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FBI Chief to Testify on Wiretap Claims as Trump Doubles Down; Secretary of State Talks North Korea with Chinese Officials; Trump: Germany Owes Vast Sums of Money to NATO; GOP Congressmen: Trump Should Apologize to Obama; Intruder Breaches White House Property; Trump's Travel Ban Heads to Appeals Court. Aired 1-2p ET
Aired March 18, 2017 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[13:00:00] STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Stephanie Elam, CNN, Youngtown, Arizona.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: So much more straight ahead and it all starts right now.
Hello again, everyone. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
As the president concludes a week mired in conflict and controversy on issues from wiretapping to Russia connections to health care, he is now entering one of the most pivotal weeks of his presidency. Monday FBI Director James Comey will raise his right-hand and tell members of Congress if there is any evidence that Trump Tower was wiretapped by President Barack Obama. Even as the Department of Justice and members of both Intel committees are rebuking the president's claims, President Trump is not backing down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That was a statement made by a very talented lawyer on FOX. And so you shouldn't be talking to me. You should be talking to FOX, OK?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, begins a confirmation process that could be clouded by tough questions from Democrats.
And Trump's party's health care plan, very much in peril. Goes to a vote on Thursday. The president says he is confident it will pass on the first try.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I also want everyone to know that all of these noes or potential noes are all yeses. Every single person sitting in this room. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. President Trump is at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida today.
Let's go to CNN's Athena Jones live for us in nearby West Palm Beach.
Athena, do we know specifically what he's working on this weekend with so much swirling around him and his administration?
ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. That's right. It's been a very tough couple of weeks. And a big week ahead. We know that the president is spending time right now at the Trump international golf club in West Palm Beach. White House officials say he's having phone calls and meetings. We spotted him not too long ago driving a golf cart on the golf course. So we know he's at least hitting a few more holes of golf. Later today, he's heading back to Mar-a-Lago to his resort to receive the daily intelligence believing and then after that, he's scheduled to have a phone call with Brazil's President Michel Temer.
But a lot of attention, Fred, is on the unsubstantiated allegations the president made against his predecessor, President Barack Obama, claiming that Obama had his "wires tapped" or tapped his communications in Trump Tower. This is a charge that has no evidence -- no evidence has been provided to back it up. It has been denied by the president, by the former president himself. And Republicans and Democrats have said they see no evidence to say it's happened. Several other officials also denied it.
The latest coming today, the number two official at the National Security Agency, Richard Ledget, used unusually strong terms in an interview with the BBC saying that these allegations are "errant nonsense. The claims the U.K. was involved with wiretapping demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of how the relationship works." This official went on to say, "Of course, they wouldn't do it. It would be epically stupid."
So that is just the latest in a long string of denials. You have even Republican members of Congress calling on the president to retract those allegations, to apologize to the former president. There is no indication at this moment, Fred, that either of those things will be forthcoming from the president.
WHITFIELD: Athena Jones, thank you so much. We'll talk more about that.
Meantime, overseas, China is urging the Trump administration to be cool-headed in its approach to nuclear-armed North Korea amid rising tensions. That message delivered to Secretary of State Rex Tillerson while in Beijing.
It comes one day after Tillerson warned North Korea no option was off the table, including military action if provoked. But today, Tillerson appears to be softening his tone after talks with his Chinese counterpart. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: We share a common view and a sense that tensions on the peninsula are quite high right now and that thing have reached a rather dangerous level. And we've committed ourselves to do everything we can to prevent any type of conflict from breaking out.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Joining me right now from Beijing, CNN international correspondent, Matt Rivers.
Matt, explain why it is so important for China to be involved in this solution with North Korea.
[13:04:54] MATT RIVERS, CNN ASIA-PACIFIC EDITOR: Well, China is the only major ally on the international stage for the North Koreans. So really anything that you want to do, whatever your solution proposed solution is for what's going on in North Korea, China is going to be involved. That is something that the Trump administration is well aware of and is trying to get China to use that leverage to get North Korea to rein in its nuclear weapons development program. What the Trump administration is saying and what Secretary of State Tillerson told his counterparts here in Beijing on Friday is that, you should be doing more. You should be using that economic leverage that you have over North Korea to get them to stop doing what they're doing. China pushes back. This is a big disagreement between the United States and China. China says we're doing enough already and in fact, it's the United States that holds the key to solving this problem if the United States would be willing to directly negotiate with the Kim Jong-un regime and Pyongyang, then all of this perhaps could end up in a peaceful long-term solution.
There is a third option, which has been going on for some time, and that's levying sanctions from the United Nations Security Council. But you need China there. China holds veto power on the council. Any sanctions levied against the North Korean regime, China has to sign off on those. And it has signed off on those in the past couple years. But how much they'll be willing to play ball with the United States moving forward if the Trump administration continues this harder line it's been taking against China does remain to be seen. But the United States and China both have a similar interest, both countries are commits, they say, to a de-nuclear North Korea.
WHITFIELD: Matt Rivers, thank you so much.
I want to bringing in CNN global affairs correspondent, Elise Labott.
Elise, before Tillerson arrived in Beijing, President Trump said China had not been doing enough to help control North Korea. How much of the foreign policy direction is coming out of the State Department at this point or mostly directed by the White House?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's a combination, Fred. Secretary Tillerson has been meeting a lot with President Trump, with the National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster since he recently took office. It has been a kind of coordination between the White House and the State Department, although Secretary Tillerson really doesn't have a lot of aides in place right now. He's kind of going on his talks with the White House.
I mean, look, it's clear when this administration came in, President Obama meeting with President Trump, his aides talking with members of the transition said that North Korea was one of the gravest threats U.S. commanders have been watching with alarm as the North Korean nuclear program has grown. They do say that in the not too distant future, North Korea could have that intercontinental ballistic missile, that nuclear-tipped missile that could hit the U.S. mainland. This is now seen by this administration as one of the gravest threats. You heard Secretary Tillerson in Japan say that the last 20 years of policy towards North Korea in terms of whether it's sanctions or trying to get to negotiations have failed. And now they do think that a new approach is need. He didn't say that the U.S. was not open to negotiations. He said that the U.S. would be open to talking with North Korea once North Korea committed to disarming. I think that's where you have -- where you have kind of consensus across the administration.
Now, President Trump did tweet that China wasn't being helpful but it's a very consistent message that you heard from Secretary Tillerson as he was arriving in China. A much tougher line to say to China, the U.S. is serious. So Secretary Tillerson might be more diplomatic than President Trump but it's certainly a consistent message across this administration.
WHITFIELD: The issue of North Korea, you know, top -- of the agenda of importance. You heard the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, says, that it is the biggest threat, North Korea is.
I do want to shift gears though, if I could now to the visit yesterday with German Chancellor Angela Merkel alongside the president. And he tweeted, even though you know, there's been a lot of reporting describing that meeting as cold and awkward, Trump tweets this saying, "Despite what you have heard from the fake news, I had a great meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes vast sums of money to NATO and the United States must be paid more for the power and very expensive defense it provides to Germany."
The meeting, this kind of tweet, what does this do for the relations between the U.S. and Germany, potentially?
LABOTT: Certainly, this was a very fraught relationship as Chancellor Angela Merkel was coming to Washington, all those insults that President Trump hurled at her and Germany during the campaign, and shortly thereafter. Look, there is some common ground that the U.S. and Germany can reach, and I think it's going to be much more of a kind of pragmatic transactional relationship. They talked a lot about jobs and the kind of things that Germany does with its apprenticeships and such. But look, this kind of talk definitely doesn't help the relationship. You know, any kind of common ground that these two leaders might have found, you know, you saw kind of end once she walked out the door and President Trump launched these tweets. Very similar to how he did with some of the other world leaders that he's been talking to and meeting with.
And so, you know, there's two things here, Fred, one of two things. Either these leaders can be truly offended by what the president said and said, look, do we have an honest broker here? Do we have a partner we can work with? And kind of look at the policy and not these tweets. Or do they just dismiss the tweets as you know the rantings of someone they don't want to pay attention to, and that damages the credibility of the U.S. and the relationship in the long- term. So I think these leaders are kind of feeling their way. I think Angela Merkel will try to take what she got out of this meeting and ignore this and take the high road. But it is difficult for these leaders when the president kind of goes off script after he was as pleasant as he could be during the press conference.
[13:41:11] WHITFIELD: She may not respond. It's hard to believe that any world leader is going to dismiss anything however it is that a president conveys his or her thoughts.
Elise Labott, thank you so much. Appreciate that.
Still ahead, dealmaker in chief, still. The president looks to convince several members of his own party to stand behind the GOP's health care plan, but can he close this deal?
[13:15:40] WHITFIELD: The White House maintaining Trump Tower was wiretapped, still no evidence. And a growing number of Republican Congressmen are saying the president owes former President Barack Obama an apology after intel chiefs have concluded there is zero proof to support President Trump's claim.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. CHARLIE DENT, (R), PENNSYLVANIA: I would retract the words if I were in his shoes. I think he should retract those words. For me, I would apologize I think it would be appropriate to do so.
REP. WILL HURD, (R), TEXAS: It never hurts to say you're sorry. I think that goes for this situation, it goes for the situation with our British friends. Our intelligence cooperation between the U.S. And the British is one of the strongest that we have, and it never hurts to say sorry to your friends.
REP. TOM COLE, (R), OKLAHOMA: Unless you can produce some pretty compelling proof, then I think the president -- you know, President Obama is owed an apology in that regard.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. This, as FBI chief, James Comey, will testify Monday to offer definitive proof or lack thereof on the matter.
Let's talk about this with CNN political commentator, Maria Cardona. Also with me, CNN political commentator, Jason Miller, a former communications director for the Trump transition team and was senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign.
Good to see both of you.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Fred. How are you?
OK, so, Jason, might this be different, especially, given so many in the intel community are saying there is no evidence? We're going to hear from James Comey on Monday. If there's no evidence, does this set the stage for a Donald Trump to apologize, take back his words?
JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I think there's still a lot of information that hasn't been presented yet. If you look at what chairman Nunes said yesterday, there's still a lot of unknowns out there, said he's very concerned about the incidental collection of Americans' conversations and different things that were being picked up. It raised the issue of potential misuse regarding the issue of unmasking, which is essentially.
WHITFIELD: That's so different though.
WHITFIELD: That's so different, incidental collections and masking or unmasking --
WHITFIELD: -- and so different from his tweet.
MILLER: No, no, but this all goes into it because
WHITFIELD: Let's look at the tweets.
WHITFIELD: There's such a different scenario.
Oh, Jason, it's so different from what the president said two weeks ago, via tweet, when he says just learned. Let's pull up those tweets, just learned. He speaks as fact that he has been wiretapped. Trump Tower has been wiretapped. Now he also enlisted Congress, encouraged Congress to have hearings, investigate. Now there's a hearing. If the FBI director says definitively there's nothing there, then Jason, doesn't that put these issues to rest? And mean that the president now has to apologize or say I didn't mean all that?
MILLER: Not at all. The issue at hand is were folks in the Trump orbit or Trump Tower being surveilled. Were there efforts being made to essentially for a backdoor surveillance to monitor people within the president's campaign or within his sphere, other people. And we have to wait until that information comes in. I think hopefully we'll find that on Monday. Chairman Nunes said yesterday that he has not yet received the information from the FBI, the NSA and the CIA regarding his request to find out what types of surveillance was going on. I think this is very important. I don't think you can sweep it under the rug.
WHITFIELD: It is all very important.
Jason, let me ask you all to take a pause for a moment.
Other breaking news now. A week after a fence jumper at the White House last weekend, and now reports of yet another incident taking place.
Ryan Nobles is with us now.
Lease a tweet coming from the White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer just tweeting this, "Individual jumped bike rack on Pennsylvania Avenue, not White House fence. Great response by Secret Service."
Ryan nobles, what's going on here?
[13:19:38] RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yeah, Fredricka, I can confirm what we've learned from an official who is familiar with the situation. Essentially, what happened here was that an individual attempted to jump over what they call the expanded bike rack, which is basically another barrier between the general public and then the fence that wraps around the White House. This was an additional security measure put in place in the past few years. This individual jumped over that bike rack, and as soon as he jumps over that bike rack, the Secret Service goes into an elevated security posture, so the threat level raised to an orange level, one of the highest levels. As soon as he jumped over, two Secret Service agents immediately tackled the person and put the person under arrest. As a result, there was some security maneuvering at different parts of the White House. The uniformed officers moved into that enhanced security posture, so their weapons were drawn, especially in different parts of the North Lawn. But this individual was arrested within two minutes, and then after about a five-minute period of time, where they made sure the remaining part of the White House property was put under control, the threat level was put down.
This official that I talked to described the situation as a slam-dunk. He said this is how the security process is supposed to work. The second the person was found to be past that expanded bike rack, they immediately jumped into that security posture and he was apprehended. The person is currently being questioned. The official that I talked to described him as someone who probably is disturbed in some way. They said that this person had a letter that he was attempting to deliver to a White House official.
But as of right now, we just got to the White House and, for the most part, it looks like business as usual here. People are milling about, so a brief scare. But this time around, Secret Service had it nailed exactly the way they're supposed to given the situation, which kind of plays into the tweet that you just read from the press secretary.
WHITFIELD: Right. So Ryan, just to make sure, just so we're clear, and when you talk about this expanded bike rack, not on White House property, outside of the fence surrounding the White House. And so it is believed that the person who may have jumped, who jumped over this extended bike rack just got too close for comfort to the fence and Secret Service descended on that person. But is that the conclusion being drawn, that that person jumped over the extended bike rack and was to pursue going over the fence or actually encroaching on White House property?
NOBLES: Yeah, what I was told that he had a letter of some type that he was trying to deliver to someone at the White House. So I don't know if it even got to the point where he was even going to get that chance. He certainly he jumped over the bike rack and in aggressive posture. And before -- I mean, he didn't even get over the fence. Before he got to the fence, he was tackled by two Secret Service agents. He certainly approached the fence in a threatening posture, which is what led them to apprehend him so quickly. But the Secret Service is very specific about what you can and can't go. Even if you jump over that bike rack in a playful manner, you're going to be arrested, and they're at least going to apprehend you. That's not the case here. It appeared he was coming over in somewhat of aggressive manner which is the reason he was tackled so quickly. If you come to the White House, you cannot get past that extended bike rack without some sort of credential. You've got to stay behind there if you want to look at the White House, take pictures, whatever the case may be.
WHITFIELD: Ryan Nobles, thank you so much, on another alarming incident taking place right there at the White House. Live pictures right now just within a week's time.
Thank you so much. Keep us posted on that arrest made.
Back to our panel now, Jason Miller and Maria Cardona.
We're talking about this upcoming Monday testimony of FBI chief James Comey. And the pressure that is coming from many on Capitol Hill who are responding to initial reports that there's no evidence asking that President Trump apologize to his predecessor. President Obama. Ok.
So, Maria, your turn now.
Jason saying, wait a minute, we don't know everything yet, don't jump the gun, he doesn't need to apologize. Your response?
CARDONA: It actually -- my heart really hurts for my colleague Jason Miller and every other Trump support who clearly is twisting themselves in knots and trying to play verbal gymnastics and verbal twister where they always end up falling on their face because of the position President Trump has put them in. And Trump has from the very beginning, he knows there's no proof of this. You know, this was the something supposedly to distract in from all of the pressure that was on him on Russia and what it has done is actually focused on his connections with Russia.
But I think more importantly here, Fredricka, is that the behavior of this president this week has turned him into a one-man mass weapon of mass destruction because he single-handedly is now going to be responsible for the destruction of American leadership, the destruction of American credibility, the destruction of American trustworthiness, the destruction of American values on a global scale. We have become the laughing stock of the world because this president continues to think and put out there --
MILLER: All right, Fredricka.
CARDONA: -- something that is true and is absolutely false.
[13:25:34] WHITFIELD: So, Jason --
WHITFIELD: -- respond to that, because the issue of trustworthiness you know, Carl Bernstein was on the air last night who said, you know this president is a liar. He said you know, he's a liar and he can't help himself. So what's your response to this on the issue of trustworthiness and credibility and leadership?
MILLER: Yes, let's go tamp down the hyperbole here just for a moment. Look, there this previous administration politicized many aspects of our federal government. We saw it with the IRS.
MILLER: Hold on. Hold on.
WHITFIELD: We're back to -- let's stick with the issue here.
MILLER: Certain, Maria and her colleagues had a lot of issues.
MILLER: I know. I'm getting to that.
WHITFIELD: We're talking about President Trump's allegation of wiretapping. We're talking about Comey, who is going to testify, lawmakers who are saying you owe your predecessor an apology. And you know, you've got Sean Spicer who was there in the press room trying to explain this stuff away. And --
MILLER: Fredricka, there are a lot of -- we still don't know. We still don't have all the information in. The only thing we have so far, again, from this reports that came out last night, there were leaked confidential materials supposedly. We don't have the reports in hand. We haven't reviewed them. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee has said he has not received the information he requested from several agencies.
CARDONA: Because it doesn't exist.
MILLER: No, because they haven't sent him the info. Otherwise --
(CROSSTALK) CARDONA: Come on, Jason.
MILLER: Look at the preponderance of evidence that Sean Spicer put out there in his briefing on Thursday where he read seven minutes of different news clips --
MILLER: -- of all the examples of --
CARDONA: You are really going to go there.
MILLER: Absolutely, because --
WHITFIELD: Some of those press clips have been challenged. We're talking about --
MILLER: No you look at the way --
MILLER: -- the previous administration politized --
WHITFIELD: Come on though, Jason. Don't you see that there's a real conflict there? Because this administration has said the media is the opposition. It's the enemy. But then you've got the press secretary standing up there calling reference to news reports as the source material of the president's allegations.
MILLER: Well, then why did the House Intelligence chairman come out and say that he's concerned about the potential misuse and the incidental collection of information surrounding Americans? I, mean, look, Devin Nunes announced --
CARDONA: That has nothing to do with --
MILLER: Yes, it absolutely --
CARDONA: No, it has nothing to do with the accusations that Donald Trump made.
WHITFIELD: We have to take a commercial break, so let me ask you to take a pause for a moment, Jason. We'll come right back and finish this up.
Thanks so much. MILLER: Thank you.
[13:32:31] WHITFIELD: President Trump wrapping up a week mired in conflict and controversy on issues from wiretapping to Russia ties and people in his orbit and the GOP health care plan. So now he's entering a very pivotal week, perhaps one of the most of his presidency.
We're back now with Jason Miller, CNN political commentator and former Trump campaign advisor; and Maria Cardona, CNN political commentator and Democratic advisor.
Good to see you both. You survived the break.
So, pivotal. We have James Comey testifying on Monday, possibly the GOP health plan going to be getting a vote on Thursday, and then, hearings beginning for the president's selection for the Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch.
So, Jason, pick up from where you left off. And you were talking about the credence of these reports that the president cites for being a real source for his accusations, this time, on wiretapping.
MILLER: Well, so thank you very much.
I guess what I don't understand is how you can challenge some of these news reports, whereas the media has spent so much time picking up and running with them and treating them as fact. Either it's one or two things. Either they're running the stories --
WHITFIELD: Now it's a selection of media reports, remember?
MILLER: That's what I'm saying. Either you're going to believe the stories out there or you're not. So clearly, there's a lot of evidence. There's a lot of smoke. We're getting to the bottom of it. I think hopefully, once we in particular when we get this information from the CIA and NSA and FBI finding out just exactly what was going on with this incidental collection of information surrounding Americans hopefully we'll get to the bottom of this.
MILLER: But the important thing, going into this week -- you touched on this -- is we talked about the hearings beginning for Neil Gorsuch, the president's nominee for the Supreme Court. I think it's a fantastic pick. One of the highlights so far of his first 100 days I think this will show what kind of people the president will put into the judiciary. I feel very good about this pick.
WHITFIELD: Is it your feeling that could be a potential moment of redemption for this president, thinking that the confirmation hearings will go well for Gorsuch, that his nomination will go through, especially in light of this wiretapping, the ongoing congressional reviews and investigations of Russian ties to this presidency, and his associates?
MILLER: Well, take issue a little bit with the word "redemption." When you get outside of the New York/ Washington corridor here, that most Americans around the country are feeling pretty good and optimistic about the way things are going. A couple numbers that came out this week showed that 46 percent of the people think that the country is on the right track, double where it was during most of this past year.
[13:35:13] WHITFIELD: OK.
MILLER: 48 percent of people think the economy is going in the right direction, which is the highest this rating has ever shown since 2003. And, look, 52 percent of the people think that the president's doing a good job. These are pretty good numbers. Once you get away from the 24-hour news cycle --
WHITFIELD: All right.
MILLER: -- people think things are going well.
WHITFIELD: OK. The reason I'm saying "redemption," is because this whole wiretapping thing, especially, if it turns out it's not true, and this growing chorus is saying it's not, if it turns out it's not, this falls squarely on president's honesty and truthfulness and his willingness to kind of 'fess up when a mistake has been made, if indeed that's the case.
Meantime, the president does say all things are coming together as it pertains to the GOP health care plan. So --
MILLER: Are we going to see the same apologies from Democratic lawmakers baselessly throwing out Russia attacks when it's finally put to rest that there is no fairy tale?
CARDONA: That has not been put to rest, Jason.
WHITFIELD: We haven't gotten there yet.
WHITFIELD: We haven't gotten there yet. But, you know what, when I talk about apologies and his honesty, there is a reference point with this president and the predecessor. It was the Birtherism issue that Donald Trump kept alive. I think universally people have accepted and believe that President Obama was born in the United States. And this current president still has not apologized for that. And so that's kind of the reference point on the whole apology thing.
MILLER: Fredricka, the president put that to rest during the campaign.
CARDONA: You know what, Fred?
WHITFIELD: Go ahead.
CARDONA: You know what, Fred, let's be real here. I don't think anybody really expects an apology from Donald Trump. Because that's just not what he does. His creditability is out the window. I don't think he cares about that. And unfortunately, it is something that puts us in a position of being less safe, because when you look at what the president's credibility has to be on a global scale when we are facing serious issues like perhaps terrorism, he is going to have no credibility left after this debacle the last 10 days.
CARDONA: There's a reason why he has the lowest approval rating in history of a president going into his first 100 days. It's appalling.
WHITFIELD: OK, we're going to leave it there.
Jason Miller, Maria Cardona, trying to make the turn to the GOP health care plan, but that didn't happen. We still have another opportunity.
MILLER: It's going to be great. It's going to pass.
WHITFIELD: There's a lot on the table.
WHITFIELD: All, thank you so much.
CARDONA: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you.
Straight ahead, the fight over President Trump's revised travel ban, that just went up a notch. Federal judges have blocked his executive order from taking effect this week. And soon, the legal battle will head to the appeals courts, thanks to a new move by Team Trump.
[13:42:07] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. The Trump administration is promising a fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court over the revised travel ban. First things first. A notice to appeal filed this week by Team Trump against a Maryland federal judge's ruling that blocks a key part of the travel ban. It's the portion that bars foreign nationals from six majority Muslim nations from entering the country. His ruling on Thursday, the Maryland court similar, to another one by a federal judge in Hawaii on Wednesday. So now what?
Let's turn to our legal guys, Avery Friedman, a civil right attorney and law professor in Cleveland; and Richard Herman, a New York criminal defense attorney and law professor joining us from Las Vegas.
Good to see both of you.
WHITFIELD: Avery, you first.
Is this going to be a nearly identical legal path than the first travel ban that was challenged in court and is ongoing?
AVERY FRIEDMAN, CIVIL RIGHTS ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Yes, it's going to be exactly the same. The president has great lawyers. The problem is they're stuck with their client and the things that he says. Every federal district court and every circuit court up to it point has crushed the administration in what it's claiming to be an effort to protect national security. All of the opinions, and they are detailed opinions, say, look at, it's nothing but a Muslim ban. That's what the opinions say. Not what I say or anybody else says, it's what federal judges and circuit judges are saying.
The bottom line is the appeal was fine, it's appropriate, but what's very significant is they quote Donald Trump in what he said. And here's page 33 of one of the federal court opinions says, you know, Islam hates us. And --
WHITFIELD: And they're quoting him from when he was on the campaign trail.
FRIEDMAN: That's right. He said similar things after his election to the presidency, Fredricka. So Trump is stuck with his remarks. It's part of the record. They can appeal, but I think the order is going to stay.
So Richard, why are you shaking your head?
RICHARD HERMAN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY & LAW PROFESSOR: Well, because, obviously, the president listened to the last time we covered it and made certain suggestions to him where he might be able to craft an enforceable order travel ban, and he incorporated those. This ban is much different than the first one, Fred. It takes out visa and green card holders, takes away the special treatment for Christians, and removes Iraq. Those are huge changes to this plan. And, Fred, you've got to brace yourself. I think on at the appellate levels, this one will be enforceable.
These district court judges issuing these TROs right now, what they're doing is going outside the four corners of the executive order. And the issue in the appellate level and up to the Supreme Court is, do these district court judges have the authority to look outside the document itself to try to impute the discriminatory intent that they need that --
AVERY: That's right. HERMAN: -- will prohibit a president from issuing this type of
executive order. I don't know if they can do that, Fred. In fact, I don't think they can.
[13:45:11] WHITFIELD: Avery?
FRIEDMAN: Look at the case law that says that they absolutely can. You can't look at historical policy without looking at all the evidence. Every federal court and federal appeals court to date has said, look at what he said. In fact, they quote Donald Trump in an interview with Anderson Cooper where Cooper says, look, is this a battle between the West and Islam, not radical Islam. He says, I can't sort it out, or words to that effect. You've got to read the opinion to understand that historical context, is very important, in when a federal district court or a federal appeals court makes a decision. That's exactly what has happened in every case so far.
WHITFIELD: So, Richard, you believe this second one is enforceable. If that is the case, what happens to the first executive order that is caught up in court? Would it dismiss it immediately or would it still be on going, and the Trump administration would have to answer it, if indeed what you believe is the second one is enforceable and will make it through the appellate process?
HERMAN: Watching this administration is a challenge and listening to them day to day. Things had change from day to day. If there are true legal minds directing the White House at this time, and if this second travel ban is enforceable, then they should dismiss and withdraw the first one. They shouldn't proceed with that. But the other day, the president gets up in front of a group, he's already the president, and here he says, I think we should go back to the first one and take that to the Supreme Court.
AVERY: Yeah, that's right.
HERMAN: The first one is a loser. The first one is a loser. And I don't believe they'll do that. If the second one is enforceable, the White House will withdraw the first one and live with this one. He'll claim a huge victory and that's where we'll stand.
By the way, it's a temporary ban on six countries where not one person from those countries have committed a terrorist act in the United States, unlike Saudi Arabia and Turkey --
HERMAN: -- and others where President Trump has investments. But anyway, that's the bottom line here -- Fred?
WHITFIELD: OK. Avery, what were you saying?
FRIEDMAN: Yeah, I think national security has to be the motive behind it. The obligation is on the government. Granted, Article II of the constitution gives the president plenary power, but you can't just say it. You can flim-flam the public, Fredricka, but you can't flim-flam federal district courts and federal courts of appeals. You've got to prove it. That's the burden. The president has great lawyers but they're stuck with the kind of things that he says.
WHITFIELD: All right. Avery and Richard --
HERMAN: The president -- Fred, the president has enormous power when it comes to immigration, more so than you can imagine --
HERMAN: with executive orders. But he cannot issue one that discriminates against religion. And that's what is holding him up right now. That's the issue.
WHITFIELD: We will leave it right there, gentlemen.
Always good to see you. Thank you so much, Richard and Avery.
WHITFIELD: All right, thank you.
Still ahead, the Secret Service arrested a man trying to jump a bike rack that's outside of the White House. Details on that next.
But first, "Fit Nation" highlights competitive runners around the world. This week, we follow one athlete who is attempting to run 100 miles in sub-zero temperatures. Take a look.
BRANDON WOOD, RUNNER: People comment all the time, I don't like to drive 100 miles, let alone run 100 miles. But it's the feeling that you get afterwards, just an amazing sense of accomplishment.
SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Brandon Wood wasn't always a runner. Growing up, he was inactive and weighed nearly 300 pounds. But then his daughter Violet was born.
WOOD: Made me realize that, OK, if I was going to be around to see my kids grow up, not always be the dad that's, oh, no, I can't right now, I'm tired or my back hurts, something needed to change.
GUPTA: He started running. First around the block then down the street. And eventually, ultramarathons but the Susetna 100 (ph) is unlike anything he's attempted before.
WOOD: This is a much different race because of the winter and the length and the difficulty. I am definitely nervous.
ANNOUNCER: Two, one, go.
GUPTA: Racers have four hours to bike, ski or run 100 miles through the icy Alaskan wilderness.
WOOD: Ten miles in, only 90 more miles to go. Whoa. GUPTA: Because the course is so remote and temperatures can drop
below zero, each racer must carry 15 pounds of survival gear in case of emergency.
WOOD: Oh, no. About two more hours of daylight, it starts getting dark here.
GUPTA: Running through the night without sleep wasn't easy, not only physically but mentally.
WOOD: Multiple times, I've turned around to try and start talking to somebody and there's nobody there.
After 90 miles, it starts to wear on you. All things considered, doing pretty good.
[13:50:07] GUPTA: Out of 34 runners, only 13 finished.
After running for over 33 hours --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Good job.
GUPTA: -- Brandon came in second.
WOOD: There's just something about this amazing challenge. You work hard, you can do amazing things.
[13:55:00] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Checking out top stories now.
WHITFIELD: A live report from the NEWSROOM, which we'll continue right after this.