Return to Transcripts main page


McConnell Silences Warren On Senate Floor; CNN's Tapper Spars With Conway; Countdown To Ninth Circuit Travel Ban Ruling. Aired 5:30- 6a ET

Aired February 8, 2017 - 05:30   ET



[05:30:45] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)


SEN. STEVE DAINES (R), MONTANA, PRESIDING OVER SENATE: The objection is heard. The senator will take her seat.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, dramatic moments overnight on the Senate floor. A lawmaker silenced using an old rule after she tried to use an old letter to make a point.

A federal appellate court will rule on the president's travel ban as soon as today. Did a lower court overstep its bounds or did the president overstep his authority?

Good morning, everyone. I'm Christine Romans. It's 31 minutes past the hour this Wednesday morning. Let's begin with Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren silenced. Majority leader Mitch McConnell taking action as Sen. Warren was trying to read the words of Coretta Scott King to criticize Sen. Jeff Sessions, the nominee for attorney general.

Senator McConnell invoked a rarely used rule to cut off Warren. It's a rule known as Rule 19. Normally, a floor speech gets little to no attention but when McConnell shut down Warren's speech invoking the words of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s widow, McConnell may have given Sen. Warren and her followers a spark. Watch what happened on the Senate floor.


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


WARREN: "They are --

MCCONNELL: Mr. President -- DAINES: The majority leader.

MCCONNELL: The Senators impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama as warned by the chair. Senator Warren said,"Sen. 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 provisions of Rule 19.

WARREN: Mr. President?

DAINES: The 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: The 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. She took to the internet to read Mrs. King's letter after she was cut off in the Senate chamber. Then she told CNN's Don Lemon a new level of hostility in politics won't silence her.


VOICE OF WARREN: There've been some hard words on the United States Senate through the years, but all of the sudden when I'm reading something -- a truthful statement from Coretta Scott King, the answer is nope, can't say that. I'm going to tell you this. They can shut me up but they can't change the truth.


ROMANS: 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 and bring in Zach Wolfe, managing editor of You know, I wonder if this was a tactical error by the GOP because now, what would have been something that played out on C-SPAN to maybe not even a sound bite on the evening news has become a big story.

ZACHARY WOLFE, MANAGING EDITOR, CNN POLITICS: A big story and something that Democrats are going to use, I think, going forward. It certainly is something that Elizabeth Warren -- it's going to raise her profile nationally to the extent -- you know, she already had quite a profile but this is just optically telling a woman senator to take her seat. It might work in the rules of the Senate but in today's day and age, it just doesn't really play.

ROMANS: Let's listen to Mitch McConnell -- Sen. Mitch McConnell telling her that she was warned and to take a seat. Let's listen to that moment.


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: For those of you who don't have the rules of the Senate memorized, Rule 19 -- "No senator in debate shall directly or indirectly, by any form of words, impute to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy of becoming" -- or, "unbecoming a senator." A rarely used rule. In this case, it certainly became newsworthy.

[05:35:13] WOLFE: That's right and, you know, it's interesting. The Senate has been this place that prides itself on decorum and these kind of, you know, old rules and you feel that changing a little bit. They recently changed -- Democrats changed the filibuster rule which was not an official thing in the constitution. It was just a rule they had -- they required 60 votes -- so they changed it. So, you've got to wonder now if other rules will be -- will be changed soon.

ROMANS: So, the other big story in Washington was this remarkable -- this remarkable interview between Jake Tapper and Kellyanne Conway. She was on CNN air for more than 20 minutes yesterday afternoon and the thrust and parry was just -- was just fascinating to watch because you have a White House that has called the media -- called CNN and others fake news. Has really been confrontational and just has disregarded fact in so many -- so many cases. I want to play a little bit of this exchange between Jake and Kellyanne Conway.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm talking about the President of the United States saying things that are not true -- demonstrably not true. That is important --

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: Are they more important than the many things that he says that are true that are making a difference in people's lives? I just think we want coverage of that as well.

TAPPER: They distract -- they distract from them. They distract from the things he says.

CONWAY: If they're covered they do.


ROMANS: He was talking about the president's false statement about the murder rate -- the murder rate at a 47-year high. You can see, these are the official government numbers -- the numbers from the FBI, I believe, that show that, in fact, it is not at a 47-year high. And what Jake was trying to say and what Kellyanne was trying to -- I mean -- I mean, I think she was trying to extend an olive branch. At one point she said, we have co-custody of this White House for the next, she said, I think, eight years, and we have to figure out how to get along. And Jake said look, we can't really get along if we don't agree on the facts.

WOLFE: Well, and it was remarkable. What you heard there was her saying we should, essentially, ignore the misstatements or not facts that Trump says because they're outweighed by the things that he says that do carry some truth. The problem, I think, is that you can't always tell which one is which. With the murder rate, you can go and look at the government statistics and tell, oh yeah, it's actually near a 47-year low, but with some of the other things that he says it's a little more difficult. And, by the way, these are things that he repeats -- the murder rate. He repeats these things over and over again.

ROMANS: Yes. All right, Zach Wolfe, we'll talk to you again very, very soon. Thanks for coming on. Have a really nice morning. Thanks, Zach.

WOLFE: Thanks. You, too.

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


[05:41:55] ROMANS: All right, welcome back. Three federal judges on the Ninth Circuit court expected to rule as early as today on President Trump's refugee and travel ban. During a 60-minute phone hearing last night the judges sparred with attorneys on both sides. Government lawyers trying to make the argument that the president has blanket authority in cases of national security and should not be impeded by the courts on this. That triggered pushback from the judges.


VOICE OF AUGUST FLENTJE, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPECIAL COUNSEL ARGUING ON BEHALF OF TRUMP ADMINISTRATION: The district court's decision overrides the president's national security judgment about the level of risk, and we've been talking about the level of risk that is acceptable. As soon as we are having that discussion it should be acknowledged that if the president is the official that is charged with making those judgments.


FLENTJE: We talked briefly --

FRIEDLAND: Are you arguing, then, that the president's decision in that regard is unreviewable?

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


ROMANS: 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 an attorney from Washington State.


VOICE OF 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.

VOICE OF NOAH PURCELL, WASHINGTON STATE SOLITICTOR GENERAL ARGUING ON BEHALF OF WASHINGTON STATE: Your honor, the case law from this court and the Supreme Court is very clear that to prove a 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 Muslims and we have alleged that --

CLIFTON: But how do you infer that desire if, in fact, the vast majority of Muslims are unaffected?

PURCELL: 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.


ROMANS: The Ninth Circuit will only decide whether a Washington State judge overstepped his authority by suspending the president's travel ban. I want to go live to Atlanta and bring in a leading legal mind on this, Michael Moore, a former U.S. attorney from Georgia's Middle District. So, what are the possible next steps here? I mean, by the end of the day we think we could have a ruling. What are the possible outcomes here?

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: You know, there's a great likelihood, Christine, that the Ninth Circuit will send the case back to the district court. If that happens, then the judge there will go through the briefing schedule and there will be more evidence presented. The other option is one side or the other could petition for a rehearing en banc, and that is to get more members of the Ninth Circuit Appellate Court to hear the case. Or, they could appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Now, that's, I think, ultimately if we were talking about the case in -- but I think that's a likely outcome. ROMANS: Yes, one way or another it gets to the Supreme Court.

MOORE: Right.

[05:45:00] ROMANS: Let's talk a little bit about the dynamic on the Supreme Court. In six weeks, you're going to have the nomination process begin for -- or the appointment process begin for Judge Gorsuch. That's in six weeks. You've got a four-four split right now but it's not necessarily a true four-four split because Justice Kennedy could -- you know, is often seen as a swing. What about the dynamic there?

MOORE: Well, I think you're right. I don't know that we necessarily need to just say there's four conservatives and four liberals. We do see Justice Kennedy move back and forth a little bit but you see the chief justice, Justice Roberts, move back and forth as well.

ROMANS: Obamacare.

MOORE: That's exactly right. I mean, he was sort of a surprise vote there. That's not unusual on the court. I mean, you had Justice Souter who, by all intents, people thought he was going to be a conservative justice. He kind of moved around and went more to the liberal side. So, I don't know that I would say that they're totally ideological aligned four to four, but if they stay four to four then, ultimately, the decision that's reached in the Appellate Court below would stand, so it's going to be an interesting little bit.

There's one thing I do want to mention about the Supreme Court that they may be interested in. There's a federal statute -- or two federal statutes that seem to be in conflict with each other. One says the president has the authority to do what he did. The other says no, that you can't discriminate against people because of where they're from. So, that may be something that peaks the interest of the Supreme Court as they look at the case.

ROMANS: In terms of this particular process right now, this is all about standing, right? The standing of the court to hear this.

MOORE: That's right. There was a lot of time spent yesterday during the hearing to talk about standing, and that is whether or not the state of Washington can come in and on behalf or sort of as the guardian of its citizens -- can it come in and file this lawsuit? So, they brought a case both into the Parens Patriae doctrine, which means the guardian or the protector of the people. But then also, under sort of an economic argument saying look, this affects our tax base, it affects our universities, the school systems, and that type of thing.

So, it will be an interesting case. I think they spent a lot of time there. But I think, ultimately, just listening to the questions and look at the law, that probably the court will find that the state of Washington has standing. The question is now do they go and look at limiting the scope of the order? Do they go back and just send it back to the district court or, you know, how do they come down?

ROMANS: All right.

MOORE: I don't think you can put too much in the questions but we'll see where we go.

ROMANS: We'll see where we go. We know that you'll be there with us alongside us --

MOORE: I'll be with you.

ROMANS: -- determine what's happening. All right. Thank you so much, Michael Moore. Nice to see you this morning.

MOORE: It's good to see you.

ROMANS: All right, the U.S. economy coming along but what about your personal economy? Some Americans are struggling and they feel left behind. Others are enjoying rising home prices and a stock market near record highs. The one thing everyone has to deal with in one form or another, taxes. I asked the CEO of H&R Block what he sees from the millions of tax returns that his company is getting ready to file.


WILLIAM COBB, PRESIDENT & CEO, H&R BLOCK: I think optimism is high. I think the country has been on a nice run here. I think unemployment is down. I think that some of the pro-growth policies that we're hearing about, I think would be beneficial to businesses, I think would be beneficial to consumers, so I do see a lot of optimism. We see a lot of people. We do over 20 million tax returns a year. We see it from all income levels and I think people are a little confused. They're, you know, confused about things like healthcare and the like. But, generally, I think people are feeling pretty good.


ROMANS: He also said simplifying the tax code will help individuals, it will help small businesses. And he gave me the statistic on just how confusing the current laws can be, you know. H&R Block deals with all of these tax laws. There are five different definitions of a child in the U.S. tax code so he says that simplification is long, long overdue.

All right, let's take a look at what's coming up on "NEW DAY." Chris Cuomo joins us now. Hey, Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: You like doing the show alone, don't you, Christine Romans?

ROMANS: I'm drunk with power.

CUOMO: It's certainly an improvement. That was a great discussion about what's going on in the Ninth Circuit. It is more complicated than people think. The arguments really had a full range of different points of intrigue last night. What's going to happen? Well, the judges have to decide soon. We'll take you through the possible outcomes. In all likelihood, it doesn't end anytime soon.

We're also going to look at this late-night drama that took place in the Senate. The Republicans voted along party lines to silence Sen. Warren. Why, because they say, in the form of Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, that she broke a Senate decorum rule of impugning the character of another senator by reading -- and this becomes the most important part -- by reading the words of Coretta Scott King in a letter that she had written, Christine, about whether or not Sessions should become a judge back in the eighties. So, we're going to take you through that.

And then, we had the big debate last, Cruz and Sanders. What ground was shown? What is the state of play between the Republicans and the Democrats and Obamacare? It was laid bare for you. We'll make it clear.

ROMANS: A lot of news to get through this morning. Just so many developments. All right, Chris Cuomo, we'll follow you for the next three hours on that. Thank you, sir.

All right, Facebook leading a movement to give tech employees more paid family leave. We'll tell you the new program that is doubling the amount of time off for one important event to support families. Details next.


[05:54:17] ROMANS: All right, 54 minutes past the hour. The U.S. military is looking to rent rooms in Trump Tower. A Pentagon spokesman says they're working through appropriate channels to rent a limited amount of space in Trump Tower. Now, this will be separate from the Secret Service detail that works out of the Trump family's New York residence. The move raises more conflict of interest questions because it could directly funnel government money into one of Trump's business interests.

The White House is searching for a new communications director. Officials say they're trying to lighten the load on the press secretary Sean Spicer, who has been handling both jobs. He's been the spokesman and the coordinator there. There are -- there's some reporting -- some sources telling CNN that Trump is disappointed with how Spicer has performed so far.

[05:55:00] Mr. Trump was reportedly not amused by the scathing spoof on "SNL" this past weekend which featured Melissa McCarthy playing Spicer at a White House press briefing. Spicer did not respond to our request for comment. No surprise, though, that the president is not amused, really ever, by "SNL" and the skits on "SNL" so maybe not fair to single Sean Spicer out there.

Officials in Yemen are requesting the U.S. suspend ground missions against suspected terrorists in the country. Yemeni officials now want to have full approval and a role in coordinating future operations. Officials there said to be simply outraged over the number of civilians killed in last month's al Qaeda raid, a raid that also claimed the life of a U.S. Navy SEAL. A big cleanup is underway this morning in southern Louisiana after seven confirmed tornadoes touched down Tuesday, including a tornado in New Orleans. Both the governor of Louisiana and the mayor of New Orleans issuing emergency declarations. Scores of homes and businesses damaged or destroyed. Dozens of injuries have been reported but, thankfully, no deaths. New Orleans Ninth Ward, one of the areas hardest hit. The president tweeting overnight, "Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone in southeastern Louisiana affected by today's severe tornadoes."

All right, let's get a check on CNN Money Stream this morning. Investors feeling upbeat. Dow futures are higher. Stock markets in Europe are rising. Shares in Asia closing mostly higher overnight. The biggest gains in China as global investors jump back into emerging markets. That is a big reverse from what we saw earlier after the U.S. election. Checking oil, down about -- just about one percent.

For the first time in its 100-year history, General Motors sells 10 million cars in one year. Strong sales in China more than made up for slower sales in the U.S. GM is still behind Volkswagen and Toyota. But GM is the largest U.S. automaker and the strong year helped it turn a record profit and the company is sharing that profit with its employees. It's 52,000 U.S. factory workers will receive bonuses of as much as $12,000 each. That's up from a maximum payment of $11,000 a year ago. A robust year. Interesting, people are buying a lot of SUVs and large vehicles, not necessarily the smaller cars.

Facebook is a leader among tech companies for its generous paid family leave policy but it's raising the bar yet again. Employees at Facebook will now receive up to 10 days of bereavement leave after the death of an extended family member and as many as 20 days to grieve the loss of an immediate family member. Employees will also get up to six weeks paid time off to care for a sick relative and three days to care for a family member facing a short-term illness. Think of that. A sick kid, three days paid leave to take care of someone in your family.

Chief Operating Office Sheryl Sandberg writes in a Facebook post, "We need public policies that make it easier for people to care for their children and their aging parents and for families to mourn and heal after a loss, making it easier for more Americans to be the workers and family members they want to be. That will make our economy and our country stronger." Sandberg's husband, of course, died suddenly back in 2015 so this is personal and he has been very vocal about companies and public policy that supports working families -- husbands, wives, partners, spouses.

Check out the new CNN Money Stream app. It's business news personalized. Stories, videos, tweets, and topics you want all in one feed. Download it now on the App Store or Google Play.

Thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans. "NEW DAY" starts now.


WARREN: Senator Sessions has displayed open hostility to the rights of all Americans.

DAINES: The senator will take her seat.

MCCONNELL: The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama.

WARREN: They can shut me up but they can't change the truth.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The vice president had to be pulled in to overcome the Democrats' historic and partisan logjam.

ROMANS: Three federal judges on the Ninth Circuit expected to rule on President Trump's refugee and travel ban.

FRIEDLAND: Are you arguing, then, the president's decision in that regard is unreviewable?

PURCELL: Yes, we just need to prove that it was motivated, in part, by a desire to harm Muslims.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Either you have the evidence presented in the record or you don't.

TAPPER: Is CNN fake news?

CONWAY: No, I don't think CNN is fake news.


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

CUOMO: All right, we want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your NEW DAY. It's Wednesday, February 8th, 6:00 here in New York.

Up first, Elizabeth Warren, U.S. senator, gets silenced on the Senate floor. Republicans invoking a seldom-used rule against impugning the character of a fellow senator during a contentious debate over Jeff Sessions' nomination for attorney general.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So, the Massachusetts Democrat was cut off as she read a letter written decades ago by Martin Luther King's widow and it was questioning Jeff Sessions' civil rights record. This comes as President Trump blasts Democrats for obstruction with only a handful of his nominees confirmed nearly three weeks into the Trump presidency.

We have it all covered for you. Let's begin with CNN's Sunlen Serfaty. She's live on Capitol Hill where, at this hour, Democrats continue to hold the Senate floor. What's the latest, Sunlen?