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White House Warns Israel on New Settlements; Tehran's Reaction to U.S. Threat of New Sanctions; Modification of Sanctions as U.S. Ambassador Criticizes Russia; Trump Mending Fences with Australian P.M.; Defense Secretary Visits South Korea, Japan; White House Warns Israel on New Settlements; More Than 50 Lawsuit Filed against Trump's Travel Ban; Raid in Yemen Raising Questions; Protests Continue in U.K. over Donald Trump's Travel Ban. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 3, 2017 - 02:00   ET



[02:00:11] 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 Angles.

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 presidents 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, Claire Sebastian is covering the easing of U.S. sanctions in 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 '90s. The White House says it won't take an official position on settlements until President Trump meets with Benjamin Netanyahu later this month.

Details now from CNN's Elise Labott.


ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: John, 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 55 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."

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

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

All of this amid the 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? (END VIDEOTAPE)

VAUSE: Elise, thank you.

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

Dave, first to you.

This statement from the White House is more nuanced, that usually doesn't go with Donald Trump in the same sentence.


VAUSE: Yeah.

JACOBSON: He's singing a different tune. It's raising questions about what conversations he's having with the prime minister that he's not having with the public. But this is a different tune than what we saw on the campaign trail where he excoriated the Obama administration for their support -- or opposition, pardon me -- to the new settlements, but I think it's noteworthy, right after Donald Trump was elected president, there was an announcement of new settlements. I guess the question is, how do they pivot and figure out what the peace process is going to look like moving forward?

VAUSE: John, any coincidence the more traditional approach to foreign policy came on the first full working day of the new secretary of state?

JOHN THOMAS, REPUBLICAN CONSULTANT: Not at all. Last night, I was sitting here like a broken record --

VAUSE: I know. That's why --


THOMAS: -- saying Rex Tillerson, Rex Tillerson, Rex Tillerson.


THOMAS: And we're seeing it in action. Rex is being a diplomat. That's what he's being. The question is when Trump gets behind a microphone does he use the same language or is he blunt and a tough- talking Trump we're familiar with? That's going to be the struggle but so far, so good.

SOARES: We know Tillerson spoke with Netanyahu or officials within the government.

So, Isa, the White House 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 on the question of Iran, U.S. President Donald Trump said nothing is off the table when it comes to the country, not even military action, it seems. The White House is expected to slap new sanctions on Tehran over its latest ballistic missile tests. The senior Iranian advisor dismissed what he called Trump's baseless rantings and said even Americans aren't satisfied with Trump's extremism.

Take a listen.



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


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

Thomas, yesterday, we heard the president say Iran was on notice. Today, expectations of new sanctions. How is it being received in Tehran?

[02:04:51] THOMAS ERDBRINK, REPORTER, THE 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 relation between Iran and the United States, over the past year, I think the Iranians were quite pleased at 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 shout, if you will, "death to America" during the Friday prays, 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, is there was Tehran and Iran. Thank you very much, Thomas. John, back to you.

VAUSE: Back to Dave and John here.

John, military options on the table when it comes to Iran. New sanctions. Obama did both those things. Is there a realization, when it comes to Iran, there are only just so many options for any administration with Iran?

THOMAS: Yes, with the exception of Obama not only allowed them to start spinning centrifuges again, which they weren't prior allowed to do, Obama also gave them hundreds after millions of dollars of which they can spend on any nefarious activity. Trump is forced with how to roll it back. His hands are tied, but we'll continue to see tough talk from Trump. The questions is, will he take action beyond talk.

VAUSE: They were spinning centrifuges anyway and the money was owed to them --


THOMAS: Yeah, but they're bad actors.


JACOBSON: But I think it was more like a knee jerk reaction. The questions is, did he collaborate and have any conversations with some of our allies that we went in on the Iran nuclear deal with? Were there conversations with European allies who have a vested interested to make sure Iran doesn't have a bomb moving forward or doesn't send out missiles? Those are real questions in terms of the diplomatic dynamic. Like, is he having conversations with our allies or is it more of this go-it-alone approach?

VAUSE: John, this is for you.

I want to read more of Thomas' reporting, the reporter from "The 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 hardliners in Iran were confused and didn't 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 unchartered territory."

This is the Richard Nixon, madman strategy when it comes to foreign policy. It seems to be working for now.

THOMAS: He has to retrain Iran. Over the last eight years, they could pretty much get away with anything. They're richer than they were before. 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 send troops in or --


VAUSE: Where is that red line?

JACOBSON: And the question is, is there an appetite among the American public to have another war. We're already in two wars at this point.


THOMAS: Right.

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

SOARES: Very much so, John. It's coming from the U.S. Treasury Department, saying it's making it easier for some companies to do limited business with Russia's Federal Security Service, the former KGB. The State Department calls it a technical fix. And Donald Trump insists it's not an easing of sanctions.

In the meantime, the U.N. ambassador, Nikki Haley, made her first appearance at the Security Council on Thursday with tough talk for Russia.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: 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 Crimean-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the peninsula to Ukraine.


SOARES: Let's bring in CNN's Claire Sebastian from Moscow.

Claire, the U.S. Treasury Department modifying sanctions on Russia's main intelligence agency. What do these adjustments mean and how is it being received by Vladimir Putin?

CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is a small technical fix, part of the wave of sanctions that the Obama administration brought in, in December. This is not due to Ukraine. This is due to Russian interference in the U.S. elections. Part of it was to slap a blanket sanction on the FSB, the Russian state security agency, and that had the unintended consequences, according to the Treasury Department, 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. 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.

As to how it's being received in Russia, we saw an initial kind of burst of optimism. The ruble spiked a little bit. It's now subsided. Most Russian media reports are referring to this as an easing of sanctions, despite the fact that both Treasury and the U.S. president say that's not what this is.

As to the Kremlin, a more muted reaction. The Kremlin spokesman telling CNN's Matthew Chance yesterday, "We care, but not that much." And the comments from Nikki Haley overnight condemning Russian action in Ukraine dampened the mood here when it comes to a potential rapprochement with the United States -- Isa?

[02:10:35] SOARES: Very much so.

Claire Sebastian for us in Moscow. Thank you very much, Claire.


VAUSE: Well, back to Dave and John.

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

JACOBSON: Absolutely. It is relatively promising, when after months and months -- Donald Trump hasn't said anything negative against Vladimir Putin, one of America's staunched adversaries. And I found it fascinating the juxtaposition where he's been hugging Vladimir Putin but, at the same time, alienating our allies, whether it's Mexico or Australia, European leaders. But Nikki Haley's comments were promising.

VAUSE: John, I want to go back to the modification of the sanctions. This is a moment when Democrats seemed to jump the gun. They set their hair on fire, they run around calling it a reward for bad behavior. This is an example from a Democrat Congressman Eric Sobel in California, "Russia attacked our democracy. It should be punished. Instead, President Trump is easing sanctions against its team of hackers, the FSB."

This was a big fat nothing burger.

THOMAS: Yeah. Well, I think the Democrats are looking for opportunities to get a point against Donald Trump. The media has been doing their job for them. And here's something where they want there to be a "there" there against Russia. They want it to be part of the narrative. But you're right. It's nothing at this point. In my opinion, Trump is going to have to 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 bad actors out there, like Iran and Russia. So, Democrats have to tread lightly, but so does Donald Trump.

JACOBSON: But let's not forget and let's not minimize the fact that Republicans also are infuriated by the Russian hacking. There are Senators and House members that are going to call and continue to call for a thorough and deep investigation of the Russian hacking.

VAUSE: OK. We know that Donald Trump likes to get on with many world leaders, Russia's Vladimir Putin. He's also trying to mend fences with the Australian prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull, after the heated telephone call over the weekend.

Isa has more details on that.

SOARES: Very much so, John. The cleanup, it seems, continues after President Trump's call with the prime minister of Australia. Australia's ambassador to the U.S. met top officials on Thursday. The White House says the meeting was productive and conveyed the president's deep admiration for the Australian people. Earlier this week, 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.

Shalailah, after that bruising public spat between President Trump and the Prime Minister Turnbull, where do things stand? Are there fears there about the future of U.S. agreement to resettle refugees?

SHALAILAH MEDHORA, POLITICAL REPORTER: Absolutely. Yes. There is a genuine concern here about the future of the U.S. and the Australian alliance. I mean, to give you any insight into what it's like. Our relationship with the U.S. is considered one of our most rock solid. Eight out of ten support the treaty and think it's a vital part of our relationship with the U.S. But a lot of the support is contingent on who the leader of the U.S. is. 77 percent of Australians in a pre- election poll supported Hillary Clinton. So, there is that idea that this phone call and news of the phone call is like a slice on the Australian and U.S. alliance. And there are real questions now, particularly in parliament House about what it will mean for this rock-solid relationship.

SOARES: Shalailah Medhora, thank you very much, in Australia.

Back to you, John.


So, Donald Trump pretty much confirmed that he did have the 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've going to straighten it out.


TRUMP: Believe me. 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 to happen anymore. It's not going to happen anymore. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Sounding a little Tony Soprano there.


Donald Trump will fix it. The world is in trouble. That's after he creates the trouble in the first place?

[02:15:12]JACOBSON: This is the guy who knew more than the generals, but he asked everyone there to pray for Arnold Schwarzenegger because of his ratings. Unbelievable. Talk about an egomaniac.

But, at the end of the day --



JACOBSON: Crazy. But if you look at the 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. If you look at Australia, after September 11th, they sent their soldiers and sacrificed blood and treasure in Afghanistan. These are key allies we need to maintain positive relationships with, and Donald Trump is skewering America's ties.

VAUSE: 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: On the broader question of disagreements between the United States and Australia within the alliance, we've had stacks of them. 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 an opponent of the war. We had difficult times. These things come and go.


VAUSE: And, John, the point is those conversations, those dustups are held in private. The public never really learns all the dirty details like we did over the last 24 hours.

THOMAS: That's how things used to be done. Presidents also didn't used to tweet their live thoughts. Now they are. We're in a new world and the American public knew what they were getting when they voted for Donald Trump. They knew he talked with his thumbs. Is this a surprise?

JACOBSON: I think it's the emblematic of the increasing leaks at the White House. That was a private conversation. It was probably one or two or three people in the room. People are clearly -- there's lots of chaos and turmoil in the White House. People are leaking things to the press. That's why this stuff is getting house.

VAUSE: Thank you both for being with us.


VAUSE: Isa, back to you.

SOARES: Thanks very much, John.

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 allies, ahead.

Plus, a political opponent of Vladimir Putin possibly poisoned.

Again, we'll have the stories for you after the very short break.




[02:21:25] SOARES: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM.

The new U.S. defense secretary, James Mattis, arrived in Japan on the second leg of his Asia trip. He was in South Korea on Thursday to express support for the key U.S. ally. Mattis defended a planned deployment of a missile defense system there. He warned North Korea against any aggression.

Let's get more on U.S. defense secretary's trip. We are joined by CNN's Will Ripley in Tokyo, and Paula Hancocks at the border between North and South Korea.

Will, I want to begin with you and focus on Japan. Japan is one of the United States' strongest allies. Explain to our viewers why the country is such a critical part of U.S. strategy.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIOAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, ever since the end of world war ii the United States has been bound by treaty to protect Japan from enemy forces, and so the threat for North Korea and increasingly assertive China are things Japan is concerned about and the United States has been bound to protect in terms of these issues. But it's more complicated than that. Not only is the United States here with more than 50,000 troops to protect Japan but also when it comes to the south China sea issue and when it comes to territorial disputes, the island dispute between China and Japan, the United States base of operations is here. The seventh fleet is here. What Secretary Mattis is doing is he's on the ground meeting with U.S. military and diplomatic officials and meeting within the hour with the Japanese prime minister and a number of cabinet ministers get on the ground assessment to what they feel the most critical issues they're facing and there are questions about how the Trump administration wants to move forward with this long-standing alliance.

SOARES: I'm going to bring in Paula.

We'll get to the secretary of defense's trip in a moment. I want to ask you there's been a warning, not a warning, news in the last hour that North Korea has discussed the leader, Kim Jong-Un. What can you tell us about this?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESOPNDENT: This is information we're getting from South Korean officials. They believe that the minister for state security has been dismissed. This is a top position in North Korea, this minister is in charge of counterintelligence, espionage, the prison camps within North Korea. And the officials believe he has been abuse of power, corruption and human rights abuses. This is a man who reports directly to Kim Jong-Un. Apparently, he's close to the military leader. And the U.S. recently blacklisted him and included into their list against North Korean individuals. It really shows the high-ranking officials being purged, being dismissed, this trend is continuing, and it's one we understand has many elites and many of the ruling class in North Korea very concerned -- Isa?

SOARES: And I want to return to the secretary's trip to South Korea. He issued a warning to North Korea over nuclear weapons. What exactly did he say?

HANCOCKS: That's right. He did say he stood shoulder to shoulder with South Korea and if the North Koreans decided to attack there would be a concerted and joint effort against them.


GEN. JAMES MATTIS, U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY: America's commitment to defending their allies and upholding our 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 a response that's effective and overwhelming.


[02:25:21] HANCOCKS: He said the THAAD missile defense systems here. North Korea has responded. The National Peace Committee saying that is pushing the peninsula to the brink of nuclear war. Not the first time they've said that.

SOARES: And, Will, as a close ally to the United States, how has Japan reacted to President Trump's America first policy? It's one of the comments that Tokyo should pay more for their own defense?

RIPLEY: There has been a lot of concern and questions on the ground since President Trump was elected. Remember, during the campaign he made a lot of headlines when he said things like Japan should get its own nuclear weapons and defend itself against North Korea. And so, what the prime minister, what the defense minister here are trying to gain from Secretary Mattis as they speak with him is some clarity about how the Trump administration does feel about the U.S., Japan alliance. Another issue, they've been preparing financial documents to show how much Japan is paying for this alliance. More than $5.5 billion a year, because Trump said Japan and other allies needed to pay more for protection from the U.S.

SOARES: Will Ripley, in Tokyo, and Paula Hancocks, on the border between North and South Korea.


VAUSE: We'll take a short break. "State of America" with Kate Bolduan is coming up next for our viewers in Asia.

For everyone else, we'll go live for Jerusalem for reaction to the White House warning to Israel.

Also, we'll look at what went wrong at a raid in Yemen that left civilians and a U.S. Navy field dead.


[02:30:14] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Isa Soares, in London.

Let me bring you up to date on the main news headlines we're following for you this hour.


SOARES: Now the White House has a warning for Israel. It says the construction of new settlements or expansion of existing ones in occupied territories may not be helpful in achieving peace with Palestinians. But the Trump administration is not taking an official position on settlement activity until the president meets with Israel's prime minister. That's happening later this month.

Let's get more on the story. Our Ian Lee joins us from Jerusalem with more.

Perhaps too early to tell, but the comments could potentially signal a policy change from the Trump administration. How are the Israelis interpreting the comments?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: For many of us who cover Israel, the announcement came as a bit of a surprise. I'm sure it took Israeli officials by surprise, took, waking up this morning, digesting the latest news coming from the White House. We haven't heard any official reaction from officials here. But we have heard from Danny Danon, this is the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. He said it's too early to tell how this will affect future building, and saying he wouldn't character rise it as a U-turn.

Under the Trump presidency, it seemed like Israelis had a green light to expand into east Jerusalem and the West Bank. They announced over 6,000 housing units to be produced. But with this announcement that the expansion of settlements is not helpful to achieving peace, this green light looks a bit more yellow. Prime Minister Netanyahu will be meeting with President Trump on

February 15th, as you said, to lay what should be the ground work for the relationship between the two countries going forward.

SOARES: And, Ian, let's go focus on the Trump administration and the disposition on a two-state solution. Has it made it clear where it stands on this?

LEE: That's the one thing that was missing from the statement. There's no mention of a two-state solution. That has been the bedrock of the peace process, especially from successive U.S. presidents, whether they're Republican or Democrat. But we heard from President Trump that he believed that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, could be the man to lead the task of trying to bring some sort of peace settlement between both sides. But with the settlement expansion that we've seen, that would be for at least the Palestinians and the international community, a roadblock to creating some sort of two- state solution as it carves away what would be the future Palestinian state. So, something to look at. And possibly President Trump and his administration has looked at that, too, especially with his son- in-law potentially taking the lead on that initiative to try to finally bring what Donald Trump has said is the deal that can't be made.

SOARES: Ian Lee for us in Jerusalem. The time is 33 minutes past 9:00 in the morning. Very good to see you, Ian. Thanks.

VAUSE: 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's Putin's old spy agency, and one of the bureaus believed to be behind hacks targeting the U.S. elections.

Meanwhile, a Putin critic is in the hospital and his lawyer suspect he's been poisoned. He is in critical condition after multiple organ failure. He claims he was poisoned in 2015 as well, nearly dying with similar symptoms. The Kremlin, though, denying any involvement.

[02:34:50] A short break here. When we come back, why multiple U.S. states are taking Trump to court over the legality of his travel ban.


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 Yemen-Americans closed their doors at noon on Thursday followed by a rally outside a Brooklyn Borough Hall.

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 joins us from Aspen, Colorado. Ms. Healey, thank you 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 to prove it's unconstitutional. What's your take?

HEALEY: Let me tell you what this is about. 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. That's why I'm suing as a state attorney general, and I'm surprised to see others suing, I'm not. It's hurt a lot of people. It's hurting their states. It's hurting the American country, and its people. It needs to be struck down. That's why we're taking him to court.

VAUSE: A number of courts have issued temporary halts. Do you have any concerns that the Trump administration might try to defy the courts, or is defying the court with the State Department now revoking visas, which have already been issued to anyone from those countries on the ban at least?

[02:40:08] HEALEY: Well, this has been an irresponsible act, and a dangerous act. 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. I think that's why you see, John, this ground swell across this country. It's not just state attorneys generals like myself, who are charged with a 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 the legal action. Is that the tactic many Democratic states will be using against Trump?

HEALEY: The state attorneys generals are the people's lawyer, and that's my job in Massachusetts, 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 interest of people in our states, you're going to see us take action. John, we're a country that really relies on this principal of

federalism. And there's a rule for the federal government and a rule for states. And here Donald Trump has overreached in a way that is really brought a dangerous result for our economy and businesses and certainly for so many of our residents and our families. That's why we're taking action. And a as state attorneys generals, we'll be on the front lines of my abuses of powers or authorities, and abuses of our Constitution by the president or his administration. That's our job. That's our responsibility.

VAUSE: The short answer to that was, yes, you'll be using that tactic using forward.

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

HEALEY: Great to be with you, John.

SOARES: Donald Trump is threatening to cut off federal funding to U.C. Berkeley after violent protests there on Wednesday. The demonstration was in response to a planned speech by a controversial right-wing commentator. On Twitter, Mr. Trump says, "If the university doesn't allow free speech and practices violence on people with a different point of view, they could lose its federal funds." The university said it called off Milo Yanniopoulos events because of public safety concerns. School officials blame 150 masked agitators for the unrest, saying they came to campus to disturb an otherwise peaceful process.

The joint U.S./United Arab Emirates raid in Yemen is raising questions about President Trump's approach to fighting terrorism. The assault killed 14 al Qaeda fighters, 10 civilians and a Navy SEAL.

Chief U.S. security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, tells why the mission happened when it did and what went wrong.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, new information that President Trump was actively involved in the decision making on the Yemen raid up until the final hours.

On January 25th, four days before the mission, the president was briefed by national security advisor, Michael Flynn, and then again during a 10-person White House later dinner that evening. The dinner, at Mr. Trump's request, included his three closest aids, chief of staff, Reince Priebus, and senior advisors, Jared Kushner and Steve Bannon.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He, then, on that evening, had a dinner meeting where the operation was laid out in great extent.

SCIUTTO: Like many high-risk military missions, the planning was months in the making. The initial proposed plans were first sent to the Pentagon on November 7th during the Obama administration and one day before the election. Department of Defense lawyers and legal experts then reviewed the

details before approving the plan and sending it to the National Security Council on December 19th.

Next, it was reviewed by defense, state and the National Security Council.

But one final delay, waiting for a moonless night to help conceal U.S. Special Operators. That would not come until late in January after the swearing in of Donald Trump.

The new president gave final approval on January 26t h, one day after the White House dinner, three days to mission launch.

[02:45:02] SPICER: This was a very, very well thought out and executed effort.

SCIUTTO: The raid targeted a suspected al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula compound in Yemen. U.S. Navy SEALs and UAES Special Operators encountered AQAP fighters as they approached the compound. According to the Pentagon, the fighters, including some females, positioned themselves along rooftops on adjacent buildings, pinning down U.S.-led forces. Aircraft conducted an airstrike, leading 23 civilian deaths, according to an NGO. The al Qaeda fighters used heavy arms, killing Navy SEAL William Ryan Owens. An Osprey was damaged as it tried to land to rescue the wounded. Special Operators took intelligence materials from the compound, including computer hard drives.

SPICER: When you look at what was gained to prevent the future loss of life here in America, and against our people and our institutions and throughout the world, in terms of what these individuals could have done, I think it is a successful operation by all standards.

SCIUTTO (on camera): Tonight, Obama administration officials are disputing the Trump administration claim this was a raid in Yemen approved by President Obama first. They say, one, that's not true. Two, that's not the way things are done, that a raid like this, with this sensitivity on the ground, would not be approved, in their words, weeks or months in advance.

Jim Sciutto, CNN, Washington.


SOARES: Now from the U.S. to the U.K. People are pretty angry with President Trump. Bianca Jagger will join me next to talk about his travel ban and the protests expected this weekend. That's coming up next, right here on CNN NEWSROOM.




[02:50:41] SOARES: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM.

More protests are planned this weekend in the U.K. against U.S. President Donald Trump. Thousands of people there are outraged over an order restricting travel from seven Muslim-majority countries. Members of U.K.'s parliament will debate Mr. Trump's expected visit to Britain.

Let's get more on this story. I am joined Bianca Jagger, the founder and president of the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation.

Thank you for coming here on the show.


SOARES: We've seen protest not just here in London but around the world against President Trump's executive order. You feel particularly strong about this order. Tell us why.

JAGGER: Well, it is, first, in violation of the U.S. Constitution. It's in violation of human rights, of civil rights. It is un- American. It is something that no other president really has done that has been even condemned by president -- you know in the White House before, and even someone like Bush wouldn't have done something like this. So, what is so scary for us, and I'm glad to see on the program a few moments ago, that there are very states that are suing Donald Trump, because they see this is unconstitutional and un- American, that he's doing this because he's instead of really fighting terrorism, he's giving them a great presence so they can have an excuse to attack people throughout the world.

SOARES: I was in the U.S. earlier this week, and there is a feeling among some that they need protection. They need to tighten their borders, and they're backing President Trump, many are backing President Trump. What do you say to those people who believe this move by the executive order makes them feel more secure?

JAGGER: We must never forget that during the presidency of President Obama, you didn't have a terrorist attack. And then after September 11th, as wrong as all the policies President Bush were, you didn't have any other attack. We have in Europe, and I don't think that what he's doing really will prevent a terrorist attack. I hope that there will never be a terrorist attack in Europe or in America, but let's look at the countries, the seven countries. None of those countries, citizens from those countries were not the people that were involved in September 11th. The people that were involved in September 11th, some from Saudi Arabia, and they are not part of that. Why? That is one very important question. Is it because he has business in Saudi Arabia? Look at what he did, this president. If he really cares about security -- and this has been denounced. His raid on Yemen, that he did without enough intelligence information, and he did it in haste that resulted in one of the Navy SEAL killed as well as innocent civilians killed.

SOARES: Does it worry you that what we're hearing, the moves we see from President Trump, what influence that might have here in Europe? There are key elections across the continent. Do you worry the way that Europe may go?

JAGGER: I'm terrified, the rise of populism and Fascism in Europe. I'm terrified, what is happening in this country, and I feel that Brexit is pushing and giving no other option to Prime Minister May then to really sacrifice or moral values in the alter of a trade deal with America, and that's why she behaved the way she did with Donald Trump.

SOARES: I want focus on that because in your letter you said that the British prime minister said she was dazzled by Trump's power. You don't feel she's gone far enough in questioning him in not just the ban but other points of view.

JAGGER: Well, just think about it. When Theresa May went to the White House, it was seven days. There were many executive orders. He had already even endorsed many things, including torture. He said he believed it was effective, and he gave an answer that he deferred to somebody else the decision on torture. She should have been more cautious, during, before and after. She refused to condemn Trump three times. I said just like Judas denied Jesus Christ three times. Even the condemnations have been very, very weak. How can it be that we do not understand that there are some very serious signs of Fascism in the government of Trump, and that this country should be very careful about the position it takes, that we cannot sellout because of a trade deal. We need to really stand by our principles and moral values.

[02:55:48] SOARES: That's why she's facing so much pressure and there are so many protests expected this weekend.

Bianca Jaffer, as always, great to see you. Thank you very much.

JAGGER: Thank you for having me.

SOARES: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Isa Soares in London.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause in Los Angeles.

The news continues with Max Foster and Cyril Vanier after this.


[03:00:09] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Sticking to his guns.