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Hundreds of Immigrants Arrested in Raids; Trump May Issue "Brand New" Travel Ban; GOP Faces Anger over Obamacare at Town Halls; Michael Flynn Under Fire Over Revelations U.S. Sanctions Discussed with Russian Ambassador; Confirmation of Russian Dossier that Trump Team Called Fake; Syrian Doctor Worries Travel Ban Will Impact Patients. Aired 3-4p ET
Aired February 11, 2017 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00]ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a chance of taking this row boat to the other side that just might be the best $5 you'll ever spend.
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ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: It's 3:00 eastern, noon out west. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. Great to have you with me. Thank you for being here on a Saturday. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
And we begin with the arrest of hundreds of immigrants, a string of raids across the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents, known as ICE agents, targeting homes and businesses in half a dozen states this week, arresting at least 360 people.
Now, ICE officials say these are part of routine enforcement, and many of those arrested have violent criminal histories.
The man overseeing ICE, the new Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly had this to say.
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GEN. JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, first of all, they're not rounding anyone up. The people that ICE apprehend are people who are illegal, and then some. ICE is executing the law.
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CABRERA: So fear is now rippling through immigrant communities.
I want to talk about what's happening in California right now. Protesters concerned about these raids, blocked an on ramp to the 101 Freeway in Los Angeles. Watch this.
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CABRERA: L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti is pushing for, quote, "greater transparency from ICE agents about any future operations there." And he wants to know the status of those arrested.
David Marin, the ICE field officer in L.A., says, "This operation was in the planning stages before the current administration issued its executive order.
So, this, apparently, going back to the Obama administration.
And it all comes as President Trump is tripling down on his controversial travel ban, which would prevent people in seven Muslim majority countries from entering the U.S. A federal appeals court kept the suspension of this ban in place, essentially upholding that court order from the federal judge, the district judge in Washington State. And now, the president says he may just issue a brand-new travel ban next week.
Let's go to Athena Jones, CNN's White House correspondent, outside of the winter White House, so to speak, at President Trump's resort in Palm Beach, Florida.
Athena, what more are you learning about the president's next move on this issue?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana. This is interesting. There's been a lot of speculation about what the administration would do to continue to try to enforce this ban through the courts. But the president, when he came back to the press cabin on the flight down here on Air Force One yesterday, he was touring the first lady around because it was the first time Melania Trump was riding on Air Force One. But he came back, greeted the press. We used that opportunity to ask a bunch of questions. I asked him about the immigration ban. He stressed that he thought the administration would ultimately be successful in any court fight, but that it could take a while, so they're discussing a lot of other options.
Take a listen to what else he had to say.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The unfortunate part is that it takes time statutorily. But we'll win that battle. But we've got other options, including filing a brand-new order.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is that your plan?
TRUMP: Could very well be. But I like to keep you -- I like to surprise you. We need speed for reasons of security, so it could very well be that we do.
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JONES: So I don't know if you could hear the reporter who followed up, is that your plan, will you file a brand-new plan? He said, I like to keep you in surprise, but he said it could come on Monday or Tuesday. And not really committing either way.
Then we asked him, what he might he change in any new or rewritten executive order to make it, I guess, lawful and he said, "Very little," which I thought was an interesting response.
And I asked about the new security measures he promised next week and he said nothing more than what he said in the presser, just saying there will be extreme vetting and we will make sure people in the country are coming in for good reasons -- Ana?
CABRERA: Any questions left hanging out there.
Thank you, Athena Jones.
Now to the panel to discuss more. Joining me, J.D. Vance, CNN contributor and author of "Hillbilly Elegy, A Memoir in a Family and Culture in Crisis"; A. Scott Bolden, the former chairman of the Washington, D.C., Democratic party; and Alice Stewart, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist.
A. Scot, to you first.
If Trump issues a new band, what changes do you think he could make to the current order to have a stronger legal argument and perhaps garner more public support?
A SCOTT BOLDEN, FORMER CHAIRMAN, WASHINGTON, D.C., DEMOCRATIC PARTY: That's not clear. We have to see. We know before the ninth circuit, his lawyers offered a compromise, which said it would eliminate anyone or it would not cover anyone who had been to the United States already. But it's very unclear. A lot of moving parts. They could go to the ninth circuit or redraft the executive order. But I have to tell you, the state of Washington as well as the ninth circuit and federal district judges are going to look harshly at it simply because of his political rhetoric. We'll have to see.
[15:05:20] CABRERA: Alice, I wonder if Trump is too far down the road to walk this back and issue a new order. He's been tweeting adamantly about this from day one, insulting judges who have been part of looking at this order. His latest tweet on this issue was, "We'll see you in court." Do you think this is heading to the Supreme Court?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It will be interesting to see what he actually does do. But it seems as though the more prudent thing to do would be to sharpen up the pen and issue another executive order with a little bit -- using more specifics with regard to the execution of it.
And clearly, the law is on his side. If you look at U.S. Code 1182, the president does have the right to suspend entry of aliens into this country they deem to be detrimental to the United States. So, he has that law on his side.
But the questions we saw coming out of the three-judge panel dealt more specifically with why these seven countries. What is it about these seven countries that were of concern? And we all know that these were countries that were identified under the Obama administration as countries of concern, and the vetting procedures out of these countries are an area that need to be improved, based on our security experts. And those are things they just need to flush out.
Now, that we have Jeff Sessions in as his position, I think we'll have a little bit better legal team moving forward and that should make a big difference in executing a better-suited executive order moving forward than the last one.
CABRERA: Alice, I want to ask about what you said. You said it's quite obvious that more vetting needs to be done. What specifically isn't working right now?
STEWART: Well, based on -- we heard General Kelly when he spoke to the committee, he said these seven countries don't work well with the United States and don't have the proper procedures in place. The policing of immigrants --
CABRERA: But we haven't seen any terrorist attacks by anybody from those countries.
BOLDEN: Exactly, exactly.
STEWART: Well, Europe has. People from these seven countries have committed terrorist acts throughout Europe, and that's an important distinction. While they haven't done it here, thank goodness, they have.
So, I trust implicitly the officials during the Obama administration that named these countries and the ones that continue to reach these identify these countries now. So, that's an important distinction to make.
And Secretary Kelly made it quite clear that the policing of the vetting process out of these countries is not up to par with what we want and what we need, and they do want to continue keeping a closer look on it moving forward.
CABRERA: Guys, I want to pivot to these immigration raids. I know there's more to say on the travel ban. That's the idea behind it, the potential implications of it.
But we starting to see another consequence of the executive order on immigration, according to some who are saying these ICE raids are another example of what the Trump administration said it was going to do actually coming to fruition.
J.D., I want you to listen to what Trump said about his plan to deport undocumented immigrants when he was campaigning. We'll talk on the other side.
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MIKA BRZEZINSKI, CO-HOST, MORNING JOE: Are you going to have a massive deportation force?
TRUMP: You're going to have a deportation force and you're going to do it humanely, and very inexpensively.
BRZEZINSKI: Are they going to be ripped out of their homes?
TRUMP: They going back where they came. If they came from a certain country, they'll be brought back to their country. That's the way it's supposed to be. Now, they can come back, but they have to come back legally. They can come back, but they have to come back legally.
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CABRERA: So are we essentially seeing what Mr. Trump described then as a candidate happening now, J.D.?
J.D. VANCE, CONTRIBUTOR: One of the things we obviously noticed on the campaign trail was that Trump would say one thing one week and then three or four weeks later, he would actually amend his prior statement. So, if you look at what the officials have said from Trump and Kelly on down, the real priority for immigration enforcement is on those folks that have not just come illegally but also pose additional safety risks.
What I find interesting about some of the reporting about these immigration raids is they actually aren't in compliance with some of the things that the Trump administration has said that it wants to do. So, either those priorities are not accurately stated by the administration or there's something about the reporting that isn't quite right. And if you listen to Kelly, his argument is fundamentally -- secretary of DHS, General Kelly -- his argument is that these immigration raids were already planned but they were actually just implemented during the Trump administration.
[15:09:56] CABRERA: And A. Scott, ICE officials have said just that, that these actions, one, are a routine and, two, have been in the planning stages, really, for weeks, since prior to the Trump administration taking office, and that it was, in fact, Obama, when he was in the White House, who initiated this effort. Is there any reason to think these raids wouldn't be happening if someone else were in the White House?
BOLDEN: Well, it's not clear. But let me say this. What we do know about these raids are is they're high-profile, high-visibility raids. I'm a former prosecutor. When we did sweeps around New York City for drug dealers, it's the same difference, you show force, you instill fear in immigration communities. Donald Trump and his administration know that the courts are going to be a big buffer on this. So, with the existing laws, it's clear to me, in these targeted cities, that not only are they showing a force, putting more resources behind it in a very public way, instilling fear, and going to remove illegal immigrants, not just illegal felons who are immigrants. Because the difference between Obama's charges and what Trump is doing right now is that his ICE efforts were targeted towards illegal felons and removing them from the country. Here, I can tell you, any sweep or any raid may target illegal felons, but they'll target other people who are here illegally, kids, families, individuals, women, along the same elk, because they're imperfect. Because it's unclear what the policy is.
What's clear is Donald Trump wants a sweeping raid and all illegals out of the country. And under the definition of ICE, if they're here illegally, they're criminals.
CABRERA: I want to give you a little bit of information that we did get from ICE. This was on the raids that happened in the Los Angeles area in the last few days. 160 people were arrested in that area.
And to both of your points, J.D. and A. Scott, a lot of the people arrested apparently did have criminal and violent histories. In fact, they say 95 percent or -- excuse me -- 150 of the 160 people who were arrested in this raid had some violent past, including child sex crimes, weapons charges, and assault. So, those seem to be in the alignment with the Obama priorities to remove that particular group of undocumented immigrants who are in the U.S.
But, Alice, there is a story that's just generated a lot of fury over the past week, and that's the story of the mother in Arizona who was deported. She was brought here when she was a teenager and she checked in annually with the immigration officials with ICE. She never committed a violent crime. We do know she had a felony record for impersonation. She had used a fake Social Security number at one point, but it that the kind of person -- again, a non-violent immigrant with a family here in the U.S. -- that ICE needs to target?
STEWART: Not when we have the magnitude of people like we had in the raid that was just executed. We have felons and convicted felons that ICE focused on. But, look, she was here illegally and --
CABRERA: Why do you think she was pulled in now?
STEWART: Well, obviously, there's a stricter enforcement on illegal immigration. At the end of the day, she is here illegally. She had a lifetime to get right with the law and she wasn't. It's sad and it's unfortunate. But at the end of the day, we are certainly a nation of immigrants, we are also a nation of laws. And if it hasn't been enforced in the past, clearly, the new president is going to make sure that our immigration laws that we have on the books will be enforced moving forward.
CABRERA: We'll have to leave it there.
Alice Stewart, A. Scott Bolden, and J.D. Vance, our thanks to all of you.
Still ahead here in the NEWSROOM --
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CABRERA: -- raw emotions boiling over at Republican town halls and cities all across the U.S. But is this anger just the tip of the iceberg? We'll take you live to Florida where constituents have tough questions for their congressmen there.
And later, the national security advisor appears to be in hot water over concerns he may have brought up Russian sanctions when he and Moscow's ambassador to the U.S. spoke before Trump took office. How the president is reacting. We'll have more on that story as we continue here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:17:53] CABRERA: Tempers are flaring at Republican town halls all across the country as people share concerns over the future of health care.
Listen to this from a town hall a short time ago in New Port Richey, Florida.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to see the affordable care not replaced, but tweaked because there are good parts of it and not good. And I'd be happy to meet with you privately to share that with you.
I've had at least four patients in the last two years, since they were able to get insurance, come to me. Unfortunately, two are not with us today. One came with metastatic melanoma, who had not been able the to get treatment. And it was heartbreaking for me. We tried. But the man, his name is Tom, did pass away, and I was with him at his side at hospice the day he took his last breath. I do that -- I take my job very seriously. There are no death panels.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have never, I have absolutely never had to make that decision with a patient. I should tell you, I did have one -- and I will tell a quick, private story. A man whose wife had end- stage rectal cancer. Wife was in ICU for 31 days. And every day he came, she was clinically -- she was on a trach, a vent, the whole nine yards, not treatable. And every day, her husband said, I hate the government, I want to keep my wife alive to bankrupt Obamacare. I cried every day. I came home and cried for that woman because she would look at me and blink her eyes and say she was ready to go. She did finally pass, a natural death. Nobody excavated (ph) here. Nobody made her die. She died because her lungs filled with fluid and went into cardiopulmonary respiratory failure and she couldn't be resuscitated. My heart broke that day for our country, for patients. And I just hope that we get some sanity back in this country and we start realizing that we need to care about people. We can't prevent end of life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And work together.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot prevent the fact that some people can't be fixed. Some can, some cannot. We all need to work hard to provide good, quality care, affordable, to all.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I lived a long time. I had a wife who couldn't get insurance because of a preexisting condition. She's dead. So, I'm not here to take anything away from people. I'm a died-in-the- wool Republican. I'm a conservative. But that doesn't mean I don't have a heart.
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[15:20:35] CABRERA: CNN's Boris Sanchez was at that Florida town hall -- Boris?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPODNENT: Several people that I spoke with said they were hopeful that Representative Gus Bilirakis was going to take their message and stories back to Washington.
At least one man I spoke to, a doctor, who came here to share some success stories of the Affordable Care Act, said he thought it was for show. Keep in mind, Representative Bilirakis has voted against the Affordable Care Act before. He voted to defund it just a few years ago. Though he does agree with several of the provisions within the ACA, the people here in the crowd were fighting for, namely, not denying folks insurance coverage based on preexisting conditions and allowing folks that are 26 or younger the ability to remain on their parent's insurance.
Despite that, the vast majority of people in this crowd were very, very heated and angry over the potential repeal of the ACA. He said that he was here fulfilling a commitment, that he would fulfill a promise and listen to his constituents.
CABRERA: Boris Sanchez reporting there. Thank you so much.
Many of the places where people most depend on Obamacare overwhelmingly voted for President Trump, and now that decision could haunt them. We'll talk about why those voters picked Trump with the author of "Hillbilly Elegy."
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:25:40] CABRERA: Before the break, we showed you that anger that was shown toward a GOP lawmaker over the proposed repeal of the health care law, Obamacare, without a clear plan to replace it. What you heard at that Florida town hall is being echoed across the country as Republicans meet with their constituents. Here's another look.
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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Shut the hell up. Shut the hell up.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have to have coverage to make sure that I don't die.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone here has had great points. We all want health care.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Here's the problem I have with the Affordable Health Care Act. There's a provision in there that anyone over the age of 74 has to go before what is effectively a death panel.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, they do. Yes, they do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am 77 years old and I think it's unconscionable for this politician to tell me that, at 74, I will be facing death panels.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wrong, wrong, wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you'll be quiet and give me an opportunity, I'll speak. Or would you rather just yell and scream and holler?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is that what you want? OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Every American should have health care coverage, would you agree?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. You're wrong.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, children. All right, children.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So a lot of that is what happened today in Florida.
J.D. Vance joining me again. He's the author of "Hillbilly Elegy, A Memoir of the Family and Culture in Crisis." But we also show clips, J.D., from Utah and Tennessee this week. It's
not just limited to Florida. First, your reaction to the anger we see at those town halls?
VANCE: It reminds me of something a friend of mine said earlier on in the health care debate in 2009, which is once you grant an entitlement to health care, to anything else, it's hard to take it away legislatively. What we're seeing is, despite the fact people have concerns and reservations with Obamacare, fundamentally, it extended health care to a large number of people, and those people don't want to see it go away. And so, the Republican strategy has to be about not just taking the law away, it has to be about how do you reform it successfully. And as they're finding out, it's a lot harder to do when you're the party in power and not just in opposition.
CABRERA: Some would say, they've had six years to figure it out. They're been talking about repealing Obamacare all this time.
VANCE: It's obviously very hard to repeal a law of that magnitude. And I think one of the issues that Republicans are facing is that they can accomplish a lot of things through what's called the budget reconciliation process that only requires a simple majority in the Senate. But to make significant reforms to the American health care system, you need 60 votes in the Senate. And the simple fact is either they need to bring Democrats along or they need to wait a couple of years until they have more Senators. But their current strategy, I think, reflects something that we saw during the 60 years in opposition, which is it's easier to say no to things and more difficult to come to a consensus about what that replacement should be. I think, as a matter of politics, they may well face some backlash if they're unable to enact a significant form of the health care law, which, like I said, is tough for reasons of strategy in the Senate.
CABRERA: J.D., come to me to Utah. We'll play a clip with Utah's Jason Chaffetz. Remember, this is Utah, a predominantly Republican state. I want to talk about this on the backside.
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CABRERA: You hear them chanting, "Do your job." Chaffetz has said he doesn't buy much into or read much into what they're saying. He believes these protesters at the town hall are perhaps agitators and he thinks they may simply be Democrats upset over Trump's win and Hillary Clinton's loss.
[15:30:00]Now, as their representative as well, should he be valuing their input?
VANCE: Well, he certainly should be. And I don't doubt there's at least some retroactive anger, some folks just upset about the fact they lost the election.
But if you think about what Jason Chaffetz is saying there, it's similar to what some said about the Tea Party in 2009, that they're a bunch of people paid by the Koch brothers, they're political agitators. The simple fact is that there's real concerns about how we reform the American health care system.
I was not a defender of Obamacare. I felt Obamacare had a lot of issues, but it did solve a very important problem of access. And folks have got to realize that you're not going to be able to take health care away without really upsetting a lot of folks. The answer is not repealing Obamacare and not having a replacement, but actually doing the hard legislative work to come up with something better than Obamacare and reforms Obamacare.
And unfortunately, if we get trapped in this debate about whether these folks are just upset about the fact they lost the election, we're going to be missing a lot about policies decisions that need to be made over the next few years.
CABRERA: I want to ask you a personal question, because you're moving back to Ohio to start a non-profit to help battle the opioid addiction issue. I know in Louisville, Kentucky, authorities handled more than 40 overdoses in one day recently, Thursday, also 22 in a day in January. So, what's the number-one thing -- because I know this issue is important to you. What do you think can be done to help this crisis?
VANCE: Well, I'm going to say there's a couple of things that have to happen. One, there is a health care-access problem, a problem of how you treat people once they're addicted to these really terrible drugs. And unfortunately, we haven't really figured that out in the state of Ohio or anywhere else. It's really hard to treat people who have opioid addictions, but it's something we've got to do and we've got to get better at it.
There is an enforcement problem, too. If you look at the biggest drivers, maybe the biggest driver of all of these overdose deaths, it's fentanyl. And it's incredibly -- in some cases, they're like rhinoceros' tranquilizers, incredibly potent opioids, that coming in either through the southern border or through China. Unfortunately, I think no matter how much you treat addiction effectively, if you continue to have people taking drugs meant for rhinoceroses and elephants, you'll have a significant health problem. We have to deal with the fact that these really, really destructive chemical agents are coming into the communities in the first place.
CABRERA: In the first place though, people are getting addicted oftentimes prescription drugs coming out of the doctor's office, which leads them to street drugs.
J.D. Vance, thank you for your thoughts there. We appreciate it.
VANCE: Thank you.
CABRERA: Up next, a major player in foreign policy plan, U.S. national security advisor, Michael Flynn, now under fire over revelations he discussed U.S. sanctions with Russia's ambassador. And now there are new details about what he said and when, next.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:36:12] CABRERA: What to do about General Michael Flynn? That's a question swirling around Washington this weekend. Flynn is the president's national security advisor, and no stranger to controversy. But now he's facing more heat as we learn new details about what he said to the Russian ambassador in a phone call before President Trump's inauguration. Flynn, a former Army three-star general, initially denied talking about sanctions with Russia's ambassador to the U.S. during a call shortly after Christmas. Well, now, an aide says Flynn can't rule out that sanctions came up in the conversation. Again, all this happening before he was officially on the White House staff.
One major problem is this, the vice president went on TV in January and said, no way, that Flynn did not talk about sanctions with that ambassador.
CNN analysts, Kimberly Dozier and Josh Rogin, are with me.
Kim, let's back up for a minute. How do we know Flynn talked about sanctions?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Because of a "Washington Post" story this week that said intelligence officials have evidence he discussed with the Russian ambassador the sanctions that the Obama administration was just about to levee against Moscow.
At first, there was silence after the report, but midway through yesterday, Trump administration officials were telling reporters, including me, that the story was accurate, that he had discussed sanctions before the inauguration, with the Russian ambassador, but that he discussed various items with so many different ambassadors, he couldn't recall specifically this conversation.
Separately, I heard from Pence's office that Flynn had not told him that he discussed sanctions. And that is being shared publicly with reporters.
To me, that's an ominous sign in Washington, D.C., when the administration that is supposed to be protecting you is not guarding your flank. And the other ominous sign is that Republicans on Capitol Hill aren't saying anything at this point.
CABRERA: Josh, given Flynn's experience in global security, in intelligence, and the fact that Vice President Pence questioned Flynn about that phone call before he went on a Sunday show and said, categorically, that Flynn did not have any conversations about sanctions, do you believe he really doesn't remember if he talked about sanctions? JOSH ROGIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I take him at his word that
he doesn't remember, but that's a problem in and of itself. And I don't think that the problem for Mike Flynn is he talked to the Russian ambassador or that he talked about sanctions. I mean, the Trump administration's position on sanctions was well known. These conversations are pretty routine. But putting the vice president of the United States on TV to say something that turns out not to be true, that's a big problem. In this team of rivals that they've got going on inside the Trump White House, Mike Flynn is paired against some pretty powerful figures. We're talking about four-star generals and former congressmen and chiefs of staff, and he can't afford to be seen as the problem. And that's really the issue. It's, you know, Mike Flynn is creating a situation whereby the credibility of the White House is going down. And he's also making it harder for them to roll back sanctions if he wanted to because now no one will believe it wasn't coordinated with the Russians in advance, no matter what their grounds for that ends up being.
CABRERA: Josh, you talk about the credibility issue here, but, Kim, the bottom line is there could be legal consequences here. There's this Logan Act. Explain.
DOZIER: The Logan Act says that you're not allowed to interfere with the politics of the outgoing administration. But no one's ever been prosecuted under it. And I've asked various different lawyers and Capitol Hill specialists who could bring some sort of charge under this act? And that's really not clear.
What I think you could be seeing, though, that we could be headed for Mike Flynn testifying possibly on Capitol Hill to set the record straight and to take responsibility for this. I don't know if the Republicans are ready to do that. It depends on if the transcript of this conversation gets leaked. It depends on, how far did he go? Did the ambassador just bring up the issue of sanctions and did Flynn just say, hey, let's talk about that later, everything will be OK, or was it a much more serious and detailed conversation? I know that there are Democrats on the Hill right now that want to find that out.
[15:40:45] CABRERA: Josh, there's one congressman who wants Flynn fired over this. California Democrat Adam Schiff, tweeted, "If General Flynn mislead the American people, he can no longer serve."
Do you think his job is on the line?
ROGIN: I don't think his job is on the line yet. I don't think it's enough to put his status into question.
But as Kim alluded to, what's going on in Capitol Hill is pretty serious and there's a bipartisan drive, not just Democrats but Republicans, too, who want to put more sanctions on Russia. They want to punish Russia for its interference in the election and make sure that the Trump administration doesn't remove the sanctions for Crimea and Ukraine. And this is the kind of thing you could see someone like Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, John McCain, sink his teeth into because he's in his own battle with the Trump White House over comments they made about him.
This comes at the wrong time for the Trump White House. It's really inconvenient. And I agree with Kim, again, I don't think anyone will prosecute him under the Logan Act. The truth of the matter is these types of interactions happen all the time. They've happened in previous administrations. But it puts everybody in the Trump White House in a really tough spot. And, you know, in this big battle to come over the U.S. policy over Russia, this puts -- this hurts their argument that they're not trying to give Russia a bunch of concessions for no good reason.
CABRERA: All right, Josh Rogin and Kim Dozier, thank you.
CABRERA: Coming up, a CNN exclusive. For the first time, U.S. investigators have now corroborated some of the details of the Russian dossier compiled by a former British spy. We'll have details on what has been confirmed, next.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[15:46:00] CABRERA: This is something you will only see right here on CNN. Official confirmation this weekend of some of the contents of that secret stack of documents that first became known back in January. The information in the dossier involves Russian and other foreign officials and the highest level of American politics. At the time, the people who were about to enter the White House called the dossier fake and phony.
Details now about what officials have confirmed from our chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto -- Jim?
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Ana, the first time, investigators corroborated some of the communications detailed in the 35-page dossier compiled by a former British intelligence agent. CNN was the first to report last month that then- President-elect Donald Trump and President Barack Obama were briefed on the existence of the memos prior to the inauguration. Until now, U.S. officials said none of the content or allegations had been verified. But now, multiple current and former U.S. law enforcement and intelligence officials tell CNN that intelligence intercepts of foreign nationals confirm that some of conversations described in the dossier took place between the same individuals on the same days and from the same locations as detailed in the dossier. That corroboration, based on intercepted communications, has given U.S. intelligence and law enforcement, quote, "greater confidence in the credibility of some aspects of the dossier." This, as they continue to actively investigate its contents, these sources say.
We should be clear that CNN has not confirmed the content of the calls or whether any of that content relates to then-Candidate Trump. And none of the newly learned information, I should be clear, relates to the salacious allegations of the dossier. Reach for comment this afternoon, White House spokesman, Sean Spicer,
said, quote, "We continue to be disgusted by CNN's fake news reporting," end quote.
Reached by CNN, spokesman for the FBI, the Department of Justice, the CIA, and the Office of the director of National Intelligence had no comment.
The dossier details about a dozen conversations between senior Russian officials and other Russian individuals. One thing the U.S. has is a collection of foreign call intercepts so that they use that information to seek to verify some of the alleged conversations as described in the dossier. U.S. intelligence officials emphasize the conversations they now verified were solely between foreign nationals, including those tied to the Russian government. But some of the individuals involved in those intercepted communications were known to the U.S. intelligence community as, quote, "heavily involved, collecting information damaging to Hillary Clinton and helpful to Donald Trump -- Ana?
CABRERA: All right, Jim Sciutto, thank you.
President Trump's travel ban may still be in legal limbo, but it's not stopping doctors who treat patients in underserved communities from worrying about the special visa that allows some of them to practice. Coming up, we'll hear from one of those doctors.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. ALAA AL NOFAL, SYRIAN PHYSICIAN WORKING IN SIOUX FALLS, SOUTH DAKOTA: When people are watching this at home and sitting with their families, just think about other people's families and see what it feels to not be able to see your own children or grandchildren. Turn away from the politics of it for just 10 seconds and think about it from people's standpoints, not from politics. I think that would be helpful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[15:53:04] CABRERA: President Trump's controversial executive order would bar citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries of entering the U.S., Syria included. With that order in legal limbo, still, a pediatric endocrinologist from Syria says he's afraid he might be forced to leave his patients behind if he travels abroad and then can't get back into the country. That's because he is here on a special J-1 visa waiver, which allows about 1500 international physician a year to temporarily live and work in underserved areas of the U.S. He lives in South Dakota with his wife and young child.
Here's his story.
AL NOFAL: South Dakota is considered an underserved area where there's a shortage of physicians, so that's why international physicians are welcome here.
CABRERA: It's winter in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.
AL NOFAL: I was born and raised in Damascus, Syria. I went to medical school back home in Damascus, graduated in 2008, and came to continue my education here in the United States.
CABRERA: Today, Dr. Alaa al Nofal is a pediatric endocrinologist at the Sanford Children's Hospital and Medical Clinic, serving patients from North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Nebraska.
AL NOFAL: All right, young lady.
So, I have patients who will travel hundreds of miles to come see me. There are many patients who I travel to go see.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We also use airplanes to get physicians out into those rural communities when the distance is significant.
CABRERA: But there's one place al Nofal is hesitant to fly to -- out of the U.S. to see relatives. President Donald Trump's executive order bars citizens of seven Muslim-majority countries, including Syria, from entering into the United States. With that order in legal limbo, al Nofal is afraid he may be forced to leave his patients behind, if he travels abroad and can't get back into the U.S. That's because he's not a U.S. citizen.
Al Nofal is here on a special J-1 visa waiver. A specific, but important program that allows about 1500 international physicians each year to temporarily work in underserved areas of the country.
[15:55:17] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He is significant to this part of the country, because he treats a lot of children who have type-1 diabetes and he is one of only five full time pediatric endocrinologists in North Dakota and South Dakota.
AL NOFAL: Does that make sense?
What they did not consider is that this order is not going to just affect the people of the seven countries, it's going to affect people in the United States, people in rural America.
CABRERA: In a comment to "CNN Money," the State Department said exceptions to the travel and visa ban could be issued on a case-by- case basis, if it is in the national interest. But they did not specify if a doctor shortage in a rural area would be considered.
AL NOFAL: And that's what worries us, because we don't know what's going to happen in a year and a half or two years from now. If things don't work out, we might need to move outside the United States.
ALYSSA (ph) AL NOFAL, WIFE OF DR. ALAA AL NOFAL: For our family, it really disappoints me that this was done, because it's teaching my son that people from these countries are threats. I don't want him growing up thinking that people from Syria, his family, are threats, because they're not. (END VIDEOTAPE)
CABRERA: And still to come here on CNN NEWSROOM, fury, raw emotion at Republican town halls across the U.S. We'll take you live to Florida where concerns over the future of Obamacare are boiling over.
You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:00:00] CABRERA: Top of the hours. Thanks for joining me. I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Let's begin with the arrest of hundreds of undocumented immigrants in a string of raids all throughout the U.S.