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Legal Battle Over Trump's Travel Ban; Trump Under Fire for Defending Putin; Will Dems Filibuster Trump's Supreme Court Pick?; Patriots Pull Off Historic Super Bowl Win. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 6, 2017 - 07:00   ET


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: ... it's really a bad situation.


[07:00:02] ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. We do begin with the legal fight over President Trump's controversial travel ban.

A federal appeals court refusing to reinstate that order after it was blocked by a lower court on Friday. The Justice Department now has 11 hours to defend the president's order.

CUOMO: All this as President Trump steps up his attacks on the judge who temporarily halted his ban, even suggesting Americans should blame the judge, blame the courts if a terror attack happens.

We're 18 days into the Trump presidency. We begin our coverage with CNN's Jessica Schneider, live in Tampa, Florida. Jessica, you're there, because there's a big lunch with the president later today in your location.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. The president will be right here at MacDill Air Force Base, but over the weekend the president extremely vocal, both on camera, both -- I'm sorry, both on camera and also over Twitter. Donald Trump took square aim at that federal judge out in Seattle who overturned Donald Trump's travel ban on Friday.


SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Mr. Trump launching attacks against the judge who temporarily halted his travel ban, accusing Judge James Robart of "opening up the country to potential terrorists," even suggesting Americans should blame the judge and court system if something happens.

All of this after calling Robart, a Bush appointee, a "so-called judge" when the ruling was handed down on Friday.

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The president of the United States has every right to criticize the other two branches of government.

SCHNEIDER: Vice President Pence defending the president's tirade against the judiciary and saying the White House believes Robart's ruling will be overturned.

PENCE: We're very confident the president is operating within his authority as president.

SCHNEIDER: This intensifying legal battle comes as President Trump faces criticism for comments he made in Super Bowl interview, equating the American government's actions with Russian President Putin's regime.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: Do you respect Putin?

TRUMP: I do respect him.

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.

O'REILLY: Putin is a killer.

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

SCHNEIDER: That remark provoking sharp rebuke from members of the president's own party.

MCCONNELL: Putin is a former KGB agent. He's a thug. I don't think there's any equivalency between the way the Russians conduct themselves and the way the United States does.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is no moral equivalency between the United States of America, the greatest freedom-loving nation in the history of the world, and the murderous thugs that are in Putin's defense of his cronyism.

SCHNEIDER: President Trump also announcing that Vice President Pence will head a commission to investigate voter irregularities but providing no proof that millions voted illegally, despite repeated claims.

TRUMP: We can be babies. But you take a look at the registration. You have illegals. You have dead people. You have this. It's really a bad situation. It's really bad.

SCHNEIDER: And the president acknowledging that the timetable to replace Obamacare could take longer than promised.

TRUMP: I would like to say by the end of the year, at least the rudiments, but we should have something within the year and the following year.

(END VIDEOTAPE) SCHNEIDER: And Donald Trump waking up at Mar-a-Lago this morning before heading here to Tampa to MacDill Air Force Base.

Once here he will receive a briefing from senior officials at CentCom. He'll sit down with service members for a lunch, and then he will make remarks to coalition reps and also senior U.S. commanders -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Jessica. Thank you very much.

Lawyers from Washington state and Minnesota say reinstating President Trump's travel ban would actually unleash chaos again. They filed new briefs just hours ago. That's what the appeals panel wanted them to do. The Justice Department now has about 11 hours to defend the president's order, written, and then we'll see if there's going to be a hearing on this.

CNN's Dan Simon is live outside 9th Circuit, San Francisco, with more. That's where there would be a hearing, if there is one. What's the latest?

DAM SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right, Chris. So the 9th Circuit has to determine whether or not the suspension should remain in place. And the next step for all of his is for both sides to present their legal briefs. And the state in Minnesota and Washington have already done so. The federal government has until 6 p.m. Eastern Time to make its position known.

In addition, you have a lot of other folks weighing in with their various positions. Nearly 100 technology companies filing an amicus brief, basically saying that this is bad for business and that this immigration ban is discriminatory.

You also have, really, an unprecedented step with many federal -- former federal government officials, ranging from John Kerry to Madeleine Albright, to Susan Rice, saying that they're not aware of any specific threat in the world that would justify this ban. You have a three judge panel in the world that would decide this kind of ban.

You have a three-judge panel that will decide this here at the 9th Circuit. They could have a hearing in person, or it could be by video or phone. Or they could simply rule. But I think most legal experts believe that, ultimately, this is just one step in the process, that whoever loses here will appeal things to the Supreme Court.

[07:05:11] Alisyn, we'll send it back to you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Dan. Thank you very much for all of that. We'll get to all of the legal wrangling in a moment.

Joining us now is New York Republican Congressman Chris Collins, who's co-chair of the Trump House Leadership Committee.

Good morning, Congressman.

REP. CHRIS COLLINS (R), NEW YORK: Good morning. How are you, Alisyn? CAMEROTA: I'm doing well.

Let's start with the interview that Mr. Trump gave with Bill O'Reilly. Are you comfortable with the president of the United States comparing U.S. leaders to Vladimir Putin?

COLLINS: Well, I'm not comfortable, perhaps, at -- you know, where it went, as reported by the press, and I think, you know, we have to get back to...

CAMEROTA: Well, we saw the clip.

COLLINS: Trump wants to work with...

CAMEROTA: I just want to be clear, Congressman, we saw the clip. This wasn't reported by the press. This wasn't fake news. We all watched with our own eyes the clip; and that's where Mr. Trump said we have a lot of killers here, too, in reference to how Putin is perceived and how U.S. leaders are perceived.

COLLINS: Yes, I would not have used those words. He's going to continue to work with any and all leaders to defeat ISIS and we have to admit that China and Russia are civilized countries. I would not have used the words he used in that context, but what he is saying is he's work with anyone who will work with the U.S. to defeat ISIS.

CAMEROTA: Look, what is he saying about the U.S.? Who are the killers?

COLLINS: I don't have any comment to make on that part of it, because within that context, I did not totally follow it.

CAMEROTA: It sounded like he was talking about the U.S. military.

COLLINS: Well, and it could be. Again, I can't speak for what the president was thinking in the back of his mind when he -- when he said those words. And it certainly is true that our military, you know, does take out terrorists using drones and other means but certainly not on U.S. soil, which is what, you know, certainly most people acknowledge Russia has been doing to their political opponents so you can't compare Russia to the U.S., at least on that basis. But...

CAMEROTA: So why is the president comparing Russia to the U.S.?

COLLINS: Well, I think it's the aggressive press that we have that does try to push President Trump into an area where maybe he will say something that then they'll just jump on. And I think the context of all of this goes back to President Trump, saying, "I'll work with any and all world leaders to defeat ISIS to keep the world safe." and that could certainly include Russia, could include China and then the press pushes and pushes and it is what it is.

CAMEROTA: So that was a gotcha interview by Bill O'Reilly?

COLLINS: Oh, I think there's a gotcha piece in every interview that the press has more or less with President Trump to try to, you know, push him in. You know, he speaks off the cuff. There's no question about it. He speaks what's on his mind.

CAMEROTA: He does speak what's on his mind. I hear you, Congressman. He does. That's one of the things that voters liked about him. So on his mind, he feels that there are killers, as he said, in the U.S. government that are akin to Vladimir Putin.

COLLINS: Well, as you pointed out, he may well have been, in his mind, referring to what we're doing overseas.

CAMEROTA: Is taking out -- is taking out terrorists, as you just said. Does that mean that our U.S. military leaders are killers?

COLLINS: No, no. It is what it is, Alisyn, and there are some things that the president in the context that he was thinking of may be different than you or I. But again, what he's doing is putting America first, trying to make America safe.

CAMEROTA: See, that's funny that you say that, Congressman, about putting America first, because Republicans used to call rhetoric like that "blame America first."

COLLINS: Well, what I'm saying right now is that the press is all over him on the travel ban, and everything to do with claiming it's a Muslim ban, which it's not. A religious ban, which it's not.


COLLINS: Trying to keep America safe. And I think it's the frustration of push, push, push, push. And you say something, and then, you know, people jump on that particular word or three words or eight words. And again, I would not have used that language. But President Trump is trying to do what he can to keep America safe, including the travel ban.

CAMEROTA: OK, let's talk about the travel ban. Let's talk about that, because as you know, a federal judge has disagreed with it. Are you comfortable with the president calling a federal judge names?

[07:10:09] COLLINS: Well, again, President Trump, if he disagrees with someone, tends to go to a point I may not go, but that doesn't mean the judge didn't make a very poor ruling, which most people will say the president of the United States, in looking out for what's best, has a lot of latitude when it comes to immigration. A lot of latitude. This judge has stepped in and said, "No..."

CAMEROTA: Sure. But I mean, is he...

COLLINS: "... we're not going to let President Trump..."

CAMEROTA: But is he a legitimate judge or is he a so-called judge?

COLLINS: Well, he's certainly a confirmed legitimate judge, but his ruling, many of us disagree with that ruling, including President Trump disagrees with that ruling.

CAMEROTA: Sure. But is it appropriate for the president to call somebody, a federal judge a "so-called judge"?

COLLINS: Again, that's terminology, rhetoric. I would not have used those words, but it speaks to the ruling that came down that most of us would say overreached in what the president of the United States has as his authority relative to immigration and immigration issues.

CAMEROTA: And what if the judge had called Donald Trump the "so- called president"?

COLLINS: Well, right now, you've got people like Bill Clinton calling him the Electoral College president. And you've got a lot of the liberal media calling him the Electoral College president. To me, that's even worse.

CAMEROTA: And I'm sure he doesn't like that, being delegitimized. Last question.

COLLINS: I'm sure he doesn't.

CAMEROTA: When will you have a repeal of Obamacare?

COLLINS: The repeal piece could come in the next, you know, two months. We're going to be replacing it piece by piece, but as I've said in many cases, the coverage will not change for the two -- next two years. People on Obamacare do not need to worry their coverage will change over the next two years as we put together a more patient- centered plan that gives businesses the ability to offer the insurance that their employees want. People can buy insurance through their chambers of commerce. Again, something that we couldn't do under Obamacare.

More competition, better coverage at a cheaper price. But to put all of this together, it's going to take a while, but meanwhile, the Obamacare coverage as it is will stay in place for the next two years.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Chris Collins, thank you very much for being on NEW DAY.

COLLINS: Very good, Alisyn.


CUOMO: All right. So there's the spin from one side. What are the Democrats going to do about President Trump's Supreme Court nominee and other big issues? One Democratic senator is accusing the GOP of stealing the open seat. He doesn't want to consider the president's pick. Is that the right move? Let's test, you decide. Next.


[07:16:50] CUOMO: All right. So what's going to happen with the Supreme Court nominee? We see how important it is. Look at the travel ban litigation that's going on. Democrats say that they may filibuster President Trump's nominee for the Supreme Court.

A new CNN poll finds most Americans want to see President Trump's pick, federal Judge Neil Gorsuch, get confirmed. One Democratic senator says that Supreme Court seat was stolen; and Democrats should try to block Gorsuch. That Senator is Democrat Jeff Merkley of Oregon. He joins us now.

Senator, a pleasure to have you. It's stolen? Make the case.

SEN. JEFF MERKLEY (D), OREGON: Yes. Absolutely.

It's the first time in our history that a Senate majority has refused to act on a nominee from the president for the Supreme Court. Our responsibility under the Constitution is advice and consent. It means to vet and vote on whether or not an individual nominee is a fit character. But at the end of the term, it was so late, we had an election coming. Why do it then? And we have a whole new administration coming in. That's their rationale.

MERKLEY: It wasn't so late. It's January of last year. So we're talking of basically a full year has passed, so there was plenty of time to hold the vetting and voting process.

CUOMO: We're actually coming up on the anniversary of Justice Scalia's death, marking one year.

MERKLEY: Yes, absolutely. So the argument of Mitch McConnell was simply, look, we don't like this president and we don't want to even hold a conversation about his nominee. And the reason why is they are concerned that the nominee might result in the court voting down the dark money that is corrupting our campaigns.

CUOMO: Citizens United you're talking about?

MERKLEY: Citizens United. So therefore, take this seat and refuse to act and pass it to the next administration, hoping it would be a Republican administration. It's a form of packing the court.

CUOMO: That's something that party is trying to do. They had leverage that they were able to use to forestall debate. They did it. Now it's your turn to figure out what you do. You guys are very critical of them, but now it seems that you want to play a similar game.

MERKLEY: No, it's not similar, and you can really think of what Mitch McConnell did? And it was a nuclear option. The theft of a Supreme Court seat has never been done before. Never before has the majority refused to hold a conversation and a vote.

And so therefore, we have an illegitimate status, really, for this seat. And we take that, and then you throw in, really, the new nominee who is of the far extreme right. And you have a formulation.

CUOMO: Why do you say that? When you look at his opinions, do you really believe that he is that different in terms of how he dealt with what came before him?

MERKLEY: Yes. For example, he doesn't believe that the LGBT community Should be able to use the courts to seek redress for discrimination. He doesn't like the idea that citizens who are victims can join in a class action lawsuit to rectify the predatory actions that some companies take. He thinks it's a burden on the company. It's a whole series.

They will be fully vetted. That's what will be different. The Democrats will hold the committee hearing. They will hold a committee vote. The issue will go to the floor. And that's the process that should have happened with Merrick Garland, but it didn't -- but it didn't happen.

CUOMO: So are you being falsely characterized as someone who wants to stall this vote?

[07:20:04] MERKLEY: Well, the accurate thing would be to say I want to insist on the same standard that has applied throughout our history. That is a super majority of -- and it's a majority now of 60 votes. And it's the same thing you're going to hear from Bernie Sanders...

CUOMO: ... from the president for blowing that up, and at that time you'll remember Mitch McConnell said, "They're going to regret that they did this."

MERKLEY: So actually, he did set that precedent, because deliberately, when we left the super majority for the Supreme Court under the belief this is such a key institution.

CUOMO: He set the precedent for blowing up the filibuster.

MERKLEY: Well, on a different level. That is folks who are below the Supreme Court, because advise and consent was being used to completely eviscerate the administration.

CUOMO: Do you think he'll need the nuclear option, or do you think that there's a chance that Gorsuch gets 60 votes?

MERKLEY: I think my crystal ball is, of course, they're all cloudy. But I think you'll have great difficulty getting 60 votes to close debate. Had he put Merrick Garland back in, he could have healed this historic, really, crime against the Constitution. But he didn't, and he didn't appoint anyone even like Merrick Garland and, therefore, what he's doing is completing the theft that was begun a year ago.

CUOMO: The area that we're dealing with legally with the travel ban, it is in an area of probably the most plenary authority that you guys in Congress give to the executive when it comes to deciding what's a national security risk and how to deal with temporary restrictions of who can come into the country on the basis of risk. A president has a ton of authority there. Do you can believe that, you may not like it, but the president does have the authority to do the ban?

MERKLEY: I am dubious. It is a complex constitutional issue. I'm not a constitutional lawyer. It's going to be sorted out. It's going to be very interesting to see what happens today. The president's team has to file another brief by 3 p.m. today. The judges are going to, my guess is, probably say part of it stands and part of it falls. But -- but they're going to have to sort out a lot of detail.

But the concern I have is that, whatever the constitutional issue, it is extraordinarily damaging to our nation on multiple levels. It's damaging to Muslim Americans who feel that they are being targeted. And their relatives and their countries are being targeted. It certainly damaging to our national security, because this feeds right into the ISIS recruiting argument that America has a war on Islam.

So the president is fueling the fires of the very folks that were trying to put out those fires.

CUOMO: The DOJ is -- they're not Trump's lawyers. This is the Department of Justice that is fighting this ruling. We keep hearing that, that this is going to be bad. This is going there and still here legally. Why? Why would Muslim Americans who are citizens or here legally, millions of them, why would they want people to get in who are a risk to security? How would you know that this would hurt America's standing abroad or hurt troops, fuel ISIS?

MERKLEY: Well, first of all, the president's decree is really not based on national security. Refugees are the most vetted group coming into the United States. They go through extreme vetting already. It's often a two-year process. If you're someone wanting to do the U.S. harm, you would come in on a student visa, a tourist visa, a business visa. You wouldn't come as a refugee. And certainly, not only on the refugee side but on the fact that this ban affects families.

You have -- for example, right now we have -- I was working over the weekend to get a 4-month-old Iranian girl to the Oregon Health Sciences University for a heart operation. This is -- it's incredible that this little girl and her parents are being denied the opportunity. I think we got it rectified, by the way.

CUOMO: Did you? Because I've been hearing a lot about that, that time is actually of the essence.

MERKLEY: I applied for a waiver. We got the waiver. I think she's going to be arriving shortly. So I think that's -- that's good news.

But -- but you think how that reverberates. An individual whose fiancee needs to travel back into the country, and because it has inherit in it, the way it was designed by the administration has a religious test. That's what will make it unconstitutional.

CUOMO: Senator Merkley, appreciate you being on NEW DAY, as always, to make the case.

MERKLEY: Great to be with you.

CUOMO: And let us know what happen with that girl.

MERKLEY: Very good.

CUOMO: Alisyn. CAMEROTA: Well, the Trump administration is giving conflicting thoughts on Russia. President Trump defending Putin. Republican members of congress at odds over it. We discuss that, next.


[07:28:29] CUOMO: What a night in Houston history. It just was. We've never seen a team come back from a spread like that. The New England Patriots are Super Bowl heroes once again. Here's the play. This is what ended it in overtime. First Super Bowl in overtime.

That was running back James White, reaching across the goal line with a Herculean second effort. That won the game.

Super Bowl champion running back James White joins us now.

I know everybody is trying to get in your ear about what happened. And I'm sure you're happy to talk about it. Take us to the moment in the huddle when you hear that it's your number that's called.

JAMES WHITE, PATRIOTS PLAYER: Once I heard my number called, I feel like everything went into slow motion for me. Just thinking about being a kid, having the ball in your hands and wanting on a championship for your team. And me actually being in that moment, I was just really excited. I just wanted to do whatever it took to get that ball in the end zone, just make a smart play at the same time but the offensive line did a great job. The receivers did a great job. And this is an amazing team victory.

CUOMO: You did a great job, too. First contact hit you about a yard and a half out. You had both hands on the ball, and you had to make the decision how to deal with first contact. What made you make that decision, to launch forward, release the ball, try to get it over the line? Were you thinking or just doing?

WHITE: Well, I mean, thinking and doing. I saw a little crease. But I saw a guy come in. But I mean, at that point in the game, I mean, you just got to do whatever it takes to get the ball in the end zone. Like I said, you've got to make a play for the team. And I mean, it's...