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New DHS Memos Lay Out Immigration Crackdown; White House Lawyers Rewriting Trump's Travel Ban. Aired 9-9:30a ET
Aired February 21, 2017 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And you are looking at live pictures of the President right now visiting the National Museum of African-American History and Culture, a new museum that has opened at Washington D.C. This is his visit.
Next to him, you see former presidential candidate, now HUD Secretary, Ben Carson along with his wife, Candy. We're also told that South Carolina Senator Tim Scott is with the President. We're not expecting any live remarks, but, of course, we will monitor this and bring you more as we have it.
Again, the President of the United States, Donald Trump, making a visit to this historic museum in the nation's capital, the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. We'll get to more of that in just a moment, but we have a lot ahead today, the President stepping out to make this visit.
And also the fact that this museum is a place that he was expected to visit a few weeks ago, right around Martin Luther King Day, but he is making the visit now. This, as he is facing some accusations of cultural insensitivity because of his remarks about anti-Semitism. Overnight, his daughter, Ivanka Trump, tweeting about attacks on Jewish centers and making her voice heard.
We have a lot to get to this morning. Let's begin with our Joe Johns at the White House who has a closer look.
Good morning, Joe.
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy. Certainly, concerns that anti-Semitism could be on the rise in the United States, that tweet you mentioned from Ivanka Trump's, "America is the nation built on the principle of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship and religious centers."
And a tweet from Hillary Clinton, of course, who ran against Donald Trump during the election. Basically, the first tweet where she has actually mentioned Donald Trump himself, it says, "JCC threats, cemetery desecration, and online attacks are so troubling, and they need to be stopped. Everyone must speak out starting with @POTUS."
Now, speaking of that visit over to the African-American museum, just a short distance from the White House here, this was apparently attempted, or at least penciled into the schedule, all the way back in January, as you said, but was nixed apparently by the Secret Service due to security concerns.
Today, the President, accompanied by, among others, the HUD Secretary nominee Ben Carson; his wife, Candy; several members of their family; Alveda King, who's a niece of the slain civil rights leader, Dr. Martin Luther King; as well as Senator Tim Scott.
This event, apparently set up by presidential aide Omarosa Manigault after a lot of work. One source telling me, without her, it certainly would not have happened. Back to you.
HARLOW: Joe Johns reporting for us in the White House as we continue to look at these live pictures of the President making this visit.
Meantime, as Joe mentioned, the former Secretary of State and presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, calling out the President directly for the first time today on Twitter, calling on him to speak out against this wave of anti-Semitic attacks across the country.
Our Deborah Feyerick joins me now with more on what we are seeing.
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, as you can imagine, these Jewish community centers, they're on high alert across the country. Security has absolutely been stepped up. Eleven bomb threats phoned in just yesterday. Now, this brings the total up to 69 threats at 54 Jewish community centers across the nation.
The director of the JCC says he has never seen anything like this before. The JCC, of course, an organization. They serve children and the elderly and the entire community, and it's not just for people who are Jewish but also those of other faiths. It really is a community center.
Now, these, so far, had been hoax. The threats have been called in. They are under investigation by the FBI and other local law enforcement, who are trying to get to the bottom of this.
Over the weekend, we saw the desecration of something like a hundred different head stones in a Jewish cemetery in Missouri. So the fear now is that the climate is becoming sort of hostile. And of course, Jewish community centers, synagogues, and other facilities across the country under alert, security there tightened -- Poppy.
HARLOW: Deborah Feyerick reporting for us on all of these. Thank you very much, Deborah.
Let's talk about this with our panel. With me now, Mark Preston, CNN senior legal analyst. Jeffrey Toobin, CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor. Kayleigh McEnany is with us, a CNN political commentator. And Jason Johnson, politics editor at "The Root" and political science professor at Morgan State University.
Nice to have you all with us. And, Mark Preston, let me begin with you.
Look, this is an important visit for the President. This also comes at a time with the Black history month and a month that he has marked previously by having what he has called the listening session with the African-American leaders. However, you know, he was criticized for that because the leaders were people that worked on his campaign, very supportive of him, Ben Carson, Omarosa, and it did not include anyone from the NAACP or the National Urban League.
[09:05:03] What does he need to do and say today? How critical is this visit?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's very important. You know, this is something we heard from Donald Trump throughout the campaign, where he was going to reach out to the African-American community, but he did so in such an unartful way.
He would say things, such as what the hell do you have to lose, meaning he was speaking directly to African-American voters right before the election. Meaning, why don't you just vote for me because the Democrats haven't done anything for you? Whenever he spoke about the issue, he primarily spoke about the need to rebuild communities, but he did so in front of all-White audiences, which was certainly not the venue to do so.
You know, this is very important for Donald Trump. And it's actually very easy for Donald Trump, I think, in many ways, to go out and try to reach out to the African-American community. He is going to be criticized by them, no doubt about that.
We saw what he did last week when he called on April Ryan, who is a reporter, a long-time White House reporter, a good friend of mine, who happens to be African-American. She asked a question about the Congressional Black Caucus. He said to her, hey, you know, can you set up that meeting, which a lot of people took to mean that all Black people know each other.
So Donald Trump steps over his words. I think that he could do a better job of reaching out to these communities.
HARLOW: You bring up an important point about what he said on the campaign trail a lot. Let's just listen to the times that he was speaking at these big rallies, saying this is my message for African- Americans who are unserved, he argues, by this economy. Let's play it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Look how much African- American communities have suffered under Democratic control. To those, I say the following -- what do you have to lose?
It is a disaster the way African-Americans are living in many cases. And in many cases, the way Hispanics are living. And I say it with such a deep-felt feeling, what do you have to lose?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: All right. So, Kayleigh, to you. I mean, he will point to the fact that he did win more of the African-American vote. He won 8 percent versus Romney winning 5 percent, but he could have done a lot better and he probably wanted to do a lot better.
What is it, though, that you want to see from this President to those who, Mark points to, who call this disingenuous? I mean, he made a lot of those remarks at largely all-White crowds. What does he need to do?
KAYLEIGH MCENANY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think fix the inner cities, which was his vow to folks who have been stuck in a system that has been failing them for years. And I think that starts with school choice; Betsy DeVos was a great selection. But remedying the economic conditions is the big part.
You know, this is a great start, going to the museum, the executive order on HBCU, historically Black colleges and universities. But ultimately, remedying those economic conditions is what's going to win over more African-American support.
HARLOW: You know, to Kayleigh's point -- Jason, to you -- when I was spending time in Cleveland, Ohio, in a district where Mitt Romney didn't win a single vote, one of the Trump supporters there, an African-American woman, told me he needs to have a town hall in inner city Cleveland. He needs to come here.
And we spoke with her recently, and she was, you know, somewhat happy with the President's performance but also disappointed that she hasn't seen that focus yet. Jason, your thoughts?
DR. JASON JOHNSON, POLITICS EDITOR, THE ROOT: Oh, sorry, yes.
Well, here's the thing -- and I used to live in Cleveland, I might know that one Black Trump supporter there as well -- it doesn't really matter what he says because we can see what he has done.
Donald Trump can go to every single museum. He can go to every single cookout. He can go to every single junior high Black history month pageant that he wants to, but he still has Steve Bannon as his senior adviser. Steve Bannon, who supports White nationalist groups. Steve Bannon who runs "Breitbart." He still has Jeff Sessions as his Attorney General.
So it doesn't matter what Donald Trump says; it matters what does policy-wise. And until he demonstrates that he has an interest in pushing through policies that would be beneficial to the Black community, all this is just window dressing. And that's how most people are going to respond to it.
HARLOW: So, Jeff Toobin, to you. Jason just brings up Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who, you know, running the Justice Department now, is in charge of things like investigating police departments for discrimination against minorities, for abuse of police power when it comes to minority groups.
What do you think Jeff Sessions -- we need to hear from him, coupled with the President, on this issue? I mean, this is symbolic, and you see the pictures visiting this museum, but the question is, what needs to happen on policy. JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: But he doesn't want to
reach out to the African-American community. His first act as Attorney General was to say that we're going to work on protecting police, not African-Americans.
And, you know, the Republican Party has been united in limiting voting rights, you know, limiting early voting, limiting absentee voting, most of which is directed at hurting Democratic and minority voters.
[09:10:01] So, you know, that's the substance. You know, are you going to prosecute police, you know, who injure, illegally, African- Americans? Are you going to limit or expand voting rights? That's the substance of what matters, and we see which direction this administration is going at.
HARLOW: Kayleigh, I take it you don't agree with that, but Jeff makes an important point. What are the steps that we've actually seen the Attorney General and the President take?
MCENANY: Well, you know, I don't agree with that point at all because there are, in fact, a lot of police officers who are African-American, who have lost their lives on the front line defending our streets and our country.
JOHNSON: That's not the point. That's not the point.
MCENANY: And I don't think, just because Jeff Sessions wants to stand up for police officers, many who feel they have been under attack, the so-called Ferguson effect, of police officers stepping back from their duties for fear of losing their life --
JOHNSON: Which is completely a lie.
MCENANY: No, that's not a lie at all. In fact, there was just, on "NEW DAY" this morning, a group --
JOHNSON: It is. It is. It is.
MCENANY: -- the report of a police officer who lost his life in --
JOHNSON: There's actually no statistics or analysis that shows that that's the case.
MCENANY: No, there is an increase of police death. That's absolutely true.
JOHNSON: It's a myth that's been perpetuated by the right to justify protecting police who engage in violent behavior and don't get held accountable for it like other government employees.
HARLOW: Guys, I do want to get your take on this other topic. It's very important, this wave of anti-Semitic attacks that has happened across the country that Deborah Feyerick just reported on. Hillary Clinton, this morning, for the first time since she lost the election, calling the President out directly in her tweet. Let's pull it up. "JCC threats, cemetery desecration, online attacks,
so troubling. They need to be stopped. Everyone must speak out starting with POTUS."
To you, Mark. Ivanka Trump, overnight, tweeting about this, saying, "America is a nation built on the principles of religious tolerance. We must protect our houses of worship and religious centers." However, the President, criticized by many for the way that he addressed and answered a question about these anti-Semitic attacks last week at the press conference.
PRESTON: Right. So let me answer these two ways. One is, when we're talking about control and influence within the White House, we talk about Ivanka Trump. We talk about her husband, Jared. Both happen to be Orthodox Jews, and whose children are Jewish.
In the same vein, though, we talk about when Donald Trump doesn't come out and speak out forcefully enough about an issue such as this. We did see the White House put out a statement. It was through a spokesperson.
What I think happens is that Donald Trump gets challenged. And when he gets challenged, he doesn't like to be told what to do. And when he's told what to do, he doesn't say anything. And that's what I think you're seeing here.
I know I could be wrong -- and people could disagree with me -- but I do think that Donald Trump doesn't like being told what to do. But I do think it's hard to say that he's anti-Semitic or whatever when, in fact, you know, one of his closest child to him happens to be Jewish.
HARLOW: Well, and the way he answered the question was, you know, I am the least racist person, et cetera, et cetera, but he didn't --
PRESTON: Which is ridiculous.
JOHNSON: Right. And that wasn't the question.
HARLOW: But he didn't address the substance of the issue. Just, Jeff Toobin, put a button on it for us on what the President could do legally or something substantively that you think that he could do to show not only are these attacks not OK, but here's what we, as an administration are going to do to stop.
TOOBIN: Just about the most significant resource any president has is his or her own time, and he could show up. You know, he could go to a community center.
TOOBIN: I was just in Boca Raton at a JCC, and you should see the security at this place. I mean, it's quite amazing. And, you know, he can show up.
HARLOW: Time. All right. Guys, stay with me. We got to get a break and we have a lot this hour. Mark Preston, Jeffrey Toobin, Jason Johnson, Kayleigh McEnany.
Still ahead for us this morning, President Trump's plan to crack down on immigration this morning. We're finding out how he is going to do it.
Also this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Town hall turmoil. Lawmakers on recess. Protesters getting to work, demanding answers. We will take you inside.
And this morning, Uber facing allegations of sexual harassment and bringing in the former attorney general, Eric Holder, to investigate. Is this rampant across Silicon Valley? We're going to discuss that, all straight ahead. Stay with us.
[09:18:08] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.
This morning, we are following two defining moments in U.S. immigration policy. Today, the Department of Homeland Security expected to issue new guidelines to law enforcement all around the country. These are memos that will explain to them how to carry out the president's crackdown on illegal immigration. Some Democrats are citing concerns about mass deportations.
This comes at the same time as White House lawyers are reworking that suspended travel ban on those seven Muslim-majority countries. We're learning key changes are being made to try to get this one to stand up to any legal challenges. Of course, the last one did not hold up in court.
Our justice reporter, Laura Jarrett is with us, as is CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who is back.
So, Laura, let me begin with you on the memos coming from DHS about how ICE should crack down on undocumented immigrants. What's new? How sweeping are these changes?
LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Poppy, these changes really represent a monumental shift of immigration policies as compared to under the Obama administration. We know from drafts that we saw over the weekend that we can expect to see language detailing an expanded process of expedited deportations for undocumented immigrants, and much more discretion given to immigration officers on who they want to arrest. Also, a deputizing of local officers to serve as immigration officers on the ground, and also, a tightening of asylum seeker standards.
HARLOW: Laura, thank you very much. Let's turn to Jeffrey Toobin just about this executive order because they're not at all the same, but two big things going on in the immigration front from the administration today. OK, this new executive order being rewritten, first of all, isn't this essentially administration saying, forget it on the last one, we're not going to take it to the Supreme Court. We're not even going to take it en banc to a bigger ninth circuit of judges?
TOOBIN: Exactly. That's what it is.
[09:20:00] It is an admission that the first one had a lot of problems, and they're going to try and do it better this time.
And I think they really do have a good chance of doing it better.
So, the White House counsel's office is writing it. It's going to be much more inclusive in terms of who's reviewing it, et cetera, before it gets put out. They're going to specifically address the issues and concerns of the Ninth Circuit.
What do they need to take out so you think it stands up in court in an argument on the merits?
TOOBIN: Well, certainly, they have to take out the restrictions on people with green cards, and they are taking that out, and they are going to take out references to people who already have visas.
TOOBIN: The real problem, the one issue that they can't get away from is President Trump's statements as president on the campaign trail about a Muslim ban, and the question will be, will the courts feel that those statements are the real truth behind the order and everything else is just camouflage.
HARLOW: How much can they do that, can they consider past statements? Because some would argue, like the judge in Boston argued, that the president cited his argument, you can't really consider that.
TOOBIN: It's unusual but not unprecedented. I think if the order is written in a more intelligible, comprehensive, comprehensible way, it's much more likely it will be upheld. I mean, I think it's important to remember the president has a lot of power over immigration, and that statute really gives the president enormous discretion.
So, the usual rule is the president gets to make these rules.
HARLOW: What tripped him up on this one was citing religion in the seven Muslim-majority countries, but also the fact that he cited religious minorities. So, it seems some argued to give preference to Christians?
TOOBIN: That's right. And that will be one of the most interesting -- how do you address that problem, because he does, understandably, want to address the concerns and the refugee status of Christians who are fleeing oppression in these countries. He wants to give them the opportunity.
He has promised evangelical leaders in the United States that he's going to do that, but the question is, how do you do that without saying Muslims are bad, Christians are good.
HARLOW: Right. And you can bet they will be -- want to be armed with examples if the court asked them again, what examples of attacks or threats are you basing this on for the seven countries, that they did not have before.
TOOBIN: They have to line up their evidence, which they did not.
HARLOW: Jeffrey Toobin, thank you.
Laura Jarrett, my thanks to her as well.
Still to come for us, President Trump's national security team is growing. A military general just tapped for national security adviser one week after the president fired General Flynn, and his new pick? An active duty general, and that means he could not turn the president down like his last pick did.
But before that, the Dow on a seven-day winning streak.
Cristina Alesci is here with more.
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
The market doesn't see a reason not to go any higher, Poppy, as you just mentioned. We are headed into our eighth day of gains. There are two reasons for that. One is the surface level reason, and CEOs saying they are more optimistic that might lead to more hiring, more investment.
In fact, JPMorgan Chase just came out with a report today that showed 76 percent of executives at midsize and small businesses are truly optimistic about the economy and the impact the new administration might have on their businesses. But below the surface, investors are really paying attention to stories like the one they saw in the "Wall Street Journal" over the weekend that said Trump and his team may look at using rosier economic data than mainstream economists.
And that has a lot of people thinking Trump and his team will use that to justify more spending, perhaps lowering taxes without actually reducing spending and it's going to make it harder for the deficit hawks to really fight that increased spending and lower taxes at the same time.
HARLOW: Something his Republican colleagues are going to love.
ALESCI: Exactly. HARLOW: More spending.
Cristina, thank you very much for the reporting.
Quick break. We'll be right back.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've learned and I have seen, and they've done an incredible job. And we're now going to now look at the Ben Carson exhibit, and that's very exciting to me. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: The president taking remarks this morning as he is continuing this tour of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture. One of the things he is doing to mark black history month. We are going to talk a lot about this in just a moment.
You see he is there, live pictures, with HUD secretary and former presidential candidate and rival, Ben Carson, and his wife, Candy. Also to right to the senator, not in the frame now, you see South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. We will continue to monitor the live visit and bring you more as we have it.
Meantime, let's talk about a big pick made by this administration. A brilliant, outstanding and a force of nature, just some of the phrases being used to describe the president's pick for national security adviser, Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster.
General McMaster already earning bipartisan praise from those who know him. He now becomes the first active duty military officer to take that post since Colin Powell held it under President Reagan.
The announcement coming, of course, after Michael Flynn was fired by the president just a week ago.
Let's bring our Pentagon reporter, Ryan Browne.
And, Ryan, tell us more about General McMaster, why he was selected, and an interesting note, that he is currently active duty. So, he really couldn't turn the president down on this one.
RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON REPORTER: Well, that's right, Poppy. I mean, one of the things about General McMaster is he's very, very well-respected.