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Fallout of President Trump's Travel Ban; Justice Department Files Appeal; Protesters Across the World; President Trump Praises Vladimir Putin; Tensions High Between US and Iran; Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Refuses to Stay The Travel Ban. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired February 5, 2017 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:00] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a very warm welcome to our viewers here in the US and around the world. I'm Cyril Vanier.

ROBYN CURNOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Robyn Curnow. It's 2 AM on the US East Coast, 7 AM in London.

VANIER: And we start this hour with breaking news in the US. The Justice Department here has just filed its appeal to a US District Court judge's suspension of President Donald Trump's travel ban. A legal victory would reinstate that ban at least for now. And the appeal has been filed with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which will hear the case. Now, the three judges who may hear the case were appointed separately by former Presidents Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

VANIER: The US Justice Department is making several different arguments in its appeal to get the ina

CURNOW: CNN US justice reporter Laura Jarrett spoke a short time ago with my colleagues, Lynda Kinkade and Michael Holmes, about what those arguments might involve. Take a listen.


LAURA JARRETT, CNN REPORTER: This is a strongly worded legal filing. Just after midnight here on the East Coast, the US Justice Department moved for what's called an emergency stay of the sweeping decision out of Seattle that temporarily halted the enforcement of President Trump's travel ban on a nationwide basis. And in this legal filing, the Justice Department says that blocking the travel ban "harms the public and second guesses the president's national security judgment."

The thrust of the argument here being made by the Justice Department are two different parts. The first one is that the plaintiffs in the case, which were - the case was brought by the Washington State Attorney General and Minnesota. They're saying the plaintiffs don't have standing to sue here. They haven't been harmed in a way that allows you to get in the court.

The second argument is that the president's authority in this area is sweeping and quite broad. And so, he can basically do what he wants in his area of immigration in an unreviewable way. The court doesn't have authority to review him. So it's a pretty strongly worded legal filing we're seeing right now from the Justice Department.

It's unclear yet whether the other side, Washington State, will have an opportunity to respond. There is a motions panel set up in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that can hear these types of cases by phone. And so, they may do it very quickly.


VANIER: All right. Let's get more on this Troy Slaten, who joins me now from Los Angeles. He is a legal analyst and a criminal defense attorney. Troy, I mean, initially, when the executive order was drafted policy-wise, it was a fairly simple thing to understand, but not just the legal case has become so complicated that I think we really need you to spell things out for us. Run us through the next steps, if you will. What's going to happen now?

TROY SLATEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, immediately, upon the judge in Seattle, Judge Robart issuing that temporary restraining order, the Department of Homeland Security halted enforcement of President Trump's executive order banning certain classes of aliens from entering the United States. And so, what the Justice Department has done about an hour ago is filed an emergency motion for a stay of that temporary restraining order. What they're asking is for a three-judge panel on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to stay the enforcement of that temporary restraining order, which would have the effect of President Trump's executive order going back into effect.

VANIER: What's the timeframe that we're looking at.

SLATEN: It could happen very quickly. The Ninth Circuit has measures in place to hear emergency motions like this. Today, in the United States, is Super Bowl Sunday. And I could imagine that though the judges would like to sit there with their family and eat crab dip and watch the game, they're going to be working very diligently to review this and possibly issue a decision on the stay.

VANIER: Are you talking hours or days? Or we just don't know?

SLATEN: I imagine that it will be hours and not days because this is a matter of such national and global importance. The Ninth Circuit knows that the world is watching.

VANIER: Then just to be clear, Troy, they will actually settle the matter of whether or not the executive order is legal, is constitutional, correct? That's the question they're answering.

[02:05:00] SLATEN: Not really. They're answering the question of whether this singular judge sitting in Seattle properly issued that temporary restraining order and whether the government who is seeking a stay would suffer irreparable harm if that stay was not implemented.

VANIER: So, in that case, who ultimately is going to decide whether the executive order is legal because that's what the whole conversation is about?

SLATEN: So, the decision on the merits will go back to that judge who was hearing a petition from the attorneys general of the State of Washington and the State of Minnesota. So, it would go back to the trial court where that - this lawsuit essentially was implemented and then work its way up through the court of appeals and ultimately, potentially, to United States Supreme Court.

VANIER: And again, what's the timeframe on that? I mean, just roughly speaking.

SLATEN: So, if we're talking about the emergency stay, the emergency -

VANIER: No, I mean, the overarching decision of whether or not this case is - the executive order is constitutional. You explained to us that there are several steps before we get to that, but ultimately I think that's what people are interested in.

SLATEN: Well, the United States Supreme Court, if Ninth Circuit decides this in any way could decide the issue of this day rather quickly. But the issue of whether or not President Trump has the authority to issue this executive order that he did, it could take years before it got to the United States Supreme Court because the United States Supreme Court likes to resolve differences among the circuits and issues of great national importance. Here, we have a judge in Massachusetts who came with a completely opposite decision of the judge sitting in Seattle.

VANIER: And I was going to ask about that, Troy, who's going to settle the matter. Different people, including yourself, have raised the possibility that it would go up to the United States Supreme Court. Until that happens, who decides? Because the federal judge in Seattle said that his ruling had effect nationwide, but on the same day that he issued that restraining order, as you mentioned, there was the judge in Boston, another other federal judge in Massachusetts, who had essentially ruled otherwise. So, who trumps who? No pun intended.

SLATEN: Well, this is with regard to an emergency temporary restraining order. So they're not deciding this case entirely on the merits. It's whether a restraining order should issue, that means whether there should be a temporary stay of President Trump's executive order or whether it can stand while the matter is being litigated. So, if a judge - if the judge in Seattle's decision stands with the Ninth Circuit, then it stands, and the United States Department of Homeland Security may not implement the executive order.

If on the other hand, the Ninth Circuit rules that the temporary restraining order should not be in place and was improperly issued, then the executive order goes back into place while the matter is being litigated among all the varying circuits. And if the varying circuits come to a different decision, then the United States Supreme Court will most definitely weigh in.

VANIER: All right. Troy Slaten, thank you very much for breaking it down for us. Needless to say, we will need to talk to you again in the coming hours and, undoubtedly, days. Thank you very much.

SLATEN: Thank you. Have a good night.

VANIER: President Trump's travel ban sparks nationwide protests, almost before the ink was dry on his executive order. Those demonstrations, both pro and con, include outside the Florida resort where Mr. Trump is spending his weekend.

CURNOW: Well, CNN's Jessica Schneider is in Palm Beach, Florida and has the latest from there.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Out here in Mar-a- Lago, a day of legal wranglings, a Twitter tirade by President Donald Trump and also protesters. Take a look at some of the remnants out here. At one point, several hundred people making their march as close to they could get to Mar-a-Lago. A mostly peaceful protest, but very similar to the ones that we've been seeing over the past two weeks and the past three weekends. These people wanting to get their message directly to the president or as close as they could get now that he's down here and what they're calling the winter White House.

[02:10:00] As far as President Trump goes, he took to Twitter numerous times over the day sticking to his contention that his executive order as it pertains to that immigration was lawful, was constitutional and even slamming the federal judge on Seattle several times. In fact, Donald Trump taking to Twitter, I'll read you a few of his posts, saying "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." And earlier in the day, President Trump tweeting out this. "The opinion of this so-called judge which essentially takes law enforcement away from our country is ridiculous and will be overturned."

Jessica Schneider, CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.

VANIER: And those tweets that Jessica Schneider just mentioned were ridiculed to Washington's governor as beneath the dignity of the presidency.

CURNOW: Earlier, before the appeal was filed by the US Justice Department, Gov. Jay Inslee spoke about the importance of the legal challenge his state had brought against the president's executive order. Take a listen.


JAY INSLEE, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF WASHINGTON: President can tweet till the cows come home, but the fact of the matter is he is bound by this order. It is a legally binding order and he is going to have to follow it. That's the way our system of checks and balances work. And he asked this question about lawyers. His lawyers are telling him the facts. They're telling him that this is the way America works because in America when an executive does something that's unconstitutional, thank goodness we have a federal judicial system that can rein that in and that's what this judge did. And by the way, this was a judge - this insult of him - this was a judge appointed by a conservative Republican George W. Bush. He was confirmed with a 99 to 0 vote in the Senate. This is the way democracy is meant to work. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VANIER: Several refugee agencies and organizations are not taking any chances with the temporary suspension of the US travel ban and the Trump administration's efforts to get that ban overturned.

CURNOW: This is what the agencies are telling people affected by the immigration order saying, "We encourage all travelers from the seven affected countries to rebook travel to the United States immediately while the stay of the executive order remains in place and visas are valid." That guidance appears in a press release from the International Refugee Assistance Project.

VANIER: And President Trump is being criticized for his new praise for the Russian president. After the break, why Mr. Trump said, "We've got a lot of killers" when defending Vladimir Putin in an interview.


[02:15:00] VANIER: Welcome back. We're live with breaking news on the court fight over US President Donald Trump's travel ban.

CURNOW: Just a few hours ago, the US Justice Department filed an appeal that says Friday's decision by a district court judge to suspend the ban harms the public. Protests meanwhile continued in cities across the country against the president's policy. About 1,000 demonstrators turned out in West Palm Beach, Florida near where Mr. Trump is spending the weekend at his Mar-a-Lago resort. There were a handful of Trump supporters demonstrating as well.

VANIER: In a string of tweets on Saturday, the president blasted the judge who suspended the ban. And at a Red Cross gala ball in Palm Beach he predicted his administration will win the legal battle.

President Trump tells Fox News in a brand-new interview now that he respects Russian President Vladimir Putin.

CURNOW: Mr. Trump acknowledges Putin may be a killer, but responded we've got a lot of killers. Take a listen.




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 them. He's a leader of his country. I say it's better to get along with Russia than not. Will I get along with him? I have no idea.

O' REILLY: Putin is a killer. TRUMP: We've got a lot of killers. We've got a lot of killers. What, you think our country is so innocent?


CURNOW: Well, let discuss all of this with our Clare Sebastian. She joins us now from Moscow. And some observers have pointed out, Clare, that using this kind of moral equivalency is actually a familiar tactic used by the Kremlin.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Robyn. This is what is so striking about this coming from a sitting US president. This is exactly the kind of rhetoric we heard constantly from the Kremlin here in Russia and from the Russian media. You know, Putin in the past has compared Russian actions in Crimea to actions the West and the US took in Kosovo. In the lead up to the US election, the line taken fairly often by the Russian media was levels of weak democracy have been leveled against - accusations, rather, of weak democracy have been leveled against Russia, but look at the divisiveness of this election in the US. They are no better. That is the line that we hear constantly coming from Russia.

But I think it's interesting, you know, from a policy standpoint, aside from the shock factor of these comments, to look at - to kind of read between the lines of what this could mean. President Trump is saying he wants to form a coalition against ISIS in Syria with Russia. That is something that we've heard repeatedly from the Russian side that they would want to do. But how does this tally with the situation in Ukraine at the moment. The president talked overnight to President Poroshenko of Ukrainian and promised to work with all sides in resolving the Ukrainian conflict. So, it's difficult to imagine how the US would form a coalition with Russia in Syria, while at the same time potentially working with Ukraine to resolve their conflict. These are two very different issues, but the tension between them could define this relationship going forward, Robyn.

CURNOW: Certainly. Also, at the same time, we know that the US government is in many ways saber rattling with Iran and Iran is a key ally of Russia. This is all very complicated. This is not as simple as it seems. We also know that, as you said, Mr. Trump spoke on the phone to the Ukrainian president today. I mean, do we know what came out of that conversation?

SEBASTIAN: Well, that's particularly interesting because we got two different statements, one from the office of Poroshenko of Ukrainian and one from the White House. The White House kept it very broad. President Trump saying this was a very good conversation. They said they would work with all sides in the conflict to bring peace to Ukraine - that was Russia and Ukraine. But the Ukrainian side, they made it a little bit more specific. They talked about the dire situation around Avdiivka. That, in particular, is a government held town where we've seen a flare up of violence in the last week. But that's not the only place. There's also a rebel-held town where there's also been deaths reported and violence. That was not mentioned. It only said they appreciated the US commitment to Ukrainian territorial integrity, perhaps, Robyn, referring to comments that we had earlier in the week from President Trump's UN Ambassador Nikki Haley who said that she didn't think sanctions should be lifted on Russia until the Crimea was returned to Ukraine.

[02:20:00] So, this call is still not yielding many of the answers that we were looking for. No mention, again, of sanctions - US sanctions on Russia, something that the Ukrainian's care about very deeply, do not want to see those lifted. So a lot of questions still remaining after that call, Robyn.

CURNOW: Yes, certainly. Thanks so much. Coming to us live from Moscow, Clare Sebastian. Appreciate it.

VANIER: We've looked Russia. Now, let's look at Iran. The new US Defense Secretary has some harsh words for Tehran, calling it the world's biggest state sponsor of terrorism.

CURNOW: Now, this comes a day after the US placed fresh sanctions against Iran, which carried out a missile test last week. And just days after the Trump administration says it's placing Iran on notice.

Nic Robertson has more.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the tension on this, the rhetoric and the actions with Iran really seem to be ratcheting up. You have the US Secretary of Defense James Mattis saying that Iran is the world's biggest sponsor of terrorism. A very strong statement. You have, within hours after that, the commander of the aerospace part of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, that is the elite force in Iran saying, if the enemy makes a mistake, our roaring missiles will come raining down on their heads. A very clearly escalation here of the rhetoric. But at the same time, over the weekend, Iran has begun military drills by again that aerospace section of the elite force. They've been testing their missile systems testing their missile systems, testing their radar, testing their electronic countermeasure systems. The very clear message there, if there is any kind of military action, aircraft flying into Iran's airspace, if there is any kind of military action like that, Iran is ready for it. That's the message. And we know that President Trump, his secretary - his spokesman Sean Spicer have both been very clear, the United States is not taking anything off the table in their potential actions against Iran. So, at the moment, the tensions, the rhetoric, the actions just keep escalating.

Nic Robertson, CNN, Valletta, Malta.


VANIER: Let's bring in "New York Times" correspondent Thomas Erdbrink now. He joins us live from Tehran. Thomas, Washington flexed its muscles early on with sanctions on Tehran, very tough talk as well. Iran has answered in kind, as Nic was explaining. Are the two countries just feeling each other out for the moment? Or have tensions really shot up as much as it seems? THOMAS ERDBRINK, "NEW YORK TIMES" CORRESPONDENT: No, I actually think you're right. And I think both countries are feeling each other out. Of course, Iran needs to get used to this new reality, a new reality of a US administration that has a starkly different tone from that of the previous administration. You might remember, Iran signed a nuclear agreement with the United States and other world powers. 2016 was actually a rather quiet year here. There were no tensions. All options at the time were off the table it seemed. But, of course, now Iranians see themselves faced with a very unpredictable United States leadership, if you will. They have trouble calculating the next moves of the Trump administration, if you will. And for now, the Iranians are deciding to take things very easy. That was something you also saw at the Friday prayers last Friday. Usually, a stage to ratchet up tensions against United States. Today, things were - on Friday, things were rather quiet and this has been the tone coming out of Iran for the past days in reaction to all this chest thumping, if you will - that's the way they see it over here - by the Trump administration.

VANIER: The White House appears to be keeping the Iran nuclear deal on the table. It appears intent to respect that deal. So, aren't the two countries bound by this common pact ultimately.

ERDBRINK: I had trouble hearing you. Maybe you can repeat the question? Sorry about that.

VANIER: Yes. Thomas, I'm saying there is one very important deal that binds these two countries and that's the Iranian nuclear deal and it seems that the Trump White House, for all its harsh rhetoric against that deal during the campaign, appears intent on keeping that deal intact. So, my question was, doesn't that deal bind these two countries, given something in common that at least, I would say, offers some level of stability in that relationship?

[02:25:00] ERDBRINK: Absolutely. We saw Paul Ryan, the House Republican coming out saying that he feels the deal should stay in place, that it's an important deal. But you used those words apparently. Well, the Iranians are also not sure. Will the Trump administration tomorrow, next week, next month, maybe change its mind on the nuclear agreement? They are nervous that the Trump administration will indeed try to alter or maybe even cancel this agreement and they just have a feeling that they can't be sure with Trump what it is that he and his people want.

VANIER: Thomas, I'd like you to speak to this piece of news that I've just got. As we're trying to read the tea leaves and where this bilateral relationship between the US and Iran is going, I'd like to introduce this in the debate. We're finding out that Iran has reversed an earlier decision to deny entry visas to a US wrestling team. Now, doesn't this send mixed signals from Iran? Tough talk on the one hand and military exercises, but on the other hand they're also saying, 'well, we're holding back on some of those visa retaliatory sanctions.'

ERDBRINK: I'm sorry, the audio is really bad. I can't hear your question.

VANIER: All right. Thomas Erdbrink, we're going to try again when we got better audio. Thank you very much. Appreciate your time.

And Mr. Trump is attacking the federal judge who suspended the travel ban.

CURNOW: Coming up, how Vice President Mike Pence is defending his boss. Stay with us. You're watching CNN.


[02:30:00] VANIER: Welcome back. We continue to follow breaking news out of the US of the legal battle brewing President Donald Trump's travel ban. The US Justice Department has filed an appeal to a federal judge's decision suspending the ban.

CURNOW: The news comes as protests against Mr. Trump broke out again in several cities. This is one near Palm Beach, Florida Saturday where the president attended an event at his Mar-a-Lago estate. He told reporters that his administration win its case.

VANIER: For more on that appeal, here is our Sara Sidner in San Francisco, California.


SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There are three judges, a three panel of judges who will look at this, who will look through and say, do we need to agree with the Department of Justice on legal grounds or is the judge's decision in Washington - can that stand as this goes through the courts? The three judges are in three different places, one in Hawaii, one of the judges resides in Arizona, the other judge resides here in Northern California. And so, they will all confer likely on email or by phone and decide what is the legally proper thing to do. At the same time, the Department of Justice can decide that they want to go above the Ninth Circuit Court, especially if they lose that case, and go all the way to the Supreme Court. But, first, I'm sure they would like to hear what the Ninth Circuit Court has to say. Likely, the Ninth Circuit Court will take a couple of days, maybe less to give that decision. We should also look at whether or not their appeal has a good chance to win in this particular court. We talked to a legal expert, who is very familiar with how this court runs, he is a law professor at UC Hastings.

RORY LITTLE, LAW PROFESSOR, UC HASTINGS: The Trump administration would have to say there's something about the stay that harms us irreparably. I'm not sure they really have any showing on that since the immigration authority still have authority to keep out bad guys whether this order is in place or not. You can always keep out bad guys. And then, they would have to say - the Trump administration would have to say, on the merits, the judge was very clearly wrong. In other words, when he says, there is a likelihood of success on the merits, you'd have to say no, there's no chance of success on the merits. So, the standard to get this reversed is really very high and I think unlikely.

SIDNER: If the Ninth Circuit Court does not basically rule in favor of the Department of Justice allowing it to put the travel ban back in place, then all of this will go back to that court in Washington and go through that court and maybe we'll finally have a decision. How long it's going to take, we don't know yet. Sara Sidner, CNN, San Francisco.


VANIER: The travel ban has set off a wave of protests around the world, even near Mr. Trump's front door. They've been marching in West Palm Beach, Florida, not far from his Mar-a-Lago resort where he is spending the weekend. And supporters of the president and the travel ban have also been spotted in the crowd.

CURNOW: In Washington, hundreds walked from the White House to the US Capitol on Saturday with a banner saying, no ban, no wall. Protesters also gathered in front of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. An American there says she's speaking out because this is not what her country stands her.


UNIDENTIFIED PROTESTER: Being an American, I care about my country and I care about how we are portrayed and are seen from other countries. And I think that we need to be careful of what we're doing right now.

We have French organizers on our team who've been of huge help. And it's been amazing. If you see the crowd, people keep coming. So I think people are ready to fight back and to organize. We're not mourning anymore. We're organizing.


CURNOW: Well, CNN political commentator and Trump supporter John Phillips joined us a little bit and we asked him what he thinks of the protests over the past few weeks against the president and his policies.


JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: People that did vote for Donald Trump, I think, are pretty happy with everything that's gone on. I'm sure that some people voted for him because they were captivated by his performance in Home Alone 2 and some people love his hair. But most of us who voted for him voted for him because we wanted increased border security, we wanted an extreme vetting of those coming to this country and he's following through with the promises that he made in his campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: Yet again, the tweets though, and we talked about this endlessly because he keeps on tweeting things, in this case, when it comes to this ban, using the phrase this so-called judge, what do you make of that kind of language. That's OK when you're a candidate and you're talking about as he did, a judge with a Hispanic background, but this is a federal judge appointed by a Republican and a member of the judiciary. It's not very presidential to be saying so-called judge. What do you make of it? [02:35:00] PHILLIPS: Well, we're used to seeing fights that are partisan fights here in the States where the Democrats take on the Republicans and vice versa. What we haven't seen in a while is a separation of powers fight. We have three co-equal branches of government and we see the president, the executive, fight the Congress. We certainly saw a lot of that with Barack Obama and the Republican Congress. What we're seeing now are other battles that go on. And this is something that's been going on in this country from time immemorial where the courts rule against the president and the president lashes out in some way. Trump, of course, is more verbose and certainly has a better sense of humor in my estimation.

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: They don't directly criticize judges though.

PHILLIPS: Oh, they do all the time. I mean, this is - they maybe not do it - they don't do it on Twitter the way Trump did it. But judges have been getting under the skin of presidents since we had the presidency. So, I'm not surprised to see that he is lashing out at this judge. Now, this judge is not goig to have the final say. This is going to go to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the West Coast which is a very liberal court. So, my guess is they'll probably affirm what this judge just did. And then, they'll end up in the United States Supreme Court and they will have the final say.


CURNOW: Vice President Mike Pence is standing by President Trump's criticism of the federal judge who ruled against the travel ban.

VANIER: Here's what he told ABC News earlier on Saturday.


UNIDENTIFIED HOST, "ABC NEWS": Is it appropriate for the President to be questioning the legitimacy of a federal judge in that way?

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: President Trump has made it clear that our administration is going to put the safety and security of the American people first and the executive order that he put into effect was legal, it was appropriate and our administration is going to be using all legal means at our disposal to challenge the judge's order.

UNIDENTIFIED HOST, "ABC NEWS": I understand that. But is it right for the President to say so-called judge? Doesn't that undermine the separation of powers in the constitution written right next door?

PENCE: Well, I don't think it does. I think the American people are very accustomed to this President speaking his mind.


CURNOW: Still ahead here at CNN, why Christians in Iraq are not taking up President Trump's offer to go to the United States, saying they'd rather stay where they are.


[02:40:00] CURNOW: Welcome back to our viewers around the world and in the US. Back to our breaking news here in the US. A couple of hours ago, the Justice Department filed an appeal of a federal judge's decision to block the travel ban affecting refugees and citizens in seven Muslim majority countries.

VANIER: On Saturday, President Donald Trump attacked the federal judge who temporarily halted the ban. One of several tweets said, "The judge opens up our country to potential terrorists and others that do not have our best interests at heart. Bad people are very happy."

CURNOW: And President Trump has vowed to give priority to persecuted Christians over other refugees trying to enter the US.

VANIER: But our Ben Wedeman spoke with Christians in Iraq who said that they would refuse the offer.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The kids at Baghdad's Zayouna camp make do with the little they have. The people here are Christians who fled their town of Qaraqosh in northern Iraq when ISIS took over, losing homes, businesses, almost everything they owned. You'd think they'd be rejoicing at President Trump's suggestion he will give preference to Christian refugees.

Evelyn Mekthi (ph) and her family get by on an income from their simple shop. She isn't jumping at the offer. I don't want to go abroad, she says. I love, Iraq, my country. It's the country of our parents. Camp residents have nailed crosses and Iraqi flags to their temporary homes, eager to stress they're Iraqis first, Christians second.

Some of the people here have been in this camp for the last 2.5 years. It's a fairly bleak existence. But despite that, some of them say, even given the chance as Christians to move to the United States, they still wouldn't go there.

Evelyn's husband, Sameer, shares her skepticism. Let's say I went to America. What would I get out of it, he asks. No, let me live in my Iraq and die in my Iraq.

Before the US invasion, almost 1.5 million Christians lived here. Since then, as many as two-thirds have left.

MAR LOUIS RAPHAEL I SAKO, CHRISTIAN CATHOLIC PATRIARCH OF BABYLON: Not only Christians suffered, but also others, Muslims, Sunni, Shia, Yazidi also.

WEDEMAN: Louis Raphael I Sako is the Chaldean Catholic Patriarch of Babylon and leads the largest Christian community in Iraq. He is at pains to warn giving preference to Christians over Muslims will only increase resentment. SAKO: It doesn't matter they are Christians, Muslims, believers or not. They are human beings. So, this sectarian language was very bad.

WEDEMAN: The faithful take communion at Baghdad's St. Joseph's Church. The queues are emptier than before, a sense of loss haunts many who have seen loved ones leave, never to return. Wafa Touma (ph) thinks it's a good idea to stop all Iraqis, regardless of religion, from leaving. Enough emigration, she says, after the service. They shouldn't let our young people go. No one will be left here.

The American president's words, cold comfort for dwindling flock.

Ben Wedeman, CNN, Baghdad.


CURNOW: Great piece there from Ben. Now, visa holders in the seven affected countries woke up to the news that they could now go to the US, but they're being warned changes could come and soon.

Our Jomana Karadsheh joins us now from Istanbul in Turkey with reaction. How many people have made use of this perhaps temporary window, as if, you know, rush to the airports, for example?

[02:45:00] JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Robyn, I think there's still a lot of confusion and uncertainty. I mean, when the news first broke, people were waking up to it on Saturday morning here. It took some time for the news to spread or the airlines to be notified by the United States of this change in regulations. It took us a few hours throughout the day yesterday to get confirmation from the various airlines operating in the region that they had received this change that would allow valid visa holders from these countries to board their flights now. We haven't really this seen this mass rush to get to the airport to get on planes. People are a bit cautious when it comes to this. It is a very risky situation for them. You're looking at people who face the possibility of having their visas canceled if this does change yet again, and there is also that factor of humiliation for some after seeing what happened about a week ago to some people where they were either taken off planes, where they were detained or turned back. People really - don't want to go through that. So, you would expect to see a bit of a wait and see with a lot of people to see if things are going to change yet again because there is a feeling that it is very uncertain. They understand that this is a legal process that could be lengthy or things could change yet again very quickly. There is a bit of cautious optimism that things might change for the better for some people, but for most I think they want to wait and see what happens next. A lot of uncertainty, Robyn.

CURNOW: A lot of people might be affected by the practicalities of this, but it broadly - it's also about politics and about perception. I mean, how are people following the ups and downs of this executive order drama?

KARADSHEH: Well, I think, Robyn, you have to look at it - it is impacting a lot of people when this ban first came into effect. You know, you're looking at either people who have family in the United States that they wanted to join, they had trips to the United States or refugees, people who have been waiting for years, in some cases, to be resettled in the United States. So you have these people who have been impacted who are following this closely to see what happens next for them. And for the majority of the people who have been watching this as we've heard from my colleague Ben Wedeman in Baghdad, people are really stunned to be seeing this happening in the United States. It's not a country where people expected this to be happening, this sort of chaotic situation. It is something people would tell you to expect in countries in the Middle East where they've seen that before. I certainly heard that from friends in Libya, adjoining that parallel to the days of Muammar Gaddafi where rules could change overnight and people would be caught off-guard when that happens. So, people are following this and really quite surprised to be seeing this happening in a country like the United States, Robyn.

CURNOW: And what about the sense of understanding perhaps of where the Trump administration is coming from? I mean, in many ways, the Middle East has experienced terrorism more than the US. Is there some sense of understanding the position of the US government?

Karadsheh: I think people understand that there are security measures that need to be in place or visa procedures that need to be in place to protect the United States, especially if you look at the past couple of years and the security threat that Western countries are facing. But people would tell you that they are facing the these same threats at home and this is seen very much as a collective punishment for tens of millions of people who come from these countries as you hear this from Iraqis, you hear this from Syrians who would tell you that they are fleeing that same terrorism that the United States is talking about and to brand tens of millions of people as a security threat is quite insulting for a lot of people, Robyn. So, there's that factor, of course, of people being really insulted at this ban.

CURNOW: Important perspective there from Turkey. Thanks so much. We're just hours away from kickoff.


CURNOW: I know, I know. It's Super Bowl soon. We'll hear from Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan and this season's league MVP coming up.


[02:50:00] VANIER: And let us not forget that Super Bowl Sunday is upon us. The stage is set for the biggest game in American football. The New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons are just hours away from Super Bowl LI in Houston, Texas.

CURNOW: And, of course, it's the Patriots ninth Super Bowl appearance, but only the second for Atlanta. If Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wins, he'll the most Super Bowl victories of any NFL quarterback. But his rival, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan has just been named league most valuable player.

VANIER: CNN's Coy Wire caught up with Ryan and has this look at the big game from Houston.


COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: I'm here in downtown Houston with some of my newest friends, Super Bowl LI from Discovery Green at Super Bowl live. The game is not far away. This is going to be an incredible match up between the Atlanta Falcons and the New England Patriots. The Falcons are looking to do something they haven't done in 22 years, win a sports championship for their city. Now, the Patriots on the other hand, Tom Brady is looking to win an unprecedented fifth Super Bowl title as a quarterback. He's talked about this week how his family, it means a lot to them. They've had some health concerns there. They're all here for this big game. But Matt Ryan on the other hand, Matty is a former teammate of mine, he looks different this year. His game is on point and there's something about him, a confidence level I haven't seen before. I had to find out what it is going inside the mind of Matt Ryan.

[02:55:00] What the heck did you do this off-season? Was there something that you did to make yourself better?

MATT RYAN, QUARTERBACK, ATLANTA FALCONS: I think when you believe in what you're doing, it's amazing how that leads to self-peace or confidence going in to games. The Navy SEALs talk about all the time that you don't rise to the occasion, you sink to the level of your preparation. I believe in that. You prepare the right way, so that when the situation comes, you do exactly what you prepared yourself to do.

WIRE: So, if you could go back and tell this little guy about how he can prepare for the journey that's ahead of him, what would you say?

RYAN: (INAUDIBLE). But, yes, just to enjoy (INAUDIBLE) it's been so much fun and I've been very fortunate.

WIRE: All right. The matchup is just nearby. Tom Brady versus Matt Ryan, going to be an incredible matchup. Can't wait to see how it all plays out. Downton Houston, Super Bowl LI. It's almost game time and the fans are ready.


CURNOW: Very exciting. Well, thanks so much for joining us. I'm Robyn Curnow.

VANIER: And I'm Cyril Vanier. And we'll back for a new hour of CNN NEWSROOM right after the break.