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Trump Nominates Neil Gorsuch To Supreme Court; White House Defends Travel Ban Rollout; Democrats Boycott Price And Mnuchin; Democrats Delay Committee Vote On Sessions. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired February 1, 2017 - 05:30   ET



[05:31:15] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: First the pick, now the politics. New reaction overnight for the president's nominee for the Supreme Court. Republicans rejoice, Democrats ready for battle.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Three little letters and one very big politically charged word when a travel ban is not a ban. The new talking point the administration is using to smooth over a messy rollout.

Welcome back to EARLY START, everyone. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. About 31 minutes after the hour. Great to see you this morning. In a season of political showdowns this could be the biggest yet in terms of generational impact and the heat it has already generated. Overnight, President Trump announced his pick to fill the Supreme Court vacancy, Neil Gorsuch, a Federal Appeals Court judge from Colorado.

Republicans on Capitol Hill and, really, across the nation are nearly ecstatic over this. Gorsuch is a known constitutionalist, a textualist. He's just 49 years old. He'd be the youngest member on the court with the possibility of serving for decades.

ROMANS: Democrats still seething over Republican's deep freeze of President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, calling this nomination a nomination to a stolen seat. Democrats were quick to pounce on Gorsuch, although they did not commit to blocking him through a filibuster. Both Gorsuch and the president acknowledged the tough confirmation fight ahead.


JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: As this process now moves to the Senate, I look forward with speaking with members from both sides of the aisle, to answering their questions and to hearing their concerns.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I only hope that both Democrats and Republicans can come together, for once, for the good of the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: The judge's first courtesy calls to senators begin in just hours. For the latest, let's bring in CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett. She is live from Washington for us this morning. Good morning.

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Good morning, Christine. Well, as the president emphasized in his remarks last night, this is a choice, Neil Gorsuch, that has a really impressive academic background and resume. He's got degrees from Columbia, Harvard Law School, Oxford. He spent his teenage years in Washington, D.C. and, incidentally, his mom was the first woman to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

He clerked on the Supreme Court for Justice Kennedy and his judicial philosophy isn't a secret. He's described as predicatively socially conservative, much like in the mold of the late Justice Scalia. He believes in an original interpretation of the constitution. So, in terms of some of his more notable cases, he was one of the original judges in the Hobby Lobby decision where the 10th Circuit ruled that corporations can refuse to cover birth control under their employee's health insurance plans, and that ruling was later upheld by the Supreme Court.

He was somewhat of a sleeper choice up until recently. He wasn't even on the original list that Trump put out last May. But in the past several days we heard he was rising to the top and Republicans are thrilled. Late last night Mitch McConnell came out saying this is just an outstanding choice that the president has made. But Chuck Schumer, the Senate minority leader, had some measured comments, saying we need someone on the court that's going to push back on the president and so, we'll have to see what happens, Christine.

ROMANS: And we will. Laura Jarrett, thanks so much. Nice to see you this morning bright and early because this is all just beginning now, right?

BERMAN: Really -- this could go on for months. We want to discuss the nomination. We're joined now by former federal prosecutor for the Middle District of Georgia, Michael Moore, who was an Obama appointee. Michael, thanks so much for being with us. We've been talking about the fact that no one really questions the academic credentials -- the judicial thought process involved with Neil Gorsuch. He's a well- known judge, a very thoughtful writer, and he, himself, yesterday talked about how he thinks that judges should apply the law. I want you to listen to that.

[05:35:05] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GORSUCH: I respect, too, the fact that in our legal order it is for Congress and not the courts to write new laws. It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people's representatives. A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge, stretching for results he prefers rather than those the law demands.


BERMAN: He's known as a constitutionalist, a textualist. What does that mean?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Well, he is known as an ardent textualist and that's in the mold of Scalia. And really, that means that he believes that the words have meaning. He thinks that the words of the constitution are there because the framers intended those specific words to be interpreted in a specific way.

I think his comments last night were interesting. He's been known before to say that he thinksthat liberals may have begun to rely too much on the courts and on judges to affect their social change and they should probably be relying on the ballot box to elect legislators to enact laws that they think would be in line with their beliefs.

I don't think there's any question he's going to be a solid, conservative vote. I mean, the opinions that he has written have indicated that. He believes in religious expression. He is, as you've heard, known for the Hobby Lobby case. He wrote a concurring opinion in that supporting religious expression. It's no secret that he's written a book talking about the sanctity of life and assisted suicide. And I think you marry that and compare that with the idea that he's also typically in support of the application of the death penalty.

So, he's an interesting judge but I don't there's any question that he'll be a conservative vote in the mold of Scalia, and that really is what the president and the Republican senators were looking for.

ROMANS: The legal pedigree is pretty exemplary, you know, when you look at his background, the fact that the wants to be a judge, you know. I mean, his supporters have said he could have gone anywhere and made any amount of money for any law firm but he wants to be a judge. And is there a risk here, I guess, for Democrats on this one? You know, he clerked for Justice Kennedy, right? You know, he may be looking, at some point, at retirement. Is there a risk here for future picks if the Democrats are too tough on him?

MOORE: Well, I think he comes in with a great academic record and he comes in certainly as somebody who's written well-reasoned opinions. Whether or not you agree with his judicial philosophy, that's another argument. I imagine that when he comes in that Justice Kennedy might think well, I've got a former clerk here. I'm satisfied with the makeup with the court. I may want to retire. So, it's something certainly the Democrats have to think about as they move forward.

It's interesting to note in his 2006 confirmation hearing, I think Sen. Graham was the only member of the Senate Judiciary Committee to attend that hearing. There were some questions submitted by two other senators. I don't think he's going to have the same experience this go-around. I think he's probably looking at some pretty significant questions and a lengthy confirmation process. He did say back then he didn't want to be pigeonholed into one group of another, didn't want to be an ideologue. Did not think that was good for judges to be ideologues. That there were gray areas in the law that you needed to consider. So, it will be an interesting confirmation process going forward. I

think, you know, all in all, the president put up a strong candidate and now the Democrats will have to decide how much of a fight they want on this seat as opposed to possibly a seat coming up in the future.

BERMAN: And it's just the beginning. This usually takes, you know, two months or longer. Michael Moore, now a member of the EARLY START hall of fame. Thanks for waking up with us, appreciate it.

MOORE: It's a great pleasure. Thanks for letting me be with you.

ROMANS: All right. After lawsuits, protests, and pushback over that travel ban, the White House now says it's not a ban after all. Hear why, next.


[05:43:00] BERMAN: This morning, the Trump administration is defending the rollout of its controversial travel and refugee ban which they are now saying is not a ban. More on that in a moment. The new Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly insists that he and his staff -- they were involved, he says, in crafting the measure, but CNN has learned the Department only got to see the final draft of the ban the day it was signed.

I want to bring in CNN POLITICS reporter Dan Merica, live in Washington and, Dan, it does seem that the administration, all aspects of it now, are trying really to turn this story around.

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Yes, that's right. It seems like the Department of Homeland Security and Gen. John Kelly, now under the control of the Trump administration, are trying to say, you know, we were in on this. We did it -- understand that it was coming -- but our reporting says something different and members of the Republican Party on Capitol Hill even say this was a bungled rollout.This all comes at the same time that the administration is quibbling over whether to call this a ban or not a ban, and take a listen to what Sean Spicer said at yesterday's press briefing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: You say it's not a ban. This was President Trump's tweet yesterday. "If the ban were announced with a one week notice, the 'bad' would rush into our country during that week." So, he says it's a ban.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I mean, he's using the words that the media's using, but at the end of the day it can't -- hold on, hold on. It can't be -- it can't be --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Those are his words -- his tweet.

SPICER: Jonathan, thanks, I'll let Kristen talk. It can't be a ban if you're letting a million people in. If 325,000 people from another country can't come in, that is by nature not a ban.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: I understand your point but the president, himself, called it a ban.

SPICER: I understand.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE REPORTER: Is he confused or are you confused or --

SPICER: No, I'm not confused. I think that the words that are being used to describe it are derived from what the media is calling this. He has been very clear that it is extreme vetting.


MERICA: That's just not accurate. Donald Trump tweeted that it was a ban. Sean Spicer, himself -- the man you see there -- said multiple times in interviews and at events that this was a ban. Trump nominated a Supreme Court justice last night but I can almost guarantee that this will come up at some point today, whether we see Trump or Spicer.

[05:45:00] BERMAN: It will be interesting to see because, no doubt, they will be asked about it. Dan Merica, great to have you with us. Thanks so much, Dan.

ROMANS: All right, let's discuss this with CNN POLITICS DIGITAL managing editor Zach Wolf in Washington. And I guess stay on this point that you made that, you know, the rollout of the Supreme Court pick was so methodical, meticulous, and presidential. Compare that with the rollout of this particular ban or extreme vetting or temporary moratorium or whatever you want to call it with semantics by very different -- very different events.

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS DIGITAL MANAGING EDITOR: That's right. You know, on the one hand, you had something done -- oh, and both of them were done somewhat in secret -- but on the one hand, you had the White House consulting Republicans, really going through a methodical process to interview all of these justices.

And on the other hand, you had them sort of crafting this policy that was going to be hugely controversial, no matter how they did it, in secret essentially, outside in a lot of ways the government -- the U.S. government -- this whole apparatus -- and then dropping it in a way that caused mass confusion for a bunch of people who were trying to come into the country. Yes, it's just -- it's a striking difference that these two events could have come from the same White House.

BERMAN: Let's listen to what House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said, you know minutes after the announcement of Judge Gorsuch to be the nominee for the Supreme Court came up. She was at a CNN town hall with Jake Tapper last night. Let's listen to what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA), HOUSE 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 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.


BERMAN: Democrats, no doubt, will fight this and we'll see how hard over the coming days and weeks, Zach, but I'm struck by the fact that over the last 12 days people may have lost sight of how unifying this will be for Republicans. Yes, the president has maybe ruffled some Republican feathers but they will all be with him on this.

WOLF: They will, and Donald Trump needed that. He needed to find a way to unify the party, you know. He's doing some things that frustrate a lot of people on Capitol Hill. How is he going to pay for this wall, having the wall itself? These are things that are going to divide the party. Neil Gorsuch is going to unify it because of his stance on -- we presume, his stance on life issues, et cetera, it's going to be something that they can really rally around.

ROMANS: Well, the fact that he was involved in the Hobby Lobby ruling, I mean, that's sort of -- that's a -- that's a touchstone for conservatives, quite frankly -- for legal conservatives -- yes?

WOLF: Absolutely, and it's something not only does it have to do with the, you know, life issue but it also has to do with the issue of Obamacare which also unifies Republicans for the most part, you know, very easily.

BERMAN: All right. Zach Wolf for us in Washington today. A busy week. We have the Supreme Court nomination now on the heels of the White House trying to move beyond the travel ban, which they're not calling a ban. We will see how it plays over the next few hours. Thanks so much, Zach.

WOLF: Thank you.

BERMAN: Let's see what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Alisyn Camerota joins us now. Good morning, Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR, "NEW DAY": Hi, guys. Sometimes things run late around here and by things, I mean me, so I'm still getting ready as the tease starts. But I do know what's coming up on "NEW DAY." We have a lot to talk about. Is it a travel ban, is it not a travel ban, is it a Muslim ban? Obviously, there's been lots of different messaging coming out of the White House. We will get to the bottom of that executive order.

And then, the big question is who is Steve Bannon? Some people have suggested that he is actually running the White House. We have a longtime close friend of Steve Bannon's who has had a bit of a falling out with him, who will tell us exactly what makes Steve Bannon tick. So, all of that when Chris and I see you at the top of the hour. ROMANS: That sounds really compelling. I'm going to watch that.

BERMAN: Very interesting. Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: More information.

ROMANS: There you go. Talk to you soon. All right --

BERMAN: She says she's running late. Cuomo's not even there yet.

ROMANS: I know. Cuomo comes in like at two seconds till. All right. Democrats -- in fact, he's probably not in the building yet, as far as I know. Democrats going to new lengths to prevent confirmation votes for two of President Trump's cabinet nominees. We'll tell you how.


[05:53:25] ROMANS: Two of President Trump's key cabinet picks are being blocked by a Democratic boycott and that has Republicans in an uproar this morning. Finance Committee votes for Tom Price and Steve Mnuchin, the nominees for Health and Human Services and Treasury, they're now on hold after Democrats refused to show up for their hearings. Committee chairman Orrin Hatch described that tactic as "pathetic and amazingly stupid." He called the Democrats involved "idiots."

Rules require at least one Democrat to be present for a committee vote to move forward. That means the president may have to resort to a resource -- recess appointment so his nominees can serve without Senate approval.

BERMAN: The nomination of Sen. Jeff Sessions to be attorney general has also been slowed down by Democrats. They used a procedural move to delay the vote on Tuesday. That vote, we think, will now happen later today. Senator Sessions coming under increased scrutiny in the wake of the president's travel and refugee ban. He denies Democratic accusations that he may have -- may have had a role in crafting it. Some of his staffers -- former staffers seem to have been involved.

Also, today, the full Senate is scheduled to take up the nomination of Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson. Now, after a lot of back and forth and controversy, it does seem that he will be confirmed even if it's narrow.

A pretty stunning level of opposition to the president's travel and refugee ban from inside the State Department. A memo of dissent opposing the executive order has been signed by 900 diplomats using the department's so-called dissent channel. This is a system that allows employees to offer what they call constructive criticism of foreign policy protected from retaliation. When White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer was asked about the memo the other day he called -- he said that the diplomats behind it should either get with the program or go.

[05:55:03] ROMANS: The city of San Francisco is suing the Trump administration over its executive order withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities. It's the first legal challenge to that policy. The White House has ordered funds withheld from sanctuary cities that limit cooperation between federal immigration agents and local law enforcement. San Francisco's city attorney calls the order unconstitutional and un-American.

All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream. File this under what goes up. The S&P 500 is down five -- four days in a row now, the longest slump since President Trump was elected. A quick check of stocks right now show Dow futures are higher. Global markets are up. Gold prices higher for a second day. I'm mentioning gold here because there was a rush into safety -- the safety of gold bonds and high yielding dividend stocks yesterday. Gold is still glittering this morning.

Crash -- a crash for shares of Under Armour, down 25 percent at yesterday's close.

BERMAN: That's a lot.

ROMANS: Yes, it's the biggest one-day loss ever. Sales and profits badly missed forecasts, plus its chief financial officer is stepping down for personal reasons. Under Armour has spent big money signing top athletes like -- (picture of Tom Brady)

BERMAN: Look at him.

ROMANS: -- Tom -- I've never --

BERMAN: Look at him.

ROMANS: Huh, I don't know who that is.

BERMAN: He looks ready. You're talking about stocks. Sorry, sorry. We digress.

ROMANS: Investors have cheered big endorsement deals like this one in the past but that excitement doesn't seem to be translating into big sales.

BERMAN: Which excitement are you talking about?

ROMANS: We put Tom Brady up just for you. Mike Terris (ph) and I put Tom Brady up just for you.

BERMAN: Sorry.

ROMANS: Let's talk about Apple shares. Pop of Apple shares after the sales slump over the past three quarters is apparently over. That's thanks to a huge rebound in iPhone sales. Revenue for the iPhone hit $54 billion, nearly double from the previous quarter. The CEO, Tim Cook, says there's really strong demand for the iPhone 7 Plus. That's the larger model.

In other Cook news, he tells "The Wall Street Journal" this morning that Apple is considering legal action against the president's travel ban. He didn't provide details on how the company would approach that but he says it has affected hundreds of Apple employees. Apple has not yet responded to our request for a comment.

And finally, this, teasers for Super Bowl ads are starting to hit the internet ahead of the big game this Sunday. This one from Budweiser has some asking if the company is making a political statement.

(Budweiser ad playing)

This is the story of the beer's founder, Adolphus Busch, as he immigrates from Germany to the United States in the 1800's. He sails through storms, he faces discrimination because of his German heritage. He eventually arrives in St. Louis, Missouri where he would create the brewing giant.

The advertisement comes amid widespread protest over President Trump's controversial travel ban, but Budweiser says the timing of this is a total coincidence. Budweiser says the ad was created well before the travel ban. It's meant to stress entrepreneurial spirit and the American dream with, I will add, a very big heavy dose of hops and immigration.

BERMAN: Yes, also beer, you know. It's also meant to promote beer, which some people like drinking.

ROMANS: So there's a game this weekend or something?

BERMAN: There's a game -- there is, in fact, a game this weekend, Sunday night. The New England Patriots will be there. I'm going -- not to the game, I'm going down to Houston to shoot a special.

ROMANS: So that's why you've been -- he's been pinching himself all day and I was wondering what is it?So, you're going to the Super Bowl.

BERMAN: I'm going to be in the same city as Tom Brady for a little while.

ROMANS: All right. Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BERMAN: I'm John Berman. "NEW DAY" starts right now.


TRUMP: The qualifications of Judge Gorsuch are beyond dispute.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He may be coming with an agenda that's out of the mainstream.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is one that is not a place that people should fight over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats are delaying confirmation votes for President Donald Trump's cabinet.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: The White House has been untruthful and, at times, un-American.

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEMPORE: They are idiots. SPICER: He's also made very clear this is not a Muslim ban.

TRUMP: We're going to have a very, very strict ban.

PELOSI: Nine hundred diplomats sent him a letter saying you're making us less safe.

SEN. PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Regrettably, the rollout was confusing.

SEN. MITCH MCCONNEL (R), KENTUCKY: The only chaos we have is because of Senate Democrats.


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

CAMEROTA: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, February 1st, 6:00 here in New York.

President Trump introducing his pick for the Supreme Court, Colorado Appellate Judge Neil Gorsuch, in a primetime event from the East Wing. Republicans applauding the 49-year-old conservative. Democrats vowing to challenge Gorsuch as they are challenging Mr. Trump's cabinet picks, calling this choice "hostile."

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: He'd be the youngest on the court, by the way, since Clarence Thomas, so that's an interesting part of history if he gets through. Now, the primetime event was hoped to distract from the travel ban debacle but it won't work. The White House insisting it's not even really a ban even though they keep calling it a ban. Now, hundreds of State Department diplomats are calling it wrong-headed as well, insisting the highly-charged executive order will make America less safe.