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Revised Travel Ban; Pence Disappointed in Flynn; Trump Interviews NSC Candidates; Pence Speaks to Allies; Thousands March in Presidents' Day Protests; Trump Supporters Attend Rally. Aired 2-2:30p ET
Aired February 20, 2017 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks for watch. I'll be back 5:00 p.m. Eastern in "The Situation Room." In the meantime, the news continues right now right here on CNN.
BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, thank you.
Hi there, I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN.
Today, of course, is President's Day. But for thousands of people, they are expected to observe the holiday by taking to the streets, in cities around the country, to protest the current president. These are dubbed these anti-Trump rallies called not my President's Day. They are planned for big cities, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and New York, where 14,000 people are expected. The organizers are protesting what they call the, quote, "un-American policies of the current White House. So we'll look into that.
But, meantime, President Trump will leave Mar-a-Lago, down in Palm Beach, later today with two important items on his agenda. One, find a new national security adviser. We know he's been interviewing a couple of candidates over the weekend. And, two, revise this executive order on immigration and border security. So let's start with the latter. CNN's Ariane de Vogue is with me now on this.
We've taken a look at the draft of this executive order. It could come at some point this week banning travel from seven Muslim majority nations. How might this be different than the original one?
ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN REPORTER: Well, as you said, he's going to issue this new order, and he said to protect our people. But what's key here, Brooke, is that he's got to write it. The lawyers have to write it in a way that it won't be blocked by the courts, right? Two federal courts halted the previous one. So we have seen some glimpses of what might be in the new order. Over the weekend, Homeland Security Chief John Kelly, he acknowledged something, and that was that the first one was poorly rolled out. He said, look, we're going to phase this in differently and that should ease those concerns. Because you remember all the chaos in the airports that the first one caused.
BALDWIN: Of course.
DE VOGUE: There's still several drafts going on. But another thing they're going to make absolutely clear is that this executive order does not affect green card holders. That was confusing the first time around. They're also likely going to address religious discrimination and maybe a section on Syria, Syrian refugees.
BALDWIN: So those are specific caveats that could be in this new executive order. We don't know definitively because, right, they haven't put it out yet. You mentioned, right, this is to stand up against any potential court challenges. If you use those caveats you just ran through, would it have legs of getting through?
DE VOGUE: Well, that's the thing. The challengers are really waiting for this one. They're eagerly waiting for it. But they say unless there are drastic changes, they're going to still challenge it. They say that tweaks won't be good enough. And the administration, it hopes it will finally do something that will provide a win in the court.
BALDWIN: Ariane de Vogue, thank you so much.
Let's begin there with my panel. I have Jeff Zeleny, CNN senior White House correspondent, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling is with us, Maeve Reston, CNN national political reporter, and Danny Cevallos, CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney.
So, welcome to all of you and happy - thanks for hanging out with me on a holiday.
Danny, let me just bring you in first here on Ariane's points and, you know, maybe this new iteration of this executive order will clear up some of the issues. Maybe it won't face the same challenges. She mentions the bit about green card holders or Syrian refugees specifically. How do you see this going?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I see the challengers waiting to challenge this new executive order because even if it carves out the lawful permanent residence, remember the plaintiffs in the Washington case challenged everything including even the refugee ban.
CEVALLOS: Based on the idea that the convention against torture creates a statutory right in potential refugees in seeking asylum. And that alone gives them due process. So they will be watching to the degree - now we all talk about the word due process. In this context, it means that you can't just summarily take away someone's rights without giving them notice and an opportunity to be heard. So to the extent a new executive order lacks any of that, that's one example of how the challengers will pounce on it immediately and seek to invalidate it.
BALDWIN: So you think they'll pounce no matter what.
CEVALLOS: I think they will because I think the new executive order is going to seek to protect lawful permanent residents and exclude anyone else that they see fit based on the administration's belief that the executive has sole power over immigration. Now the Ninth Circuit says that's not exactly true. The courts can review executive orders for constitutionality. And especially if challenged and brought to a circuit or federal district court, we know now that not only can they stay it, they may be able to invalidate it nationwide.
BALDWIN: OK. So we're all waiting for that to come out. I think I read this morning it could be out as early as Tuesday. Thanks you so much.
Let's pivot, though, and talk about, Jeff Zeleny, I'm coming to you on, you know, we've covered the tendered resignation of the NSA chief General Flynn, and for the very first time today we've heard the public reaction from the vice president, right? The question, was he misled, how did he feel?
[14:05:12] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Right.
BALDWIN: This is what he's now said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was disappointed to learn that the facts that had been conveyed to me by General Flynn were inaccurate. But we honor General Flynn's long service to the United States of America. And I fully support the president's decision to ask for his resignation. It was the proper decision. It was handled properly and in a timely way. And I have great confidence in the national security team of this administration going forward.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Just curious, your response to his, you know, word "disappointed," and then looking ahead, who else are they looking at?
ZELENY: Well, Brooke, it was the first time the vice president has talked about this publicly. And he was very upset and agitated and rightly so about this because as he said he was misled. His advisors will say that he was furious about this. You saw it in "The Washington Post" more than a week ago - a week and a half ago or so. And that is when he first learned about this. But, look, he said he supported the resignation of General Flynn and they are moving forward.
But the question is, who are they going to find? Now, we do know the president interviewed at least four contenders over the weekend in Florida in Mar-a-Lago, but we are told that that may not be the entire set of people being considered for this. They are looking for someone who, you know, a, wants the job, and, b, sort of shares this president's viewpoints. Several of the names, three of them are military names, and one is a former ambassador, John Bolton, who, of course, is very familiar to foreign policy circles and other things. But he does not have the same views as this president has had on things.
So a key question hanging over all this, will the person be able to bring in their own set of advisors here. And that is something that sunk one of the contenders last week, Bob Harward. He was simply not given those assurances, Brooke. So I am told that there is not a front runner and they are not close to making this announcement, but they hope to do it this week. BALDWIN: General, we talked this morning. You know, you told me you know three of these four of the names that we do have. You know them pretty well. Tell us about them.
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, all three of them have commanded organizations at various levels to include up the division level, Bob Caslen, who's a classmate of mine, commander of the 25th Infantry Division and other things beyond that. He was an attache in Baghdad as a three star general. He's now the superintendent of West Point, has been doing that for the last four years. That's something that's considered a retirement job, the last job in the Army. It's normally five years. But he is a very disciplined and very pragmatic individual. He's a great leader and a very good friend of mine.
H.R. McMaster has commanded units at all different types of levels. As a captain, he was a hero of the battlefield in Desert Storm, received a bronze star - or, I'm sorry, a silver star at something called the Battle of the 73 Easting, where he fought way above his weight class. He came back as a - as a colonel, commanded a regimen in northern Iraq and was the hero of Tal Afar, bringing that city around in the - during the surge period.
Keith Kellogg retired. I knew him on the joint staff. He was the - one of the staff officers there. He retired in 2003. But even after retirement, he went to Iraq and was part of the coalition provisional authority.
So all of these guys have quite a bit of operational experience. They are all very solid soldiers. They have degrees of smartness and degrees of charisma. But they have to put an organization together which is the NSC. That will be very difficult because there are all kinds of cultures and all kinds of egos in that organization that come from a variety of agencies across the government. That's a tough job, and it works 24/7/365.
MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: And, Brooke -
BALDWIN: Those are - and as Jeff pointed out, those are just some of the names floated.
Go ahead, Maeve.
RESTON: I mean I think this is such an important credibility test for the administration after the mess that you've had over the last couple of weeks. You know, from the very beginning, when Flynn was advising Trump on the campaign, there were a lot of questions about his background and his tweets and his beliefs. And this is really a chance for the White House to kind of turn thing around on this subject, show that they can put a credible person in there that's going to have the support of Congress, and move past so many of these issues that they've had over the last couple of weeks. I mean there are a lot of members of Congress, John McCain over the weekend, talking about real concerns that they have about the NSC, and they need to move on with this.
BALDWIN: What about just - though quickly, you know, former Ambassador John Bolton, so many people are pointing out how totally different he would be from maybe a Trump philosophy, and especially where they were when it came to the war in Iraq. I know Senator Cruz told Manu on Friday he would be his pick. But are you surprised he's in the running?
[14:10:12] RESTON: Bolton certainly would be a big departure from what Trump's philosophy is on this. So it is surprising that he -
BALDWIN: You're being very diplomatic.
RESTON: Like huge. So it is surprising that he is in the running here. Obviously he's, you know, thrown his hat in the ring a couple of times running for president. I would be really surprised if Trump goes with Bolton.
RESTON: But at the same time he does need a strong surrogate on those Sunday shows and Bolton is certainly a well-known figure in all of those circles.
BALDWIN: OK, let's move on.
Jeff, back to you just on - you know we've seen several key figures from the White House. You know, Tillerson overseas, Mattis overseas, of course the vice president overseas. Here's a piece of what the vice president has said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is my privilege here at the NATO headquarters to express the strong support of President Trump and the United States of America for NATO and our transatlantic alliance. The United States has been a proud and faithful member of NATO since its founding in 1949. This alliance plays a crucial role in promoting peace and prosperity in the north Atlantic and frankly in the entire world. The United States commitment to NATO is clear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Jeff, how did he do on reassuring our allies, some of whom have had some jitters since November 8th. And also, you know, defending the president's message on NATO that he said over and over, you've got to pay your fair share?
ZELENY: I think the vice president, as he's been doing for the first month in office, Brooke, has been walking a very fine line with saying he is of course supportive of the president, and there's no daylight between them, but also trying to reassure allies.
But the reality here is that, you know, the - there are questions about the president's commitment to NATO and the European Union as well here. And he was asked some very pointed questions about that. And in one session this morning a reporter from the BBC asked the vice president who to believe, his words or the president's words? And can't the president suddenly always change policy, you know, in a - on social media in a tweet or at a press conference? And the vice president soft of danced around that a little bit and said, look, the U.S. is committed to its allies.
But I think there are questions about the degree to which the U.S. is committed to NATO. But this is part of the change that President Trump has been talking about for a long time. He wants some of these countries to focus on terrorism more and to pay their fair share more. But the vice president, again, a balancing act, as his job entails.
BALDWIN: Who to believe, it's a valid question give some of the mixed messaging.
General, and Jeff, and Maeve, thank you all so much on this Monday.
Coming up, we do have some breaking news. Live pictures from some of these protests across the country. These are the not my president demonstrators, several major cities, New York, L.A., D.C. to name a few. We will make sure we hit them in a round robin coming up to find out what these Americans have to say.
Also ahead, former campaign manager for Donald Trump, Corey Lewandowsky, speaking out and he says some people are letting the president down during his first 32 days in office.
And the British parliament debating today on whether to withdraw their invitation to President Trump.
Back in a moment.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People in this room, and maybe in this country as well, cannot understand why it is that the people voted for Donald Trump. Why people voted for Brexit. And until people in this room understand that, then I'm afraid there's going to be more of the same.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:17:56] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.
It is a holiday today. It is President's Day. And for thousands of Americans, you have the day off and many of them are protesting the current administration. So across the country right now in mega cities from Los Angeles to New York, this is not my president's day, and these rallies are underway. Demonstrators say they're marching against the president's policies on immigration, climate change, and human rights, just to name a few.
So, CNN has team coverage with these three fine reporters, Ryan Young in Chicago, Paul Vercammen in L.A., Brynn Gingras in New York.
Brynn, let me just being with you. How's turnout and why are they there?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, one person told me, Brooke, it's because this is what democracy is. This is a chance where everybody can come out and say how they feel about the issues at hand right now, now more than ever, according to that one person I talked to.
But you can see behind me, it's a pretty good crowd here. The weather is certainly helping here in New York City. But I've got to tell you, Brooke, it's amazing to think this was a grassroots effort. This started on a FaceBook post asking people to come out today for the not my president rally. And it multiplied, as you mentioned, all across the country.
But that rally I just showed you, that's even separate from the one we're talking about right now. The not my president rally is actually happening here in New York City all the way down this block. And there's just a number of people kept away from Trump International Hotel and Tower, buy I did just walk down there not too long ago and I can tell you that it stretches for about a quarter of a mile. So a number of people have come out to support this effort. And as I said, Brooke, people have all different reasons as to why they want to be here and they're being very vocal about it here in New York.
BALDWIN: Brynn, thank you.
Let's head to the West Coast. Paul Vercammen, what are you seeing?
PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you can imagine, Brooke, in Los Angeles, they get rather theatrical. And if we look right over here, we've got a few hundred people. And these folks have painted their faces orange and they say they have orange fever. And among other things, they're saying that the only known anecdote are facts. So this was a rally that started a few hours ago. All part of the not my president rally.
[14:20:02] And let's give you a sense of what some people think here. I'm going to bring in Sue right now from Santa Monica. Your sign reading "no ban, no wall, California welcomes all." There's quite a divide right now you think between a lot of Californians and the president. Tell us about that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think California values are that we love our immigrant people. I'm from an immigrant family. My father is a child of a refugee. And, you know, we fled war, and we need the same for other people, of all religions and faiths.
VERCAMMEN: Great. Thank you so much for taking time out.
So we'll give you a little bit of a wide shot here, Brooke. You can see that, as I said, we've got a few hundred people here in Los Angeles. And again, some of it quite theatrical.
Back to you.
BALDWIN: Paul, thank you and thank her as well.
To Chicago we go. Ryan Young, what are you seeing?
RYAN YOUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, a big, diverse group so far of protestors. We've seen this crowd swell. But one of the things that we've seen is very creative signs that people have been bringing out here. In fact, you told me it's pretty important for you to be out here today. Why did you think it was important to come out here to this protest?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I've never cared about politics more until now when you find that our figurehead cannot be trusted. And this is - Trump-Pinocchio that my friend Sue Cook made. And you can hashtag #trumppinocchio and check it out because, seriously, we have to do something. We have to stand up. We won't stand idly by.
YOUNG: You have people with a lot of passion.
Brooke, we want to show you the crowd as we come back this direction. Of course, Trump Tower is just over here in Chicago with a big sign. This is where people have been gathering. In fact, they were here yesterday having another protest. Now there are speakers who are in the center here. They've been saying that they're going to go for the next few hours. There's been talk of a march. There have been bands. Everyone coming together to have a voice about how they want to disapprove against the president.
As you heard in that young lady's passion, they're talking about coming out and continuing this for the next few days. If you go in this direction, you can see the cops blocking the way to Trump Tower so people can't go that direction. This is something they're doing often from now when people are coming in protesting continually over the last few days as we step through these crowds.
BALDWIN: Ryan Young, thank you so much. And I love how she said, you know, she's never been so passionate about politics in her life. And, you know what, that applies to the entire political spectrum because you may have these demonstrations in these big, big cities in America, but a lot of President Trump's most dedicated supporters have not lost faith. That was crystal clear over the weekend in Florida where he held his first campaign rally since taking office. And there to greet him, thousands of people who waited for hours and hours in line to hear the man they elected as president.
And one of those supporters is good enough to be with me now. She is Tamara Mussler.
Tamara, nice to have you on.
TAMARA MUSSLER, TRUMP SUPPORTER, ATTENDED RALLY SATURDAY: Thank you for having me. BALDWIN: So you had thousands of people on Saturday. You just saw the
picture from these he's not my president rally across the country. You know, I imagine you're pretty passionate about politics and you want to, you know, talk to me on national TV here. What do you make of what's happening in the country right now?
MUSSLER: I just find it extremely sad that we're this divided and we can't come together and unite behind a president. You know, we had eight years with President Obama, and now it's President Trump's turn. And it would be nice if we could at least give him a shot. He's only been there just over a month now.
BALDWIN: You know, we talk about the divide in the country and I understand even like some of the women in your family aren't all on the same page. And, by the way, I think you are not alone. I think a lot of even families right now are divided. And you were also a little nervous to sort of say out loud, I'm going to the Trump rally on Saturday. Tell me why.
MUSSLER: Because people are so angry and so vehemently against President Trump. And there's no reason for it. He hasn't been doing anything too outlandish or anything like that. So I just feel like we need to give him a little time, step back, take a breath, and see what he can do. He spoke to the American people. He spoke to the working class people. And they believed him, and he's given them hope and restored their dream.
BALDWIN: You said he hasn't done anything too outlandish. I mean I have to just push back and say, between, you know, not saying a bad word about Vladimir Putin, to even his comments at that rally about, you know, crime, or an attack in Sweden that never happened, to even as - you know last week, you know, citing his electoral win, the biggest since President Reagan, which isn't true. I mean I just have to ask, Tamara, has your trust in this man ever wavered?
MUSSLER: No, it really hasn't. He's not a politician. He's not polished. He doesn't know all the ins and outs, the way to speak, and loopholes. And he says what's on his mind. And, unfortunately, sometimes he may misquote a fact here or there or say something out of order. And I just - I think that's him not being a trained politician. And that's probably why most people voted for him.
[14:25:00] BALDWIN: Let me just - let me just - absolutely. I think you're hitting the nail on the head why a lot of people who are Trump supporters are Trump supporters. I want you, in just this last question, speak to these people who we're seeing in these protests around the country today saying, he's not my president. What is the biggest misconception among those folks for someone like you?
MUSSLER: Well, when I saw him in person at the rally, the way he - he reached out to the people. And he just - you felt like he genuinely cared about you and who you were. And he and his family just - they - it's - I don't know how to describe it. It's just an unbelievable feeling that he actually - you feel like he's talking to you one on one. And if you ran into him, you feel like he would give you a hug and say there, there, and he's willing to stick his neck out to help you.
BALDWIN: Tamara Mussler, so important to hear from voices such as yours. Thank you so much.
MUSSLER: Thank you for having me.
BALDWIN: Thank you.
Next, keep all your records, all your correspondence related to Russia. That is the message sent from the Senate Intelligence Committee as they're preparing for this possible investigation into Russian interference in the U.S. election. We'll talk about that.
Also, President Trump calling the news media the enemy of the American people. How that's being received, including for members of his own team.
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