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Revised Travel Ban Has Major Concessions; U.S. Deploys Anti- Missile System in South Korea; Senate Confirmation Hearing of Deputy Associate Attorney General Nominee; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 7, 2017 - 10:30   ET



[10:34:01] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Live pictures from Capitol Hill. You are looking at the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, right now. A really important hearing going on right now. This for the deputy attorney general nominee, Ron Rosenstein. This was supposed to be, you know, a run-of-the-mill hearing but now not at all. Democrats promising to hold it up, trying to block this nomination unless the nominee promises to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. This could get heated. We are going to keep our eye on this all morning.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, his opening remarks any moment. We'll bring you those live when they begin.

Meantime, a new travel ban from the administration prompting a lot of new questions. Later today the State Department is going to hold their first briefings since the president took office and face some of those questions.

So what do we know about this revised order? Six countries that are Muslim majority countries are included instead of seven. Iraq has now been taken out of this, something that a lot of insiders inside of the Trump campaign advocated for this ban. Also states current visa and green card holders no longer included in this travel ban.

[10:35:07] Also worth noting the language that appeared that gave preferential treatment to Christians and minority religions in this country. That has also been removed.

BERMAN: All right. Last night in an exclusive interview with Anderson Cooper, Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson who challenged the first ban said this about the new restrictions.


BOB FERGUSON, ATTORNEY GENERAL, WASHINGTON: These are major, major concessions by President Trump and despite his tweet a few weeks ago saying, see you in court, his attorneys have done everything they can before the Ninth Circuit and Judge Robart and the trial court to avoid seeing us in court. They filed motion after motion seeking delays in proceedings. So, no, there's no question in my mind that the president realized

that the original executive order was indefensible and frankly four federal judges agreed with that.


BERMAN: All right. I want to bring in Ambassador James Jeffrey. He's the former U.S. ambassador to Iraq and Turkey. He also worked on the George W. Bush administration and other posts.

Ambassador, thank you so much for being with us. One of the big changes in this is new revised ban is Iraq has been removed. Now six countries instead of seven, you were ambassador to that nation. There was a great deal of lobbying from Iraqis, not to mention Americans who had ties in Iraq who said it's just unfair given the wars that have been fought there and the Iraqis who fought alongside Americans to ban them from entering into the U.S. Do you welcome this change?

JAMES JEFFREY, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO IRAQ AND TURKEY: I certainly do. The entire limited ban doesn't make a whole lot of sense, frankly. But the thing that made the least sense was Iraq. We need Iraq not only in the struggle against ISIS but in the larger Trump administration correct priority of balancing Iran and the region. So it's really good that it's off.

HARLOW: So DHS Secretary General Kelly went on television and said they might add more countries. Maybe, you know, 13 or 14 different countries that they are looking at. He didn't say which ones. This eliminates Iraq, but it does not add any other countries. And not included are Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, the UAE and Egypt.

Does that make sense to you or is that a miss by the administration? If they were going to have another ban to not include any of those countries where the 8/11 hijackers came from?

JEFFREY: Well, again, this whole thing doesn't make a lot of sense because the whole purpose of the ban, remember it's temporary, Poppy, is to look at our procedures to see if we need to do even more extreme vetting. I don't think that's necessary but I wasn't elected to protect the American people. If they come up with more detailed vetting and they want to apply that to other countries, they can do so but that doesn't necessarily apply a ban.

This basically represents a huge retreat of this administration from an unconstitutional no man's land that they brought us into and then now back into the realm of almost normal U.S. government operations.

BERMAN: Ambassador, stand by for a moment if you will, we want to go to Capitol Hill right now because U.S. Attorney Ron Rosenstein who's the nominee to be deputy attorney general, he's giving his opening statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Let's listen.

ROD ROSENSTEIN, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL NOMINEE: That every American deserves equal protection under the rule of law. I want to thank the attorney general and the president for placing their trust in me to help manage the department and to enforce that principle. The Justice Department has been my professional home for almost three

decades. I've served under five presidents and under nine attorneys general.

And I want to assure you, Senators, based on my personal experience, that our department is filled with exemplary professionals, devoted public servants who conduct independent investigations 365 days a year.

I was fortunate to join them in 1990 and during the Clinton administration I had the privilege of working directly for the deputy attorney general at that time, Philip Heymann. I served in several other positions around the Justice Department, and then in 2005, when I became U.S. attorney, I expected to serve for four years under President Bush.

And I am so grateful to President Obama for demonstrating his confidence in me and allowing me to serve for eight years in his administration with the support of our home state senior senators Cardin, Mikulski, and Sarbanes.

Political affiliation is irrelevant to my work. Our goals of preventing crime and protecting national security require us to work cooperatively with all partners, to be vigilant and to be proactive. We also need to be role models because contacts with the police create indelible memories for citizens.

As deputy attorney general, I will draw on my personal experience with thousands of honorable law enforcement officers all around this country as I seek to implement change and to build public trust.

Justice is our name and justice is our mission. Attorney General Robert Jackson famously said that the citizen safety lies in a prosecutor who tempers zeal with human kindness, seeks the truth, serves the law and approaches the task with humility.

[10:40:04] For me, the grand hallways of main justice echo with the voices of mentors and friends. They taught me to ask the right questions. First, what can we do? Second, what should we do? And third, how will we explain it.

Senators, before taking on a position of this solemn responsibility, it's important to know who you are and what you stand for. My oath is an obligation that requires me to support and defend the Constitution of the United States, to bear full faith and allegiance to the Constitution and to well and faithfully discharge the duties of my office.

As you know, I've taken an oath a few times. I've administered that oath many times. I know it by heart. I understand what it means. And I intend to honor it. If you confirm my nomination, I will work to defend the integrity and independence of our Justice Department to protect public safety, to preserve civil rights, to pursue justice, to advance the rule of law and to promote public confidence.

The members of this committee are indispensable partners in achieving those goals, and I know Miss Brand shares those views as I am so proud to be here with one of the finest lawyers of my generation who would become the first female associate attorney general in the 40-year history of that office.

I want to thank you for allowing me to speak and thank you for considering my nomination.