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U.S. Court Hears Arguments On Trump Travel Ban; Kelly: Should I Have Delayed Travel Ban Rollout; Trump Falsely Claims Murder Rate Highest In 47 Years; Trump Falsely Claims Media Not Covering Terror Attacks; Elizabeth Warren Rebuked By U.S. Senate; Conway: Are Falsehood More Important Than Truth?; Elizabeth Warren Rebuked By U.S. Senate; Trump Downplays Russia's Role in Ukraine; Barcelona Get Past Atletico; Leicester Back Claudio Ranieri; Pats Celebrate Super Bowl; U.S. Appeals Court Weighs Trump Travel Ban; People Around the World Await Ruling on Travel Ban; Trump Order Suspends Refugee Admissions For Four Months; Pentagon: Russia's Fingertips All Over Eastern Ukraine; Trump: Russia May Not Be Controlling Ukraine Violence. Aired 1-2a ET
Aired February 8, 2017 - 01:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm John Vause, live in Los Angeles, where it is 10:00 on a Tuesday night on the West Coast.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: And I'm Isa Soares, live in London. Where it is 6:00 o'clock on Wednesday morning. Thank you very much.
VAUSE: The future of President Donald Trump's travel ban now rest in the hands of a U.S. Appeals Court. The three-judge panel had arguments for, and against, reinstating the ban on Tuesday. The decision could leave thousands of travelers in legal limbo. We got late details now from Sara Sidner.
SARA SIDNER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: John, what the three judges, the ninth circuit court have to decide is a very small sliver of this case, and that is whether or not to grant an emergency stay which would allow the travel ban to go back in place. They can either decide that or they can decide that the judge and the federal court was correct in Washington, and have the power to say; this has to stop while this case goes through the court.
Now, there are couple of pretty heated and pointed exchanges, if you will, between the judges and the attorneys. Judge Friedland asked a lot of tough questions to the attorney for the DOJ, for the Trump administration; and Judge Clifton, asked some pretty pointed questions and had some strong comments to the attorney for the state. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AUGUST FLENTJE, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT LAWYER: These proceedings have been moving quite fast, and we're doing the best we can. I can sight the - MICHELLE FRIEDLAND UNITED STATES CIRCUIT JUDGE OF THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT: You're saying that the proceedings are moving fast, but you appealed to us before you continued in the District Court to develop the record. So, why should we be hearing this now if it sounds like you're trying to say you're going to present other evidence later?
FLENTJE: Well, I was just about to, at least, mention a few examples; there have been a number of people from Somalia, connected to Al- Shabaab, who have been convicted in the United States.
FRIEDLAND: Is that in the record? Can you point us to what - wherein the record you're referring?
FLENTJE: It is not in the record. There has also a - been other examples, but again, you're correct, these are not in the record.
RICHARD CLIFTON, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS SENIOR FEDERAL JUDGE FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT: Well, there have been presidential orders in the past but prior Presidents, that treated people based on their nation. Why does - why shouldn't that suggest to us that the - the statute should be harmonize in a way, other than the one you're advocating?
NOAH PURCELL, WASHINGTON STATE SOLICITOR GENERAL: We are - all those orders have been narrower - significantly narrower than the one here in -
CLIFTON: -- the same, though. I mean, if you single out Cubans, because they're from Cuba, that's doing a by a class based on nationality. And I haven't heard any citation or reference to a legal challenge to that or an argument that, I think one is President Raegan's; that what he did wasn't appropriate. There were others singled at individual's countries hadn't been a challenge to that.
SIDNER: Each Attorney was given a little bit more than their 30- minute time that was allotted for them to make their oral arguments. Now, the judges have all of the information that they're going to get to go ahead and make a decision, as to when that decision is exactly going to come down? We do not know. That is up these three judges at the appellate level. There is a sense that whoever loses they have already said they will likely take it all the way to the Supreme Court. John.
VAUSE: Civil Rights Attorney at the Bloom Firm, Lisa Bloom, is here to breakdown the legal arguments in the federal court. Lisa, good to see you. This was a hot bench, these three judges - though very forthright, had some tough questions. On the government side, they seem to zero it on the question if anyone from the seven banned countries had entered the U.S. and committed an act of terrorism, they've had at this point. Why was that so important? LISA BLOOM, THE BLOOM FIRM FOUNDER AND OWNER: Because that's the justification for the Trump travel ban. That, these seven countries are inherently dangerous so they had to act quickly to block travelers from those countries. And in fact, as the court seems to pointing through their questions, nobody from any of those countries has committed a fatal act of terrorism in the United States. You know, the difference between being in court and being in a political process is in the court, you actually have to have fact that are backed-up by evidence, and apparently, there was none on that point.
VAUSE: OK. While lawyers representing Washington State, arguing to keep this temporary stay in place. They raised the issue of religious discrimination that they was pushed back from this one of the judges, who said, "The evidence on that was pretty thin." Again, why is this important?
[01:04: 42] BLOOM: Because, the constitutional violation here is a violation of the first amendment prohibition of establishment of religion. You cannot establish a religion in the United States. Meaning, you can't discriminate based on religion. If this is truly a Muslim ban, it is unconstitutional, and the State of Washington is arguing that it is a Muslim ban. Afterall, Trump called for a Muslim ban in the election. Rudy Giuliani said, that Trump wanted a Muslim ban, that's why he did this. It's a ban of seven Muslim countries, and the Christians are accepted. So, that's the basis of the argument.
VAUSE: Listening to a line of questioning from the three judges, it seems at least two to three had fairly harsh appraisal of the travel ban. Is it safe to assume that those two judges may be leaning towards keeping the stay in place, or is that sort of dangerous to do that judging and what their asking?
BLOOM: It's a little bit dangerous, listen, I'm in court all of the time, judges asks me questions, I walk out thinking, yes, I got this. And then I get the decision and it turns out I didn't. So, you really can't bank on it. I think it is pretty clear from the judges' questions, at least they feel that the standing argument is good enough.
In other words, that the State of Washington has standing to come into court and make that argument. I don't think they're going to dismiss it on that ground, but I think they're all going to take it under consideration and we're going to have to wait and see what their decision is.
VAUSE: And just to be clear, this is just simply to keep that stay in place. It's not actually about the constitutionality of the executive order itself.
BLOOM: That's correct, but one of the issues is whether the State of Washington is likely to win on the merits - on the merits of what will the constitutional argument. So, the court is making a very early decision saying, that we think this is unconstitutional if they choose to uphold the lower court order. So, they're not making a final ruling but they're giving you a pretty good indication of where it would turn out.
VAUSE: As always. Lisa, thanks so much. Lisa Bloom, Civil Rights Attorney at The Bloom Firm. Thanks for being with us.
BLOOM: Thanks, John.
VAUSE: Well, joining me now for more on this; California Talk Radio Host, Ethan Bearman; And Stanford University Research Fellow, Lanhee Chen. Thanks for being us. So, we've got the situation, the temporary travel ban is in court before the judges. But we've also heard from the Secretary of Homeland Security, John Kelly, he was - before Congress on Tuesday. He took responsibility for some of the confusion and some of the problems caused by this executive order.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN KELLY, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF HOMELAND SECURITY: In retrospect, I should have - this is all on me, by the way, I should have delayed it just a bit. So, that I could talk to Members of Congress particularly the leadership of committees like this, to prepare them for what was coming. We did have to step back and kind of re-cock that -- in that first 24-hour period because of action by one of the federal courts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Ethan, at least someone within the Trump administration is willing to admit the very least - the rollout of the order wasn't especially great.
ETHAN BEARMAN, CALIFORNIA TALK RADIO HOST: Yes, Secretary Kelly did a great job, he's a good General, he fell on the sword, for the Trump administration that rolled this out without proper planning, without proper communication. It wasn't a well-thought-out executive order. I mean, this is why it's being hang-up in the ninth circuit right now. Everything about this is wrong. Congratulations to Secretary Kelly for doing what was right. Now, if only President Trump would follow that old mantra of The Buck Stops Here.
VAUSE: Lanhee, is General Kelly essentially taking the blame for the rest of the administration for the President?
LANHEE CHEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND STANFORD UNIVERSITY RESEARCH FELLOW: Yes. Look, I think General Kelly is articulating something that a lot people have said, which is that the way - the process in which this executive order was rolled out. It was problematic, it was problematic because it wasn't vetted by the proper individuals including General Kelly, and it didn't get buy-in, frankly, from a lot of folks that probably should've gotten buy-in from. Those are process arguments. I think General Kelly did the thing that you expect people in his position to do, he did the right thing today.
The broader issue though, is that General Kelly is still agreeing with the substance of the order, and I think that that's going to be important going forward that the administration speak in a unified voice regarding what the order was trying to accomplish.
VAUSE: Who said there's an on-going issue with the President? Who, you know, it appears continues to make false and misleading statements like this one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: The murder rate in our country is the highest it's been for 47 years, right? Did you know that? 47 years, I used to use that - I'd say that and in speech, and the everybody is surprised. Because the press doesn't tell it like it is. It wasn't to their advantage to say that, but the murder rate is at the highest it's been in, I guess, from 45 to 47 years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: And Ethan, what then happens usually? The President will say something that is inaccurate, or misleading, or false? And then, everyone in the administration seems to try to essentially twist the facts to make them fit what the President had said, instead of correcting the record.
BEARMAN: Yes. I mean, this is just - it's shocking. We're two weeks into his administration and we just get lie, after lie, after lie. Remember, he also said in an interview; only 109 people got held up because of the travel ban, which then later the same day, the DHS said it was 721. And we find out in the court that it's a 100,000.
[01:09:54] You know, the murder rate, Donald Trump was around in the 1970s when we had our peak in the murder rate. We are significantly lower that it was, of course, we need it even lower than it is now. This guy is winging it as President of the United States of America. His people like Kellyanne Conway, and Sean Spicer come out and try and cover for him. This is shameful and it's wrong, and to attack the media make it even worse in terms of what this is doing for his presidency and to the American people for that matter.
VAUSE: In the interest of clarity, that number was revised down to 60,000 still a very high number, but not 100,000. But the point is taken. Lanhee, though, this does seem to be very unique to this administration when it comes to, you know, this misleading or false statements which come out day after day.
CHEN: John, I'm not sure it is unique to this administration. I think that's part of the reason why Americans, frankly, have become so dissolution with politics. You go back to the last administration, there was President Obama saying with respect to the Affordable Care Act, if you like your plan, you can keep it. People we're going to see $2500 reductions in their premiums per month on healthcare. Those ended up to be untrue as well, not to excuse the behavior of saying things that are untrue. Nearly to say that in politics, in some ways, we've become used to this, and it's unfortunate.
Now, with respect to the media, I think it's also fair to say that in many situations people don't trust the media, frankly. And I think that has contributed to the kind of dialogue, and frankly, some of the strategies that the administration is pursuit in their engagement with the media thus, far.
VAUSE: There was also that claim by the President on Monday, about the media has its own agenda with delivering, not reporting terror attacks, which is not true. Here's another exchange between Jake Tapper and Kellyanne Conway.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: He was saying the media does not cover these stories because we don't want to cover them, because we have some sort of agenda. That's what he was suggesting, and it's offensive given the fact that CNN and other media organizations have reporters in danger right now, in war-zones, covering ISIS. And I just don't understand how the President can make an attack like that?
KELLYANNE CONWAY, SENIOR POLITICAL ADVISOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: There's no question about that. Well, first of all, I want to tell you, not intended as thin, I'm crediting the covered of CNN and your colleagues across the media, gave to these high profile and high casualty, very sad and very vicious attacks.
TAPPER: They were on the list of undercovered attacks.
CONWAY: As were dozens and dozens of others. But I do know what the President's point was because I discussed it with him directly.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: The President - her point was the President wanted to highlight that many attacks go, sort of, under report that he wanted to bring attention to that. But also, (INAUDIBLE) Conway over this defense of the President. Listen to this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CONWAY: Are they - are they more important than the many things that he says that are true? That are making a difference in the people's lives?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: So, in other words, you know, are his falsehoods more important than the stuff that he says is true, or the stuff that he's actually doing for the American people. Ethan, is it more of (INAUDIBLE) that Conway admitted the President is making false statements? Or that, she said that it essentially doesn't matter?
BEARMAN: Well, she's saying it doesn't matter. He can lie all he wants because as long as he's feeding red meat to his base, yes, I get those foreigners out of here. Let's make the other bad. Let's follow in the steps of President Erdogan in Turkey right now, cracking down on the media; or President Putin in Russia who does the same thing, is that really what we want the United States to be? Is like that? Where we remove the media, which is explicitly protected in our first amendment? By the way, I just have to throw in, let's start calling him Saint
Jake Tapper, for maintaining his calm in that interview. Kellyanne Conway has the hardest job on Earth right now, and you know that President Trump is making lie, after lie, after lie, just openly in public. And then, she has to cover for him. I feel bad for Kellyanne right now.
VAUSE: I mean, Lanhee, do you get a sense that there is a higher turnover of falsehoods or what constantly fact-checking this administration to try and find out exactly what the truth is?
CHEN: Well, I think there's a couple of things: first of all, John, I think there's carry-over from the campaign the way the campaign was waged, how divisive it was, the relationship that the media had with the Trump campaign, I don't think was particularly strong. And so, I think some of those things are carrying over, I think it's the case that some on the media see it as their task and their job to hold the administration accountable.
I think that's the nature of the first amendment, that's the nature of our democracy. And I think people and the media should continue to do their job in that respect, but again, it comes back to perception of the media amongst many American. Certainly, many people who supported Donald Trump, don't have a particularly positive impression of the media. And I think this is all part of a strategic effort, to emphasize how the President is not satisfied with the status quo, he's going to do what he needs to do to get his message out there.
VAUSE: OK. Well, there was a stunning moment on the floor with the U.S. Senate just a few hours ago, Elizabeth Warren, she's speaking out against the nomination of Jeff Sessions, for Attorney General. As she was reading from a 1986 letter, which was written by the widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., it was written in opposition to Sessions nomination as a federal judge. That's when the Republican control senate voted that she violated the rules of debate, impugning the reputation of another Senator. She is now forbidden to speak for the rest of the debate, probably sometime on Wednesday. Senator Warren spoke to CNN a short time ago.
[01:15:10] ELIZABETH WARREN, UNITED STATES SENATE DEMOCRATIC: They can shut me up, but they can't change the truth. What Coretta Scott King talked about Jeff Sessions' doing back in 1986, is something every American should know about.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Ethan, this was an incredible moment which will draw more attention to Jeff Sessions and his civil rights record. Won't it?
BEARMAN: Yes, it should. And by the way, what an insane move on the part of the Republicans in the Senate. You have a senator that is up for confirmation to be attorney general. Of course, they're going to have to speak their minds about him. This was an abusive power by the Senate Republicans. And on top of it all, reading a letter from Coretta Scott King violated senate rules. For shame on the Republicans, this is wrong on every level. And I say congratulations to Senator Warren for bringing it up, and I hope she continues to speak out on this topic.
VAUSE: Lanhee, was this a bad tactical move by the Republicans and the Senate leader Mitch McConnell, the chamber is almost empty, you know, they're having the speakerthon 24-hour sessions. Why pick a fight with the confirmation of Jeff Sessions? It's pretty much a done deal anyway.
CHEN: Well, I think part of it was to try to return a little bit of decorum frankly, to the Senate floor. It wasn't for reading the letter that Senator Warren was sighted. It's called Rule 19 that she was sighted for violating the rule that prevents you from impugning another Senator. It was all for other, frankly, personal attacks against Jeff Sessions. She had every right, of course, to express her point of view and I think she did so. -
BEARMAN: Come on, Lanhee - he's - Lanhee --
CHEN: But what Senator McConnell is doing, he basically saying enough is enough.
BEARMAN: He's a nominee. He's a nominee, though. He is not just a sitting Senator. He's a nominee. She has to be able to speak about the nominee for Attorney General.
CHEN: Oh, give me a break.
BEARMAN: It's was an abusive power by the Republicans bringing up Rule 19.
CHEN: -- Senator Sessions, and that's why she was censored in the way that she was. It's totally within the prudential responsibility of the leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, to do what he did and I think he did the right thing tonight.
BEARMAN: That apparently cannot nominate Senators for Cabinet positions.
CHEN: It has nothing to do with nominations.
BEARMAN: He can't speak openly about him, then you can't nominate him anymore.
VAUSE: OK. We have time for more -- I think one more, very quickly on Mitch McConnell on the Senate floor. He said this to Elizabeth Warren, she was warned, she was given an explanation, nevertheless, she persisted. And Lanhee, some of comments on social media about that have been scathing.
CHEN: Oh, and I get that, you know. I think - I think people want to take Senator Warren's side, that's fine. But I think Senator McConnell did what he thought was necessary in terms of restoring order on the Senate floor and every Senate Majority Floor Leader has the opportunity to do that. Senator Reed used his power in the same way, when he was Senate Majority Leader. So, look, this is just part of the process. Unfortunately, it's gotten quite nasty. If the Senate Democrats did not pursue a historic stonewalling of President Trump's nominees, we wouldn't be here.
VAUSE: OK. Final words from Lanhee. Thanks for being with us Lanhee Chen and Ethan Bearman. Really appreciate it. Thank you.
CHEN: Thank you.
VAUSE: An occasion missed this earlier, you can watch Jake Tapper's entire interview with Kellyanne Conway, that's coming up in two hours. It is well worth watching. If you saw it earlier, watch it again. Isa.
SOARES: Thanks very much, John. Around the world, many are anxiously waiting for court ruling on President Trump's travel ban. We get the - give you the international reaction. That's coming up next.
Plus, Mr. Trump says he is not sure of Russia's involvement in the violence in Ukraine. But the Pentagon, it seems have a different view. Bringing the latest from Moscow, coming up, after this break.
[01:20:54] DON RIDDELL, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: Hey, I'm Don Riddell with your CNN WORLD SPORT Headlines. Luis Suarez scored and was also sent off as nine-man Barcelona held on the reach the Copa del Rey final with a thrilling aggregate win against 10-men Atletico Madrid. Suarez scored just before half-time before Barca's Sergi Roberto and Atletico's Yannick Carrasco were sent off for two yellow-cards. Substitute Kevin Gameiro missed a penalty before equalizing. Suarez was then shown a second yellow but Atletico couldn't force extra time.
Leicester City have given their, quote, "unwavering support" to manager, Claudio Ranieri, despite the reigning Premier League Champions being just one point above the relegations zone. The Italian is under pressure after rounding up just 2 wins in the last 15 league games. In fact, Leicester, without a league win this year, and have yet to score a goal. The folks said in the statement that the entire club is, and will remain behind its manager.
The U.S. City of Boston loves throwing a parade for its sports teams who've given them very good reasons to in recent times. The latest example, of course, the New England Patriots. Led by quarterback Tom Brady, fresh off their comeback victory against the Atlanta Falcons. The Patriots set off on a very familiar route on Tuesday, piling on to their iconic dock boats and showing off the Super Bowl trophy to hundreds of thousands of fans that never seem to tire of seeing it.
That is a quick look at your Sports Headlines. I'm Don Riddell.
VAUSE: 22 minutes past 10 here on a Tuesday night. Welcome back to NEWSROOM L.A. I'm John Vause, live in Los Angeles.
SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares in London, and the time is 22 minutes past six in the morning. Now, the fate of President Donald Trump's travel ban now rests with three U.S. Federal Judges. They had arguments from lawyers from Washington State and the Judge Departments on Monday.
The three-judge panel decide whether to lift the nationwide halt against the ban. That ruling is expected this week. Many people around the world are in limbo, as they wait for the court's decision. Our Jomana Karadsheh is following international reaction. She joins us now from Amman in Jordan. Jomana, talk us through the impact this legal back and forth is having on the lives of those people that are being trapped by the travel ban.
JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Isa, there's so much confusion and uncertainty. You're talking about like, more than a week ago. People in this part of the world and these seven countries that have been impacted by the travel ban, woke up to the news that they could no longer travel to the United States. A few days later, they wake up to the news that now, they can but it's temporary and that this could change at any point. And it's really impacting several groups of people. You've got these applicants who can - who are waiting to get their visas to the United States. You've got others who have their visas. These are people who are intending to travel as students to the United States; they were going there for medical treatment; visit family members. And to say the least, their life has been disrupted by this.
You've got some who decided to take advantage of this window of opportunity to try and get to the United States while this legal battle is ongoing. You have others who really didn't want to take the risk. It's quite a risky thing for them to do because they're concerned that things could change at any minute while they're on flights. And then they would end up being turned back like we've seen happened before. And of course, there's also a financial burden for some to try and get to the United States. It's not cheap for them traveling to the U.S.
And then you have another category, probably, perhaps, the most impacted by this, refugees. According to the United Nations, UNHCR says, about 800 people were supposed to be resettled in the United States within those four months where President Trump announced this pause in taking in any refugees. The U.N. said these 800 people are amongst the most vulnerable refugees in the world. And it is not an easy thing for them to prepare to leave, to start a new life in the U.S.
We've seen this in past during the years of coverage in Iraq, for example. Isa, there, when people were told they're about to travel to the United States to get ready. That finally, after years of waiting, that they have been accepted in this refugee program. They need to prepare themselves and that actually entails them selling all their belongings, their cars, their houses, packing their lives down into one suitcase because that is the only thing they can carry. And they're prepared to leave to the U.S. And then now, they're in that limbo. So quite an emotional rollercoaster for refugees, especially.
[01:25:20] SOARES: Absolutely. And majority of (INAUDIBLE) are families with many young children, Jomana. Now, we have heard time and time again that vetting is extreme. From those you have spoken to, how easy is it to get a visa or refugee resettlement in the United States?
KARACHI: Well, look, Isa, people tell you they understand that the United States needs to protect itself, that the government needs to have vetting in place to stop any possible terror threats coming into the country, and they really understand this. But what people don't understand is this concept of extreme vetting because to get to the United States, is not an easy thing.
To get a visa also includes background checks, it includes vetting before people are given those visas. And in the cases of refugees, you're talking about a process that entails multiple layers of background checks, vetting, security screening, even family members of those applying for signing are also checked before they are given their visas.
So -- and this can take at least about two years on average for people to go through this very complex process of getting refugee status in the United States. So, it's not like people decide they are going to the U.S. and they are granted asylum. It is a very complex process with so many layers of this extreme vetting. So, people really don't understand what more can be done about that.
SOARES: Jomana Karadsheh for us there in Amman, Jordan. Thanks very much, Jomana. Now, the Pentagon says Russia is involved in the growing violence in Eastern Ukraine just days after President Trump cussed out Moscow's role in the conflict. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILL O'REILLY, THE O'REILLY FACTOR HOST: You talked to Putin last week. You had a busy week last week.
TRUMP: I'm very busy, yes. A busy week and a half.
O'REILLY: But, within 24 hours with you on the phone with the Russian leader, the pro-Russian forces stepped 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. Their pro forces, we don't know, are they uncontrollable, are they under control, that happens also. We're going to find out. I would be surprised, but we'll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Well, the Pentagon contradicted Mr. Trump. And this is what it said. Let me read it out to you. "Russia has its fingerprints all over what is going on in Eastern Ukraine." That's Pentagon Spokesman.
For more, let's bring in CNN's Claire Sebastian live from Moscow. And Claire, how is the Kremlin reacting to those comments and indeed the assessment of the conflict in Ukraine by the Pentagon?
CLAIRE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Isa, now official reaction from the Kremlin to those specific comments, yes. But all along, Russia has said that it is not partied to this conflict in Eastern Ukraine that that is happening within Ukraine's borders, that its Armed Forces are not involved. But that needs a consensus among the previous U.S. Administrations and their European allies, is that Russia wields considerable influence over the separatists in Eastern Ukraine.
Just yesterday, Angela Merkel was on the phone with President Putin urging him to use that influence to help end the violence in Eastern Ukraine. So, certainly we expect the Kremlin to come out against those comments that, that is the line they've taken all along. But as to Mr. Trump's comments, well that's called the seal of approval here in Russia. The Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, coming out on Tuesday saying that - you know, praising that approach saying that this marks a qualitative shift from the previous U.S. Administrations specifically that Mr. Trump said he wants to wait and find out more. That he doesn't necessarily think that Russian - that those separatists in Eastern Ukraine are controlled by Russia.
So, certainly though both sides, Donald Trump and President Putin, leaving the door open to an improvement in their relationship here. We don't know yet though, how the U.S. will react or will make any move when it comes to the conflict in Easter Ukraine, Isa. SOARES: Now, I'm not sure whether it's a policy of shift but it's
definitely a shift for sure. And we have seen, Claire, you and I have been speaking for the last two weeks or so about this. Pretty measured comments from President Trump when it comes to Russia and in the surge of violence in Ukraine. We played that sound bite there for them earlier. How does the Kremlin, if anything, view the tone in general coming from U.S.? Not just what's happening in Ukraine but in the whole - on the relationship between those countries?
SEBASTIAN: Well, the approach that they seem to be taking and even in the recent days, Isa, is that we're going to wait and see. In the same interview that I just quoted, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov telling State News Agency task that it's really too early to tell exactly how Russia and U.S. are going to work together. He says, you know, the U.S. is still filling key positions. They're still defining their Foreign Policy objectives and Russia is watching closely and is still leaving the door open to an improvement in relationships. They admit that there may be profound differences between them.
Of course, Ukraine could prove to be a sticking point there. The sanctions on Russia over Ukraine are as yet still in place, and the issue of Iran -- Russia's alliance with Iran in Syria perhaps could get in the way of stated objectives. But both sides, both Russia and the U.S., have said they want to work together to fight terror in Syria. So there are -- there is still a kind of a complex web of geopolitical relationships that could, you know, possibly undermine an improvement in ties between Russia and the U.S. But as yet both sides, Russia in particular, saying that it is ready to improve ties with the U.S.
ISA SOARES, CNN ANCHOR: Clare Sebastian there for us in Moscow. Thanks very much, Clare -- John.
JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Well, Isa, the Trump administration has take an hard line with Iran since taking office. Now Iran's supreme leader is going after Mr. Trump personally. We'll have his comments in just a moment.
SOARES: A very warm welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Isa Soares live in London.
VAUSE: I'm John Vause live in Los Angeles. It is 10:34 here on Tuesday night.
Iran is continuing its war of words with the Trump administration. This time from the very top.
[01:35:02] In an address to military leaders, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Al- Khamenei thanked the new U.S. president for exposing America's shortcomings and damaging its place on the world stage.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AYATOLLAH AL- KHAMENEI, SUPREME LEADER OF IRAN (Through Translator): He made it easier for us to reveal the true face of the United States. Something we have been saying for more than 30 years about political, economic, moral, and social corruption within the U.S. government. He came out and exposed it during his election campaign and after the election. Now with everything he is doing he's showing the real America and the true meaning of American human rights.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: With me now, Josh Lockman, a lecturer in international law and U.S. foreign policy at the University of Southern California School of Law.
Josh, good to see you.
JOSH LOCKMAN, LECTURER, USC SCHOOL OF LAW: Great to be with you, John.
VAUSE: You know, it's always -- it's always tricky to know exactly what's happening inside Iran, but are these comments by Iran's supreme leader, is this about more than just the growing tensions between Tehran and Washington?
LOCKMAN: I think it is about more than a seemingly imminent clash between Washington and Tehran. I think we have to look to the domestic political expediency that Supreme Leader Khamenei's remarks may indicate. Obviously there are elections in Iran this spring that are critical and there's been a long chasm, if you will, or cleavage between moderate elements, especially representative by President Rouhani, and on the other hand, ultra conservative elements that are more aligned with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. So Khamenei's remarks, while they are telling and may press a more
confrontational approach on both ends, they may be more important for looking at the domestic politics taking place in Iran.
VAUSE: OK. Well, here's what the White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in response to those comments from Iran.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: This president is not going to sit by and let Iran flout its violations or its apparent violations to the joint agreement. But he will continue to take action as he sees fit. The president's also made clear time and time again that he's not going to project what those actions will be and he will not take anything off the table. But I think Iran is kidding itself if they don't realize that there is a new president in town.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VAUSE: Does that kind of tough talk -- does that sort of embolden the hard liners within Iran?
LOCKMAN: I think it does embolden the hard liners, John. I think what's more telling is the remarks, not just from Press Secretary Sean Spicer, but National Security Adviser Flynn last week essentially stating Iran is on notice which is dangerous rhetoric potentially because it could damage American deterrence if and how Iran responds in this test or crisis, if you will.
In many respects Iran could present the first major foreign policy crisis for the Trump administration and by setting such a confrontational and hostile tone toward Iran that's vague and unclear, you know, putting Iran on direct notice, it could create something tantamount to a red line, which the Republicans would often criticize former President Obama for vis-a-vis Syria. So I do think this rhetoric could play into the hands of the hard liners in Iran, as you mentioned, and could bolster them at home.
VAUSE: You're going out on a limb there talking about the first major foreign policy crisis. There's a few on the go right now.
VAUSE: But the Pentagon sources --
LOCKMAN: That's true.
VAUSE: They've told CNN a long range rocket which was prepped, it was ready for launch, it's being removed from the launching pad. Is that timing coincidental here? You know, it could be a technical issue. Could this be in response to, you know, that tough talk which we've heard from the Trump administration?
LOCKMAN: It could be a coincidence, it could be a technicality, it could also be some fear that this is an unpredictable, irrational American president, which many around the world are sharing that concern as well. I believe that Iran would not like to see the deal be scrapped necessarily or backed out of. I think that they may benefit potentially from the United States under a Trump administration backing out of the Iranian nuclear deal, but they do not want to see, you know, European or Asian partners that have come to invest in their country over the last year and a half abruptly leave because of a direct military confrontation.
So while they may try to test the waters and test Trump's resolve in this realm and he's clearly gone forth a lobe, bombast and bluster, they may be limited on what they try to test, apparently with this scrapping of the launch, as you mentioned.
VAUSE: OK. Well, the U.S. president said Iran is the world's number one terrorist state. In response to that the Russian Foreign minister pushed back. He's saying Iran has never been seen having any ties with Daesh, which is ISIS, or Al Nusra Front, which is affiliated with al Qaeda, or any other structure affiliated with these terrorist organizations and included in the relevant U.N. Security Council list.
OK, so given that, how difficult will it be for Donald Trump to get Russia on board to try to deal with Iran as some have suggested as part of the master plan here?
[01:40:08] LOCKMAN: Yes, I mean, I think Trump may think he can strike a grand bargain with Russia, trying to woo Russia toward the American side for a confrontation against Iran and it'll have to give up for that is the question. I mean, some have even floated that Trump is willing to ignore Russian violation of Ukrainian sovereignty or further incursions by Russia into Ukraine in exchange for Russian acquiescence to a more strident tone on Iran. I simply do not think that's possible and I think it would be a more terrible deal. Not just for the security of the Middle East that would not benefit from a confrontation with Iran right now but also the security of Europe.
As you mentioned, this would not just be the only foreign policy crisis. There are multiple foreign military crises. There are multiple ones brewing both in Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia as well. So I do not believe ultimately that this is a joint American area which can be worked on with regard to taking on Iran in a confrontational manner.
VAUSE: OK. Josh, good to see you. Thanks for coming in.
LOCKMAN: Good to see you, too. Thank you.
SOARES: Now the fate of Donald Trump's travel ban is in the hands of three federal judges. The arguments both made for as well as against his order, we'll have that ahead right here on CNN.
[01:45:05] VAUSE: This is NEWSROOM L.A. I'm John Vause live in Los Angeles.
SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares live in London.
Now Washington state solicitor general -- President Donald Trump's travel ban would throw the U.S. into chaos. That was just one of the arguments he made to a U.S. appeals court on Tuesday. The Justice Department attorney maintains national security decisions belong to the president, not, it seems, the court.
He faced intense questions over whether the president's executive order amounts to a Muslim ban. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE WILLIAM CANBY, NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS: Could the president simply say in the order, we're not going to let any Muslims in?
AUGUST FLENTJE, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL COUNSEL: That's not what the order does here.
CANBY: Could he do that? Could he do that?
FLENTJE: That's not what the order does.
CANBY: Would anybody be able to challenge that?
FLENTJE: That's not what the order does here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Now Washington state solicitor general argued a Muslim ban was the exact intention of the order.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUDGE RICHARD CLIFTON, NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS: How do you infer that desire if, in fact, the vast majority of Muslims are unaffected?
NOAH PURCELL, WASHINGTON STATE SOLICITOR GENERAL: Well, your honor, in part you can infer it from intent evidence. I mean, there are statements that we've quoted in our complaint that are rather shocking evidence of intent to discriminate against Muslims given that we haven't even had any discovery yet to find out what else might have been said in private.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: And the court is expected to rule this week on whether to restore the travel ban.
Let's get more on this. Silvia Borelli joins me now. She's a reporter for Politico Europe.
And Silvia, this was perhaps without a doubt the most gripping conference call in the nation's history. Talk us through both arguments because they were very strong on both sides. And talk us through the arguments, and who you thought had the upper hand here.
SILVIA BORELLI, REPORTER, POLITICO EUROPE: Right. So like you said, the DOJ tried to make the point that the president was trying to strike a balance between welcoming visitors into the country and protecting national security. But, of course, the Washington state attorney says that this is not the way to protect national security and although, of course, the president has the power and the prerogative to decide on security issues and could even ban people from coming into the country, there were no legal grounds here and this was exclusively based on discrimination.
So the two sides both have legal merits really, but on one side the DOJ is saying this is up to the president. The Seattle judge that ruled against the travel ban did not have the power to do so. He cannot interfere in that sphere of the president's power, but on the other hand, the president obviously has to abide by the Constitution and he cannot discriminate on religious grounds. And that's what precisely people are saying, that this is a Muslim ban.
SOARES: But this wasn't about the constitutionality of it. It was about whether to reinstate the ban. Wasn't it? So from what you heard from the three judges, from the tone, the rhetoric coming from them, which way did you think it's going?
BORELLI: Well, here you have two Democratic judges and one --
BORELLI: Nominated by George Bush. So, I mean, they actually grilled the DOJ attorney because he wasn't presenting any evidence really. And they were a bit skeptical, it seemed, about the DOJ's arguments because, you know, when they asked well, how did you come up with these seven countries, the DOJ judge said well, actually in 2015 and 2016 it was the Congress and it was the Obama administration that indicated these seven countries as potential terrorist rubs, but actually, back then what happened was that these people, people from these countries that they traveled back to one of those seven countries and they had to reapply for visas when coming back into the U.S.
So the point the opposers of the ban are making is that actually, you know, there's vetting and a complicated visa process to get into the United States so this is just completely discriminatory.
SOARES: I'm guessing you're not a betting lady. But which way do you think it will go?
BORELLI: Well, it's hard to say at this point, but the judges of the Ninth Circuit did seem very skeptical. Now I don't want to speculate also because probably the way these judges will sway will sort of indicate what will happen in the Supreme Court.
SOARES: Of course, because this -- regardless of the decision here we could be looking at appeals, we could go to the Supreme Court, a divided Supreme Court. This could be rather lengthy, could it not? And how difficult, how worrying could this be for the president? Because we're looking at, what, day 18?
BORELLI: Exactly. It's not great. Although this is one of the promises he made during the campaign. You know, the Muslim ban and not allowing any Muslims into the United States, and making the states a safe place again were one of his promises during the campaign. So in a way this could also be seen as Trump's way to abide by his promises. At the same time, it's not great, because you have one of his first executive orders going to court just days after its implementation and as you said it's only 18 days into his presidency.
[01:50:07] SOARES: Silvia Borelli, thank you very much. I'm sure we'll be talking again about this. Silvia, thank you -- John.
VAUSE: Well, Isa, still to come here, Barack Obama no longer president and boy, does he seem happy about that. We'll have more on what the former commander-in-chief has been doing on his vacation.
SOARES: John, I think it's fair to say that former U.S. president Barack Obama seems to be adjusting well to life after the White House.
VAUSE: Absolutely. He has a new hobby, kite surfing, and he's hanging out with the really cool billionaires like Richard Branson.
Here's Jeanne Moos.
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He waved good-bye, flew away in a chopper. Next thing you know he's flying a kite. Kite surfing actually in the Virgin Islands with a smile so big one poster commented, "Ah, he looks younger already."
"How was your weekend?" was the caption comparing Obama's face to President Trump's. Tweeted another, "Wait, he's having fun? Is he allowed to have fun? Why isn't he saving us?" He can't even save himself from the golf course where even an ex-president gets teased from missing putts.
In the Virgin Islands Obama kicked back with his hat backwards in photos obtained by "The Daily Mail."
[01:55:02] "Obama got his hat to the back like it's 1990 and Trump isn't president. Get your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) back here, with respect, sir." But Obama's (EXPLETIVE DELETED) kept falling in the ocean as he and his host Richard Branson learned new water sports. Branson learned foil boarding while Obama kite surfed. And when the two competed to see who could stay up longer, the former president won.
If you're missing Obama and looking for the next best thing to a hug, here it is. Dreamed up by an inventor in New Hampshire.
PETER CONNORS, FOUNDER, HUGZ: It's 28 inches fingertip to fingertip and will literally hug you. MOOS: Like many hugs it can be awkward. Where exactly do you put
this hand-painted illustration?
CONNORS: And of course you can do that diagonal hug, right, around the neck and the arm.
MOOS: Peter Connors says he was devastated when Donald Trump won. He launched Obama hugs and is now developing an app that lets you turn your own image into a hug back and front. And while many may be missing Obama, does he look like he's missing them?
Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
VAUSE: You know, actually oddly enough, he does look a lot younger. Obviously not having the pressure of the job is agreeing with him.
SOARES: He does indeed. He does look very young. I think anyone would look pretty young, though, if they were doing what he's doing on a holiday. And I like the idea of this hug, John. I'm sure many in that White House could do with one of those.
VAUSE: OK. Well, we got to go.
You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.
SOARES: And I'm Isa Soares in London. We'll be back with more news after a very short break. Do stay right here with CNN.