Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY

Travel Ban to Take Effect Tonight; Sources: Officials Struggle to Convince Trump of Russia Threat; U.S. Military Updates Trump's North Korea Options. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired June 29, 2017 - 06:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

[05:57:23] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It's Thursday, June 29, 6 a.m. here in New York. Alisyn is off, Clarissa Ward joining me.

Good to have you as always.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN ANCHOR: Good to be here.

All right. Let's begin. We do have breaking news on the starting line. President Trump's revised travel ban is going to take effect tonight at 8 p.m. Eastern Time, the administration announcing new criteria for visa applicants from six Muslim majority nations and all refugees. They're going to require a close family or business tie to enter the United States.

So the president sees a clear threat to that national security situation with those Muslim countries, but he is apparently not convinced that Russian hacking is a continuing threat. Several senior administration officials expressing frustration with President Trump's refusal to take steps to punish the Kremlin for interfering in the U.S. election.

WARD: Meantime, sources tell CNN that the Pentagon has prepared military options on North Korea. They will be presented to the president if Pyongyang conducts another nuclear or missile test.

And of course, all eyes on Capitol Hill today as Republicans scramble to improve the Senate's health care bill. But President Trump is raising expectations, promising a big surprise.

We have it all covered. But let's start out with CNN's Laura Jarrett. She is live in Washington on the travel ban breaking news. Laura, what can you tell us?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, after months of winding its way through the courts, portions of President Trump's revised travel ban will finally go into effect later today. This, of course, after the Supreme Court ruled to uphold parts of the ban earlier this week, finding the people from six Muslim majority nations must prove a so- called bona fide, close connection to a person or entity in the U.S. And this morning we're learning more about how exactly the government is defining these relationships.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JARRETT (voice-over): The Trump administration issuing new guidelines for visa applicants from six Muslim-majority countries impacted by President Trump's travel ban. A senior administration official telling CNN that applicants must prove their relationship with a parent, spouse, child, son-in-law, daughter-in-law or a sibling already in the U.S. To be eligible.

Other extended family members, including grandparents and even fiancees, left off the list.

Any applicant unable to demonstrate this close relationship traveling from those six countries will be banned for 90 days. The State Department criteria was sent to all U.S. embassies and consulates late Wednesday. Immigration advocates worry that we could see chaos again at airports, like these protests in January when the president's first travel ban went into effect.

This as the U.S. tightens aviation security for overseas airports with direct flights to the U.S.

JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We cannot play international whack-a-mole with each new threat.

JARRETT: Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly announcing new measures that will include greater scrutiny of passengers, canines that detect explosives, and enhanced screening of electronic devices. The DHS choosing not to implement an all-out laptop ban but leaving the option on the table.

KELLY: Make no mistake. Our enemies are constantly working to find new methods for disguising explosives, recruiting insiders and hijacking aircraft.

JARRETT: Secretary Kelly warning there will be consequences if airlines refuse to comply.

KELLY: Those who choose not to cooperate could be subject to other restrictions, including a ban on electronic devices on aircraft or even a suspension of their flights into the United States.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JARRETT: Kelly refused to detail all the new requirements for security reasons, noting that the screening guidelines will be both seen and unseen and phased in over time. The travel ban guidelines, on the other hand, will go into effect immediately later tonight -- Clarissa, Chris.

CUOMO: Laura, appreciate it.

All right. So let's discuss what actually just happened here. We now know that the president has a right to do this in law, but was it right to do, and is there a right way to make it work? Joining us now, "Washington Post" reporter Karoun Demirjian; CNN

counterism [SIC] -- counterterrorism analyst Philip Mudd; and CNN legal analyst Danny Cevallos.

So let's start with the law. Yes, they're going to hear the full case in the fall. But there has been constant speculation that the president, the executive would be on strong legal footing when it comes to identifying threats to national security and making propositions to immigration procedures because of that.

So legally, he can do this, but the right way to do it, I can't find bona fide relationship as a legal standard in other case reckonings from the Supreme Court. So what does that mean, once you're outside that checklist? Fiances aren't on the list. There used to be a specific exemption, the fiancee visa exception was -- that exception was in the immigration law. So what counts, what doesn't count?

DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: This is exactly Justice Thomas's concern, is that, as we move forward, in this short time that this ban will be in effect before the Supreme Court can ultimately hear the case, what is a bona fide relationship? And it's going to invite litigation. Because if you don't give a good definition in the Supreme Court's opinion, then it leaves the litigants to figure out what it means. So the courts will be just as busy in the coming months fleshing out what exactly that means, because we're left without a definition.

WARD: Phil, when it comes to enacting this, five months ago today, I believe, was when we saw these scenes of chaos in the airports. Nobody anticipating to see a repeat of that. But to your understanding, how do you prevent a repeat of that and how much added bureaucracy is added by this new component of defining the bona fide relationship? Who will be tasked with ascertaining who or does not have a bona fide relationship?

PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Look, I think what we're going to be seeing here is airlines are going to be saying, "Do you have a visa to come to the United States," because they'll be saying it's the U.S. -- the U.S. government, visa officer's responsibility to say what is a bona fide relationship.

Once that person gets to the airport, somebody at an airline, I think is going to say if the State Department gave you a visa to come here, they must have checked their bona fides.

On the laptop ban you're talking about, I think that's what happened here behind the scenes, is Europeans are saying, "If you want a ban that's going to cause chaos. We don't agree with your risk assessment on the risks that those laptops show to aircraft."

So the Department of Homeland Security, I suspect, went and said, all right, if you won't agree to a ban, is there's some compromise. And that compromise is the enhanced security we're seeing now. For example, sniffer dogs, conversations about how to enhance protection against people getting on aircraft with a laptop. So I think there's a compromise between the Europeans who have a lower

risk threshold than the Europeans; and the Europeans say, "You can give us a few rules, but don't give us a laptop ban. That's too chaotic."

WARD: Sorry, Phil, just to clarify. I wasn't talking about the laptop. I was talking about the scenes of chaos when the travel ban went into effect five months ago. We saw all those people at the airports, the protests, you know, a lot of confusion. How do you prevent that from happening again?

MUDD: I think -- I mentioned earlier, one of the preventions is to ensure that State Department knows exactly what the rules are when they issue visas. I think we will still continue to see chaos at airports, because you're going to have families say, "What the heck do you exactly mean by a bona fide relationship?"

I do believe, as well, when you're looking at the Department of State, I hope the rules on how to execute this are very clear to visa officers overseas. Because I looked at -- as I looked at this overnight and this morning, understanding exactly whether it's -- as Chris was saying earlier, whether it's a grandma or a fiancee and whether there's a difference between the two, I think is going to cause a lot of chaos.

[06:05:20] CUOMO: Yes, I mean, this is going to be tricky, Karoun, when you look at it, because again, it doesn't exist as a legal stand that makes it all clear. OK? They were basically just saying, "You've got to find something that's legit. We leave it up to you," the court was saying to the executive, "to figure that out."

But the reason I bring up the fiancee thing, Karoun, is because that shows where we are in terms of the political nature of this. We had that case in San Bernardino where Trump seized on the fact that, you know, he married this woman overseas and was she and how did she get here? Being a fiancee became a politically active consideration.

But, you know, fiancees were already carved out in immigration law as having special access to this country. You could say here for a certain period pending, you know, your marriage. Now that's been undone. So for 90 days, what happens at the end of 90 days? There's so many questions here.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": I think that's a very good point. The questions are not going to go away in this next stretch of the summer and into the fall before we get into October is going to be the point at which you kind of test this out to see how much chaos does come of it. Or -- I mean, the State Department and the administration are going to be testing it out, too, to see what they can do.

But you look at the list of all these criteria, and you see kind of these clues. Some of the categories seem like they are inspired by the traditional, easiest threshold of family reunification visas. You know, it's similar to that. Some of them do seem as if -- as you just said -- they're inspired by recent tragic events that, you know, highlighted the existence of certain categories of visas that otherwise Americans were not really thinking about on a daily basis but are now very, very conscious of and perceive as a potential threat.

So you can see in that list, just responses to all of that. But the unfortunate part is that, you know, if you think about these countries and people who are still stuck in many of these countries that are in, you know, unstable conditions, probably you've had, you know, immediate family at this point be able to potentially find a way out. But you still have grandparents and cousins and people who are there who are going to be stuck.

CUOMO: Right.

DEMIRJIAN: Before it was possible to use the sort of sponsorship field to get those people out. And that's not going to be the case now.

CUOMO: And this is not just playing clever hypotheticals. I mean, Clarissa, you've lived this, you know, where there are people who are refugees. They're desperate to leave conditions, humanitarian disasters like what you've been seeing in Syria. So now they're told 120 days. That's just a number on paper for most of us, but what can that mean in terms of a life condition for people?

WARD: Well, obviously, I think a lot of people in these countries feel that this is devastating. They feel that, you know, it's basically an added layer, impossibility to get to a better life. And beyond that, I think there's a real confusion about the issue of why these six countries. And the reality is the terror attacks that we are seeing right now taking place across the west are being perpetrated largely by European nationals and U.S. nationals. I think there's still a lot of questions as to what real impact this ban will actually have on national security.

Anyway, I will end it there. Thank you so much, panel. We appreciate you weighing in, as always. And we'll be checking back in with you later.

President Trump is under scrutiny for how he is managing threats posed by other countries. Sources tell CNN that the president's advisers are struggling to convince him of the threat Russia poses and why he hasn't taken a harder line against the Kremlin.

CNN's Joe Johns is live at the White House with more.

Joe, what can you tell us?

JOE JOHNS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Clarissa.

A Trump campaign fund-raiser in Washington last night paints a real picture, the leader of the free world, five months into his first term, already preparing to participate in the American democratic process at the highest level with a threat to American democracy still out there.

Senior administration officials say they are struggling to convince the president to take the problem of Russian election interference seriously.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS (voice-over): President Trump's top administration officials frustrated that the president has taken no public steps to punish Russia for its election interference as Trump chooses, instead, to fault his predecessor.

TRUMP: Obama knew about Russia a long time before the election, and he did nothing about it.

JOHNS: Multiple senior administration officials telling CNN there is little evidence that the president is devoting his time or attention to the very real cyber threat, despite warnings from his own intelligence officials.

KELLY: This is the wave of the future. We have an election coming up in 18 months. We have to protect this, or -- or we're not a democracy -- a real democracy anymore if we don't watch out.

JOHNS: NSA Director Mike Rogers expressing concern in a recent closed-door briefing about his inability to convince the president to accept that Russia meddled in the election, according to a congressional source familiar with the meeting.

SEN. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: If this president won't acknowledge what happened in his own election, what hope do we have that he will speak out when they do this again?

JOHNS: Press secretary Sean Spicer insisting that the president is taking the Russian cyber threat seriously, saying, "The United States continues to combat on a regular basis malicious cyber activity and will continue to do so without bragging to the media or defending itself against unfair media criticism."

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley telling a congressional committee Wednesday, she has not discussed this pressing national security issue with the president or her Russian counterparts.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: What would you want me to say to them? I'm at the U.N. We're working on international issues.

REP. GARY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: The Russians are at the United Nations. Have you received any instructions at all with respect to their meddling in our elections, like, "Don't talk about that," Ambassador Haley?

HALEY: It hasn't come up.

JOHNS: The president's muted interest in Russian hacks standing in stark contrast to the collusion investigation which has consumed his attention. DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There's been no

collusion, no obstruction.

SEN. RICHARD BURR (R-NC), CHAIRMAN, INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: There have been public comments that suggest there has been no overwhelming evidence to suggestion there was collusion. It's not for me to judge before we begin, but I can only address it as milestones of what we know as of today.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: As the Russia investigation continues, the Senate Intelligence Committee chairman tells CNN he has formally requested copies of former FBI director James Comey's members on his interactions with the president. On a foreign policy front, the White House says the president thwarted a chemical weapons attack earlier this week when he sent a warning to Syria. B

Chris, back to you.

CUOMO: All right, Joe.

And we're seeing this need for shifting from talking about a threat to planning for one and having specific strategies. Another place where that's very relevant is the issue of North Korea. Two U.S. military officials are telling CNN there are revised options for what to do, vis-a-vis North Korea. One of them includes a military response. And they're going to present these to the president if Pyongyang takes another provocative action.

CNN's Barbara Starr live at the Pentagon live with more.

This has been a big question for the president. What are you going to do about these situations around the globe, North Korea near the top of the list?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris.

Well, let's start with the administration. The Pentagon certainly is saying it hopes diplomacy works, that China can pressure North Korea to ratchet back on its program.

But there are now updated revised military options for President Trump because the concern is now that North Korea is moving so fast on its ballistic missile development, on its underground nuclear testing, that it really poses a much more immediate threat of being able to field a weapon that could attack the United States.

And the national security adviser, General H.R. McMaster, talked about this openly just yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: The threat is much more immediate now. And so -- so it's clear that we can't repeat the same approach, failed approach as the past. And there's a recognition that there has to be more pressure on the regime. And I think what you'll see in coming days and weeks are efforts to do that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

STARR: So what has really changed behind the scenes? Defense officials are telling us that North Korea has really improved its ability to deceive the U.S. about its testing, that it's now much more difficult for the U.S. to keep watch and understand what is happening on the ground with North Korea's program -- Clarissa.

WARD: OK, Barbara Starr.

So as we can see, President Trump clearly facing several complex dangerous international threats: Russia, North Korea, Syria. How is he handling them? Well, one former diplomat says when it comes to Russia, he is neglecting his duty. Ambassador Nicholas Burns joins us next to explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[06:17:40] NICHOLAS BURNS, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: It is his duty, President Trump's, to be skeptical of Russia. It's his duty to investigate and defend our country against a cyber offensive, because Russia is our most dangerous adversary in the world today. And if he continues to refuse to act, it's a dereliction of the basic duty to defend the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WARD: All right. Strong words there from former NATO ambassador Nicholas Burns, testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, this as CNN learns that the president's advisers are struggling to convince him of the Russian threat. Ambassador Burns joins us now, along with CNN counterterrorism analyst Phil Mudd and CNN military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.

Let me start with you, Ambassador. You had very strong words not just for President Trump but for President Obama. There's a sense that perhaps one president didn't do enough, another president, you know, also did not do enough in a very different way.

What to your mind is the sort of goldilocks position here, the sweet spot that would kind of marry the two approaches? What would you like to have seen from both presidents?

BURNS: Well, I think the far -- the far greater problem has been with President Trump. President Obama had a very tough call last summer in autumn, because if he had come to the American people and openly declared what we knew, that Russia was systematically assaulting the United States elections, he would have been accused of interfering with the elections.

But the lessons have to be learned. It was too little and too late by the Obama administration. But it's worse in the Trump administration. We were assaulted. The intelligence agencies know there was an attack on us, on our election system.

The president, President Trump, has not launched an investigation. He hasn't supported the Senate bill for stronger sanctions against the Russians themselves. He's not worked with our allies. And there have been similar Russian assaults on the Dutch, and French, and German elections, and he hasn't even really begun to work in a serious way with our state and local authorities to protect the 2018 midterms and the 2020 presidential elections. We need to be speedy here.

[06:20:06] The Emanuel Macron campaign, they made a -- they made a big deal about Russian interference in their election. All the French people knew that there was propaganda floating around in that election; the Russians were exposed. And it was the speed and decisiveness that made a difference there, so we can learn a lot from the Europeans.

And it was interesting when I testified before the Senate Committee on Intelligence yesterday, not a lot of people defending Donald Trump. I think Congress is looking for action and looking for some toughness.

CUOMO: Well, you identify an interesting component of this that we have to speak about, Phil Mudd, and that is the public insistence, the public appetite, the demand of the people for action. You've talked about this before in terms of where the Americans are on a particular issue, and that will promote any action that comes from their government.

When it comes to Russian interference, it's been so politicized that we don't see people here calling out for this to stop, to never happen again. It hasn't reached that level here. Do you think that that's a big factor in why we've seen inaction from the Trump administration?

MUDD: I don't think it is -- well, partly a factor. When I go out into the public, I don't hear people asking me about this much, but they shouldn't have to ask. Government is failing them, Chris.

I'm a little bit skeptical on this issue of how harshly to judge President Obama for a similar reason. The ambassador talked about the political problem President Obama had. That is, if he goes out before the election and crushes the Russians, people are going to say "That's because you wanted to make candidate Trump look bad."

So let's go after the election. He's got 60 days or so before an inauguration, going from November into January. Are you going to saddle the incoming president, if you're President Obama, with a huge campaign against Russia. The reason I'm seeing government fail is typically in this situation, this is a three-foot putt.

You coordinate as the outgoing president with the incoming president. You say you have a national security problem, and within a week of coming into office, President Trump tells his national security adviser, convene the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, State Department, CIA, FBI; talk to them about how to deal with the Russians; talk to Silicon Valley about how to keep bad stuff, bad news, fake news off the airwaves during the next election and talk to state election officials about how to protect the voting booth. This is not that hard.

WARD: So General Hertling, let me ask you from a military perspective. I mean, we heard Ambassador Burns in his testimony also said that he views Russia as the single greatest adversary to the U.S. We heard some outlines there of political steps that could be taken.

Militarily, given that the Russians are engaged in this asymmetrical warfare, what are the military options here in terms of responding to the threat that Russia poses?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (R), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, first of all, Clarissa, let me reinstate what Ambassador Burns said is Russia is dangerous, and there are many -- I'm one of them -- that think they are an existential threat to our country and to our allies.

They have been doing things from a conventional standpoint since 2004 or '05, where they've invaded other countries and taken away other countries' sovereignty over their territory in contradiction to what they said they would do.

Now they are using asymmetrical means, using cyberattacks and also attempts to disrupt not only our government but other governments and as a way to disrupt the rest and the United States. What can we do about it? We can increase sanctions. We should not be so diplomatically cozy with the Russians, which we seem to be doing right now. We should look at military options in several regards, and we should look at, potentially, cyberattacks in reverse.

We should go on the cyber offensive to the things that they have been doing not only to us but to other nations. And that -- some of that is taking place.

CUOMO: Well, look, the big roadblock here, Ambassador, seems to be politics, right? Every time President Trump hears "Russian interference," he hears "bad for Trump." And that has to be part of his motivation to ignore all pf the intelligence assessments and all of the facts that point to Russia's hand in the interference during the election. So if it's a mainly political play, how do you get around it?

BURNS: Well, Chris, I think that is the central point. President Trump apparently is convinced that, if he does anything against Russia, it looks like, you know, he's responding to the country that helped Hillary Clinton -- that helped him defeat Hillary Clinton. That's the pressure point politically for him.

But if you look at what General Mattis, Secretary Mattis, Secretary Tillerson have been saying for months now, they recognize that Russia interfered in our elections, that something needs to be done about it.

It appears that the only person in Washington who doesn't want to do something is President Trump. And there needs to be congressional pressure. There is this big bill now that the Senate passed by a 97-2 margin to inflict tough sanctions on the Russia -- the Russians, because they interfered in our elections. The Trump administration is trying to water it down. When I was

talking to the Senate yesterday, I got the clear impression the Senate wants to go forward with that bill, and they're right. We need to raise our defenses. As the general says, there are ways the United States can hit back by asymmetric means, not a conventional attack. But if the Russians are going to attack us by sovereign means, we have capacity, too.

WARD: Phil Mudd, just a very quick finishing thought, pivot to Syria. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley saying that Trump's warning was the White House's warning to the regime of Bashar al-Assad averted a chemical attack. Your thoughts on that?

MUDD: I think it's possible that it's true. I mean, if you look at what the White House did, the telegraphing to the Syrians was clear as it could be. The bottom line here, though, Clarissa, is we're never going to know. I don't think the intelligence is going to be clear on this. But I don't see the harm, if we believe through intelligence that Syria is going to attack civilians with chemical weapons for an administration, including a Trump administration warning.

What's the downside? I'm not sure I'd brag about it. But I would say clearly, if you think they're going to do it, go warn them; and maybe you'll have some success.

CUOMO: And beyond that, as General Hertling has said on the show before, there is a need for a specific strategy on what to do militarily and politically in Syria. It needs to be presented to the American people and to Congress for them to vote. Because the legal authority the president is working on right now is to fight al Qaeda from 2001.

Gentlemen, thank you very much for the perspective. As we learn more about these issues, we come back to you for your perspective and guidance.

So let's be honest about our political climate here. It's a little bit hostile, right? But let me tell you. It's utopia in the United States compared to what's going on in Venezuela. Is that country on the brink of all-out civil war? We'll bring you the latest next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)