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Quebec Mosque Shooter Identified as "Lone Wolf"; Iran Conducts Ballistic Missile Test; Trump Fires Acting A.G. for Defying Him on Travel Ban. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 31, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:31:16] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Canadian officials are calling the college student who opened fire and killed six people in a Quebec mosque a "lone wolf". Thousands lit candles to remember the victims in Quebec City last night. The suspect faces six counts of murder for what authorities say was an act of terrorism. The public safety minister says the attack would have been difficult to prevent.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Iran conducting its first missile test since President Trump took office. A U.S. defense official says the failed medium range missile test, much like this launched in 2015, posed no threat to the U.S. or its allies in the region. The U.S. mission to the United Nations now requesting the Security Council hold a closed door meeting about this test. During the campaign, President Trump criticized the Iran nuclear deal and vowed to renegotiate it.

CUOMO: The Boy Scouts of America are making a major policy change. They are opening the door for transgender boys to join the scouts. The organization is now going to look at the gender indicated on children's applications instead of their birth certificates. The Girl Scouts adopted the transgender family membership policy several years ago.

CAMEROTA: All right. Slick travel conditions across the Northeast today. There are snow and gusty winds and it's hitting parts of New England, all the way to the Great Lakes.

Let's get to meteorologist Chad Myers for a look at the forecast.

Hi, Chad.


You know, one to two inches of snow can be worse driving than four to five or six inches of snow because you don't slow down.

This weather is brought to you by Purina, your pet, our passion.

Puppies out in the snow this morning, all across the Great Lakes from Chicago to Grand Rapids, into Detroit, Toledo and Cleveland, but a light snow at best, probably only one to two inches. I think the Alleghenies could pick up 4 to 5. But it's that slick morning commute, especially before the sun rises this morning that could get you in trouble.

There's your heaviest snow. Alleghenies maybe up toward the Poconos here, a little bit more here in north of Syracuse will pick up about four to six inches of snow. That's it. But it does warm up today. We're very close to 32 or above and with a little bit of afternoon sunshine, most of that snow should be gone -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right. Chad, thank you very much, my friend.

There is now a revolving door at the DOJ. The acting attorney general was fired for refusing to defend the controversial travel ban. There's a new acting attorney general who was hired to do the opposite. Senator Sessions is expected to take over in just days. A look as what's happening inside the DOJ with someone who knows all the players.


CUOMO: Within hours of President Trump firing acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce his travel ban, really for what she said was "I will not defend this ban in court". A new acting Attorney General Dana Boente is sworn in and he says he will defend the Trump immigration order.

So, what authority does he actually have and what does this kind of cycle of changes mean for the DOJ?

Let's bring in former U.S. Attorney Michael Moore for more insight. He knows both Sally Yates and Dana Boente.

Michael, you were an Obama appointee as well. What do you make of the moves at the DOJ in the last 15 hours?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: You know, it's an unusual time for the department. I can tell you, I know both Sally and Dana. I have great respect for both of them.

It will be a unique transition. We all expect Dana's time as the acting attorney general to be very brief, but I do think as we think about what may happen during the rest of the Sessions' confirmation hearings that sort of the activities in the last few hours might impact that somewhat and that might actually have the effect of drawing out Dana's tenure a little bit longer.

CUOMO: Do you understand why Yates would have looked at this order and the legal ramifications that have happened since it went into effect and questioned whether or not to defend it?

MOORE: Certainly. I've known Sally for a number of years. She's a consummate professional. She's a good lawyer. She's prepared. She's cautious.

And I think when she looked at the order she realized it was poorly timed, it was poorly drafted, it was poorly prepared. It was not very well-thought out and it was poorly implemented.

And I think when you took all of those things and you looked at the impact that it could likely have, the possibility that it was fact a religious discrimination test, that she had to make a decision about whether or not it would withstand constitutional scrutiny.

She made that decision. And I would tell you that today, I was proud yesterday to call her my friend and I'm especially proud to do that today.

CUOMO: Well, the White House is -- a lot of the law and the politics gets confused in these situations, right?

[06:40:00] And the White House is saying she wouldn't enforce it. That's not really accurate. She's saying she wouldn't defend it. But the factors that you laid out, a lot of them sound like political factors. How do they play into a legal reckoning for how it would be rightful for her to say "I won't defend this"?

MOORE: Look, everything that happens up there has something to do with politics. And somehow, there's this marriage between law and politics. And, certainly, we hope that the Department of Justice within that building, with that institution, that we are true servants of the law and the people.

I can tell you that I truly believe that Sally saw her job as a servant to the Constitution and a servant to the American people. I recognize that, you know, we can talk politics and we can say was there a political motive here or not, I've heard that for a long time. I mean, these executive orders, I can remember not too many years ago hearing about executive orders and references were made to the king. I guess when you change administrations, it's OK to have a king. It just depends on which team's jersey they are wearing at the time.

In this case, though, I have every confidence and while I recognize that the president does have a great deal of discretion when it comes to border security issues, I think that when you really look at how the order rolled out and you look in fact that courts have made decisions about it, there have been some initial decisions by district courts around the country, it just was poorly implemented. You had agents at different locations within the country at different airports not knowing how to enforce the order. Not knowing which provisions to be enforced, not knowing what to do and people were being sort of left in the lurch until a further decision was made.

So, I applaud Sally's gut and her strength and her courage for coming forward. I'm mindful that we do not want an attorney general who is simply a puppet for the White House. We want an attorney general in this country I believe --

CUOMO: Right.

MOORE: -- who has the fortitude and the courage to stand up to the president when the attorney general thinks that the president is overreaching the executive power. I think she did that. CUOMO: Especially in a climate where the current party in power

railed against executive orders, said never again, railed against the attorney general for being politicized, said never again, and now, here we are.

What are the potential impacts on the working of the DOJ, even under an expected Attorney General Sessions in this environment?

MOORE: Well, you know, I do think that it will be a good thing to have a Senate-confirmed attorney general, whoever that may be. It looks like it will be Jeff Sessions. I think he has experience with the department. I think he has friends in the Senate and on the Senate Judiciary Committee who probably have his ear about things like this, and I think that's important.

You know, as far as how the department will work, I think you may see more of these orders. What we hope is that Senator Sessions, if he becomes attorney general, will use the same tests that he asked of Sally Yates during her confirmation to be deputy attorney general. That is if you are asked to do something by the president, that you believe is wrong, that you believed does not withstand constitutional scrutiny, are you willing to push back and say no?

And so, what we hope is Senator Sessions would do the same thing should he be become attorney general.

CUOMO: Yes, we know how he asked the question. Now, it's, how will he answer it?

Michael Moore, very helpful. Thank you very much. Appreciate you being on the show.

MOORE: Thank you. Glad to be with you, Chris.

CUOMO: Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: So, how are these first 12 days of the Trump White House going over with conservatives? Well, one high-level Republican now speaking out in very stark terms. He's next.


[06:47:31] CAMEROTA: Countdown to Super Bowl LI is on. The week of festivities begun last night wit the primetime spectacle called opening night.

Andy Scholes is a good supporter. So, he had to go to that event in Houston. And he has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hi, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Hey, good morning, Alisyn. Yes, this year's media day was held at Minute Maid Park where the Houston Astros play. And you can always count on this event for players to be asked interesting questions. I'll tell you, there was so much media there, probably over a thousand media members in total. And among them was Peyton and Eli Manning's older brother Cooper. He

was wearing a $100 bill suit. Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles is also on hand, asking some question.

As was the guy in the Tom Brady mask. He was walking around, got creeping everybody out.

And speaking of Tom Brady, he, of course, had the biggest crowed out of anyone around him all night. And Brady actually got emotional when he was asked by a seven-year-old reporter who his hero is.


TOM BRADY, PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: Who is 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: Pretty cool moment there from Tom Brady.

Now, the Atlanta Falcons actually had a moment of panic during opening night. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan while he was doing interviews misplaced his backpack. And usually, it'd be like no big deal.

Well, it has the Falcons offensive game plan in it. It was missing for 30 minutes before a reporter brought it back, after they mistakenly walked away.

But, Chris, can you imagine what we would be talking about this morning if that backpack with the Falcons offensive game plans was still missing? I think it would be backpack-gate, right?

CUOMO: Well, of course -- it certainly would have a gate on it. There's no question about it.

Andy, enjoy yourself down there. Your enthusiasm is infectious.

All right. One high-level Republican says President Trump created a dark and divisive America from day one. In fact, that was the plan. Is the Trump presidency really as stark as he says?

We're talking to him live. You decide, next.


[06:53:06] CAMEROTA: President Trump firing the acting attorney general who refused to enforce his travel ban and swearing in a new one. The latest action fueling concerns of some Republicans about the Trump presidency.

One of them is Eliot Cohen. He served as counselor to former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

And he has just written this in "The Atlantic". Quote, "Many conservative foreign policy and national security experts saw the dangers last spring and summer, which is why we signed letters denouncing not Trump's policies, but his temperament, not his program, but his character, and we were right, and friends who urge us to tone it down, to make our peace with him, to stop saying as loudly as we could this is abnormal, were wrong. It will get worse."

Eliot Cohen is the director of the strategic studies program at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and he's the author of "The Big Stick". He joins us now.

Mr. Cohen, thank you for being here.


CAMEROTA: Why do you feel so strongly about this?

COHEN: I feel so strongly about this because I love my country. You know, the style of leadership that we're seeing is really something completely unlike anything that I've seen in my lifetime. A president who is divisive, who is angry, whose subordinates want to see reporters fired. A president tweets about his enemies, pervasive lying, this is really way, way beyond the norm.

And, you know, I'm not -- I was not a great admirer of President Obama. I wasn't a great admirer of some other presidents. But this is profoundly different and it is very disturbing. It should be disturbing to all of us as citizens.

CAMEROTA: When you say it will get worse, what makes you want to predict that?

COHEN: Well, I'm a historian, and I've -- I have served in government and one thing that I know both from my reading and from what I observe is that the longer you are in power, the more intoxicated with it you become.

[06:55:01] The less easy it is for you to receive inputs from the outside that suggest maybe I'm wrong, and I think, you know, when you come in the way this administration came in, and particularly the way this president came in, I don't see any prospect that this will get better. They may get tactically a little bit better. You know, you may see a little bit less of the gross incompetence with which they handled this decision to shutdown immigration from seven countries.

But I think that, you know, the fundamental -- because the fundamental issues are as I said issues of character and issues of temperament, there's no reason to think they will get better.

CAMEROTA: What's the most alarming sign to you so far?

COHEN: You know, I was very disturbed starting with the inaugural address. You know usually, go back and look at our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln. He's reaching out his hands to the south at the time -- really at the beginning of the civil war, when the issues are monumental. When it's clear the country is going to be torn apart over the issue of slavery and he stretched out his hand to the other side.

From the very beginning, this has been an angry presidency. He made it very clear he's not interested in dealing with his opponents. He denounces them, he has contempt for them. He wants to punish them.

Instead, what he's going to do is going to appeal to the minority of Americans, and I repeat a minority of Americans, who voted for him. That's just very disturbing. That is not what presidents do. It's not President Obama did, it's not what President Bush did, not what President Clinton did. It's out of the norm.

CAMEROTA: And yet, Mr. Cohen, his supporters say that this is exactly who he was on the campaign trail. This is exactly what they like about him. They like that somebody is, you know, blowing up the system as we know it, that somebody is taking charge in a way that they didn't think other people did. This was not false advertising and people voted for him.

COHEN: He definitely is who he is on the campaign, and that's one of reasons why as long as ago as last year, I thought he would be a disaster for the country. Again, remember, those people first, it is a minority of Americans by at least 3 million votes who voted for him, but I think, you know, even in that respect, I disagree with you.

When you look at a lot of polling, a lot of Trump supporters have serious reservations about the way he talks and the things he says and about his behaviors. They didn't like Hillary Clinton. I understand that. They have concerns about the way the country has been going. I get that.

But the idea of blowing up the system, we're talking about the Constitution. We're talking about the rule of law. We're talking about practices which have kept this country free and prosperous for centuries. Blowing that up, I mean, that's a convoluting thought.

CAMEROTA: Does Condoleezza Rice, for whom you work, does she agree with you?

COHEN: You know, I haven't talked to her about it and I speak only for myself.

CAMEROTA: I want to read one more thing that you said about what will happen, your predictions about what will happen.

"In the end, however, he will fail. He will fail because however shrewd his tactics are, his strategy is terrible. 'The New York Times,' the CIA, Mexican-Americans and all the others he has attacked are not going away. With every act, he makes new enemies for himself and strengthens their commitment."

How can you be so optimistic about that given how you feel we are -- where we are now?

COHEN: You know, I am a glass half empty kind of guy, I freely admit that. I tend to see the dark in the short run, but I have a deep and abiding faith in the country that my grandparents came to as immigrants.

I know our history, and I think I know the temper of the American people and I think they will reject what is a really dark picture of the world, a dark picture of this country, and dark picture of the way to do business. So, it is my faith in this country.

CAMEROTA: Mr. Cohen, I know that you have advice for some of your fellow conservatives and your friends who are considering working in the administration. What are you telling them?

COHEN: Well, I tell my students in particular, many of whom want to go into public services, civil servants as diplomats, military officers and so forth, that they should do that. I think there's a big difference between the career professional people who help run the country and keep it on track.

I think it's very different being a political appointee. I've been a political appointee. There are some parts of the government I think people should be willing to serve in. I have enormous regard for Secretary Mattis and the Defense Department. I've known him for a long time. I think that's OK.

I would stay away from the White House. It's toxic, and you know one thing that Washington people can frequently fool themselves about is to think -- well, I will influence them, when the truth is they will influence you. The tone in an administration is set from the top. The problem is with the guy at the top, and he is going to set the tone.

CAMEROTA: Mr. Eliot Cohen, thank you for sharing your candor with us and your perspective on all of this. Thank you.

COHEN: Thank you for having me with you.

CAMEROTA: Thank you to our international viewers for watching. CNN "NEWSROOM", that will begin for you in just a few seconds.

We're NEW DAY and that continues right now.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: They should either get with the program or they can go.

CUOMO: Sally Yates' abrupt firing muddies the water between justice and politics.