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Appeals Court to Hear Arguments on Trump Travel Ban; Democrats Hold Senate Floor to Protest Betsy DeVos. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 7, 2017 - 07:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: ... national security is at risk.

[07:00:01] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: The two state attorneys general suing the president say his executive order is unconstitutional.

Meanwhile, the president making some incredible claims about the media again. In a speech to U.S. service members, he falsely claimed the media underreports terror attacks.

It is 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 president's misrepresentations, false assertions over media coverage throwing in an element of misdirection from the main event, which is that hearing today to determine the immediate fate of the president's executive order on immigration.


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.

BOB FERGUSON, WASHINGTON STATE ATTORNEY GENERAL: 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.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: 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.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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: I like him. 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: We expect to see the president in front of the cameras two or three times today, including one meeting with members of the National Sheriff's Association in that group. A number of strong supporters of the president's immigration policies -- Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Joe, thank you very much.

Let's bring in Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio. He's a founding member and chairman -- former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus. Good to have you, Congressman.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R), OHIO: Good to be with you.

CUOMO: So the trial, the hearing is going to happen this evening.

JORDAN: Yes. CUOMO: The decision could very well be split, right? That part of

the executive order is found to need to be reframed or redone; and part will stand. What will be your reaction to any decision that comes out?

JORDAN: Well, we'll just have to wait and see. We have this wonderful system where we have checks and balances and the judiciary branch who can decide these things.

I happen to think the executive order is within the president's prerogative and rights and consistent with the law. You know, the common sense is we want to as the most welcoming country on the planet. We want to welcome refugees here who truly need safety. We want to welcome them here, but we have to do it in a safe way.

And we can't forget that ISIS has said they are trying to actively exploit our refugee program. And so we want to make sure we can thoroughly check people out, thoroughly vet people before they get here.

CUOMO: Right.

JORDAN: That's all the executive order says, consistent with what President Obama did before. I think it makes sense, and I hope that the court will decide that it's OK to move forward with the pause that President Trump has put in place.

CUOMO: Well, I think part of your legal problem is that it's not consistent with what was done before, right? I mean, the -- President Obama never stopped travel from any of those places. He didn't -- you know, there was no -- there was no ban in effect.

But hold on. My question goes to this context which is you say you want to be welcoming and inviting. One of the reasons you didn't get the emergency stoppage that the department of justice asked for was because you couldn't show any imminent threat to national security from refugees in this country and therefore there was no reason to allow it to stay in place until you do have a show of proof.

JORDAN: Well, I would -- I would say what ISIS has said. They've said they're actively trying to exploit this program to get bad people in this country who will do us harm.

CUOMO: But that's not -- that doesn't give you the threshold of the imminent threat. Just look at your stats. Look what is happening.

JORDAN: Terrorists saying they're -- terrorist saying they're going to exploit our program to harm us? That's not a threat? I think that's a real threat.

CUOMO: An imminent threat shows proof of that infiltration, shows actual threat to you, actionable intelligence. You have none of that.

JORDAN: Chris, remember -- remember that this is consistent with legislation that passed the House of Representatives a little over a year ago that 47 Democrats supported. The president said he would veto it, but 47 Democrats said after the terrorist attack in Paris and the terrorist attack in San Bernardino that this kind of policy made sense, especially in light of what ISIS has said, that they're actively trying to exploit the program.

So this is entirely consistent with what we've done before; entirely, I think, consistent with the law. And let's hope that today the three-judge panel will rule in favor of what the president put in place.

CUOMO: Why don't you do what you promised during this campaign, which was extreme vetting? OK, that's what the president promised. You don't have anything but that slogan right now. Why don't you do what the Obama administration did?

You had those Iraqis slip through in 2000 -- what was it, '08, '09. Looked at the vetting procedures; had to come up with new ways to catch people who slipped through the way they did. They then inculcated it into the new policy; and those countries were named.

Here you're doing it in reverse. You're stopping everything from those places for a limited time, although duration doesn't matter for its constitutionality. But you have no new vetting.

JORDAN: A pause to put in the new vetting to make sure no one who's going to do harm gets into this country. Exactly consistent with what we said last year in that legislation, where we said unless the FBI can say for sure that they know people coming into this country are not part of a terrorist organization, are not going to do us harm, then they shouldn't get in. That's what the legislation said.

And again, it wasn't just Republicans who supported it. Forty-seven Democrats supported it in the House of Representatives, because it made good common sense. That's the kind of policy I think the president wants. That's the kind of policy I want. And it's the kind of policy I think the American people want, and that's why they voted the way they did last November.

CUOMO: The policy argument has become about how you treat Muslims and how this appears to Muslims and whether it mitigates a threat or it actually advances a threat. The president, in making this threat, now says you know, the media is part of the problem. They underreport terror attacks that have happened, and they put out a list of 70-some- odd attacks that have handed in the two years that they decided to look at and said we underreport them. Do you agree with that, Congressman?

JORDAN: I'll let you and the White House have that debate. What I believe is...

CUOMO: Oh, no, no, no, no. That's not why you were sent to Washington. This is about truth and taking care of the people, your constituency. This matters. What do you think about it?

JORDAN: No, you're right it matters, and that's why I support the president's executive order. Because again, I think it's consistent with common sense. I think it's consistent with what passed the House of Representatives when 47 Democrats supported them.

CUOMO: I hear you on that. Do you think the president is right to say that the media is part of the problem, because we underreport terror attacks? And I'll give you a hint. That is demonstrably false.

I'm holding a ledger in front of me right now of those attacks. And none of them have less than 100 media hits, even the remotest place with no injuries.

JORDAN: Chris, I'll take your word for it that you didn't underreport, that you actually reported some of those.

CUOMO: All. All.

JORDAN: But does the media have a bias? Does the media have Is the media out to make sure they can undermine some of the things the president is doing? I think that's pretty clear.

But what I do understand about this executive order is, I think it's good, common sense. I think it's for the safety of America, for the safety of our country. And I think, again, America is the most welcoming planet -- or welcoming country on the planet. We want to let people in here who truly deserve it. We want to check them out before they get here.

CUOMO: You do check them out, you want to say you're welcoming but you are banning them with no proof of threat.

JORDAN: It's a pause. It's a pause.

CUOMO: The president calls it a ban. He says call it a ban. He tweets that it's a ban. It's a ban, Congressman. You're running away from the word.

JORDAN: Ninety-day pause, 120-day pause. While it may be a short ban, it may be a short pause, but it's for a specified period of time to make sure that people coming into this country are thoroughly checked out.

CUOMO: What does it tell you that you're not even comfortable saying what it is, Congressman? What does that tell you about the policy if you're not even comfortable saying it? You wanted to call it three different things before I got you to say ban.

JORDAN: No, I want to call it what it is. Checking people out before they get into this country to make sure we keep America safe. Tell me what's wrong with that. Why are you so opposed to making sure...

CUOMO: Nobody's opposed to it.

JORDAN: ... people coming into this country that 47 Democrats...

CUOMO: No reasonable person is opposed to that.

JORDAN: Why are you opposed to that? CUOMO: Because it's a false premise. The premise is they're getting

in now and not being checked. Refugees are coming in, and they may be ISIS. We see no proof of those. That is xenophobia. That is a scare tactic.

[07:10:02] JORDAN: Chris, what's wrong with checking it all out and double checking?

CUOMO: Nothing.

JORDAN: Particularly in light with what ISIS has said? What's wrong with that?

CUOMO: Nothing.

JORDAN: Particularly in light with what ISIS said?

CUOMO: Nothing, but we do it now so show me how you will do it better, and don't just scare me with what might happen when you have no way to solve it. That would be the criticism.

JORDAN: I'm not trying to scare you. Chris, I'm not trying to scare you. All I'm saying I think it makes sense when a terrorist organization says they're going to exploit a refugee law that we have that we check it out and make sure, make sure that bad people aren't getting into this country. Tell me how that's not common sense.

And it's consistent with the powers that the executive branch has for national security reasons to do just what he did. Tell me why that -- tell me why that's wrong.

CUOMO: I think -- it's not about wrong.

JORDAN: Exactly.

CUOMO: It's certainly not about what I think. I'm saying that the question is does the executive order do what you're saying it should? And we'll have the courts examine it. And then you come back on and we'll talk about it as policy, once we get the legal reckoning.

Let me ask you one more thing while I have you here. You saw the interview with the president most recently on FOX. During it, he seemed to have a hard time calling out Vladimir Putin for the morally- reprehensible conduct that is often ascribed to him. And instead of taking that on he decided to create a parallel with the United States. You know what he said.


CUOMO: He said, "We're so innocent? How about the things we've done?" How do you feel about that?

JORDAN: Look, I'm not going to get into that. I think...

CUOMO: I don't know how you duck it, Congressman. How do you duck it? How do you duck it? JORDAN: I think -- I think Vladimir Putin has done some terrible

things. I mean, I think -- I think we all understand that.

But I think the president's way of engaging with Russia is the same way Reagan engaged with the former Soviet Union. It's OK to engage, but you've got to be able to walk away and you've got to be able to stand up to them, just like Reagan did in Iceland when they were negotiating certain arms treaties.

So I think that's the approach that he should take. I think that's the approach he is taking. What he said about the United States and comparing to Russia, I just -- I don't agree with that.

CUOMO: President Reagan...

JORDAN: But I do think that engagement makes sense, because that's the way President Reagan handled it.

CUOMO: President Reagan said, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall."

JORDAN: Exactly. Exactly.

CUOMO: Donald Trump just said about Putin, "I don't know Putin. I have no dealings in Russia. And the haters are going crazy. Obama can make a deal with Iran, No. 1 in terror. No problem."

Do you see these two as parallels?

JORDAN: I think the deal with Iran was a bad deal, very bad deal. That's why I opposed it. I think history has shown it's a bad deal. When you've got the largest state sponsor of terrorism, and you're allowing them, even if they follow the deal to get the nuclear weapons, I think that was a terrible deal, and I think everyone understands that.

CUOMO: Can you explain why our president seems determined to shelter Russia and Vladimir Putin from criticism?

JORDAN: I'm not for sheltering Russia. I'm -- I'm more than willing to criticize Russia and criticize Mr. Putin. But I don't think it's wrong to engage as long as you can -- you can criticize when it's appropriate and as long as you can stand up to him, which I think this administration will, in fact, do.

CUOMO: So you have no questions about why our president seems to be sheltering Putin and Russia?

JORDAN: That's your -- that's your terms. I think...

CUOMO: You don't see it that way?

JORDAN: I don't agree with what he said, but I think it's OK to engage with people around the world as long as you're standing up for American interests.

CUOMO: OK. So you don't like my characterization, but you don't agree with these either...

JORDAN: I disagree with a lot of characterizations.

CUOMO: I'm here to test your positions, Congressman.

JORDAN: Same here.

CUOMO: You always bring it full effect, and I appreciate that. Thank you, sir.

JORDAN: You bet. Thank you.

CUOMO: See you soon.


CAMEROTA: He'll never be back.

Democrats staging...


CAMEROTA: I know you -- that was a lively debate and he is...

CUOMO: He believes he's smart. He'll be back.

CAMEROTA: I'm joking, because I know that he is always -- he's smiling, and he is always up to that challenge.

Meanwhile, Democrats staging a marathon protest on the Senate floor. These are some live pictures from the Senate chamber, where Democrats have been there all night. And they are hoping to block the confirmation of Betsy DeVos as the education secretary.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty is live on Capitol Hill with more. How has that night gone?

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It has been a long night up here on Capitol Hill, Alisyn. Despite this effort by the Democrats, Republican leadership is confident that Betsy DeVos is still on track and will be confirmed later on today. They do not expect any additional Republican defections, which is what Democrats were really prompting here with this overnight marathon session.

They will, however, need the help of Vice President Pence, who's expected to come up here later today to cast a tie-breaking vote to cement in her confirmation.

So this marathon session overnight essentially amounts to a last-ditch effort by Democrats, a hail Mary pass, if you will, to try to convince, at the last moment, one more Republican to switch sides, break ranks and vote against Betsy DeVos. And that's what lead -- led to this impassioned speech now -- speech on Capitol Hill, now entering its 20th hour on the floor.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) 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.


[07:15:16] SERFATY: And a vote on Betsy DeVos is expected around 12 noon today. But looking past this, there are some more problems ahead for additional nominees of Donald Trump. Most recently, Andrew Puzder, who is Labor secretary nominee, having to come out and admit that he employed an undocumented worker for many years. Republicans do not think that they will derail his nomination. But certainly, a debate to look forward to in the days ahead up here on Capitol Hill.

By the end of the week, Chris, Republicans are hoping to get Betsy DeVos and three additional nominees confirmed and in place.

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

There is a lot of drama going on with the Senate marathon debate fest there, but is Betsy DeVos going to be confirmed? That's what it comes down to. Can they get another vote, the Democrats? If they can't, this is going to go through, in historic fashion, but it's going to go through.

So how do they think they stand? The Democrat case, next.


CAMEROTA: Democrats continue to hold the floor of the Senate, protesting Betsy DeVos's nomination as education secretary ahead of her vote this afternoon.

[07:20:16] Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy spoke shortly after 4:00 a.m. about his concern that DeVos has no public school experience.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D), CONNECTICUT: When I try to figure out why my office got 13,000 phone calls and e-mails with regard to this nomination, I think it's because public education is so deeply connected to who we feel we are as a country.


CAMEROTA: Senator Murphy joins us now. Good morning, Senator. I know you've had a long night.

MURPHY: Early up. But that's what happens when you're a junior member of the Senate, and you get the graveyard shift.

CAMEROTA: You pulled the short straw. So Democrats are vowing to hold the Senate floor until the vote for

Betsy DeVos. What's the point?

MURPHY: Well, the point is we're at a 50-50 moment where we only need one more senator to break and vote against Betsy DeVos, and she won't be confirmed. And so we want to make our argument up until the last minute to see if we can get that 51st vote.

The fact of the matter is this is a nominee that is just not qualified, not prepared to do this job, someone who has said that public education is a dead end for students. That's deeply offensive to the millions of kids and parents who have benefitted from public education.

So, you know, listen, I think at this point it's unlikely that we're going to get that 51st vote, but we're going to try up until the last minute.

CAMEROTA: Let's remind people about what happened during Betsy DeVos's confirmation hearing. This is the moment that sort of lit up the Internet. So watch this.


MURPHY: Do you think that guns have any place in and around schools?

BETSY DEVOS, EDUCATION SECRETARY NOMINEE: I think that's best left to locals and states to decide. If the underlying question is...

MURPHY: You can't say that -- you can't say definitively today that guns shouldn't be in schools?

DEVOS: Well, I will refer back to Senator Enzi and the school that he was talking about in Wapiti, Wyoming. I think probably there I would imagine that there's probably a gun in the school to protect from potential grizzlies.


CAMEROTA: Senator, was that the moment for you that troubled you the most?

MURPHY: That was about as bad as it got in that hearing. She then immediately contradicted herself to say moments later that she would support Donald Trump's plan to stop schools from being able to declare themselves gun-free.

So on one hand she says that it should be up to schools. On the other hand she says that she'll support a federal initiative to ban gun-free school zones.

But later in that hearing when asked about the Students with Disabilities Act, she seemed to not have any recognition of the federal law that protects kids with disabilities in our schools.

And you put those two things together, a lack of compassion for what's happened to places like Sandy Hook and an inability to just understand the basic law around vulnerable students; and it was clear at the end of that hearing that this was someone who shouldn't be the secretary of education.

CAMEROTA: So if it was clear in your terms, then why haven't you been able to sway one more Republican?

MURPHY: I think Republicans have been very reluctant to break with Donald Trump in these first few weeks. They haven't been willing to challenge him on this reckless illegal Muslim ban. They're not willing to challenge him on nominees that I think even they know in their heart of hearts aren't qualified.

I think it's because they're trying to coopt him to sort of get their economic agenda done. They want to repeal the Affordable Care Act. They want to get a trickle-down tax cut done. And so I think they don't want to risk upsetting anything so that they can get their sort of right-wing economic agenda through later in the year. That's my best guess.

CAMEROTA: You bring up what you call a Muslim ban. The Trump administration calls it a travel ban. You are demanding -- well, as you know, the courts are going to hear this today.

But you're demanding that Congress take action on this. What specifically do you think the Republican-led Congress can do?

MURPHY: Well, there will still be legal uncertainty over this issue, even if the courts rule against the ban today, which I expect they will, because the president can continue to appeal it. So I just think we should settle this once and for all.

Congress can pass a law, as I've introduced, that would cancel, rescind this ban and get us back to a place in which we're working together on national security. I object to this ban, because it's immoral and illegal but also because it's making us less safe. There are terrorists online today that are using this ban to recruit lone- wolf attackers to come after U.S. citizens.

So I've heard my Republican colleagues say they don't agree with this policy. So we can short-circuit the court case and just pass a law in the Congress right now that would repeal this ban. That's what I think we should do. That would be the clearest and easiest way to get back on firm national security footing.

[07:25:16] CAMEROTA: Have you heard enough Republicans say to you that they don't agree with the travel ban to go along with legislation?

MURPHY: I mean, you've heard, what, I mean, 15 to 20 Republican senators that have objected to the ban. I sort of come back to the hesitancy I referenced before. I don't think they're willing to join us in any sort of frontal assault on the Trump agenda this early, because they don't want him to screw up their repeal of the Affordable Care Act or their tax cut later on. But, you know, this is making America less safe every day. It's

making us a laughing stock all around the world if we don't settle this sooner rather than later. It will ultimately get Americans killed. I really believe that.

CAMEROTA: Senator, very quickly. You are the top Democrat on the Senate subcommittee on Europe and regional security. It deals with U.S./Russia policy. As you know, President Trump has been speaking about -- out about his thoughts on Vladimir Putin and Russia.

Let me play for you about what he said about what's going on in Ukraine to Bill O'Reilly. Listen to this.


BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: You talked to Putin last week. You had a busy week last week.

TRUMP: Busy week. Busy week and a half.

O'REILLY: But within 24 hours of you on the phone with the Russian leader, the pro-Russian forces step up the violence in Ukraine.


O'REILLY: Did you take that as an insult?

TRUMP: No, I didn't, because we don't really know exactly what that is. They're pro forces. We don't know are they uncontrollable? Are they uncontrolled? That happens also. We're going to find out. I would be surprised, but we'll see.


CAMEROTA: He doesn't know who's controlling the forces. Do you?

MURPHY: Everyone knows who's controlling those forces. The Russians are having command and control relationship with the so-called separatists. All of their equipment, all of their fire power comes from Russia. This is a Russian invasion of Ukraine, fronted by so- called separatists on the ground.

But, listen, if you want to believe the worst here, if you want to believe that Putin is literally pulling the strings of this administration, then this is exactly how it would play out. You would have the president of the United States clouding the case as to whether Russia is controlling this insurgency in eastern Ukraine. You would have him hinting at the withdrawal of sanctions. You would be making moral equivalences between Putin's killing of journalists and political opponents and U.S. military activities.

This is as scary as it gets in the intelligence committees in the House and the Senate. They need to get to the bottom of what this is all about. What is this strange relationship between Putin and Trump? And is there something that the Russians have on him that is causing him to say these really bizarre things on an almost daily basis? CAMEROTA: Senator Chris Murphy, we'll let you get back to the Senate

floor. Thank you very much for taking the time.

MURPHY: All right. Thanks a lot.

CAMEROTA: Quick programming note for everyone. Be sure you join us tonight. Senators Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz will debate the future of Obamacare. CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash will moderate this special town hall debate, tonight at 9 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.

CUOMO: All right. President Trump is definitely sharpening his attacks on the media. He now says that we are intentionally underreporting terrorist attacks. Is that true? Let's test it next.