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ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Federal Judge Temporarily Blocks New Travel Ban Nationwide; Trump Breaks Silence on Wiretap Claim; Interview with Rhode Island Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse; Pres. Trump Reacts to New Travel Ban Ruling. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired March 15, 2017 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:07] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: And good evening. Thanks for joining us.
We're coming to you from the site of the CNN town hall and plan to replace Obamacare and the millions of people who got their finances, their health and potentially their lives riding in the outcome. Secretary Tom Price is the special guest. Final preparations are still underway. It begins an hour from now.
We begin, though, with this hour with breaking news, and a lot of it tonight. Just hours before the president's new revised travel ban was set to take effect, one of three federal judges hearing challenges to it put the executive order for now on ice. Quoting from the ruling, quote, "The record before this court is unique. It includes significant and unrebutted evidence of religious animus."
Now, among the evidence cited, the interview in March of last year, this program did with then-candidate Donald Trump. Here's part of that interview that the ruling itself cites.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), THEN-PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think Islam hates us but there is a tremendous hatred, and we have to be very vigilant, we have to be very careful, and we can't allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States and of people that are not Muslim.
COOPER: I guess the question is, is there a war between the West and radical Islam or is there a war between the West and Islam itself?
TRUMP: Well, it's radical, but it's very hard to define. It's very hard to separate because you don't know who is who.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The court cited that interview, also statements made by Steven Miller recently on television comparing the new executive order to the old executive order.
CNN's Jessica Schneider has more on the ruling. She joins us now. So, what are you learning, Jessica?
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, we know this is once again a temporary restraining order, putting that halt to the second incarnation of the travel ban. It was, of course, supposed to go into effect in just about four hours, 12:01 a.m. This is the exact same recourse that we saw back on February 3rd, that time from a Seattle federal judge. This means the travel ban will not take effect.
We're waiting right now to hear from the Justice Department about what the next legal moves might be for the Trump administration.
But, you know, interesting, Anderson, you touched on it. One of the main points from the opinion, the judge there talking about the overall intent of the administration, saying that the motive was continually reiterated on the campaign trail but President Trump's advisers wanting to institute a Muslim ban. The judge even citing Rudy Giuliani on television talking about how President Trump asked him the best way to legally implement a Muslim ban.
In fact, at one point the judge in this case, Derrick Watson, he really mocks the Trump administration for saying that this isn't religiously motivated because as he pointed out, the six countries that were included on this list in this 90-day ban, he said they have a Muslim population in the high 90 percent. So, I'll read you some of the language very strong that the judge points out here.
He says, "The illogic of the government's contentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus toward any group of people only by targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed." He continues to say, "The court declines to relegate its Establishment Clause analysis to a purely mathematical exercise."
So, a lot of strong language in this opinion, Anderson. But at the end the day, the temporary restraining order in place, this travel ban will be blocked for now. We're waiting for next steps -- Anderson.
COOPER: We should -- and just including next steps, I mean, this is out of Hawaii but also Washington state, a judge is looking at this as well as elsewhere.
SCHNEIDER: Yes. There have been a lot of lawsuits as you can imagine over the past few weeks since this ban was announced. We've seen hearings in Maryland. Also we're waiting for that ruling out of Washington state where Judge Robart was the one who ruled back in February.
So, a lot ongoing and this takes precedence right new and who knows what will happen with the others. But for now, Anderson, the travel ban halted.
COOPER: Yes. Jessica Schneider, appreciate the update.
I want to go now to our Jeff Zeleny. He is traveling with the president who's going to be speaking tonight from Nashville, Tennessee, where the president is also running late.
So, do you know if the president's delay has anything to do with the court ruling and has there been any reaction at all so far from the administration?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, the president was informed about this shortly after the ruling was handed down, and I am told his aides and, in fact, the entire White House counsel's office back in Washington was indeed poring over this ruling. And as Jessica was saying, it includes so many of the president's own words from back on the campaign trail as you were playing earlier to his tweets and other things that his advisers have said.
But we do believe that he is going to address this tonight at the campaign rally. You can probably hear behind me here Lee Greenwood is singing "God Bless the USA." This feels like a campaign real, indeed, it is a campaign rally, and in some respects, it's back to the drawing board for this president.
This is one of the major campaign pledges that he made about the travel ban and this is now going to start over and it's important to turn around now, Anderson.
[20:05:06] You can see the president entering this arena right now. And he's entering to Lee Greenwood singing "God Bless the USA".
You can be sure he'll talk about this as soon as this song ends, Anderson. This changes the moment of this rally. It certainly heightens the urgency of what the president must do now for one of his key campaign pledges -- Anderson.
COOPER: Any idea what could -- what could be next from the White House? And, I mean, another rewrite of this executive order, or, you know, President Trump had said, "I'll see you in court" after the judge ruled the last time around. Could they take this all the way?
ZELENY: Anderson, we do not know. I'm sorry, I couldn't quite hear that. It's very loud in here.
But I'll just turn this back over to you as we watch Donald Trump here now take the stage -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny, thanks very much.
We're going to monitor what the president says, and if in fact he does talk about this, we'll bring his comments.
Joining us right now is CNN legal analyst Paul Callan, former Trump communications adviser Jason Miller, he's currently a CNN political commentator. Joining us now by phone, also a Harvard University law professor Alan Dershowitz. Also on phone, his former student, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Professor Dershowitz, let me start with you. What do you make of the Hawaii judge's ruling here? ALAN DERSHOWITZ, HARVARD UNIVERSITY LAW PROFESSOR (via telephone):
Well, I've read it, and it raises a fundamental constitutional impression that will get to the Supreme Court and will lead to a major decision, and that is, can you take statements made during a political campaign and use them as a way of striking down a faithfully constitutional executive order? That would be a case of first impression and it could go either way.
There is a Supreme Court decision and a case down here in Florida involving a Hialeah religion in which the court did look at statements made by members of a city council while they were serving in office. But here you have a judge who is finding statements made during a campaign, if you can take the statements into account, Trump loses if the statements are devastating.
But if the court rules that you can't take those statements in account and you have to look only at the text of the order, then Trump wins because the court is dead wrong when it says it's unconstitutional if it includes six countries all of which are 90 percent Muslim. That's perfectly constitutional because that's what Obama did. So, what the court rules if Obama does it, it's constitutional, but if Trump does it, it's unconstitutional because of what Trump said during the campaign. That is a fascinating constitutional issue.
COOPER: Jeff, I want to get your reaction to what the professor said but also first to the ruling.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): Well, I'm surprised. I -- I thought the executive order would be enough to make a court uphold it. I think Alan is exactly right that it is unusual. It is unprecedented in my experience to take a campaign statement from a president into consideration in evaluating the constitutionality of an executive order.
And -- and I -- I think -- I think frankly it's going to be vulnerable on appeal, this decision. But, you know, the sheer number of times that Donald Trump said on AC360, in speeches, that he wanted a Muslim ban, that is what really has come back to haunt him and that's why he lost his case, that it's all on Donald Trump. But that is just not how courts usually operate, taking campaign statements into consideration and we'll see what further appeals courts think about.
COOPER: Jeff, to your point, it's also interesting because the court also referenced Steven Miller who's obviously an adviser in Donald Trump's White House. Steven Miller was talking on FOX News, talking about the new travel ban and I want to read what he said about the new one as compared to the old.
He said, fundamentally, you're still going to have the same basic policy outcome for the country, but you'll be responsive to a lot of technical issues brought up by the court and those will be addressed but in terms of protecting the country, those basic policies are still going to be in effect.
So, it wasn't comments the president made as a candidate, this is while President Trump was in the White House, and now they are pointing the finger at Steven Miller.
TOOBIN: That's true, but -- I mean, if listening to what Steven Miller said there, I mean, frankly, I don't think it's all that objectionable. I mean, he said we are protecting the country, and we are going to do it the best way we can and the fact that these countries are Muslim, predominantly Muslim, is not what this case is about, the administration asserts. It's about protecting the country.
[20:10:01] I don't -- you know, obviously, the judge thought all that language, it was all about Muslims and it wasn't about safety. But the president has broad authority in this area, and I just think courts are going to be very reluctant, other courts, to second guess in these circumstances.
COOPER: Yes. Jason, I mean, to that point, as Jeff said, the president traditionally does have broad authority and what needs to be done to keep the country safe as opposed to some court in Hawaii or in Washington or anywhere else. What do you think the White House's next move is going to be?
JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, we'll see obviously the president speaking at this moment and I imagine that he'll be diving into this very shortly.
But while I'm not a lawyer, I think there are a couple of common sense things I can point out here. Number one, this appears to be a very politicized ruling. Even saw some of those -- some of the question marks being raised by Jeff and with Alan for the fact that the administration took their time. They feel that they got this right. They put it out there with a ten-day period.
And for just tonight for this to be happening, I think this really reeks of political opportunism and playing political games.
The other thing, too, is when you look at voters around the country, they want to see a president out there creating jobs. They want to see him keeping the country safe. That's exactly what that's going to.
And going to your point about what Steven Miller was saying. Steven Miller was simply make the case that the president and the administration wanted to keep the country safe. And so, for the fact for this judge, this really seems like an outlier to go and do this, I think it's going to backfire. I think it's going to look terrible.
I think when people are fed up and distrustful of the court system, they can point to something like this.
COOPER: Paul, just in terms of the ruling, I want to get you reaction. The judge said, "The illogic of the government's intentions is palpable. The notion that one can demonstrate animus towards any group of people only targeting all of them at once is fundamentally flawed."
That gets to the argument that, well, this isn't a Muslim ban because it is only targets people from six countries. PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, and, you know, the entire focus
of the Hawaiian judge's ruling was on the Establishment Clause, that is, that this is religious-based discrimination against Muslims. And the decision reads like a very angry decision by this Hawaiian judge.
By the way, Derrick Watson was appointed by President Obama as a federal judge in 2013, something I'm sure that Mr. Trump will bring up. But --
COOPER: But I think confirmed unanimously.
CALLAN: Yes, confirmed unanimously.
But I think another argument that the Trump administration will lodge against this is, if you're going to discriminate against Muslims, why would you only apply this to six Muslim countries? Why wouldn't you ban all Muslims?
They're going to say, this is a limited, targeted ban on countries that don't have a good vetting process for people who tried to enter the United States.
Now, on the other hand, the most damaging thing in this opinion, Anderson, I think is Rudolph Giuliani's quotation and that is Giuliani saying that Trump asked him, how do we do a legal Muslim ban? So, it sounds like this was planned really to ban Muslims as opposed to only potential terrorists.
COOPER: But, Professor Dershowitz, what options does the White House have here now?
DERSHOWITZ: I don't think they can go back and say we're going to do a third effort at this. I think they have to litigate and litigate hard. I think that they're going to do is ask for an expedited appeal to the Ninth Circuit to try to get this case up to the Supreme Court. They would like to get this to the Supreme Court after Justice Gorsuch is confirmed.
But even without Gorsuch on the court, I think they'll have a very substantial chance of winning even among eight justices. But the real risk is that the Ninth Circuit rules against them and it gets decided 4-4, they lose. That's why they're going to want to wait until Gorsuch is confirmed, and that's why next's hearings are going to be important.
Will the Democrats try to delay Gorsuch's confirmation so that they don't have the full complement of justices when it gets up there? It's very complicated at this point.
COOPER: All right. Professor Dershowitz, Jeffrey Toobin, Jason Miller, thank you. Paul Callan, as well.
We're monitoring the president's remark. We're going to bring them to you when he's talking about this.
Also now, there's more breaking news tonight, the question about the allegations that President Trump made about former President Obama wiretapping his phones. The White House appears to be changing the meaning the word "wiretapping". They are trying to redefine in some way. We're keeping them honest, next.
And also later, Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash hosting a CNN special town hall on health care, on changes to the Affordable Care Act from President Trump's commitment to insurance coveragfe for everyone.
We'll be right back.
COOPER: More breaking news tonight. Members of the House and Senate Intelligence Committees saying today they have seen no evidence supporting President Trump's claim that President Obama wiretapped his phones at Trump Tower, not good news certainly for President Trump today, and it may explain why the White House seems to be attempting to redefine what the president actually was accusing President Obama of.
It's the subject of our "Keeping Them Honest" report tonight.
President Trump ended his silence today after 11 days of avoiding commenting about the controversy that he himself created. Talking with Tucker Carlson on Fox, he was asked why he tweeted those allegations that President Obama had him wiretapped, allegations, we should point out, he has yet to produce any evidence of whatsoever.
Here's what the president said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: But wiretap covers a lot of different things. I think you're going to find some very interesting items coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So, wiretap covers a lot of things. That's what the president is saying now. If that sounds familiar, it's because it's similar to the -- I don't know -- should we say gentle redefining of wiretap that White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer started two days ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He doesn't really think that President Obama went up there and tapped his phone personally I think. But I think there's a -- there's no question that the Obama administration, that there were actions about surveillance and other activities that occurred in the 2016 election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, keeping them honest, Spicer had originally said the president's tweets speak for themselves. And now, he is speaking for them, redefining them in a way. So, this is the new narrative from the White House, namely that when the president was tweeting about President Obama wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower, he wasn't really tweeting about President Obama wiretapping his phones at Trump Tower.
Sean Spicer has been pointing out that the quotation marks that the president used at times and didn't use other times. So, let's just quickly review the original tweets, so you can decide for yourself what the president was saying.
The first tweet was sent at 6:35 a.m., 11 days ago. "Terrible. Just found out that Obama had my wires 'tapped', in quotation marks, in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism."
That was followed 14 minutes later but this, "Is it legal for a sit president to be, quote/unquote, "wiretapping" a race for president prior an election. Turned down by court earlier. A new low."
Then, at 6:52, "I bet a good lawyer could make a great case out of the fact that President Obama was tapping my phones in October just prior to election."
Finally, this at 7:02, "How low has President Obama gone to tap my phones during the very sacred election process.
[20:20:00] This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad or sick guy."
So, was he accusing President Obama of wiretapping his phones or now, as the White House seems to be suggesting, some kind of vaguely defined general surveillance directly perhaps at then candidate Trump or perhaps at members of his campaign or his company. That you can decide for yourself.
Just for a reference, though, here's how Merriam Webster Dictionary defines wiretap, intransitive verb, to tap a telephone or telegraph wire in order to get information, or transitive verb, to tap the telephone of.
Pretty specific, not broad at all, not, quote, "covers a lot of things," unquote.
Keeping them in honest, one thing is clear, no matter how the White House now would like to define wiretapping, President Trump did repeatedly accused the former president of the United States of ordering the tapping, calling him a bad or sick guy like Nixon, McCarthy. And though President Trump could simply release whatever information led him to this belief, he has not done that, maybe he has none, or maybe doesn't want to release it.
He also hasn't told the Department of Justice to release whatever information it has on any warrants applied for under the Obama administration regarding Trump Tower. He could do that but he hasn't.
The president has demanded Congress investigate and there's plenty of news on that. Our chief national security adviser Jim Sciutto is doing the
reporting. He joins us now.
So, Jim, I mean, key members of the president's own parties speaking out against these wiretap claims.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I mean, confirming that Trump, President Trump is basically alone on wiretap island. His attorney general, Trump appointee and Republican Jeff Sessions, saying today he gave the president no indication that President Obama ordered a wiretap of him.
The Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Devin Nunes, saying today definitively he's seen no evidence of that, and we know that FBI Director James Comey, he was one of the first to challenge this based on CNN's reporting, saying that he was just amazed by this charge.
So, in light of those facts, the president and his spokesperson Sean Spicer really have to walk back that initial claim. But as you said, Anderson, the president was very clear about what he was charging, that President Barack Obama himself wiretapped Mr. Trump himself. There's no evidence of that, say Republican members of the House, the attorney general, et cetera.
So, what he's talking about now is something very different and that's crucial, Anderson, because there is evidence that the intelligence community was surveilling Russians who were in touch with members of Trump's campaign during the campaign. That's perfectly legal, these are Russian officials, and other Russians known to U.S. intelligence that as a matter of routine intelligence gathering, they are listened to, their conversations listened to and sometimes Americans are on the other end of that line. That's legal to do that.
The question, of course, is why Trump advisers were on the other end of that line and that's the subject of a continuing investigation?
COOPER: And the FBI investigation into ties, if any, between Russia and President Trump's associates, there's still a question as to whether this investigation actually even exists. FBI Director Comey, he was on the Hill today.
SCIUTTO: That's right. And, you know, senators, Republican and Democrat, they were growing impatient with that question. They want an answer to that question. Is the FBI investigating these contacts which CNN has reported on based on the information we were given from multiple law enforcement and intelligence officials.
We don't know what James Comey said to lawmakers today. We know that that was a question that they certainly asked him, but there was an interesting moment today between -- at that House Intelligence Committee press briefing when you had Devin Nunes, the Republican, say that he's seen no evidence of contacts between the Trump campaign and the Russians during the campaign, he was interrupted by the ranking Democratic member of the House Intelligence Committee Adam Schiff who said, wait a second, we can't say that categorically. So, you already have a disagreement within the bipartisan Hill investigation as to whether they have seen evidence of this. That's going to be a major and very crucial line inquiry in that investigation, Anderson.
COOPER: Yes. Jim Sciutto, appreciate the update.
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse serves on one of at least five committees and subcommittee looking into all of this, as Jim Sciutto just reported. He said yesterday that the FBI Director James Comey would confirm today whether an FBI investigation exists into ties between Russia and Trump associates, that didn't happen in the way we expected.
I spoke with the Rhode Island Democrat earlier this evening.
COOPER: You had hoped that Director Comey would respond to your letter from last week asking for evidence to support President Trump's claim that he was wiretapped. Have you received any response of that, on that?
SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D), RHODE ISLAND: No, we have not and we'll probably hold, it's the chairman's call, not mine, on pursuing further measures to try to get that information until we've had their explanation. But the fact of a warrant application which we've said they can redact the document as they please to protect ongoing investigations or intelligence sources and method.
But the mere fact of a warrant application ought not to be something that is classified, particularly not where the president has specifically called this in on himself and said that Congress will investigate.
COOPER: And as you reference, I mean, Senator Graham had indicated he issued subpoenas that the FBI didn't provide information, you're saying now essentially you think the committee is going to wait on that until you have the meeting with Comey, even if it's next week.
[20:25:13] WHITEHOUSE: That will be Senator Graham's call, but when we talked to the press after the hearing today he indicated that he was leaning in favor of giving the director this chance to discuss it with us before we moved on to potentially subpoenas. Again, that's the chairman's call.
COOPER: Earlier today, President Trump in an interview with FOX News said and I'm quoting, "Wiretap covers a lot of different things." He also said some interesting items will be coming to the forefront over the next two weeks.
In your opinion, does wiretap cover a lot of different things, I mean, as the president had originally tweeted and do you have an idea what interesting items he's talking about?
WHITEHOUSE: Not in law enforcement. In law enforcement, a wiretap is a wiretap, and you need a warrant to get one and it lets you listen in on the substance of the conversation, and it's a term of art and it's one that we intend to run down.
COOPER: Do you think the --
WHITEHOUSE: You have to apply for it and the applications are in writing, unless it's a super emergency, and then you have to follow up in writing. So, there actually would be documents that would leave a trail.
COOPER: Do you think the White House is trying to back away from the president's tweets from last Saturday?
WHITEHOUSE: I think they are probably trying to find a decent way to back off and I think also, they know this is a sparkly object that the media will chase and while they are watching the support for repeal and replace of Obamacare fall apart and all the infighting happening between Speaker Ryan and the White House, I think this is a bit of a diversionary tactic perhaps also as well.
COOPER: Both the House and the Senate Intelligence Committees are obviously investigating possible Russia ties. Can you just explain to viewers what you and Senator Graham can do with your Senate Judiciary Subcommittee that these other committees cannot do?
WHITEHOUSE: Well, the first thing that we're doing is we're acting publicly so that we're going to be able to explain to the public what is going on.
COOPER: So, do have you a time line for your investigation?
WHITEHOUSE: We're just going to continue going forward. Chairman Graham announced today that our next hearing would be on the subject of how you protect an ongoing investigation from White House political interference and I think that's going to be another fascinating topic and will help illuminate whether the folks doing this investigation have adequately defended it from the threat of political interference.
COOPER: Do you believe there is political interference at this point?
WHITEHOUSE: Too early to tell, but I think it is important that the defenses be up so that you can tell when it happens and you can forestall it when it begins?
COOPER: All right. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, I appreciate your time. Thank you.
WHITEHOUSE: Yes, thank you.
COOPER: Well, President Trump has just weighed on tonight's court ruling. We're going to bring that to you next, right after the commercial break. Actually, let's listen to this right now.
TRUMP: So, we have a lot of lawyers here and we also have a lot of smart people here. Let me read to you directly from the federal statute. 212F of the immigration and you know what I'm talking about, right? Can I read this to you? Listen to this.
Now, we're all smart people. We're all good students. Some are bad students, but even if you're a bad student, this is a real easy one, let me tell you. Ready?
So, here's the statute which they don't even want to quote when they overrule it, and it was put here for the security of our country and this goes beyond me because there will be other presidents and we need this and sometimes we need it very badly for security, security of our country.
It says, now listen to how easy this is. Whenever the president finds that the entry of any aliens or any class of aliens would be detrimental to the interests of the United States, he may by proclamation and for such period as he -- see, it wasn't politically correct, because they should have said, he or she. You know, today, they'd say that. That's all right. Actually, that's the only mistake they made.
As he shall deem necessary, suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or non-immigrants or impose on the entry of aliens any restrictions he may deem to be appropriate.
In other words -- if he thinks there's danger out there, he or she, whoever is president, can say, I'm sorry, folks. Not now, please. We've got enough problems.
We're talking about the safety of our nation, the safety and security of our people.
Now, I know you people aren't skeptical people, because nobody would be that way in Tennessee, right. Not Tennessee.
You don't think this was done by a judge for political reasons, do you? No. This ruling makes us look weak. Which by the way we no longer are, believe me. Just look at our borders.
We're going to fight this terrible ruling. We're going to take our case as far as it needs to go including all the way up to the Supreme Court. We're going to win. We're going to keep our citizens safe and regardless we're going to keep our citizens safe. Believe me. Even liberal Democratic lawyer Alan Dershowitz, good lawyer, just said that we would win this case before the Supreme Court of the United States.
Remember this, I wasn't thrilled but the lawyers all said, let's tailor it. This is a watered-down version of the first one. This is a watered-down version. And let me tell you something, I think we ought to go back to the first one and go all the way, which is what I wanted to do in the first place.
The danger is clear. The law is clear. The need for my executive order is clear. I was elected to change our broken and dangerous system and thinking in government that has weakened and endangered our country and left our people defenseless.
And I will not stop fighting for the safety of you and your families. Believe me. Not today. Not ever. We're going the win it. We're going to win it.
We're going to apply common sense. We're going to apply intelligence. And we're never quitting and we're never going away. And we're never, ever giving up. The best way to keep foreign terrorists or, as some people would say in certain instance, radical Islamic terrorists from attacking our country is to stop them from entering our country in the first place.
We'll take it, but these are the problems we have. People are screaming break up the ninth circuit, now I'll tell you what, that ninth circuit -- you have to see, take a look at how many times they have been overturned with their terrible decisions. Take a look. And this is what we have to live with.
Finally I want to get to taxes. I want to cut the hell out of taxes. But -- but -- before I can do that, I would have loved to have put it first, I'll be honest. There is one more very important thing we have to do and we are going to repeal and replace horrible, disastrous Obamacare.
If we leave Obamacare in place, millions and millions of people will be forced off their plans. And your senators just told me that in your state you're down to practically no insurers. You could have nobody. You could have nobody. And this is true all over. The insurers are fleeing. The insurers are fleeing. It's a catastrophic situation. And there's nothing to compare anything to because Obamacare won't be around for a year or two. It's gone. So it's not like, oh, gee, they have this -- Obamacare is gone. Premiums will continue to soar double digits and even triple digits in many cases. It will drain our budget and destroy our jobs. Remember all of the broken promises? You can keep your doctor, you can keep your plan? Remember the wise guy, remember the wise guy that essentially said the American people, the so-called architect, the American people are stupid because they approved it? We're going to show them. Those in Congress who made these promises have no credibility whatsoever on healthcare.
[20:35:15] And remember this, remember this, if we took because there's such divisive -- and I'm not just talking now with me. There was with Obama, there was with Bush, the level of hatred and divisiveness with the politicians.
I remember years ago I'd go to Washington, it's always very politically active and Republicans and Democrats fight by day and then go to dinner at night. Today there's a level that nobody seen before.
Just remember this, if we submitted the Democrats' plan, drawn everything perfect for the Democrats, we wouldn't get one vote from the Democrats. That's the way it is. That's how much divisiveness and other things there are. So it's a problem. But we're going to get it by. So I've met with so many victims of Obamacare, the people who have been so horribly hurt -- COOPER: We're monitoring that to bring you Pres. Trump's first
comments and latest comments about the judge's ruling in Hawaii stopping his executive order.
I want to bring in the panel, CNN Chief Political Analysts, Gloria Borger, Trump supporter Jeffrey Lord, and CNN Senior Contributor American spectator Van Jones, he's got his own town hall coming up tomorrow night, back with us on the phone is Harvard's Alan Dershowitz.
Professor Dershowitz, you were referenced there by our Pres. Trump saying that even you believe that they will win at the Supreme Court. Is he right? And saying you believed that and how surprised are you by the president's comments about the ninth circuit and obviously going after this judge in particular?
ALAN DERSHOWITZ: Well, I think the president makes a mistake going after judges. He quoted me correctly. I do think he will win in the United States Supreme Court. It will be a very important decision because it will be the first time a court has really -- handed a political statements during the campaign can used to strike down a facially constitutional statute.
I hope the president doesn't misinterpret my statements to say I support the order. I don't support it. I (inaudible) is necessary for the state if the United States the, I'm opposed to it.
But, I think there's a difference between not supporting an order on policy grounds and finding it unconstitutional. I do not think it's unconstitutional. I do think the Supreme Court will uphold it even if Gorsuch is not yet on the Supreme Court. But if he does make it to the Supreme Court in time then I think it will be a clearer victory for the Trump administration in the Supreme Court.
COOPER: Van Jones, the judge in this case clearly pointing two comments that candidate Trump made on the trail and comments that Steven Miller has made in recent weeks on the --
VAN JONES "THE MESSY TRUTH" CNN HOST: Sure. Listen, an action can be ruled unconstitutional if it's on the face of it, it looks like it's a good thing but there's an intent that's unconstitutional. There is clearly an unconstitutional intent here. Donald Trump has said a gazillion and 50 times, I counted, he wanted a Muslim ban. And so, it's actually bizarre to expect a court to pretend what has actual happened has not happened and to pretend that this piece of paper is only -- there's a discriminatory intent here and the discriminatory intent of the Trump administration is clear. I am proud that this judge actually responds to it.
But something else happened tonight which is wrong. You heard a veiled threat from the president of the United States to break up the ninth circuit because he didn't like a ruling. This is the kind of stuff that authoritarian blow hards do all across the world, they start threatening judges, they start threatening judicial branch. That is completely unacceptable. And so, I think you've got to be able to recognize here is that you have a judge that's willing to look at reality and the reality is, this is a discriminatory thing here is unconstitutional.
COOPER: For Prof. Dershowitz, you argue that it is constitutional. Why do you disagree with Van on this in terms of the intent? And why is the intent or Pres. Trump's -- candidate Trump's statement is not important here?
DERSHOWITZ: Well, that's the question that the Supreme Court will have to confront. If it does, it will have to decide that word in an order can be constitutional with issue that Barack Obama, but the very same words unconstitutional when issued by Donald Trump. That makes very, very personal. After all, the selection of these countries, seven of the was made by Obama, well motivated not on the basis of a Muslim ban, on the basis of a desire to protect the United States. Then Pres. Trump selects six of those same seven countries, the very same countries but that becomes unconstitutional because of what he said during the campaign. That's the issue the Supreme Court will have to confront.
And I think it's very difficult to predict how it will come out, but I think that the law can at this point to support the conclusion that it's the statute on its face is constitutional that the statements made during his campaign do not term it unconstitutional. But it could come out the other way, but my prediction is it will come out in favor of the Trump administration based on that logic and argument.
[20:40:24] COOPER: Van?
JONES: I am no fool to get into a fistfight on National Television with Prof. Dershowitz. I have to say that what Pres. Obama was doing with those seven countries is not related to what Donald Trump is trying to do.
Listen, the explanation that the Trump administration is giving is completely arbitrary and irrational. There are other countries that should be included under the rationale he's putting forward. The only thing that holds these countries together that they are majority Muslim countries. There's no other criteria that holds up.
DERSHOWITZ: Name a country that's not Muslim that would come under a ban at this time?
JONES: France. How about France? I mean --
DERSHOWITZ: Well, the reason that you would name France is because there are extremist Muslims who come from France.
DERSHOWITZ: You can't link the reality that the threat to the United States comes from radical violence --
DERSHOWITZ: -- Muslim extremists. JONES: But professor, but professor, look, I am risking my life here. I hope you'll show mercy for me. But let me tell you ...
DERSHOWITZ: You don't need mercy. You're fine.
JONES: L me tell you, just because France in Europe and Denmark is in Europe, if you're -- if what you're concerned about is countries that have a history of extremism, there are European countries that do, and yet none of them are included. My only point is simply this -- look -- let me just --
DERSHOWITZ: -- mechanism for European countries as mechanism or (inaudible) how dangerous people that these countries Pres. Obama said don't have the appropriate mechanism.
Look, I agree with you, this is a complex issue, and I agree with you that if they look at the statements made by Pres. Trump, he will lose. The question is, is that the jurisprudence that the Supreme Court will apply?
JONES: It is.
DERSHOWITZ: That's a tough argument to make.
COOPER: It is interesting, Jeffrey Lord, that -- I mean earlier Pres. Trumped that Iraq on his list.
JEFFREY LORD, TRUMP SUPPORTER: Right.
COOPER: Clearly, there are many places in Iraq that vetting, you can't vet somebody's background or areas -- different, you know, there's Sunni groups, there's Shia groups, people who are members of militias, --
COOPER: -- Afghanistan is not on this list, there are lot of areas in Afghanistan which are not under the control of the central government. Vetting is very difficult. Pakistan in which we've actually had people come from Pakistan, the wife who killed people in San Bernardino came from Pakistan, clearly, you could say vetting is a problem there as well?
LORD: Anderson, I have to believe that the intelligence community, so-called, are vetting these countries all the time, that the intelligence mounts up every single day, and that they make these decisions based on a movable feast of intelligence at the moment. There's no point talking about, say the hijackers from 9/11 because that was what --
COOPER: Just point out, I mean Taliban just as doctor walked into a hospital in Kabul just the other day and slaughtered people. So, it's an issue.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it is an issue. And I just want to say one thing. This is going to know go to the Congress and the Supreme Court nominee and Gorsuch's nominee, this is now going to become an issue when he goes to his hearings next week, and this Hawaii judge took the president literally, which is the conversation we're going to continue to have.
COOPER: Well, just ahead, you heard Pres. Trump touch on this just a moment ago, the healthcare battle certainly heating up with growing opposition among Republicans pundits to GOP bill to replace Obamacare. I'll talk to one Republican lawmaker at this point who vote no.
[20:47:53] COOPER: President Trump just wrapped up a campaign-style rally in Nashville. Our Jeff Zeleny is there. Jeff, the president making his first about the Hawaii judge putting basically his executive order on ice.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Anderson, I was struck by the president saying tonight that the second version of his travel ban was, in fact, a watered down version of the first ban. He almost expressed some regret for doing this over in the first place.
Now, as we've been talking about all evening here. If you read through the judges ruling, he used Pres. Trump's own words, so this -- when this goes through the appeals process as well, his words tonight, saying that this was a watered down version of the first one certainly stood out to me, but the president also vowed to fight this all the way to the Supreme Court if, if that's what it takes to win.
He also selectively cited the commentary of Alan Dershowitz, of course, the liberal lawyer who believes that this may be constitutional. So the president was very fired up about this tonight. He had the crowd behind him here at a campaign rally.
And Anderson, again, it took me back to a year ago on the campaign trail, when he was talking about that. But the reality here now is so different. And his justice department, his White House counsel's office must figure out exactly what to do going forward. It's going to take far more than a campaign rally to do this, but the president also read from a statute, a federal statute, saying that he has the authority, in his view, to do this, to protect the American citizenry, and he put this all in the context of keeping America safe and National Security.
But Anderson, beyond his words, beyond his rhetoric, we are still unclear at this hour what the legal strategy is here going forward.
COOPER: Jeff Zeleny there, they're even playing the same campaign music, the Rolling Stones "You Can't Always Get What You Want" at the end of president's speech.
One of the president's cabinet members is here at the top of the hour in the studio just below us, (inaudible) Dana Bash will moderate the CNN Healthcare town hall with Tom Price, the Health and Human Services Secretary. He'll be taking questions about the Republican plan to replace Obamacare. [20:50:04] The House had been expected to vote on the bill next week. When asked today, though, House Speaker Paul Ryan would not give a firm commitment on the timing. The upshot is that they'll hit (ph) some major speed bumps with Republican opposition growing. Sunlen Serfaty tonight reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The uphill climb is getting steeper by the day.
REP. LEONARD LANCE, (R) NEW JERSEY: I'm leaning no, because I don't think the current bill can pass in the Senate. I think that the bill has to be strengthened.
SERFATY: The House bill in its current form can only afford to lose 21 Republican votes, according to CNN's latest wipe (ph) count already 19 House Republicans have said no or are leaning that way.
JACK TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: So if it came up in the House this afternoon, it would pass?
REP. PAUL RYAN, (R) HOUSE SPEAKER: Well, it's not coming up this afternoon.
SERFATY: And it gets even harder for Paul Ryan's bill in the Senate.
SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: I don't believe anyone its current form would pass in the U.S. Senate.
SERFATY: Sources tell CNN privately the White House is encouraging leadership to make more changes now, acknowledging this current House bill cannot pass in the Senate. In an interview with CNN's Jake Tapper today,
RYAN: As far as the House is concerned, we have consensus, and we're fine tuning our consensus.
SERFATY: Speaker Ryan trying to thread the needle.
RYAN: We want Medicaid flexibility is a good example, giving states better chances at more flexibility. Those are the things that members are constantly giving us feedback and we're constantly incorporating that feedback as this legislation moves to the process.
SERFATY: By making it clear he's pushing ahead with his bill.
RYAN: But the Senate will take this baton when we hand it to them, and they can do things to this bill. They can change this bill. They can amend this bill.
SERFATY: Building on comments from earlier today about the GOP's multi-step plan.
RYAN: This is why we have a three-step process. You can't put everything you want in that bill, like, say, interstate shopping across state lines. And so, this bill is what we can pass to reconciliation.
SERFATY: Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham today completely crushing that promise to pass more legislation later on.
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R) SOUTH CAROLINA: You're not going to get 60 votes to buy insurance across state lines. That is a fantasy in the Senate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now what's the next step, could it be -- in terms of bringing the bill to a full House vote next week?
SERFATY: Well, House Republican leadership (inaudible), Anderson, say that the plan is still to bring this to a House for a vote next week. But it was notable as you said that Speaker of the House Paul Ryan when was asked -- press conference this evening, if he would commit to bringing it to a full vote next week, he largely deferred. He said, look, I'm going to let the House Majority Leader answer that. He's the one that sets the schedule here. So that comment certainly notable this evening.
Now, the mechanics of all this will continue to inch along tomorrow, we have the House budget committee who mark up their portion of the bill. If and when it gets out of that committee it goes to the rules committee, right, because that's what Paul Ryan said that that will likely happen at some point next week. And that's where these tweaks and changes that we keep hearing about from the administration and from now Republican leadership, that's where those tweaks will potentially be made.
So very clear, it's inching along very slowly, but also clear that there are some parts of, in some magnitude of this bill that need to be changed in order for leadership to secure their votes.
COOPER: Yeah. Sunlen, thanks very much. Appreciate that a lot.
Joining us now is Republican Congressman Tom Garrett of Virginia. Congressman, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate you being here.
Representative Mark Meadows chairman of the House Freedom Caucus just said a few minutes ago, he has the votes to block this bill in the house. Do you agree with him?
REP. TOM GARRETT, (R) VIRGINIA: I'm quite confident that as it stands, leadership doesn't have the votes they need to get this bill as written through the House.
COOPER: And you would not vote for it if it was to be voted on today?
GARRETT: No, and I want to vote for a bill. But, you know, we're the same group that lambasted majority leader Pelosi for asking us to pass the bill so we can see find out what was in it.
Right now the timeline is actually faster with the bill came through under original that we're trying to repeal. There are a couple of major sticking points that just get to where I can't be a yes.
COOPER: What changes would you need to see in order to get to yes?
GARRETT: Well, there are two things that in my opinion stand. Number one, we're rewarding states who have exercised fiscal imprudence that have expanded Medicaid. I come from a state legislature for the last five years where we held out the name of fiscal responsibility and long-term good planning. And this bill, currently, rewards bad judgment which certainly (ph) will gets you more bad judgment.
The second thing is, as the tax credits are structured, I think it's a solid argument that this is the largest entitlement program that would ever be implemented under a Republican president and Republican Congress.
So, there are ways that we can get the Americans public what they deserve which is affordable healthcare and more free market solutions.
Look, I will say this, leadership deserves a lot of credit for (inaudible) the plan and they'll cut the deficit by a third of a trillion, they'll expand HSAs, but, you know, I've never been in a negotiation where your starting point was your final point.
COOPER: Senator Rand Paul as you know said today, "I think that Paul Ryan's selling him," meaning Pres. Trump, "selling him a bill of good that he didn't explain to the president, and the Grassroots doesn't want what Ryan is selling." Do you agree with Sen. Rand? I mean does the president not fully understand what's in the bill? Is it at odds with what the president talked about during the campaign?
[20:55:10] GARRETT: Well, what's at odds are with the reports of where the administration is on this bill versus the reality that we're hearing from the administration. And that is that the administration wants to make sure that we don't just get a product, but we get a product that bends cost curve down, that opens up marketplaces and gives America public something closer to the world class health care we deserve.
I don't think the speaker's selling Donald Trump a bill of goods. I think that underestimates the professionalism of the speaker and the intelligence of the president. So I disagree with the rhetoric, but I do think there's negotiation afoot. And we're far from a finished product. I think we'll get one though.
COOPER: And right now, I mean the count -- 19 House Republicans are opposed or leaning against the current bill or 22 House Republican vote no. The bill is dead. Who be to blame if the Republicans can't get health care passed?
GARRETT: Well, I mean, it depends on when we can get out healthcare pass. Ultimately, there's no impetus to do this now. There's an impetus to do this right. And if we don't get it right, then the people to blame are the Republicans.
If we don't get it done at all well we could do politically if that's we're all about was let the wheels fall off the train wreck that is Obamacare. That's not why we were elected. But I also wasn't elected to advocate my responsibility and take the first product as the final product.
COOPER: Congressman Tom Garrett, appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much.
GARRETT: Anderson, an honor, and God Bless.
COOPER: You too. Gloria Borger is back. Joining us as well CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sanjay, when you look at this bill, I mean what do you see in terms of who gets covered and?
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean the big concern, obviously, is the, you know, 20-some million people who have healthcare insurance now, who may not have it. That's the projection as you see.
COOPER: From the CBO.
GUPTA: From the Congressional Budget Office. The big concern, obviously, if you've cut this much money out of Medicaid, expanding Medicaid into those states is no longer able to happen, those are the people who are likely to get hurt the most. But I think it's important to point out that while people focus on that and they focus on the four or five percent of people who are on these exchanges, everybody's affected by this, right? I mean there's protection is even for you and me in terms of what our healthcare plans have to have for us. What they have to cover. And those sorts of protections, regardless of whether you're on Medicaid or regardless you're -- if you're getting a pretty (ph) exchanges affect everyone.
So, those are the people most affected, but I don't think anyone's immune.
COOPER: Gloria, I mean did the Republicans or did Pres. Trump I should say as a candidate promise too much?
BORGER: Well, yes, as it turns out, he promised to repeal and replace very quickly, and he might be able to do that if he could take a little bit more time. And I think they made a decision in the White House, you know, what's important when you're a new administration is what do you do first, and what do you do second, and this happened with Pres. Obama and other.
And inside the White House they made the decision, OK, we're going to go with Paul Ryan, and we're going to do hey, healthcare first, because that's what we promised.
COOPER: It was interesting to hear Pres. Trump tonight at the speech in Tennessee saying, you know, I wish we'd -- sometimes I wish we had started with taxes.
BORGER: Right. He could have started with taxes. He's having second though. He could have started with taxes. He could have started with infrastructure and got and lot of Democrats to vote for repairing bridges and our roads, but instead, they started with the most complicated, difficult intractable problem that Republicans haven't agreed on for the last eight years.
So now they sort of assumed, OK, well, we're in charge, and we can suddenly get it done. But guess what, they can't, because they come from different parts of the country, there are moderate Republicans, conservative Republicans, Paul Ryan Republicans and Donald Trump Republicans who promised universal care when he was running, and that's not what this is.
COOPER: Sanjay, what are you going to be listening for in tonight's town hall with --
GUPTA: Preparing this -- the thing from everybody who's talked about this on the Republican side at least that there's going to be more choices and lower costs ultimately. That's what the promises now.
And, by the way, Pres. Obama started this in his first year of his first term.
BORGER: That's right. That's right.
GUPTA: But how do you get to more choices and lower cost? I think one of the big concerns is the quality of health insurance that you have, you can buy health insurance that frankly doesn't cover a lot. That would be pretty cheap. That would be pretty cheap.
But if you actually get sick, you get in a car accident or something like that, then that's the time most people actually figure out for the first time how good their health insurance is. You don't want some -- these skinny plans or these junk plans, I want, you know, commitments that that's not going to happen, because that would be going backwards.
COOPER: I hope he listen for a lot of (inaudible) for tonight. Sanjay, thanks very much. Gloria Borger as well.
The town hall with the head of the Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price is about to begin. It's moderated tonight by Wolf Blitzer and Dana Bash. Let's go to that now.