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Trump's Legal Options on Travel Ban Case; U.N. Security Council Condemns North Korea Missile Launch; Michael Flynn Resigns; Aired 6:30-7a ET
Aired February 14, 2017 - 06:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so we have some news for you on the issue of the executive order banning travel to different countries around the world. A federal judge in Seattle said a lawsuit brought against President Trump's ban can and will proceed.
So what are the next steps about this?
A judge in Virginia just said that the ban can't be enforced there. They'll deal with that separately.
Is this confusing?
Let's make it a little bit more clear. Here's their first option, go back to the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and ask for a full en banc, the whole bench review, 11 judges. This was three judges this last time that upheld the lower court ruling, blocking the ban.
The Trump administration is filing the paperwork to have that decision reviewed by all these judges. This may or may not work out in the government's favor.
Well, the 9th Circuit is known as the most liberal court in the country. The decision that these judges put down was pretty heavy- handed.
So what's the second option?
Well, an emergency appeal right to the Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy, who hears appeals from the 9th Circuit, could review the case and decide whether to open it up to the full court. This could happen in as little as a few days, which means the government would face the court as it is now, 4-4, divided along ideological lines. And without Trump's pick for the court, Neil Gorsuch in place.
So would the court take it?
They're not likely to take a situation that would split them. We've seen that from their behavior thus far as an eight-judge court. Also they don't like the Supreme Court preliminary matters. They like to make rulings on final cases. So two strikes against this being taken right now.
Option three, like Trump tweeted, see you in court. The government can go to court and fight for the ban against the States of Washington and Minnesota on the merits at the district court level.
In fact, the district court judge in the original case is moving forward his schedule right now. And he could decide if the travel ban violates the Constitution or not.
So what else?
If Trump decides to relent in terms of just battling it out, the smartest move could be just to do it over. Rewrite, modify the existing order or even issue multiple new orders if they want, each one vetted the right way this time.
Go to the operative agencies. Go to Congress and build your consensus about what these moves are. And if you do that, it's probably the best chance for the administration to have the success of getting these policies into effect.
But here's the problem: political reality, that would be perceived as a give. And, remember, President Trump is a man who does not like to give -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, another big story.
We want --
CAMEROTA: -- to bring you live to Pyongyang. We understand that Will Ripley, our correspondent, is there with their reaction to the U.N. comments on the test missile launch.
Will, can you hear me?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Alisyn. Yes, I can.
We just arrived a few moments ago. I walked into the (INAUDIBLE) hotel. We don't have Internet yet and so our information is limited from the outside world.
But I can tell you what's showing on the evening news right now, the nightly propaganda broadcast here are the first images, I believe, of the missile, this intermediate range missile that was launched.
They show the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, standing next to what looks like a pretty large mobile missile launcher. They showed it rolling through a very flat area and then they showed the actual firing of the missile itself.
Analysts are telling us, analysts in South Korea, while this missile traveled just 300 or so miles, they believe the range of this is actually four times than that, possibly 1,200 or more miles if it had been aimed at a different angle.
And what the North Korean media is saying is that this was a solid fuel -- a solid fuel missile, which is significant because this allows the type of missile that can be moved, set up very quickly and launched without a lot of preparation that can be detected from satellites above.
So certainly a troubling development. And yet, as I'm in the hotel here, we've been in the hotel for 15 minutes and the lights have cut out at least four times, where the whole hotel goes into complete blackness. And so you have this country spending a considerable amount of resources developing these weapons. And yet they can't even keep the lights on.
CAMEROTA: Will, you're the first Western correspondent there in Pyongyang. It is invaluable, all the information that you're giving us.
Is anyone there commenting or reacting to the U.N. admonishing North Korea?
RIPLEY: I'm about to walk into a meeting. In fact, I'm putting on my suit jacket as we speak to go into a meeting with several North Korean government officials. And we're expecting a debrief on that and many other topics.
We have just kind of thrown our bags down. We're told to get changed very quickly. And then we have to head down to the lobby. So I'm hoping to get some official comments about what the United Nations is saying.
I will say, though, the talk of more sanctions, that even as we were driving over here, does not faze our North Korean minders one bit. They say they have lived under more than a decade of sanctions, very strong sanctions, since 2006, the first nuclear test that North Korea conducted.
Of course, they have now conducted five. Kim Jong-un, the current leader, has ordered three of those tests and is saying that he will order even more, undeterred by any international condemnation or sanctions or efforts. So clearly, the scant resources that this country has are being devoted to accelerating this weapons program.
The regime here feels that it is their only -- perhaps only bargaining chip with the international community and they intend to use it.
CAMEROTA: Again, Will, there's no substitute for you being there on the ground for us. Please go into that meeting and come right back to us with everything that you've learned. Thank you.
CUOMO: All right, not an easy place to report from. We'll get more from Will Ripley throughout the morning. Up next: an abrupt end to Michael Flynn's tenure as national security
Should this have happened even sooner?
There are facts. There's going to be a lot of speculations, going to be a lot of insider parlor, palace intrigue here. But there are facts you need to know. We'll give them to you -- next.
CAMEROTA: We're following breaking news for you. General Michael Flynn has resigned as President Trump's national security adviser after a firestorm of criticism for discussing sanctions with Russia's ambassador before President Trump was sworn in and then allegedly misleading the administration about it.
Flynn fell short of saying that he lied in his resignation letter.
Let's discuss with this CNN political contributor Hilary Rosen and CNN political commentator and talk radio host, John Phillips.
Great to see both of you this morning.
John, I want to start with you. According to "The Washington Post," on the very day that the Obama administration was announcing sanctions against Russia for meddling in the 2016 election, Michael Flynn was on the phone with the Russian ambassador, saying, don't worry about that. We'll handle sanctions. We'll ease those when we get into the White House.
How troubled are you by this series of events?
JOHN PHILLIPS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He shouldn't be doing that. And if he did that, which it looks like he did, he should lose his job, which is exactly what happened.
Three things jump out at me after taking a look at the initial facts of this story. One is that Mike Pence is not your father's vice president. In the old days, anytime there was a third world dictator who had his sunglasses in the official portrait and they get married or have a funeral, that's where you send the vice president.
This guy is clearly much more involved in the goings-on of this White House. And the fact that Flynn gave him information that was clearly incorrect was enough for him to get his walking papers. And I think that's a good thing.
The other thing that jumps out at me is, during the campaign, Donald Trump was very loyal to his people. Anytime one of his people would get attacked, he wasn't shy on taking to Twitter and defending them.
But sometimes people who are loyalists during the campaign don't necessarily translate to the best White House employees. That looks like it's the case here.
And the third thing is, this was a complete breakdown in the communications process. They still don't have a White House director of communications yet. They should probably fill that soon.
You can't send Kellyanne Conway out to say one thing, Sean Spicer out to say another and then have Flynn gone by the time that we're eating dinner on the West Coast.
You can't do that. They need to fix that.
CAMEROTA: Yes, so John teed up for you, Hilary, a lot of different issues and problems that we're seeing.
But what about the idea that Sally Yates, then the acting attorney general, alerted the White House to this breach by Michael Flynn a month ago?
So how are we to believe that the vice president and President Trump didn't know that Michael Flynn had --
CAMEROTA: -- had this conversation?
HILARY ROSEN, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, John articulately turned this into a process problem at the White House. I don't think this is a process problem. I think it is going to prove to be a much bigger issue.
We have essentially the President of the United States who's not just got sworn in but handed his national security adviser top security clearance, knowing that he had done this, knowing that he had broken essentially the law when he went around the sitting president and assured -- seemingly assured Russia something about sanctions.
At least we know that the day that President Obama announced these sanctions, Vladimir Putin was silent. Vladimir Putin's never been silent before when being sanctioned or criticized by the United States.
So something must have been told to him or assured him.
The big question now, and I think -- I've talked to Democrats over the course of the last several hours on the Hill -- Democrats are going to be wondering and asking, what did Donald Trump know, when did he know it?
And who else did he keep this from?
And I don't think that this is going to go away today with Mike Flynn. CAMEROTA: John, that's the heart of matter, right, I mean, unless you think that Mike Flynn went rogue and did this all on his own, nobody gave him permission, he decided this was a good idea, then you have to chase this up the chain.
PHILLIPS: I don't think there's any evidence at all that suggests that Mike Pence was in on this. If he was in on this, then he wouldn't have gone on CBS' "Face the Nation" and said that this did not happen --
CAMEROTA: But why?
Why wouldn't he just --
ROSEN: He might be the only one who didn't know --
CAMEROTA: -- try to mislead somebody?
I mean, well, what makes you think that he wouldn't try to mislead the Sunday shows?
PHILLIPS: He would be a fool to go on there and do that. Now I was watching NEW DAY earlier and it was reported that the guy was furious, the guy that never loses his temper was spitting mad over this.
I absolutely believe that he was taken by surprise from this and that what's cost Flynn his job.
And what about Donald Trump, do you think, John?
PHILLIPS: Well, Donald Trump is a guy who's not shy on going on Twitter and defending his people when they're attacked.
CAMEROTA: Right. But I'm saying did he know?
Do you believe, given that Sally Yates alerted the White House counsel a month ago, do you believe that Donald Trump knew what Mike Flynn was doing?
PHILLIPS: I suspect that Flynn's departure began before yesterday. Donald Trump is the one person we haven't heard from. He hasn't tweeted about this subject. He hasn't given an interview about this subject. We heard from Kellyanne. We heard from Spicer. We had not heard from Trump.
My guess is he had been tipped off that there was a problem earlier and he took care of it.
ROSEN: Look, we need to -- we need to think about this in the bigger picture. White House staff come and go. And certainly, in the early days of an administration, when people are seen to be unfit and unsuitable for the role they got in. And President Trump was warned that Mike Flynn was a hothead, if you will.
But here's the real issue, which is does this president feel accountable to the American people?
Does he feel that what happens between him and Russia is somehow worthy of transparency to the American people?
We saw him compliment an aide on Sunday for going on TV and saying that the president should not be held accountable by the courts, two things. And so let's look at the bigger picture here and think about this, not just as a staffer going away today but what the president is going to assure the American people going forward.
CAMEROTA: And very quickly, just to tie this up, as we all remember, Kellyanne Conway yesterday went on television and said that General Flynn had the full confidence of President Trump.
And then, according to our reporting, they had some new information yesterday they felt that it was not in the works for --
ROSEN: So what are we now to believe?
CAMEROTA: Who knows?
But we are going to chase this --
PHILLIPS: Yes, that's the kiss of the death, by the way.
CAMEROTA: Thank you, Hilary --
PHILLIPS: Whenever you're told your job is secure, start looking for the want ads.
CAMEROTA: -- there you go. Hilary Rosen, John Phillips, thank you very much.
CUOMO: Well, you make the right point. Phillips can spin it and say I think this might have been in the works. There's no indication of that on the facts yet.
The White House is avoiding questions about Michael Flynn, it's been going on for days. They've been calling on only friendly outfits with softball questions. One of the pressers yesterday, there wasn't even a question about Flynn offered up.
The Trump administration is trying to control message. That's not unusual in politics. But how this White House is doing it is. Our media experts -- next.
[06:50:00] (MUSIC PLAYING)
CUOMO: The Trump White House, avoiding questions about the president's now-ousted national security adviser Michael Flynn. In the last week, the administration has only really called on conservative media outlets or friendlies at press conferences.
None of them asked about Flynn or even North Korea's missile launch.
How is the White House trying to control the message?
Let's discuss with senior CNN media correspondent, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter and Bill Carter, CNN media analyst and author of "The War for Late Night."
Let's just, you know, do this on what we know and what we can show.
Put up the list of people they have called on since this Flynn and Korean intrigue came up.
I mean, look, do a quick Google search; none of those people are heavy hitters when it comes to covering the President of the United States, Donald Trump. That's just the fact, Bill Carter. It is not new for a White House to try to insulate itself and stay close to friendlies.
But we have never seen anything like this, which seems to be a continued assault on free press, not just message spinning.
BILL CARTER, CNN MEDIA ANALYST: Well, they also have -- they have more range of outlets that they consider friendly than I can recall. I also think it's not particularly reliable for them in the long term because, at some point, you -- even if you're a friendly person, if you're a journalist, how can you not ask the most obvious question?
To me, the most embarrassing thing was not that they went to these organizations but that the organizations rolled over this way.
CAMEROTA: Well, we have --
CARTER: How do you call yourself a journalist and not ask about Flynn yesterday?
It's like the most dominant story in the news.
CAMEROTA: Well, I'll tell you what they said. I'm actually with the journalists at Sinclair (ph) stations said, that was the local that was there, said, well, it was a meeting with the prime minister of Canada, Trudeau. So I was asking about what happened that day at that meeting. They had a different story. And that's legit, right, Bill?
They had --
CARTER: No. --
CAMEROTA: -- sent there with a different story.
CARTER: I don't think it's legit. If you're a news person, you ask the news question.
How much access do you get to the president?
So he's talking with a Canadian.
Well, are you going to ask about Canadian hockey?
You have to ask about what's in the news.
BRIAN STELTER, CNNMONEY SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: -- two-part question. If you wanted to ask about the U.S.-Canada relationship, fine. Also ask about Michael Flynn.
These journalists who did not ask about Flynn, they looked bad yesterday afternoon. They look even worse now, now that Flynn has resigned. Let's remember that, on Friday afternoon, President Trump was on Air Force One, on the way to Mar-a-lago.
He told reporters, when asked about Flynn, he didn't know what it was about. He had not read the story.
Does anyone believe that he had not read that bombshell "Washington Post" story with nine sources that broke this thing wide open?
CAMEROTA: Well, it's also harder to believe that now that we know that the acting attorney general, who had been dismissed by Trump, Sally Yates, at the end of last month, at the end of January, had alerted the White House about this problem with Michael Flynn.
So that's even --
STELTER: -- right in plain sight for a while.
And, by the way --
CUOMO: -- DNI Clapper --
STEPHANOPOULOS: -- a big moment for investigative journalists. A -- this has been the story, led by "The Washington Post," "The New York Times," the CNNs of the world, if it weren't journalists digging, digging, digging into this, we wouldn't know about it. So when you hear about anonymous sources, when you hear about leaks
from the White House or from the government, this is what that's so important for.
CUOMO: And we're seeing something else because this isn't a pat on the back. This is the job, the media is going to do its job. Journalists will always do a job. Doesn't matter whether they're liked or not. It's not a popularity contest.
But what are we seeing here in real time?
OK, they break the story. Flynn resigns. He says in his letter, basically, I own this. OK? This wasn't some political trap set by the media. He owned it.
But what else are we seeing?
This can't be the end of the story. The White House wants us to be all about Michael Flynn. I'm seeing the media say, well, he lied to Pence, he lied to -- how do we know?
CARTER: Yes, we --
CUOMO: How do we know?
The White House knew for weeks. They did nothing. They pretended they didn't know about it. They said yesterday, he has the full confidence, Michael Flynn, of the president.
CAMEROTA: That's the way -- Kellyanne Conway said that, which was a mixed message from what Sean Spicer had said. And that's a problem in itself.
CUOMO: It is a messaging problem. It's a messaging problem. But it's not a credibility problem in terms of Kellyanne Conway went rogue.
No, she didn't. She -- nobody is closer to President Trump than she is. They say, well, there was new information that came out after that. They already knew everything they needed to know.
Do we believe, at this point, do the facts tell us that this begins and ends with Michael Flynn?
CARTER: It doesn't seem that way and obviously anybody who has covered this is going to keep asking that question.
If you -- I don't believe that the press is now going to be backing off --
CUOMO: And the White House won't answer it.
They did a background briefing call this morning and you'll see reporters are going to come out and say, they asked questions, they said, can we ask questions?
No, they were told by the White House.
STELTER: This actually may, at least in the short term, make the tensions between the press and the president even worse. We've got a briefing coming up later today, Sean Spicer's first briefing of the week on camera. I suspect it's going to be quite tense.
CAMEROTA: But, Brian --
STELTER: Because they're going to -- there's a very real likelihood that Trump and his aides are going to blame the media, both for breaking the story wide open but also for piling on.
CUOMO: But that's not going to fly anymore.
CARTER: They've been claiming fake news, fake news. And this is real news. The guy has resigned. The fake news meme is going to die. I can't believe they're going to accuse everybody of -- that's criticizing them of being fake anymore. It's just not going to fly.
CAMEROTA: But how are we supposed to see Kellyanne Conway's role, now, since she's a liaison?
She comes out and speaks the president's mind. She's a channel conduit. So the fact that she said he has the full confidence just hours before he resigned, does that mean that she was being intentionally misleading?
Or she's misinformed?
STELTER: Yes, number one, next time she says that the president has full confidence in someone --
CARTER: Yes, look out.
STELTER: -- our antennae are going to go up. So it deepens that credibility issue for Conway. But I think that it's more about the president. Whatever Conway was told by the president.
If it's true the president had full confidence in him as of 4:00 pm and didn't want him to resign and then was trying to give him more time, that's not the decisive leader that "The Apprentice" showed us on television.
There was a version of leadership that we saw on NBC for years with President Trump --
CUOMO: But you know what?
STELTER: We're not seeing that in the --
CUOMO: But you know what?
CARTER: -- questions about the president and what he knows about what --
CUOMO: The bottom line is, Kellyanne Conway is a pro. There aren't a lot of pros in this White House. There are people who like to make trouble in this White House and this ain't a TV show. And we're seeing it play out in real time.
CAMEROTA: Bill, Brian, thank you very much.
Thanks to all of our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN NEWSROOM is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone, welcome to your NEW DAY. We do begin with breaking news for you. President Trump's national security adviser, Michael Flynn, resigning. This comes amid --