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Warren Silenced on Senate Floor; Countdown to 9th Circuit Travel Ban Ruling; Massive Crowds Celebrate at Patriots Parade. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired February 8, 2017 - 05:00   ET



SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: I appeal the ruling of --

SEN. STEVE DAINES (R), MONTANA: The objection has been heard. The senator will take her seat.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: High drama on Capitol Hill. A leading liberal senator tries to read a letter in her attempts to oppose the attorney general nominee. Oh, but then the GOP reads her the rules. The fallout, ahead.

The future now in the hands of a federal appeals court. Will the judges decide the president has such authority for such a use of power?

Good morning. Welcome to EARLY START this morning. I'm Christine Romans. It's Wednesday. It is February 8th, 5:00 a.m. on the nose in the East. Good morning, everyone.

We begin with the Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren silenced. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell taking action as Senator Warren was trying to read the words of Coretta Scott King to criticize Senator Jeff Sessions, the nominee for attorney general.

[05:00:02] Senator McConnell invoked a rarely used rule to cut off Warren. It's known as Rule 19. Now, normally, a floor speech gets little to no attention. But when McConnell shut down Warren's speech invoking the words of Martin Luther King's widow, McConnell may have given Senator Warren and her followers a spark.

Watch what happened on the Senate floor.


WARREN: This is what it said, "They are mothers, daughters, sisters, fathers, sons and brothers.


WARREN: They are --

MCCONNELL: Mr. President --

DAINES: The majority leader?

MCCONNELL: The senator's impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama, as warned by the chair. Senator Warren, quote, "said Senator Sessions has used the awesome power of his office to chill the free exercise of the vote by black citizens." I call the senator to order under the provision of Rule 19.

WARREN: Mr. President?

DAINES: Senator from Massachusetts.

WARREN: Mr. President, I am surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate. I ask leave of the Senate to continue my remarks.

DAINES: Is there objection?

MCCONNELL: I object.

WARREN: I appeal the ruling --

DAINES: Objection is heard. The senator will take her seat.


ROMANS: According to Majority Leader McConnell's staff, Warren is now banned from speaking on the Senate floor for the remainder of the debate on Sessions nomination.

She's not staying quiet, though, sort of seizing this moment. She took to the Internet to read Mrs. King's letter after she was cut off from the Senate chamber. And then she told CNN's Don lemon a new level of hostility in politics won't silence her.


WARREN: There's been some hard words in the United States Senate through the years, but all of a sudden, when I'm reading something, a truthful statement from Coretta Scott King, answer, no, can't say that. Well, I'm going to tell you this, they can shut me up but they can't change the truth.


ROMANS: Now, the debate over the Sessions nomination is expected to wrap up at 7:00 Eastern tonight when a final confirmation vote is planned.

Let's go live to Washington now and bring in Zach Wolf, managing editor of

I'm fascinated to get your read on this. You know, reading a letter on the floor of the Senate. I mean, maybe that would have just been, you know, your typical kind of nomination process antics. But then to shut her down, it almost -- it almost made a voice louder in a way.

ZACHARY WOLF, CNN POLITICS: Unquestionably, I mean, this is a speech that very few people would have seen. You know, C-Span junkies maybe tuning into this Jeff Sessions debate that goes on for hours and hours and days even in this case. But by shutting her down, they've essentially given her a platform.

And you have to wonder the strategy, if there was one behind this for Republicans, they've certainly galvanized Elizabeth Warren and her politics.

ROMANS: Yes, was that a tactical error by Senator Mitch McConnell, do you think?

WOLF: We'll have to see, you got to wonder what was going on in his mind while doing that, especially since she was reading a letter from Coretta Scott King. It's not like she was saying Jeff Sessions used, you know, the force of his power. It was a letter from kind of a, you know, an icon of the civil rights movement doing that.

ROMANS: And remind us, remind our viewers why she was bringing that letter. What was in that letter? It was a criticism of Jeff Sessions at a time when he was being considered for a federal courtship, federal judgeship.

WOLF: That's right. He did not end up getting that federal judgeship. It was before he ran for Senate. It was back in the '80s.

And honestly, this kind of episode had almost been forgotten in the confirmation fight of Jeff Sessions. He seemed to do very well in his confirmation hearings, answering some of these questions. Democrats didn't have the numbers to stop him. By doing this, they've really opened this whole chapter back up again.

ROMANS: Well, it's clear they don't have the numbers to stop him, so they're trying to find other ways, you know, other ways to slow walk or to oppose the president's nominees.

Let's listen to what Senator Mitch McConnell said. His sort of rationale here. He said she'd been warned and she didn't listen.


MCCONNELL: Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.


ROMANS: So, for those of you who are not as geeky as Zach and others and don't know what Senate Rule 19 Provision 2 is, here it is, "No senator in debate shall directly or indirectly by any form of words impute to another senator or other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator." So, a letter from Coretta Scott King, Mitch McConnell rules, fulfills

that mandate there?

[05:05:03] WOLF: Well, yes. The reading of it during this debate on Sessions, I guess, does it. And it's by giving it voice perhaps that does it. That sound in there where he said, "She was warned before we made her sit down." I can't imagine that's going to help her cause much.

ROMANS: Yes. Senator Orrin Hatch talked about, you know, sort of like respect and decorum in the chamber. Let's listen to what he said.


SEN. ORRIN HATCH (R), UTAH: We have to treat each other with respect, or this place is going to evolve into nothing but a jungle. I'm not perfect so I don't mean to act like I am. But I have to say that all of us need to take stock. We need to start thinking about people on the other side, need to start thinking about how we might bring each other together in the best interests of our country.


ROMANS: I thought that was an interesting remark. You know, she went -- Elizabeth Warren went on our air last night with Don Lemon and said, you know, it's remarkable hostility happening right now. And she feels she has to find other ways of voicing her frustration.

WOLF: It's really interesting what's going on out there, after they changed the filibuster rule which is another -- you know, arcane element of Senate procedure to make it so that it's -- you know, 51 votes gets you, with the Supreme Court nominees, instead of 60. You can really tell, the Senate used to have this sort of -- I don't know what the right word is -- it just felt a little bit different.

But recently, it felt like the House, a lot of Democrats are saying that, the way the senators are interacting with each other. You could just feel it. It's a little bit different.

ROMANS: I think the word you're looking for is gravitas, you know? Gravitas in the Senate. I also think it's interesting that just a week ago, Senator Orrin Hatch called Democrats idiots. So, we do have these remarkable moment we're in right now.

All right. Zach, go get a cup of coffee. Come back in a couple of minutes because I want to talk to you more about Kellyanne Conway and Jake Tapper, in this remarkable interview almost trying to figure out what kind of relationship the media and White House are going to have over the next four years. So, come back and we'll talk about that.

Thanks, Zach.

WOLF: Sounds good.

ROMANS: A ruling on the president's travel ban coming as soon as today. We have the argument and the next legal steps.


[05:11:24] ROMANS: Three federal judges on the 9th Circuit expected to rule as early as today on President Trump's refugee and travel ban. During a 60-minute phone hearing last night, these judges sparred with attorneys on both sides. Government lawyers, they tried to make the argument that the president does have blanket authority in case of national security and should not be impeded by the courts and that triggered pushback from the judges.


AUGUST FLENTJE, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL COUNSEL: The district court's decision overrides, the president's national security level over the level of risk. And we've been talking about the level of risk that is acceptable. As soon as we're having that discussion, it should be acknowledged that the president is the official that is charged with making those judgments.

JUDGE MICHELLE FRIEDLAND, NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS: So, are you arguing then that the president's decision in that regard is unreviewable?

FLENTJE: The -- yes, there are obviously constitutional limitations, but we're discussing the risk assessment.


ROMANS: Right. Attorneys for the states argued the president's travel ban harms U.S. citizens and discriminates against Muslims. A suggestion that triggered this confrontation between a judge and attorney from Washington state.


JUDGE RICHARD CLIFTON, NINTH CIRCUIT COURT OF APPEALS: But I have trouble understanding why we're supposed to infer religious animus when, in fact, the vast majority of Muslims would not be affected as residents of those nations. And where the concern for terrorism with those connected with radical Islamic sects is kind of hard to deny.

NOAH PURCELL, WASHINGTON STATE SOLICITOR GENERAL: Your honor, the case law from this court and the Supreme Court is very clear that to prove religious discrimination, we do not need to prove that this order harms only Muslims or that it harms every Muslim. We just need to prove that it was motivated in part by a desire to harm Muslim.

And we have alleged that --

CLIFTON: How can you infer that desire in fact the vast majority of Muslims are unaffected?

PURCELL: Well, your honor, in part, you can refer it from intent evidence. I mean, there are statements that we quoted in our complaint that are shocking evidence of intent to discriminate against Muslims.


ROMANS: The 9th Circuit will only decide whether the Washington state's judge overstepped his authorities by suspended the president's travel ban.

Let's go live to Atlanta and bring in Michael Moore to talk about the legal aspects of all of this.

Nice to see you this morning. Thanks for coming back. I know we've talked a couple times this morning.

What did you hear in that 60-minute hearing, and what are the next steps here for this panel?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: You know, I think it was pretty clear that the court was well briefed on this issue. The judge has a lot of questions to ask of counsel.

The one thing I would warn is I don't know if I'd put a lot of stock in which side is going to win. The judges are going to push each side. They're going to look for loopholes, are going to look for legal arguments.

The questioning does not always govern that out term, or determine that term, outcome rather. So, I don't know I'd put a great deal of stock in that. They spent a lot of time talking about standing and standing of the state of Washington to bring the case, in fact, does the state have the right to bring the case on behalf of citizens.

And there are two theories that the judges explored a great deal. I do think the racial animus question was interesting. Near the end of the case, they beginning to talk about what evidence was there.

You're right that we aren't getting into the merits of the case. We're talking specifically -- these judges are not looking specifically at whether or not this order passes constitutional scrutiny. Rather, they're looking at this as an injunction, and whether or not the party has a likelihood of being able to succeed on the merits of the case and whether or not there's irreparable harm.

[05:15:05] They did talk about exhibits that were attached. Those exhibits are evidence that the judges can consider, realize they're kind of confined to the pleadings at this stage of the case. But things like the use of the term "Muslim ban" during the campaign, and other statements that have been made. One judge I think even mentioned Rudy Giuliani and statements made since then about the ban, or things that may have shed some light on the intent behind the executive order.

ROMANS: Fascinating. So, we know that there could be a ruling from this panel maybe by this evening. What happens next?

MOORE: Well, if they rule, and expect the case will wind up in the Supreme Court which is an interesting question, too, because we've got a 4-4 court as it stand right now. And if the Supreme Court can't have a majority decision, then the ruling of the appellate court would remain in place.

But one side could petition for a re-hearing en banc for a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to come and hear the case. It's interesting, though, to remember we're really in an expedited schedule by the district court. And the judge in the district court has still ordered the briefing go forward. So, that activity is going on on one side. The 9th Circuit may very well send the case to the district court so that more evidence can be gathered. They can have more question as intent, racial animus, how many people might be affected by the travel ban.

You heard one judge talking about 15 percent of Muslims from at least seven countries and how does that affect people. So, you may see some of that. You may see the 9th Circuit just ask the district court to take another look at this, get some more evidence for us and then we'll see where we go.

ROMANS: Let me ask you a final question on this, you talked about religious animus, one of the judges talk about.

There's been a judicial animus from the executive branch that's been remarkable to watch. And I'm wondering what your perspective is as someone who is part of the judicial branch, to the kind of rhetoric that we've seen from the president, as the judges are debating his power?

MOORE: Well, I think it's disappointing and it's unusual. I can tell you that the framers of the Constitution gave us three branches of government. They're coequal branches. They are -- we have checks and balances in our system to make sure that one branch or the other doesn't exercise too much control.

And I think it's unfortunates to hear the president call out a judge specifically. I mean, I don't know that we should have a president saying -- calling a judge a "so-called judge", any more than we should have a judge calling the president a so-called president.

I can tell you I've been in thousands of cases in front of many judges over my career. I may have disagreed with the judge. I may have disagreed with the ruling. But I can tell you when the judge came in I got up and stood on my feet. When he or she left, I got on my feet and stood again. That's because we respect that position. I hope that doesn't become the court.

So, I hope that it doesn't become the norm. I have some fear that we may be seeing more of this down the road as we get midnight tweets and that type of thing. But, hopefully, we'll see some cooperation and respect between the branches.

ROMANS: Michael Moore, nice to talk to you again. We'll talk to you in a few minutes. Former U.S. attorney of the middle district of Georgia -- thank you, sir.

MOORE: Thank you. ROMANS: All right. President Trump's next executive action on immigration could involve worker visas and corporate America bracing for what they fear would be a hit to business. The center of this concern is H-1B visas. The program is meant, it's designed to fill a skills gap. It allows, excuse me, qualified foreign workers to work at U.S. companies.

Now, there are restrictions for education and pay. Eighty-five thousand visas are awarded each year. They're awards by lottery and their demand is far greater than that. Those who get one of these can stay up for -- up to six years. Now, tech companies want more of these visas. But most are awarded to outsourcing companies that flood the U.S. with information technology workers.

Critics say cracking down will help broaden the range of workers the visas serve. But it's unclear how exactly the president wants to change the program, a draft that's been circulating mandates, a review and aims to ensure, quote, "the best and brightest are given these visas".

Houston police launching an investigation to determine who, who stole Tom Brady's jersey the moment after the Super Bowl. Andy Scholes has this morning's "Bleacher Report" and jersey-gate next.


[05:23:39] ROMANS: The Patriots partying through the streets of Boston celebrating their fifth Super Bowl.

Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

Hey, Andy.


You know, this may has been the Patriots fifth Super Bowl parade, but this one is extra special, not only because of the way they won, but also because all of the fans considered it the ultimate revenge for Roger Goodell for deflate-gate. Now, thousands of fans turning out for a party in the snow.

I'll tell you what, Tom Brady was having a blast to the 7-year-old son Benjamin. And Brady took the mike at the end of the parade to thank all those who came out.


TOM BRADY, PATRIOTS QUARTERBACK: 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, yeah, that's number five.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: Rob Gronkowski may not have been able to play in the Super Bowl due to injury, but he was able to get after it during the parade. Gronk was catching beers from fans. And despite it being in the 30s, he even lost his sweatshirt and shirt at one point.


ROB GRONKOWSKI, PATRIOTS TIGHT END: That wasn't the plan going that crazy, but the fans were asking for it. And I brought what they wanted. I chucked beers to them.

[05:25:01] I had to. This is unbelievable. I love them so much.


SCHOLES: Now, later in the day, Gronk attempted to hold all five Patriots Lombardi trophies and it almost did not end well. But luckily, he was able to hold on and recover.

Now, most fans across the country dreamed to go to a championship parade for their team. But for 15-year-old Patrick Magillicutty (ph), it's nearly a yearly ritual. Look at this poster, 15 years old, ten championship parades. The Boston fan base, by far, the most spoiled in the entire country.

Finally, still no sign of Tom Brady's Super Bowl Jersey. And the Houston Police Department holding a press conference saying they are taking this case very seriously.


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


SCHOLES: Christine, I don't know, I don't think that jersey's ever going to turn up.

ROMANS: I'm wondering, who are the people in that locker room at that moment? Are there a lot of people? Are there reporters?

SCHOLES: I've been to many of those locker rooms, it's chaos. It's tons of media in there. I mean, it would have been pretty easy for anyone to just swipe it and put it in a bag and walk out of there. I don't know if we'll ever find that jersey.

ROMANS: The consolation for Tom Brady, he did this five times.


ROMANS: There you go. Nice to see you, Andy Scholes.

SCHOLES: All right. ROMANS: All right. Senator Elizabeth Warren tries to read an old letter on the Senate floor. But Republicans use an old rule to shut her down. More on this shocking showdown in the Senate.