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Trump Doubles Down on Travel Ban; Trump Administrations Travel Ban Defense; Documentary on the Rise of ISIS; Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 5, 2017 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] AMB. THOMAS PICKERING, FELLOW, BROOKINGS INSTITUTION: ISIS reached out in a kind of al Qaeda-like move, beginning to build rapidly new franchises around the world and to attack us in our homeland, but to attack our allies, who were admittedly perhaps more vulnerable in their homeland. And this is clearly something that strengthening the intelligence community and strengthening our police cooperation and the linkage of intelligence and police plays a huge role in. It isn't bans on a large segment of the Muslim population of the world, which, as we all know, only increases the recruitment potential of something like Daesh or ISIS to build strength in the franchises. And so we're facing a kind of alternative form of warfare. And as ISIS loses on the ground in Syria and Iraq, it turns increasingly to the new form of publicizing itself, the new form of affecting the work -- the west. Perhaps a new form even of affecting election outcomes, which is very worrying and it seems to me the Muslim ban in the six or seven countries plays entirely in their hands.


PICKERING: We're not playing smart cards at all.


PICKERING: I love the word "smart," but I wish he would listen to himself.

CAMEROTA: Ambassador Pickering, Jennifer Rubin, thank you very much for your perspectives.


JENNIFER RUBIN (ph): Nice to be here.

PICKERING: Thank you.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: I guess it's somewhat of an interesting question for you all, right? I mean Donald Trump's tweets, are they official White House statements? Are they policy? Are they somehow something less than because they're on social media? That will be part of our "Bottom Line" on this. And the London terror attack. We have Fareed Zakaria, some great perspective, coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:35:19] CUOMO: All right, so there were a flurry of tweets this morning from the president of the United States laying out what he wants with his executive order on travel. He contradicted his administration officials who have been telling us for months it's not a ban. It's not a ban. He says it is. He says it in all caps. He says it multiple times and he says that's what he wants and he wants the original. And this is done in the context of the president being under attack for going after London's mayor in the midst of crisis.

So what is "The Bottom Line" here? CNN host Fareed Zakaria, the first question is the easiest. The idea that if the president tweets it, you shouldn't obsess over it, you shouldn't take it as policy, even though we've been told time and again his tweets speak for themselves. Which is it?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Well, without any question, you're right, the -- the platform you use is irrelevant. Winston Churchill used radio because it was the most widely disseminated platform at the time. Nobody said, well, Churchill's speeches on radio were not British government policy because he didn't say them in parliament or because they didn't have the seal of the queen of England on them. No, that was the mechanism he used to announce government policy.

Donald Trump has used social media and in particular has used Twitter. He's tweeting as the president of the United States. He's tweeting from the POTUS account. How else can one take it? I mean it seems almost absurd to claim that this doesn't matter. And when he deviates from policy, it is consequential. For example, we now know from a political story that his aides had written into his speech to NATO that he would affirm article five, that is the all for one, one for all self-defense statement. Trump refused to say it. He changed it at the last minute. So when the president personally does something, it makes a huge difference. And all of Europe is up in arms. All of Europe is aghast that the president didn't affirm that.

That -- so it's consequential what the president almost personally chooses to emphasize and not emphasize. And he does this repeatedly in tweets. It don't -- I don't -- it would be like saying, if the president went out to the Rose Garden and made a speech, don't pay any attention to it. I don't know what one is then supposed to pay attention to, you know, legislation that has his signature on it?

CAMEROTA: Yes, so we're all agreed, tweets are official presidential statements.

Now, in terms of deviating from policy, hard to know what his policy is in terms of immigration and the travel ban because we hear different things. But today, the official presidential statement is that, yes, in fact, it is a travel ban. And it also just seems that this is how the president believes he can best keep America safe. I mean this is what he thinks the answer --

ZAKARIA: I actually don't think that's what --

CAMEROTA: But -- but this is what he -- ZAKARIA: I mean I think he thinks it is the best way to convince his base, perhaps more than his base, that he is tough on terrorism.


ZAKARIA: I think that the --

CAMEROTA: I mean what --

ZAKARIA: The travel ban is a nonsense solution to a non-problem. The vast majority of terrorist attacks both in Europe and the United States have been homegrown, have been done by locals, almost always citizens of those countries. The problem you face is indoctrination, ideology, all of those things. The problem is not somebody coming in on a tourist visa.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely. And all of the research and evidence suggests what you're saying. But that's not the evidence and research the president is basing it on. He feels that there is a threat coming in from abroad and this is how he's going to solve it.

ZAKARIA: I actually think he thinks that -- it appeals to people's emotional sense that he's getting tough on terror.


ZAKARIA: He knows it plays well politically. I think that even the president knows that it's, as I say, a nonsense solution to a non- problem.

CUOMO: Well, and it's also -- look, it's made manifest by everything that comes out of him and the people around him. Look at Sebastian Gorka. This ostensibly erudite man, presents himself very well, condescending because he knows so much and we know so little. But what he has to define the policy and end it, what does he say? Well, Obama did it. Well, we picked the same ones as Obama. We could have picked Egypt and Indonesia. Basically saying, we could have made it worse. But that doesn't defend that this order is very different from Obama's in terms of focusing on who travels where.

ZAKARIA: No, of course.

CUOMO: To who comes from where.

ZAKARIA: But -- but -- and --

CUOMO: And he struggled to the extent that all he could do was attack me and CNN.


CUOMO: Not a good sign for defending it in court.

ZAKARIA: Not a -- no. And that's the real problem is in court because the courts have already, as Tom Pickering said, taken into account presidential statements of all kinds to determine intent. What is the intent of this -- of this policy. But, again, come back to those countries and the ban itself. The Cato Institute, the conservative, you know, libertarian institute, did a study that looked back to 1975 of the countries included in the travel ban. There has not been a single national associated with an attack on U.S. citizens in the United States in -- since 1975. So where they -- you know, the -- the sort of empty nature of this policy is beginning to get more and more exposure. That -- that it really doesn't solve anything. The fundamental reason the United States has done better than Europe is that it has assimilated Muslim population that is patriotic. The most important thing therefore would seem to be to reassure that Muslim population that they are part of the country, that they are not -- they shouldn't feel alienated. Everything Trump does works in the opposite direction.

[08:40:53] CAMEROTA: Fareed Zakaria, thank you very much for "The Bottom Line."

CUOMO: Appreciate it.

All right, so disturbing, new images from that deadly attack at a casino in the Philippines. The gunmen setting that fire that killed dozens, next.


[08:45:04] CUOMO: Time now for the "Five Things To Know for Your New Day."

British Prime Minister Theresa May says police have identified the terrorists behind the London attack, but they are not releasing names. ISIS claimed responsibility.

CAMEROTA: President Trump sounding off on his travel ban in a statement this morning, blaming his own Justice Department for, quote, "watering down" the original executive order that was halted by a federal court.

CUOMO: Shocking surveillance video captures the gunman torching gambling tables at a casino in Manila and shooting at security forces in a stairwell. The fire, lit, as you see there, cost 36 people their lives.

CAMEROTA: Qatar is being isolated for its alleged support of terrorism. Their gulf neighbors severing diplomatic relations, closing their borders and halting flights to Qatar. The Qatari government calls the allegations, quote, "a campaign of lies."

CUOMO: Bill Cosby's sexual offense trial begins today. The comedian is accused of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand in 2004. Cosby will not testify at the trial, but Constand will. The trial is expected to last about two weeks.

CAMEROTA: So, for more on the "Five Things to Know," you can go to for all of the latest.

Up next, a first-hand look at the conditions in war-torn Syria. We are previewing a fascinating "National Geographic" documentary.


[08:50:30] CAMEROTA: We are following the latest developments in the London terror attack that killed seven people and injured dozens more. Police do know the identities of the terrorists, but they are not disclosing those to the press or the public right now. ISIS is claiming responsibility for this attack.

So our next guests traveled to the ISIS hotbed of the region around Syria to produce a "National Geographic" documentary called "Hell on Earth." And joining us now are the co-directors Sebastian Junger and Nick Quested.

Great to have you both here to talk about this film.


CAMEROTA: So it traces the genesis really of where we are today with Syria and the civil war that started there and then the rise of ISIS. Remind us, Sebastian, what was the spark of this civil war?

JUNGER: Well there were -- there were protests in the town of Gara (ph) for basically democratic reforms, and the police arrested teenage boys who sprayed anti-Assad graffiti on the walls of their school, arrested them and tortured them. And then their parents took to the streets demanding the release of their children and that was really what got it started.

CAMEROTA: Incredible.

CUOMO: Nick, what is the status of life for people who were caught inside that situation right now?


CUOMO: Uh-huh.

QUESTED: I mean I think you're seeing the Islamic State being pushed further and further back. So you -- so when you see the front line moving, you see that there's almost a euphoria when the front line moves and they're liberated. So we spent some time in northern Iraq and saw how -- how relieved people were and how happy they were to tell their stories when they were liberated. So it's -- it's a good thing and the Islamic State is facing military defeat, which is one of the reasons why I think these lone wolf attacks are going to become more prevalent.

CAMEROTA: I mean, you know, that's the good news/bad news story here. I mean they're facing defeat, but it doesn't feel like it when you, you know, have these three attacks in the London area, Britain, in three months. I mean it feels -- you know, it's important to keep all of this in perspective, but it's hard to know the perspective because, yes, they're losing territory, but it's not stopping people from mowing down innocent people in their cars. JUNGER: Well, that's the ideological problem. You can win on the

battlefield. I think the western powers eventually will win. But how do you fight the ideological fight? And what -- as -- as people have said before, you -- you can't implement policies that alienate Muslims. It's unfair to the many good Muslims in the world, but it also galvanizes the aggression of some people who are willing to become terrorists. And -- so it's a very dangerous thing to do.

CUOMO: Now, Sebastian, you know, I've followed you for years. You have made this case time and again about winning the peace.


CUOMO: You know, the U.S. military might with the allies and the joint forces, incontrovertible evidence that they will win eventually on the ground.


CUOMO: But then what?


CUOMO: What do people learn in this documentary about the answer to that question?

JUNGER: Well, we explain how the civil war started and took on a momentum of its own. We talk about how chaos leads to radicalism, which is very dangerous. You can't let the Somalis and the Afghanistans of the world go on in chaos forever. The whole world would be affected. But eventually you have to come to some accommodation with a situation on the ground. And I think it's extremely important that this country, for our own moral purposes, that we be a haven for refugees who are fleeing war, good people with families and children, that we be seen as a sort of beacon of light on the hill that will take people in. I think that will go a very long way towards blunting some of the aggression that inspires these terrorists.

CUOMO: What a study in contrast we're dealing with this morning then.


CUOMO: You know, with the president using the London event as a catalyst to double down on what his executive order about travel is all about. What is your take on his taking to Twitter to make pronouncements that, hey, I want that original ban. I want it the way it's always been and it's a ban.

JUNGER: I mean, I'm not an expert on it, but it seems to be that he is sending a message to his base rather than actually addressing though a change of policy a real threat to our nation.

CAMEROTA: Nick, I know that you were able to get cameras into families in Syria and that they were able to videotape their lives and the hell on earth that they are experiencing and I think you have something like 1,000 hours of footage. We have a little clip of that. Let's play that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When we arrived at the border, (INAUDIBLE). I started reciting verses (INAUDIBLE). During those 15 minutes, (INAUDIBLE).


[08:55:31] CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, Nick, that's remarkable, seeing their little faces, those little children's faces filled with apprehension, excitement, not knowing what's next. Tell us about that moment.

QUESTED: Well, we asked the family to film themselves, so we gave them a little cheat sheet, like a two-page document, like turn the phone this way, because, you know, cell phones even in Syria are pretty much ubiquitous. They're everywhere. So they could take their cell phones out in the non-ISIS controlled areas and not change the way people behave. So it's very -- it's almost like the -- being there yourself. So --

JUNGER: So they -- they were crossing the -- they were crossing out of ISIS territory into free Syria and eventually into Turkey in that (INAUDIBLE). They were crossing an ISIS checkpoint at that moment.

CUOMO: You look at those little faces, Sebastian, and what do you ask yourself about their future?

JUNGER: Well, they're children. Like children everywhere in the world, they deserve to have a future. These children have not been able to be educated.


JUNGER: Their lives are in danger. It's absolutely tragic.

CAMEROTA: Guy, thank you very much for sharing it with us. You can watch "Hell On Earth: The Fall of Syria and the Rise of ISIS" when it premieres on Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on the National Geographic Channel.

CUOMO: All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman picks up right after the break.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breakings news.

[08:59:56] JOHN BERMAN: All right, we're getting breaking news just in to CNN. Word of a workplace shooting in Orlando with multiple fatalities. You're looking at pictures from, I believe, moments ago from Orlando outside the scene.