerful statement about not discriminating on the basis of nationality. And nationality I should emphasize different from national origin. National origin discrimination is strongly forbidden by the Constitution. That's an immutable characteristic, but nationality is your current citizenship, they have intended to be quite so harsh on this. But the statute says don't discriminate on the basis of nationality.

CUOMO: Right.

MARTIN: I think some courts will find that mutual and may very well rely on that because in many times it's easier for a court, more comfortable for a court to rely on a statutory provision instead of going to the full constitutional values, but there are problems with that.

It says not to discriminate in the issuance of an immigrant visa and most of this is being implemented by way of a separate provision of the immigration law. It's in the same statute. The same overall statute as that provision.

And that's the one that gives the president very broad powers when he finds that entry of certain people is detrimental to the interest of the country. A very broad standard that he may suspend the entry of classes of aliens or individuals.

But the argument is to why that's overridden by the provision you initially quoted, but it's not a clear case on that. I think the administration will argue we're not discriminating on the issue of visas. We are simply imposing what we see as something required by foreign policy.

CUOMO: We'll certainly hear more about this because it seems like the law may be the only recourse here with the Democrats not having the votes to change anything in terms of any legislation to make this executive order prohibited.

Also we have Germany's prime minister, Angela Merkel saying that she thinks it violates the Geneva Convention. We'll see if there are any teeth to that allegation.

Mr. Martin, thank you very much. Appreciate the perspective.

MARTIN: Thank you.

CUOMO: All right, our international viewers, thanks to all of you for watching us. CNN NEWSROOM is going to begin for you in just a few moments. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now. We have an update on a terror attack in Canada.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is not going to apologize for putting the safety of this country first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can't deny that this is a Muslim ban.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Folks that shouldn't be in this country, they're going to be detained. So apologize for nothing here.

SENATOR JOHN MCCAIN (R), ARIZONA: It's a radical departure from any National Security Council in history.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have an extremer vetting proposal that didn't get the vetting it should have had.

CAMEROTA: Deadly gunfire ringing out at this mosque in Canada. Police arrested two people.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Witnesses describe a coordinated attack.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR, "EARLY START": This is now being investigated as an act of terror.


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. We begin with President Trump's sweeping seven-nation travel ban. The administration defending the controversial order following a weekend of chaos and confusion and protests in the streets and at airports across the country not to mention global condemnation.

CAMEROTA: Even some top Republicans criticized the controversial executive order. The Trump administration insists though this is not a Muslim ban. We have it all covered for you. So let's go first to CNN's Athena Jones. She is live at the White House with the very latest. Good morning, Athena.

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alyson. After a weekend of confusion, the Department of Homeland Security said last night that no one in the initial group --