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Gorsuch Makes Case to Senators on Capitol Hill; James Baker Criticizes Trump's Travel Ban; White House Mulls Labeling Two Groups Terror Organizations; Interview with Jimmie "J.J." Walker; Huge Crowds Celebrate at Patriots Parade; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired February 8, 2017 - 10:30   ET



[10:32:21] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. So glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow. John Berman has the day off.

He has been tapped by President Trump to fill Antonin Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court. Now Justice Gorsuch just needs to convince senators, including some skeptical Democrats, that he is the man for the job. Gorsuch is making the rounds this morning with a slew of meetings on Capitol Hill. That's where we find our senior congressional reporter Manu Raju.

Good morning.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Poppy. Call it the red state strategy. This meaning that Gorsuch trying to win over support from red state Democratic senators who will central and critical to determine whether or not he gets that lifetime spot on the Supreme Court, that ninth seat, today meeting with two red state Democratic senators, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Claire McCaskill of Missouri. This coming after his meetings from earlier this week with Jon Tester of Montana, as well as Joe Manchin last week, meeting with him, from West Virginia.

Those senators are all up for reelection in states that voted for Donald Trump. And those are going to be critical to determining whether or not he gets -- Gorsuch can get the 60 votes he will need in the Senate to get confirmed. Right now 52 Republican senators are all likely to vote for him but where do you get those other eight Democratic senators? The red state strategy is central to that. The question is, are there enough Democrats who will buck party lines, and vote with Gorsuch? We don't know yet, we'll see what happens after his confirmation hearings in the next several weeks.

HARLOW: Absolutely, Manu. Thank you.

Former secretary of State criticizing President Trump's rollout of that controversial travel ban. James Baker, who worked under President George H.W. Bush, President Reagan, and President Ford, says a much better unveiling was needed but he also said there has been some bright spots in the first few week of the administration. He sat down with our John King.


JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Based on your experience, because I know that the only person that served as secretary of State, secretary of Treasury and White House chief of staff, the big conversation in this town and around the world is the first two plus weeks of the Trump administration. Let me just start with a general question. How do you think they're doing out of the box?

JAMES BAKER, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Well, I think they're doing well on some things and not so well on others. The big travel ban which has caused a lot of confusion and comments and so forth was really not rolled out with the preparation that I think they should have given it. And we're seeing results of that now.

Running the government is a lot different than running a corporation or a business where the CEO can give the order and it gets implemented. That doesn't necessarily happen in this town, you know that very well.

On the other hand, they've done a really good job on some things. The Supreme Court announcement I think was an extraordinarily good pick. I hope and believe that he will be confirmed. The rollout on that was absolutely perfect. On the travel ban, process matters. Process really -- can make a different and particularly in this town and how you will -- how you present stuff to the public.

KING: When you see this president really steps on the world stage, what do you think? And let me start with this one. When Bill O'Reilly said across the seats like this with the president the other day about Vladimir Putin, he's a killer, would you give the same answer President Trump gave?

BAKER: I'm not going to answer that question yet. I will in a minute. Let me say about pragmatism. I think this president is a pragmatist. He is a successful businessman, and I think he wants to succeed.

KING: Is there a moral equivalency between the United States and Vladimir Putin's Russia?

BAKER: No. No. No. I would -- there is no moral equivalency, no, absolutely not. We have a free press. We have a solidly functioning democracy. We have respect for human rights and things like that. Having said all that, it's damn important that we find a way to have the best possible relationship we can with Russia. May not be a -- may not be a good one, but we need to have the best possible relationship we can.


HARLOW: Fascinating interview there with John King and James Baker.

Still to come for us, the White House considering designating two groups as terrorist organizations. Pushback, though, coming from the president's own team. We'll dive into that with Elise Labott, next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:41:10] HARLOW: The White House today weighing designating Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard Corps and the Muslim Brotherhood as foreign terrorist organizations. But so far President Trump has stopped short of such a designation due, in part, we're learning, to push back from his own team.

Our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is following all of this from Washington.

So, first of all, explain the significance of labeling these two groups to actually terrorist organizations and adding them to that list that the U.S. has.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Poppy, I think it would be for two very different reasons. As we know, the Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, we call them the IRGC for short, really is very influential in all aspects of the Iranian government and the Iranian economy. And they're in charge specifically of maintaining the Iranian missile arsenal. You saw that that ballistic missile test the other day, and the U.S. imposing member -- sanctions on some people, individuals and entities who support the IRGC. So I think this is part of the U.S. looking to take a tougher line against Iran.

On the Muslim Brotherhood, you know, I think this is part of the Trump administration's feeling about what they call radical Islamic terrorism, although the Muslim Brotherhood has never been labeled a terrorist organization. President Obama was really reluctant to do so because the Muslim Brotherhood itself has denounced violence. There are some groups, offshoots of that, splinters like Hamas that are engaged in terrorist activity.

But the Muslim Brotherhood is very prevalent throughout the Arab world as a political and social organization, in many countries like Turkey, like Tunisia, like Morocco. You know, I think viewers would particularly know the Muslim Brotherhood from what happened in Egypt. Now that group won elections with Mohammed Morsi as a president. He was overthrown kind of via a popular coup supported by the military.

And so since then, there have been many in Congress, U.S. allies like the United Arab Emirates, certainly the new government in Egypt has been urging the administration to call them a terrorist group. But so far everyone has been reluctant to do that because specifically they're not -- the parent group is not really engaged in terrorist attacks.

HARLOW: And obviously the rollout of the travel ban in it of itself is causing the administration to sort of put a pause button on this before issuing any executive orders labeling these two groups as terrorist organizations.

Elise Labott, thank you for the reporting at the State Department.

Still to come for us, switching gears in a big way here. "Good Times" comedian Jimmie Walker joins us next to talk about how comedy continues to influence politics.


[10:48:20] HARLOW: CNN's "History of Comedy" takes a look at how comedy has impacted the nation's social and political landscapes for decades. In the first episode, you're going to see the early pushback that some of the most risque comics were faced with.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When you went to the record store, you often had to ask for these albums because they wouldn't be out, that you could just go and pick them up out of the bin. They were often hidden or in a certain part of the store where you needed some sort of assistance from the people in the store because they were thought to be too scandalous.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've heard several of them. It's a miracle that you're able to select lines for them to do on television.

MEL WATKINS, AUTHOR, "ON THE REAL SIDE": The party records that Redd Foxx did were underground. But underground to mainstream society. So the mainstream didn't know anything about it and didn't want any part of it at that point.


HARLOW: Well, comedian Jimmy Walker, best known for his role as J.J. in "Good Times."


JIMMIE "J.J." WALKER, ACTOR AND COMEDIAN: She has a figure that makes the number 8 look like the number 1. And a smile that lights up the night and it all belongs to Kid Dy-no-mite.


HARLOW: I know mike, Jimmie Walker, he's no stranger to comedy or politics, and he's here to discuss both with us. Nice to have you on.

WALKER: It's nice to be with you, Poppy.

HARLOW: I heard you were in my great state of Minnesota, enjoying the cold there, so I'm glad they treated you well. And I'm glad you're back in sunny Los Angeles now.


HARLOW: Look, a lot of people are still talking about Melissa McCarthy's recent "SNL" portrayal of press secretary Sean Spicer. It certainly went viral. Here is a bit.


MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTRESS: I want to begin today by apologizing on behalf of you to me.

[10:50:04] For how you have treated me these last two weeks. And that apology is not accepted.


HARLOW: I mean, bottom line, being made fun of on "SNL" sort of comes with the territory if you're going to be president and serve on his staff. I think people are battling with now how much is too much. Where do you fall on this?

WALKER: I think that "SNL," which is a great show, they have a ton of great writers over there, comedy is a very left-wing thing. There's very little right-wing presence in comedy. And now that Trump is in and the country has become more divided than ever, it's going to be a total assault on Donald Trump. And that's just the way comedy goes.

It's the same thing racially. Racially we're at a tremendous divide in comedy, even though there are some commercial artists like a Kevin Hart or a Dave Chappelle or Chris Rock. Most of the times there is such a dichotomy. Mel Brooks said, funny is funny, but not anymore. Jerry Seinfeld is funny is much different than Kat Williams funny. And the cable networks have participated in it where you'll see Def Jam, Comedy View, Shaq O'Neill Specials. They're all aimed at an ethnic audience.

This is what our country is right now. And it's going to continue along with social media, which really has brought all the ethnic stuff in along with the gay people, the gay rights stuff, the Hispanic comedy, with Gabriel Iglesias. These kind of things are aimed at a certain audience. And I think that it's one of the things that is going to continue to divide this country.

HARLOW: All right. So in a divided nation, you've got "SNL's" Alec Baldwin portraying the president. This is a president who by the way not that long ago actually went on "SNL" and was pretty darn funny. Instead of tweeting that he thinks it's such a bad program, do you think, in the spirit of unity, the president should go on "SNL," make history?

WALKER: No, he won't go on "SNL."

HARLOW: Any president should go -- or should he keep criticizing it?

WALKER: No. No, he's not going to go on. He will tweet about it. And "SNL" is a perfect example. You know, Kenan Thomas, who's on that show, always played women on the show. Used to be the guy who played women. He played black women. So one day they asked him to play a black woman and said, you know, I'm tired of doing that. Why don't we just hire a black woman? And "SNL" self-corrected itself. They said we didn't even realize. It's what I called benign -- a benign cancer in comedy, where you don't even know that it's happening, that you don't have any ethnic people, you don't have any people of different races, you know, see it on TV shows whether it be "Seinfeld" or "Chairs" or any one of those kind of shows. They didn't even realize they didn't have that. And that's what's

happening in our country now. The divide is incredible. Donald Trump is not going to go on "Saturday Night," It's not going to happen. But comedy is a very left-wing thing and obviously the right-wing is in right now and it's never going to really change until the other side gets in.

HARLOW: I was just going to say maybe we need some more conservative comedians. Jimmie Walker, that sort of sounds like --

WALKER: There's not going to be anymore. There's not going to be anymore. It doesn't work.

HARLOW: I'm sorry we ran out of time. It's nice to have you on.

WALKER: OK. Thanks.

HARLOW: Nice to have you on, Jimmie. Thank you very much.

And you can explore the most iconic moments in comedy from stand-ups to sitcoms. This our brand-new original series, "The History of Comedy." It starts tomorrow night right here 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

All right. Take a look at this. You're looking at live pictures of the Senate floor, Senator Bernie Sanders there, he is reading that Coretta Scott King letter, the letter that Senator Elizabeth Warren was reading last night when she was silenced because of Rule 19.

We're going to take a quick break. We will be right back.


[10:58:04] HARLOW: Tom Brady's Super Bowl jersey is still missing. But that did not stop the Patriots from partying through the streets of Boston.

Andy Scholes has more on this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. This may have been the Patriots' fifth Super Bowl parade but this one was extra special not only because of the way they won the Super Bowl but also because all the fans in New England consider this the ultimate revenge to Roger Goodell for deflategate.

Now thousands of fans turned out for a party in the snow. And I'll tell you what, Tom Brady was having a blast with his 7-year-old son Benjamin who was dabbing left and right. Then at the end of the parade Brady, well, he took the mike to thank all of Patriots Nation.


TOM BRADY, PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: Damn, that game was hard. That game was real hard. But you know what, we're going to remember this one for the rest of our lives. We got your back. We know that you got our back. And that's number five. Hell yes, that's number five. (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: And still no sign of Tom Brady's Super Bowl jersey. The Houston Police Department holding a press conference yesterday saying they are taking this case very seriously.


GEORGE BUENIK, ASSISTANT EXECUTIVE POLICE CHIEF: We deem this a pretty important case. We want our top investigators on this case. Hopefully we'll make an arrest. But more importantly, we'll recover that jersey for Tom Brady.


SCHOLES: And Poppy, I'm not sure they're ever going to find that jersey.

HARLOW: I still think John Berman has it, Andy.

SCHOLES: In his basement?


HARLOW: That's why he's not at the show today. He's auctioning it off.


HARLOW: Thank you, Andy, nice to have you on. We'll see you tomorrow.

SCHOLES: All right.

HARLOW: Thank you all for being with us. I'm Poppy Harlow. John will be back tomorrow. "AT THIS HOUR WITH KATE BOLDUAN" starts now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, I'm Kate Bolduan. We do begin with breaking news at this very hour. President Trump just moments ago putting the bench on notice, speaking out about the legal challenge to his travel ban and calling out the federal judges who are right now still deciding how they're going to rule on this case. The president using fear as his defense in part --