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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Pence To Make Case For Health Care Replacement; Flynn Paid To Represent Turkey During Campaign; Flynn Paid to Represent Turkey During Campaign; Protests Turn Peaceful After South Korean President's Ouster; American Muslims at Odds Over Trump; Falling in Love with Robots?. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired March 11, 2017 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[08:02:00]UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Attorney General Jeff Sessions asking for the resignation of 46 Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is not the right way to do this, and it's destabilizing an already destabilized environment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The chances of actually someone tapping Trump's phone at Trump's center is zero. It's not possible.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Nobody knew that health care could be so complicated.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We try to follow all the laws except, of course, coming to this country illegally.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It doesn't matter -- you have still broken the law.
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Don't believe those phony numbers when you hear 4.9 and 5 percent unemployment.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: May have been phony in the past, but it's very real now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: It's 8:00 on a Saturday morning. I hope that is good for you. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. This morning the vice president, Mike Pence, is on the road to pitch the Republicans' plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. He's looking to shore up support as opposition within the party could derail one of the president's biggest campaign promises.
PAUL: This morning, Vice President Pence addressing business leaders in Louisville, Kentucky. He will appear with the state's governor, Matt Bevin, a man who is not fully behind the plan himself. Ahead, we've got some of the sticking points and efforts to keep the bill on track.
BLACKWELL: Plus, the White House is saying that President Trump had no idea when he chose his first national security adviser that General Michael Flynn had been a paid lobbyist for Turkish concerns at the height of the campaign and through Election Day. We'll examine these new revelations.
PAUL: A panel of correspondents and political experts standing by to break all of this down for us this morning. We want to start with Ryan Nobles, who is in Washington. Ryan, good morning to you. What are you hearing?
RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Christi, let's talk first about the health care plan and the battle that the White House is under way on two different fronts. First, of course, they have Democrats that are firmly opposed to any effort that would dismantle the Affordable Care Act, which President Obama worked so hard to put into place.
And then they're dealing with conservative Republicans who believe the House GOP plan to fix Obamacare doesn't go far enough. Many of these Republicans calling it Obamacare Lite.
The Trump administration seems committed to sticking with this plan and pushing it through as soon as possible. This week the president himself saying that there is an urgent need to fix the problem as soon as possible. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRESIDENT TRUMP: We must act to save Americans from the imploding Obamacare disaster. Premiums have skyrocketed by double digits and triple digits in some cases. The '17 would be a disaster for Obamacare, the year it was meant to explode because Obama won't be here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
NOBLES: Explode is the word that the president used to describe what could happen with Obamacare in 2017. That's why he believes the fix needs to be put in place as soon as possible. But some of these Republicans are begging the White House to slow down.
Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton and, of course, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who is very much opposed to the House Republican plan. That's where Vice President Mike Pence will be today, in Kentucky, with the state's governor, Matt Bevin, who is, of course, a big Trump supporter.
He's a politician in the style of Donald Trump. Bevin said yesterday that he is also concerned about the Republican plan. And here we see the vice president, Mike Pence, leaving from Joint Base Andrews. He's on his way to Kentucky now right for the event this morning with business leaders.
This event in Kentucky really highlights the divide that has cropped up because of the health care issue and the challenge that the White House has in front of them. Bevin said that he's been in contact with the White House.
He has confidence that the Trump administration can come up with a final plan that will solve all the problems that many have raised about this current issue and Obamacare as it currently exists. Obviously Mike Pence has a lot of work to do today as he heads to Kentucky to make that pitch on behalf of the Trump administration -- Christi.
PAUL: Interesting to see how it's all received. As you said, Kentucky's quite a dichotomy, about 440,000 people, one-third of the people covered are covered by Medicaid thanks to that expansion. Ryan Nobles, we appreciate it so much. Thank you.
BLACKWELL: All right, let's continue the conversation with CNN political commentator and Spectrum News political anchor, Errol Louis, political reporter for the "Washington Post," Philip Bump, and CNN political commentator, Jack Kingston, as we watch here the vice president who is going to soon board a plane to head to Louisville to begin this event with the governor there. Good morning to you, Gentlemen.
So let me start with you, Philip. Why are we watching the vice president this morning instead of the president going to sell this plan?
PHILIP BUMP, POLITICAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": It's a very good question. My guess is that they're hoping that Vice President Mike Pence will be able to make better inroads with the establishment Republicans that are in Kentucky than Donald Trump might. Donald Trump is good at the big, splashy rallies. I think Mike Pence is probably a little better at the more subtle arm twisting.
[08:05:05]But I think it's important to note too, that the point that was made about Kentucky's expansion of coverage is absolutely the critical point here. We are talking about a drop from 38 percent of the state being uninsured to only 13 percent.
That's 25 percent, a quarter of the state gained insurance under Obamacare. That's a large part of the reason why Kentucky politicians are balking and frankly, I'm not sure if it makes any difference whether Trump or Pence goes there. That's a big hurdle for them to overcome.
BLACKWELL: So Errol, as we talk about Medicaid expansion, the reporting from CNN is that the White House is -- and by the White House we mean the president -- is open to potentially moving up the sunset of the Medicaid expansion, which in the bill is 2020 up to potentially 2017. House GOP leaders are saying the president is making it harder to pass this. Is that accurate that it's making it tougher to get this passed?
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that's the practical political effect of trying to phase out the Medicaid expansion because you've got a lot of poor states, Kentucky is one of them, that have conservative Republican governors who have a slightly different interest than the members of the House Freedom Caucus or even members of the U.S. Senate.
Congressional Republicans have all or many of them have campaigned to repeal and replace Obamacare. Down on the ground where you actually have to help people, the problem looks a little bit different. In fact, I think that is really part of the education of Matt Bevin, the Kentucky governor, who ran as a Tea Party conservative, bashing Obamacare every chance he got.
Very much has -- very much as Phil just mentioned, he's now seen that hundreds of thousands of needy residents of his state are being helped. It's not going to be good politics or -- or easy for him to undo that.
BLACKWELL: Let's actually listen to the governor, Matt Bevin, as he gave these comments yesterday. Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOVERNOR MATT BEVIN (R), KENTUCKY: Senator Paul has ideas of things he thinks that needs to be a lot stronger. He's not as impressed with what currently has been offered as some who have currently offered it. Truth be told, I'm not either so I'm with him. I think there are things that need to be done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Jack, let me get to your response to what you heard from the governor.
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Errol is right. Governors do have a different mindset than members of Congress, the Freedom Caucus particularly. To them, there's a lot of free money that came with Obamacare. It allowed them to expand their Medicaid, and it allowed them to do it without costing their state money.
So they do have opposition to it because it's not in their particular political interest. But I do think when we listen to what Speaker Ryan and Kevin Brady are saying, look, the first thing we're going to do is the reconciliation fix. Then we're going to have HHS, Health and Human Services, do some of the executive orders and repeal some of the stuff.
Thirdly, we'll let legislation pass. So if Rand Paul and others who do not like this package like the Freedom Caucus or the Democrats want to do something, they're going to have plenty of opportunities in the months ahead.
BLACKWELL: So Jack, you know that's the plan. Speaker Ryan knows that's the plan. The White House knows that's the plan. So why is the president after he gave his full-throated support to this bill now open to expressing potential openness to rolling up or moving forward this sunset of the Medicaid expansion?
KINGSTON: Because I think, you know, he sees what it takes to get something through the U.S. Senate and U.S. House. I think it's going to be extremely difficult to do. You have lots of personalities. You have people running for other offices. You have people who are angling for particular positions.
The Democrats, by the way, aren't doing anything which is, I think, strange behavior because Obamacare is their baby. And you wouldn't stand by and watch your baby be murdered or dismantled. So to me, there is going to be a time when they'll want to get involved and save parts of Obamacare.
I don't think that's too much to ask. To me, you can't sit back and watch it. But I also think you are going to have members of the Republican Party who have had eight years of vote purity because all they had to do was vote no on anything Barack Obama was for, and then they could placate interest groups back home.
Now they're in the world of governing. It's a lot more difficult. You've got to vote for things that you don't agree with except on 51 percent of the issue, and that's difficult.
BLACKWELL: I don't know if the analogy is appropriate one as we talk about ending Obamacare. Philip, let me come to you. Is this president going to be able to negotiate -- I mean, essentially what we saw from GOP leadership is a slap on the hand on don't touch what we've put together. We're not going to move this sunset. Is it going to be able to do or make these deals that he says that he's so great at?
BUMP: I mean, it's a great question. So far I think what we've seen is that he's running into a lot of very, very predictable roadblocks. He showed the clip at the top of the show in which he said no one expected health care to be so complicated. Everything was complicated. That's the problem in terms of reforming any sort of health care system. It's the problem that Obamacare ran into. There are a lot of roadblocks.
[08:10:00]And I think people are underestimating the extent to which the idea of millions of people losing their health insurance is going to be a huge, huge roadblock. It's exactly why the people who put the bill together didn't want to have that Medicaid sunset happen before the 2018 elections.
There's a lot of politics at play. Donald Trump is a CEO, used to saying, this is what we're going to do. You go do this. Now he's dealing with 435 people in the House, 100 people in the Senate, all of whom have constituencies to whom they are responsible.
And all of whom risk having people lose their medical coverage and then having attack ads run against them in the next election campaign. It's a huge, huge issue. I'm not sure the Republicans have a plan right now to get them past that hurdle.
BLACKWELL: Errol, as we look at the past five days or so that this plan has been out or you know, the president has been supporting publicly, are there any indications of what the future fights will look like? The fight to pass this infrastructure bill that could be coming down the pike, for the wall, the other plans that we're expecting from the White House?
LOUIS: It's interesting. I don't think anything's going to be as complicated or as fraught as health care. But you raise a good point that a lot of the fights will breakdown along the same paths, which is how do you pay for it, what do state and executive positions, what do the holders of those petitions say this about -- those positions say about this as opposed to national Republicans.
One overriding factor we have to keep in mind is that when you talk about Paul Ryan, his control of the House rests on about 23, 24 seats. If he loses that majority, a lot of the plans of the Republican Party in general get thrown off.
So he's going to be playing a very delicate game trying to make sure that he's protecting his safe seats. And -- between him and the Republican governors, we'll have quite a lot of discussion within the Republican Party about how to move forward on all of these high-cost issues like the wall.
BLACKWELL: All right. Errol Louis, Philip Bump, Jack Kingston, thanks for being with us this morning. We'll continue this conversation as we're a couple of hours away from this event there in Louisville, Kentucky.
PAUL: Breaking news out of Western Germany right now I want to tell you about. We are learning hundreds, yes, hundreds of police are converging now on one of the country's largest shopping malls. This is located in the town of Essen. They've been alerted by, quote, "Concrete indications of a potential terror plot" and that the attack may be planned for today.
And because of that, as I said, there are hundreds of police now stationed at this mall. We're going to bring you the latest from Germany as we continue to watch the situation there this morning.
BLACKWELL: So, the questions -- what did the Trump transition team and the administration know and when did they know it? Despite claims of being blindsided, we're learning that transition officials did in fact know about Michael Flynn's potential conflict of interest, and it was long before he was ousted as national security adviser. We'll take a look at that.
PAUL: Also, as the White House struggles to sell its health plan to its own party as we were talking about, Vice President Mike Pence heading to Kentucky. What he could possibly see -- could he see more resistance there?
BLACKWELL: Also, they went against the wishes of their families and their communities to support President Trump. Now, a group of Muslim Americans sit down with CNN to talk about the new travel ban and if this, too, goes too far.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: His message is he is not -- it's not he's hating the Muslims. He is trying to protect this country as a president. That's his job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: Sell it. He's got to sell it. That's the vice president's job as he pushes the Republican Party's new health care plan in Kentucky today.
PAUL: The problem is the White House is still struggling to get some of its own party members on board with this, and at least one group is awaiting his arrival, the vice president's. They're planning to protest the GOP replacement health care plan.
Let's talk about it with a couple of people who will be out there protesting. Dawn Cooley, co-founder of Indivisible Kentucky, a watchdog group, and Reena Paracha, a board member with the organization. Thank you, Ladies, for being with us. Good to have you here.
DAWN COOLEY, CO-FOUNDER, INDIVISIBLE KENTUCKY: Thank you so much for having us.
PAUL: Of course. I know that you both support Obamacare. Let me know, what is it specifically that you oppose regarding the new Republican plan? Dawn, let's start with you.
COOLEY: You know, the plan right now is a repeal. It's not a replacement. We're concerned particularly because of the Medicaid expansion. In Kentucky alone, nearly half a million people will be losing their health insurance with this plan, over 15 million people nationally. This is a life-or-death matter.
PAUL: OK, let's show what we have in Kentucky because it is quite a dichotomy. Kentucky did vote for overall President Obama in the election, but 1.3 million Kentuckians are on Medicaid, 440 of those, one-third, are covered thanks to the expansion, as you mentioned.
And between 2013 and 2015, Kentucky's rate of uninsured fell from 15 percent to 6.5 percent. We have to point out that's one of the sharpest declines nationwide of people living without insurance.
But still, Donald Trump won Kentucky. So what do you make of that, Reena, and how the vice president may be received when it comes to his message today?
REENA PARACHA, BOARD MEMBER, INDIVISIBLE KENTUCKY: So I think that Donald Trump then -- I think it's unfortunately many people are shocked by it. As far as the ACA repeal in Kentucky is concerned, my husband is a physician. I actually come from a family of physicians, and as -- none of them actually support the ACA repeal at all.
[08:20:05]He has -- my husband has a patient who moved from Nashville, Tennessee, and she's 59 years old. She never had insurance before. She now -- she had to go into the E.R. because of severe chest pains.
She had -- she was very reluctant to go to the E.R. because she didn't have enough money or health care to go to the E.R. But then it became, you know, discomfortable for her -- uncomfortable for her, and she ended up going to the E.R. where she was told that she needed to get a procedure.
She left the E.R., applied for ACA and despite a pre-existing condition, she was granted health care. That allowed her to get the procedure done. With this ACA repeal, she is now, you know, very tearful. She's very upset. You know, she is -- she was on a -- in a health track and now she may have -- she may not have that track to be on -- because of the repeal.
PAUL: Well, President Obama himself even conceded just this past October that the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare, it is not necessarily perfect. Take a look here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FORMER PRESIDENT OBAMA: It's true that a lot of the noise around the health care debate ever since we tried to pass this law has been nothing more than politics. But we've also always known -- and I have always said that for all the good that the Affordable Care Act is doing right now, for as big a step forward as it was, it's still just a first step.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: So Reena, don't legislators have the right or should they not be allowed to look at this plan and revamp health care to try to make it better?
PARACHA: But this is not a revamp. This is a repeal.
PAUL: Well, it's not a full repeal, I mean, there are things that are going to stay in this plan that came from President Obama.
COOLEY: I think when you talk about millions of people losing health insurance, I don't think that that's a replacement. I don't think you can consider that a replacement. We're talking about people who have had cancer screenings, people who have gotten treatment for diabetes for the first time.
We're talking about prenatal care. We're not talking about a plan that actually gives these people health care. We're talking about a plan that is going to be costed out of their price range which doesn't make it an option at all.
We're talking about a plan that continues to put more money into the pockets of health insurance companies and takes money out of the pockets of consumers.
PAUL: Dawn, do you believe that there's anything that is being discussed that could be revamped that would make it better? Anything you would support in this -- COOLEY: I hope so. I -- you know, I hope so. I think that President
Obama was right that it isn't perfect. That the ACA isn't perfect. Considering what he had to deal with, he pushed through a pretty good plan. What I would really love to see is bipartisan support for fixing the problems with ACA rather than completely throwing out the baby with the bath water
PAUL: All righty, Reena Paracha and Dawn Cooley, we appreciate you both being here. Thank you so much.
COOLEY: Thank you.
PARACHA: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: He was a fixture on Donald Trump's campaign trail, but it turns out that Michael Flynn was also on the payroll of a foreign government and the Trump transition team knew about it. We'll break it down.
PAUL: Also protests are turning peaceful in South Korea in the wake of the president's impeachment, of course. This is one day, though, after there were deadly demonstrations as this key U.S. ally is reeling in some real political uncertainty right now.
PAUL: It is so good to have your company today. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good morning to you. In just a couple of hours, Vice President Mike Pence goes on the road to sell the GOP's plan to replace Obamacare.
PAUL: In fact, a couple of minutes ago, we saw him arrive at Joint Base Andrews, boarding a flight there. He is on his way as we speak to meet with business leaders in Louisville and make the case for key elements of the embattled plan. He's also appearing with Kentucky's governor, who says he shares the same concerns as the state's junior senator, Rand Paul.
BLACKWELL: Attorney General Jeff Sessions has demanded the resignations of more than 40 U.S. attorneys. Such a purge is not unusual at the Justice Department when the White House changes hands. Sources tell us that many of the prosecutors learned of their fate only through a news release.
There are also new elements to this case of Michael Flynn, national security adviser who was fired for not disclosing his contact with Russian officials. It turns out he was paid to represent Turkey's interests during the Trump campaign and, maybe more significantly, the transition team knew of his potential conflict of interest despite claims to the contrary.
Former Congressman Jack Kingston was a senior adviser to both the campaign and the transition team, and he's now a CNN political commentator. Good morning again, Jack.
KINGSTON: Good morning, Victor.
BLACKWELL: So Vice President Pence said yesterday that this is the first he's hearing of the general's lobbying work. Are there options beyond, A, the vice president was woefully out of the loop here, and B, he's not telling the truth?
KINGSTON: No. I think it's very possible -- I mean, I know Mike Pence. I'm sure he did not know about it because he's a guy who speaks the truth, and the tightrope which he walks on, it would be too difficult not to tell the truth on something like this.
Now, the way I understand the Flynn situation, he was hired by a businessman named (inaudible), if I'm pronouncing it correctly. He owned a Dutch company called Maveno (ph).
[08:30:00] So Flynn's actual client was a businessman and not the government of Turkey.
But where the murkiness comes in is that the government of Turkey benefited from the work Flynn was apparently doing for Alptekin. And so the FARA law, the Federal Agent Registration Act, is actually a little bit blurry on this that you can work for a foreign business and you don't have to register as a foreign agent. But if you work for the government, you do. And in this case --
KINGSTON: So I can understand, frankly, some legalistic issues, and I can see why Flynn would deal with that with his lawyer and then say, I've taken care of it.
BLACKWELL: But the Turkish government could have benefited from the work. And in his statement, his submission in registering as a foreign agent, he said that it could be construed to benefit the Turkish government. But let's go to the spirit instead of the specific letter because we heard the argument of the letter of the law from Sean Spicer.
Let me put up the president's own executive order signed January 28th in which he talked about lobbying for former -- foreign governments. And I'll read a portion of it.
"I will not at any time after the termination of my employment at the United States government engage in any activity on behalf of any foreign government or foreign political party which were undertaken on January 20th, 2017, would require me to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act of 1938 as amended."
Now, of course, the letter of the law says any time after the termination of my employment. But the spirit of the law is to keep people who would potentially lobby for foreign governments out of the White House.
Does this employment of General Flynn as the National Security adviser meet the spirit of the president's own executive order?
KINGSTON: Well, I think it did because Flynn was largely hired because of his distinguished service in the U.S. military and his knowledge of world affairs and so forth. And the idea that he did represent a businessman who was a foreign businessman, that had a tie to the Turkish government, I don't think that that alone would X him out of eligibility, you might say, or keep him from being eligible. But the other part is, because, remember this, Victor, if the president says if anybody who's ever been a lobbyist or has ever had anything to do with a foreign government is not going to come into my administration, then he's going to find what other presidents found, you lose a lot of the talent pool out there. But should it have been disclosed more thoroughly to the administration? I think it should have been.
BLACKWELL: And there's still a lot of people who question how is it possible that the vice president, then vice president-elect, head of the transition, after getting this letter from the Ranking Democrat on the Oversight on the House, Elijah Cummings, could not have known of the work that General Flynn was doing.
Let me ask you this, just to clear up some things. I don't know if anybody's asked this question, but, after the election, during the transition, traveled to Russia.
BLACKWELL: Did you have any communications with members of the Russian government, either during the transition or during your time as an adviser to the campaign?
KINGSTON: Well, I'm going to say this, because you never know who you met. But I would say absolutely not, Victor. My trip to Russia was on behalf of the law firm in which I worked, Squire, Patton, Boggs. We have offices in 21 countries. We did pre and post-election summaries all over the world including London, including Australia, including Washington, D.C., and Brussels.
I would have done that whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump won. I was speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce, and it was set up by the American Chamber, had absolutely nothing to do with the Trump campaign. And even so as a private businessman, I did not have any meetings with anybody -- with the Russian government. At least in any capacity that I -- I'm aware of.
And I just say that because you don't know -- I don't want -- there may have some mayor or county commissioner in one of those meetings so I don't want t get -- but that trip had absolutely nothing to do with the Trump campaign. And I even apologized later because I realized -- there was some questions about that, and I called him and said, hey, I want you to know I did this. But I never coordinated that trip with them.
BLACKWELL: All right.
KINGSTON: And I appreciate the question. BLACKWELL: Certainly.
KINGSTON: Absolutely on the record, cross my heart.
BLITZER: All right. Thank you very much, Jack.
KINGSTON: OK. Thank you.
PAUL: Well, it is nighttime now in Seoul, South Korea. But a new political era is dawning there. And a lot of questions are following what's happening, what does this mean for South Korea, for the U.S., and for North Korea? We'll take you live to South Korea in a moment.
BLACKWELL: David Beckham, revered as one of the greatest soccer players in the world, is using now his fame to make an impact on children who are facing danger. Go to our Web site, CNN.com/impact, to see more on Beckham's UNICEF mission and how you can help.
BLACKWELL: More peaceful protests and still the uneasy calm now in Seoul, South Korea. Just yesterday, though, three people were killed in violent protests over the ouster of the country's president, Park Geun-hye.
PAUL: That left the country kind of awash in political uncertainty. And this coming just days before Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is making his first trip there. So CNN's Will Ripley is in Seoul right now.
Help us understand, Will, the tensions that are going on in that city politically.
[08:40:01] WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christi, this really is a divided country here in South Korea. And we've seen it today out of the streets here because just on the block that way for hours there were protesters who support the now former President Park who was impeached after a more than 90-day trial. And the people who supported her point to the fact that her father led this country for almost two decades. She -- she gave her life to political service, they say. She was the first female president elected and now she'll be the first to be impeached. A very painful moment for them.
But then you look into this crowd here which is just wrapping up celebrations for the evening. An estimated 600,000-plus people came out. These are the people who were out on the streets of Seoul night after night for months, calling for this impeachment. The people who are now setting off fireworks here, celebrating what they really feel is a victory for democracy because I was just standing 121 miles away from here in Pyongyang two weeks where celebrations like this, protests would never happen. They would never happen just across the border in China. And yet here
in South Korea, millions of people said they didn't want to accept corruption from the Blue House. They wanted their president impeached. They may feel that their voices have been heard tonight. So it really is a bittersweet moment for this country -- Christi.
PAUL: And you really wonder what the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is going to be walking into, how it will affect him and his visit.
Will Ripley, we appreciate it so much. Thank you for the update.
BLACKWELL: Critics of President Trump's revised travel ban say that it targets Muslims, but a group of Muslim Americans are now coming to the president's defense. They're sitting down with CNN to explain why they don't take the ban personally and why they think it's good for the country.
[08:45:54] PAUL: Well, challenges are mounting for President Trump's latest travel ban now. California joining a handful of states this morning filing a lawsuit against it.
BLACKWELL: But some who -- I guess some would not expect -- coming to the president's defense.
CNN correspondent Martin Savidge sat down with Muslim Americans who say President Trump is doing the right thing.
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Talat rashid and Dr. Waqas Khan faced an anger and ugliness they had never seen before thanks to Donald Trump.
TALAT RASHID, TRUMP VOTER: I have some of my close friends that turn their back on me.
SAVIDGE: Pakistani Americans and Muslim, the backlash wasn't against their faith but their politics.
DR. WAQAS KHAN, TRUMP VOTER: I supported Donald Trump.
SAVIDGE: Rashid campaigned for Trump and twice got to meet him. Kahn and Rashid even went to Trump's inauguration. All of which earned them scorn from fellow Muslims.
KHAN: I had to receive comments like I never knew you were a racist, you're anti-Islamic, you're a traitor, a brown guy trying to be white, brownie, all these slurs.
SAVIDGE: Trump's campaign rhetoric particularly about Muslims bothered many people including Saleem Sheikh. He's friends with Rashid, attends the same Bowling Brooke mosque, and is a lifelong Republican who voted for Hillary Clinton.
SALEEM SHEIKH, CLINTON VOTER: I was quite concerned about some of Mr. Trump's statements at the time.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.
SAVIDGE (on camera): How could you support a man who seemed to be so anti-Muslim?
KHAN: When the statement about the Muslim ban came out, I was kind of offended to be very honest. But then I took a deep breath and I looked at the message behind the statement.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): The message Rashid and Khan heard wasn't of discrimination. Instead, they heard Trump identifying a problem they see in their own faith. One they say American leaders and even many Muslims up until now haven't openly faced. Violent, radical extremism.
KHAN: The main war is between -- is within Islam, it's not outside Islam. And the first war that we have to win is the war that the reformists or the moderate Muslims have to win against the radicals.
SAVIDGE: Terrorism, the men say, is a byproduct of that war. And Trump is taking action against some Muslims to protect all Americans. Still they admit the first travel ban was a mistake.
RASHID: Yes, I think that was too much. I mean, I did not agree with him in the beginning.
SAVIDGE (on camera): You think it's better now?
RASHID: It's a little better now. It is. But again, you know, his message is he is not -- it's not his hating all the Muslims. He is just trying to protect this country as a president. That's his job.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): Saleem disagrees, saying the best way to protect America is not by shutting people out.
SHEIKH: I'm a very patriotic American citizen. So I want to look and see America as being number one in the world. But I think it can do that by reaching out to the people.
SAVIDGE: Like many of Donald Trump's supporters, Rashid and Khan say that kind of thinking is too idealistic in today's frightening world.
KHAN: America's national security should be beyond any politics. It should be beyond any religion. That should be our top priority, being an American.
SAVIDGE (on camera): As you heard, all three of those men are from Pakistan. And Pakistan's not under any travel restrictions currently from the Trump administration. And I asked them maybe it should be considered. After all, there are questions about Pakistan's connections to the Taliban. And there was the fact that Osama bin Laden was found in Pakistan. All three men were unanimous, no, they said. There's no need. Martin Savidge, CNN, Naperville, Illinois.
PAUL: Interesting perspective there, isn't it?
All right. Up next for you, real love and robots. Huh? Can humans find emotion? Can they find love in a robot?
Well, Laurie Segall is taking us inside of a robot factory whose founder says that human connection, you don't need that for happiness.
[08:50:02] Part of a new series with CNN, "MOSTLY HUMAN."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JESS PUCCINELLI, FOUNDER, HAUTE HOPE: Hi, my name is Jess Puccinelli. And I'm the founder of Haute Hope. We are a socially conscious gifting studio where we make beautiful gift boxes where every product in every gift box gives back to the cause of positively impact the world. What that means is it can be a notebook that provides microloans for women in developing countries.
These coasters are hand-woven by the indigenous women in Guatemala. A key necklace with the word "dream" on it crafted by people who are transitioning out of homelessness.
When we launched, you know, you're never quite sure how these things are going to go. But the response was tremendous, especially with corporate clients.
[08:55:05] They love it for gifting their clients. We also have a really successful online store because we've curated specific gift boxes that you can get any time of the year. We've been in business for three years. And since our first year we've tripled our growth. We know that this particular box, we go back to our bride and groom, we're telling them this was your impact, like this is how you made a difference.
My definition of success is helping others. And that comes from my dad who growing up said, you always want to be on the giving side. You always want to be helping other people. If we can give something back, that's a success in what we're doing for sure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: You know, you and I have covered a lot of topics on this show over the years. This is one I don't think we've covered. You know, people are in love with their smartphones, we get that. But it's nothing compared to this. About a deep affinity for sex robots with artificial intelligence. One woman, get this, is even engaged to a robot.
PAUL: I just wanted Victor to have to say that and not me. CNN's new series "MOSTLY HUMAN" with Laurie Segall explores everything
from falling in love with robots to using bots to communicate with deceased loved ones.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's just insane to me that something that somebody does online would result in execution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is where bits and bytes meet flesh and blood.
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN MONEY TECH CORRESPONDENT: Do you think that people will fall in love with robots?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I feel like it's inevitable.
SEGALL: Tech is now love, war. It's life, death. Ultimately tech is MOSTLY HUMAN.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL: OK. Laurie is with us now. So help us understand this new show, first of all.
SEGALL: Sure. Look, I've been covering tech for something like eight years. And I've always been fascinated by the stories that we don't talk about and what they're going to mean and what are the ethical questions that we should start asking. It's funny, if you would have asked me years ago if we'd be ordering a car via Uber and getting into a stranger's car, people would say no, no one is ever going to do that.
Fast forward all these years later, there are these fringe stories happening again. You have people falling in love with robots, people using artificial intelligence to try to bring aspects of their dead friends back to life. There are all of these really interesting stories that are happening on the fringes. So part of the show is going out and exploring how technology is impacting love and war and death.
And all of these -- and asking kind of these philosophical questions about what do we need to keep in mind and how far is too far which you guys saw the robot love. Maybe we're going a little bit too far. And what does this say?
BLACKWELL: Yes. "Computer Love" was one of my favorite songs. I don't know that I actually thought about it in this context.
BLACKWELL: But let me ask you to explain what we talked about in just -- just a few moments ago. This woman who fell so deeply in love with a robot that she and the robot are now engaged. Talk about that.
SEGALL: I will say one of the weirder -- one of the weirder stories in my career is attending a robot engagement party outside of Paris. Beautiful love story of sorts. And then you go out, and you realize she's engaged to a robot. But listen, I think what was kind of interesting and fascinate about her story is she's very eloquent in how she was describing it. She said, you know, I know people judge this, I haven't had any trauma because I did ask her that question. And she said love is love. And then she went on to say, you know, humans are irrational. And they're going to cheat, and they could lie, or they could be alcoholics, and all of these things could happen.
And she said, a robot is safe. And you can kind of script code. So there are these vulnerable human moments in these stories that also took me to a sex robot factory in California where they're actually building lifelike -- they look very, very similar to women. And they're adding artificial intelligence. So they actually get to know you. They'll know you can talk -- the guy who created it was talking about, you know, what's my biggest fear. And Harmony, the robot, was able to kind of respond back.
You know, you start asking yourself all of these ethical questions. I said, why do people, you know, want a robot? Is it because they can't get the real thing? He said, you know, you'd be surprised. And I said, to Matt, the owner of this factory, I said, do you think human connection is needed for happiness? And he said, you know, Laurie, I don't think it is.
So, you know, these are these fascinating moments that we really explore through the show. And it takes me to all sorts of weird places like a sex robot factory and a robot engagement party.
SEGALL: But I hope you guys will watch.
PAUL: Yes. It is fascinating. Absolutely right.
Laurie Segall, thank you very much.
You can stream the show, by the way, on CNNgo, and that starts tomorrow.
BLACKWELL: All right. That's it for us this hour. We'll see you back here at 10:00.
PAUL: Don't go anywhere. "SMERCONISH" is coming at you right now.