Return to Transcripts main page


Brexit Authorization Passes House of Commons, on to Lords; U.S. Court Ruling on Travel Ban Expected Any Time; Iran Fires Defensive Surface-to-Air Missile; Trump Presidency Gold Mine for Late-Night Talk Shows. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired February 9, 2017 - 01:00   ET


[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN NEWSROOM ANCHOR: Hello everyone! Great to have you with us. You're watching "CNN NEWSROOM" live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATION CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR: And I'm Isa Soares in London. Ahead this hour, "demoralizing and disheartening" that's how President Donald Trump's very own Supreme Court nominee describes the President's attack on federal judges.

VAUSE: Helicopter dad. The President lashes out, at a department store for dropping his daughter's fashion label. But critics say, "it's an abuse of power."

SOARES: And then later, how comedians are taking on the Trump administration.

VAUSE: A U.S. Appeals Court is expected to rule at any time now on whether to reinstate President Trump's travel ban. And while he waits, Mr. Trump is lashing out at the three judges who will decide the fate of his executive order. Here's CNN's Jeff Zeleny, reporting from the White House.


DONALD TRUMP, UNITED STATES PRESIDENT: I've learned a lot in the last two weeks. And terrorism is a far greater threat, than the people of our country understand. But we're going to take care of it. We're going to win.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Stark words today from President Trump, raising this specter of terror threats as he takes legal challenges to his travel ban into the court of public opinion.

TRUMP: I listened to bunch of stuff on television that was disgraceful. It was disgraceful.

ZELENY: At a meeting of police chiefs and sheriffs from across the country, the President lashing out against the judicial branch and the three-judge panel, considering challenges to his immigration order.

TRUMP: I don't ever want to call a court biased. So, I won't call it biased. And we haven't had a decision yet. But courts seem to be so political.

ZELENY: The President, clearly souring at his first taste of checks and balances in the U.S. government, after judges from the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals raised sharp questions Tuesday night, over the order restricting travel from seven predominantly Muslim countries.

WILLIAM CANBY, UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS NINTH CIRCUIT SENIOT JUDGE: Could the President, simply say in the order we're not going to let any Muslims in?

ZELENY: Defending his actions is the way to protect the nation's security, but President belittled the judges.

TRUMP: A bad high school student would understand this. Anybody would understand this. Suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants.

ZELENY: White House Press Secretary, Sean Spicer, tried to defend the President's tone.

ZELENY: The tone is disgraceful. Is that the type of language -

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the President - when you look at the U.S. Code, and how clear it's written and the authority and power it gives the President to do what is necessary to keep this country safe and regulation who comes into this country. I think it's a very, very clear reading and the President was very, you know, I think he further went on to say, it doesn't matter what level of education you're at, I don't think you can misread this.

ZELENY: But the President's sharp words for the judicial branch taking the notice of his new Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch. He says, he was disheartened by those comments, since he does not associate with them at all, and that could be a bit of strategy here as he hopes to win confirmation. But lawyers across this government from here at the White House to the Justice Department, are cringing, they say, at the President's sharp comments towards judges. Jeff Zeleny, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: Joining me now a Democratic Strategist, Matthew Litman; and Behavioral Psychology Expert and also a Trump supporter, Gina Loudon. Thank you for being with us. So, the President's nominee for the Supreme Court we just heard from Jeff Zeleny, describing the President's attacks on the courts as demoralizing and disheartening. And also, he made those comments to Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal who then urged Gorsuch to make a public statement. Listen to this.


RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, UNITED STATES SENATE DEMOCRATIC: I said to Judge Gorsuch, that I find these attacks on the judiciary absolutely abhorrent and unacceptable, and I asked him to express his criticism. And to condemn these kinds of public attacks on an independent judiciary. And at that point, after some back and forth he did say that he found them to be disheartening and demoralizing. But my view is this condemnation has to be public.


VAUSE: So, Matt, do you believe that Neil Gorsuch is obligated, in any way, to speak out?

[01:04:46] MATTHEW LITTMAN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I think when he spoke out today to Blumenthal, I don't think he's obligated to speak out more than that. But the White House also confirmed basically, that what the Supreme Court nominee was - were told that he said, is what he actually said. I mean, what's interesting in the - here is Trump is trying to bully the justices - the justices here.

As - is always the case with Trump when he doesn't get his way, he tries to bully his way into it. Thankfully, we have this checks and balances system in this country. Because Trump is trying to run rough shod over the judiciary system, is trying to run rough shod over the media. And we do have the system in this country, and I think right now a lot of Americans are very grateful for it.

VAUSE: Gina, 145 attorneys who practice federal law, they signed a letter to the acting Attorney General expressing concern over Donald Trump's attacks on judges. It reads in part, "lawyers across the political spectrum believe that the President's personal attacks on individual judges and on the judicial branch are improper and destructive, because judges face ethical constraints in their ability to respond directly, the letter calls on the President to retract and end such personal attacks." This seems like a fair point, isn't it?

GINA LOUDON, BEHAVIORAL PSYCHOLOGY EXPERT AND AMERICA TRENDS WITH DR. GINA HOST: We don't know what President Trump knows. We don't know what information he has access to from security briefings that certainly, none of these judges have any access to. So, it's hard for me to understand how they could even possibly make a decision on this, since they don't have the information he does.

Imagine for a moment, that he knows the worst, and let's not forget that this is the list that was Obama's terrorist target list that President Trump used when he came up with this temporary travel ban. And let's not also forget that this isn't unusual. Presidents have done this in the past, including Obama, and including Carter. And so, it does, probably, to President Trump feel a little like this is personal and perhaps even in some ways a little bit more related to a petulant act of those who just don't like the election results.

VAUSE: But Gina, when Sean Spicer was asked if there was any specific information about a terror threat he said, "there was none." And when the judges asked the lawyers for the DOJ why, you know, this was being rushed through so quickly, was there any kind of imminent threat they did not prevent - did not present any further.

LITTMAN: Let me just also say two things, let me interrupt with two things - two things: one is, we know already as you just said, John, that there was no imminent terrorist threat; that's one thing. Two is, Barack Obama never did anything like this. So, to say that Barack Obama did do something like this, he did not. Donald Trump had said during the campaign he wanted there to be a ban on Muslims. Rudy Giuliani who's talked way too much said, that Trump called him and said, "how can I legally do a ban on Muslims?" So, we know what this is. The United States does not do a religious test. There is no imminent terrorist threat. We know what went on here. And now, these justices, they're going to decide whether or not this is legal.

VAUSE: Gina?

LOUDON: Well. Matthew, I'd like to ask you, if you differ with what President Trump said when he said, "hey, if you give everyone a warning - hey, you know, in a week or in a month, we're going to do this travel ban of these countries." If you're a terrorist and you know that? What would you do? You've get on the next plane?

LITTMAN: Would you want me to answer that?

LOUDON: Make sure you're there before the travel ban. So, that makes perfect sense to me.

LITTMAN: Do you want me to answer that?

LOUDON: Yes. Sure. Go ahead.

LITTMAN: Donald Trump said, today, that he said, that they should wait - should've waited a month before doing this. And Homeland Security said, "no, we have to do it now." Donald Trump wanted to wait a month, before they did this. So - and the other point, Gina, is they rushed this. This is just - whatever you think about Donald Trump, Republican, Democrat, whatever, they're not doing things in a very confident way, right?

They rushed this way too quickly. They didn't have to announce it. They could have done this in a couple of months by getting all their departments in a row, and getting all the language together. Now, they're spending all this time fighting this on legal language. They didn't have to do it this way, they choose to do it this way. They rushed it. They did it way too soon. And they look incompetent.

VAUSE: OK. Well, the President also said on Wednesday -

LOUDON: I wouldn't - I would -

VAUSE: Sorry, I just want to move on to the wall with Mexico. Because the President did say, it is being designed right now and it is going up. Listen to this.


TRUMP: The wall is getting designed right now. A lot of people say oh, oh, Trump was only kidding with the - I wasn't kidding. I don't kid. And now, we will have a wall. It will be a great wall, and it will do a lot of - it will be a big help.


VAUSE: A new poll shows 59 percent of American voters oppose the wall. That number jumps to 63 percent, when you ask him, should the - if the U.S. has to pay for it? Matt, the President doesn't believe in bad poll numbers. But surely, taking note of the opposition here?

LITTMAN: Well, let me just say when Donald Trump says he doesn't kid. I believe it. He doesn't laugh. He doesn't joke. He never smiles. So, I believe him when he says that he doesn't kid. The American people are opposed to this because this may cost $25 billion to build this wall. And there is no plan as Trump promised during campaign, to make Mexico pay for it.

The other thing is, immigrants from Mexico coming over in much lower numbers than they did 10, 15 years ago, so, what we're doing already has been working. Now we're going to spend $25 billion to build this wall. It's not going to create jobs. Donald Trump talks about four percent economic growth, this year. It's not going to help those people in Michigan get manufacturing jobs, not going to help the people in Kentucky get coal mining jobs. So, I do - I think that Donald Trump is off on the wrong track on this one.

[01:05:06] VAUSE: Gina, just very quickly?

LOUDON: President Trump has absolutely committed that one way or another, Mexico, will absolutely pay for this. And it's really easy to see, when you talked about some of his plans for that. So, I don't think there's any question about that. There's a difference perhaps, between, if you want to slice this up if Mexico wants to say that they're not going to pay directly, that they're not going to front the cash. That's a very different thing than thinking about, how they will pay in the long run? I think President Trump has been very clear about that. It's also bringing a ton of jobs here. And also, when the wall is built, it will save American jobs because Americans will get the jobs back.

VAUSE: OK. Well, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III, has left the Senate. He's confirmed as Attorney General. During the debate, Democrat Elizabeth Warren was actually voted down, she was told to sit down. She was no longer allowed to take part in the debate. She was refuted for reading a 1986 letter that was sent by the widow of Martin Luther King back then. Opposing the nomination of Jeff Sessions as a Federal Court Judge. So, if we look at - this is what Sean Spicer actually had to say, today, in response to what happened in the Senate.


SPICER: And like Arlen Specter - the late Arlen Specter, I can only hope that if he was still with us today, that after getting to know him, and then see his record and commitment to voting Civil Rights. That she would share the same view that Senator Specter did. Where he said, although, I voted against him, getting to know the man that is now? I regret that vote. And I would hope that if she was still with us today that she would share that sentiment.


VAUSE: So, Matt, would Coretta Scott King be friends with Jeff Sessions, that if only she could get to know him?

LITTMAN: Senator Sessions, has opposed everything regarding Civil Rights for his entire career, going back 30, 40 years. I don't think that Coretta Scott King would be too thrilled with Jeff Sessions. I understand that Donald Trump is not happy with the job Sean Spicer has been doing as Press Secretary. That's what all the reports say. I'm watching Sean Spicer in your clips. I mean, this guy is having a very tough time. And to say that Coretta Scott King would approve of Jeff sessions, it's ridiculous. So, no. Obviously, I don't think that is true.

VAUSE: Gina, Senator Warren went on a Twitter storm after the vote. This three are the tweets, "if Jeff Sessions turns a blind eye, well, Donald Trump violates the constitution and breaks the law he'll hear from all of us. If Jeff sessions makes even the tiniest attempt to bring his racism, sexism, and bigotry into the Justice Department, he'll hear from all of us. And you better believe, every Senator who voted for Jeff Sessions radical hatred into the Justice Department will hear from all of us too." It wasn't a bad move for the Republicans trying to shut her down? It seems, in a way they've given her a megaphone here.

LOUDON: It was actually, for their base, I think a brilliant - sort of genius. Because usually, the Republicans - and this has been one of my biggest criticisms to the Republicans is that, the Democrats scream racist, and the Republicans power. This is the first time I've ever really seen them stand up to the Democrats in any real palpable way. So, that's good. But if Elizabeth Warren is so concerned about Jeff Sessions? She's note him a long time. Why hasn't she spoken up before now? Where was she for all of those months and years? While this so-called racist in her mind was a Senator?

I would think, she would've been very concerned, and would've been screaming it from the rooftops. But obviously, she wasn't concerned until it was about confirming him in this new position. So, it's kind of hard to buy. I think it's a lot of theatrics, but worse than that? I think it's patronizing, to Democrat voters, who are looking at the same playbook. This, if you don't like someone you just - rather than argue on the merits, you actually, just a resort to calling them a racist, or a sexist, or a homophone. It's tired. It didn't work in the election. And if I were a Democrat? I would change my message. Because it's not working. It didn't work then. It's not going to work now.

LITTMAN: So, this was terrific - this was terrific with Elizabeth Warren, obviously. I mean, Mitch McConnell turned her into a hero if she wasn't one. And what she's talking about is Jeff Sessions' record - Jeff Sessions' record on Civil Rights. It's terrible.

LOUDAN: Why wasn't she worried about that before, Matthew?

LITTMAN: Jeff Sessions -

VAUSE: Well, maybe because he wasn't nominated for Attorney General. So, we'll leave it at that. OK. Matt Littman, Democratic Strategist.

LITTMAN: Thank you.

VAUSE: Gina Loudon, Trump supporter and host of "America Trends with Gina Loudon". Thanks for being with us, guys. Really appreciate it.

LOUDON: Enjoyed it. Thank you.

SOARES: While the world awaits a ruling from a U.S. Appeals Court on whether to reinstate President Trump's travel ban. Refugees who have been cleared to come to the United States are hoping to get that before the border possibly closes again. Kyung Lah, profiles one family entangled in this legal drama.


[01:14:43] KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Nimo Hashi, is a broken wife without her husband. The mother of a toddler without her father. But on government papers, she's a Somali refugee. Her husband, trapped in Africa and the legal tug of war over the travel ban. What is this back and forth in the courts like?

[01:15:05] NIMA HASHI, SOMALI REFUGEE (through translator): "I went from being happy to confused and angry," she says. You don't know what's real or not.

KYUNG: Are you worried he won't be coming?

HASHI (through translator): "Until I see him at the Salt Lake City Airport" she says, "I won't believe it."

KYUNG: The last time Hashi saw her husband was in a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Both had fled the bloody war in Somalia. You were pregnant at that time?


KYUNG: The U.S. Resettlement Program brought Hashi to Salt Lake City three years ago. Just this year, her husband was finally cleared. But President Trump's Executive Order slammed the door shut, halting all refugee entries for 120 days. Hashi's husband, stuck in Ethiopia.

ADEN BATAR, CATHOLIC COMMUNITY SERVICES, IMMIGRATION AND REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT DIRECTOR: Actually, when the Executive Order came up, all these cases were cancelled.

KYUNG: Aden Batar, once a refugee himself says 69 refugees from Iraq, Afghanistan and several African countries had entries cancelled into Utah, many of them children.

BATAR: When you telling somebody their loved one is not coming -- I bet our president understand how that would be if he was told his wife was not coming or his daughter was not coming. How would he feel? I want him to think of that.

KYUNG: But then, a 180, a Federal Judge suspended the ban and gave new hope to Nimo Hashi. Her husband's travel to the U.S. was back on. Refugees began to trickle back into Utah days ago, greeted by hundreds of cheering Salt Lake City residents. Even Utah's Republican Governor instagrammed the arrivals saying, "We welcome Utah's newest pioneers."

KYUNG: How is the Refugee Program working for your state and its citizens here?


KYUNG: Republican Governor, Gary Herbert, breaks ranks with fellow Republicans on the Executive Order. He supports a president's right to review immigration policy. But from the governor's vantage point?

HERBERT: Refugees, as I look at, are mere people running away from bad circumstances. We've had some of that in our own culture. Maybe that makes us a little more sensitive to this issue. Maybe a little bit more empathetic because of our own history in Utah.

BATAR: American airline, the flight --

KYUNG: Written in erasable ink on this whiteboard, Abdelsalam Ahmed. That's Nimo Hashi's husband. He's now scheduled to arrive on Friday where he will meet his daughter for the very first time in person. Do you believe that it's going to happen?

HASHI (through translator): "By the will of god," she says.

KYUNG: Kyung Lah, CNN, Salt Lake City, Utah.

VAUSE: A short break here. When we come back, another tale of a Donald Trump tweet. This one targeting the department store Nordstrom. Well it's about why some critics are saying that the president has crossed an ethical line.

SOARES: Plus, after hours of debate, Britain's House of Commons votes on the bill to take the UK out of the European Union. We'll bring you both those stories after a very short break. You are watching, CNN NEWSROOM.


[01:20:26] KATE RILEY, CNN WORLD SPORT ANCHOR: I'm Kate Riley with your CNN WORLD SPORT Headlines. This has been a tough year for Leicester City. They haven't scored a league goal in 2017 and they're still a point above the relegation zone. And on Wednesday, they played championships by Derby County, the local rivals in an FA Cup replay. There would be 10 changes for the Rosters and with the game in extra time. Leicester went ahead. Thanks to their new signing Wilfred Ndidi before Demarai Gray would score a third. 3-1, it ends.

Meanwhile, over in Spain. In the Copa del Rey, Alaves and Celta Vigo played their second leg semi-final after goal express leg. They had to wait a really long time for these two to finally break the deadlock. 48 minutes ago, Alaves scores, thanks to Edgar Mendez. Celta are out, Alaves through 1-0 ends on the night. They will face Barcelona who will be without Luis Suarez in the finals.

And the FIFA World were shocked this week when Philipp Lahm, who led Germany to woke glory in 2014 said he was going to retire from the sport coming the end of the season. Despite the fact, he has another year left on his contract. He announced his decision to stop playing after this season after he had played his 501st game for Bayern Munich.. While with Bayern, he won seven league titles, six German Cups along with a Champions League crown as well.

And that's a look at all your Sport Headlines. I'm Kate Riley.

SOARES: You are watching CNN. I'm Isa Soares in London. The time is 22 minutes past six in the morning.

VAUSE: I'm John Vause here in Los Angeles. 22 past 10 at the night. OK, U.S. President Donald Trump is blasting Nordstrom's Department Stores. Last week, the retail chain dropped his daughter's fashion label. On Wednesday, Mr. Trump tweeted, "My daughter Ivanka is being treated so unfairly by Nordstrom. She is a great person, always pushing me to do the right thing, terrible." It was like, retweeted on the official POTUS account. I'm joined now by Crisis Management Consultant, Eric Rose.

So Eric, we've been down this road before. The President, Ford, (INAUDIBLE) Boeing, whole lot of others and all beyond the receiving end of an angry Trump tweet. But that was always over issues like jobs or the cost of government contracts. This time, it's different.

ERIC ROSE, EKA PUBLIC RELATIONS: It is significantly different. There's been about a dozen companies that have actually dropped the Trump brand, many without fanfare. Think that what you are seeing today is reaction of a father. It's like a mother hen. You know, I'm not an ethics expert. I help companies manage crisis. Some would say that Nordstrom walked themselves into this crisis. What they haven't publicly said is a day before they dropped the line, they had a letter to all their employees that discussed the importance of immigration and the roots of the company. So, the timing was suspicious when the next day they dropped the Trump line and blamed retail sales. And then you have experts in the industry who track the trends who say her line was doing well. I'm not - make passing judgment whether they should have dropped the line or not, it's just that they walked themselves into a crisis that was completely avoidable.

VAUSE: You mentioned the fact that this was a foul directing on behalf of his daughter. White House Spokesman Sean Spicer, essentially, that was his argument during the White House briefing. Listen to this.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE SPOKESMAN: I think this was less about his family business and an attack on his daughter. He ran for president. He won. He's leading this country. And I think, for people to take out their concern about his actions or his Executive Orders on members of his family, he has every right to stand up for his family and applaud their business activities, their success.


VAUSE: But this is what the Former Bush Spokesman, Ari Fleisher, tweeted out. "This is something a father would say. It's not the type of thing a President of The United States should say."

So, we're in this environment now, if you're a corporation, if you're a company, you're trying to work out exactly how the president will react. How do you adjust to this kind of unpredictable environment?

ROSE: Well, you don't walk yourself into the trap here. As I've said before to many people, we now have a person in the White House who has clearly the two most powerful thumbs in the world. And what he says and does is going to cause a reaction. They took an action that was predictable. They could have or should have predicted what the president would say in reaction to it.

Remember, we have a divided country right now. 50 percent of the people love the president, 50 percent are very angry about him. We have a new -- it's a new era for the way in which communications happen. The president is going to go out and we're not going to be able to stop him - that's pretty clear, and use twitter as his means to communicate directly with his key constituency.

Whether it hurts the Nordstrom brand in the long run or not, is yet to be seen. My gut says no but what it does is it puts them on the radar as a company that's one to engage in politics. You know, there's good advice that all of our parents probably told us that was, when you're talking to friends, don't talk politics and don't talk religion.


ROSE: And you're seeing many companies getting involved in talking about politics and it's just not good for the brand.

[01:25:54] VAUSE: What was interesting about what happened on Wednesday, the tweet came out, Nordstrom's share price tanked a little but then by the end of the day, it had its best trading day of, you know, in years. The market was flat, it ended up being almost five percent. In the past, we've seen, you know, the shares essentially tank and they've taken a long time to recover.

You know, some have declared that, you know, Nordstrom won the twitter war with Trump but this is a new development that, you know, supporters or those who do not like Donald Trump raced in to buy the company stock. You have any idea what may be going on here?

ROSE: I don't. I have been pulling on that aspect. But I have watched other companies and you're right. They have bounced back and largely, they've bounced back and come up higher, Boeing being one of the many companies that have suffered the president's nasty tweets. But again, there is a lesson here. Do companies want to engage in political consumerism? Do you want to be out there, advocating social issues, taking stances that predictably are going to cause a reaction in the marketplace?

Most companies, they want the consumers to feel as they're agnostic. They don't have a political position. There are some companies, because of the sector they're in, who need and have to take a political position. A lot of the high-tech companies in Silicon Valley rely upon workers, predictably need to say something and do something. But as a general rule, it's a good idea for companies to avoid getting involved in the politics. It's not good for the brand and it's going to have a long-time stigma.

People will now, rightly or wrongly, associate Nordstrom as being not -- anti-Trump. I don't know that, if that's to be true or not true, but that would be the perception and it takes a long time to change perception.

VAUSE: OK, Eric. Some good advice there, we have all the CEO's there watching. Eric Rose, we appreciate you being with us.

ROSE: Always.

SOARES: Now, Britain's Lower House of Parliament has its say on the Brexit Bill. Coming up, the next step on the plan to quit the European Union. We'll have that story for you next.


[01:31:24] VAUSE: Thanks for staying with us, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SOARES: I'm Isa Soares, in London.

Let me bring you up to date on the main news headlines we're following for you this hour.


SOARES: The bill authorizing Britain's exit from the European Union now moves to the House of Lords for a vote. The House of Commons voted in favor of the measure after a seven-hour debate on amendments. Prime minister Theresa May wants to trigger Brexit by the end of March.

Nic Robertson has more on what happens next in Britain.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: It has taken about two weeks almost going through House of Commons to get to this point. The first reading, second reading, third reading, the vote, all the amendments. No amendments were passed. Perhaps the one with most scrutiny and most interest was a call for parliamentary oversight. On this one, the government seemed to dodged a bullet by saying, yes, parliament can get a vote at the end of negotiations with the European Union but before the final handshake in Brussels. However, it was later revealed that the government's position was that parliament can vote against the agreement that the government is able to get but the alternative is not going back to continued negotiations. The alternative is nothing. So, it seems unlikely anyone will do that. That caused disappointment along the way. But when it came this vote, very much as expected.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes, to the right, 494. The nos, to the left, 122. The ayes have it. The ayes have it.


ROBERTSON: You almost had a moment of merriment where the deputy speaker almost calls it wrong. But 494 to 122. This, the government getting what it wants handily, timely, and the way it expected it as well.

Now, it goes to the House of Lords, and they do the same thing, first reading, second reading, third reading, a vote. If they pass it with no amendments, then it can become -- this bill can become law. However, if and it's not really expected, but if there's amendments in the House of Lords, it comes back to the House of Commons and they vote again. They can make other changes on top of that. It could ping-pong around for a while. But no one expecting this.

Theresa May and the British government on course it seems to be able to trigger Article 50, triggering the Brexit talks by the government's self-imposed deadline by the end of March.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


SOARES: Let's get more on the vote. Leslie Vinjamuri joins me now. She's a senior lecturer on international relations at SOAS University of London

Leslie, thank you for joining us.

As we heard from that Nic Robertson piece, it passed without major hurdles, 494 to 122. No amendments made. I suspect now the next stage will be pretty easy as well.

DR. LESLIE VENJAMURI, SENIOR LECTURER ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, SOAS UNIVERITY OF LONDON: I think it is going to be far from easy. Negotiating the terms of exit with the European Union will be complicated. This is a highly complex set of negotiations. And the U.K. has not been negotiating trade deals for a long time. It won't be easy. It will come back to parliament for a vote on the final terms of that deal. There was a push by the Liberal Democrats to put this to a public referendum, the final deal, but that was rejected. But I think it will be an extraordinary complex negotiation.

[01:35:09] SOARES: I expect the upper chamber might be hard, too, when it gets to the upper chamber, what Nic was saying, because it does not have a majority there.

VENJAMURI: Yeah. It's hard to read how that will go. And the other interesting thing about the vote is there was a question mark on whether the European Union nationals currently residing in the U.K. would have their say as protected. And Theresa May has not been willing to give on that. There is no vote to protect those people. That will also be part of the negotiation. The key concern is to make sure there is reciprocity for Brits currently living in the European Union.

SOARES: That is one of many amendments that many parties, Labour and Liberal Democrats, were trying to push on the first stage but that got voted down.

VENJAMURI: That's right. That will be a key point of negotiation going forward, what happens to those people.

SOARES: The government says it is keen to stress the fact that debate will continue when it comes to E.U. nationals living in the U.K.

VENJAMURI: That's right.

SOARES: In terms of Theresa May, it seems the hurdles are not too complicated on this side but it will be more difficult when it begins negotiations with the rest of Europe.



SOARES: Let's turn to the U.S., because plenty of politics, very heated politics as well going on there. We're expecting -- we don't know when, sometime this week, a decision on the ban.


SOARES: You heard both sides. How did you measure it? Who has the upper hand here?

VENJAMURI: I suspect -- It's hard to know, of course. But I suspect that the ninth circuit, the court will keep the stay on the ban that came out of Washington in place for now. Although, they could modify that. Of course, the Justice Department has been arguing that the ban should stay in place and that the president has the authority to decide who has access to come into the United States. It's making this case on national security grounds. And the opposition to this is that there are no credit credible arguments to suggest there is a terrorist threat and this is really a ban about discriminating against Muslims, which is against the Constitution. But that is not in the ban. They have to look at surrounding positions that Donald Trump has taken and statements he has made elsewhere to make the case that this is discriminatory and violates the Constitution, and there's no grounds for this with respects to national security.

SOARES: So on the rhetoric and the tone you heard from the judges that's how you are making up your mind in terms of which way you think it will go?

VENJAMURI: Partly in the defense of what we might expect to come out of the ninth circuit. It's known as being known as the most liberal of the appeals courts.

SOARES: Two Democrats and one Republican.

VENJAMURI: Yes, right. But in terms of what we have heard coming from the court suggests they are skeptical of the arguments coming out of the Justice Department. And the Justice Department coming back forcefully saying you must respect the authority of the president. But it is not looking like that's the way the decision will go. I suspect we might hear something today on this.

SOARES: You think today, right. Right. We'll get in touch with you and find out if you are right.


If you're spot on the money.

Thank you very much, Leslie Venjamuri.


VAUSE: Isa, President Trump is looking to add the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps to the list of terror groups. Reaction from Tehran in a moment.


[01:41:37] VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching NEWSROOM L.A. I'm John Vause, in Los Angeles.

SOARES: I'm Isa Soares, in London.

Iran has fired a surface-to-air defensive missile. A U.S. official tells CNN a missile was launched on Wednesday from the same pad used to conduct a failed ballistic missile test earlier this month. That test led U.S. officials to put Iran on notice and impose new sanctions on the region.

Let's get more on this. Thomas Erdbrink joins us now via Skype, from the Iranian capitol. He's the "New York Times" Tehran bureau chief, a well-known face here on CNN.

Thomas, thank you for joining us.

The launch, of course, as we are saying comes less than a week after U.S. imposed new sanctions on Tehran, to which I believe President Trump tweeted, "Iran is playing with fire," as we can see there. "Iran is playing with fire. They don't appreciate how kind President Obama was to them. Not me."

How is Tehran justifying this latest missile?

THOMAS ERDBRINK, TEHRAN BUREAU CHIEF, THE NEW YORK TIMES: They haven't responded yet. But yesterday, I spoke to one of the professors of international relations here who is quite close to the Iranian leadership, and he spelled out very clearly to me why Iran is shooting the missiles. He pointed at countries like Russia, India and Britain, who all have missile programs, who regularly test fire the missiles, who do R&D on missiles, but who never hear anything from the United States when they shoot a missile.

Now Iran is, of course, an Islamic republic. It's an ideological state based on the idea that it should be independent from the West and the East. It's the original idea. So, they feel they need their own missile program as part of their defensive program against possible aggression from other countries.

SOARES: The timing of it has raised certain eyebrows. Many thinking is this Iran trying to hit back in terms of words with the U.S.?

ERDBRINK: Today's missile was very different from last week's missile. That's something the Iranians will also point out. This was a surface-to-air missile, which was probably shot as part of an ongoing festivities in light of the anniversary of the Islamic republic here, the 38th anniversary, which will be celebrated tomorrow.

The Iranians would say that this missile is again for defensive purposes. It is something they need. And they would point at U.S. bases in the region that surround them and they would say wouldn't the U.S. test missiles if we had bases in Canada?

SOARES: Let me get your reaction to what Tehran may say to the fact that the U.S. is now considering labeling Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a foreign terrorist organization. Have you heard anything on that front?

ERDBRINK: No. They have been quiet on that front. They have been trying to stay quiet overall in light of the new pressure from the Trump administration. But clearly, designating the Revolutionary Guard corps as a terrorist organization would cause problems for Iran and for other countries that cooperate with Iran, Asian countries and European countries. It's one of the biggest entities here and they have expanded beyond their military role. But they are fighting right now in Mosul, advising Iraqi troops, just as the American troops are doing. Imagine U.S. advisors meeting Revolutionary Guard advisers who have been designated as terrorists. That could lead to more problems, as the Iranians have pointed out.

[01:45:24] SOARES: And likely complicate the U.S. fight against ISIS in Iraq and the administration there.

Thanks for joining us there, Thomas Erdbrink, the "New York Times" Tehran bureau chief.


VAUSE: Isa, week three of the Trump administration and it seems there is enough comedic material for years to come. While many in the White House have been left cold, perhaps it's the comedians who are getting the last laugh. And we will talk to one when we come back.


(WEATHER REPORT) VAUSE: The U.S. president has made it perfectly clear he is no fan of "Saturday Night Live." The comedy sketch show on NBC is having its best season for rating in 20 years. Melissa McCarthy's devastating caricature of White House spokesman, Sean Spicer, last weekend was one of the most programs of the night.


[01:50:02] MELISSA MCCARTHY, ACTRESS: When it comes to these decisions, the Constitution gives our president lots of power.


And Steve Bannon is the key adviser.


OK? And our president will not --


-- be deterred.


VAUSE: And according to "Politico," the spoof did not go over well with the White House. This is what they reporter, "The 'SNL' clip was seen in Trump's orbit as devastating because it was accurate".

The Trump presidency is a gold mine of material, especially for the late-night talk shows.


UNIDENTIFIED LATE-NIGHT TALK SHOW HOST: Just to clarify, Ronald Reagan says it's morning in America, but Trump is saying it's morning in American, but like early morning, when you wake up hung over in a cold sweat, and you realize you're in Thailand and there's a dead body in the bed next to you --


-- and the only sound you have is cops banging on your door, and all you can only think is what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) is happening. It's that kind of morning.



VAUSE: For more now on the comedians versus the president, Maz Jobrani is here. He's a comedian, actor and author of "I'm Not a Terrorist but I Played One on TV."

Maz, it's great to see you.

Hi, John.

VAUSE: It seems the comedians have a newfound power, mostly because they know their jokes are getting under the president's skin.

JOBRANI: You know, it's interesting, because under the Obama administration, the past eight years, I haven't been doing as much political comedy as I was before. And I think now that Trump is back, I can't stop doing political comedy. And we're seeing that on "Saturday Night Live" and on the late-night shows. I like to say Trump is good for comedy but bad for world.

VAUSE: That's the silver lining in some of this.

The Melissa McCarthy sketch has struck a nerve. "Politico" reporting that Trump's senior aide, Kellyanne Conway, was meeting with Congressional staffers, and walked out when she was asked if she had seen it. This is what they reported. She was asked whether if she laughed at the portrayal. Conway's face turned to stone, according to another source in the room. A senior White House official said that Conway didn't comment on the "SNL" video but that her face had not turned to stone.

So why can't they see the humor here or at least just brush it off?

JOBRANI: It's a little crazy. As a comedian myself, I'm a fan of comedy. When I saw McCarthy's performance, I thought it was brilliant. For a second, I thought, it would have done Trump so much good if he had tweeted, wow, great job, Melissa McCarthy, you ripped my guy really well, or something along those lines. Then we would have known he has a sense of humor and it would have taken away the analyses that we're doing now. It's interesting, they don't have a sense of humor. And as a performer -- I've performed all over the world -- and the places I've seen without a sense of humor like this are some of the Middle Eastern countries where you with not make fun of the leadership, and in those countries, the leadership is not as secure in their leadership and in their positions. I wonder if it comes from an insecurity in the Trump administration and their inability to laugh at themselves.

VAUSE: You have to be secure within yourself to take a joke, I guess.

It has been reported that the president was upset that a woman was lampooning Sean Spicer. Now Rosie O'Donnell wants to play Steve Bannon. If that is what annoyed Mr. Trump, it seems he missed the joke.

JOBRANI: Absolutely. I think it was a brilliant idea to cast Melissa McCarthy to play Sean Spicer. She just captured him. And what's interesting is in the same episode, they had the Grim Reaper playing Steve Bannon. So, Trump is more upset at a woman playing his press secretary than the Grim Reaper playing one his biggest advisers. It shows there is no sense of humor there.

I have no idea how they plan to do the White House Correspondent's Dinner this year. If a comedian does something they don't like, maybe they will, I don't know, put them in jail or something. I have no idea where they're going with this.

VAUSE: Like one of those Middle Eastern countries you were talking about.

One of the funniest comedians is Jon Stewart. He made an appearance on "The Late Show" last week. He was funny, but also insightful. Listen to this.


JON STEWART, COMEDIAN: No one action will be adequate. All actions will be necessary. If we do not allow Donald Trump to exhaust our fight, and somehow come through this presidency calamity less and constitutionally partially intact, then I, Donald J. Trump, will have demonstrated the greatness of America, but just not the way I thought I was going to?



VAUSE: In a way, is that the power, when comedy becomes commentary?

JOBRANI: I think comedy plays a big role. You look at Richard Pryor and George Carlin, a lot of political material, it's a great way to make fun of leadership, but with serious subjects in mind.

And also, it's cathartic. Look at the stress we have felt. I have been glued to the TV. And every time you catch up to Trump, he is on to something else. And it's one disaster after the next.

As an Iranian American, I was upset with the travel ban, and it helped me to go on stage and make fun of him and make fun of it. With laughter, you can give someone their medicine and have them not taste it.

[01:55:37] VAUSE: Excellent point.

Maz, I'm a big fan. Thanks for being with us. Appreciate it.

JOBRANI: Thanks, John.

VAUSE: And you know, one thing that is interesting, "SNL" has been around for 40-something years, and they have made fun of presidents in that entire time. But usually, you don't know what the president thinks. You can guess, but they never, ever said anything public, until now.

SOARES: He missed a trick here, the president and the P.R. team. Like he was saying, John, in that discussion, they should be laughing at themselves. It makes you more humane and endearing. Maybe this is something for the P.R. team to look at, and laugh at themselves, isn't it?

VAUSE: Polish off the image a little bit. OK?

SOARES: Absolutely.

VAUSE: You have been watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause.

SOARES: I'm Isa Soares, in London. We'll be, both, back with more news after this.