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President Trump Has Now Fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara And Sudden Order For 46 U.S. Attorneys To Resign; Stunning White House Security Breach; Hawaii Was The First To Issue A Legal Challenge On President Trump's Revised Travel Ban. Aired 4:00-5:00p ET
Aired March 11, 2017 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[16:00:41] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: Hello on this Saturday. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. And I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.
Two stories breaking news at this hour. We begin with a stunning White House security breach and bizarre new details on the intruder. The President was inside the White House when the intruder was finally stopped a few hundred feet away. Here is what President Trump had to say just a short time ago about this midnight security lapse.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Secret service did a fantastic job last night. I appreciate it. Secret service did a fantastic job. It was a troubled person. Very sad. Secret service was fantastic.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: We have now learned the intruder is 26-year-old Jonathan Tran. He was not detected until he ran into a secret service officer near the South Portico entrance.
Our other break news story stems from the sudden order for 46 U.S. attorneys to resign. And we have learned that President Trump has now fired U.S. attorney Preet Bharara who up until this point had been refusing to step down.
A statement into CNN from Bharara's boss, New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman says quote "President Trump's abrupt and unexplained decision to summarily remove over 40 U.S. attorneys has once again caused chaos in the federal government and led to questions about whether the justice department is vital and nonpartisan work will continue under attorney general Sessions as it must.
We will have many more details on that story in just a few minutes. But let's return to the latest on this White House intruder. I want to bring back senior White House correspondent Athena Jones for more on the suspect's recent behavior.
Athena, we are learning more about him. What are you hearing now from his family? ATHENA JONES, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ana, that's right.
Producer Lori Yuri spoke to Tran's brother, his younger brother, Brian in California. And Brian told Lori that his older brother was troubled after being laid off from his job at an electrical engineering company. Interestingly, he used the very same word that the President did.
Brian said that his brother, Jonathan, was living in his car and eating junk food. Jonathan graduated from San Jose State University with an electrical engineering degree. And had been stressed out from the job according to his brother who also said that secret service agent called the family's home on Friday night to inform them about the fence-jumping incident. And he said that his mother was very troubled about the matter.
So getting more details in from Jonathan Tran's family. And we know that Mr. Tran, 26 years old is going to be arraigned today, later today at some point at D.C. superior court. He is being held at the courthouse until then.
You can see now on the screen, video of some of the fencing that according to the police report Tran would have scaled. We have different details coming from the secret service and coming from the police. The secret service says that he jumped a fence on the south grounds. But the police report from the Washington metropolitan police indicates that White House security footage showed Tran first jumping over the northwest court-yard fence of the treasury building. That's behind me. There's a small road between the White House and the treasury department. So it appears that Tran jumped more than one barrier in order to make it as close as he did to the residence. This is a serious matter that's going to get a lot of close attention -- Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Athena Jones reporting. Thank you for that.
Let's talk more about this with our analyst. Our law enforcement analyst, Jonathan Wackrow. He is also a former secret service agent.
Jonathan, this happened a little before midnight we are learning. What do you make of the timing? Is that a time when the White House, secret service staff on hand would be a little bit more vulnerable?
JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. The uniform division officers and the special agents at the White House are always vigilant regardless of the time. So this was during the midnight shift. But the timing of this really doesn't matter as much as the secret service needs to look back at, you know, some of the failures that occurred, especially around the intrusion detection alarms. Around some of the other security measures that should have been the early warning of this threat. And should not have allowed the individual to come this close to the entrance to the White House.
[16:05:02] CABRERA: Athena is reporting he was just a few hundred feet away from where the President was residing at that time. The President, as we heard, seemed to downplay the danger that he could have potentially been in. And we have also learned that this suspect had a backpack. Nothing was inside that backpack. It turns out that was too concerning and the secret service did a sweep of the entire White House grounds following his arrest just to double-check so all in all, it ended up OK. But how serious of a potential security breach was this?
WACKROW: Listen, this is a very, very serious security breach. For an individual to get that close to the residence, you never want that to happen. That is way too close for comfort. And again, just by the mere fact that he had a backpack, God only knows what could have been in that backpack. It could have been explosives, it could have been, you know, different types of chemicals that he wanted to disperse. So this could have had a much different result than what occurred.
However, it's important to understand that the secret service has multiple layers of security protocols. They don't rely on just one means of mitigation. So here we did see that the multiple layers worked. The individual did not get into the residence. And that, you know, the security plan over-archingly at the White House worked.
Now, that's not to say there weren't failures along the way. There absolutely were. And that will have to be investigated by the secret service and the management.
CABRERA: Just how hard is it to jump the White House fence?
WACKROW: It's you know, it's difficult. But you know someone with, with an intent to do so obviously can. And we have seen it time and time again. The fencing has been a problem. It has been identified as a problem since 2014. Secret service has yet to work with other government agencies to solve for than that problem. And there's different reasons why. There is funding, there is optics, there is bureaucracy.
But at the end of the day, where you see somebody jumped over the White House fence and got close to the White House. That, you know, this could have been a very tragic ending. Thankfully it wasn't for both the individual, the suspect and the President.
CABRERA: And we will learn more and more as the investigation continues.
Jonathan Wackrow, thank you very much.
WACKROW: Thanks so much.
CABRERA: Coming up, you are fired, the message from President Trump to a high-profile prosecutor in Manhattan after he refused to step down.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:11:25] CABRERA: One of the 46 U.S. attorneys ordered to resign by the justice department has now been formally fired by President Trump, just this afternoon after he refused to step down. Attorney Preet Bharara was reportedly blind-sided by yesterday's request to resign. Not just because it targeted dozens of U.S. attorneys and it was so abrupt. But because he was one of them who would be affected. You see Bharara met with President Trump just a few months ago at Trump tower, and a source familiar with that meeting says not only did the President ask Bharara to stay on the job, but he then told Bharara to go out and tell the cameras that he had been asked to continue serving. Here's what Bharara said minutes after that meeting.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PREET BHARARA, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: President-elect asked presumably because he's a New Yorker, and is aware of the great work that our office is doing - (INAUDIBLE) discuss whether or not I would be prepared to stay on. As the United States attorney. To do the work as we have done it. Independently, without fear for the last seven years. We had a good meeting. I said I would absolutely consider staying on. I agreed to stay on. I've already spoken to senator sessions. Who is as you know, nominated to be the attorney general. He also asked that I stay on and so I expect that I'll be continuing the work.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: CNN's justice reporter Laura Jarrett and CNN's Sara Ganim have been following the story.
Laura to you first. Do you we know what might have changed between the November meeting and now?
LAURA JARETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, that's a big question, Ana, is what changed. As he was told, Preet Bharara was told just months ago that he could stay on. We are learning this morning that after the justice department heard that he was intending not to resign and in an act of defiance, the deputy attorney general, the acting deputy attorney general, Dana Bente called him to confirm that that was true. And Bharara said, yes. Dana Bente then called him back later today and said the President was firing him.
Now, the White House was asked about this early earlier. Sean Spicer at a gaggle and he said you have to talk to the justice department about that. Well, we reached out to the justice department and they have no comment, Ana.
CABRERA: All right. Sara, let's bring you in to the conversation. Tell us more about Bharara.
SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. He was one of the most powerful, most well-respected U.S. attorneys in the country. Preet Bharara was appointed almost eight years ago by President Barack Obama. He had been chief council to Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer. You have heard that name because Schumer has now emerged as one of the chief adversaries of Donald Trump.
But back in 2009, Schumer is the one who actually encouraged President Obama to appoint Bharara, after one of Bharara's investigations led to the then attorney general Alberto Gonzales having to resign. Now Bharara's office prosecuted everything from terrorists, like the attempted Times Square bombing to international Russian crime bosses to the hacking group, anonymous. But Bharara is perhaps best known for going after corruption cases. But most notably, Wall Street corruption cases.
A "Time" magazine cover from 2012, you can see it here really says it all. This man is busting Wall Street. They called him the enforcer. And he was greatly feared on Wall Street. He prosecuted dozens of insider trading and securities fraud cases, including Bernie Madoff's brother.
Of course, these corruptions cases went beyond Wall Street, too. He was appointed by a Democratic President, but was well known for his nonpartisan investigations going after both Dems and Republicans. In until today's firing he was in the middle of investigations involving offices of two of the most powerful Democrats in the state of New York. He was set to try former aides to Governor Andrew Cuomo who are accused of bribery and bid-rigging. And he was also in the final stations of an investigation in the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, looking at allegations of pay to play.
So remember, Ana, Bharara, really, headed a very important federal district, the southern district of New York where Trump tower is. And so any investigation that's ongoing, that would involve wiretapping or anything else, will likely involve his office.
[16:15:48] CABRERA: And then as you point out he was doing work that was clearly nonpartisan going after Republicans and Democrats alike, looking into different investigations an allegations.
Sara, thank you.
Laura, back to you. As far as what happens next in all of these open cases including Bharara's, where do we go from here?
JARRETT: Well, at this point, career attorneys at the justice department across the country will take over for the U.S. attorneys that were forced to resign yesterday. And as we have mentioned throughout the programming today, this has happened before, President Clinton has asked for the dismissal of U.S. attorneys before. President Bush has asked for them.
The issue here is the speed with which this was done and the fact that Bharara was told that he could stay. But there are certainly deputies and number twos in place in all of the offices across the country to take over these important cases.
CABRERA: A lot more to learn about why now, why Bharara, after that initial conversation which he was asked to stay on.
Laura Jarrett and Sara Ganim, we will keep working those sources, right. And we will talk back with you in just a little bit. Thank you to both of you.
Much more straight ahead in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:21:24] CABRERA: Thanks for staying with us.
More now on our breaking news story about the firing of a high-profile U.S. attorney from Manhattan. Preet Bharara was sacked by President Trump after he refused to resign. The Trump administration had requested his resignation Friday, among other U.S. attorneys. In fact, more than 40 who were appointed under the Obama administration. But sources say Bharara was blind-sided by this order to step down because back in November President-elect Trump at that time, actually asked Bharara to stay on.
Bharara tweeted, this out earlier today. Quote "I did not resign, moments ago I was fired. Being the U.S. attorney in southern district of New York will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life."
I want to bring in CNN contributor and "Daily Beast" senior editor, Michael Weiss.
Michael, thanks for being with us. Tell us a little bit more. I know you are very familiar with Bharara's work. Tell us more about this seemingly larger-than-life attorney.
MICHAEL WEISS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes. I mean, this guy was fated for high office. Political career, he has gone after some really conspicuous targets, including mayor de Blasio, including the governor of New York and especially a case that I have been studying and I think I must have filed a half a dozen stories on, a Russian money-laundering case. That has to do with the theft of $230 million a decade ago from the Russian taxpayers. Much of it going into Manhattan real estate and assets here in Manhattan. And this is involving not only the agents of the Russian government, but also organized crime figures. In a way sort of like the Elliott ness of attorney general or U.S. attorneys. Kind of a crusader when it comes to picking these legal battles.
CABRERA: And again, he has been nonpartisan. You point out he is going after the investigation, at least looking into the mayor of New York who is a Democrat, even though he was appointed by a Democratic President.
WEISS: Yes. He is a Democrat himself, right. And he worked for Chuck Schumer, helped take down Alberto Gonzales, the former attorney general for a scandal involving the firing, ironically enough and other U.S. attorneys. So I mean, he has a party political background. And I think if he were to run for office, he may well still do. He would do so as a Democrat.
But yes. I mean, he is very fair minded. And again, he does cast a wide net in terms of his targets. If anybody's fault in the file of the law, if there's something worth investigating, he is going to go after it.
WEISS: Knowing him well enough, how do you suppose he is going to react? What is his next move here? WEISS: I would be very, very surprised if he didn't mount some kind
of political campaign himself. I mean, he as you said, is a larger- than-life figure. He was always fated for something more than just being U.S. attorney general. I mean, you could argue that he was a bit of a hog for the limelight, right. I mean, he sought out the media attention and the fame and glory. So this is not the end of Preet Bharara fighting.
CABRERA: You talked about some of the cases he is currently working on that you have covered. But what else, what could have changed? What could be the impetus for the President to simply say bye-bye after he said stay on?
WEISS: Yes. No. I mean, it's bizarre. And you have what, 40 of them have been told they were sacked tonight. And there one GOP attorney had told Jake Tapper earlier that, you know, their notice was November 8th, right, Election Day. They should have had no expectation that they were going to stay on under this administration.
But in this case, you know, Donald Trump being from New York, knowing the political milieu here and also the legal milieu given lawsuits and what not that he has been involved in himself. Why to attack a figure like that from his own backyard. And someone as you point out, who has been personally assured by Jeff Sessions he was going to stay on the job.
I think this is going to end up back-firing of all the people on the list. This is the one who, as I say, I mean, really stands out. And all of these active cases, by the way, (INAUDIBLE) case about the Russian money laundering, they are still ongoing. And so people in the office are going to have to inherit the case files and take these guys to court and prosecute them.
So it's a big mess. You know, I mean, in terms of the, now this enormous transition in the department of justice.
[16:25:13] WEISS: Exactly. And the timing of it and all the rest.
CABRERA: All right. Michael Weiss. Good to have you on. Nice to see you. Thank you.
WEISS: Sure. My pleasure.
CABRERA: And still to come, several states already heading to court to try to stop President Trump's travel ban from taking effect, the new one that was just recently issued. I'll talk to the attorney general of Hawaii, whose state was the first to file suit on this ban. He joins me next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:29:42] CABRERA: President Trump's revised travel ban isn't going over a whole lot better with some critics than the first one did. It says that he according to the ban, says it's implemented to keep the country safe from terrorists. But opponents say it amounts to a ban on Muslims.
Now, the new executive order goes into effect Thursday. It would block immigration from six Muslim majority countries for 90 days. Unlike the original version, it does not forbid travel from Iraq. The new measure also blocks refugees for 120 days, but removes the indefinite ban on refugees, specifically from Syria. It also provides exceptions for green card holders and those who have valid visas to enter the U.S. Still several states are going to court to stop this ban from taking effect and Hawaii was the first to issue a legal challenge.
The state attorney general Douglas Chin is joining me from Honolulu.
Good to see you. Thanks for being here with us. What is your argument against the new ban?
[16:30:39] DOUGLAS CHIN, ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR HAWAII: Our biggest objection to the new executive order is that it's still like the first, discriminates against people based upon their national origin or even their religion. And any time something like that happens, that brings us back about 50 years to in the immigration and nationality act. Congress decided that we weren't going to do that anymore. And so, for 50 years, we have had an immigration and nationality act that has explicitly said that we cannot discriminate against people based on their national origin or upon their religion. And yet will all -- after all the different Presidential executive orders that have been issued this one is doing so. And that's why we are objecting.
CABRERA: We did mention off the top there is some of the changes since that last travel ban was issued. There is a more narrow scope here. And when you talk about religion being one of the things you take issue with here, there's no specific mention of religion. For example, this one doesn't say that it would give more precedent to religious minorities, for example.
CHIN: Right. Our argument in front of the court this Wednesday is going to be even though you might have neutral language that doesn't mean that, the court just need to wake up every morning as if it's a brand new day and not look at all the statements that were behind it. In fact, what the Supreme Court has said is that you can actually look behind the statements that were made previously, in order to find the discriminatory intent. And so here what we have is, I think this is really difficult, for the administration, honestly. Is that from 2015-2016 and even up until the time that President Trump took office. He and his surrogates have referred to this as a Muslim ban or worse yet, a Muslim ban that they were trying to make look not like a Muslim ban and that's where we are.
CABRERA: Trump himself has seemed to distance himself from the implementation of this new ban. He's been kind of quiet. He's been kind of private on all of this. But his administration says this is why this travel ban is important. Listen to what attorney general Jeff Sessions said earlier this week.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We cannot compromise our nation's security about allowing visitors entry when their own governments are unable or unwilling to provide the information we need to vet them responsibly or when those governments actively support terrorists. This executive order responsibly provide as needed pause. So we can carefully review how we scrutinize people coming here from these countries of concern.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So speaker Chin, is there a way to hit pause to do further vetting that would in your mind still be constitutional?
CHIN: Sure. You know, and I can appreciate attorney general Session's commitment to wanting to preserve our national security, as well as the administration. That's something that all of us care about, in my state as well as the entire United States. But what we need to do here is this. We would love it if the President's administration could simply come up with a way to use their policy, I'm not against - in other words I understand that they are going to be able to put out whatever policy they want. And that if that's extreme vetting, so be it. But just don't discriminate against people based on their national origin.
Here you have under the words of the consecutive order, basically the statement that if you're coming from one of these six, used to be seven, but one of these six countries, you're presumptively a terrorist. And so, it doesn't matter if you are a baby, or if you are grandmother. And history just shows us that when the top levels of government are smearing another country just based upon or the people of the country just upon their national origin, that's becomes a big problem. And that's why we are objecting.
CABRERA: I imagine Hawaii's history has something to do with why this is a particularly sensitive issue for you in your state?
CHIN: Right. The timing couldn't be any worse. I mean, literally, in the last two weeks it was the 75th anniversary of President Roosevelt's executive order that was issued based upon national security interest that resulted in the internment of Japanese, Americans, German-Americans, Italian-Americans, even those who are citizens. And I think the concern that I have heard from the various historian that talked about this time was that what made people the saddest was that when people were silent. And so, that is probably the one lesson that we don't want to repeat again is we don't want to be silent about this. And we need to check the President and that's why we are doing what we are doing.
[16:35:40] CABRERA: Is your legal filing any different than what we are seeing coming from Washington? Washington state, specifically?
CHIN: Right. Right. So Washington has their lawsuit in their federal district court. We are both in the same ninth circuit. And their argument is more along the lines of the, the restraining order that was put in place by judge Robert a couple of weeks ago, is still in place and that is not enough to just basically I think they used the words tweak, tweak the executive order or issue a new one if it still contains the same fatal flaws and it doesn't. And that is a very - that argument goes side by side by side with ours. We very appreciate General Bob Ferguson in Washington, as well general Erick Schneiderman, Ellen Rosenbloom in Oregon. Schneiderman in New York. For those states are also stepping up to fight against this.
CABRERA: All right. And again, Wednesday is when the judge there for your legal stuff in Hawaii, is going to take a look at the case.
Douglas Chin, attorney general for the state of Hawaii. Thank you for being with us.
CHIN: Thank you.
CABRERA: Now, back to our breaking news. We have received a new statement from the fired U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara. He said quote "today I was fired from my position for the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York. Serving my country as U.S. attorney here for the past seven years will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life, no matter what else I do or how long I live. One haul marc of justice is absolute independence, and that was my touchstone every day that I served. I want to thank the amazing people of the southern district of New York, the greatest public servants in the world, for everything they do each day in pursuit of justice. They will continue to do the great work of the office under the leadership of June H. Kin, the current deputy U.S. attorney who will serve as acting U.S. attorney.
We will have more on this story straight ahead.
And also ahead, coming up, we have ore more debate over the President's new travel ban. My panel is going to way in, so stay with us.
You are live here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:42:09] CABRERA: Welcome back.
Before the break I spoke with Hawaii's attorney general on why his state is suing the Trump administration over the President's revised travel ban.
I want to talk to my panel about and get their reaction. We will also hit on some of the other political news headlines today.
Republican strategist and CNN political commentator Alice Stewart is back with us. Also, political analyst David Drucker is joining us. He is also the senior congressional correspondent for the "Washington Examiner." "New York Times" contributor, Wajahat Ali. And Democratic strategist Jonathan Tasini is back with us as well.
Alice, we will start with you. Officials in Hawaii say this travel ban will hurt Muslims. It's a Muslim ban they say. It is bad news for students and tourists in that state. And flies in the face of everything Hawaii has stood for throughout history. Is the attorney general there wrong?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He is wrong. And it's not a surprise that people were going to speak out against the revised executive order.
First and foremost, this is part of the President's promise to protect the safety and security of Americans. And he has within the law to do so, looking at the law as President, he can prohibit people coming in this country that he deems detrimental to the safety of this country. That's exactly what this does.
I think revising the first executive order was important to exclude those green card holders and those with dual citizenship and the revised order does just that. But this is something that we expected pushback on it. But this is the right way to move forward in order to secure the safety of Americans and ensure proper vetting of those from these countries listed in the executive order as they come into the country.
CABRERA: Wajahat, this new executive order does have a narrower focus. Do you agree with Alice?
WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: No, a ham sandwich without mayonnaise is still a ham sandwich. And this new travel ban with some of other thrills is like the old one. It is a Muslim ban. Call it for what it is.
And the reason why we know that, Ana, is we know the motivation and intentions behind it. President Trump campaigned on doing a permanent Muslim ban. And then became a temporary Muslim ban. He also promised extreme vetting of Muslims.
These countries are Muslim-majority countries. So it is a Muslim ban. And yes, I'm glad that he removed Iraq. I'm glad that he removed permanent green card holders. I'm glad there is no indefinite barrier for Syrian refugees, but it's still the same ban.
And as we know, Rudy Giuliani admitted when the last travel ban came out, he said President Trump came to him and said I want to do the Muslim ban. Find the legal way to do it. We know the motivation and intention behind it is exactly that, a Muslim ban.
And finally, our own intelligence agency, the DHS, did an intelligent assessment and which Donald Trump rejected was leaked to the AP. That said country of citizenship is not a reliable indicator of threat. So it won't work. It will be counterproductive. According to our own counterterrorism experts, it's cruel in my opinion and I think will be unconstitutional. I'm glad Hawaii and Washington and other states are contesting it.
[16:45:03] CABRERA: It is at the courts right now.
Jonathan, you want to get in on this.
JONATHAN TASINI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, I want to echo -- I was going to say actually walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but the ham sandwich worked well.
I think your interview with the Hawaii attorney general was terrific in the sense that he said and I think I'm more as paraphrasing, you can look behind the previous statements to understand intent. And if you go back as Wajahat pointed out in the campaign, let me just put it even more bluntly.
Donald Trump is a bigot and a racist and he is surrounded in the White House by bigots and racists. Steve Bannon, we know, is a white supremacist. Those people despise Muslims. And it does nothing to protect the United States. There was an interview actually on Anderson Cooper several weeks ago with former head of the national - the immigration naturalization services, basically said we are already doing the types the kinds of screenings that they are pretending to want to do with the ban. So all this is all against Muslims, period.
CABRERA: All right. Let's move on because we have a lot of news to talk about. Let's talk about the breaking news that we are learning, U.S. attorney, former now, former U.S. attorney Preet Bharara saying he was fired after he declined to resign after it was requested by the justice department. How do you see this replacement of U.S. attorneys in a different light perhaps in past administrations, David? Is this being handled differently than what we have seen in the past?
DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look. All Presidents come in and look if it's an opposite party and switch over. And they ask U.S. attorneys to resign, so they can replace them with people that they are more familiar with and more likely to do things the way they were. So there's really nothing new there.
What's interesting about Mr. Bharara, is that the President, as far as we understand, asked him to stay on. And so what's curious here is what's changed and why did the President offer essentially to extend him and then take it back? Other than that, there's not all that much to see here. The sort of abrupt nature of the firings is interesting.
But this was probably going to happen anyway. It would have happened any other Republican President that somebody else won other than Donald Trump last year. And so there's not that much to see here. But the Bharara firing is interesting because the President so far as we know had asked him to stay on.
CABRERA: Right. We heard from Bharara himself back in November. We played that sound bite, 30 seconds long clip where he said he had a meeting with the President. He was asked to stay on, to continue his work and again he is in the middle of several high-profile investigations.
Alice, given that the President gave him his word and asked him to stay on. Does this speak to or it does this diminish the President's word now that he has turned around and fired him?
STEWART: I think for him to come out of the gate and assure Bharara that he was going to stay and go back on it, that's a concern. But to David's point this is not unusual to let these U.S. attorneys go. Bill Clinton let more than 90 go at the drop of a hat. No questions asked. And I think it was good for Jeff Sessions to ask for the more than 40 U.S. attorneys to offer their resignations. And those that weren't, I think it's proper to fire them on the spot. Don't blink an eye and move forward.
Certainly the President is concerned with lot of leaks that are going on in the administration as of late. And he wants a security team that's loyal to him and to him alone. And you know, I think this right here, unfortunately Bharara was given some conflicting information at the beginning, but the President is absolutely within his right and I think doing the right thing to fire them all. Start with a clean slate and give Jeff Sessions a team that is loyal to him and to the President.
TASINI: The issue, Alice, is not that he has the right. I totally agree with you and David that he does. It's what Eric Schneiderman said in a statement that he released that Trump's abrupt and unexplained decision to summarily remove 40 U.S. attorneys has once again caused chaos in the federal government. And I think what it does in the micro sense (ph), it shows and it blows up the myth that Donald Trump is this great executive. In fact he built his businesses on multiple bankruptcies and defrauding thousands of people. He is now carrying that into the executive branch where he look at the rollout on the initial travel ban and now on this. What you see is a man who does not know how to run anything complex. He is a terrible manager.
CABRERA: Let's talk health care.
I want to move to health care because you talk about some of the chaos that is currently, encompassing this administration and just Washington in general. And health care is another big story. Any one of these stories could be an entire show. But we have multiple that we are juggling on every day it seems like.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump chaos every day.
CABRERA: Donald Trump, chaos. You could put it that way, I'm sure that Alice and some of his supporters, would beg to differ. There's just a lot happening that's important in America that you have been saying. But health care is another big one and there have been critics of Obamacare. And now we have this Republican plan that's just come out before us.
I want to play a clip from what we heard from the vice President this morning as he was talking to a fairly friendly crowd in Kentucky.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[16:50:16] MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks, let me be clear. This is going to be a battle in Washington, D.C. And for us to seize this opportunity to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all, we need every Republican in Congress and we are counting on Kentucky.
President Trump and I know at the end of the day after good and vigorous debate, we know, Kentucky will be there and we will repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: Wajahat, how are Republicans doing when it comes to people who are worried about health care costs?
ALI: They are not doing that good. And they are not going to assuage them. And especially the fact that he went to Kentucky is very rich because Kentuckians, as you know, have benefitted the most from Obamacare. Of course, they didn't call it Obamacare then. Now they are waking up and realizing, my God, we are going to lose all of our benefits. And the one thing that could possibly unite Republicans and Democrats, Ana, in this week at least, is widespread revulsion against the new American health care act, which is called also Trump care and some are calling it Trump no care.
Breitbart who is operating a state TV propaganda for the first time went against this new health care bill. And they correctly said, it's going to go against the rural America. It is going to go against seniors. It is going to go against low-income people. And specifically, this is very sobering, from what we have seen from bipartisan reports about this new bill it will attack part of the Republican base in West Virginia, in Kentucky. People will lose their health care and some people might unfortunately die.
Bipartisan reports say almost up to 18 million people might lose their health care and we are going to see rising premiums. So Republicans are slowly but surely waking up, at least Breitbart is, and saying that this is not good for the base. And of course, some Republicans are saying this not go far enough. At least, of course, we can have bipartisan support, that this new plan is disastrous.
CABRERA: We got to leave it there. Thank you all. Thanks to all my panel, to Alice, to David, to Wajahat and Jonathan. We will talk to you more as we continue here in the CNN NEWSROOM.
Also still ahead, emotions running high when we talk about this new health care plan, Republican congressmen, Darrell Issa facing a pretty tough crowd today in his home state of California. We will take you there next.
You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[16:56:54] CABRERA: Several members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats are holding town hall meetings today, hearing from voters face to face, their concerns about what's happening in Washington when dominating topic was the uncertainty of the nation's health care system.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DARRELL ISSA (R), CALIFORNIA: You get, you get all the answers, you have to be patient and I have to try not to listen to what's banging on the side door. (END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: That was California Republican Darrell Issa, his town hall meeting in Ocean Side. His reception there certainly mixed. CNN's Kyung Lah is there at the Issa's town hall.
Kyung, what questions did the people there have for the congressman?
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well overwhelmingly, Ana, these questions focus on health care. A lot of criticism. A lot of concern about affordability and accessibility. The Republican congressman getting an earful on this. A lot of people wondering if what was happening in D.C. was going to affect their bottom line. And the overall sentiment was, they simply did not like the change. Here is one exchange that we heard today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ISSA: In return for having preexisting conditions, not be grounds for refusal or a high pay, we are going to have to say to people, you have also got to be continuously responsible. If you're on Medicaid, that's fine. But if you are choosing a lifestyle if you're choosing a lifestyle where you say I can afford everything but health care -
ISSA: No, no, look, I appreciate a lot of people having different views on this.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAH: And the congressman certainly hearing that over and over again. A lot of booing as he tried to answer some of the questions regarding health care. To his credit, he did allow both of the sessions, there two sessions two one-hour sessions, he let them run a little long. He wanted to try to answer as many questions as possible he told us. But Ana, we should point out that the protesters also tried to greet him as he was leaving these town halls, they were jeering and booing as he got into his vehicle -- Ana.
CABRERA: So the protesters are outside. I'm curious that the people inside who may have been critical about what's happening particularly with the health care reform, has anybody seemed to have been swayed by his answers?
LAH: Not anyone we spoke with. And certainly when we heard their individual stories, we heard a woman stand up and talk about her two sons who are suffering from mental illness. Another patient who said that she absolutely relied on the ACA. So were they swayed? No. Absolutely not.
CABRERA: All right, Kyung Lah reporting for us in Oceanside, California tonight. Thank you so much. We have much more just ahead in the NEWSROOM it all starts right now.
[17:00:03] CABRERA: Hello. It's 5:00 in the east on a Saturday. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Great to have you with us.
We are following two breaking news stories this hour. And we began with the showdown now between President Trump and former --.