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Trump: You think our country is so innocent?; Justice Department appealing travel ban ruling; Trump's first week create foreign policy confusion; Some GOP lawmakers revolt over Trump's border wall. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired February 4, 2017 - 21:00   ET


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: - resort where he's spending the weekend. Most are carrying signs and props to protest his controversial travel ban, affecting refugees and citizens in seven Muslim-majority countries.

You see the police presence is already there. Just a few hours ago, the Justice Department formally challenged a federal judge's decision to temporarily block that ban.

People who support the president have also had a presence there. And the crowds gathered in Palm Beach, there were yelling at each other, a standoff just a few moments ago.

We'll go live to South Florida in just moment. But, first, some startling words from the president on Russia, especially that country's president, Vladimir Putin.

President Trump not denying that Putin may be a killer and then he added something cryptic, saying that there are a lot of chillers. Listen to this.




O'REILLY: Do you? Why?

TRUMP: Well, I respect a lot of people, but that doesn't mean I'm going to get along with him. He's a leader of his country. I say it's better to get along Russia than not. Will I get along with him? I have no idea. It is possible I won't.

O'REILLY: Putin is a killer.

TRUMP: There are a of killers. We've got a lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent?


SANCHEZ: We have a panel to discuss these remarkable comments from the president. Political analyst, Salena Zito; "New York Times" contributor, Wajahat Ali; and our former Moscow bureau chief, Jill Dougherty.

Jill, to you first. President Trump has often said that he respects Vladimir Putin, but I want to hear your reaction to that line about killers, saying that our country is - asking if our country is so innocent. That's unlike anything we've ever heard from an American president before.

JILL DOUGHERTY, FORMER CNN MOSCOW BUREAU CHIEF: Yes. In fact, it was from a president. And I think that's the important point here that - he has said this before, but he wasn't the president.

He said it back in December of 2015 to "MSNBC" when he was a candidate. He said our country does a lot of killing or plenty of killing too. But now he is the president of the United States.

And to hear this coming out of his mouth, to many people, is extremely shocking. I mean, I think you just have to ask yourself, does he believe this. Or is he kind of on autopilot saying the things that he has said before as a candidate because when he said, I respect him, we're going to - I don't know if we're going to get along, but if Russia helps fight terrorism, that's a good thing. He's said all of that too.

So, does he really believe that the United States is equivalent to what Vladimir Putin is doing? And if he does believe it, then what is the example?

I think that is a legitimate question that now should be asked of the president. What killing does he have in mind? Is it equal to, let's say, what is going on with Russia's actions in Aleppo or what Russia did in Grozny and Chechnya?

Or, again, is he just recycling a whole lot of old campaign comments, not realizing the effect of his words as president of the United States?

SANCHEZ: Salena, the timing of this is also really curious, considering just a few days ago, Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley bashed Russia in front of the United Nations.

Also, you have several Republican lawmakers that have come out, saying that we need to enforce stronger sanctions against Russia, among them Sen. John McCain, Lindsey Graham, Marco Rubio.

How do they handle this kind of cozying up to Vladimir Putin moving forward?

SALENA ZITO, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The president employs what I personally call the law and order throwaway line.

"Law & Order" is a show that ran forever. It's still running on "NBC". And in the beginning of every segment, there was a sort of inappropriate throwaway line that marked the show. And he tends to do that when he speaks. It's part of his cadence. It's part of his personality. Many people had thought that he would stunt as president, but I don't think he's going to. There's a couple of things going on. I think maybe it's more part of his style than him thinking sort of long game about what he is saying as president.

As you said, Nikki Haley came out strong this week at the United Nations. He also had a conversation today with the president of the Ukraine and they talked about the problems with Russia. This was in the readout from the White House. And he also talked about having negotiations with Russia about the situation in Ukraine.

So, I think it's more a throwaway line than anything else.

SANCHEZ: We have one more guest to add to our panel. Senior political analyst David Gergen is joining us over the phone. David, you've worked for several administrations, four presidents. What do you make of this? Is there something that we're not getting about these comment that Donald Trump get when he says that America or implies that America is not so innocent?

[21:05:18] DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let me kind of acknowledge upfront, I haven't seen the full transcript. I have seen snippets of it. But I think it's enough to - the snippets are enough to really be upsetting in one sense.

American presidents, the American government for years has had a very clear understanding that there is no moral equivalence between the kind of authoritarian dictatorship that's emerging in Russia, that has emerged under Vladimir Putin with the kind of leadership that we expect in America and the standards we hold people to.

And it may well be a throwaway line. That, you can call it a throwaway line, but you know what, presidents are not permitted throwaway lines that get us into - that are very confusing, so just things that we don't want to think are true.

And the job of the president is to be careful, be deliberative, to say what needs to be said, but to leave it there. And these throwaway lines are continually getting him into a lot of trouble.

I would point out that what's been happening in the last 24 hours is that his team around him is increasingly saying things that are more mainstream, but he then has these "throwaway lines" and he has these Twitter storms that say just the opposite that are on the extremes, the attack of judges - he attacked a judge today, the attack again of "The New York Times" and that sort of thing.

And they really undercut - it's not just the credibility of the United States, but they throw into question the quality of our leadership and it confuses the world and it confuses Americans. And it leaves one to suspect that maybe he doesn't think that we are some of - that Putin is on the same plane as American leadership. If so, we really need to know that.

SANCHEZ: Wajahat, on to you, to touch on something that David just mentioned about confusion in the world. What do you think the Middle East hears when they hear Donald Trump speak well of Vladimir Putin, especially considering what we've seen unfold in Syria over the past few years?

WAJAHAT ALI, "THE NEW YORK TIMES" CONTRIBUTOR: Let me be very blunt. There's a reason why people are calling him Putin's poodle.

And David made a good point. If you look at Donald Trump's Twitter account, he has tweeted against John Lewis, civil rights icon; Republican senators; the CIA; Hamilton, the musical; not once against Vladimir Putin.

And so, I challenge Donald Trump on CNN right now, one tweet criticizing Putin. He won't do it.

And also, Americans forget that Russia did a criminal hack of our elections allegedly to tilt it towards Trump and our intelligence agencies right now are investigating certain connections between allegedly people in Trump's campaign and Russian. That includes national security advisor Flynn.

Now, Donald Trump supposedly parrots a lot of Putin's talking points. He wants to - essentially, he says NATO is obsolete. Who else think that? Putin. He is OK with the EU going away? Who else think that? Putin. He wants to reduce the sanctions? Who else wants that? Putin.

And so, for Americans right now, and this is very serious, why does Donald Trump who wants to ban innocent refugees and innocent legal visa holders from Muslim-majority countries who are doctors, who work for us, who are students, he wants to ban them. But he's OK with a murderer and a tyrant in Vladimir Putin.

SANCHEZ: Jill, to you now, you have to think that some of our NATO allies are hearing this and they have to be concerned about these comments.

DOUGHERTY: I think concern is really an understatement. I think many people will probably be appalled by these comments, especially people who live in countries that were formerly part of the Soviet Union. It's very hard to wrap your head about this.

Again, why is he doing it and what is the effect? You have, at this point, a completely convoluted approach to Russia and as they call the former Soviet space, the countries that are in that area.

Even Ukraine, the first day, his spokesperson from the State Department came out and didn't even mention, I believe, it was Crimea. It was a very soft comment about Russia and Ukraine. Then Nikki Haley comes out very hard.

And then, I was just checking the statement from the White House about the conversation between President Trump and President Poroshenko of Ukraine. No mention of Crimea.

[21:10:04] So, what does this administration really think about Russia? Is there actually a policy? And this is a disturbing thing to think that no policy has yet been worked out. No coherent policy.

Does he have a national Security council that is studying this and coming up with one idea, one approach, or is it all just throwing it up in the air and seeing what sticks? I think this comment, especially about the killing, is really basically pandering by the president.

Sometimes when you're in businessperson and you're in negotiations and you kind of want to pander to the other person, get them on your side, say something, well, we all do this. Yes, that's the world. We all do this. And that can be an effective technique when you're a businessman.

But when you are a head of the United States, that is extraordinarily dangerous.

SANCHEZ: Yes. I'm not sure many people in our Armed Forces would necessarily agree that we all do what Russia has been doing, especially the last few years in Syria.

Jill, David, Salena and Wajahat, we appreciate the time on this Saturday night. Thank you so much for joining us and sharing your perspectives.

Still to come, our live coverage of the breaking news continues. President Donald Trump appealing the decision which blocked his executive order on a travel ban. This as protesters and supporters are gathering near President Trump's front door in West Palm Beach. We'll take you there live next.


[21:15:14] SANCHEZ: Welcome back. Protesters and supporters are gathering near President Trump's front door right now. This is the scene in West Palm Beach where the president is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

This comes as the Justice Department formally challenged a ruling that halted Mr. Trump's travel ban. CNN is covering this major legal battle from every angle.

CNN's Sarah Sidner is at the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals where the notice of appeal was just filed a few hours ago. And CNN's Jessica Schneider is there in West Palm Beach.

Let's go ahead and start with Sara. Very convoluted legal story. Sara, help us understand what happened today and what happens next.

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, what we so far know is that the Department of Justice has put together a notice for a motion to appeal. We don't know what the merits of that will be because they haven't actually filed the appeal.

But what they're really asking for is to stop the judge in Washington from enforcing what he has said is a pause or a stop on the ban for now, a temporary restraining order. So, what they want to do is have the travel ban or restriction, if you will, in place and that's what the DOJ will eventually be fighting for. You are seeing protests all over the place. There are protests here in San Francisco as well, but there are legal merits that the court will have to look at very closely, to help us understand what's going to happen next.

We have Rory Little. He is a law professor here at UC Hastings. Tell me first, what do we see with this paperwork? We are not seeing anything substantive yet, are we, from the DOJ in this case?

RORY LITTLE, LAW PROFESSOR, UC HASTINGS: So, as far as we know, they've only filed a notice of appeal and maybe a notice of appearance. That is what lawyers will be appearing.

But we haven't seen any papers yet. We haven't seen any motion even to vacate the stay or for a writ of mandamus, so that we're waiting to see the papers, so that we can know exactly what they're arguing.

And then, the other side will have to have an opportunity to respond, presumably not tonight, presumably tomorrow or Monday. So, I don't think you're going to see an opinion or a decision anytime in the next 24 hours.

SIDNER: The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals expecting to get something from the Department of Justice. And that involves three attorneys, correct? And they are on the motions panel. What happens next? What will they have to decide?

LITTLE: Well, the three judges, once they have the papers from both sides, they could ask for an oral argument, but they normally don't. They will not even meet together. They will stay in their separate places and they will communicate electronically.

And they'll have to decide, did the judge abuse his discretion, did the judge clearly err in entering a stay pending the merits? He didn't make a decision on the merits. He only said I'm going to put it on pause and say that the order can't be enforced because as I have questions about its constitutionality and I'm going to hold a trial.

So, there's still a merits thing ahead of them. This is only on the procedural issue, should that stay be in place or not.

SIDNER: So, right now, the way that it stands is the court says people can travel from those seven countries if they have valid paperwork to come into United States, but there still will be a trial, correct?

LITTLE: Well, there should be some kind of hearing on the merits. Whether it ends up being a trial or not, it will depend on a lot of different variables. It's a healthy thing that the Department of State and Homeland Security has said we're going to abide by the judge's order, we're going to revoke our changes and our holds on people's visas because the judge has said so. That's a healthy thing that the executive branch is actually following the judicial order in a temporary way. There's no refusal to comply with the judge's order here. And then, yes, there will be a decision on some merits proceeding maybe two or three weeks down the line.

The real question, though, is will this ban on in immigration stay in place or not pending that proceeding.

SIDNER: Ultimately, there's a lot to parse here, but the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals can make a decision. And then, if the DOJ or the other side doesn't like it, it can go all the way up to the Supreme Court. And it could happen fairly quickly, couldn't it? This is not something that's going to take years or months necessarily?

LITTLE: Yes. The Supreme Court has a whole system in place again for emergency orders. Justice Kennedy is the circuit justice for this circuit. You would presumably file papers with him, asking for an emergency order to vacate the Ninth Circuit's opinion or vacate the stay in Seattle.

Justice Kennedy normally would either decide that himself or more likely refer it to the entire court for a decision. And again, we only have eight justices. So, if they tie four to four, then everything that's been done below would stay in place.

That process can happen pretty quickly, but they're going to have to say there's irreparable harm. In other words, if there's no reason for it to happen that quickly, then it's not going to happen that quickly.

[21:20:03] SIDNER: And then, in the end, as you heard from Rory here, it will end up back in that court, likely in Washington. Boris?

SANCHEZ: A long legal battle ahead. Sara Sidner, thank you. President Trump and the first lady are attending the Red Cross ball at their Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida tonight and you're watching the protester there live.

This, of course, as the Justice Department is preparing to appeal the ruling of that federal judge in Seattle that temporarily suspended Trump's travel ban, affecting immigrants and refugees.

Meantime, the president is taking to Twitter again tonight. He writes, "The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interest at heart. Bad people are very happy!"

CNN correspondent Jessica Schneider joins us now from Palm Beach where protesters have gathered near the Mar-a-Lago estate. Jessica, what's going on there?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: A few things to update you on, Boris. First of all, you mentioned that President Trump has taken to Twitter numerous times tonight.

Well, he has just spoken to cameras at Mar-a-Lago. Of course, he's attending the International Red Cross ball.

He spoke very briefly, very succinctly talking about the fact that the Justice Department has appealed that to the Ninth Circuit. Donald Trump has been tweeting about this all day, but saying to the camera just a few minutes ago about that appeal, saying, "We will win for the sake of our country. We will win."

So, again, President Trump briefly addressing the cameras as he made his way into the International Red Cross ball, saying something very short, very sweet, something along the lines of what he said throughout his tweets, throughout the day, saying again, "We will win for the sake of our country. We will win."

So, now, back out here, outside Mar-a-Lago, I'll set out the scene for you. Just in the past few minutes, the protesters here have dispersed. And you can see why.

There is a blockade that has been in place for the duration of this protest. Police have - now, they're about to reopen this road. So, the protesters have dispersed. They've actually gone down here over the causeway and back into West Palm Beach where this protest originated.

This was probably a few hundred people. There was quite a showing out here from both protesters, who were opposing the president and also people who support the president. Those people are still out here actually.

So, the protest for the most part dispersing. And they haven't been able to get close to Mar-a-Lago itself. Police has, obviously, blocked off this perimeter. It's a tight Secret Service perimeter here. And it was very much peaceful.

These people got out here. They made their message known. They made it very close to the president's doorstep. But, for now, they have dispersed without any incident. Boris?

SANCHEZ: All right. Jessica, thank you so much for that update.

Still to come, much more on our breaking news coverage. The impact of these dramatic legal events we've witnessed today. Don't go anywhere.


[21:26:38] SANCHEZ: Updating our story now, President Donald Trump, moments ago, talking briefly with reporters, saying that he will win his appeal of that judge's order blocking his executive order on a travel ban, saying, "We will win. For the safety of our country, we will win."

Now, as we're seeing, protesters have gathered outside President Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort where he's spending the weekend. We've seen a large police presence there and some shouting between Trump supporters and protesters, though a report from CNN's Jessica Schneider a few moments ago told us that those protesters were starting to disperse. Of course, all of this happening as the Justice Department formally challenges a ruling that halted the president's travel ban.

I want to bring in CNN Justice reporter Laura Jarrett and CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Danny Cevallos.

Laura, let's start with you. How likely is it that the government is going to get a stay and we get a reversal of the Temporary Restraining Order?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, we haven't seen the brief from the Justice Department yet. So, it's too early to really judge without seeing their arguments.

But we know that the standard that they would have to meet to get the Seattle court ruling thrown out is pretty high. You'd have to show that the judge abused his discretion and really got the law wrong here, which would be hard - would be a hard road to go for the Justice Department. So, we'll have to wait and see what kind of arguments they make.

But we also now know that the panel that will hear this case is made up of three judges on the Ninth Circuit. Two Democratic presidential appointees and one Republican.

SANCHEZ: Important to point out, though, the one that was a Republican appointee, Judge James Robart is actually the one that put the temporary restraining order in place.

Danny, to you now, after the judge put this TRO on, the travel ban was essentially reversed last night. Airlines were told to operate as normal. That means, for the past few hours, previously banned travelers have been allowed to get on flights to the United States and we heard that the State Department was starting to reverse some of those canceled visas. What happens for those travelers that are still trying to get into the United States? Are they just in limbo now?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: In a way, they are in limbo. I mean, the effect of this TRO has broad, broad-reaching effects and much beyond what was written in the actual order because it's one thing to read the order with a very short written opinion, it's entirely another for the administration and agencies to figure out how to implement that order and what it means.

They have to abide with that federal district court's order and they're having trouble figuring out exactly what it means, like the rest of us. Very understandably so. So, that's the way they're complying, understanding that that could change tomorrow very easily.

SANCHEZ: Laura, Vice President Mike Pence said that the White House plans to use all legal measures to get this ban back in place. What's next here? What are we expecting to happen next?

JARRETT: So, we expect the Justice Department soon, this evening, will file a brief in the Ninth Circuit saying that the judge in the Seattle court got it wrong and we need to press pause on this and make sure, either through an emergency stay or some other mechanism that his ruling no longer stands.

[21:30:07] And they'll probably get in there and say, look, we will face irreparable harm and maybe even citing national security concerns in order to say that the Seattle court ruling won't stand.

SANCHEZ: Danny, it's almost a certainty that President Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch is going to be asked about this during his confirmation.

Being an originalist, what is his likely approach to the case, given the fact that he was handpicked by this president and that this ban is a result of an executive order.

CEVALLOS: One would hope there would be less about the fact that he feels any loyalty to the president because history has shown that just because Supreme Court justice are appointed by a president, they aren't always completely loyal to that party's ideals.

There's a famous verb used where you take one of the Supreme Court justices' names, Justice Souter, because he was widely seen as sort of turning on the party that appointed him when I don't think that's the case. I think every judge is sort of independent.

So, you should expect that, during confirmation hearings, that the nominated justice will - he's going to give answers that are not very controversial.

And you know what? In a way, originalists have a non-controversial path because their view of the Constitution is to look at the text, what it meant at the time it was written. And in a way, it's activist judges who are more susceptible to attack because they tend to read in rights that may not be present. So, in that sense, they may be more susceptible.

But for the most part, he will be questioned about this case. And I'm sure his answer will lie along the lines of something constitutional.

SANCHEZ: Laura, to you now, I asked Danny this earlier. I'm just interested in hearing your perspective on this. How do you think the Department of Justice is going to attack this decision by the Ninth Circuit? Where are the weak points here?

JARRETT: So, what we can probably expect to see is what they did in the District Court in Seattle. And they went about this in two ways.

The first is a procedural type of way and to say, look, the Washington State attorney general doesn't have standing to sue. They haven't been injured in a way that is meaningful. And that's the procedural route.

The second route would be on the merits, a substantive argument that would really emphasize the president's broad discretion in the area of immigration and national security, and would say, in that context, his order stands.

SANCHEZ: All right. Laura Jarrett, Danny Cevallos, thank you both for the time on this Saturday night.

We still have much more ahead. So, stay with us. We're still following these protests at home. But also abroad, thousands demonstrating against President Trump and his travel ban.

We'll talk about the global reaction to this controversy right after this.


[21:36:52] SANCHEZ: The Department of Justice is fighting a federal judge's decision to temporarily suspend President Trump's travel ban on refugees and citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries.

While we wait to see what other action the Trump administration might take, the president's diplomatic finesse is in question. We've heard him and his advisers suggest big foreign policy changes are in the works, but, in many cases, it's unclear what those policies actually are.

CNN senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski has more.


MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A week of fist shaking at Iran over its ballistic missile program ends with action.

Sanctions on 25 people and entities the US says support Iran's missile program and its Revolutionary Guard, a move seen as mostly symbolic, not likely to have much effect. But the administration moved quickly and message sent.

Iran has already responded calling the sanctions illegal. There was also a Twitter back and forth with Iran from President Trump. "Iran is playing with fire. They don't appreciate how kind President Obama was to them. Not me."

From the Iranian foreign minister, "Iran unmoved by threats. We will never use our weapons against anyone except in self-defense. Let us see if any of those who complain can make the same statement."

Diplomacy by tweet aside, President Trump's first weeks have yielded foreign policy confusion. From a president who only days ago said he hopes for a fantastic relationship with Vladimir Putin who might even lift some sanctions on Russia -


KOSINSKI: - who while campaigning said he would look into, recognizing Ukraine's Crimea region as part of Russia, now comes his new ambassador to the UN sounding a much different, harder, clearer line.

NIKKI HALEY, UNITED STATES AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I must condemn the aggressive actions of Russia. Our Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns control over the Peninsula to Ukraine.

KOSINSKI: Something we have not heard from the president himself. Those sources tell CNN the White House was aware of what she would say and was fine with it.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Ambassador Haley made it very clear of our concern with Russia's occupation of Crimea. We are not - and so there is - I think she spoke very forcefully and clearly on that.

KOSINSKI: Not clear is how this meshes with President Trump's views into a cohesive policy.

And on the Middle East, President Trump had blasted the Obama administration for not voting against a UN resolution condemning Israel's ongoing building of settlements in the West Bank.

Yet now, this surprising statement from the White House. "While we don't believe the existence of settlements is an impediment to peace, construction of new settlements or the expansion of existing settlements beyond their current borders may not be helpful in achieving that goal."

But the Trump administration has not taken an official position on settlement activity and looks forward to continuing discussion. It's not exactly tough criticism, but a stronger statement against the highly controversial settlements than we've heard from this administration.

What exactly is the policy? So far, the White House says this:

SPICER: The president is committed to peace. That's his goal. At the end of the day, the goal is peace.

[21:40:01] KOSINSKI (on-camera): So, in response to these new sanctions, Iran is now saying that it's going to do virtually the same thing to the US. That it will take legal action against Americans and American companies that, in Iran's view, help terrorist groups in the region and kill and suppress defenseless people in the region. Iran says it plans to name names soon.

Michelle Kosinski, CNN, the State Department.


SANCHEZ: Joining us once again to discuss is CNN political analyst Salena Zito and "New York Times" contributor Wajahat Ali.

Wajahat, let's start with you and something that Secretary of Defense James Mattis said earlier today during his tour of Asia, calling Iran the biggest state sponsor of terror in the world. We should note that, when he was general and he served in Iraq, it was alleged over and over again that Iran aided terror cells within Iraq that killed American troops.

But do you agree with his assessment that Iran is the biggest state sponsor of terror in the world?

ALI: According to Trump and his cronies, it is. But we just found out that President Trump has no qualms with murderers such as Vladimir Putin. So, it all depends on which murderer and which murderous regime that Trump likes.

Look, I'm going to be a defender of Iran. It has its hands bloody right now. But you know who also has their hands bloody right now? Saudi Arabia. In Yemen particularly. A war which United States is helping which has caused tremendous crisis, which is a reason why we need refugees.

And if President Trump actually took his intelligence briefings and didn't plan these raids over dinner, he would have actually planned it properly, so an American soldier wouldn't have died and the eight- year-old girl of Anwar al-Awlaki would not have been killed either.

Look, no one is going to apologize for Iran or for Saudi Arabia or for Putin. But it is very strange that Donald Trump, who is exceedingly erratic, just from that package itself, seems to pick and choose the dictators that he likes and he is willing to upend a successful Iranian deal, which shows you that diplomacy works - it's not perfect, but it works - and add this Muslim ban and alienate our allies and make them into enemies, including, I want to just say, essay Mexico, which we almost went over to a trade war with Mexico that would have caused a global recession. And also Australia. Because what the hell, let's piss off all of our allies.

So, let's just take a step back. Let's have Donald Trump actually review his intelligence and not tweet about John Lewis and people who critique in "The New York Times" and fake news CNN and if he would stop obsessing about the size of his hands, fingers and crowds, all of which are small, and actually look at the intelligence, I think he would realize that diplomacy and reaching out to these Muslim-majority countries, many of them who are hostile, is much better than calling them out, provoking them and wanting war which will destabilize the region and also, for all the Trump supporters at home, hurt American security and actually be counterproductive because it gives ammunition to Al Qaeda and ISIS and our enemies abroad that, look, the west is at war with Islam.

SANCHEZ: Wajahat, staying with you, you mentioned the war in Yemen right now. It's known that Iran has aided the Houthi rebels there and they specifically cited - I want to find the line here - they specifically cited American support for groups that suppress and murder defenseless people in the region as to their reasons for continuing, for example, the ballistic missile testing.

What group specifically are the Iranians talking about, though, that America is propping up to kill innocent people in the Middle East?

ALI: I think it's a coded language for saying Saudi Arabia. And specifically, Saudi Arabia and Iran are having a proxy war now all over the Middle East for their version of being the ambassadors of Sunni Islam or Iran being the ambassador of Shia Islam. This theater of war is now taking place in Yemen. It's in Iraq. It's in Lebanon. And Saudi Arabia, let's just remind people, if indeed this Muslim ban was for security, and I'm not for adding any country on that based on national origin because I think it's unconstitutional and violates the 1965 Immigration Nationality Act.

Fifteen of the nineteen hijackers were Saudi, two of them were from UAE, one from Egypt. The attacker in Louvre was Egyptian who lived UAE and who had a Saudi visa. None of those countries are on the ban for seven Muslim-majority countries.

Why? Let's think about it. For one reason, Trump has business with all three countries. So, Iran, right now, is going at Saudi Arabia. United States is support Saudi Arabia and the people are suffering and the people are Yemenis. Literally, it's a tragedy. I wish more people would learn about it.

And so, Yemen is one of the seven countries - the poorest country in that region and we're blocking refugees from Yemen. It's cruel. It's going to look bad on us in America because everyone in the Middle East knows that United States is supporting not only Saudi Arabia now, but unconditionally Putin who is supporting the dictator Assad who has killed over 500,000 people along with extremists there.

And so, this destabilizes all good - any good that resulted from diplomacy, which was not perfect during the Obama years. And so, he's so erratic that, honestly, for all of our security, Middle Eastern security and Muslim-majority country security, this is a very dangerous ground and he's only two weeks into his presidency.

[21:45:09] SANCHEZ: Salena, I want to get your response, but I also want to find out from you if you think that the sanctions imposed by the US are really effective considering that the Obama administration put similar sanctions into place just a year ago and they, obviously, didn't do much.

ZITO: The sanctions in Iran or in Russia? I'm sorry.


ZITO: I mean, it's an effective too to use. It's not always wildly successful. We rolled back a lot of the sanctions when we did the Iran deal. So, it's really sort of difficult to understand how much teeth that that has right now.

So, I don't know, I think actually that's the great unknown in this situation.

SANCHEZ: And what do you think the US should do moving forward? Should they continue conducting navy drills in the Persian Gulf, perhaps try a different approach?

ZITO: I mean, one of the complicated situations with Iran, we had entered into a deal with them, with another - a number of other countries. Everyone says - the US admits that it's not perfect and the relationship - I mean, I think it was two or three hours after the deal was signed there, the Ayatollah was already talking about hate America, it's terrible.

Diplomacy with this country and other countries like that are sort of always done through the back channels. And they are subtle and sometimes you have to get tough.

I think it was Kelly that said the other day that Iran was put on notice. That's kind of the thing that attracted a lot of voters to Trump. I mean, they still have those images of the navy sailors last year who were - were forced to be - they had their arms tied and they were on their knees and they were humiliated.

This is just a tough situation. And I think it will continue to be complicated and tough and we'll see what the Trump administration decides is the most important tact forward.

SANCHEZ: A vital conversation. We're actually out of time, Wajahat. But we thank you and Salena for your expertise. Thank you so much.

President Donald Trump appealing the decision which blocked his executive order on a travel ban. This as we're watching protests erupting right now outside the winter White House.

We're going to go there live in the CNN newsroom. Next.


[21:51:36] SANCHEZ: The president and the first lady are attending a fundraising gala for the Red Cross at their Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida tonight. And nearby, a peaceful protest is taking place about the travel ban that impacts immigrants and refugees from seven Muslim- majority nations. That crowd is apparently now dispersed.

CNN correspondent Jessica Schneider joins us now from Palm Beach. Jessica, there were some heated moments, but I understand things remain calm. There were no arrests, right?

SCHNEIDER: That's right, Boris. Things have finally quieted down outside Mar-a-Lago. Here you can see Southern Boulevard here completely empty. Police have dispersed those protesters. They began moving off back toward West Palm Beach where they started all of this.

Like you said, there were no arrests out here, no incidents. A few minor tussles between protesters, but really nothing major.

It was interesting to see, in fact, that there were people here who were pro-President Trump. They did confront the protesters and vice versa.

But other than one small little run-in, there was nothing major. This was very peaceful. People came out here to get as close as they could to the president's doorstep.

We are just around the bend from where Mar-a-Lago is. But, of course, Secret Service has blocked that off, closed off the perimeter around it. So, no real incidents out here. But, of course, this has been really a whirlwind day of legal wranglings. Also, the president, over Twitter, talking about the fact that he had every legal right to institute that executive order.

And we heard mostly from him over Twitter as we tend to. However, around 8:45 tonight, as the president and first lady were walking into the International Red Cross ball right here at Mar-a-Lago, President Trump was somewhat subdued, not saying much, but he did address the cameras very briefly, talking and addressing the fact that the Justice Department has appealed to the Ninth Circuit, they have appealed the federal judge's ruling that came out late last night.

And Donald Trump did say this to the press very briefly about that appeal, saying, "We'll win. For the safety of our country, we'll win." So, very succinct from the president as he was walking into that ball.

He was with First Lady Melania Trump. The two, we're told, held hands, spoke with each other, and then that was right before the president made that brief address to the cameras.

So, finally, after what's been a whirlwind day out here, Boris, things have managed to quiet down out here outside Mar-a-Lago.

SANCHEZ: All right. Jessica, thank you for the update. Protesters on the left aren't the only ones frustrated by some of Donald Trump's decisions.

[21:54:08] Some in his own party in Congress have their own concerns and a fight could be brewing between them and the White House. We'll talk more about that fight next.


SANCHEZ: On Capitol Hill, we're seeing signs of a growing Republican revolt against one of the pillars of President Trump's agenda - his promise to build a wall along the US border with Mexico.

CNN senior congressional reporter Manu Raju has more.


MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER (voice-over): A barrier in Congress to the wall. And it's coming from the president's own party.

The pushback is over the estimated cost, $12 to $15 billion.

SEN. BOB CORKER (R), TENNESSEE: I don't want to see any spending, additional spending, on anything done that's not paid for. Any topic. There are so many things that people are talking about spending money on. And at the same time, lowering the amount of revenues that we take in here in the country. And it's just a recipe for disaster.

RAJU: But President Trump continues to insist that Mexico will fully reimburse the US for the wall.

TRUMP: Mexico, in some form, and there are many different forms, will reimburse us and they will reimburse us for the cost of the wall. That will happen.

RAJU: Mexico's president has condemned the calls to build the wall. And has vowed his country will not pay for it.

And on Capitol Hill, a number of veteran lawmakers are deeply skeptical.

(on-camera): He's, obviously, talking about having Mexico pay for it. Do you think that's actually a viable option?


RAJU: Why do you say that?

MCCAIN: Because it's not a viable option.

RAJU: So then, taxpayers could be left with the bill.

MCCAIN: The taxpayers are paying a lot of money right now. One of the biggest problems we have is the enforcement of existing law.

RAJU (voice-over): Other prominent Republicans agree.

(on-camera): Do you believe that Mexico will actually pay for this wall?

SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: I doubt that they're going to pay for it.

RAJU (voice-over): Yet Trump is still moving ahead, taking executive action, ordering construction of the wall and drafting a formal proposal to send to Congress in the coming weeks.

The top two Republicans in Congress are ready to push the plan despite the concerns over who is paying for it.

House Speaker Paul Ryan has suggested the billions in funding won't be offset by spending cuts because the plan is a national security priority.

PAUL RYAN (R), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: We see this as something that is of crisis proportions with respect to opioids, with respect to drugs, with respect to the fact that we have a porous border.