Return to Transcripts main page


Appeals Court to Hear Arguments on Trump Travel Ban; Democrats Hold Senate Floor to Protest Betsy DeVos. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired February 7, 2017 - 06:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to defend our nation; and we will do that, believe me.

[05:58:43] BOB FERGUSON, WASHINGTON STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: The executive order is unlawful and unconstitutional.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It has nothing to do with religion; it's about national security.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We are one vote away. That's all we need.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The left, they sound like a bunch of cry-babies.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: Now is the time to put country before party.

TRUMP: It's a very, very dishonest press. Doesn't want to report it.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The protests get blown out of the water, and yet an attack or a foiled attack doesn't necessarily get the same coverage.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you are tuning in, Mr. President, do your job and stop pointing to the media. It's not the media's fault.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, February 7, 6 a.m. here in New York.

Up first, the Trump administration faces its first major legal test today. A federal appeals court will hear arguments on the president's controversial travel ban that his Justice Department says is to protect national security.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Two states are suing the president, supported by briefs with scores of former State Department and government officials and over a dozen attorneys general from major states, all saying Trump's executive order is unconstitutional.

President Trump attacking all those who don't agree. Attacking the courts and the media, falsely claiming we underreport terror attacks.

We're now in day 19 of the Trump presidency. Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Joe Johns, live at the White House.

Good morning, Joe.


The first question here is whether the president's immigration order ought to be reinstated until a court reaches the substantive issues, the immediate fate of the president's travel ban to be decided in an hour-long hearing later today.


JOHNS (voice-over): Three federal judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments from the Justice Department and from attorneys general from Washington state and Minnesota. These two states argue that the Trump administration has failed to show the country would be irreparably harmed by the suspension of the ban.

FERGUSON: I'm in this for the long haul. I believe strongly and my legal team believes strongly that the executive order is unlawful and unconstitutional.

JOHNS: The president continuing to stoke fears, tweeting, "The threat from radical Islamic terrorism is very real. Courts must act fast."

The Justice Department urging the appeals court to quickly reinstate the president's ban, maintaining the executive order is a lawful exercise of the president's authority.

SPICER: He has broad discretion to do what's in the nation's best interests to protect our people; and we feel very confident.

JOHNS: The president using the legal battle over his travel ban to admonish the, quote, "dishonest media" for underreporting terror attacks.

TRUMP: Radical Islamic terrorists are determined to strike our homeland as they did on 9/11. It's gotten to a point where it's not even being reported. And in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn't want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.

JOHNS: Hours later, the White House releasing a list of 78 attacks they claim the media ignored, but many of them were, in fact, heavily covered by CNN and other media organizations.

During the visit to U.S. Central Command on Monday, the president once again touting his election victory.

TRUMP: We had a wonderful election, didn't we?

I saw those numbers. And you like me, and I like you.

JOHNS: And in an interview with FOX News, Mr. Trump opens up about his relationship with former President Obama.

TRUMP: I don't know if he'll admit this, but he likes me.

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: How do you know he likes you?

TRUMP: Because I can feel it. That's what I do in life. It's called, like, I understand.

JOHNS: Reflecting on the heated campaign and that historic moment the two men rode together to the U.S. Capitol.

TRUMP: And we said horrible things about each other, and then we hop into the car; and we drive down Pennsylvania Avenue together. We don't even talk about it. Politics is amazing.


JOHNS: And what more does the president have to say about his immigration order? Well, we'll see. We do expect to see the president in front of cameras three times today, starting at 9:30 Eastern Time, an event with county sheriffs.

Chris and Alisyn, back to you.

CAMEROTA: OK, Joe. Thank you very much.

We have a lot to discuss. Let's bring in our panel. We have CNN political commentator and political anchor for Spectrum News, Errol Louis; senior Congressional correspondent for "The Washington Examiner," David Drucker; CNN political analyst and Washington bureau chief for "The Daily Beast," Jackie Kucinich; and CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett. Great to see all of you.

Laura, let me start with you. So at 6 p.m. Eastern, these three federal judges will hear oral arguments on both sides about the travel ban and whether or not it should be reinstated. If the judges don't side with team Trump, then what?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know the DOJ is saying, look, the district court in Seattle shouldn't have second- guessed the president's national security judgment here, right? The states don't have the ability to sue in this case.

But they've also now come up with this fallback position, saying to the appellate court, "If you're going to uphold the Seattle district court, then at least try to limit it to the group of people who have been previously admitted to the U.S., like somebody traveling on a student visa." This is the group the government says is at the heart of the state's complaint. So they've now come up with this alternative argument to try to see if they can lessen the blow.

CUOMO: All right. And to back up the political part of the argument, Errol Louis, the president went before a CentCom, Central Command audience, and accused the media of underreporting some 74, 78 attacks that happened in the last two years as proof that we are denying the threat. Now, it should be point out, no one is quicker to accuse the media of

covering terror unnecessarily than presidents and the government in general. They say that you're stoking fear, that if it's not a major event, don't make it a major event. But let's put that reality to the side for the moment and deal with our current reality.

Errol, I have in front of me a list of every one of these events. None of them has less than hundreds of story hit counts on it. Many exceed the 3,000 hit count that you're allowed when you search for something like this online. Let me just show you a quick montage of some of the events that the president references.


[07:05:07] CUOMO: Good morning. Here we are in Paris as part of CNN's continuing coverage.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: The new developments detailing how police uncovered the cell.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: More attacks were not only planned but were, apparently, quote, "ready to go."

CUOMO: We're in San Bernardino, California. There is a lot of new information.

ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: A stunning admission from the friend of San Bernardino shooter Said Farouk.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news in the plane crash that took the lives of 224 men, women and children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We stand here along the promenade here in Nice where 84 people were killed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is a nation reeling...


CUOMO: This is a handful. This is obvious. If I'm not there, if Alisyn's not there, there's somebody from CNN everywhere that something happens like this. What is the political currency that the president's trying to get at?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's also worth pointing out. There are people sort of pulled off vacation. You know, if they're anywhere in the region, they'll drop what they're doing and go and do a lot of this saturation coverage.

I see this as more of what the Trump administration has been pretty open about. And this goes all the way back to the convention and, really, on the campaign trail, where they said they are specifically trying to discredit the media as a source of information, that it is part of their politics, to make sure that people have more attachment to the administration and its words and its interpretation of the truth than to the media. Now, I think it's a fool's errand. I don't know that that's going to

work. But it is what they're going to do, and you get these kind of absurdities when you're embarked on that kind of a strategy. What you'll do is try and convince people that they didn't see what they saw. I mean, this network, it's saturation coverage, because it's 24 hours, of what's going on. And you kind of grind out fact by fact, what's going on in these terrible situations around the world.

CAMEROTA: There's another bizarre part to this list, Jackie. The list of 78. So not only are the Bataclan attack, which we all know just by name because it was so horrific, the Brussels attack, Paris where Chris and I spent days, the Orlando nightclub.


CAMEROTA: In addition to those that they're saying did not get enough media coverage, there are also about 30 attacks that they claim, that they list on here from places like Bangladesh and Chad where there were no casualties.

So they -- why are they including things with no casualties on this list of what they call major terror attacks other than, it seems, to stoke fear?

KUCINICH: You know, this is something that was -- this is -- this issue in the media not covering terror attacks was something that Info Wars, a conspiracy theory site, which the president is fond of, started you know, months ago. So the fact that they're picking this up and running with it to this scale is -- it doesn't make any sense, but that doesn't necessarily stop this administration sometimes.

This is another situation where you have -- you have the president's staff trying to back up something he said and, you know, frankly not very successfully.

CUOMO: And, you know, look, it's something that needs to come out is it is no coincidence, David Drucker, that what is not on this list is when that white guy in Canada last week killed six Muslims. There, the president didn't tweet about it. It's not on the list. It doesn't get any mention. Now, how are we supposed to see that?

DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER": I haven't been able to figure that one out. What I do know is...

CUOMO: Do you really think it's -- do you really think it's a mystery?

DRUCKER: Well, it doesn't play into the president's narrative that the west is under attack from radical Islam.

Now I do think that the president could still highlight that attack, because it's a terrorist attack on people in the west, and it doesn't undermine the case that we have a real problem with radical Islam.

But I think what the president is trying to do here is discredit the information coming from the media because so much of it has been critical of his executive order on refugees and immigration. And by discrediting us, he makes a better political case, I think, is how they see it for his point of view in a sense, saying the reason that we're being critical of this piece of executive work is that we don't believe that there's a problem.

But everybody -- everybody knows -- not everybody. We all understand that this isn't true, but I think there are a lot of Americans, and look, I've talked to them. But we all go home and talk to people, because we live in this stuff every day.

And they'll complain to you and they'll say, "You guys -- you guys just don't want to cover this kind of stuff."

And we'll come back at them, and we'll say, "No, that's not true. Look at all the stories we did."

And we've all heard this. "Oh, come on, you know what I mean."


DRUCKER: And that's what the president is playing into. A lot of people who, despite seeing every piece of coverage on this on CNN and other networks go, "Oh, come on, you guys really don't believe in this stuff."

CUOMO: I've never heard of "Cover terror more." Honestly, people always say to me, "Boy, you know, did you have to go there? Did you have to give it so much attention?"

You know, and I'll say -- "I won't even say the name of someone who's suspected in a terror attack, because I'm worried of copycat effect." Usually, that's the criticism. I've never had somebody say, "Can you give us more terror? Can you go to things that are small and try and make them bigger so that we can think it's a major attack." I've never even heard of that.

CAMEROTA: Jackie, I mean, this is madness. It's madness, and it's offensive. It's offensive when we've sat down with the victims of all of these people. It's offensive when we -- I mean, that we've gone there and felt it and lived it. You know, this -- it just has to be called out. We are -- there is still reality. Even if there's a parallel universe, there is still reality, and we need to talk about that.

KUCINICH: Absolutely. But I mean, let's not -- let's not lose sight of what they're trying to do. They're trying to build a case for this ban that sort of was random and came out of, you know, not -- there was no action that caused this reaction. So they're trying build this case by sort of throwing this misdirection and saying, "Well, you don't know about it, because the media isn't covering it."

Well, as you said, Alisyn, that is not the case. That's just -- that's just not true. And, you know, we've just got to keep focused on what they're trying to push through. CUOMO: The only one that hasn't been mentioned, it got plenty of

coverage, but it is the one that happened just last week. Muslims were the victims. A white guy did the killing. Somebody, you know, tried to report early on that he wasn't -- he was from, like, Morocco or something. But that wasn't true. And it was ignored for an obvious reason. If you're looking for an agenda play, there it is.

CAMEROTA: I mean, they say that their list ends on December 2016. That's why it's not there, conveniently.

OK. "New York Times" editorial, Errol -- I'll read it for you -- talks about where we are with this and what they see as a troubling line ahead: "In the same week that he announced his nominee for the Supreme Court, the president of the United States preemptively accused not only a judge but the whole judicial branch, the most dependable check on his power, of abetting the murder of Americans by terrorists."

Where does that leave us?

LOUIS: Well, it leaves us with one more institution under attack. We've seen kind of a crisis of faith in American institutions that's really kind of a theme that's run through not just this election but really several election cycles now, where the polls suggest that people don't trust the media. They don't believe in Congress. They don't have as much confidence as they used to in the marketplace.

And so this -- you know, the judiciary is supposed to be one of those bastions that was carefully structured by the framers to have, you know, the president nominates, the Senate approves, lifetime tenure. Everything you can possibly do to make sure that there's both consensus and a protected space with this judiciary. It gets -- it got in the way of the immediate agenda, this administration, so they get attacked by everybody else.

CUOMO: The good news is spin at best. Propaganda in the main and outright lies at worse are all cured by the same thing: truth. And what this does, it empowers the media and gives you an opportunity to just get after the facts. Because very often this stuff becomes painfully obvious with just a little bit of research.

CAMEROTA: Panel, stick around if you would.

CUOMO: Now, speaking of politics, Democrats are holding the floor of the Senate. This is a last-ditch effort to block the confirmation vote of Betsy DeVos, the president's choice for education secretary. These are live pictures right now from the Senate chamber. It literally has been going on all night, this marathon session. They've been speaking. The messages have been obvious, trying to overturn the nomination of this controversial choice.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty live on Capitol Hill with more. We saw Elizabeth Warren earlier saying, "We just need one more vote," referring to that this would already be history, the vice president being needed to break a tie.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Chris. And that's the reality of the situation up here on Capitol Hill for Democrats.

Republicans, though, are confident that they do have the votes, that Betsy DeVos will be confirmed later today. They do not expect any additional Republican defection.

But they will, indeed, need the support of Vice President Pence to come up here on Capitol Hill and cast that tie-breaking vote to cement in her confirmation.

But so this marathon overnight session lasted into the wee hours of the morning. It's still going on right now. It's essentially the Democrats' hail Mary pass on all this to try to convince one more Republican senator to break ranks. If they get one Republican senator, that would sink Betsy DeVos's nomination. That really prompting a lot of impassioned speeches overnight on the Senate floor.


SEN. TIM KAINE (D), VIRGINIA: If you cannot be a champion for public schools, you should not be secretary of education.

SEN. CORY BOOKER (D), NEW JERSEY: I feel a personal responsibility to ensure that, if I cast my vote as a senator, that whoever takes that office will be tireless in the defense of all the rights and privileges and liberties of our students.


SERFATY: And that vote on Betsy DeVos is expected around 12 noon today. But looking ahead, there are some additional problems ahead for Donald Trump's other nominees.

You have someone like most recently Andrew Puzder, who's his labor nominee, coming out and admitting that he employed an undocumented worker for many years. Republicans do not think that will derail his nomination. And they hope by the end of the week, Republicans' goal to have four nominees in place -- Alisyn.

[07:15:20] CAMEROTA: OK, Sunlen, thank you for all of that.

So will that marathon session pay off for Democrats? Can they actually derail Betsy DeVos's nomination? We discuss that with our panel next.


CUOMO: All right. So right now Democrats are in the midst of a marathon protest on the floor of the Senate in an effort to block the confirmation of education secretary nominee Betsy DeVos. We're going to have a vote in a few hours. Is there any real trouble for Trump's pick for education or really any of them?

Let's bring back our panel: Errol Louis, David Drucker and Jackie Kucinich.

Jackie, let's start at 30,000 feet for a second. The Constitution says advise and consent. The Senate doesn't necessarily have an articulated right to block and be the final word. This is about, really, ultimately the president getting a nod toward who he wants. How much political leverage is there in opposition?

[06:20:05] KUCINICH: I mean, I'm sorry, I don't really understand the question, Chris. Could you say it again?

CUOMO: "Advise and consent" means take a look. See what you see there.


CUOMO: But then ultimately, these are the president's choices.


CUOMO: How much political currency is there in opposition to these nominees?

KUCINICH: Well, if you're a Democrat, I mean, this particular Democratic Congress has sort of vowed to really block the president at every turn. They've cast it in more -- in nicer prose, but you know, at the end of the day, they don't like this nominee. They don't like any of the nominees other than maybe General Kelly and General Mattis.

But in terms of Betsy DeVos, you have two Republican senators who say they don't think that this is someone that should be the education secretary. So I think the benefit of what's going on, on the Senate floor is they're probably going to end up using these for campaign ads.

CAMEROTA: David Drucker, Betsy DeVos first seems most imperiled. Can Democrats peel off one more Republican? That's all they need.

DRUCKER: They've done a whip count internally. I don't see it. They were able to get Susan Collins and...

CUOMO: Murkowski.

DRUCKER: Correct. But every other Republican that is there, the other 50 of them, for one reason or another, I think, will stick with Betsy DeVos. Some on policy, some because they need to build up some credibility with Trump after not necessarily being his biggest fan during the election. So this is going to be good for them in their primaries next year.

You know, but I think the thing here to understand is that the Democratic base wants the party on the Hill to fight. They don't care who; they don't care how; they just want them to say no. We saw this with Republicans right after Obama was elected.

I think the key for Democrats once they get through this confirmation process is can they develop a message, something to say about what they're offering other than no? Even Republicans -- people forget this -- even Republicans were able to do this. Then -- then Republican leader at the time, John Boehner, came up with

this slogan, "Where are the jobs?" It sounded trite. It sounded glib. But it gave them something to say to try and put the question back on President Obama. Democrats need to be able to do that with Trump. And we haven't seen it yet.

CUOMO: So forget about how much political capital this one senator would have on their back, you know, if a Republican were to turn and be the deciding vote in this. That would be a lot of weight. That would be a big burden, and that discourages the outcome.

So then you wind up 50-50. That means Mike Pence, vice president of the United States, comes in, breaks the tie. We've never seen it. We haven't seen a president with party power not get a nominee since the '20s. How big a deal?

LOUIS: Well, it would be a big deal. It would -- first of all, it would get a lot of attention. Right? The vice president making his way over, casting the deciding vote, history being made, lots and lots of headlines.

That nominee, then secretary, would then be sort of, in some ways, fatally crippled and try to sort of carry out her job, you know, in the regional offices, in the making of policy. It would really embolden the National Education Association, teachers' unions and others to say the fight's not over. We're going to -- we're going to continue fighting. You're going to have to fight for every single policy that you get done.

And very much I think this is a matter of the Democratic senators needing to not be less courageous than their base.


LOUIS: When you see -- you see people out there demonstrating in the seats, to me the iconic picture is Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania at the Philadelphia Airport when all of the demonstrators rushed down there to try to get people out of detention, in white tie and tails. He came from a society dinner, didn't bother to change his clothes and, you know, he's got the whole outfit on, but he's doing what a politician, frankly, is supposed to do. You see the parade going by. You better get in front of that parade or at least get in the ranks.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, Jackie, Andrew Puzder, the -- Mr. Trump's pick for Labor, employed an undocumented worker for years. This should drive President Trump crazy. This is what he -- you know, some of what he hung his hat on during the campaign, and this used to scuttle nominees' confirmations. No longer.

KUCINICH: No. And it's because the Republicans have coalesced around these nominees. You're absolutely right. This exact example took down Clinton nominees.

But you've also had a big budget chair forget to pay taxes. I mean, there are some really interesting things that may have sunk other nominees in the past, and they just do not seem to matter, because there is a determination to put the president's team in place. And whether or not the American people have a problem with that down the road, Democrats will sure try to make an issue of it, but that remains to be seen.

CUOMO: So the point you made earlier about how the Democrats need an organizing principle, you don't see opposition to the picks as that. They need something more. They need something more cohesive that goes to the people that they want in their ranks.

DRUCKER: Yes. They need something that tells people what they're about. They need something that they can sort of pin on the president that he's not delivering for the American people, at least in their view, and that they can force Republicans to have to deal with.

[06:25:18] I mean, that's what Republicans did so well during the Obamacare debate. It wasn't just about Obamacare and dissatisfaction with that. It was about this other issue with jobs and basically saying, "What are you doing about the No. 1 issue people really care about?"

There's so much that the Trump administration is trying to do understandably, and there's nothing wrong about that, in terms of changing how government works and operates; that the Democrats have an opportunity there to zero in on something people really care about, jobs and the economy, and saying, "What are you doing about that?"

CAMEROTA: Panel, thank you very much.

CUOMO: Got a quick programming note for you. Be sure to join us tonight. Look at this. What a match-up. Sanders and Cruz are going to debate the future of Obamacare. CNN's Jake Tapper, Dana Bash moderating a special town-hall debate. I don't know if the audience is going to get much of a word in edgewise with these two tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, is Russia behind a new outbreak of violence in Ukraine? President Trump downplaying Putin's role in the region. We have a live report from Ukraine next.