Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Appoints New National Security Advisor; New Trump Travel Ban Expected This Week. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 21, 2017 - 07:00   ET


[07:00:07] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At the end of the day, this not making us safer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will have a short phase-in period to make sure the people don't get on airplanes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The basis for his travel ban in the first place is the problem.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY.

Another military general joining the Trump administration. The president naming Army Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser. Now, this man is different. He's active duty in the Army right now as he assumes his role as the president's main intelligence person, and he's going to take on some challenges right away.

CAMEROTA: Including President Trump's new executive order on immigration. So how is the White House revising that travel ban? Also, there are questions this morning about why President Trump will not take a stronger stance against the wave of anti-Semitism we're seeing here in the U.S.

It's day 33 of the Trump presidency, so let's begin our coverage with CNN senior Washington correspondent Joe Johns live at the White House for us -- Joe.

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn. The president making his quick search for a new national security adviser into a quick announcement at Mar-a-Lago before heading back here to the White House last night. H.R. McMaster, a highly-regarded choice who, for all intents and purposes, did not have an option of turning down the job.


TRUMP: A man of tremendous talent and tremendous experience.

JOHNS (voice-over): President Donald Trump unveiling Lieutenant General H.R. McMaster as his new national security adviser.

TRUMP: He is highly respected by everybody in the military, and we're very honored to have him.

JOHNS: McMaster is a decorated Army soldier; a veteran of the first Gulf War, Iraq, and Afghanistan; and a widely respected military strategist.

MCMASTER: I'd just like to say what a privilege it is to be able to continue serving our nation.

JOHNS: Known as a creative thinker, McMaster is a West Point graduate and holds a Ph.D. in military history. The pick drawing praise from both sides of the political spectrum. Senator John McCain, who's been among President Trump's toughest Republican critics, calling McMaster "an outstanding choice, a man of genuine intellect, character and ability."

McMaster takes the helm of a National Security Council one week after Michael Flynn was forced to resign for misleading the vice president about his communications with a Russian ambassador.

MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was disappointed to learn that the -- the facts that had been conveyed to me by General Flynn were inaccurate.

JOHNS: President Trump's first choice to replace Flynn, retired Vice Admiral Bob Harward, but he turned down the job, citing family reasons. Sources tell CNN Harward was also concerned about being able to form his own team.

But as an active-duty officer, McMaster did not have the option of saying, "No thanks."

What remains to be seen is how independent-minded McMaster will work with Steve Bannon, the president's controversial chief strategist, who sits on the National Security Council.

REINCE PRIEBUS, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF OF STAFF: The president has said very clearly that the new NSA director will have total and complete say over the makeup of the NSC and all of the components of the NSC.


JOHNS: On another note, the president is expected to visit the Smithsonian's brand-new African-American History Museum, which is just across the way from the White House here today. He was expected to go last month but had to reschedule the visit -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Joe, thank you very much for all of that. Well, the White House set to unveil its new immigration executive order this week. New guidelines for enforcement will be announced today by the Department of Homeland Security.

CNN's Laura Jarrett is live in Washington with some clues as to what will be included. What have you learned, Laura? LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.

So we're expecting to see two big moves on immigration this week. The first stop later this morning will be formal guidance from Homeland Security to other agency chiefs. And that's expected to tell them how to implement the president's executive orders on immigration and border security. The important thing to watch here will be language detailing and expanded process of expedited or fast-track deportation for undocumented immigrants. A much wider amount of discretion for immigration officers on who exactly to arrest.

And deputizing, if you will, of local police to act as immigration officers and tightening standards for asylum seekers. Now, interestingly, the Trump administration appears to leave in place, at least for now, President Obama's Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, otherwise known as DACA, which protects the young undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children, the DREAMers.

Now separately, we know the White House is also putting the finishing touches on a new version of the president's travel ban. But the question on everyone's mind this week is what exactly is going to be different about this ban the second time around. Perhaps the greatest change, at least, that we know of is who's drafting the order.

This time sources say that the White House counsel's office, instead of the domestic policy shop, is taking a lead role. And we also heard from the head of Homeland Security over the weekend that the rollout of the ban will likely include a phase-in period instead of an automatic switch, Chris.

[07:05:24] CUOMO: Appreciate that reporting. It's very helpful. Let's put it to the test right now with a Republican Congressman joining us, Carlos Curbelo of Florida. So let's put up again, just for the audience. Thank you for joining us, as always -- what's expected. That this will expand the use of expedited removal proceedings.

More process, in other words. Tightens laws on asylum seekers and unaccompanied minors, orders surge in immigration judges and detention facilities. Gives more authority to immigration officers, leaves DREAMer program intact. Are you happy with what we are expected to see?

REP. CARLOS CURBELO (R), FLORIDA: Well, Chris, the first thing I'll say is that this country, just like any country, has the right and the responsibility to secure its border and enforce its immigration laws.

Now, having said that, we need to do that in a smart and a compassionate way. And I'll tell this administration the same thing I told the previous administration. If we're going to solve the immigration puzzle in this country, something we've been debating for about ten years now. The administration has to engage the Congress.

And the solution has to come out of the Congress. And the solution has to be complete. It cannot be enforcement only. It cannot be compassion to those wo are undocumented and working in our country. We need to do it all. Border security, visa reform and, yes, finding a way to a legal status for those who are contributing in our country, who aren't violating our laws.

And some of the good news, from my perspective, in this order is the continuation of DACA. We have many young, undocumented immigrants in our community, people who are brought to the country as children, and those protections for them will stay in place. That's something else that calls for a solution from the Congress.

CUOMO: One step sideways, and then we'll get back to the travel ban. But in terms of the recent enforcement actions, are you concerned that some of these principles that you want to make sure are part of our reform are not in place? That some families have been jeopardized and broken up by recent enforcement actions? Is that something that you're going to speak out against?

CURBELO: Absolutely. And without question, there's a tightening here from the policies of the previous administration. But I remind everyone of the previous administration removed more undocumented immigrants than any other in the history of our country.

Now, the way in which we do that has to be smart. These orders do focus from what I can tell on criminals, people who have committed crimes in our country. Of course, I think most Americans agree that those people should be removed. Now, people who are just here working, contributing, breaking up families, those are the kinds of things we don't want to see. They're not good for our country, and they're obviously not good for those families.

CUOMO: It's interesting to hear a Republican state the fact that Obama's administration had been very aggressive in deportations, because often your party acts as if he didn't let it -- hey, he let everybody stay. He didn't kick anybody out.

So do you think you're going to get a lot of resistance from people when you speak out that way?

CURBELO: Look, I think in recent years the truth has gotten lost in a lot of our debates. The fact is that the Obama administration deported more people than anyone in our history.

The fact is that we have a much more secure situation at the border than we did ten years ago.

CUOMO: Right.

CURBELO: Now, do we need to keep going? Do we need to do better? Absolutely. Do we need to solve this immigration puzzle once and for all? The American people are tired, Chris, of this debate. It's literally been ten years since McCain-Kennedy. We need to act. And in order to accomplish this, no administration, whether it's Obama or Trump, can act alone. The Congress has to be a part of the solution.

CUOMO: Right. And it doesn't have to be one big omnibus piece of legislation either. It can be piecemeal. That has always been the suggestion. We'll see if it becomes a different reality in this administration.

Last question, Congressman, the underlying point, the principle that this travel ban must embrace is the existence of a threat, even though there are these new accommodations made within the travel ban. It doesn't seem to deal with that primary problem that the people that you want to keep out of this country, even if for a little while and for an assumed purpose of figuring out better procedures, there is no major threat that they posed statistically to warrant banning them. That's what the critics will say.

How do you deal with that?

CURBELO: Chris, first of all, I welcome any improvement from the previous order. And I think General Kelly has been very involved in the drafting of this new order.

Here in south Florida, we know General Kelly very well. He led SouthCom. So I feel good about that.

Having said that, I don't like these blanket policies. I prefer surgical policies. We should have strong security tests for anyone who wants to come into this country. This policy focuses on these seven countries where, without question, there's a great terrorist threat.

[07:10:33] But we have people from all over the world trying to get into the United States. Here in south Florida, we know it well. We have people from foreign countries who come in and defraud Medicare with millions and millions of dollars leave our country. So our policy should focus on dangerous people, not necessarily on countries. Having said that, I look forward to seeing this new order and, hopefully, it is a drastic improvement from what we saw hastily issued some weeks ago.

CUOMO: What I don't get is that, if it's still from those same seven countries and going after refugees, you're still going to be dealing with populations that, by the most generous estimates, pose a threat of mortality in this country, of one to three million, one to three- plus million, one to several billion in terms of, you know, the threat that these people represent.

You have to weigh that against what does it mean to your foreign standing? What does it mean, the propaganda? What does it mean to how those people who are now left desperate somewhere else will come to regard the United States? I mean, is anybody going to balance those interests at any point?

CURBELO: I understand what you're saying, Chris, and to an extent, I agree with you. Look, South Florida is a community that is replete with refugees, people who came to this country because they really didn't have a choice. They feared for their lives. So I'm very sensitive to that. And I hope that this policy is only temporary and that we can shift back, in the future, to a policy that focuses on keeping dangerous people out of the United States, no matter where they may be coming from. I do agree that these blanket policies don't send a good message, and I hope that they're only temporary. CUOMO: The only caution is that it is rare to find in our history a

step where we became less inclusive, and it led to becoming more inclusive. But Congressman, I appreciate your candor on this. Let's see what's in the executive order, and we'll test from there. Thank you, sir.

CURBELO: Thank, Chris. Have a good day.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Well, thousands are gathering across the country for "Not My Presidents' Day rallies on Presidents' Day yesterday. Protestors taking to the streets in two dozen cities, carrying American flags and signs opposing President Trump.

One of the biggest protests took place in New York outside the Trump International Hotel.

CUOMO: Breaking news, four Americans among five people killed when a small charter plane crashed in the Australian city of Melbourne. Officials say the plane crashed into the roof of a shopping mall. And look at your screen right now. You're looking at the aftermath shortly after takeoff is when this happened. The mall was closed at the time of the crash, luckily. Investigators still looking into the cause.

CAMEROTA: A 27-year-old veteran of the Whittier, California, Police Department was gunned down during a traffic stop. Authorities say Officer Keith Boyer was shot and killed by a gang member who had just been paroled. They say the suspect was driving a stolen car, and when officers ordered him out of the car and patted him down, he opened fire. The suspect was wounded in the exchange of gunfire. The police chief, Jeff Piper, was overcome with emotion.


JEFF PIPER, POLICE CHIEF, WHITTIER, CALIFORNIA: You know, it's really hard for me to hold back my tears, because all of us have been grieving since 10 a.m. this morning. And I didn't think I had any tears left, but everybody needs to know what these officers are dealing with out there on a daily basis. You have no idea how it's changed in the last four years. People don't want to follow rules. People don't care about other people. And it's tragic. This is a senseless, senseless tragedy that did not need to be.


CAMEROTA: Oh, that is heartbreaking. This is heartbreaking. They are on the front lines every day. You know, they always say there's no such thing as a routine traffic stop. Every time they pull somebody over, they don't know what they're going to encounter.

CUOMO: You know, people dismiss -- I haven't looked deeply enough to see the numbers, some clarity on the point. But I have to tell you, I've got a lot of friends on the job. And they all say what you just heard from that chief, which is things have changed. They feel that the manner that people interchange with them, the resistance that they get, the fear that they feel has all heightened in the last few years.

CAMEROTA: I wonder what that is. Well, we'll continue to cover this and bring you all of those developments.

CUOMO: All right. So we have reports of more bomb threats targeting Jewish centers across the country. First daughter Ivanka Trump condemns them. You may know that she converted to Judaism. Her husband is an orthodox Jew. They are raising their kids in the Jewish faith.

[07:15:00] One New York lawmaker is asking why the president isn't as vocal and outspoken as his daughter. We have that Congressman next.


CAMEROTA: Jewish communities across the country are seeing a wave of anti-Semitism. Eleven JCCs received bomb threats yesterday. In fact, since January, Jewish centers have received nearly 70 threats. President Trump's daughter Ivanka, who converted to Judaism, tweeted this response. She says America is a nation built on the principle of religious tolerance.

We must protect our horses of worship and religious centers. Congressman Jerry Nadler tweeted back to the first daughter: "Very nice, but this should be coming from your father, Donald Trump. He must directly condemn anti-Semitism and all those who espouse it."

Congressman Jerry Nadler joins us now. Congressman, thanks so much for being here.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D), NEW YORK: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: Why hasn't President Trump spoken out more vociferously against the wave of anti-Semitism that we're seeing?

NADLER: Well, the question isn't why hasn't he spoken out more vociferously. The question is why hasn't he spoken out, period? And why has he evaded two questions in his last two press conferences on this question?

[07:20:06] The first time he was asked about the wave of bombings -- bomb threats, I should say -- bombings -- bomb threats arising of anti-Semitism, he answered by talking about how -- what a great Electoral College vote he got, which is a total non-sequitur. That has nothing to do with that.

And then he said he's not anti-Semitic, which nobody accused of him being. But he refused to -- to denounce the anti-Semitism. The second time, when a visibly orthodox Hassidic reporter from my district in Boroughpart (ph), in fact, asked him the question that started off by saying, "No one thinks you're anti-Semitic. We think you're a good guy, et cetera." He shut him down. He said stop talking.

CAMEROTA: He said, "Sit down. Quiet, quiet, quiet." NADLER: He accused the reporter of lying, because he said it was a friendly question. He said it was a friendly question. It's a complicated question; it's not a friendly question. And then he talked about -- again, he refused to denounce the anti-Semitism.

CAMEROTA: Well, what's that about?

NADLER: I don't know what it's about, but it's certainly about refusing to do what any president, any governor, any decent mayor would do, which is to denounce a wave of bigotry. Maybe he doesn't want to denounce his own supporters, because some of his own supporters are responsible for this. I mean, certainly, the alt- right, "Breitbart News" was a fountainhead of white nationalism, which includes anti-Semitism and anti-black bigotry. Maybe as a mode of his (ph). I don't know. All I do know is he's refused the elementary duty of a president to denounce a wave of bigotry and help stop it.

CAMEROTA: He claims he has spoken out against it. And in fact, there's a White House statement that I will read to you. This is from the deputy press secretary. I believe it's yesterday. "Hatred and hate-motivated violence of any kind have no place in a country founded on the promise of individual freedom. The president has made it abundantly clear that these actions are unacceptable."

NADLER: It's a very nice statement from the White House, but you said deputy press secretary. Second statement -- second sentence to that is untrue. The president has not made it abundantly clear, that these things are unacceptable. That's what we're asking him to do. That's what he cites the two opportunities to do the last two press conferences, when he interpreted questions about that as either attacks on him. And he said he's not anti-Semitic. No one accused him of being anti-Semitic.

But he has refused -- he's refused to denounce supporters. He cites the opportunity to denounce David Duke during the campaign. He's refused to separate himself from other supporters, who have indulged in anti-Semitism and refused to say anything against it. So if he would issue the statement like Ivanka did, it would be a great step forward.

CAMEROTA: What specifically do you want him to say? If he's listening right now, what do you want him to come out and say about it?

NADLER: He should come out and say exactly what Ivanka said, what any decent person would say: anti-Semitism is odious. It's terrible. It's the -- Bevel (ph) said it was the socialism of fools, and we condemn it. We condemn anybody who indulges in it. All Americans are opposed to it, should be.

CAMEROTA: He -- of course. I mean, as you know, he has been much more vocal in denouncing the media. He has been quite aggressive in his feelings about the media. He's called the press the enemy of the American people. Is Congress doing anything about this?

NADLER: I don't know what Congress can do about that. We should condemn it. We should maybe pass a resolution condemning the president for saying things like that.

The press is not the enemy of the people. The two institutions that we depend on to maintain a democratic form of government, to maintain protection against tyranny from the executive or anyone else are a free press and the independent judiciary. He's attacking both of them. And to say that you can't believe -- to delegitimize a person, say that you can't believe anything that he doesn't say, that doesn't agree with him is demagoguing in the extreme. And it's very destructive.

And the phrase, "enemy of the people," that has a history. The only people that I know of who have abused that phrase, he's an enemy of the people were Stalin and the people who succeeded Stalin in the Soviet bloc, counterrevolutionaries, enemies of the people. The press were viewed as enemies of the people. The press is not an enemy of the people. Nobody is an enemy of the people because they disagree with me or you about what we ought to be doing.

We're all presumably working for the benefit of the people as we see it. We may be wrong. I may disagree with you, as to the benefit of the people. But that's what democracy is about. To label the press or anybody else enemy of the people is a totalitarian tool of dictators, not a fit thing for the president of the United States.

And to demean the judiciary, to say that someone who disagrees with you is a so-called judge or to -- or these are our political decisions before they've even rendered the decision is trying to remove or neuter another bulwark that protects our liberties.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you something that you are trying to do something about, and that is President Trump's ties to Russia or alleged ties to Russia. Some Russian officials, including the ambassador, have said, "OH, yes, during the campaign, we did speak regularly with some of president -- then candidate Trump's top advisers."

[07:25:11] He has said, "No, there were -- there was no contact during the campaign." So what are you doing about this?

NADLER: Well, unfortunately, you can't believe what the president says, because we've seen him lie incessantly, including about things that are easily checkable. The size of the crowds at the inauguration, whether it was sunny during his speech. I mean, ridiculous things that are easily checkable he lies about. So you can't believe him, unfortunately. He's lost all credibility.

The fact of the matter is we know 17 intelligence agencies have told us that the Russian government, Russian intelligence agencies tried to affect the election in his favor. We know that. "The New York Times" has reported and others have now reported. And the Russians have admitted -- well, the "Times" and the "Washington Post" reported that during the campaign -- this is way beyond the question of Mike Flynn talking to the ambassador afterwards -- but during the campaign, high people in the campaign were communicating with Russian intelligence agencies.


NADLER: Not the ambassador but the intelligence agencies during the campaign. What were they talking about? So it raises the question of whether the Trump campaign or Trump himself, perhaps, were urging the Russians or working with the Russians to affect the campaign.

What we do about it is we have to investigate that and find out the truth of that, obviously, because if that was true, if Trump was involved in trying to have a foreign government affect the election, that would raise the most serious questions or whatever. I introduced the resolution of inquiry, which comes live next week, which demands that all information about this and about a lot of other things be turned over to Congress from the Department of Justice. And the thing about a resolution of inquiry is they must bring it up in committee either by the week after next or they've got to have a vote on the floor.

CAMEROTA: There you go. Very timely. Please keep us posted of what you find out because of that resolution of inquiry.

Congressman Nadler, thank you very much for being here on NEW DAY.

NADLER: Thank you.


CUOMO: All right, Alisyn. President Trump will address the conservative political action conference on Friday. You'll hear about CPAC. Now, they once resisted his run, but things have changed. We're going to bring in Michael Smerconish, and he's going to talk about the new dynamic with the president and his party.