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Trump Fires Acting AG Over Travel Ban; Cabinet Nominees Move Toward Senate Vote; Lawmakers Slam Messy Rollout Of Travel Ban. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired January 31, 2017 - 05:30   ET


[05:30:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: -- developments we saw in Washington overnight in a move that evokes President Nixon's mass firings amid the Watergate investigation back in 1973. The Trump administration achieving a level of chaos that would be unusual for any White House, let alone one trying to find its footing after just 10 days on the job.

A new acting attorney general has now been sworn in to replace the old acting A.G. Sally Yates after she ordered Justice Department lawyers not to defend President Trump's travel ban in court. The U.S. attorney for Eastern Virginia, Dana Boente, took the oath and quickly rescinded Yates' order. CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett has more from Washington and, Laura, what an amazing 12 hours of developments over at Justice.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: As you said, a wild night, indeed. It all started around 6:30 last night when my colleague Evan Perez broke the story that the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, had told her team of lawyers at the Justice Department that she was not convinced that Trump's executive order was lawful and so, she instructed her team not to defend the order in court.

Now, as we know, there are a bunch of lawsuits going on right now so it would've mattered. It wouldn't have had a U.S. attorney in court defending it, but less than three hours later she was fired. And the White House put out a statement around 9:00 p.m. last night saying that Yates had "betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order."

And, President Trump swiftly replaced her with Dana Boente, a top federal prosecutor out of Virginia. Boente then quickly issued new guidance to lawyers at the Justice Department directing them to defend Trump's executive order since the administration says that the office that typically provides legal advice to the executive branch -- it's called the Office of Legal Counsel -- had signed off on the executive order.

So, as you might expect, Yates' firing set off a real firestorm here on Capitol Hill last night with senators on both sides of the aisle speaking out. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz went after her hard, saying she put partisan interest above fidelity to the law. But Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer defended her, saying this underscores why it's important to have an attorney general willing to stand up to the White House. The timing here is just incredible because later this morning the Judiciary Committee is set to vote on the nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions. That's President Trump's pick for attorney general. And while he won't be there in person you can guarantee the senators are going to have something to say about what's happened over the past several days.

ROMANS: Oh, yes. That is -- that's a real easy call to make, Laura. How does this affect current and future litigation over that executive order?

JARRETT: We'll have to see what happens, right, because the courts haven't had an opportunity to evaluate the constitutionality of the president's travel ban yet. But lawyers are gearing up for a fight and have filed suit yesterday saying it violates the constitution, so we'll have to see what happens.

ROMANS: All right. Laura Jarrett for us in Washington bright and early this morning. Thank you. Another busy day ahead, I'm sure. Thanks, Laura.

JARRETT: Thanks, bye.

GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right, and these are likely to be very busy times for lawyers at the Justice Department defending against the growing list of lawsuits aiming at overturning the travel ban. But, Dana Boente's turn as acting attorney general may not last long. His replacement, Jeff Sessions, is one of four cabinet nominees set for committee votes today.

The president's travel ban may complicate the process for his nominees. Senate Democrats say they will demand all of them come out against what Democrats call the president's "Muslim ban." Mr. Trump's secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson is moving to a Senate vote over the objections, but most Democrats -- a final confirmation vote now expected tomorrow.

ROMANS: Also overnight, new criticism from a top Republican for the administration's chaotic rollout of that ban. The House Homeland Security Chairman Michael McCaul says the ban, as written, goes too far. His statement, "We should not be turning away people who have lawfully been approved to come to the United States. This issue could have been avoided through better coordination between the White House, Congress, and the agencies on the front lines, which is more important now than ever."

But despite all the opposition, the administration is standing by that order and trying to smooth things over. Vice President Pence and Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly will meet with Republican leaders today. White House correspondent Sara Murray has the latest.


SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, George and Christine. Donald Trump beginning his week under fire by both Democrats and Republicans for his rollout of this travel ban. They were members of his own government agencies who weren't sure how to implement this ban when it was passed and a number of Republican allies on the Hill say that they were not consulted -- they were taken by surprise. And even if they do agree with what the travel bans includes, they do not agree with what some of them called a sloppy rollout.

Now, in spite of all of that, the White House vigorously defended the move on Monday. Here's what Sean Spicer had to say.

[05:35:00] SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: If we announced this a lot earlier it would have given people plenty of time to flood into the country who could have done us harm. That's not exactly a sound strategy, right? So, the people that needed to be kept in the loop were kept in the loop. The people that needed to be briefed were.

MURRAY: There's no indication, however, that President Trump plans to slow down his breakneck pace. Today, he's going to be having a meeting on cybersecurity and we're expecting him to sign an executive action on that front. But the big show comes this evening when we're expecting Donald Trump to announce his pick for a Supreme Court justice. Back to you guys.


HOWELL: Sara Murray, thank you so much. A lot to talk about here. To try to help boil it all down let's bring in Ellis Henican here, who joins us again this hour. So, Ellis, the question here is at some point Jeff Sessions will step into this role --


HOWELL: -- likely, and it's interesting because there was a point where Jeff Sessions was questioning Sally Yates on an issue of integrity, quite frankly. Let's listen to this exchange and we can talk about it here in a moment.


SEN. JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: You have to watch out because people will be asking you to do things you just need to say no about. Do you think the attorney general has a responsibility to say no to the president if he asks for something that's improper? But if the views the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no?

SALLY YATES, FORMER ACTING ATTORNEY GENERAL: Senator, I believe that the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and the constitution, and to give their independent legal advice to the president.


HOWELL: So, that's a clip that we dug up from back in 2015 where, you know -- this was when Sally Yates was going for that deputy role. But to hear what Jeff Sessions had to say there, that's going to be on record.

HENICAN: Right. Don't forget, that was a different president. Jeff Sessions was worried that she would be able to stand up to Barack Obama. But listen, it's a classic Socratic method dialogue from law school but it's so relevant today, isn't it? I mean, who should be judging these things? What should a lawyer's responsibility making independent judgment, deciding what the law is -- I -- you know, it's just a fascinating exchange and she paid the price.

ROMANS: It's clear that this administration is going to embroiled in legal battles over this. I mean, you look at this 1952 law we've been looking at that just clearly gives the president an awful lot of rights --

HENICAN: Indeed.

ROMANS: -- to suspend classes of immigrants. But then you have the constitutional question of can it be based on religion, which is something the constitution -- and is that what this ban is? The White House says no, the ACLU says yes. Two weekends of a Trump administration with two different controversies and people around the world taking to the streets. Is this a presidency that is changing the game and he's cleaning house or are they underestimating how -- the pushback they're going to get to these ideas?

HENICAN: You know, I think this is just the new normal. I mean, we keep expecting something to change and nothing changes, but both of the scenarios you lay out are true. They did underestimate some of the reactions to this. Clearly, the introduction of this -- these new immigration policies would -- you'd expect the kind of pushback that they got. And yet, I think we're going to -- we're going to be living like this for a good long while, Christine.

ROMANS: But they said that they were supposed to have a Supreme Court nominee tonight at 8:00 p.m.

HENICAN: That's remarkable.

ROMANS: Usually we would have spent the entire day weighing who they could've been and what --

HENICAN: Will we get to that?

ROMANS: -- will the Democrats do?

HENICAN: We could have gotten a month out of that discussion, now we'll be lucky to get half an hour.

ROMANS: It's just remarkable.


HOWELL: OK, so I want to raise this question. So, the dissent channel. This is something that goes back to the 1960's. It's a --

HENICAN: It's not a television network, this is something at the State Department.

HOWELL: No, no, it's in the State Department, yes, for diplomats to voice their disagreement on things. Dozens of them did just that. But there was a very interesting reaction from the White House press secretary about people who disagree, specifically on this memo. Let's listen.


SPICER: I think that they should either get with the program or they can go.


SPICER: Hold on, hold on, hold on. This is -- this is about the safety of America. It's his number one duty, as it should be with any leader, to keep our people and our institutions safe from attack. And if somebody has a problem with that agenda then they should -- you know, then that does call into question whether or not they should continue in that post or not.


HOWELL: So, it's kind of like --

ROMANS: Get on board or get out.


HENICAN: You know, in an organization like the State Department -- the same is true of the CIA and many other agencies that deal with foreign policy -- you need to have free flow of information. If someone says no, no, no, I think we are making a mistake here, you want them to be able to speak up in a safe and a free manner. I don't know. I think that's dangerous stuff.

ROMANS: All right. Well, it's fascinating --


ROMANS: -- to say the least. That's going to be the overused word of the year.

HENICAN: Or we may get some kind of judge or something tonight, I hear.

ROMANS: I know.

HOWELL: We'll keep an eye on that.

ROMANS: Arguably the most important job of a president is to keep the country safe and to appoint Supreme Court justices.


HOWELL: Ellis Henican, thank you so much. ROMANS: Thank you. Nice to see you, Ellis.

HENICAN: Good seeing you.

ROMANS: All right. The confusion over President Trump's travel ban stoking fear on Wall Street this morning. The tax cuts are no longer the White House's top priority. The Dow tumbled 122 points for the biggest loss since the elections. Futures -- look at the futures right now. They're down again. The growing fear here is the divisions between Republicans could stall the number one goal of investors, the promise of lower tax rates.

[05:40:16] In a meeting with small business leaders Monday, the president brushed aside criticism of the rally he started.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The stock market has gone up massively since the election. Everyone was saying oh, the market will go down. I said the market's not going down. You know, the smart people know me. The business people know me. They know what I'm about. So, the market went massively up. In fact, when I was elected a lot of the really smart people went out and bought a lot of stock and they've been rewarded.


ROMANS: You might recall during the campaign he said he wasn't really a stock guy, he was a real estate guy. He didn't really buy stocks. Was out of the market and thought it was a bubble. Trump also says he's doing -- he's going to do a big number on Dodd-Frank, the regulations enacted in the wake of the financial crisis. That could help refuel the rally. It could at least be very, very good for bank stocks. We shall see.

HOWELL: We shall see, indeed. We are counting down the hours to Super LI media day, now a primetime event. So, what did quarterbacks Tom Brady and Matt Ryan have to say about it -- about each other? Andy Scholes live from Houston with the Bleacher Report, next.


[05:45:40] HOWELL: A third straight day of protests across the U.S. and Europe against President Trump's travel ban. Officials overseas scrambling to clarify what the executive order means for their citizens with dual nationality. CNN is live in London. Nina dos Santos following the story for us this hour and, Nina, clarity seems to be hard to come by.

NINA DOS SANTOS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, clarity is hard to come by, George, but confusion and concern seems to be the order of the day acrossmany European capitals. Here in the United Kingdom, dual nationality citizens have been guaranteed that they will be allowed to travel to the United States as per a statement that Boris Johnson, the foreign office -- the foreign secretary of state made in the House of Parliament yesterday. But across other capital cities like Berlin and Paris, well, officials are still trying to understand exactly what it means for their citizens who also hold one of these several other countries passports.

Now, in France, citizens who have French nationality, as well as dual nationality in one of these other countries, have been told contact the American Consulate or the Embassy in Paris for further clarification. Over in Germany, though, citizens are being told by the Foreign Ministry don't travel to the United States and don't try and apply for a visa.

Now, despite the fact that the U.K. has been one of those countries that is exempt from this particular travel ban, George, it hasn't been exempt from the protests. In fact, we saw thousands of people taking to the streets yesterday evening, right here around the U.K. Houses of Parliament and further down the street outside 10 Downing Street where the prime minister resides, to voice their concerns over this travel ban and also to urge the prime minister, Theresa May, to disinvite Donald Trump, if you like.

There's also a petition online that the government will have to now start debating in the House of Commons because it's gathered so many signatures -- more than 1.5 million, by the way, and that petition is urging Theresa May to rethink the offer of the state visit that she extended to Donald Trump less than a week ago, George.

HOWELL: We are seeing protests on the streets, companies coming out, and countries also speaking out against the travel ban. Nina dos Santos live from London. Thank you so much for the report.

ROMANS: I was just talking with my business producer. We haven't heard companies -- capitalists talk so much about values ever in my career.


ROMANS: It's just remarkable. All right, 47 minutes past the hour. The countdown to Super Bowl LI is on. The week of festivities began last night with a primetime spectacle called opening night.

HOWELL: Oh, how about that? Andy Scholes was at that event in Houston, our home state of Texas, and has more on the Bleacher Report. The Atlanta Hawks there, too, where we both live. I think I've made my pick. Atlanta Falcons, I said. I've made my pick. Go ahead.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Always nice to be back in Texas, George, and I'll tell you what, last night's event, it was held at Minute Maid Park where the Houston Astros play. And as always at media day, there was all kinds of characters there asking players questions. And I'll tell you what, there was lots of media. I would say there was about over 1,000 media members on hand for this event and among them was Peyton and Eli Manning's older brother, Cooper. He was walking around in a $100 bill suit. Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles was also there asking questions, as was fake Tom Brady. He was there kind of creeping everyone out.

Now, speaking of Tom Brady, he, of course -- he had the biggest crowd of media around him all night once the Patriots took the stage, and Brady actually got emotional when he was asked by a seven-year-old reporter who his hero is.


TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: Who's my hero? That's a great question. Well, I think my dad is my hero because he's someone that I look up to every day and -- my dad.


SCHOLES: Now, you don't see that very often from Tom Brady. Now, as for the Falcons, their signal caller also had the biggest crowd around him all night and I actually dove into the Matt Ryan mosh pit and I asked Ryan, you know, back when he was playing for Boston College and he was just sitting on his couch and someone had asked him what would he have said if someone told him that he would one day be going up against New England legend Tom Brady in the Super Bowl?


MATT RYAN, QUARTERBACK, ATLANTA FALCONS: Obviously, it's something that I've dreamed about and worked towards my entire life and, you know, would have just hoped for that opportunity. And, you know, now that it's here it's going to be fun. Tom's been awesome to get to know. He's incredibly supportive. We exchange text messages back and forth, you know, quite a bit. And I think all quarterbacks, you know, younger guys, have looked up to Tom throughout their careers.


[05:50:10] SCHOLES: And guys, the Falcons actually had a moment of panic last night. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan -- he was doing interviews and he misplaced his backpack -- lost it for about a half hour. And you'd normally be like oh, not that big a deal. It had the Falcons' offensive game plans for the Super Bowl in it.


SCHOLES: So the Falcons were in a mad panic for a half hour. A reporter actually walked off with it by accident and then returned it to Shanahan. But can you imagine if that backpack had gone missing what we'd be talking about his morning?

ROMANS: Oh, man, that is something.

HOWELL: No. Andy Scholes, thank you so much.

ROMANS: Nice to see you. All right, he's going to have fun. He's going to have fun the next few days.

HOWELL: Absolutely.

ROMANS: All right. The Trump stock market rally hit a big speed bump Monday. Will we see more losses at the open today? Closely watching futures here. We're going to get a check on CNN Money Stream next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:55:15] ROMANS: Welcome back. The Trump administration is reinstating the CIA director to the National Security Council. The move is aimed at quashing the firestorm that erupted in Washington when the president appointed Chief Political Strategist Steve Bannon as a regular committee member.

HOWELL: The Trump administration has requested a closed-door meeting with the U.N. Security Council after Iran apparently conducted a medium-range missile test over the weekend. Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, called the missile launch a violation of Iran's international commitments. A U.S. Defense official tells CNN the test was a failure.

In a major shift, the Boy Scouts of America will begin accepting members based on the gender with which they identify, now opening the door for transgender boys to join the organization. That means Boy Scouts will no longer be required -- will require birth certificates to determine membership eligibility. The new policy takes effect immediately.

ROMANS: All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. The big test for the stock market today, the Trump rally. Maybe President Trump, himself. Futures pointing lower this morning. The market suffering its biggest drop since last September on Monday. The fallout from the travel ban has investors worrying that tax cuts and deregulation may be delayed -- that maybe that's not the first priority. Maybe the problems within the Republican Party could slow down tax reform. Oil prices are down. You can see how global markets were here.

The travel ban has the stock market at a turning point and it is a huge week for Wall Street. Trump's executive orders and his upcoming Supreme Court pick will reveal his true priorities. Wall Street's true priority is tax reform and rolling back regulations. The Federal Reserve starts a two-day policy meeting today. A rate hike is not expected but expect clues on the timing of the next move. And hundreds -- hundreds of companies report their earnings this week from Exxon, this morning, to Apple, after the close.

And finally, the first jobs report in the Trump presidency is Friday. How will the administration react to the numbers? It blasted these numbers in the past as phony, fake, and misleading. And now, they belong to the Trump administration.

Today is the last day to sign up for Obamacare. If you miss this deadline you likely cannot get coverage for 2017. And the penalty this year for being uninsured, $695. So far, 11.5 million people have signed up on the federal and state exchanges. That's up from this time last year. The final days are crucial here for attracting younger, healthier consumers. That has been kind of a problem for this program.

The Department of Health and Human Services, last week, pulled the final $4 million to $5 million in advertising. This is advertising that was promoting the end of open enrollment, getting people up to speed on what they need to do. Advocates and insurers said that was a really bad move. President Trump and congressional Republicans have started the process of repealing Obamacare but this is very important folks. The program will continue this year and possibly next, so the law is still in place. You need to have insurance. If you don't you will be fined up to $695 and that will come right off your income tax return --


ROMANS: -- so you need to go and enroll. And don't assume -- don't assume that you have insurance. If you are uninsured you should go, even though we haven't been doing that. All right, thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

HOWELL: And I'm George Howell, but before we go a step further we have to wish Christine Romans a happy birthday.

ROMANS: Oh, thank you.

HOWELL: Happy birthday to you.

ROMANS: Thank you, thank you. Twenty-nine is fine.

HOWELL: "NEW DAY" starts right now.


TRUMP: The American dream is back.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He has fired the acting attorney general because she disagreed with his executive order.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (R-NY), MINORITY LEADER: This will give the Democrats an excuse for trying to delay the Sessions confirmation.

SPICER: We're not going to wait and react.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's an executive order poorly masked as a ban on Muslims.

SPICER: You don't know when the next threat's coming.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The former president encouraging people to go into the streets because Trump has obstructed American principles.

PROTESTERS: The Muslim ban has got to go.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Mr. President, I'm not trying to start World War III, I'm trying to win the war we're in.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, January 31st, 6:00 in the East.

And up first, welcome to the new abnormal. Trump has dug himself in on controversial positions and created tension with his party and allies around the world, and he's done it all in just 12 hours.

The president sending a hand-delivered letter to the acting attorney general, firing her for refusing to defend his travel ban. Shortly after, a new acting A.G. was sworn in promising to "defend the lawful orders of our president." Then, the Trump administration naming a new acting ICE director as questions remain about how the suspect travel ban that all -- that started all this is going to implemented at airports across the country.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So it's been a stunning 12 hours and the next 12 hours will also be action-packed. Mr. Trump preparing a primetime announcement tonight for his Supreme Court pick as more cabinet picks face confirmation votes today and possibly more delays.