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President Trump Announces Supreme Court Nominee; Interview with Senator Joe Manchin; Interview with Senator Shelley Moore Capito. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired February 1, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[08:00:03] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: And you're doing it once again.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Our thanks to Julia Jones as well. Michael, thank you very much for being here.
We're following a lot of news this morning, so let's get right to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's made it very clear this is not a Muslim ban.
DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have a very, very strict ban.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And 900 diplomats sent him a letter saying you're making us less safe.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The rollout was confusing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The White House has been untruthful and at times un-American.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only chaos we have is because of Senate Democrats.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Democrats delaying confirmation votes for President Donald Trump's cabinet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are idiots.
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: I will be a faithful servant of the constitution and laws of this great country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
CAMEROTA: Good morning everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, February 1st, 8:00 in the east. Up first, President Trump's pick for the Supreme Court bracing for a battle with Democrats. Conservative 49-year-old Colorado judge Neil Gorsuch introduced to America in primetime last night. Republicans praising the nominee. Democrats blasting it. They call it a hostile choice.
CUOMO: Meanwhile, the White House is still in damage control over the president's travel and refugee ban. The administration insisting it's not a ban during yesterday's press conference. But this morning the president is tweeting saying "It doesn't matter what you call it, it's supposed to keep bad people o of the country." And yet you've got hundreds of State Department diplomats voicing their opposition to it, saying it will make us less safe.
Just 13 days into Donald Trump's presidency, and here we go. CNN's Jeff Zeleny live at the White House. What's the latest?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. There are few bigger decisions a president can make than a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. So after President Trump introduced Judge Gorsuch last night to the nation, the judge is going to be introduced on Capitol Hill today. I am told he's going to have a meeting with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and then several other senators, starting to get moving on this confirmation process which is sure to be a rocky one.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Here they come. Here they come.
ZELENY: In a primetime reveal, president Trump unveiling Judge Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to the Supreme Court.
TRUMP: I only hope that both Democrats and Republicans can come together for once for the good of the country.
JUDGE NEIL GORSUCH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: As this process now moves to the Senate, I look forward with spooking with members from both sides of the aisle.
ZELENY: Setting up a battle between Senate Republicans --
SEN. TED CRUZ, (R) TEXAS: I think it was an absolute home run.
ZELENY: And Democrats who are vowing a confirmation fight after President Obama's nominee to fill the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia was blocked for 10 months.
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) CONNECTICUT: If I conclude that he is out of the mainstream on issues like privacy rights including women's health care and Roe v Wade or worker and consumer protection, I will use every tool at my disposal to block his nomination.
ZELENY: For the White House it's a chance to turn the spotlight from the growing backlash over the president's executive order on immigration and refugees. The fallout continuing with more the 900 State Department diplomats signing a memo of dissent against the travel ban. House Speaker Paul Ryan admitting the rollout was unusually rough.
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI) SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Admittedly the rollout was confusing, but on a go-forward basis I'm confident that Secretary Kelly is going to make sure that this is done correctly.
ZELENY: Ryan speaking about Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly who is in charge of implementing the action, an action he defended despite chaotic scenes and flip-flopping on green card holders.
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We knew it was coming. It wasn't a surprise it was coming, and then we implemented it.
ZELENY: Meantime the White House is trying to rebrand the order.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It is by nature not a ban. It is extreme vetting.
ZELENY: Yet "ban" is exactly how the president and his press secretary Sean Spicer described the action.
TRUMP: We're going to have a very, very strict ban.
SPICER: It's a 90-day ban.
The ban deals with seven countries.
ZELENY: Pressed on the point, Spicer provided no clarity, instead taking aim at a familiar target.
SPICER: I'm not confused. I think the words used to describe it derive from what the media is calling this.
ZELENY: Despite legal challenges and protests, the administration is signaling it has no plans to change the order. Three high-ranking Republican senators saying they were told the White House will not be rewriting its controversial travel ban.
ZELENY: There's no question that this executive order will be front and center in the confirmation hearings of the Supreme Court justice. But as the White House tries to change the subject and focus on that, the president himself is tweeting just a few moments ago back to the idea of this is a ban. Take a look at this tweet. He says this -- he says "Everyone is arguing whether or not it is a ban. Call it what you want. It is about keeping bad people with bad intentions out of country." So clearly this still on the mind of the president.
[08:05:09] The president, we are told, is not pleased with the rollout and the communications of all of this, but again, Alisyn, so many people would like to change this topic to the Supreme Court justice. It's clear we'll be operating on both of these at once. But the judge will be on Capitol Hill with Senator McConnell in just a couple hours. CAMEROTA: OK, Jeff, thank you for all of that.
Senate Democrats trying to pull out all the stops, even boycotting a committee hearing to stall votes for key Trump cabinet picks. Still, Mr. Trump's choice for secretary of state could be confirmed today. So let's bring in CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She's live on Capitol Hill. What are you learning, Sunlen?
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Alisyn. To get a sense just how tense the dynamics are up here, you have a very non-controversial nominee, Elaine Chao, who was confirmed by the Senate last night. But many Democrats registering their displeasure, six voting against her, including notably Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. And then you have this boycott of two of President Trump's nominee, Treasury Secretary nominee Steve Mnuchin and Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price. Democrats saying they feel misled by these nominees for things they said in their committee hearings and they want more time to go through and vet them properly.
But Republicans here are crying foul saying Democrats full well know they do not have the numbers. They don't have the ability to truly block any of these nominees, so they're just using delay tactics. And watch the anger of Chairman Hatch responding yesterday to the boycott in his committee.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. ORRIN G. HATCH, (R) UTAH: They ought to be embarrassed. It's the most pathetic treatment I've seen in my 40 years in the United States Senate.
They are idiots. Anybody that would do something like that, it's just complete breach of decorum. It's a complete breach of committee rules. It's a complete breach of just getting along around here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SERFATY: And today after numerous delays, it is very likely that Rex Tillerson will be confirmed by the full Senate for secretary of state and attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions will face his committee vote after, again, numerous delays. And he could see a final confirmation vote, Chris, potentially later this week.
CUOMO: All right, Sunlen, plenty going on. Let's bring in Democratic Senator from West Virginia Joe Manchin. Senator, always a pleasure to be with you.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN, (D) WEST VIRGINIA: Good to be with you, Chris. How are you?
CUOMO: I don't know how I'm doing, senator. Why don't you tell me?
MANCHIN: You probably know better than me.
CUOMO: Am I? Let's talk about that. Have you ever been in a situation like this before? How would you describe the current state of play in our nation's capital?
MANCHIN: Let me just put it in perspective. First of all, I understand the Democrats, my fellow Democrats, the caucus is upset, and they're basically saying what was done to them with Mitch McConnell not even giving them a vote, not even having the decency to sit down and talk with Merrick Garland, a lot of the members, that was wrong. That was disgraceful. And I think Republicans had enough votes to basically block Merrick Garland, but they should have at least given him a vote. That didn't happen.
So now they think, OK, that's how we were treating, so we're going to treat them the same. That's not what we were sent here today. That's not what I'm going to do. I'm anxious to sit down with the new nominee to find out more about him, to find out, basically look at his judicial rulings and have more of an idea of what's going on.
If you want the third branch of government to work, then you've got to have a nine-member Supreme Court. So if Republicans did something and now Democrats are going to do something, two wrongs don't make a right.
CUOMO: But what about the good fight? What I keep hearing from Democrats, and I want you take on it, Joe, because you are a fair broker, is you look at this executive order, the travel ban. You look at the attack of the phantom of voter fraud. You look at the sheltering of Russia from responsibility for the hacks, that this White House is prepared to upset fundamental principles of democracy and that you need to fight the good fight. How do you see it?
MANCHIN: I think we are fighting. I'm very much committed towards doing the probe on the hacking the Russians did. We're going to do that at intel committee. I think we'll get a full and a complete review of this thing and be able to have it transparent to where the people can see, was there involvement in any kind, any collusion or collaboration? I think that needs to be done. I'm very much committed about that.
Also when you look at the travel ban, it was horribly handled. We came back in on inauguration day, Chris, to make sure that we put the security team in place. We got General Kelly and General Mattis the same day at 4:00, we came in. We should have got Pompeo, too. They played some games back and forth and we got his done in on Monday. But by Monday he had security team in place. And I'm understanding he never consulted with the security team.
[08:10:00] So whoever gave that advice, however that was orchestrated or rolled out was wrong. To have 25 or 30-year-old politically appointed staff members make these decisions, and on top of that sign a nondisclosure to where they can't even tell the people they work for -- let me tell you, if I had a staffer that was doing something for somebody else sign a non-disclosure, they would not be on my payroll as of that minute that I found out.
CUOMO: So what do you make of that? Have you ever heard of the White House doing that before, where they go to congressional staffers and say we want your help on something. Don't tell your boss, and we're having you sign this document, like we were doing some marketing deal in the private sector and you can't talk about it. Have you ever heard of that before?
MANCHIN: Chris, if it's ever happened, I've never heard of it. This came out. Whether it's factual or not, that's what I heard. No one disputed that. So the committee people -- I'm sure the White House and staffers work all the time. There's nothing wrong with that. But usually they do it with the knowledge of the member their working for, of the committee they're working for, trying to come to some type of an agreement and showing them how to put --
CUOMO: Are you sure it happened?
MANCHIN: I don't know for sure. I've heard and no one has disputed it. So if it's not factual, if it's not factual, if there's members -- basically these staffers did not sign nondisclosures, please tell me. If they did that, I would think that the member or the committee they work for should fire them and they should go on the payroll of the White House.
CUOMO: You should find out, senator. We'll try to find out, also, because I think you've got an ethics problem if your White House is having people promise not to say anything by contract to the people they work for as elected officials.
MANCHIN: Correct. I agree with you. We will find out. I just heard about it yesterday.
CUOMO: So we'll look into that as well.
So what are you saying to the Democrats? They are not showing up for hearings. They're trying to make the point that they think that some of these cabinet nominees are ethically challenged and there's deeper conflicts that need to be looked through, but you don't have the votes. So what do you do?
MANCHIN: First of all, it was Harry Reid that blew it up.
CUOMO: With the filibuster rule.
MANCHIN: The filibuster. The nuclear option put it down to one. I didn't vote for that. And my beloved Senator Robert Byrd would roll over in his grave knowing that we've done that. The Senate was supposed to be the saucer, if you will, cooling off the hot tea. We were supposed to make sure basically bipartisan, we move together, work together, we found commonality. You break that rule there and go with the filibuster rule, you go down to simple 51 majority, 51 simple majority, then you basically are no different than what the House is.
So when the Democrats are in power, 51 votes, Republicans are in power, 51, nobody has to work together. That's not the design of the Senate. That's not the design of a bicameral legislature.
With that being said, I think there should be a 60-vote rule on the Supreme Court. I think there should be a 60-vote rule on all the court nominees. With that being said, you think -- do I think they might go ahead and pull the nuclear option? I think they might because they're going to say, hey, you all led the way, why don't we just follow along? Two wrongs don't make a right. Two wrongs don't make a right.
CUOMO: Sometimes the rules are different where you are. Let me ask you one last thing.
CUOMO: As part of your desire to have a fair broker, you say you have the ability to dialogue with the White House and obviously you can talk to your own caucus.
CUOMO: Do you have the urge to go to the White House and say, look, I don't care if you beat up on the media, they can't take enough left jabs as far as I'm concerned, but you need to deal differently with the men and women in Congress here because this tone of disruption and this reality of disruption is only going to make things worse?
MANCHIN: I can tell when you reach across the aisle and you bring both parties together, there's very few people that would deny a request to come to the White House and sit and talk with the staff or the president, whether it be Democrat or Republican. More of that should be done. That's how you start building some type of a dialogue, and I would encourage them to do more of that.
I feel very comfortable talking, whether it be President Trump or his administration or with Chuck Schumer and my caucus. But the bottom line is we were sent here to get something accomplished. We have a dysfunctional -- the people were upset, they were very mad, and they voted. Donald Trump got elected. He wasn't a traditional Republican, he's not a traditional Democrat. He got elected as a non- traditionalist. People said I don't like either one of you. I don't like the way you're operating or getting nothing accomplished and playing foolish games. Let's get something accomplished.
I'm willing to sit down and work. You can be an honest broker and just say I disagree. I'm sorry. I respectfully disagree and here is why. What I don't like, Chris, is when people tell me, I'm sorry, I can't vote for that. Give me the reasons why. Maybe we can find a reason we can vote together. I'm just sorry.
So that means politically they eve hunkered down, they're going to vote against it, doesn't care what the facts are and not trying to find the middle ground.
[08:15:01] That's not what we were sent here to do. If they want me to be against something because I'm a Democrat or my friends are Republican and I should be against them, or they should be against it because they're a Republican, then you sent the wrong person here. You sent us for the wrong reason. Find somebody else that wants to play that game.
CUOMO: Senator, please let us know how your efforts are greeted. MANCHIN: I will.
CUOMO: And we will follow up on our reporting. I promise you that. Thank you for being on NEW DAY.
MANCHIN: I'll be back with you, Chris. Thank you.
CUOMO: Appreciate it as always, Senator.
CAMEROTA: All right. Well, you've heard other Democrats say they're determined to fight President Trump's Supreme Court nominee. Are they picking the right battle? We look at their strategy, next.
CAMEROTA: President Trump announcing his Supreme Court nominee last night and Democrats say they will try to fight it as they've already been doing with many of Mr. Trump's cabinet appointees.
Joining us now is West Virginia Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito.
Good morning, Senator.
SEN. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R), WEST VIRGINIA: Good morning.
CAMEROTA: Thanks for being here.
CAMEROTA: So, Senator, can you understand the frustration of Democrats who say after what Republicans did with Merrick Garland where they didn't even allow a vote, why should we now fall in line to help them with their nominee?
CAPITO: Well, I think the reason that we need to move forward is this is a very important decision. The reason we as Republicans didn't move forward last year was because we were in the middle of an election year, primary votes had already been cast. We said united, let's let the next president choose this nominee, and we didn't know who the president was going to be.
[08:20:03] So, we are where we are. And I think President Trump has been very transparent in his process. He said he was going to do this and he's appointed a very mainstream, well-respected gentleman of the court. And I look forward to reporting him.
CAMEROTA: Maybe you heard Senator Joe Manchin, he was just on. And he said what Republicans did with Merrick Garland was disgraceful. He said that you all didn't have the decency to let it go.
I hear your rationale, but there were ten months where Supreme Court business could have been done and it had that vacant seat. CAPITO: You know, I guess I can say I understand the frustration. We
have to go from where we are right now, and I think the other issue is we gave the American people the opportunity I think in the election to put their voices into what type of Supreme Court justice they would like to have. I think that was part of why President Trump won.
I think replacing Justice Scalia was very important to a lot of people, conservative, constitution-minded judge would be a part of the bench. I think the American people spoke in November and I think we need to have a good hearing and hopefully the Democrats will join us as has been done in the past and is custom in the past and let us give Judge Gorsuch a good run through the Senate and let us express our opinions.
CAMEROTA: I hear you. Look, elections have consequences. You're so right.
CAMEROTA: But for the Democrats who are still in their seats or who won their seats, you know, they just feel in engendered bad blood and certainly not an esprit de corps that is necessary for bipartisanship. So, what do you say for Democrats about how they are supposed to put all that aside and rise to the occasion and be bigger people than they felt Mitch McConnell was to them?
CAPITO: Well, I think, you know, if you look at what's going on today. I'm going to be in front of EPW voting for a nominee. It's expected Democrats aren't even going to show up for the committee. So, it's not -- it's not like we're all working in good spirit here. There's a lot of obstructionism going on that is not of anybody's interest and certainly not in the interest of the country if we can't get nominees, the head of these very important agencies.
You know, I'm a realist. We are where we are, we've got to move forward. We've got to find a way and I hope the Democrats will join us.
CAMEROTA: Let's move on to the travel ban. What did you think of President Trump's travel ban? Good idea, bad idea?
CAPITO: Well, I think that we have issues with our immigration that we've put the spotlight on for at least a year, in terms of visa waivers, in terms of countries that are considered extremely dangerous or harbingers of terrorists. I think we need to work to tighten this up.
So, we're taking a pause. I support the pause, yes. Was it rolled out in the best way? I would says, you know, it probably left some things to be desired and too much confusion.
They're clarifying all this now. I don't think it's a ban. I don't think it's a religious test. I wouldn't support a religious test. That's not who we are.
So, I think we need to move forward, make sure we tighten these things up and then move forward with our regular immigration process.
CAMEROTA: And what is your evidence that background checks that don't work? In other words, when we look at what is required for refugees, there's a 20-point plan that they need to pass through a background check. There are multiple fingerprint checks, there are biometric checks, there are written checks. The State Department as well as a host of other organizations look at them.
So, what's your evidence that the vetting process is not working?
CAPITO: I think it's obvious that the countries that were pinpointed, the seven country, don't have a sophisticated immigration processes that we do. So, there's a lot of people that can fall through the loops.
I mean, these are clever people who have evil and destruction in their mind. All we're saying is, let's make sure that we're helping those countries get the resources to help us, make sure that we're preventing the wrong types of people from coming into this country.
It's about protecting the country, and I think if we have to go the extra step to protect this country, I'm willing to do that.
CAMEROTA: What about the women we've seen, the Syrian children and women who are struggling so much with the civil war there? What about their plight and this is an indefinite ban on Syrian refugees?
CAPITO: I mean, the whole situation in Syria is just heartbreaking. This is something that's developed over several years, that we should have been more aggressive on and the policies we went forward with over the last several years -- obviously, there were no policies to aggressively beat that back.
So, these people -- we just saw the king of Jordan yesterday talking about the presses on his country for the Syrian refugees and going in and out of the border there and how difficult it is for families. I mean, I'm a mother. I'm a grandmother. I have great empathy.
[08:25:01] I can't imagine living in this kind of terror. That's why I think creating safe zones where people in Syria would be near family and support groups, those are the kinds of policies we should have been pursuing from the beginning and we haven't.
CAMEROTA: Senator Capito, thanks so much for being on the show.
CAPITO: Thank you. Have a good morning.
CAMEROTA: You, too.
Let's go to Chris.
CUOMO: Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch could be quite a game of chess. Presidential adviser who witnessed four judges makes -- on the high court is going to tell us why.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) CUOMO: President Trump fulfilling his campaign promise nominating a conservative justice, Neil Gorsuch, who shares the philosophy in certain ways of the late Antonin Scalia. He would then fill that vacant seat held by Scalia. So, that's why he's going to be compared to him. Could the president, though, be disappointed by his pick? It's happened before.
Joining us is Ron Klain. He served as associate council to Bill Clinton during the Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Stephen Breyer nominations. He was also an assistant to President Obama advising on Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan nominations.
Now, when you look at Ginsburg and Breyer, you've got two other seats that may be coming up because of age and inclination.
So, what do you want people to keep in mind in terms of what you think you're buying and what you sometimes get in a justice?
RON KLAIN, GENERAL COUNSEL, REVOLUTION LLC: Well, you know, through history, Chris, presidents have been surprised by their nominees.