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Donald Trump Nominates Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court; Polls Show Trump with Low Approval Ratings; Millions Signing Online Protest Against Trump; Trump Nominates Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court; U.S. Travel Ban on Citizen from 7 Muslim Countries; ACLU Gets Help from Silicon Valley. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired February 1, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:35] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles and London.

Ahead this hour --

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: A made-for-TV primetime event -- the unveiling of Donald Trump's pick for Supreme Court justice.

VAUSE: The firestorm over Trump's travel ban continues to grow with more lawsuits filed against the President.

SOARES: And the worldwide petition to stop Trump -- millions signing an open letter against fear as well as bigotry.

Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers right around the world. I'm Isa Soares in London.

VAUSE: Great to have you with us. I'm John Vause.

NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

Now President Donald Trump is hoping to move the U.S. Supreme Court in a more conservative direction. He has nominated Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy left by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

VAUSE: The 49-year-old Gorsuch is already drawing fire from Democrats and activists for past rulings on health care, gun safety and environmental issues. But President Trump says his nominee's qualifications are beyond dispute.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today I am keeping another promise to the American people by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch of the United States Supreme Court to be of the United States Supreme Court.


VAUSE: Joining me now CNN political commentator John Phillips and Democratic strategist Matt Littman. Thank you for coming in.

I want to play to you some sound from Nancy Pelosi, the Democrat minority leader in the House. This is how she responded to Gorsuch's nomination.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), MINORITY LEADER: It's a very hostile appointment -- hail fellow, well met, lovely family I'm sure. But as far as your family is concerned and all -- if you breathe air, drink water, eat food, take medicine or in any other way interact with the courts, this is a very bad decision.

Well outside the mainstream of American legal thought. Not committed to Supreme Court precedents.


VAUSE: So Matt, if that's the case, then why did every Democrat senator vote for Gorsuch when he was up for the Federal Appeals Court spot in --

MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think something similar happened with Merrick Garland. And let's just remember that the Republican Party in the Senate wouldn't even give Merrick Garland a hearing.

And in this case I have to say, as a Democrat, I would do everything possible to not allow this guy to come up for a vote.


LITTMAN: I will do absolutely everything because that's what they did to Garland. They never allowed him to have a hearing. And I would do the exact same thing. And I would do this all along the way with Donald Trump.

This is what the Republicans did to Barack Obama. This seat was Barack Obama's to appoint. They didn't let it happen. I certainly would not give the Republicans --

VAUSE: It doesn't have to do with the candidate with the nominee; it's purely because of what happened to Garland?

LITTMAN: Two things about that. So first of all, yes, a lot of it has to do with Garland. He seems like a very intelligent guy -- this guy. I do believe that some of his views are not in line with where the American people are. On campaign finance, I think he wants -- he would be ok with more corporate involvement in campaign finances. On Roe versus Wade, which the majority of America is for, that's one thing.

Number two, there is no way given what the Republicans did for Merrick Garland that I would allow this nomination to go forward.

JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This guy is going to get approved. There are two different ways the Democrats can block it. One is if he's not qualified.

Well, this guy is not an ambulance chaser that advertises on Maury. This is a guy who was educated at the finest Ivy League institutions. He was voted on by the Senate, as you mentioned, before; approved unanimously.

The other way they can do it is by saying he is ideologically outside the mainstream. We've already heard from Democrats, et cetera.

Nancy Pelosi doesn't get to vote on this. She's in the House. We heard from Joe Manchin tonight who said very encouraging things. We've heard from Mark Warner, the Senator from the state of Virginia who has said great things about him in the past.

I think this guy is going to get the 60 votes because a lot of these Democrats in red states, running in states that Trump won and Trump won handily are going to vote for him.

LITTMAN: I think that would be a huge mistake for those Democrats to vote for him. I really do. I think where the Democratic Party is now -- this is not an issue where the Democratic Party will be compromising. People in the Democratic Party, and I think a lot of the Independents want to fight.

PHILLIPS: Can you keep Joe Manchin's vote?

[00:05:01] LITTMAN: You don't have because you need 60 votes for a filibuster. If we don't keep Joe Manchin, that's one loss -- that's ok.

VAUSE: But there does seem to be a splintering within the Democrats as to how to approach Gorsuch's nomination here. Do they go for the filibuster or do they approve this, save their power for a bigger fight for the next nomination?

LITTMAN: Absolutely not. I would fight right now. If Mitch McConnell wants to, they can take away that filibuster at any time. That's up to Mitch McConnell and that's going to be his decision. But I would absolutely fight right now. And I think that the party will not allow it to --

VAUSE: Ok. Just on that, because on the issue of the filibuster we did hear from the Republican Senator Ted Cruz earlier tonight on CNN talking about the nomination and the filibuster.



SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: The Democrats will not succeed in filibustering Judge Gorsuch. They may try, but they will not succeed. The Senate will confirm a strong constitutionalist to replace Justice Scalia.


VAUSE: With that in mind, does that mean that the Republicans could actually scrap the filibuster on this?

PHILLIPS: I don't think they're going have to. We heard from Dick Durbin on Twitter tonight who said that he thinks that this judge should get an up or down vote. Well, if that's where Dick Durbin is, I think that he will ultimately get that.

The Democrats have to worry about outrage fatigue. We've seen people protesting in the streets, the women's marches. We've seen the airport marches. At a certain point people will want to watch the Super Bowl. At a certain point people will want to watch the Oscars and they're going to get tired it.

And there will be other judges that might retire during Donald Trump's presidency. Maybe Ruth Bader Ginsburg, maybe other left-leaning judges. And if they retire, that's when the Democrats want to have the fight.

VAUSE: This is a judge replacing Scalia.

LITTMAN: I think absolutely the Democratic Party is ready to fight. This is not going to end. These protests are not going to end. And even still, even more we're seeing now people working within the federal government starting to push back against Trump. We're seeing corporations starting to push back against Trump. I think we're at the beginning of this.

PHILLIPS: You don't need the numbers, though, you need the votes.

VAUSE: Ok. Well, the Democrats have decided they want to fight on at least a few of the cabinet nominations. They're holding up the confirmations for Tom Price for Health and Human Services, Steve Mnuchin for Treasury, Jeff Sessions for Attorney General; and this was the reaction from the Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: It is time to get over the fact that they lost the election. The President is entitled to have his cabinet appointments considered. None of this is going to lead to a different outcome.


VAUSE: And McConnell is right. Ultimately there will not be a different outcome. So why the theatrics -- Matt?

LITTMAN: Well again, these are the people -- Mitch McConnell has a lot of nerve. These are the people who would not allow Merrick Garland to even have a hearing. Mitch McConnell is the person who said they were going to -- the day Obama came in, they were going to do everything possible to make sure he didn't win again, no compromises. That was it.

So now you think that the Democratic Party should compromise with the Republicans? Absolutely not. Also, these people haven't been properly vetted. We're finding out things about them as we go along here. Tom Price for example, with his insider trading stock issue -- that's a pretty big deal, right? So they're trying to rush. The Trump people are trying to rush these through. These people need a hearing.

PHILLIPS: They're delaying the inevitable. And it's what they're ultimately going to end up doing is demoralizing their base because they're getting their hopes up. They're thinking ok, well maybe we can stop some of these people.

Ultimately it's not going to happen. And they're just going to say, you know what, we're losing every single battle that we fight.

LITTMAN: John is very concerned about the Democratic Party's base. I would be -- the Democratic Party wants to fight. We know that we're not going to win on some of these. You're right.

There are -- I see these messages on Twitter, Facebook all the time. Why aren't people voting for this? Why aren't we stopping this? You can't stop it, you're right. Some of these things you can't stop.

But there will be things going along. The change in the corporate attitude toward Trump already is because of people protesting out in the streets.

VAUSE: Just on the issue of the cabinet nominees, it does appear that there will be an Education secretary who could get the post who is actually guilty of plagiarism. I mean that's one thing which has come out of these hearings. And there are Republicans who are starting to waver on Betsy DeVos.

PHILLIPS: Yes. But she got the votes in the committee.


PHILLIPS: And you're always going to find problems. Look, when someone has lived a long, healthy life and they've done a lot of things, you're going to find skeletons in every closet. But the question is, does she have votes. And I predict the answer is yes.

LITTMAN: So you don't find skeletons in every closet. That's not true. And also the reason why we were able to get this information wasn't because of the hearings. It's because of the work that they do behind the scenes to research these nominees.

And because the Trump people are trying to push these through quickly, what you start thinking is what are they hiding? And they've been able to get more and more information about some of these people. I don't think a lot of the American people are going to have faith in this Education secretary.

VAUSE: I mean at the end of the day, there is a process you know. It will happen. But there is for the Democrats at least, John, they need to show to the people who support them that they are out there at least fighting. PHILLIPS: Right. But they need to hold their coalition together.

And the Democratic Party is a lot of things. The Democratic Party is Nancy Pelosi, who represents a very liberal district here in California based in San Francisco.

And then you've got people like Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp and Jon Tester and Claire McCaskill. And people that represent states like Indiana that voted Donald Trump. You have to keep those people in the tent and their voters want all of these people confirmed and they want that justice confirmed too.

[00:10:07] VAUSE: Very quickly, the President decided to not rescind President Obama's executive order providing protection in the workplace for the LGBTQ community. A good thing?

LITTMAN: A good thing but that doesn't mean that he (inaudible) stated policy of this administration. I think even for the Trump administration, there is too much going on in these last few days. To do that, that would have created a whole new firestorm.

PHILLIPS: Not only a good thing, but a historic thing. Imagine this, in 2008 Barack Obama ran as the Democratic nominee opposing gay marriage. In 2004, George W. Bush ran as the Republican nominee on a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. And now you have a Republican president that is signing an order like that?

LITTMAN: Let's remember that Donald Trump is only a Republican out of convenience. Five years ago he was a Democrat.

VAUSE: Ok. And on that -- thank you. Thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.

LITTMAN: Thanks.

PHILLIPS: Thank you.

SOARES: Well, you just heard from that discussion selecting judges for the Supreme Court is one of the most important decisions a U.S. president can indeed make. CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin explains.


JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, serve for life. That's why presidents regard these judicial appointments as such an important way to extend their own legacies.

The constitution does not set out a resume that a Supreme Court justice has to have. There is no requirement in the constitution that a Supreme Court justice even be a lawyer. But traditionally, presidents have nominated impeccably qualified sitting judges.

Both presidents and senators like to say that the confirmation process is all about qualifications. But it's really also about politics. Virtually every important issue in American politics and even American life winds up in front of the Supreme Court. And they have the last word.

Both the President and the Senators trying to figure out how the nominee stands on the hot button issues that the Supreme Court deals with and that's why the senators will vote yes or no.

There is no law that says a president can't nominate someone to the Supreme Court in his last year in office. The Senate, on the other hand, can run out the clock when they don't want a president to fill that seat.

The Supreme Court is designed to operate with nine justices. What makes Justice Scalia's death so unusual in Supreme Court history is that most justices announce that they plan to retire and then a president nominates their successor. So there is no vacancy at any point in the Supreme Court.

With eight justices, there are possibilities for tie votes which can create a significant amount of confusion in the law.


VAUSE: Rarely has there been a time in American history of such national division and discord. And if the past few days of protests and litigation are any guide, the Supreme Court could have the final say on many of President Trump's controversial policies.

Well, for more now on the implications of the President's nominee for the court, we're joined by Joan Biskupic, CNN's legal analyst, who has been covering the Supreme Court for almost 30 years.

So Joan, assuming that Neil Gorsuch is confirmed by the Senate, he will restore the ideological status quo to the court before the death of Justice Scalia. So in many ways, it is a wash.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is vote for vote. Because you're exactly right that he is a conservative in the mold of Antonin Scalia. He has been consistent on issues that conservatives -- matter very much to conservatives, you know, narrowing the breadth of government, reining in power of regulatory agencies. And he is also an excellent writer, as Justice Scalia was.

But he is not as provocative. So even though it's one for one with the vote, you just cannot replace Justice Scalia.

VAUSE: As far as Mr. Gorsuch is concerned or Judge Gorsuch, he is also very young for a Supreme Court judge, 49 years old.

BISKUPIC: That's exactly right. And Antonin Scalia was 50 when he was nominated back in 1986 and he served for 30 years. The last time we had someone younger than 50 was back in 1991 with Clarence Thomas who was in his early 40s at the time.

So Neil Gorsuch, who will likely be approved just from what we've seen already and what we know of the Senate math, where Republicans hold the majority, he could serve for our generation and the next generation. VAUSE: When it comes, though, to Supreme Court justices, there are

always some surprises like when Chief Justice John Roberts, a conservative, he ruled in favor of Obamacare. Is the lesson here you don't know what you're going to get until you get it?

[00:15:08] BISKUPIC: That's right. And I have to say that the conservative activists who are working with Donald Trump have this mantra that I'm not sure all the viewers would understand. But the mantra is no more David Souter.

David Souter was appointed to the court in 1990, named by George H.W. Bush. And people around George Bush said oh, he'll be a home run for conservatives. David Souter ended up serving in a very liberal vein until 2009 when he stepped down. So there is a warning in things that you often don't get what you think you have.

But in Neil Gorsuch, he has ruled enough as a federal judge that I think we know what we have here. David Souter I should mention had only been a federal judge briefly. Had mainly been a state court judge. And if you listen to his testimony, he left a couple of clues. I don't think we're going to see those clues this time around with Neil Gorsuch.

VAUSE: Well, in terms of the Supreme Court though, the real game changer will be President Trump's second pick if he gets that chance.

BISKUPIC: I think that's exactly right. And just so that you know, we've got Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is age 80 and who has talked about possibly retiring. He might do that soon.

Then we have justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, liberal icon who's going to turn 84 in March. If she were -- I'm sure she does not want to retire while Donald Trump is president. But if something should happen to her and force her to retire, it would be a big deal.

And ditto with Anthony Kennedy, who even though he is in the conservative camp is a centrist conservative, who has single-handedly stopped the Supreme Court from going -- rolling back abortion rights too significantly or overturning campus affirmative action. Those are two areas where he in recent years cast the decisive vote.

And as you probably remember, in 2015, Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion and cast the fifth vote to declare a constitutional right to same-sex marriage nationwide.

VAUSE: Ok, Joan. Thank you very much for your insight in the court. We are in for some interesting days -- a Senate confirmation to come. I guess we'll see what happens.

Joan -- thanks for being with us.

BISKUPIC: Thank you. Bye.

SOARES: And still ahead right here, federal prosecutors speak out against Donald Trump's abrupt firing of Sally Yates. What they said about the actions of the former acting attorney general. We'll have that coming up.

VAUSE: Also, millions of people around the world signing an online protest against President Trump. The organizers say it's just the start of an ongoing campaign against the new American president.


VAUSE: Well, the new U.S. President is facing record low approval ratings from American voters, his standing around the world could be even worse.

The day after his inauguration, there were huge demonstrations from Sydney to Berlin in London, Paris, Nairobi and Cape Town. This week in London, tens of thousands protested his executive order banning people from seven majority Muslim countries from traveling to the United States.

And now more than four million people have signed an open letter to the new president which reads in part "The world rejects your fear, hate-mongering and bigotry. We reject your denigration of women, Muslims, Mexicans, and millions of others who don't look like you, talk like you or pray to the same God as you."

The letter was posted last Friday by the activist group Avaaz and Emma Ruby-Sachs is their deputy director. She joins us now from Chicago.

So Emma, the letter has been online for just a few days. Did you expect this type of response? And is there one issue in particular which is driving all of this?

EMMA RUBY-SACHS, AVAAZ: You know, this letter is going viral on the Internet. And I didn't expect it at all. I've been watching the names scroll up on the ticker tape from France, Canada, England -- it's kind of unbelievable.

So I've been glued to my computer screen. It definitely -- the minute that travel ban was announced by the administration, we saw a huge surge in attention for this, this call -- 1.5 million people and coming up on two million people just since this weekend.

VAUSE: Right. Well, there is a criticism, though, that these online protests it's just clicktivism. It makes someone feel good like they've done something but it actually won't make much of a difference.

RUBY-SACHS: You know, there definitely is clicktivism out there. You see that with petitions that don't go anywhere. But at Avaaz, our global civic movement matches people's opinions that are drawn from all over the world with decisive and concrete action.

This call is about building a movement, building our power. It's millions of people from all over the world standing up together, finding their common ground and saying we're not going to go backwards to that old style politics that divides us. We're choosing a different future. It's going to be matched with a lot of advocacy, with ads in newspapers across the United States with an installation in Washington, D.C. and as you're already seeing these incredible spontaneous protests.

VAUSE: So you're saying this is just the start of what you're expecting to be a long campaign over the next four years?

RUBY-SACHS: A long campaign not just over the next four years. But we've got elections coming up in the Netherlands, in France, in Germany where the same questions that Trump style politics raises are going to be asked again. And people are going to have a chance to reject it resoundingly.

VAUSE: Well, in a way, though, doesn't this sort of play into Donald Trump's strengths? He is the leader. He has upset the status quo. If all these people around the world are angry at me, I must be doing something right.

RUBY-SACHS: You know, when you look at what Donald Trump has done, it's true he is delivering on his campaign promises one after another after another. And it's a different kind of politics. It's a different style. And we would be silly not to pay attention to that.

But what people around the world are reacting to is something bigger. It's the undermining of basic values. It's the undermining of rule of law, the respect for courts. It's the undermining of accurate facts. I mean we saw this in the campaign where truth doesn't really matter. Alternative facts become the norm. And now this is going global.

Donald Trump is meeting with other leaders. Breitbart, that fake news site, is expanding into Germany and France. Our movement is the reaction to that.

VAUSE: If you can't influence Donald Trump, because that would seem to be unlikely, do you think maybe you could influence those around him?

RUBY-SACHS: Well, I'm not sure it's unlikely. We did hear rumors there was going to be an anti-a LGBT executive order. We know that that was advocated very heavily against and he decided not to do it. So there definitely is influence.

But I think that really what we're going to see here is a broad-based, spontaneous coordinated movement of opposition that is going to present a new kind of politics, a new vision -- something that the Democratic Party didn't do, something that Trump didn't do. And that's what is going to galvanize Americans. And that's what is going to shift the tide in the U.S. politics base.

VAUSE: Well, we will watch and wait with interest. Emma -- thanks you for being with us. We appreciate it.

RUBY-SACHS: Thanks a lot for having me -- John.

VAUSE: Ok. A final note here -- more than 1.7 million people have signed a petition urging Britain to withdraw an invitation to Donald Trump to visit London, while a counter petition supporting his state visit has received almost 200,000 signatures. So the President does have some supporters.

[00:25:01] SOARES: Now more than 70 former federal prosecutors are defending the former U.S. acting attorney general, Sally Yates. President Trump, if you remember fired Yates on Monday after she defied his executive order on immigration and travel to the United States.

Now the bipartisan group released a strongly-worded letter and this is what it said. Let me read it out to you.

"Struck by one stunning headline after another, we stopped to think if we were called upon to defend the executive order, could we do it within the guidelines we learned and lived by as lawyers for the United States," he asks. "We could not. Acting attorney general Yates was right to refuse to do so."

VAUSE: A former CIA director and Defense Secretary is also speaking out against Mr. Trump's travel order. Leon Panetta served under Barack Obama. He told CNN he believes the policy will increase the likelihood of a terrorist attack in the United States.


LEON PANETTA, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: What it has done is given ISIS the main argument they have used which is that the Western world is at war with Islam. Not at war with extremism, but at war with Islam.

When we do these kinds of blanket approaches to denying Muslims into this country, it's based on their religion. And so we fed ISIS a major argument that I think will help them in recruiting and that increases the chances of a potential attack in this country.


VAUSE: Panetta added, in his opinion there is no question the ban is based on religion.

SOARES: Well, Iraq's prime minister says his country will not retaliate against President Trump's travel order but Haider al Abadi said he is studying his options. Iraq is one of the seven countries named in Mr. Trump's executive order.

Meantime, the U.S. State Department is again warning Americans not to travel to Iraq, saying the country's extremely dangerous and there is a high risk for kidnapping as well as terrorism.

VAUSE: Well, a short break now.

When we come back, the immigration ban is triggering a flurry of lawsuits. We'll run down all of the major challenges in a moment.

SOARES: But there is support for President Trump's move. A Muslim activist will explain why she thinks the ban is ok, in certain cases. We'll have that story for you after a short break.


[00:30:44] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles, I'm John Vause.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Isa Soares. Let me bring you up-to- date on the main headlines we're following for you this hour.

Officials warn that the violence in Eastern Ukraine is escalating. Pro-Russian rebels and Ukrainian Armed Forces have been fighting on and off there since the Annexation of Crimea in early 2014. Both sides are blaming one another as the ceasefire violation has increase.

VAUSE: As Israel ready to evacuate the illegal settlement of Amona, it has approved 3,000 new homes in the West Bank. This is the third decision in less than two weeks drawing criticism from Palestinians and the EU. Most countries see the settlements as obstacles to a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians.

SOARES: U.S. President Donald Trump has nominated 49-year-old conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. If confirmed, Gorsuch would fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last February. The move could cement the conservative direction of the court for decades.

VAUSE: The president of the European Council says President Trump is a threat to the union's stability. In a letter to EU leader, Donald Tusk puts the Trump administration in the same category as China, Russia, terrorism and radical Islam.

SOARES: Now the legal challenges to President Trump's immigration ban arriving court at a steady clip. So far lawsuits are being filed by private companies, advocacy groups, various states as well as the District of Columbia. The states are challenging the ban's constitutionality.

The Council on American Islamic Relations filed suit on behalf of more than 20 people. The suit claims the underlining motive of the order. It's to ban Muslims from certain Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S.

Well, joining us now to talk more about that, the ban, is Saba Ahmed. She is the founder of the Republican Muslim Coalition.

Thank you very much, Ms. Ahmed, for joining us here on the show. Let me get your reaction, first of all, to President Trump's executive order because I think it's fair to say that it has caused some confusion as well as despair for those coming in to the U.S.

What was your initial reaction?

SABA AHMED, FOUNDER, REPUBLICAN MUSLIM COALITION: Well, I think he had the right intentions in terms of securing the borders and monitoring every single person who is coming in from countries who are state sponsors of terrorism. But at the same time, the way this executive order was implemented and executed caused a lot of problems across the United States at all major airports.

And I wish that they had thought through how it was going to be implemented and excluded Greencard holders, dual citizens and people with valid visas.

I think going forward all future of visas could have been scrutinized much further rather than delaying the ones who already were here.

SOARES: So explain to us how you would have like to have seen this carried out.

AHMED: Well, obviously, it should have been clarified with their -- the office of legal council at the Department of Justice, and also so that there was a clear directive through Department of Homeland Security and Department of Justice.

The way it played out was it caused a lot of mess and a lot of people ended up getting deported or put back on flights, who should have been allowed entry. And now, yesterday, he talked about that Greencard holders can in fact come in regardless of them being from those seven countries. And also dual nationals who hold citizenship with Iran and United States and should also be permitted to enter the United States. So I just -- it was implemented better.

SOARES: As you and I talked, we are showing our viewers a map of the countries of the ban. You can bring that up again, because you were talking about the fact that some of these countries are terroristic. You can have terrorists coming from these countries.

Of course, there is a huge amount of -- there are other countries there that really have stronger links to terrorism. The majority of refugees go through very rigorous vetting. I think the majority of people know that could take years.

What could a few hours at an airport or 120 days achieve that years of vetting hasn't been able to achieve?

[00:35:00] AHMED: Well, that was done under the Obama administration. I think obviously with the Trump administration, they're going to be changing policies and monitoring it much more closely. There are serious threats coming out of Iraq and Syria and other areas where ISIS is trying to infiltrate a lot of different ways of getting into the United States.

So I think, you know, making America safer and having secure entry/exit system is only for the betterment of this country. And, you know, it's presidential leadership as it was called today. President Trump is not going to be weak on foreign policy or defense unlike Obama.


AHMED: And we can expect to see stronger actions coming from the White House in the future.

SOARES: Let me ask you this. All the seven countries that we showed there to which the ban applies, the majority are Muslim. In your opinion, is this a Muslim ban?

AHMED: Well, obviously Trump during his campaign had talked about a complete and total shutdown of Muslims entering the United States. So people interpret it as the Muslim ban. But obviously it's intended to be a travel ban on certain countries that were previously identified by the Obama administration as countries where terrorism is on the rise and that have interests adverse to the United States.

So I think monitoring them closely is the right way to go. But we just need to be cautious about we don't offend a lot of our own citizens and permanent residents.

SOARES: Briefly, it is discriminatory?

AHMED: No. I think it's in the interests of national security to secure our borders and to make sure that people who are coming in from Syria and Iraq and those areas are scrutinized. And we make sure that none of them have anything to do with terrorism.

And I think, you know, if we can help prevent any sort of future terrorists from entering the United States, it's only for the better.

SOARES: Saba Ahmed, the founder of the Republican Muslim Coalition, thank you very much, Ms. Ahmed, for taking time to speak to us there from Chicago.

AHMED: Thank you.

VAUSE: American Civil Liberties group is preparing for what it sees as years of legal fights with the Trump administration. We'll tell you how the ACLU is now turning to Silicon Valley to help. That's up next.


VAUSE: After a record fundraising home over the past few days, the American Civil Liberties Union is turning to Silicon Valley for advice on the best way to spend it. It's being helped by a group called Y Combinator best known for turning companies like AirBnB, Dropbox and Reddit into mega companies. The ACLU has been at the forefront of challenging the president's travel and immigration ban which went into place last week.

Well, joining us now Ahilan Arulanantham, deputy legal director of the ACLU of southern California. And I apologize if I did not get that quite right. But, Ahilan, good to have you herewith us.

Very quickly, your reaction to Donald Trump's choice for the Supreme Court.

[00:40:06] AHILAN ARULANANTHAM, DEPUTY LEGAL DIRECTOR, ACLU OF SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA: Well, he is somebody who has to be looked at very closely. I think there's a record of him being a person who's very restrictive view of individual rights and constitutional -- his constitutional cases. So we haven't really -- and we just heard about the announcement today. So we're going to do a thorough analysis and imagine we'll be releasing an analysis of his decisions.

VAUSE: OK. The ACLU has had an incredible couple of days raising money, $24 million, which is six or seven times more than you often raise in a year. You did that in just a couple of days much in response to the president's order on immigration.

Clearly, a lot of Americans now expecting the ACLU to defend their rights, whatever their rights are against the administration.

ARULANANTHAM: Yes. And I think the last week shows that we're going to need every penny of it, as will the many other groups that are also rising to the challenge of what's really an unprecedented assault on the rights of immigrants, on the rights of Muslims and other religious minorities. And I think we will probably see other assaults on our basic constitutional values in the time to come if his campaign promises turn out to be true.

VAUSE: I noticed that some of the biggest donors have been the tech industry.

ARULANANTHAM: yes. I think they, like many other people see the incredible threat to really the structure of the democracy. And it's the most very basic values against discrimination and the protection of people who are not born in this country.

These are values that have been the essence of democracy for 200 years. And they're now under very serious threat. The Muslim ban is just the most recent example of that, but it's a stunning one.

VAUSE: Explain to us how this is now working with Y Combinator to take the money which is being raised and to really turn it, to accelerate it in a way to basically spend it the best possible or make the best possible investments.

ARULANANTHAM: Yes. I mean, I think the ban is a great example of this. And you have a situation where people all over the country in airports all around the country are being really dramatically denied their rights. You know, people being detained for 30 hours in airports. So that doesn't -- that's not something you can do with one lawsuit.

So, yes, there's six, seven lawsuits filed in different parts of the country, all on very particular facts involving hundred and hundreds of people in each case. So we have a scaling problem. You know, we have to figure out how to expand the reach of our work in a way that really we haven't done in the past. And these companies that know a lot about how to expand operations, how to scale up very quickly is a common issue in the tech industry. We're looking to them and to many others for advice as to how to do this.

VAUSE: Yes. Many people who oppose Donald Trump looking wistfully back to the days of President Obama. But, you know, the reality is as president, he purported a record number of people. He called a surveillance program in place. You know, (MIKE-OFF), he could be trusted with the constitution, but looking back now, is that misguided. ARULANANTHAM: It was our attitude.

VAUSE: Right.

ARULANANTHAM: So, you know, we sued the president over immigration enforcement practices, over discriminatory surveillance of people in Muslim communities, over the surveillance programs more generally, but I think it's frightening that we've seen that a lot of the legal authority that the Obama administration claimed is now being used to its maximum possible potential just in the first 10 days, two weeks of the Trump administration.

In our view now, there are a lot of the underlying principles that we're trying to validate here. We're also under attack during -- under Obama administration and during George W. Bush administration, but right now what we're seeing is just an unprecedented expansion in the scope of the attack involved.

VAUSE: Ahilan, we'll leave it there. We appreciate you coming in. Thanks so much.

ARULANANTHAM: Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: Thank you.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM, I'm John Vause in London.

SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares right here in London.

Coming up next --


VAUSE: Why am I saying London?

SOARES: You can come to London, John, if you want. We'll swap with you.

VAUSE: Oh my gosh. OK. We'll be back with another hour of news...


SOARES: Anyway, stay right here --

VAUSE: the top of the hour.