Return to Transcripts main page

EARLY START

Pres Trump: "See You in Court"; Questions for Conway. Aired 4- 4:30a ET

Aired February 10, 2017 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[04:00:20] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump ready to fight after an appeals court ruled his travel ban must remain on hold. What's the next move for the White House?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And big questions for a top Trump advisor after she promoted Ivanka Trump's clothing line on live television. Could Kellyanne Conway face legal trouble?

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Miguel Marquez.

ROMANS: Nice to see you this morning, Miguel.

MARQUEZ: Good to be here.

ROMANS: So much news. I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday. It's February 10th. It's 4:00 a.m. in the East.

Let's begin here with this: President Trump licking his wounds, but vowing to fight on in the battle over his seven-nation travel ban. A unanimous ruling by a three-judge panel means citizens of those Muslim majority countries can travel freely to the United States. The Ninth Circuit judges determining the government relied too heavily on the use of executive power to implement the ban. The president firing his Twitter account, moments after the decision, saying "See you in court. Security of our nation is at stake."

Moments later, he spoke to reporters at the White House.

(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a political decision and we will see them in court and I look forward to doing it.

REPORTER: So, you believe the judges made a political decision?

TRUMP: We have a situation where the security of our country is at stake. And it's a very, very serious situation. So, we look forward -- as I just said -- to seeing them in court.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thanks, guys.

REPORTER: Do you believe this has undercut the first days of our presidency? This is such a core issue. TRUMP: No, this is just a decision that came down, but we'll win the case.

(END AUDIO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Democrats and refugee groups applauding the court ruling. Next step for the Department of the Justice, seek a reexamination of the case by a larger panel of the Ninth Circuit judges or appeal the decision directly to the Supreme Court.

ROMANS: The president's travel ban triggered global outrage among allies and adversaries. Today in Iran, one of the seven nations targeted by the ban, a large anti-American protest is planned. For more on that and other reaction to the court ruling, we bring in CNN's Fred Pleitgen. He is live for us in Tehran.

And, Fred, the images behind you just remarkable. What are people saying?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a lot more people here at this revolution day, Christine, than you would normally see. I mean, it's a big event here in Iran obviously where they celebrate the Islamic revolution. But because of the anger at the Trump administration, there's even more people here than in other years.

And the supreme leader of this country, Ayatollah Khamenei, has called on people to come out and said this would be Iran's answer to the United States. You know, folks we have been speaking to, they're especially talking about some of the sanctions that were levied against Iran by the new Trump government. But, of course, also about the travel ban as well.

And we have to keep in mind that the travel ban is something that hurts Iranians more than any other nation. There's a lot of back and forth travel between Iran and the U.S. Of course, especially a lot of Iranians living in California. But one of the differentiations that people always made is they always say, look, we're angry at Donald Trump, we're angry at the American government, but we're not angry at the American people.

In fact, I saw one younger protester who here who held a sign saying, "Thanks to the American people for supporting Muslims", obviously speaking about that verdict that took place last night, but also about some of the public uproar that you've seen since that ban went into play.

So, certainly, a very strong message that people are sending here. Today, they are out in force. I would say it's hundreds of thousands, if not a million people who came out here specifically because of Ayatollah Khamenei came out and said show your anger and resilience against the United States. It's a very, very big event that took place here.

ROMANS: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thank you so much for that, Fred. We'll check in with you again. MARQUEZ: Amazing there.

Let's go live to Atlanta and bring in Michael Moore. He's a former U.S. attorney for Georgia's middle district.

Thank you very much for being up so early for us.

ROMANS: Good morning.

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Good morning.

MARQUEZ: Really appreciate it.

This ruling that I finally read through this morning. I had read bits of it. Seen it reported. It can only be described as complete refutation, a smackdown of everything the government was putting forward, yes?

ROMANS: Twenty-nine points of the government's argument, you know, rebuked.

MOORE: Right. I think that's true. I don't think you can overstate exactly how strong a rebuke it was.

I think you also saw -- let me point out some things that I thought were particularly interesting. The decision was unanimous. This was a decision written for the full court. It wasn't written by one or two judges who may have been one political persuasion or the other. But in fact, all three judges, including a Bush appointee which I think sends a message as well and the fact that they did it as a per curiam decision was telling.

I did notice that the court did great exception in their decision with the president and the administration's position that those executive actions would not be reviewed. And they just simply said that we're not going to let national security become a reason that the court won't check constitutionality of the executive action.

[04:05:08] ROMANS: Let's listen to what Kellyanne Conway, the special counselor to the president, said. She talked to reporters after this decision was revealed.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLYANNE CONWAY, COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT: The statute provides a president, in this case, President Trump, with great latitude and authority to protect the citizens and protect the nation's national security. This was not argued on the merits. Now, we have the opportunity to argue on the merits. We look forward to doing that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: She says great latitude. But they struck down sort of that overreaching executive authority. So, what about the merits of the travel ban? It looks to me these judges said this is a solution to something that is not a problem.

MOORE: Well, I think that's right. You know, I agree with Kellyanne in the sense that the president has great authority when it comes to matters of national security. But that just cannot be the ultimate reason the constitution gets tramped on.

We have seen that with the Patriot Act. You know, we talked about citizens still have constitutional rights but there maybe certainly interest in keeping the country safe, certain provisions of the Patriot Act, you still have to follow the Constitution. That's not what happened here. You heard some of Trump's words come back to haunt him, the court looked and found his intent and the intent of the order.

And they went and talked about things he said during the campaign and statements that have been said. So, I think they really look behind that. As far as the merit goes, we just have gotten there. This really was a decision about whether or not a stay would remain.

And so, now, it goes back to the district court. There are options they will consider. Whether they ask for a rehearing en banc, whether or not to move forward with the Supreme Court --

MARQUEZ: That's the big question. Where do they go next? I mean, it seems going to the full circuit court isn't really an option. They're going to probably get the same result.

Do they wait and argue it in Washington? That will take time obviously. It's a 90-day or a 120-day ban. Or do they appeal directly to the Supreme Court?

It seems that the Supreme Court is the direct appeal. If you break that down politically, it's 4-4. Given the ruling, it seems the Supreme Court may tend to agree with the lower court.

MOORE: That's right. I don't think anybody should be under the misconception that the Supreme Court would divide just simply along ideological lines or political lines in this case. One of the main decisions that the state of Washington was the decision basically written by one of the conservative justices by the Supreme Court. I just don't think that's a given that it would be 4-4.

There's one really interesting part of the order and that is that the court seemed to say, look, we're not in the position to write your order. But they almost welcome to rewrite the executive order if that's the administration chose to do.

MARQUEZ: I read that and my jaw dropped. They're basically saying two things that they said that were just shocking. That one, when the White House counsel came out and said, oh, those with green cards can stay. They said, well, we don't know he has the authority to do that, that the White House has the authority to that, and we're not in the business of rewriting your -- doing your homework for you. It was shocking.

MOORE: Well, I agree with you and I think the question is, is President Trump of the mind to actually go back to the drawing board and write an order that fits the constitutional test of the court is laid it out for him. They have given him a road map of what might very well survive constitutional scrutiny. I'm just not so sure that he'll do that. I mean, I think his tweet of see you in court is where this thing is going.

But in the meantime, the district court now will have the case. The judge has set expedited briefing schedule. They will have a chance to receive information and evidence into the case.

It will be interesting to see whether or not the state of Washington decides at some point if they want to take the deposition of the president, whether or not they want to look at e-mails with staff to talk about the motive behind the order. So, there are still some things that are going to happen. But for today's purposes, we just know the stay is in place. That the case is going back to the district court. And we just haven't gotten all the way into the merits.

ROMANS: All right. There we go. Michael Moore, thanks for breaking it down for us. Nice to see you bright and early this morning.

MARQUEZ: Thank you.

MOORE: Good to see you. Thank you.

ROMANS: All right. Breaking overnight. President Trump agreeing to honor the one-child policy during a phone call with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The White House says the request was made by the Chinese leader and granted by Mr. Trump last night. President Xi expressing his appreciation overnight. The president angered Beijing back in December by speaking directly to the prime minister of Taiwan.

MARQUEZ: And Congressman Tom Price is confirmed in the middle of the night, just after 2:00 Eastern Time to become the next secretary of Health and Human Services. The vote 52-47, all along party lines. Democrats bitterly oppose to the Georgia Republican for his opposition to the Affordable Care Act and his desire to overhaul Medicare. Price also overcoming ethical concerns over a series of questionable stock deals.

ROMANS: All right. Kellyanne Conway facing possible legal trouble for promoting Ivanka Trump's fashion line.

[04:10:03] Call it QVC meets the White House briefing room. And now, congress steps in.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONWAY: Go buy Ivanka's stuff is what I would tell them. I'm going to go get something myself. It's a wonderful line. I own some of it. I fully -- I'm just going to give -- I'm going to give a free commercial here. Go buy it today, everybody. You can find it online.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: The product placement. The endorsement by Kellyanne Conway during an interview from the White House briefing room triggering ethical and legal concerns about using her position to promote a Trump family business.

Critics quick to pounce. There's even a bipartisan call for an investigation. The top Democrat in the House Oversight Committee, Elijah Cummings, and Republican Chairman Jason Chaffetz, sending a letter to the government ethics office concerning possible disciplinary action. Chaffetz calling Conway's comments wrong, over the line and unacceptable.

Asked about the uproar, Conway said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CONWAY: We are aware of the letter and we are reviewing that internally.

[04:15:02] I'm just really happy that I spend an awful lot of time with the president of the United States this afternoon and that he supports me 100 percent.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Well, the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer says Conway has been counseled but didn't elaborate on exactly what that means. And we're told Conway did acknowledge making a mistake. No comment so far from Ivanka Trump. All of this begun after the president said Nordstrom treated his daughter unfairly by dropped her product line.

ROMANS: Joining us now to talk more about Kellyanne Conway's misstep and another week of White House dustups and on message, off message, what is the message exactly? Brian Stelter, CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES".

You know, look, it has been a remarkable backlash to using the White House as a back drop to sell a product. It also was really revealing about the lack of any kind of wall between Trump Inc., the Trump brand, and the presidency, which really concerned people.

What does it mean to be counseled? It's somewhere between a hug and a reprimand, I'm not sure exactly. She's been counseled. Is that as far as this goes?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: I think closer to a reprimand and you could see in her tone on FOX last night. She was asked about this. She had no further comment except to say the president supports her 100 percent.

But she sounded chastened by this incident. This all started, you know, 24 hours ago, when he was saying go buy Ivanka's stuff. It was a message that was clearly inappropriate to ethics experts and legal experts. And as you were describing, we actually see bipartisanship all of a sudden on Capitol Hill.

ROMANS: Yes.

STELTER: Speaking out against this.

It goes to speak to people's suspicion about the Trump family business and now, the White House. It reminds me about a big wall and big beautiful door. It seems that door is wide open right now between the presidency and businesses.

MARQUEZ: We should listen to Sean Spicer's sound when he tried to explain this counseling of Kellyanne Conway.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Kellyanne has been counseled. And that's all we're going to go on. She has been counseled on that subject. And that's it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Sean has had a tough week.

MARQUEZ: He has had a tough week. She had a tough week. The administration's had a tough week. It is so -- it's a young administration. It is typical to get your wheels get up and running. It's a big place. But their message and their boss and they can't seem to get out of their way.

STELTER: We are seeing what it is like for a family CEO, right, the head of a family business who's had just one great job all his life transition to a very different stage. And there are times that this White House actually he hasn't made that transition yet. Spicer has had the worst week a press secretary can have. Now, it has been three weeks in for him. See what happens in week four. Hopefully, for his sake, Melissa McCarthy won't be on "SNL" this weekend.

But put the jokes aside, he is up there trying to spin and dodge and weave largely because of the president's issues.

MARQUEZ: Not dependable almost.

STELTER: You look at the situation overnight with the travel ban ruling, you look at Gorsuch and these questions about what he said and how he said it involving Trump's attacks on judges, these days seem to get worse and worse and worse for Spicer. It's not so much about him as it is about what's happening with the administration.

ROMANS: Well, he's got an audience of one, and that's because of the United States and he's got a roomful of people where his credibility is so important. I mean, that's a crazy needle to thread.

Let's listen to what Sean Spicer said about Judge Gorsuch, because it was the fight about what Gorsuch is saying behind closed doors to Democratic senators and the way the White House is rejecting what is fact is remarkable. Let's listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SPICER: The judge was very clear that he wasn't commenting on any specific matter. He was asked about his general philosophy. So, you can't take that equate it back to the specific. He literally went out of his way saying I'm not commenting on a specific instance.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: So, this is all about whether the judge finds it disheartening and demoralizing that the president is attacking the judiciary, something that he has told at least two, three now I think on the record of senators who said he told them that. The White House doesn't believe it.

STELTER: And now, you have Senator Richard Blumenthal who this all started with, saying actually Gorsuch should come out publicly and explain exactly how he feels. Democrats obviously want Gorsuch to be challenged on this. They want him to be a check on the president's power, even it's the president is putting him up for the job. We heard Spicer say yesterday very clearly that the president supports the Gorsuch nomination. However, and there is no reason to doubt that. This is one of those distractions, the D word in Washington, distractions from the continuing efforts.

ROMANS: That's why we have the best candidate because he thinks for himself. It would put it to bed.

All right. Brian Stelter, thanks to you soon.

MARQUEZ: Thanks, Brian.

ROMANS: All right. Nordstrom shareholders seem to be just fine with the president's criticism and all the attention that followed.

[04:20:02] The stock jumping nearly 7 percent over the past two days. It's a remarkable rise. Traditional retailers are not rolling in cash.

The holiday shopping season was decent. Nordstrom and many others struggling with online retailers and fast fashion chains like H&M. So, they bring in big names like Ivanka Trump and higher end shoppers. If her clothing line were doing well or even showing potential, Nordstrom would not have dropped it. You know, retail analysts say the move may actually boosts sales because women who disagree with Trump's policies now maybe more inspired to shop there.

Nordstrom tell us this, it was all about business. Quote, "We made this decision based on performance over the past year and particularly in the last half of 2016. Sales of the brand steadily declined to the point where it didn't make good business sense for us to continue with the line for now.

MARQUEZ: My guess is that will not be the last we hear of this.

ROMANS: The Northeast blanketed with snow. Will it freeze to ice or melt away this weekend? We will have that for you coming right up. Man.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[04:25:25] ROMANS: All right. The first big winter storm of the season blanketing the Northeast. Let's get the final snowfall totals from meteorologist Julie Martin.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JULIE MARTIN, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Miguel and Christine, this is one of those storms where the shovel did not do good. You really needed the plow for this kind of snow. Perry, Maine, picking up 20 inches. We had a foot and half or more in East Hartford, Connecticut. That goes for you in Feura Bush, New York, near Albany. Just impressive snow totals.

The good news is the much quiet weather pattern for today. We are looking at a bit of lake-effect snow from Lake Ontario. The real weather maker here really along the West Coast is plume of moisture bringing more rain and snow to some already very wet areas, including California, all the way up through Oregon and Washington.

Now, in terms of those temperatures for today, starting off very cold here in the east. We will see conditions gradually warm up through the day. But still very chilly day today. We won't see any real warmth or melting for that matter until we hit the weekend.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: Well, we will hope for the melting.

Federal appeals panel rejecting the Trump administration's argument that executive action is enough to impose the travel ban. More on the ruling and reaction, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)