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Trump Nominates Gorsuch to Supreme Court; Four States Challenge Immigration Order; Trump on Travel Ban; White House Defends Travel Ban; Federal Workers Pushing Back. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired February 1, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] RON KLAIN, GENERAL COUNSEL, REVOLUTION LLC: Well, you know, through history, Chris, presidents have been sometimes been surprised by their nominees. But the surprise here would be if Judge Gorsuch was surprising. He's a very, very conservative nominee. There's a standard academic score for this and it says that he'd be the most conservative Supreme Court nominee in 25 years. He'd be the eighth most conservative member on this court. So I don't think there are going to be many such surprises from Judge Gorsuch. And I think that's what Donald Trump wanted in a nominee and I think that's what he got.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Ron, I was very interested to hear that you also thought that Donald Trump was sending a Morse code to Justice Kennedy with this pick. Can you decipher that Morse code for us?

KLAIN: Yes, Alisyn. I mean I think Morse code, semaphore, whatever it is, clearly the most important pick for the Supreme Court comes if Justice Kennedy retires. Judge Gorsuch is very conservative, but he's replacing a very conservative justice. And so the balance on the court won't change if he's confirmed. Justice Kennedy really is the swing vote on the Supreme Court. He's one of the three oldest members of the court. And it would be the desire of the Trump administration to try to get him to retire.

Judge Gorsuch clerked for Justice Kennedy. I think this might try to be a signal to Justice Kennedy that, you know, come on out, the water's fine. But I also think Judge Gorsuch is a very, very conservative pick, much more conservative than Justice Kennedy, and so it's not really clear how Justice Kennedy will read this selection.

CAMEROTA: It's so fascinating. It's like a tip of the hat to Kennedy and saying, look, you're -- it's in good hands. The Supreme Court is in good hands. Here's your clerk. You can -- you can go now.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Right, except -- except I don't get it because Kennedy is somewhat of a swing vote, but he still lines up well enough that wouldn't they prefer to see Ginsburg leave?

KLAIN: Well, I think, Chris, they certainly might prefer to see Justice Ginsburg or Justice Breyer leave. But I think Justice Ginsburg and Justice Breyer are going to serve as long as they can, as long as they're healthy too, and they seem like they're in very good shape and are going to serve. Justice Kennedy was picked by President Reagan and there's a tradition of justices retiring when a president who appointed them is of the same party. I think that's why the Justice Kennedy question is so front and center for many people because he was picked by Ronald Reagan. Now we have a Republican president again. But, again, I do think that while there's a bit of a tip to Justice Kennedy here with a pick of Judge Gorsuch because of the clerkship thing, Judge Gorsuch, in his writings, have been somewhat critical of Justice Kennedy's jurisprudence and is much closer to Justice Scalia and the way he approached cases than he is to Justice Kennedy.

CAMEROTA: Ron, while we have you, we want to talk about the travel ban --


CAMEROTA: And the legalities or any possible legal pitfalls. How do you see it?

KLAIN: Well, you know, there have been five courts that have looked at it on a preliminary basis and it's 0-5 in those hearings. So if you're a betting person, you'd bet that some of these final decisions, then they finally adjudicate it, will go poorly. It clearly has a religious discrimination test in it. It says that we'll give priorities to refugees who are members of minority religions in seven countries where the majority religion is Muslim. That's a religious test. And I think it's going to fail on that grounds when the courts have their final hearings to determine its constitutionality.

CUOMO: So let's talk about what that means though. Does it mean that they could lose in court and then adjust the order, which they're already doing, by the way. You know, they're -- you know, Muslim ban in the campaign, not just became ban, now it's not a ban, it's a temporary moratorium, it's vetting just to put in procedures. Could they change it and keep it or do you think there's a chance it could be wiped away completely?

KLAIN: Well, Chris, I don't think that a court is going to rule based on Donald Trump's Twitter feed. And the executive order says what it says. It does discriminate against people based on their religion. You know, they could change it. If they changed it, we'd have to see what they changed it to.

But, you know, Donald Trump -- you know, people said we should take him literally not seriously, seriously not literally. He literally said he wanted to ban Muslims and the order literally bans Muslims. That's what's going to be decided on by the courts. And as it stands now, I think that order will lose in the courts.

CAMEROTA: But, Ron, as you know, the Trump administration is saying, we just took our que from the Obama administration. These were the seven countries that they named and highlighted as being terror-prone. That -- we took a page from them.

KLAIN: Yes, Alisyn, what the Obama administration said was these seven countries, along with others, are dangerous and U.S. citizens should be careful before they travel there. That was the travel warning the Obama administration issued. That's very different than saying that people from these seven countries can't come here after, in the case of refugees, you pointed this out earlier in your earlier interview, Alisyn, after a 20-point screening process. It includes biometric reviews, fingerprints, all these kinds of things. You know, no refugee from these seven countries has committed a terrorist act in this country. Zero. And when you see the things like a five-year-old boy being handcuffed at an airport, it's hard to see that this is really a security issue.

CUOMO: It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the courts. One of the nice things is, BS doesn't fly in court.


CUOMO: It works in political spin. You can beat up the media for reporting the facts that counter your fake facts or whatever you want to call them. But in court it doesn't work that way. So it will be interesting to see it play out anyway. Of course, I guess the president could attack the judge, as he's done in the past, but that probably won't matter either.

[08:35:11] Ron, thank you.

KLAIN: Thank you, Chris.

CAMEROTA: Great to talk to you, Ron.

CUOMO: All right, so President Trump is defending his executive order this morning in real time on Twitter. He's saying you can call it a ban if you want. Does it matter how you label it? We're going to get "The Bottom Line," next.


CUOMO: All right, time for the Five Things to Know for Your NEW DAY.

President Trump introducing conservative Colorado Judge Neil Gorsuch as his pick for the Supreme Court. Democrats are vowing to fight the nomination, calling the choice hostile.

CAMEROTA: Democrats also blocking votes for key Trump cabinet nominees. But Republicans did manage to push through Education Secretary Betsy DeVos through committee. DeVos is now accused of plagiarizing answers in a Senate questionnaire.

CUOMO: The suspect in a deadly shooting attack at a Quebec mosque now facing murder charges. Authorities say their investigation is continuing. The 27-year-old suspect also could face terrorism charges.

CAMEROTA: The daughter of slain al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki reportedly killed in a U.S.-led raid in Yemen last weekend. A Navy SEAL also died in the counter-terrorism operation. The first under President Trump.

[08:40:10] CUOMO: Federal prosecutors are reportedly considering child porn charges against former New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. It stems from alleged inappropriate contact that he had with a 15-year- old girl.

For more on the "Five Things to Know," go to for the latest.

CAMEROTA: All right, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer complaining that the media is unfairly using the term "ban" to describe President Trump's executive orders on refugees. Well, the president himself taking a different tone. He tweeted this morning, "everybody 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 the country."

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein.

Hi, Carl. Great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: So, I mean, do you want to argue semantics or do you want to argue what the substance of this is?

BERNSTEIN: Let's talk about reality.


BERNSTEIN: This is a piece of Trumpest bigotry mascaraing as national security policy to solve a problem that, according to all the experts in the Department of Homeland Security wasn't there. It is to fulfill campaign promises. It is to fulfill an authoritarian vision of himself and his presidency. And to go to the truth rarely, let's go to Rudy Giuliani. Rudy Giuliani has gotten up and said, look, I was entrusted with finding a legal justification for a Muslim ban. He's admitted it. He's said it. You can look at his exact words, which are a tiny bit different than what I just said, but that's the reality. It is a piece of essential Trumpism that is the reason that the country is divided in the way it is now and why we have more people in the streets than we've seen since the Vietnam era, and that's not going to go away.

CUOMO: But you do have the other half, almost, saying, I am afraid of these people. They want to kill me the way they are killing people in other parts of the world. Why wait?

BERNSTEIN: Because there was -- there was a -- apparently from, again, the experts in place already an effective system, and it could have been studied. It could have been a temporary piece by piece, person by person re-evaluation. There are so many ways to do that. Let's look at Mattis' reaction to this. Let's look at Kelly's reaction to this in private (ph). Look --

CUOMO: Let's look at Steve Bannon's reaction to it, because that's where the idea -- he seems to have his hand prints all over it.


CUOMO: He says 20 percent of the American population of these immigrants, isn't that the heart of the problem? Why let anyone in at all? It seems the president is echoing that.

BERNSTEIN: It's -- the president, first of all, even before Steve Bannon was on board in the campaign, was saying this, in essence. It is part of what Donald Trump campaigned on, to basically keep Muslim immigrants out of America. The reason that we are seeing the reaction to this from Republicans, as well as Democrats, they got a reprieve last night with a supposedly presidential looking announcement about a Supreme Court justice which, in fact, also is part of the reason people are in the streets, because it's all part of a large Trumpest vision, Bannon vision of America that is not in keeping with our history as a bastion and opening, welcoming country for immigrants such as Donald Trump's own grandparents, et cetera, et cetera. This is a place we have not gone willingly in many years to this kind of attitudes in the presidency of the United States.

CAMEROTA: You talked about the protests that we've seen. So that's the public display of dissent. And then there are these private sort of back channel displays of dissent that we're seeing as well. "The Washington Post" reports that less than two weeks into the Trump administration, federal workers are in regular consultation with recently departed Obama-era appointees about what they can do. Some federal employees have set up social media accounts to anonymously leak word of changes that Trump appointees are trying to make. The resistance is so early, so widespread, so deeply felt that it has officials worrying about paralysis and overt refusals of workers to do their job.

BERNSTEIN: Look, we're in a new place in terms of the divisions in this country. They've been not only exacerbated by Trump's election, but his actions in the first two weeks have confirmed that he does not appear to his own Republican supporters on Capitol Hill to be of sufficient stability to exercise the presidency.

CAMEROTA: We haven't heard people say that. We've had --

BERNSTEIN: In a -- no, we have -- we have heard people say that.

[08:45:02] CAMEROTA: The Republicans who come on here say, we are delighted that -- look at what he's done. Look at what he's accomplished in ten days for all (ph).

BERNSTEIN: I'm sure people have come on the air and said that. And I also get on the telephone and go see Republicans. And I know what many of them say in private and what their worries are.

CUOMO: Right, I'll go -- I'm not -- we're not going to question your reporting on the basis of a couple TV interviews.

BERNSTEIN: And -- but I'm not saying it's all -- I'm not saying it's all. Look, they are delighted. The reason they have hitched their star to Donald Trump and are willing to go along with some of this excess is that they see a possibility of their agenda being enacted.

CUOMO: Right.


BERNSTEIN: But as David Brooks in "The New York Times," the conservative columnist of "The New York Times" said yesterday, it is a Faustian bargain. Brooks predicted that Trump won't be able to serve his four years because of his wretched excesses. Look, the --

CUOMO: Right, the -- but it's a bargain all the same, Carl.


CUOMO: And there are Republicans right now who are saying, look, I'll take what I can get from him.

BERNSTEIN: Absolutely.

CUOMO: Let me ask you something before we run out of time here. Joe Manchin said that he heard that the administration had congressional staffers sign NDAs, non-disclosure agreements, to work on the executive order where they couldn't even tell the Congress members that they worked with that they were doing it. Have you heard that?

BERNSTEIN: I have not. I listened -- I listened to the senator say it. It's an interesting story. But it all goes back to the same thing. An authoritarian vision of what governance is, as opposed to an open, democratic process, and that's where we are right now.

CUOMO: All right.

CAMEROTA: Carl, always great to get your perspective. Thank you very much.

BERNSTEIN: Good to be here.

CAMEROTA: So President Trump, as you know, has slammed the current vetting process for refugees as woefully weak. But what is it really like? We're going to hear from two refugees about their experience, their vetting experience, and why they wanted to come here.


[08:50:56] CAMEROTA: President Trump's executive order to stop admission of all refugees to the U.S. for 120 days is sparking lots of questions over the current vetting process. Is it tough enough? To be clear, there are already 20 stringent steps refugees must take including extensive in-person interviews with the U.N., State Department and Homeland Security, multiple background checks and at least three fingerprint screenings. In July, I sat down with two former refugees. Here's what they told me about the screening process and why they wanted to come to America.


CAMEROTA: The concern of many here in the United States, I'm sure you've heard it over and over, is, who are these people? Who are the refugees that are coming? How can we even know? If somebody shows up without documentation and we don't know their back story, how can we trust who they are? So how did you prove that you were a good person?

NORAH BAGIRINKA, GENOCIDE SURVIVOR FROM RWANDA: So we're screened. We're given identities -- identity cards. We -- there's a process. And then most of us, we are running away from violence. So when we come here, we feel that we are safe.

BHUWAN PYAKUREL, FORMER REFUGEE FROM BHUTAN: The screening process in the back -- in the refugee camp, it's a very intense Refugee screening process. First you have to apply for it. Then you have to wait because they will do their study and they will do the background check of the people who are applying for resettlement. Then after that, DSS, the Department of Homeland Security (INAUDIBLE) will be doing again another investigation of our background.

CAMEROTA: What do you think about some of the things that Donald Trump has said about refugees?

PYAKUREL: I would strongly recommend and request, in fact, them to come to our house and talk to us and see. I'm working. I'm contributing to this community. And every single day I'm doing exactly the same thing all other people in this country are doing.

BAGIRINKA: For Syrian refugees and other Muslim refugees, I think they're running away from their own people. They -- the people who are hunting and killing them, they're Muslims, too.

CAMEROTA: Now that you're here in the U.S., tell me what your life is like, Norah.

BAGIRINKA: I feel that America has given me so much. That they has built me. I went back to school. I finished a degree in 2013. So I feel that I've been given a chance that I would never even dream to have.


And, Bhuwan, what's your life like?

PYAKUREL: I mean (INAUDIBLE) when people ask in the morning, how are you, I say perfect, because there's no complaint from me.

CAMEROTA: What will it mean, Norah, to be an American?

BAGIRINKA: It means a great deal for me. It means to have a country where I have rights, where I have security. I'll be protected number -- which is number one on my list. So I feel so excited again to be a citizen, to have a great country like America, to be an American.

CAMEROTA: And, Bhuwan, what does it mean to you now that you're an American?

PYAKUREL: To me, to be American means I have a place called home. For entire of my life, I never had a place of my own. So to me America means I belong to this land. This is my country. This is -- this soil belongs to me and I belong to the soil. I am part of it. It it's a lot -- a lot for me.


CUOMO: So, meeting with them, did they give you any sense that there is this breeziness to the process that Jason Chaffetz said with a smile on his face this morning. These interviews can be like --

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. I mean, Bhuwan, who you just heard there, who's so grateful to be an American and so grateful to be here, he was in a refugee camp for years. I think it was 18 years he was in a refugee camp. A shocking number. I mean they are penned in and just desperate to begin their lives, waiting this long to get to America to begin their lives. And all of the interviews and all of the biometrics that they went through, they're grateful for it. They never complained about having to go through that. And they're so grateful to be here now on terra firma. And so I just think that it's important to keep reminding people of the laborious vetting process that they went through.

[08:55:05] CUOMO: Tough for them to hear what's out there about them right now, that's for sure.


CUOMO: Good story. Thank you.

CAMEROTA: You're welcome.

Let's have some laughs.

CUOMO: Done.

CAMEROTA: Let night laughs, next.


CUOMO: Late night comics are taking on President Trump. Listen.


STEPHEN COLBERT, "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": We're just ten days in, and it feels like it's total chaos at the White House. This is supposed to be the honeymoon. How could Trump blow the honeymoon? He's had three of them.

JIMMY FALLON, "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": Even people connected to Trump are taking some heat, like Disney CEO Bob Iger, who's facing criticism for being part of a Trump advisory committee. Meanwhile, Aladdin has been stuck in customs at JFK since Saturday.

CONAN O'BRIEN, "CONAN": Well, Donald Trump now says that this week he will allow 872 refugees into the United States, 872, specifically, yes. Yes. Trump says the immigrants will arrive on Friday and start their modeling careers on Monday.

FALLON: Actually, get this, a psychologist at Johns Hopkins University says he believes that President Trump suffers from malignant narcissism. The condition is actually treatable, but, unfortunately, Trump just missed the deadline for Obamacare. Just -- barely.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CUOMO: Fallon amping it up there. I wonder if it's because Colbert is beating him in the ratings in the last week or so? Maybe the appetites are changing for what people want.

[09:00:04] CAMEROTA: Maybe they are. All right, we will explore that tomorrow.

Time now for "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello.

Hi, Carol.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks, guys. Have a great day.

NEWSROOM starts now.