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White House Warns Israel in New Settlements; U.S. Planning New Iran Sanctions; U.S. Calls for Russia to Withdraw from Crimea; New U.S. Defense Secretary on Asia Trip; Multiple States Suing Trump Over Travel Ban; An Introverted Band with a Far-Reaching Sound. Aired Midnight-1a ET

Aired February 3, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:22] ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers right around the world. I'm Isa Soares in London.

JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: I'm John Vause in Los Angeles.

Week two of the Trump administration is coming to an end with a changing stance on some key global challenges and indications of how the President will deal with rivals like Iran, Russia and North Korea.

Joining us this hour, "New York Times" reporter Thomas Erdbrink with reaction from Tehran on the threat of new U.S. sanctions.

SOARES: In Moscow, Clare Sebastian is covering the easing of U.S. sanctions on Russia. Shalailah Medhora in Canberra with more on the fallout from Donald Trump's heated phone call with the Australian Prime Minister.

VAUSE: And here in Los Angeles, Democratic strategist Dave Jacobson and Republican consultant John Thomas.

First a warning from the Trump White House to Israel that new settlement activity could potentially hurt the peace process. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced plans on Thursday to build the first new West Bank settlement since the 1990s.

The White House says it won't take an official position on settlements until President Trump meets with Mr. Netanyahu later this month.

Late details now from CNN's Elise Labott.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: On Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's first day on the job, one of his first calls was to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hours later the White House issued a statement on settlements.

You know, the Israeli government has announced about 5,500 new settlement homes since President Trump took office, most -- larger than in recent years. Now the statement says and let me quote a little bit from it, "While we don't believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, the construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal."

Now, the Israelis I've talked to don't see this statement as that bad. President Obama had said the settlements were an impediment to peace and the statement doesn't take issue with Israel building within settlement plots which President Obama did.

Now President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu are expected to meet in a few weeks. The White House says it will be developing a formal settlement policy then.

Now, all of this coming amid Trump's tense phone calls with the leaders of Australia and Mexico. He defended his confrontational tone at the National Prayer Breakfast on Thursday saying it's time to get tough -- John.

VAUSE: Elise. Elise -- thank you.

To our political panel now here in Los Angeles -- Dave Jacobson and John Thomas.

Dave, first to you -- if nothing else, this statement from the White House is a lot more nuanced than what we have heard previously from President Trump. And nuance and Donald Trump don't often go together in the same sentence.



JACOBSON: He is singing a different tune and I think it raises real questions about what his calculus is, what he's doing sort of behind the scenes. What conversation perhaps he is having with the Prime Minister that he is not having with the public.

But this is a different tune, for sure, than what we saw on the campaign trail where he excoriated the Obama administration for their support -- or their opposition, pardon me, to the new settlements.

But I do think it's noteworthy the fact that right after Donald Trump was elected president there was an announcement of new settlements that were moving forward. So, I guess the question is like how do they -- how do they pivot and sort of figure out what this peace process is going to look like moving forward.

VAUSE: John -- any coincidence this more traditional approach to foreign policy came on the first full working day of the new Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson?

THOMAS: Not at all. In fact, last night, John, I was sitting here like a broken record saying Rex Tillerson, Rex Tillerson.

VAUSE: I know. That's why I asked the question. Rex will save us all. Rex Tillerson will fix everything.

THOMAS: And we're seeing it in action. You know, Rex is being a diplomat. I mean that's what you're seeing. Now the question is when Trump gets behind a microphone does he use that same language or is he more blunt and kind of the tough-talking Trump that we are familiar with. I think that's going to be the struggle, but so far, so good.

VAUSE: Right. We know that Tillerson did speak with Netanyahu or at least officials within the Israeli government.

So Isa -- the White House is expressing concern about Israeli settlements, now also talking new sanctions on Iran? It's sounding a lot like the Obama administration.

SOARES: Very much so -- John. And in the question of Iran, U.S. President Donald Trump says nothing it seems is off the table when it comes to that country, not even military action it seems. The White House is expected to slap new sanctions on Tehran over its latest ballistic missile test.

The senior Iranian adviser dismissed what he called Mr. Trump's baseless rantings and said that even Americans are unsatisfied with Trump's extremism. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nothing is off the table. I haven't eased anything.


SOARES: Well, let's get more on this. "New York Times" correspondent, Thomas Erdbrink joins me now from Tehran.

And Thomas -- yesterday we heard the President say that Iran was on notice. Today, expectations of new sanctions -- how is that being received in Tehran?

[00:05:02] THOMAS ERDBRINK, "NEW YORK TIMES": Well, obviously, the representatives of Iran's leadership have voiced their displeasure with this big change in the United States. Of course, if you look at the relations between Iran and the United States over the past year, I think the Iranians were quite pleased that a certain status quo, if you will, had been established.

The Americans didn't really push the Iranians that hard and at the same time, the Iranians were able to both shout, if you will, "death to America" during the Friday prayers but also strike a $16 billion deal with U.S. plane maker, Boeing.

So to see now the new administration coming in this hard is a big surprise for many people within Iran's leadership.

SOARES: Thomas Erdbrink joining us there from Tehran in Iran. Thanks very much -- Thomas. John -- back to you.

VAUSE: Ok. Back to Dave and John here. So John -- military options on the table when it comes to Iran, Obama

said that. New sanctions on Iran, Obama did that too. Is there a realization now when it comes to Iran there are only just so many options for any administration?

THOMAS: Yes, with the exception Obama not only allowed them to start spinning centrifuges again which they weren't prior allowed to do. Obama also gave them hundreds of millions of dollars which they can spend on any nefarious activity.

So now Trump's forced with how does he roll that back. And you're right. His hands are tied but I think we're going to continue to see tough talk from Trump. The question is will he end up taking action beyond talks?

VAUSE: They were spinning the centrifuges anyway and the money would go to them --

THOMAS: Yes. But they are bad actors.

JACOBSON: But I think it came off as more of like a knee-jerk reaction, right. The question is like did he collaborate and have any conversations with some of our allies that we went in on the Iran nuclear deal with -- right? Like, were there any conversations with some of our European allies who have a vested interest in making sure that Iran doesn't have, you know, a bomb moving forward or doesn't, you know, send out any missiles?

And I think those are real questions in terms of the diplomatic dynamic, right. Like, is he having conversations with our allies or is it more of the sort of go it alone approach?

VAUSE: John -- this is for you. I want to read some more of Thomas' reporting -- the reporter for "New York Times". This is the reaction in Tehran to Donald Trump.

"But there is little doubt that the clerics have been thrown off balance. One analyst with access to government deliberations said that hard liners in Iran were confused and did not know how to deal with the situation. Some in the establishment are opting for the same rhetoric and tactics they used under Mr. Obama but in reality this is uncharted territory."

So this is the Richard Nixon madman strategy when it comes to foreign policy? It seems to be working at least for now.

THOMAS: He has to retrain Iran. Over the last eight years they could pretty much get away with anything. In fact, they are a lot richer than they were before. So we'll see if it works.

I think Trump understands that he can't let Iran bully him around. The problem is if Iran pushes back, at what point does Trump actually put -- send troops in or --

VAUSE: Where is that red line?


JACOBSON: And the question is like is there an appetite among the American public to go and have another war?


THOMAS: Right.

JACOBSON: We're already in two wars at this point -- right?

THOMAS: Right.

VAUSE: So Isa, from possible sanctions for Iran and now modification of existing sanctions on Russia.

SOARES: Very much so -- John. It's coming from the U.S. Treasury Department. It is saying it is making it easier for some companies to do limited business with Russia's Federal Security Service, the former KGB.

The State Department calls it, and I'm quoting here, "a technical fix". And President Donald Trump insists it's not an easing of sanctions.

Meantime, U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley made her first appearance at the Security Council on Thursday with what seemed very tough talk for Russia.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The United States continues to condemn and call for an immediate end to the Russian occupation of Crimea. Crimea is a part of Ukraine. Our Crimea- related sanctions will remain in place until they Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.


Let's bring in CNN's Clare Sebastian, who joins us now from Moscow. And Clare -- so the U.S. Treasury Department modifying sanctions on Russia's main intelligence agency. These adjustments -- what do they mean and how is that being received by Russian President Vladimir Putin?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isa. So this is a small technical fix, a part of that wave of sanctions that the Obama administration brought in, in December. This was not due to Ukraine, this is actually due to alleged Russian interference in the U.S. elections. And part of that was to slap a sanction on the FSB, the Russian State Security agency.

And that had the unintended consequence, according to the U.S. Treasury of preventing some legitimate business by U.S. companies in Russia because one of the duties of the FSB is to provide licenses for imports and distributions of certain technologies that these companies wanted to sell in Russia. So this basically carves out a loophole that allows a limited amount of that activity to take place up to $5,000 worth a year per company.

[00:10:08] As for how this is being received in Russia, we saw an initial kind of burst of optimism. The ruble spiked a little bit, it now seems to have subsided.

Most Russian media reports are referring to this as an easing or softening of sanctions despite the fact that both Treasury and the U.S. President say that that's not what this is.

As for the Kremlin, a more muted reaction though. Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman telling CNN's Matthew Chance yesterday quote, "We care but not that much." And certainly those comments from Nikki Haley overnight condemning Russian actions in Ukraine serve to dampen the mood a little bit here when it comes to a potential rapprochement with the United States -- Isa.

SOARES: Very much so. Clare Sebastian there for us in Moscow. Thanks very much -- Clare. John.

VAUSE: Ok -- Dave and John.

So Dave, first to you -- back to those comments that Nikki Haley made at the U.N.; not quite, Samantha Power but certainly much more forceful than, I guess, what we had expected coming from this administration given the history with Russia.

JACOBSON: Absolutely. I mean it is relatively promising when after months and months, I mean Donald Trump really hasn't said anything negative against Vladimir Putin, one of America's staunchest adversaries historically. And what I found fascinating with this sort of juxtaposition where he is been hugging Vladimir Putin but at the same time alienating our allies, whether it's Mexico or just yesterday, Australia, European leaders.

And so this dynamic is fascinating. But Nikki Haley's comments nonetheless were promising.

VAUSE: And John -- one of these -- I want to go back to the issue of modification of the sanctions. This is one of these moments when Democrats seemed to have jumped the gun. They set their hair on fire. They run around calling this is a reward for bad behavior.

Here's one example from Democrat Congressman Eric Swalwell from here in California, "Russia attacked our democracy. It should be punished. Instead President Donald Trump is easing sanctions against its team of hackers, the FSB" -- which turned out to be a great, big, fat nothing burger (ph).

THOMAS: Yes. Well, I think the Democrats are looking for opportunities to make a substantial point against Donald Trump. The media has largely been doing their job for them. And here's something where they want there to be a there-there against Russia. They want that to become part of the narrative.

You're right. It's nothing at this point. It doesn't mean -- in my opinion Trump is going to have be even tougher on Russia than he has been. I think Trump envisioned his role as somebody who gets along with everybody but there are some people out there like Iran, like Russia that are bad actors. So Democrats have to tread lightly but so does Donald Trump.

JACOBSON: Well, let's not forget and let's not minimize the fact that, like Republicans also are infuriated by the Russian hacking -- right.


VAUSE: Yes. JACOBSON: I mean there are senators and then House members that are going to call, continue to call for a thorough and deep investigation of the Russian hacking.

VAUSE: Ok. So we know that Donald Trump likes to get on with many world leaders -- Russia's Vladimir Putin. He is also trying to mend fences with the Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull after that heated telephone call over the weekend.

Isa -- you have more details on that.

SOARES: Very much so -- John.

The clean up it seems continues after President Trump's call with Australia's Prime Minister. You mentioned that Joe Hockey, Australia's ambassador to the U.S. met top administration officials on Thursday. The White House says the meeting was productive and conveyed the President's deep admiration for the Australian people.

Well, earlier this week, if you remember, Mr. Trump and Malcolm Turnbull had a heated phone call over a U.S. pledge to take refugees from Australia.

Political reporter Shalailah Medhora is in Canberra with more.

And Shalailah -- after that bruising, I think it's best to say, public spat between President Trump and Prime Minister Turnbull. Where do things stand? Are there fears there about the future of U.S. agreement to resettle refugees?

SHALAILAH MEDHORA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, yes. There is a genuine concern here about the future of the U.S. and the Australian alliance. I mean to give you an insight into what it's like here, our relationship with the U.S. is considered one of our most rock solid. Around eight out of ten Australians support the Andes treaty and think it is a vital part of our relationship with the U.S.

But a lot of that support is contingent on who the leader of the U.S. is. Something like 77 percent of Australians in a pre-election poll supported Hillary Clinton. So there is that idea that this phone call and news of this phone call was like a slight on the Australian and U.S. Alliance. And there are real questions now, particularly in this place in parliament house about what it will mean for this rock-solid relationship.

SOARES: Shalailah Medhora there for us in Canberra. Thanks very much from Australia. John -- back to you.

VAUSE: Ok -- Isa.

So Donald Trump pretty much confirmed that he did have these heated telephone conversations not just with the Australian prime minister but also with the Mexican president. This is what he said at the National Prayer Breakfast.


TRUMP: The world is in trouble. But we're going to straighten it out -- ok? That's what I do. I fix things. We're going to straighten it out. Believe me.

[00:14:57] When you hear about the tough phone calls I'm having, don't worry about it. Just don't worry about it. They're tough. We have to be tough. It's time we're going to be a little tough, folks. We're taken advantage of by every nation in the world, virtually. It's not going the happen any more. It's not going to happen anymore.


VAUSE: He's sounding a little Tony Soprano there.

Look, the message here is the world is in trouble, Donald Trump will fix it. That's after he creates the turmoil in the first place.

JACOBSON: Right. This is a guy who knew more than the generals. But I thought that speech was quite insightful because he actually at the prayer breakfast asked everyone there to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger, the former governor because of his ratings. I mean that's just unbelievable. Talk about an egomaniac.

But look at the end of the day -- it's crazy. Anyways -- I mean, but if you look at like those two countries that you mentioned -- Mexico. Mexicans, back in I think it was 2006, 2005 they sent in their army after Hurricane Katrina to help Americans, to take care of Americans, ok.

If you look at Australia after September 11th they sent their soldiers there and they sacrificed blood and treasure in Afghanistan -- right.

These are key allies that we need to maintain very positive relationships with and Donald Trump is skewering America's ties to those countries.

VAUSE: Ok. We heard earlier from another Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd. He talked about having his own disagreements in the past with U.S. administrations. Listen to this.


KEVIN RUDD, FORMER AUSTRALIAN PRIME MINISTER: But on the broader question of disagreements between the United States and Australia with in this alliance, we have had stacks of them over the years. When I was Prime Minister of Australia, I came into office with President Bush who was a strong proponent of the Iraq war. I was a bitter opponent of the war from the get go. And we had some very testy and difficult times. So these things come and they go.


VAUSE: And John -- the point is though, those conversations, those dust ups are held in private. The public never really learned all of the dirty details like we did, you know, over the past 24 hours.

THOMAS: That's how things used to be done. Not any more. I mean Presidents also didn't use to tweet their live thoughts and now they are. This is a -- we are in a new world and the American public knew what they were getting when they voted for Donald Trump. They knew that he talked with his thumbs. Is this any surprise?

JACOBSON: Well, I think it's also emblematic of the increasing leaks that we're seeing out of the White House. Like that was a private conversation. There's probably one or two, maybe three other people in the room with the President. So people are clearly -- there is a lot of chaos and turmoil in the White House, people are jockeying for power and people are leaking things to the press. And that's why this stuff get out.

VAUSE: Ok. Thank you both for being with us.

Isa -- back to you.

SOARES: Thanks very much -- John.

And coming up right here on CNN NEWSROOM, the new U.S. Defense Secretary gives a stern warning to North Korea -- what James Mattis says will happen if it attacks the U.S. or its allies -- ahead.

Plus a political opponent of Russian's President Vladimir Putin possibly poisoned.

Again -- we'll have those stories for you after a very short break.


[00:20:08] SOARES: Now, new U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis just arrived in Japan. He's on the second leg of his first overseas trip since taking over at the Pentagon.

Mattis was in South Korea on Thursday, if you remember, to reaffirm U.S. support for its key ally and to defend the planned deployment of a missile defense system there.

Well, for more on the U.S. Defense Secretary's trip we're joined by CNN's Will Ripley who joins us from Tokyo; and CNN's Paula Hancocks on the border between North and South Korea.

And Will -- I want to start with you because yesterday at this time roughly we saw the Defense Secretary issue a message of support to South Korea. Do we expect to hear similar reassurances directed at Japan? But this is much more than traditional statements of support, isn't it? These are messages of strategic importance.


Because you have to keep in mind during the campaign there was a lot of concern here in Japan and in Korea when President Trump said things like this country may have to defend itself against North Korea and perhaps arm itself with nuclear weapons which, of course, would go against more than 70 years of diplomatic policy.

So certainly the Prime Minister, the foreign minister, the defense minister all here in Tokyo, who will be meeting with Trump in the coming hours and tomorrow they have to be encouraged by the news out of South Korea that Secretary Mattis is giving this encouraging message saying that the alliance between these countries here in Asia is strong and the United States is committed to its defense commitments in this part of the world even if there will be some negotiating about things like how much each country is contributing financially and what that's going to look like.

SOARES: Of course, because we know that is what President Trump had said initially during the campaigning.

And Paula -- during the stop in Seoul, the Defense Secretary had, I think it's best to say some strong words directed at North Korea. Tell us exactly what he said and whether there has been any reaction so far from Pyongyang.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right -- Isa. He did say that he appreciated the number one security concern here in Northeast Asia is North Korea and their nuclear and missile program.

He said he stood shoulder to shoulder with South Korea, that the U.S. would have that ironclad commitment to defend the allies against any possible attack. And there were some very strong words against North Korea should they decide to attack.


GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: America's commitment to defending our allies and to upholding our extended deterrence guarantees remain ironclad. Any attack on the United States or on our allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with the response that would be effective and overwhelming.


HANCOCKS: We've already had a statement from the National Peace Committee in North Korea through their state-run media saying that this insistence on deploying the THAD anti-missile defense system that the U.S. and South Korea want here in South Korea is going to push the peninsula to the brink of nuclear war.

So we've had a response. It's a response we've heard before but this kind of rhetoric of a nuclear war has not really been used since Donald Trump has taken power. There has been a relative restraint from North Korea. So it looks like we are back to business as usual -- Isa.

SOARES: And Will -- Japan, of course, our viewers will know is a close ally of the United States but there has been concern there, of course, about President Trump's American first policy. Is there still a fear of U.S. disengagement or is there hope that with this trip that might just put -- be put to one side?

RIPLEY: I think when the Prime Minister meets for the second time and the first time since President Trump has been elected initially back in November. I think when Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Donald Trump sit down, perhaps there will be a sense of reassurance. And we are told that this trip here to Tokyo after the visit in Seoul is also about reassuring Japan that the United States and the Trump administration is committed to the defense commitments in this region.

I mean I was just down yesterday at the Iwakuni -- Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni where a whole new shipment of U.S. radar planes were delivered. There are more personnel being brought in because strategically Japan is very important for the U.S. strategy here in Asia Pacific not just to deal with the threat from North Korea but also China expanding beyond its mainland borders and potentially blocking vital trade routes that the United States, Japan and other allies in this region depend on.

So all of these issues are going to be discussed. We know that Secretary Mattis is meeting with the Prime Minister this evening. Tomorrow he is meeting with the defense minister Tomomi Inada. They're going to be holding a press conference, joint press conference after that. And so these are a lot of the questions that Japan is hoping will be answered in the coming hours. And then that will set the stage for this bigger meeting in Washington next week for the Prime Minister and the President.

SOARES: Yes. Well, do come back to us as soon as you have more from this meeting. Will Ripley there for us in Tokyo, Paula Hancocks there for us in the North-South Korean border. John.

[00:L25:05] VAUSE: Well Isa -- Vladimir Putin is going after alleged spies in Russia. Four men face treason charges, accused of passing secrets to American intelligence. Among the suspects two men who worked for the FSB, Russia's internal security service. That is Putin's old spy agency and one of the bureaus believed to be behind hacks targeting the U.S. election.

Meanwhile a prominent Putin critic is in hospital and his lawyer suspects the man was poisoned. Vladimir Kara-Murza is in critical condition after multiple organ failure. He claims he was poisoned in 2015 as well and nearly dying with similar symptoms. The Kremlin though, denying any involvement.

A short break. When we come back -- why multiple U.S. States are taking the Trump administration to court over the legality of its controversial travel ban.


SOARES: You are watching CNN NEWSROOM. Isa Soares in London where the time is roughly 5:30.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause here in Los Angeles.

Time to check the headlines.

The new U.S. Defense Secretary is continuing his Asia trip in Japan, a day after visiting South Korea. James Mattis defended the planned deployment of a missile defense system and warned North Korea any use of nuclear weapons would be met with an effective and overwhelming response.

SOARES: U.S. President Donald Trump is planning to hit Iran with more sanctions over its ballistic missile test. Mr. Trump says nothing is off the table including possible military action. Iran says the missile test was defensive and doesn't need anyone's permission.

[00:29:58] VAUSE: The White House has a warning for Israel. It says the construction of new settlements or expansion of existing ones in occupied territory may not be helpful in achieving peace to Palestinians. But the Trump administration is not taking an official position on settlement activity until the President meets with Israel's prime minister later this month.

SOARES: Tens of thousands of people crammed in Bucharest's Victory Square to protest a new Romanian law that decriminalizes some forms of corruption. There was some clashes you can see, but peaceful demonstrations have resumed. The government says it will not withdraw the law.

VAUSE: Protests continue over the U.S. president's executive order, which bans people from seven majority Muslim countries from entering the United States.

In New York, grocery stores and delis owned by Yemeni-Americans closed their doors at noon on Thursday and that was followed by a rally outside Brooklyn Borough Hall. And the legal challenges keep coming. More than 50 lawsuits have been filed across the country -- New York, Virginia and Massachusetts have now joined Washington state in suing the Trump administration.

Maura Healey is the attorney general of Massachusetts. She joins us now from Aspen, Colorado.

Ms. Healey, thanks for being with us.


VAUSE: So apart from trying to block the travel ban in court, Massachusetts is also trying to have it struck down? Some legal experts believe that could be a steep climb to try and prove that the order is in fact unconstitutional.

What's your take?

HEALEY: Well, let me tell you what this is about. Remember when President Trump was running for election, he promised a complete ban on Muslims entering the country. Last Friday, he issued this executive order making good on that. It is an order that is dangerous, that is un-American and that is unconstitutional. And that's why I'm suing as a state attorney general. And I'm not surprised to see others suing as well.

This is an unconstitutional act and an overreach by our president. It's hurt a lot of people. It's hurting our state. It's hurting the American people and its people. And it needs to be struck down. And that's why we're taking him to court.

VAUSE: Already a number of courts have been quick to issue temporary halt on the executive order, including a court in Boston.

Do you have any concerns that the Trump administration might try and defy those courts or is in fact defying those courts with the State Department now revoking visas, which have already been issued to anyone from those countries on the banned lists?

HEALEY: Well, this has been an irresponsible act and a dangerous act. And I'll tell you why. I was at the airport on Saturday. And I know having talked to so many families, the devastating effect that this has had. We're going to court because his actions are hurting people. They're hurting our states. They're hurting our state's economy, which is why you see so many state attorneys general taking action and taking him to court. Asking the court to strike down this order as invalid and unconstitutional.

This is an order that has had serious and devastating impacts. And I think that's why you see, John, this ground swell across this country. It's not just state attorneys general like myself who are charge with the responsibility of upholding the law and upholding the constitution and taking action in court, but it's why you've also heard people speak out from the business community and from a really widespread grouping of voices across this country in protest against what the president has done.

VAUSE: During President Obama's eight years in office, the very Republican state of Texas sued the administration 48 times. Many other Republican states joined that legal action.

Is that the tactic many Democratic states will now be using against Donald Trump?

HEALEY: The state attorneys general are the people's lawyer. And that's my job in Massachusetts. It's to represent the people and the interests of our state. And no one is above the law. Nobody can overreach and violate the constitution and not be held accountable. And that's what our action is about.

If the president or his administration chooses to act in ways that are unconstitutional, that violate the laws that impact in harmful ways the interests of people in our states, you're going to see us take action.

You know, John, we're a country that really relies on this principle of federalism and there's a role for the federal government and there's a role for states.

And here Donald Trump has overreached in a way that has really wrought a dangerous, dangerous result for our economy, for our businesses and certainly for so many of our residents and our families. That's why we're taking action. And as state attorneys general, we are going to continue to be on the front lines against any abuses of power or authority or abuses of our constitution by the president and his administration. That's our job. That's our responsibility.

VAUSE: OK. So I guess the short answer that was yes you will be using that tactic moving forward.

Maura Healey, the attorney general of Massachusetts. Thanks for being with us.

HEALEY: Great to be with you, John.

SOARES: Now ahead on CNN, Bruce Springsteen sings out a top musical message to the U.S. president. What the boss told Donald Trump while on tour in Australia?

Plus, a British band that has largely flown under the radar in the U.S. is now soaring. We talk to The XX about their latest album and who they are trying to reach with their music. That's story, ahead.


[00:37:23] SOARES: Welcome back.

Now you might have heard their music, but maybe you haven't seen the faces behind it. The XX are getting ready to head out on tour following the release of their brand new album.

Our Max Foster discovers that the British band is a group of shy school friends who much in their surprise have managed it seems to crack the United States.


MAX FOSTER, CNN LONDON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With their soft, at times mournful lyrics and sparse sound, The XX have gathered fans around the world since their debut single "Crystallized" in 2009.

They've made it onto "Saturday Night Live" in America.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ladies and gentlemen, The XX.


FOSTER: They've won the UK's coveted Mercury Award.

And their music is the sound track to Hollywood movies like "The Great Gatsby." Now with a new album out and a tour of Europe and the United States just starting, some critics say The XX are poised for global fame.

But the group of three shy friends who first met at school in London say more than anything, they are passionate about making music that everyone can relate to.

ROMY MADLEY CROFT, THE XX: Now we don't have he or she, it's just you and I. And we don't have time and place. So we want it to be able to reach people no matter the gender or sexuality or where they live or what they're going through. We hope it would be open and it comes because Oliver and I are both writing the songs and, you know, it kind of helped that we didn't have he or she.

FOSTER (on-camera): Do you write it together when you do it? Or you do it remotely? How's it work?

OLIVER SAM, THE XX: We used to be very separate and it used to be a case of e-mailing each other, I supposed. But over time, especially on this album, we have sat in a room together and discussed. I think we gained enough confidence to be able to do it even though we are the best of friends.

CROFT: I mean, it's fun that we have known each other since we were 3 years old and Jamie since we were 11. But still sometimes sitting with your best friends and writing your deepest and sort of most vulnerable things can be quite exposing. But I think it's been great on this new album, sitting in a room together and just writing songs and talking about what we're going through and putting it down, which has been a shift for us.

FOSTER (on-camera): And then which one we should probably listen to your, some of your lead single out of the album.


[00:40:26] FOSTER: Hardcore fans are going to notice a big difference from the other two albums, right? So how would you define the difference? How it change?

JAMIE SMITH, THE XX: Vast. It's like it's been quite a slow progression and over four years of your life you change. A little bit. And the music you listen to changes a lot. And we just listen to much more broad range of music than ever before and that infiltrated what we sounded like a little bit.

FOSTER: It's interesting, some people are not necessarily into your type of music, know your music, because it's been sampled so much.

CROFT: It has been sampled. It's also in a lot of TV show. It's funny, sort of saying the idea that people might know our music, but not know us.


CROFT: And I think in the beginning that was interesting. Our artwork is an X, when our face is on their album cover. We kind of wanted the music to speak for itself, especially being more self- conscious when we were younger. We've been a bit more shy. I think that we wanted that. We've kind of grown into being in front of the camera now, but it was difficult in the beginning.

FOSTER: The XX is a band still very much getting used to its fame and quietly shunning the celebrity culture of modern pop music.

Max Foster, CNN, London.


VAUSE: Well, during the U.S. presidential campaign, Bruce Springsteen was a staunch critic of Donald Trump and now he's at it again.




VAUSE: The boss singing "Don't Hang Up" while on tour in Melbourne. It was a reference to the abruptly short phone call between the U.S. president and Australia's prime minister, right now discussing a deal over refugees.

Earlier this week, Springsteen spoke about Mr. Trump's travel ban during a show in Adelaide. This is what he said before singing "American Land," a song about immigrants coming to the U.S.


BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN, SINGER: Tonight, we want to add our voices to the thousands of Americans who are protesting at airports around our country. The Muslim ban and the detention of foreign nationals and refugees. America is a nation of immigrants and we find this anti- Democratic and fundamentally un-American.


VAUSE: Springsteen is touring Australia for two more weeks. Plenty of time for a lot of singing and a lot complaining about the new president.

SOARES: And that does it for us for CNN NEWSROOM for this hour. I'm Isa Soares in London.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause in Los Angeles. "World Sport" is up next and we'll be back with another hour of news from all around the world. You're watching CNN.