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Appeals Court Upholds Block on Travel Ban; Kelly's Terrorism Comment; House Candidate Assaults Reporter; Voters Split in Montana. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 25, 2017 - 14:00   ET



[14:00:09] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Here we go. Top of the hour. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We're just getting some breaking news in with regard to President Trump's travel ban. This is actually the revised travel ban that would keep individuals out of the United States for 90 days from countries including Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen. This involves the fourth Circuit. And the news is that the Fourth Circuit has just ruled to uphold the block on the ban.

Page Pate, one of our CNN legal analysts, is on the phone with me now.

So, Page, the news is that the ban - the block on the ban is still in force.

PAGE PATE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST (via telephone): Yes.

BALDWIN: Page, I don't have an awesome signal. Let's try that again. Page, you're live on CNN. Can you hear me?

PATE: I can hear you, yes.

BALDWIN: All right. You are crystal clear, sir. Explain to me what's just happened with the Fourth Circuit.

PATE: Well, I have not seen the opinion yet and I'm very interested to review it, but it appears that the court was very concerned about all of the additional statements that the president and his team made about this ban before they actually signed the executive order. So this attempt to revise it, make it more constitutional apparently has not worked, at least according to this court.

BALDWIN: That's right. And so let's go back, because when we covered the revised travel ban, I think you bring up an excellent point, this is when they decided to use the language from candidate Trump, from Sean Spicer in a briefing room, from now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, using their language to further their argument that the ban would be illegal. Yes?

PATE: Absolutely, yes. And I think when they revised this ban, they tried to take all of that into account and I think wisely took out any specific references to religious preferences. And I thought that that made this ban more likely to be upheld ultimately on appeal because it wasn't as facially unconstitutional as the first travel ban. But apparently judges across the country have been willing to look beyond the four corners of the executive order itself and look to the true intent of Trump and his administration, and they see that intent as unconstitutional and religious discrimination.

BALDWIN: Page, stay with me.

Let me bring in Jessica Schneider, one of our correspondents, who is covering this breaking story. If you're just joining us, this is the Fourth Circuit has ruled to uphold the block on the president's revised travel ban.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, this opinion just coming in. a very lengthy opinion at that, 200 pages. But the gist of this is that, yes, in fact, the Fourth Circuit is upholding the Maryland court's decision to block - to continue blocking this travel ban nationwide. Of course, this was the second executive order that President Trump tried to put in place back in March. And here's the key passage that the Fourth Circuit has issued, again, a very lengthy opinion, about 200 pages. But here's what you need to know.

The Fourth Circuit writes, "Congress granted the president broad power to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute. It cannot go unchecked when as here the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across the nation." Therefore, they say that they uphold the district court's issuance of that nationwide preliminary injunction against that travel ban.

As we've talked about, Brooke, you know, the district court in this case really focused on President Trump's campaign statements, his campaign statements on his website, as well as the statements of the people who worked for him, whether it was Attorney General Jeff Sessions or some of his campaign aides. That was really the crux of this.

We're still going through the opinion to see how much the Fourth Circuit relied on those campaign statements. But the important thing to note here is that this, the halting of this travel ban, is still upheld. That means it will not go into effect.

Of course, it's also important to note, the Ninth Circuit is also considering this. We haven't seen the opinion from them yet. It's possible that if they rule differently, it will make it all the more likely that this case would go to the Supreme Court. It's sort of headed in that direction anyway. But, yes, the travel ban, it is still not in effect. Things remain essentially, Brooke, status quo.

BALDWIN: OK. Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.

Page, you're still on the phone with me and you said you haven't read the opinion. You heard Jessica say it's some 200 pages, but she quoted the bit about irreparable harm stood out to me. Power is not absolute. Your response to that and also what now?

PATE: Well, I do think that's the heart of the opinion. That was the ultimate issue. And as we were discussing before, it's obvious that the court was very concerned about the intent of Trump and his associates, both during the campaign and once the executive order was signed.

[14:05:02] Now, most people consider this court to be significantly more conservative than the Ninth Circuit. So I would be surprised, based on this reasoning, that we get a very different result in the Ninth Circuit. And while this opinion won't be binding on the Ninth Circuit, they are certain to at least address it and can rely on it for persuasive value.

So what happens now is, if the administration wants to appeal this decision, they have the option of seeking reconsidering from this panel or taking it up to the full Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, all of the judges, and an onback (ph) consideration.


PATE: And then if they still are unsuccessful at that point, they can appeal it to the United States Supreme Court.

BALDWIN: Got it. If you are just joining us - Page, stay with me. If you're just joining us here, the Fourth Circuit has just upheld the block on the revised travel ban that came out of the White House back in March. And so what that entailed was this, it would have banned people from Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen from entering the United States for 90 days and all refugees for 120 days. So, Jessica Schneider said it perfectly, this is status quo, nothing's changed on that front. The ban is still being blocked.

Laura Jarrett is another voice. She's joining us, covering justice for us here at CNN.

Laura Jarrett, what more are you hearing?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER (via telephone): Hey, Brooke, there.

It's interesting to know obviously the opinion is massive. It's over 200 pages. It's got multiple dissents here by some Republican- nominated judges and it's also got some concurrences from other judges. So clearly everyone wanted to have their say here. And as Jessica Schneider pointed out, we are still waiting from the Ninth Circuit to see if they come out any differently here.

But the chief judge, Judge Gregory, here noted in the opening paragraph, "Congress granted the president broad authority to deny entry to aliens, but that power is not absolute." He goes on to write, "it cannot go unchecked when as here the president wields it through an executive edict that stands to cause irreparable harm to individuals across the nation." So clearly the judges are also moved by the president's own statement.

You'll see later on in the opinion that they go through a litany of them, including things that the president said on CNN, like Islam hates us and the statement that was on his campaign website up until I think the day that this case was actually argued before the Fourth Circuit.

So a number of different voices here. We've got a number of different opinions that we are still sifting through. But as Jessica pointed out, the gist is that the travel ban remains on hold.

BALDWIN: Laura, thank you so much.

Just bringing more voices into this conversation here as we're getting this breaking news from the Fourth Circuit.

Steve Vladeck is now joining me, one of the CNN legal experts.

And, Steve Vladeck, are you surprised at all by this, essentially the status quo, the block is continued? And, secondly, when should we hear from the Ninth Circuit?

STEVEN VLADECK, CNN SUPREME COURT CONTRIBUTOR (via telephone): Sure. I mean, Brooke, I guess I'm surprised that we heard this much this quickly. I mean it's only been 17 days since the case was argued before the full Fourth Circuit. You know, as Laura was saying, it's a lot of opinions, 205 pages in total.

I think the result is not surprising given how that oral argument went. But, you know, the Trump administration only got three votes. The Fourth Circuit voted 10-3 to uphold the injunction. And I think that's about as big a win for the challengers as they could have expected.

As for the Ninth Circuit, you know, the Ninth Circuit heard argument about a week after the Fourth Circuit. There are only three judges on that panel. So I suspect they will now speed up and try to get their opinion out pretty quickly as well.

BALDWIN: You saw - we just threw it up on the screen - guys, let's throw it back up, the ACLU Twitter response, essentially a win for them. "We won in Fourth Circuit Muslim ban case. More to come," from the ACLU.

So we - so let's say, Steve, that the Ninth follows in the Fourth's footsteps in terms of, you know, upholding the block. So then Page was just saying it could go on to the full Fourth Circuit. I mean at what point could this thing really go on to the Supreme Court?

VLADECK: Well, I mean, I think, Brooke, that that point is now.

BALDWIN: Really?

VLADECK: I mean I think that the government's response to this ruling today is probably going to be to try to get the Supreme Court to step in. And so it wouldn't surprise me, you know, if they try to file something in the next couple of weeks in the Supreme Court. I don't think the Supreme Court will react really quickly. I don't think they'll perceive this as an urgent, you know, application that requires some kind of special session. But I think this is now the - you know, this is now the rubber hitting the road from the government's perspective and, you know, I think this is the point at which they're going to try to go to the Supreme Court, really, Brooke, no matter what that Ninth Circuit panel ultimately rules.

BALDWIN: And, again, Laura hit on this point, you know, I hit on this point earlier, the fact that in this ruling initially it was the statements from Mr. Trump himself that were ultimately used against him in blocking this ban.

[14:10:03] VLADECK: That's right. I mean I think the - today's ruling I think is going to be parsed and taken apart by everybody and what they're going to find is once again, you know, the biggest obstacle to President Trump's immigration executive order has been and will continue to be President Trump.

Now, I think the religion question, the one point on which the ten judges in the majority slightly disagreed, was just how much weight to put into President Trump's statements, especially before he took office. So one of the narrower, concurring opinions by Judge Thacker (ph) focuses more on the statements he's made since he took office and says we really shouldn't look at pre-inauguration conduct. But even there Judge Thacker concluded, you know, there's enough to believe that this is not really about national security, that this is a pretext for, you know, anti-Muslim discrimination.

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes. Steve, thank you so much, as always. Steve Vladeck, one of our CNN legal experts her.

Let me continue on because the timing here is interesting. Homeland Security Chief John Kelly just said today that the U.S. is watching, quote, "very sophisticated and advanced threats" right now. He said these threats could affect, quote, "every airport in the world."

Chris Swecker, former FBI assistant director, what is your take?

CHRIS SWECKER, FORMER FBI ASSISTANT DIRECTOR: Well, we know that as safe havens in Syria, Iraq and other places are being degraded, that we've got quite a few foreign fighters that are traveling and coming back to wherever they came from. They've got passports. They have access, especially in the E.U. They could be coming into the United States. And I'm not surprised that these threat levels in the - and that they're getting more specific information about threats.

We've been saying this for a while. It happened after the Russians in Afghanistan where we actually had jihad being waged in Afghanistan back in the '90s, and that's what brought us al Qaeda. So - and they're a very active presence in the United States. So we've got to be on our toes as well.

BALDWIN: What about - and this is separate. I'm just - Manchester is fresh on my mind. I was just there for 24 hours and now we're learning even a little bit more. We were going to talk to you about that, about this attacker who had not only been to, you know, Libya a couple of weeks before blowing himself up and murdering just innocent people, but we're also learning - a contact telling our own Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, that he had gone to Syria and had specifically trained with ISIS.

SWECKER: Yes, there's such a huge volume of people traveling in and out of the E.U. that I suspect the intelligence services in the U.K. are having trouble keeping track of the ones that present the most imminent threat. So I'm sure they're being taxed to the max in terms of their physical surveillance resources, even their electronic surveillance resources. There's just so many of them that I'm not - I'm not totally shocked that they - that they did not lock on to this particular individual unless he was flashing red, as we say.

BALDWIN: I just wanted to ask you that. But staying on course, of course, with the news of this travel ban now from the Fourth Circuit court upholding this block on the president's revised ban.

Stay with me, sir.

Maeve Reston, let me just bring you on the politics of this. This is yet another - we saw the ACLU tweet. I mean this is a huge win for them. How big of a punch is this for the White House?

MAEVE RESTON, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Well, I think it's yet another punch for the White House from the courts. I mean this travel ban has been repeatedly blocked in the courts over and over again and so they've had to deal with the fallout from that. But I'm also interested to see how what unfolded in Manchester is going to affect the way that people think about this. You know, the travel ban, as we've discussed, does include Syria as one of those nations and we don't know enough yet about what happened in Manchester, but clearly people are, once again, worried about, you know, people coming into this country who particularly are coming back from Syria who have been radicalized. So it will be interesting to see how voters respond to the attack and whether there's sort of a heightened awareness of terrorism and whether they look differently at things like Trump's travel ban, which is, you know, the - which is why - this was the context of which he talked about it during the campaign.

But as far as the legal defeat, like, once again, I haven't had a chance to read the full ruling yet, but this is an example of how, you know, his rhetoric on the trail and the rhetoric of his advisers -


RESTON: Has really gotten in the way of the policy initiatives that they want to move forward on and it just looks like another defeat.

BALDWIN: No. Exactly. And that's precisely the point we keep hammering home. This was Donald Trump on the trail. This is Donald Trump as president. And also those within his inner circle, all of this language being used in this ruling upholding this block.

[14:15:04] Maeve, thank you.

I have April Ryan now. We're just bringing more and more people in.

It's so nice to see you.


BALDWIN: In person.

RYAN: Yes.

BALDWIN: You know, you cover the White House each and every day.

RYAN: Yes.

BALDWIN: The president has been away. For the most part, you know, it's been a positive trip for him more or less, but this is bad news for him back here at home.

RYAN: It's bad news, yes. And what it does is, once again, drive home some of the promises that he tried to make on the campaign trail. They're not coming to fruition. There's politics, there's governance, there are courts that have to work with this president. So also - and I want to talk to you really fast about -


RYAN: His piece, when he was at the Arab Islamic America Summit meeting in Saudi Arabia. The president said, drive them out. Some of those words, the attention of this president, who spoke a lot of things on the campaign trail, talking about radical Islamic terrorism -


RYAN: On the campaign trail and then when he gets to this summit -

BALDWIN: Not using that phrase -

RYAN: Right, not using that phrase -

BALDWIN: Which he condemned Hillary Clinton and President Obama for never using.

RYAN: Right. But he continued to say, "drive them out." The question is now, by some of the national intelligence and security communities, did that make - or some of those words make people think, hmm, it's time for us to show we are here again.

So we don't know yet. It's still a tinderbox. Things are still happening. But the question is, when this president speaks, when he talks about travel bans, when he talks about keeping people from Muslim nations from coming into the United States, what happens? Is this a direct result of that? Is all of this happening, you know, in Manchester, a direct result of that? And when the courts get involved, you have to really wonder, is it a civil issue? Is it a civil rights issue? Is it the fact that this country is based on, bring me you're tired, your poor, your hungry from everywhere. Is this president so far removed from what the foundation of this country is when he goes to other countries talking about driving them out. And, I mean, you just wonder, there are so many different things that come together all - when it relates to this travel ban being upheld and also security of this nation. So -

BALDWIN: Do we know - have we gotten a response from the White House yet on this?

RYAN: We have not gotten a response from the White House (INAUDIBLE).

BALDWIN: I don't think we have yet. I know this has just broken in the last couple of minutes.

RYAN: Yes.

BALDWIN: Stay with me.

David Chalian, let me bring you in, our CNN political director here.

And how is it that, you know, this is another hit to the White House? This is again, as April pointed out, this was a - this was a promise forever on that campaign trail. How can he continue with his agenda when he keeps getting hit like this?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, different parts of his agenda have different coalitions and levels of support no doubt, especially within his own party.

Let's go back, Brooke, for a moment -


CHALIAN: To about a year and a half ago when this was first rolled out. You have to remember, when Donald Trump announced the Muslim ban, this is one thing that many, many Republicans, even Republicans that had not sort of already been in the anti-Trump camp of that very divisive campaign inside the Republican Party, this is - this was something they fundamentally disagreed with. I was just pulling up Governor Mike Pence's tweet at the time. Calls to ban Muslims from entering the U.S. are offensive and unconstitutional.


CHALIAN: That's what Governor Mike Pence tweeted at the time that Donald Trump rolled out his Muslim ban. And what has happened here, the reality is, if you look at these court rulings and now today's added to it, those comments, no matter what he has proposed here, nothing he has proposed in law as president in this executive order -

BALDWIN: Has come through.

CHALIAN: Has superseded that campaign trail rhetoric that many Republicans ran away from initially. And that is - that's what the courts are saying is that we - the courts still believe those comments at the time are the intent behind his goal here and that is what continually trips him up no matter how they recrafted this executive order.

BALDWIN: Uh-huh. Uh-huh. No, it is. I'm looking at April and David to you as well.

We're going to have so much more on this news from the Fourth Circuit here. Might this go on depending on what the government does to the U.S. Supreme Court? We wait and see. So, stay tuned because we have much more on that conversation.

Also ahead though, more breaking news in the investigation of the concert bomber in Manchester. We are now hearing who likely trained this attacker and specifically where it happened and how sophisticated then this must have been.

Also ahead, a special election is underway in Montana today after a reporter was allegedly body slammed by one of the candidates. We'll talk to someone who was there.

You're watching live breaking news here on a Thursday. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


[14:23:37] BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

In just a couple of hours, the nation will know if voters will reject or select a Republican who was just charged with allegedly body slamming a journalist. Overnight, a local sheriff in this town has filed a misdemeanor count of assault against Montana Congressional Candidate Greg Gianforte. A reporter from "The Guardian" says Gianforte went after him when he asked Gianforte about the latest version of the Republican health plan. This reporter, Ben Jacobs, was able to record audio of the incident, which happened about 13 hours before the polls opened.


BEN JACOBS: In terms of the CBO score. As you know, you've been waiting to make your decision about health care until you saw the bill and it just came out. And what -

GREG GIANFORTE: OK, We'll talk to you about that later.

JACOBS: Yes, but there's not going to be time. I'm just curious (INAUDIBLE) right now.

GIANFORTE: OK, speak with Shane, please.

JACOBS: But you -


GIANFORTE: I'm sick and tired of you guys. The last time you came in here you did the same thing. Get the hell out of here.

JACOBS: Jesus.

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here. The last guy did the same thing. Are you with "The Guardian"?

JACOBS: Yes, and you just broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: You - you - the last guy did the same damn thing.

JACOBS: You just body slammed me and broke my glasses.

GIANFORTE: Get the hell out of here.

JACOBS: You'd like me to get the hell out of here. I'd also like to call the police.

Can I get you guys names?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, you got to leave.

JACOBS: He just body slammed me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You've got to leave.


[14:25:02] BALDWIN: When Jacobs asked for names, he was speaking to a Fox News team who happened to be right there when this all happened, according to Fox correspondent Alicia Acuna.


ALICIA ACUNA, FOX NEWS CORRESPONDENT WHO SAW ATTACK: I myself was standing about two feet from both Gianforte and Jacobs when this happened. There was a table in between us. But I did see the whole thing when Gianforte grabbed him by the neck, both hands, slid him to the side, body slammed him and then got on top of him and then started punching and then yelling at him. And Ben Jacobs eventually kind of scrambled to his knees, grabbed his glasses.


BALDWIN: Let's be clear, though, both of those accounts do not at all match this statement from Gianforte's spokesperson. It reads as follows, that Jacobs, quote, "aggressively shoved a recorder in Greg's face and began asking badgering questions. Jacobs was asked to leave. After asking Jacobs to lower the recorder, Jacobs declined. Greg then attempted to grab the phone that was pushed in his face. Jacobs grabbed Greg's wrist and spun away from Greg, pushing them both to the ground. It's unfortunate that this aggressive behavior from a liberal journalist created this scene at our campaign volunteer BBQ."

Gianforte is running in today's special election for the seat now left vacant by Ryan Zinke, who is now secretary of interior.

So, let's begin with someone who was on the scene about 20 minutes after police got this report. She is Whitney Bermes. She is the cops and courts reporter for "Bozeman Daily Chronicle."

Whitney, nice to see you.

My goodness, why don't we talk about Gianforte in the past. Has he had run-ins with reporters around town? What is his reputation there?

WHITNEY BERMES, COPS & COURTS REPORTER, "BOZEMAN DAILY CHRONICLE": No run-ins with reporters around town in Bozeman specifically. There have been a few recorded interviews with him with reporters across the state that have gotten a little confrontational, a little testy, but nothing to this level that I'm aware of.

BALDWIN: Let me ask you about the sheriff in town, who I understand, you know, he's the one who charged him with a misdemeanor. He apparently had donated money to Gianforte's campaign in the past. And he is telling people in town, stop calling 911. Why?

BERMES: Because people right after the incident, according to the call logs from the sheriff's office that I got this morning, right after the incident was reported, there was at least a dozen calls of people asking for information coming from out of state reporters calling dispatch, according to the sheriff, as well as people who, quote, "wanted to put in their two cents," just citizens wanting to apparently talk to dispatch about the incident. And it was kind of clogging up the 911 lines and, you know, public safety comes first for those folks. So the sheriff wanted to make sure that those lines were clear for the people who really needed 911.

BALDWIN: So he's saying, stop dialing 911. One of our correspondents there, Kyung Lah, said she talked to a voter who said that this audio recording pushed this voter to voting - closer actually to voting for Gianforte. What are you hearing from voters?

BERMES: Some of my colleagues are just kind of hearing that people are surprised by the news but it hasn't really swayed them. Giving a number of different reactions at the fairgrounds and the election offices where people are voting today. It's kind of - it kind of runs the gamut, but some - my - specifically my colleague, Michael Wright, has talked to some people who it hasn't really swayed their vote. They still like Mr. Gianforte's business background and this alleged incident is not swaying them.

BALDWIN: OK. Polls close at 10:00 Eastern tonight, I believe is that final time. So we should know one way or the other eventually this evening.

Whitney, thank you very much, from Bozeman.

Before Greg Gianforte's allegation of assault, the race between him and Democrat Rob Quist was already closer than a lot of people anticipated, especially for a state where President Trump won by 20 points. Gianforte has been trying to leverage the president's popularity with this robo call.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (voice-over): So get to the polls and vote for Greg. That's Greg Gianforte. You'll be very proud of him for years to come.


BALDWIN: Let's get into this with CNN political commentator April Ryan, who is here with us. She's also White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks. We have former Republican Congressman David Jolly and CNN political commentator Ben Ferguson, a conservative talk radio host.

So great to have all of you here.

And, April, let me just turn to you first.

And it's so interesting hearing the spectrum of voters. We heard from Whitney saying this hasn't changed some people's opinions.

RYAN: Right.

BALDWIN: Some are saying that - a lot of people voted early.

RYAN: Right.

BALDWIN: They're now hearing this audio and they want to change their vote. What do you think is better for the Republican Party, for him to win or to lose?

[14:29:59] RYAN: Well, for this president who's supporting him, he wants to see this as a win, even with all of this going on, because he is a staunch supporter, a loyalist to Donald Trump, which he is in need of right now. He does not want people - he's like him. He's a businessman, a mogul, a --