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Trump's Travel Ban Halted Nationwide by Federal Judge; Defense Secretary James Mattis Today Slamming Iran; White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon on "Time" Magazine Cover; Women Trump Voters Support the President; VP Mike Pence to Watch Super Bowl Showdown in Houston. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 4, 2017 - 16:00   ET


POPPY HARLOW, CNN HOST: Top of the hour, 4:00 p.m. eastern. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Poppy Harlow, in New York.

We begin this hour with breaking news.

[16:00:00] The Department of Homeland Security suspending any and all actions related to President Trump's ban on travelers from seven Muslim-majority countries. Airlines at this hour being told to go back to business as usual as if the ban never existed. Protesters, as you can see, taking to the streets in major cities across the country this hour.

Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, leading the chant at a protest here in New York.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: We are going to dump Trump! Dump Trump! Dump Trump! Dump Trump!


HARLOW: That call comes as the White House promises to challenge the federal judge's ruling blocking the temporary ban nationwide. The president tweeting earlier today, when a country is no longer able to say who can and who cannot come in and out especially for reasons of security and safety, big trouble. He also tweeted the opinion of this so-called judge, which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country is ridiculous and will be overturned. I should note, a president publicly criticizing a federal judge like this pretty unusual.

Meantime, airline are letting travelers previously blocked by this ban now board those flights headed for the United States. We have a team of reporters and analysts covering every angle of this could go up this fight which to go all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Let's begin this hour with Jessica Schneider. She joins us from Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida where he is spending the weekend.

And I know the White House is obviously reacting to this saying they will fight this. The president also, just in the past few moments, tweeting about this.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So a lot to follow up on, Poppy.

First of all, we are waiting for the department of justice to file the emergency stay of the temporary restraining order. That is a whole lot of legalese. But let me break it down. Basically last night when the federal judge out in Seattle issued this temporary restraining order, that put a halt to President Trump's executive order has no longer in effect. Well, the White House immediately promised that they would file this emergency stay, which would essentially put a pause on this judge's order and would essentially if it were to go through, allow President Trump's executive order to once again take effect which, of course, that if it were granted could cause even more chaos and confusion, like we have been seeing throughout the past week. We do know that right now airlines are allowing those passengers on those visas, have been reinstated, are in the process of being reinstated. So really, just a lot of chaos and confusion that could ensue if this emergency stay was granted.

We expect it to be filed sometime soon, perhaps today by the department of justice. We do know that Washington's attorney general, Bob Ferguson said he is sticking with this. He is adamant about it and he is prepared to take the fight all the way to the Supreme Court.

Now, on the other side of it, of course, you have President Trump's reaction to this. He has been tweeting really furiously throughout the day today. It started this morning. And as you mentioned, just a few minutes ago, President Trump once again, taking to twitter. I want to read it for you, it's quite striking actually.

President Trump tweeting this. What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a homeland security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into the U.S.

Now, many things about that tweet that are notable. First of all, President Trump once again referring to this as a travel ban, despite mincing the words throughout the week. We heard at one point this wasn't a travel ban, despite the fact that the president had tweeted about this multiple times. President Trump also seeming to pin this on homeland security which we know homeland security, they either weren't consulted or were consulted with very minimally and putting forth this executive order.

So a lot happening here, a swirl. And in addition, Poppy, one more thing here for you. We are here at Mar-a-Lago, the international Red Cross ball is set to take place tonight. Protesters are already assembling. They plan to march from Donald Trump's hotel in West Palm Beach to as close as they can get to right here in Mar-a-Lago. So a lot swirling out here, a lot for the White House to tackle -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Indeed. Glad that you are there live for us, Jessica. Thank you so much.

Questions over who can enter the country and who can't, whose visas are still valid, which ones are not. Needless to say a lot of confusion around all of it at America's airports this weekend.

Rene Marsh is with me. She is our aviation and government regulations correspondent.

When you look at the guidance coming from the White House and homeland security right now, it's changing almost hourly. How are the major agencies like TSA, like the immigration agencies, how are they all responding right now in terms of knowing what they are supposed to do for people now trying to come in this country again?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Right. So CVP would be the one agency that's really charged with enforcing all of this at the airports because they are going to be the front lines as these individuals arrive at these airports. And, of course, the airlines need to know what's going on. And at this point, the guidance from customs and border protection has not changed for the airlines. It has been the same since 9:00 last night.

So we are starting, Poppy. Now, we do have, I should say, clarity from the federal government on what this temporary lift of the travel ban specifically needs for passengers and for airlines. Again, that guidance given to the airlines last night at around 9:00 is -- as we have been saying all day, it is business as usual in terms of entering the United States. And it is as if this executive order never existed. Pretty extraordinary development.

Airlines have since taken down the travel alert from their websites. And they have been getting the word out to customers that people with visas that are otherwise valid, are indeed free to board U.S.-bound planes. We did see a tweet from a lawyer who was at Chicago-O'Hare's airport and immigration attorney, who said he himself witnessed CVP allowing passengers with visas and green cards to board flights.

A reminder, though, you know, obviously, it takes some time for every single airline to get up to speed. But we are seeing it on their Web site. This is a temporary lift. So it still isn't revolved just as yet. I do want to make one point as it relates to the visas. They were electrically revoked. So, just as quickly they can be electrically restored. The problem is for the people who physically had denied or revoked, stamped on their visas, they are going to need to reapply it at an embassy.

[16:06:26] HARLOW: Rene Marsh, thank you for the reporting. Keep us posted as it develops.

The president's travel ban was halted by a federal judge last night. This was after two U.S. attorneys objected saying their states would be badly hurt, their employment levels and their residence location among other things. We are talking about this, State of Washington and the state of Minnesota. In fact, the attorney general of Washington said that he would like to see the case go all the way to the Supreme Court if need be.

Let's talk about all of this legally where we go from here. Ariane de Vogue is with me. She is our Supreme Court reporter is here with us and Georgetown University law professor and a constitutional law scholar Jonathan Turley is with us.

Thank you both.

Ariane, let me begin with you. What do you think the likelihood is that this goes all the way to the high court?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, right now were at a preliminary stage, right? The case at hand bring by Washington and Minnesota. And they are making constitutional and statutory arguments. They say it discriminates on the basis of the national origin and it violates the due process. The government on the other had says look, they don't have, these states don't have standing and the executive has broad authority in this area.

So cases are ping-ponging across the country. Right now, one district court has issued this temporary restraining order blocking it nationwide. The DOJ has asked for a stay of that and with the ninth circuit.

Now, depending on how the ninth circuit rules, either side could go to the Supreme Court and ask for some relief. And Justice Kennedy, he has jurisdiction over the ninth circuit. So he would probably refer to his colleagues.

But keep one thing in mind. The court right now is eight members. So if they were to divide 4-4, then they would simply have to uphold whatever the ninth circuit did here. So this is a preliminary stage. But that's not to say that the issue on the merits couldn't come back in one of these cases, the Supreme Court in the coming days and weeks.

HARLOW: Here's what the president just tweeted. What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a homeland security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into the United States.

Jonathan, what is your reaction to that? At first blush, you know, my thought is, that's exactly what a nation of laws is.

JONATHAN TURLEY, LAW PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Well, that's a perfectly valid point. And referring to the trial judge here, a so-called judge, is the type of thing that really undermines the case for the justice department attorneys. They are appealing to three so-called judges in terms of reviewing this decision. This sort of poisons the well when you are representing the government. So the tweets do not help. That should be abundantly obvious, when it comes to influencing the court.

But fortunately, both trial judge and appellate judges are well trained to look at this with, a distance and a detachment from the rhetoric and politics around them. This trial judge really did go up against a lot of precedent. There are many that believe that he got it wrong. But he made a good-faith decision and that's why we have appellate courts.

So the ninth circuit could very well stave this temporarily restraining order, essentially lift the order. What's odd is that the administration didn't move with greater dispatch in seeking an emergency action. But once again, we are going to look at a fair amount of chaos, if it comes down. The court could theoretically block the trial judge's order. That would reinstate potentially the executive order when people are in the air. And that would be a repeat of the nonsense we saw.

[16:10:10] HARLOW: Ariane, do you - I mean, this all comes at the same time as the president has tapped his pick for Antonin Scalia's seat, judge Gorsuch, and his confirmation hearings in six weeks. He is obviously going to be asked about this. How does that complicate things?

DE VOGUE: Well, it's interesting, because these hearings already, they were going to be about the nominee. Then they were going to be also targeting the fact that the Republicans blocked Merritt Garland. So now today, Gorsuch will be asked about this executive order and potentially about Trump's comments about judges because that will come up. And the Democrats will want an answer from Gorsuch, a sitting judge, on that issue. And Trump's tweets, as well as statements that came out from the White House last night.

HARLOW: I should note that the judge that, the president called a so- called judge, was appointed under President George Bush, and confirmed by a Republican-led Senate.

Thank you very much to both of you. We will have you back soon.

Coming up, the protests over the president's travel ban are just one side of this story. Up next, our Special Report on loyal Trump voters who are strongly standing by their man.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He won. Get over it. Move on. Let the man get to work and better our country.


HARLOW: And later, "Time" magazine's cover labelling the president's chief strategist, the great manipulator. A closer look at Steve Bannon's influence in the oval office is next.


[16:14:56] HARLOW: Welcome back.

We are waiting to see how the White House will respond to that federal judge's order putting a stay on the president's travel ban. My panel is here to debate.

CNN political analyst and "Washington Post" columnist Josh Rogin. And Alice Stewart is with us. She served as communications director for the presidential campaign of Ted Cruz. She is also a Republican strategist.

Nice to have you both.

And Alice, let me begin with you. I want to pull up what the president just tweeted a few moments ago.

What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a homeland security travel ban and anyone, even with bad intentions, can come into the United States?

What's your reaction to that? Because I mean that is what this country is. That is what you know, the three equal branches of government allow, allow the judiciary branch to do.

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look. This is inconsistent with what he has been saying on the campaign trail and as he has been sworn in as president, that he will protect the homeland and protect the borders.

HARLOW: Right. But I'm asking about this tweet. Does it surprise you that he is calling into question sort of the ability of the courts to do what they do?

STEWART: No, it doesn't surprise me at all. Because he, he has the authority to do exactly what he did. We can all agree that the execution of this executive order was not done in a very flawless manner. That's, there's no mistaking that.

But look, under the laws of this nation, he has the authority as president, if he deems, if he sees the entry of certain aliens into this country as he deems them a danger to this country, he has the right to suspend their entry into this country. So he was within his right under the laws of the nation to do exactly what he did.

And I do agree with their view of this judge's order that it was a little broad and it should have pertained maybe just to the two states in question, Washington and Wisconsin. But to do an overall nationwide rebuke of the executive order was a little bit broad. But it will be interesting to see how the justice department responds and if the executive order is back on track, as the president certainly hopes so.

HARLOW: The two states, Washington and Minnesota. But again as you noted this does apply, nationally, for now.

Josh, the White House came out condemning it last night, citing part of the immigration statute as law. And a constitutional lawyer who we had on the program just a few moments ago said that he does believe that the Trump administration has more legal ground to stand on here than this federal judge's order. But why do you think it is that the White House has not issued any response yet legally? Do they have their ducks in a row when it comes to you know filing the legal paperwork that they need to?

JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, I think the White House is preparing that now. I think they realized that even though a lot of people believe that they have the right to do this under the law that it's not totally up to them and that they are going to have to go through this legal process. And once they start it in earnest and actually file paperwork that that will have a real effect on what the outcome might be. So they want to make sure to do it deliberately. And that's what they should do. And you know, we do live in a system with checks and balances and the courts will have their say.

And I do think Alice is right in the sense that the courts have a high burden. And the plaintiffs rather have a high burden to overturn what the Trump administration has done. But that's why you play the games and this will go through the system.

The other issue I really had with Donald Trump's tweet there was that, you know, he is presenting this as sort of a dichotomy. Either do exactly what he wants to do, or we are letting people who have bad intentions into the country with no checking. And, of course, there is no middle ground, the middle ground is what exists now, and that is a system of vetting, a very elaborate system of vetting, by which thousands of these people got visas, before they were canceled and now maybe perhaps reinstated.

HARLOW: Alice, as you know, the president also tweeted a little bit earlier today, questioning the legitimacy of this federal judge in Washington State, calling him a so-called judge. That alone is pretty unprecedented for a sitting president to do to question the legitimacy as it reads of a sitting federal judge. But he has done it before on the campaign trail. He questioned the ability of judge Curiel to be the decider in a Trump University case saying he is Mexican when the judge was actually born in Indiana and is a U.S. citizen. So now twice he has questioned the standing of U.S. judges. Does it concern you?

STEWART: I don't think it's appropriate at all for anyone to call names or, or disparage a judge because you disagree with their ruling. I think there's no place for that. And specifically in this case, clearly this judge views the executive order differently than the president does. And so I think to call him a so-called judge, I think it's not appropriate whatsoever. He needs to do exactly what he is doing, put it in the hands of the department of justice. Let them put their legal defense together and a legal response together and go through the appropriate channels and do it that way.

But we can all agree that Donald Trump has a history of calling names. I worked for Ted Cruz, lying Ted as Donald Trump liked to call him. And that's just part of how he is. That is his nature, that's what he will do and that's going to continue. But to do so to a judge because you are disagreeing with their ruling is don't think it is appropriate.

[16:20:10] HARLOW: And to your point, Alice, I mean, who should be surprised? At this point, we have seen this in candidate Trump. Nothing is changed in President Trump. And this is, you know, the candidate that his supporters liked and want to see more in the oval office, someone who is incredible blunt and doesn't mince words and said things that are completely bot politically correct.

Josh Rogin, does it take the eye off the importance of the actual act? The travel ban and the legal fight over it now? Do these tweets take the public's eye off of that?

ROGIN: No. I think he is playing the crowd and he is trying to get the crowd on his side. And he is hoping that that will have an effect on the process, you know. That's the difference of course, between governing and campaigning. In campaigning when you are able to tweet to get millions of people to support your position, that's a big difference.

It may not be as big of a difference when you are fighting a legal battle between the justice department and the appeals court judges and federal judges and plaintiffs and nongovernmental organizations.

OK. This is a different game for Donald Trump. And he is still using the old tactics. Now, that's not to say there aren't politics going on in the judicial system. Of course, there are. But it's really rare and perhaps counterproductive. We will have to wait and see for the president to be intentionally injecting politics into the process and trying to use them to influence the outcome.

STEWART: Poppy, I do want to say, I think in this case he has the law on his side. I think he legally they can win this argument. And that will be determined in court. So I think this twitter war is not necessarily when he has got the law on his side.

ROGIN: On that, I agree.

HARLOW: Let's look, Alice, at how the American public is responding. We have brand-new CNN polling in. That shows an even divide, 53 percent of Americans oppose the executive order on immigration, it, 47 percent are in favor. But it is equally split very much down, down party lines. Many more Republicans like it than Democrats do.

Alice, my colleague, Michael Smerconish on his program this morning posed an interesting question, saying should the president walk away from this and say to his supporters - look, you know, I tried to do this like I promised on the campaign trail and, you know, the courts screwed it up or whatever he wants to say. And then move on to other things? Do you think it behooves him to fight this one out tooth and nail?

STEWART: Absolutely. Behooves him to continue this fight. This was a cornerstone of his presidential campaign to secure the borders, keep America safe. Protect our sovereignty. And he will, with every fiber in his being, continue this fight and I think he should.

HARLOW: And Alice, as you know, many have pointed to this order and say you don't include any of the four countries where the 9/11 hijackers came from, for example. Even the Paris attacker this week at the Louvre came, you know, from Egypt via the UAE and Saudi Arabia. None of those countries are in this ban. So they point to it as being, you know, are these the right countries or enough countries to be included if that's the argument?

STEWART: I think it's important to remember that these are the seven countries outlined during the Obama administration as areas that they needed to focus on, areas of terror threat. And just as importantly, these are countries that aren't providing us the vetting information that we need for people to come into this country. So it's not just about who is there, it's about the information we get from them coming into this country. And that's the key point here. This is about improving the vetting system of people from these seven countries.

And there is no surprise that the election, the polling numbers on this issue are virtually, number for number, to the popular vote in this country. And it is broken down along party lines. But the key points to remember, the president of the United States is the president of the United States. And he campaigned on this and promised this and clearly, it's not something you're going to get him to back down on.

HARLOW: Alice Stewart, Josh Rogin, thank you both. I got to leave it there.

ROGIN: Thank you.

STEWART: Thanks, Poppy.

HARLOW: Coming up, missile test sanctions and now fiery rhetoric. Ahead, the increasing tension between the United States and Iran.

You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[16:27:48] HARLOW: Defense secretary James Mattis today slamming Iran. This is just a day after the Trump administration imposed new sanctions on the country.


JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: As far as Iran goes this is the single biggest state sponsor of terrorism in the world. And I think it is wise to make certain that Iran recognizes that what it is doing is getting the attention of a lot of people and we have a responsibility along with the rest of the nations that want to maintain stability, to be absolutely clear with Iran, in this regard.


HARLOW: As secretary Mattis made those comments in Tokyo, Iran's air force was conducting military drills, including ballistic missile systems exercises. That's according to an Iranian news agency. The report says the drills are being done quote "in contempt of sanctions and threats."

Joining me now to discuss is CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson. He joins us from Malta where he was covering an EU Summit. Nice to have you on the program, Nic.

What impact do you believe that this rhetoric could have? It is sort of a tit for tat from the United States back to Iran and back again.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Iran has been very, very quick. I mean we saw with when we look at the travel restrictions, Iran was very quick last week to apply that to the United States. Very quick when the United States applied those sanctions to people and companies, associated with the ballistic missile testing. Iran immediately said although it couldn't name individuals and companies as the United States could, it immediately said it would do the same thing.

So what we are seeing with the rhetoric this weekend is essentially a continuation, and a ratcheting up. And indeed, these military tests that Iran is putting in place by its specialists, Islamic revolutionary guard corps, the aerospace sector, as you said, they are saying it's very clearly a message to the United States. If you have everything on the table in terms of deterrent for us, we are ready for it, if it is reaction, that's the message.

But I think they have gone a step beyond today. The commander of that force in Iran has said that if the enemies make a mistake, they will have our roaring missiles raining down on their heads. That's what they're saying. So at the moment you have to look at this and say, there's no dialing back. Iran is very quick to push forward. And you sense that Iran is really testing the White House resolve on this.

[16:30:18] HARLOW: No question about that. And here's how President Trump responded. Tweeting Iran is playing with fire. They don't appreciate how kind President Obama was with them, not me.

Now the thing that complicates this, is that yes, general Mattis called them sort of the greatest, you know, foe or existential threat to the United States. But in his confirmation hearings, he also was on a different page than the president, saying he does not believe that we should tear up the Iranian nuclear agreement. Something that house speaker Paul Ryan echoed yesterday as well sort of this is what it is. So what can the administration do as it advances in dealing with Iran?

ROBERTSON: Yes. And just the kind of the European perspective, they are on the same page. Don't tear up the deal. It was the best deal that could be have at the time. But they are also saying as well that, you know, what Iran did with those ballistic missile tests, it may not have broken the nuclear agreement. But it's, but it's negative because it sort of draining away any goodwill that there might be in the White House. There is draining away any, you know, any credibility that Tehran might have you know, as it begins to talk, in whichever way it does with the new administration. So it is very concerning. So where can it go from here?

You know, essentially it seems to be on a hair-trigger, if you will. We saw, you know, not so many months ago, U.S. naval personnel being caught by Iranian forces, humiliated, put on television, captured before they were returned. A similar scenario today, you could see going an entirely different direction. So my sense is, certainly the sense from the European leaders here in Malta is, it is uncharted territory and it's very worrying.

HARLOW: Nick Robertson live for us in Malta tonight. Thank you, Nic.

Coming up, a closer look at the man who may be the loudest voice in the president's ear, White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon. He helped roll out the travel ban. But what more do we know about him. He is on the front of "Time" magazine. We will talk to "Time's" editor at large who is now asking is Bannon the second most powerful man in the world.


[16:35:43] HARLOW: You're looking live of protests in Miami today. Protesting the president's travel ban that has now been stayed temporarily at least by a federal judge. We will get you more on that as we have it.

Meantime, we are going to talk about Steve Bannon. He is a name you probably know by now. And he is a core member of the president's inner circle. Key to the rollout of the travel ban and a lightning rod for critics but also a champion to the alt-right. Whatever your opinion is of the White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon, one thing is clear, he is wielding influence like few presidential aides ever have before.

This led to him landing on the front of "Time" magazine this week, the cover "the great manipulator." An article on the inside, posing the question, is Steve Bannon the second most powerful man in the world? Along with that description, colleagues have dubbed him the encyclopedia for the range of information he carries in his head. But more than any of that, Bannon has a mind-meld with Trump. They share the experience of being talkative and brash pugnacious money magnets who never quite fit among the elite.

Joining me the man who wrote the article, David Von Drehle, editor at large for "Time" magazine.

Nice to have you.


HARLOW: It is a fascinating piece. You dive deep, so I would encourage people to read it this weekend. But the trope of Bannon as puppet master has been getting a lot of play with headlines like these. From the "Washington Post," Steve Bannon is Trump's conscience, yikes. In GQ, in case it wasn't clear yet, Steve Bannon is our president. And on the "New York Times," President Bannon, question mark? Based on your reporting, would you go so far as to agree with those headlines?

VON DREHLE: No, I think that's a step too far. I think Donald Trump is the president. He is, his own man. He is the decider. What Bannon is -- is he, think of Trump as sort of divided in his personality. On one side he is the can-do, corporate CEO fix it deal maker, very pragmatic and very practical. But over the course of the past year there's another side of him that now has come to see himself as the leader of a historic movement. A populist uprising that's going to bring down the rotten institutions that are no longer serving the United States and the world and build up something new. And the grandeur vision of himself is where Steve Bannon has his greatest influence. He feeds that that's Bannon's view of history. That we're at a turning point, a crisis moment in history. And so imagine sort of the angel and the devil on the shoulders. And Bannon is one of those voices speaking in one ear. HARLOW: As we all know, the president campaigned on the platform of

make America great again. And this is what you write to that point.

No movement is complete without its commissar. Bannon is the one who keeps the doctrine pure, the true believer who is in it not for money or position, but to change history. We know that Bannon was key in crafting this travel ban. That many were not on the inner circle on. What does a great America look like, do you believe, to Steve Bannon?

VON DREHLE: That's not entirely clear. Because if you, if you look at what he's been doing and saying, in his documentary films in his radio program, in his writing speeches over the past eight years or so, he is highly critical of the United States. And from every direction, he is not really a Democrat or Republican any more. He sees both parties. He calls them the party of the incumbents. They have to be washed away. He is as fierce a critic of Wall Street as Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders on the left. He sees corruption everywhere he looks.

And, so it's hard to picture exactly what he would see. I think it would be a he has a kind of romantic notion of, of his father's generation. Of is the working class, that could start out in his father's case, as a laborer at the phone company, and work his way up into management and save enough to raise a family and then retire. That kind of nostalgia, I think is influential with him.

[16:40:39] HARLOW: Then David, what do you think it is that has made him one of the only people, if not the only person, that the president will really listen to?

VON DREHLE: Yes, he is not the only one. But he has, it's obvious to anybody who listens to President Trump that he has like all presidents do, a high opinion of himself. And people who get to that level want to matter more than, they don't just want to be the guy who kept the lights on in the federal government. They want to really change things and shape history. And I think Bannon has framed that up for Trump in a way that nobody else really has. He has told them that that he could, you know, wind up in the history books and 100 years from now, school kids would still be learning about President Donald Trump.

HARLOW: I think they will be no matter what. I think the question is what are they reading and what are they learning? As you rightly point out, this is one of the few people who has an open pass to walk into the oval office and doesn't even have to wear a tie when he does. That's how close these two men are. It's a great piece.

David Von Drehle, thank you.

VON DREHLE: Thank you very much.

HARLOW: All right. We are continuing to watch these protests across major U.S. cities. But we also want to bring you this side of the story. Up next we take to you Arizona for a candid conversation with women who voted for and very much support the president. One of them even calling him the best early Christmas present she could ask for. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:45:53] HARLOW: Brand new CNN polling showing how President Trump's approval ratings compare to other modern presidents. He did enter the White House with historically low popularity. But for the many who voted for the new president, their support is unwavering.

Our Martin Savidge travelled to Arizona and sat down with a group of female Trump supporters who like what they have seen thus far.


BROOKE STECK, TRUMP SUPPORTER: I was so elated I could hardly stand it. It was like the best early Christmas present I could have gotten.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These Arizona women love everything about President Donald Trump. And can't understand it, if you don't.

ROSALIE WRIGHT, TRUMP SUPPORTER: If anybody in this country is against anything he said he's going to do, I really worry about their judgment.

SAVIDGE: As he made any slip-ups, blunders, any mistakes in your mind?

STECK: Not at this point for me?

SAVIDGE: The people he is surrounding himself with, the cabinet choices?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My God, incredible people. Just incredible people.

SAVIDGE: But some wonder is he moving too fast?

STECK: No. He is going to move forward quickly because he is going to do exactly what he said he is going to do. I don't think he's moving fast at all. I say keep on going.

SAVIDGE: They see nothing wrong with the president, but plenty wrong with everyone else. Beginning with democratic opposition in Congress.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And I think that's a terrible thing that the left is doing to hold things up and it's so purposeful.

SAVIDGE: Doesn't it sound so much like what the Republicans were doing during the Obama administration?



EILEEN EAGAR, TRUMP SUPPORTER: She's exactly right. They showed up. These people are actually not showing up for the vote.

CRYSTAL JUNIOR, TRUMP VOTER: People really dislike him. I don't understand it, because I love him. I love who he is. I love his transparency.

SAVIDGE: Speaking of transparency, what about the tweeting? Should that have stopped? Or should he control it?

EAGAR: I love it. And you know what it does? It leaves you out.

SAVIDGE: The "you" Eileen is referring to, is the mainstream media which the group blames for what they see as a nonstop barrage of negative news about the president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And you push and you push and you don't back off. And frankly I'm fed up with it.

SAVIDGE: It's not the only thing these Trump voters are fed up with. They are also sick of the demonstrators who they say can't accept that Hillary Clinton lost.

STECK: Get over it. Move on, let the man get to work and better our country. Stop with the protests.

SAVIDGE: Speaking of moving on, what's with Trump's seeming fixation on the inauguration crowd size? Why does he bother?

EAGAR: I think it's fair for him to defend himself. That's all.

SAVIDGE: And what about the president's claim of widespread voter fraud for which he's offered no proof and officials say didn't happen?

Do you believe President Trump, when he says he thinks there was several million votes cast illegally?

EAGAR: Yes, and I'm really glad that he's checking that system out. Just like he is checking out the immigration problem.

SAVIDGE: Trump's immigration executive order is another issue these supporters see differently. Seeing the move not as discriminatory, but rather about safety for Americans.

STECK: You know as a mother of four kids, and I feel that it is the right of my children to grow up in a country where they feel safe.

SAVIDGE: But what about refugee children who are now banned from reaching the safety of America?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We lead with our emotions, this country's sunk. You can't lead with your emotions.

SAVIDGE: It's not all gloom and doom. Despite the differences they see, these women believe we can unite as a nation under President Trump. In fact they say we already did for a brief period, inauguration day. BONNIE HAYMORE, TRUMP SUPPORTER: It was just touching. And everybody

-- it was a wonderful two or three hours and everybody was just kind of like, yes, this is a transfer of power. Peaceful. This is how America is.


HARLOW: Martin Savidge reporting. Thank you so much, Marty.

Coming up, excitement growing for tomorrow's super bowl. Coy Wire live in Houston with a preview and some pretty cute kids. Hey, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. A lot of cute kids. A lot of people, tens of thousands of people here super bowl live. We are going to talk about the big game.

And later, falcons fans in the house and we have some Patriots fans in the house. More on gathering, Poppy. We have a special surprise coming up for you, too.

That's coming up after the break.


[16:54:07] HARLOW: If you thought you could get a break from politics by tuning in to the super bowl tomorrow night, you may be mistaken. Some of Washington's heavy hitters will be among the fans watching the showdown between the Patriots and the Falcons in Houston.

Coy Wire joins us live from Houston.

So we got to get politics and football, too?

WIRE: Do we have to? We do have to because one notable attending the game, Poppy, is going to be vice president Mike Pence. He is scheduled to arrive. And you know, there is a lot of security around this fame already. Department of homeland security already tagged this event as a top tier event. So they have been planning it for months as well to make sure NRG stadium is going to be nice safe and secure on game day.

Some other notable officials, notables rather, is going to be at the game, George H.W. Bush and Barbara, they are going to be there for the honorary coin toss.

Now, we are only about 24 hours away from the game. Can you imagine the emotion of these players? Last year 115 million people watched this game. And just in the U.S. There's been a lot of talk about crowd sizes lately. Imagine playing in front of that here. A couple of players who have been there before.


[16:55:13] TOM BRADY, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: You kind of have to be right on the edge. It's such an emotional game. It's, you don't want to be out of control. But you can't play with no emotion. DWIGHT FREENEY, ATLANTA FALCONS PLAYER: This is a big moment. And

the one thing you don't have to worry about, is your emotions, bring it on Sunday. Because that's going to come. You don't have to always get hyped up for a game. Because the hype is going to come.


WIRE: All right. I need some special friends to help deliver this last story. So I give to you, poppies for Poppy. That's right. This super bowl puppy bowl in Houston is going to be the 13th. They have done this for 13 years. They are all rescue pups. These are the cutest furriest friends out there. A 100 percent of them got adopted last year. The referees will have their hands full. You will have a lot of excessive cuteness, unnecessary ruff-ness, and everyone save an excessive puppy mess in this game. It's at 3:00 p.m. eastern tomorrow on Animal Planet, Poppy.

HARLOW: Unnecessary cuteness, always welcome on the show.

Coy Wire, my friend, thank you. Have fun.

HARLOW: Coming up for us, the president lashing out at federal judge who halted his travel ban. Now, Democrats are pounding. We will have a live report on the political fallout. Also live protests around the country next.