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THE SITUATION ROOM
Judge Refuses to Dismiss Manafort Case; Interview With Texas Congressman Joaquin Castro; Supreme Court Upholds Trump Travel Ban. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired June 26, 2018 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: A federal judge refuses to dismiss criminal charges against the president's former campaign chairman, rejecting Paul Manafort's claim that Robert Mueller overstepped his authority.
Russian revenge. Check out the familiar looking faces in an eye- popping new video from a Russian music star with connections to the Trumps and to the Kremlin. Why is a man who helped arrange the infamous Trump Tower meeting now trolling the president?
And fever pitch. At a wild campaign rally, the president finds more ways to rile up his supporters with a strange new dig at President Obama, a rant about late-night TV hosts and a surprising remark about his wife's recent surgery.
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news on the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the president's travel ban, one of his most disputed and divisive moves since taking office.
Tonight, Mr. Trump is calling the 5-4 ruling a tremendous victory. And he is sounding even more emboldened to pursue his hard-line immigration policies. But many of his Democratic opponents are denouncing the decision, arguing it endorses anti-Muslim bigotry.
This hour, I will talk to Congressman Joaquin Castro. He's a Democrat on the Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committees. And our correspondents and analysts are also standing by.
First, let's go to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, this is a significant win for the president.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is, Wolf.
President Trump is declaring victory after his travel ban was upheld by the Supreme Court. But the high court's decision also appears to accuse the president's past insensitive comments about Muslims, the same kind of rhetoric he is using about migrants coming across the border.
ACOSTA (voice-over): For President Trump, it was Supreme vindication.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: A tremendous success, a tremendous victory for the American people and for our Constitution. This is a great victory for our Constitution.
ACOSTA: In a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court upheld the president's travel ban on mostly Muslim majority countries.
Writing for a conservative majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said the ban is squarely within the scope of presidential authority.
But in a blistering dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote: "The majority here completely sets aside the president's charged statements about Muslims as irrelevant. That holding erodes the foundational principles of religious tolerance that the court elsewhere has so emphatically protected. And it tells members of minority religions in our country that they are outsiders, not full members of the political community."
That was in reference to Mr. Trump's original call for a ban on all Muslims entering the U.S. from the campaign.
TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.
(CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)
ACOSTA: Taking a victory lap, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who blocked Barack Obama's pick of Merrick Garland for the high court, tweeted out a photo of Mr. Trump's justice, Neil Gorsuch. The president's one-word reaction in a tweet: "Wow."
TRUMP: The ruling shows that all of the attacks from the media and the Democrat politicians are wrong and they turned out to be very wrong. I want to thank Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for his years of work to make this day very special.
ACOSTA: The president used the occasion to tout his hard-line stance on migrants coming across the border, an influx the president said has prompted calls for thousands of new immigration judges. But that's false. There are no serious calls in Washington for thousands of judges.
TRUMP: They want us to choose 5,000 judges. Can you imagine the corruption? Go to the barbershop, grab somebody, make them a judge. Everybody is being made a judge.
ACOSTA: At a rally in South Carolina, the president defended his administration's practice of jailing children who cross the border with their parents. TRUMP: And what I learned is one thing. Our facilities are cleaner,
better kept and better run. That's the one thing I learned. OK? I saw that. But what we have is two extremes. And I liked it.
ACOSTA: On the same day the White House was calling for civility, the president attacked late-night talk show hosts.
TRUMP: Jimmy Fallon calls me up. And he's like a nice guy. He's lost. He looks like a lost soul.
ACOSTA: And he mocked speculation about the first lady's more private schedule in recent weeks.
TRUMP: They said she got a face-lift. No. I would let you know. They couldn't hide that one for long, right?
ACOSTA: While railing against the press, the White House is turning to conservative media outlets like Sinclair Broadcasting for sympathetic coverage.
BORIS EPSHTEYN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: What's something the people at home may not know about you that they are not seeing when you are sparring with the media or representing the president?
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Maybe that I'm a little nicer than sometimes...
EPSHTEYN: I think you are very nice.
HUCKABEE SANDERS: ... the media wants to make me out to be. Again, I'm a pretty, I think, happy person. I love life. And I'm a lot nicer I think than they make me out to be in the press.
ACOSTA: Now, CNN learned the first lady is planning on visiting another immigration facility later this week.
You will recall, Wolf, she did that last week down on the border. No confirmation this time of where exactly that will take place. And on another front, we should point out the president is also voicing frustrations today with Harley-Davidson's decision to move some of its production capabilities overseas as Europe is retaliating against the Trump administration over its tariffs on European products coming into the U.S.
The president tweeted a warning to Harley-Davidson, saying if they move overseas, watch, it will be the end of that company. After so many bikers supported the president during the campaign, Wolf, I remember seeing them at those rallies, it's surprising to hear him tell part of his base, it's his way or the highway -- Wolf.
BLITZER: All right, Jim Acosta, lots going on. Thank you very much. Let's turn to yet another story that's breaking tonight in the special
counsel's Russia investigation. A federal judge has denied a request by Paul Manafort to dismiss the criminal charges against him in Virginia.
Let's go to our justice correspondent, Evan Perez.
Tell us more about this ruling, Evan.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is a ruling by T.S. Ellis, a judge in Alexandria, Virginia, who had criticized the special counsel just a month ago, when Paul Manafort and his lawyers came forward asking for this -- for the charges, bank fraud charges and other financial crime charges to be dismissed, saying it has nothing do with the Russia interference in the election and of course nothing to do with his work on the Trump campaign.
If you remember, President Trump really liked what the judge had to say then. Take a listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: A federal judge Friday questioned special counsel Robert Mueller's authority to bring tax and bank fraud charges, unrelated, unrelated. Nobody knows that. Everyone thinks, oh -- unrelated to the 2016 election against former Trump campaign manager chairman Paul Manafort.
He was there for a short while. But he is a good person. He is. I really believe he's a good person. Judge T.S. Ellis, who is really something very special, I hear, from many standpoints -- he is a respected person -- suggested the charges before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia were just part of the Mueller team's designs to pressure Mr. Manafort into giving up information on President Donald Trump or others in the campaign.
I have been saying that for a long time. It's a witch-hunt.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: And, of course, the president and Paul Manafort don't get exactly what they want from this judge.
He says that what the special counsel is doing is completely legal. He says that the special counsel is simply following the money with regard to the work that Paul Manafort was doing with a pro-Russian regime in Ukraine at the time.
Paul Manafort's trial is still scheduled for July, Wolf.
BLITZER: But despite his decision not to throw out the case, he still is being critical of the entire Manafort -- being critical of the Mueller operation.
PEREZ: Right. He is. He says that -- it does appear that he says that he doesn't really like the structure of a special counsel. He even suggested a better way would be to have a commission.
And here is one part of the ruling in which he says -- quote -- "If a special counsel discovers no criminal activity, then the investigation is likely to be perceived as a waste of time and resources, and thus a special counsel has a strong incentive to find criminality and to prosecute criminal conduct by the people he has been charged with investigating, here persons connected with the Trump campaign."
Here, the judge simply is saying that, look, if you appoint a special counsel, you are bound to find something. And he is saying, really, this is something that the Justice Department should be handling, not a special counsel.
All right, thanks very much, Evan Perez reporting.
Let's get back to the battle over immigration.
As the president celebrates his win in the U.S. Supreme Court tonight, 17 states and the District of Columbia are now suing the Trump administration, challenging the forced separation of families at the southern border.
We are learning more heartbreaking stories of children and their parents simply so desperate to reunite.
Let's go to CNN's Nick Valencia. He is joining us from Los Fresnos in Texas along the border.
Nick, so what's the latest there?
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we are outside of the Port Isabel Detention Center.
This is where ICE officials told us on Friday that family reunifications were happening. If that is the case, we have seen no evidence of it. It's part of the issue on the ground. Mixed messages from the Trump administration and mass confusion.
VALENCIA (through translator): Tonight, the health and human services secretary, Alex Azar, says that he could find any child separated from his or her migrant parents within seconds.
ALEX AZAR, U.S. HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: There's no reason why any parent would not know where their child is located. I could at the stroke of -- at keystrokes -- I have sat on the ORR portal, with just basic keystrokes, within seconds, could find any child in our care for any parent.
VALENCIA: But hundreds of parents are still looking for their children after being separated when they entered the U.S. illegally. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): He used to tell me every
night before he went to sleep: "I love you, mommy. Good night."
VALENCIA: This mother recounts how officials took her son.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I didn't have a chance to tell him anything, because they took him from me in the middle of the night while he was still asleep.
VALENCIA: This father is missing his daughter's birthday.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My girl is turning 10 years old today. And I can't even call her and tell her I love her so much.
VALENCIA: And from inside the Port Isabel Detention Center, I spoke by phone with an emotional mother.
Yanita (ph) says her 6-year-old daughter doesn't understand why she was abandoned by her mom.
New video that aired on MSNBC gives a candid look inside a federal facility looking at children separated from their parents. The video was taken by a former employee at that center in New York City. In the video, the former employee can be heard talking with a child who wants to talk to her parents.
CNN reached out to the shelter for comment.
VALENCIA: And in a new lawsuit, a coalition of 18 attorneys general is suing the Trump administration for their family separation policy. They say it violates the constitutional rights of due process for not just the parents, but also the children, calling it irrationally discriminatory -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Nick Valencia, thank you very much.
Joining us now, Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas. He is a Democrat who serves on the Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committees.
Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.
We are going to discuss the latest on family separations in just a moment. But I want to get your reaction to the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the president's travel ban. What did you make of the ruling today?
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: I think it was a shameful decision.
I think that the Supreme Court had a chance to stand up to the president's religious discrimination and instead affirmed it. And I think it will be looked upon in history as a very shameful decision and that, years from now, the Congress and the American people will look back on it with regret. BLITZER: But this is the third version, not the original version.
It's a much narrower version than the first two. There are a lot more exceptions. Does that count for anything from your perspective?
CASTRO: There's still heavy bans on about -- people from about five countries.
And, Wolf, as I looked at it as it was being developed, and even as the decision was announced today, I couldn't help but think that this is the closest that we have come to the Chinese Exclusion Act, which kept Chinese from coming to this country for about 60 years until in the early 1940s the Congress had to pass a law to overturn that.
This in a sense is Donald Trump's Chinese Exclusion Act.
BLITZER: But five of the seven countries on the current travel ban, which the Supreme Court ruled today is constitutional, are Muslim majority. But so many other Muslim countries, whether Indonesia or Saudi Arabia or Egypt, with hundreds of millions of Muslims, they are not included. Does that say anything to you?
CASTRO: Well, what it says is that it's not a total ban of all Muslims across the world.
But he certainly was selecting a group of countries that are predominantly Muslim countries. And as we know, based on what he said on the campaign trail and even as president of the United States, he has been targeting Muslims. I don't think there's much debate about that.
BLITZER: But they argue that these five Muslim majority countries have a history of terrorism, some of them are state sponsors of terrorism. They can't provide the information that U.S. customs need to admit their citizens, whether Syria, Libya, Yemen Somalia or Iran.
Does that mean anything to you?
CASTRO: Oh, absolutely.
We should always take terrorism seriously and do everything that we can to prevent it and to prevent bad folks from coming into this country.
But, Wolf, that makes us a very small fraction of the people who are part of these nations. And that's what we can't let the president get away with, the same thing that he does to Hispanics in the country by trying to use MS-13 gang members and basically demonize the entire Hispanic community and Hispanic immigrants by holding up the worst among them as the norm.
And the fact is, they aren't.
BLITZER: I spoke to the White House principal deputy press secretary, Raj Shah, last hour. And he pointed out that these countries can get themselves off the list by meeting the standards set by the Justice Department, the State Department, the Trump administration. Do you buy that?
CASTRO: Well, I mean, again, that's a very subjective thing. And it's a determination that's going to be made by the president or by his underlings.
And because it's so subjective, I doubt that they are going to be able to get themselves off that list, or that he wants them off that list.
BLITZER: The humanitarian situation in many of these countries, especially Syria for example, maybe half-a-million people have been killed in the civil war over past several years, is certainly dire.
Are you planning on taking action to make sure that the most vulnerable people in these countries can still get waivers to enter the United States as refugees?
CASTRO: Of course.
The decision just came down today. But of course we're going to make a push for that. And also, Wolf, I think it's notable, the United States gives a lot of money to help refugees. But compared to other countries, we also don't -- again, comparatively speaking, we don't take in as many refugees as other nations.
Yet we ask many nations to take in refugees from places like Syria and other war-torn countries. So, we have to be willing to step up and do the same and offer a refuge to people who are in nations that are torn by civil war and violence, people in Central America that are being threatened, deadly threats from violent drug gangs, many of whom are profiting by the sale of drugs in the United States.
We need to step up and be a nation, as we have been for decades, for generations, that's willing to take these folks.
BLITZER: Let's turn to the issue of family separations, what's ongoing here in the United States.
Do you trust these federal agencies to make sure that every child is returned to his or her parent, or do you want Congress to play more of a role in oversight of all of this?
CASTRO: Congress needs to play a big role in making sure that HHS and the other federal agencies provide us a full list that accounts for every child and every parent that were separated, so that we can audit that list and account for every single person on that list and make sure that they are reunified.
And they need to submit this to Congress, under penalty of perjury, the department, the head of the department, the Cabinet secretary, because even 3if you miss one or two people on that list, those are kids that were basically permanently separated from their parents because of actions of this president and the United States government.
And that's not something that should be happening in the year 2018.
BLITZER: The question of what the president calls his zero tolerance policy, meaning that anyone caught coming into the United States illegally is going to be arrested, there's some question about whether that's in place, not in place.
Customs and Border Protection says it has temporarily stopped referring parents for criminal prosecution. Does that mean, from your perspective right now -- and you're a Texas congressman -- that it's back to what they used to call and release for families caught crossing the border during the Obama administration?
CASTRO: Well, it sounds like they're going to do what other Democratic and Republican administrations have done, which is use prosecutorial discretion not to prosecute these folks, many of whom are actually asylum seekers.
And what's interesting is that this administration basically threw everybody in together and started separating out parents and children. So, you are right. The policy right now is very vague and unclear.
And, quite honestly, Congress is even having problems verifying what's going on, on the ground.
BLITZER: Will that change, Congressman, when the federal government has more facilities to hold families together if it can change what is called the Flores agreement to hold families longer than 20 days?
As you know, the Pentagon is in your state of Texas working on getting two military bases ready to hold thousands of parents and their children.
Well, what we should have is allow everybody for due -- everybody to have due process. That's why it was very alarming yesterday to hear the president say that he basically wanted to do away with due process for folks, and then Sarah Sanders say, I think at the White House briefing, that somebody can have due process without seeing a judge.
That is a remarkable level of ignorance coming from a White House official. Anybody that has ever practiced law or been involved in a lawsuit in any way at all, any capacity knows that the ability to present yourself before a judge and be heard by a judge is essential for due process.
BLITZER: Congressman Castro, thanks for joining us.
CASTRO: Thank you.
BLITZER: Just ahead: What does the new ruling against Paul Manafort tell us about the special counsel's case against him going forward?
And you are going to want to see a brand-new music video by a Russian pop star. He's no stranger to the Trump family, so why is he mocking the president? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: We are getting more reaction to the breaking news on the president's travel ban upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court today.
But, right now, a must-see music video released by a Russian pop star with a notorious connection to the Trump family and to the Russia investigation.
Let's bring in our political correspondent, Sara Murray. She's covering the story for us.
Sara, tell us about this video and the man behind it.
SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, the Russia investigation has certainly brought together a bizarre cast of characters.
And in today's twist, the pop star behind that infamous meeting in Trump Tower during the presidential campaign is out with a new music video trolling Trump.
MURRAY (voice-over): The Russian pop star who helped facilitate the 2016 meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and the Russians at Trump Tower taking a cheeky jab at Trump.
MURRAY: Emin Agalarov's new music video, titled "Got Me Good," features a risque roundup of encounters with Trump family look-alikes, from Agalarov and a Trump impersonator partying in a hotel room with bikini-clad women to a fake Ivanka Trump accepting a mysterious briefcase from Agalarov.
Agalarov, the son of a billionaire Russian real estate developer, came under scrutiny for encouraging his publicist Rob Goldstone to contact Trump Jr. about a meeting with a Russian lawyer offering up dirt on Hillary Clinton.
"If it's what you say, I love it," Trump Jr. replied.
It culminated in a June 2016 meeting including Trump officials like Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort.
One year later, after the meeting came to light, it sparked a deeper dive into Trump's years-long relationship with the Agalarovs.
Back in 2013, the real Trump partied with the Agalarovs when they helped Trump bring the Miss Universe Pageant to Moscow. The music video nods to the salacious, but unproven claims about Trump's activities on the trip, documented in the dossier that has dogged the president.
The images of a Trump impersonator alongside the scantily dressed women in the hotel room particularly suggestive, after's Trump longtime bodyguard Keith Schiller testified to lawmakers that he rejected an offer from Agalarov's circle to send women to Trump's Moscow hotel room during the trip.
At the time, Trump declared the Russia trip a success, tweeting at the elder Agalarov: "I had a great weekend with you and your family. You have done a fantastic job. Trump Tower Moscow is next. Emin was wow."
The project never came to fruition, but has emerged as another area of interest in the Mueller probe.
Crammed with racy references, the three-minute music video features faux appearances from Hillary Clinton, porn start Stormy Daniels and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. As a shadowy figure views Trump's encounters, apparently all under surveillance, he edits Trump out of the footage, all of this under the eye of none other than a look-alike of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
MURRAY: Now, Wolf, this song is probably not going to be the hit of the summer. But it does give you another hint at how the Russia investigation, the one President Trump calls a witch-hunt, continues to haunt him -- back to you.
BLITZER: Certainly does.
All right, Sara, thank you, Sara Murray reporting for us.
Let's bring in our analysts.
And, David Swerdlick, what do you make of this video?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, Wolf, the tune is pretty catchy.
I have three different theories. The most benign is probably just that Emin Agalarov wants to cash in his pop career on all the talk about President Trump throughout the world right now and the various controversies around him.
If you are more conspiratorial-minded, someone could say this is a way for people connected to the Kremlin to send a message to President Trump that, hey, remember, we know things about you. But we don't know about that. That's just pure speculation.
And then finally, though, I think it might just be this thing where, look, President Trump, on the one hand, a lot of people, especially in the foreign policy community, say he is doing sort of the unwitting bidding of the Russians in various areas, whether it's tensions in NATO or North Korea and, at the same time, though, maybe just poking fun at him is also part of what Russians like... (CROSSTALK)
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Maybe Emin just wants to jump-start his dead career.
And this could be one way to do it. Honestly, this video cost a lot of money to make. There are a lot of people in it.
SWERDLICK: Yes, it was pretty professional.
BORGER: There are a lot of people in it. It was pretty professional. You had to hire look-alikes, et cetera.
I'm wondering if his father, who is good friends with Donald Trump or was good friends with Donald Trump, approved this. I'm sure Trump wouldn't like to see it, honestly. But I think this is sort of pay attention to me again. I still have a career here.
BLITZER: What is important about the father, he is a billionaire. So, if he wants to spend a little bit of money...
BORGER: Yes, totally. Did he pay for this? Did he pay for it?
BLITZER: That would an interesting question.
Anne Milgram, what do you think?
ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I definitely had never seen it before and would not have seen it had you not showed it now.
But it just shows that the Russia investigation is bringing out all new kinds of things, and a cottage industry of different things.
BLITZER: David Chalian, you are smiling.
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, it's a lot of fun.
I don't understand how this video gets made without including Jim Comey talking about the pee-pee tape on his Stephanopoulos interview, when Jim Comey talked at length about that. I don't understand how that didn't make it into this song and as a piece of this video.
BLITZER: Well, maybe there will be a part two at some point.
All right, guys, stick around.
BORGER: We can only hope.
BLITZER: There's more news we're following right now.
Is the president's victory in the U.S. Supreme Court a tremendous victory, as he claims? More on the breaking news on the travel ban when we come back.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHORS: Tonight, the president says the U.S. Supreme Court has had the final word on his travel ban after the justices upheld his controversial policy in a 5-4 decision.
[18:34:5] Let's bring back our analysts. David Chalian, how significant is today's opinion for the Trump administration?
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I think it's a pretty significant victory for the president, Wolf. And I think he's, you know, right to take a victory lap on it. This is clearly a policy, as you know, he announced during his campaign, came into office, revised it to get right with the court. Took him a few tries. But did so and passed constitutional muster here.
I also think it's significant for two other reasons. One, perhaps his tweets and statements are not going to be examined with the same weight as his actual policies are going forward. That may be helpful to him in other circumstances going forward.
Also, the timing of this, that this conversation about borders and national security with this win from the Supreme Court on the travel ban, at the same time that he's trying to win a political argument about his immigration policies, he clearly -- you could see in the official White House statement today -- is trying to bring the case, the opinion -- the majority opinion into that overall argument about making our borders safer.
BLITZER: Very important.
And you know, Gloria, it all started during the campaign when he was a candidate with then Donald Trump, the candidate, saying he wanted a complete ban of all Muslims coming into the United States. But that evolved quite a bit. Listen to how Rudy Giuliani, back in January of last year, explained this evolution.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER FOR DONALD TRUMP: I'll tell you the whole history of it. So when he first announced it, he said Muslim ban. He called me up. He said, "Put a commission together. Show me the right way to do it legally."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: And then last June, a year ago, the president echoed that, tweeting, quote, "The Justice Department should have stayed with the original travel ban, not the watered-down, politically-correct version they submitted to the Supreme Court."
So this is a watered-down version of what he really wanted.
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: But now he's embracing it wholeheartedly, Wolf, because it's another victory for him. And that's exactly how he counts, wins and losses. This is very important to him, as David was saying, in so many ways,
because he can also now go out on the campaign trail, as you're heading into the midterm elections and say, "Look, I promised you a travel ban." And forget the different iterations it's had; that won't matter. "I promised you a travel ban, and I'm delivering on that." And he can say, "I promised you tax cuts, and I'm delivering on that." So this is just one more deliverable for him.
And also, he can brag about Neil Gorsuch, whom, along with the help of Mitch McConnell, I would say, is now sitting on the Supreme Court.
BLITZER: Yes, certainly is. You know, Anne Milgram, you're our legal analyst. How did the justices deal with all of the public statements the president made about Muslims and Islam?
ANNE MILGRAM, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's one of the fascinating parts about the opinion. Because they essentially decide to just disregard it. And I think this is a strange thing, in many ways, for people to understand.
But they decided they would just look at the actual -- on the face of the regulations. They decided that they were neutral, meaning that there was not a specific -- it wasn't called a Muslim ban anymore. They weren't saying, "We're going to stop all Muslims from coming into the country."
And so at one point, Chief Justice Roberts actually says, "Look, you know, we're not responding to this president and addressing it. We're talking about presidents in general. And we think presidents have extraordinary authority to control immigration."
There is something, though, that's deeply problematic. You know, all of us who have kids can think about a number of ways in which this would make no sense. That when someone tells you why they're doing something, and then they go out and do a neutral version of it, it's still very legitimate to believe that their original motivation and the animus behind it exists. And so, you know, I think a lot of people look at opinions like this and scratch their head.
BLITZER: Yes, well, that -- what you suggest is what the minority -- the four justices who ruled against it, that was their position.
As you know, David, the first Muslim elected to Congress, Representative Keith Ellison of Minnesota, he said the ruling, in his words, will go down in the dustbin of history. Congressman Ted Lieu of California, another Democrat, predicts Congress eventually will have to apologize for this.
What do you make of this?
DAVID SWERDLICK, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think the congressmen are suggesting that in time, we're going to look back on this decision the way we now look back on the Korematsu decision other decisions which made good law out of Japanese internment which now almost no one will defend and almost everyone will say was a horrible decision, both legally and morally, and that, you know, Congressmen Lieu, Congressman Ellison saying, you know, a few decades down the road, the justices who voted for this may be viewed as having made a similar decision.
BLITZER: You know, it's interesting. The president argues, David Chalian, that the travel ban was necessary to protect Americans, stop terrorists from getting into the country.
But take a look at this. These are the terror attacks here in the United States since 9/11. And including 9/11, where you had terrorists from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Egypt. Fort Hood, U.S. born. Boston Marathon, U.S., U.S. legal permanent residents. San Bernardino. Pulse Nightclub. The Halloween car attack. These were all terror attacks, but individuals from those five Muslim-majority countries on the current travel list were Venezuela, North Carolina [SIC] -- none of them were involved.
CHALIAN: Right. If you match up the map of the ban --
[18:40:03] BLITZER: I said -- I meant to say North Korea, not North Carolina.
CHALIAN: Yes. Exactly. If you match up that map of the banned geographic regions that the court upheld today to that list you just put up, they don't match. You can see that.
Now, the administration will still make the argument that places like Syria, Iran, Yemen, Somalia, North Korea, they do still pose a threat to the national security of the United States, Wolf. But you are right to point out that those terrorist attacks, the ones that you listed there, clearly, this travel ban wouldn't necessarily have done anything to prevent those specific attacks.
BLITZER: While I have you, David, a bunch of primaries tonight. What are you looking for?
CHALIAN: Well, I'm really looking for the Trump sway ability here. He went down, you know, the president did, to South Carolina yesterday for McMaster there, who's in a runoff. He's the incumbent governor. He replaced Nikki Haley when she went up to the U.N. And you'll remember, he was one of Trump's earliest supporters on the campaign back in 2016, Wolf. So we'll see if the president has the juice there to bring him over the finish line.
And in Staten Island, up here in New York City, look at that race between the former congressman, Michael Grimm, who's now out of jail, ex-con, trying to get his congressional seat back, against the incumbent Republican there, Dan Donovan. The result of that will tell us a lot about how competitive the seat is in November.
But also, the president has been a huge factor here. He's on Donovan's side, Wolf. And we'll see if he has the ability to bring that incumbent through the primary.
BLITZER: On another legal story developing today, Anne, the judge -- the federal judge in Northern Virginia denied Paul Manafort's request to dismiss all the charges, the financial criminal charges he's facing there in Virginia and basically allowing the Mueller probe to continue there. What's your reaction? MILGRAM: So you know, my first reaction is that there's nothing
surprising about this. The regulations under which Mueller was appointed, they're sound, legally, constitutionally. And the judge essentially said that.
What I think is almost more important is that there's been a lot of challenges and a lot of talk about Mueller not having been legitimately appointed. And so this is the first time we see a court actually saying, "No, no he was legitimately appointed, and he has the right to bring cases like that."
The judge obviously doesn't like this special counsel statute, which he said. But he found that this is all lawful, which is critically important as the Mueller probe goes forward.
BORGER: You know, Donald Trump has praised this judge publicly. And, you know, Manafort thought this was maybe the only moment where he would have an opportunity to get a case dismissed, because the judge is no fan of the special counsel. And he made a point of saying that it could run amok. That a special counsel can run amok, and we have to hope that everybody here doesn't let political motivations get in the way of justice. But he did decide to let it continue.
BLITZER: And there's more cooperation that Mueller is getting from one of the president's former associates, Eric Prince, all of a sudden.
BORGER: Right. Eric Prince, who came to be known -- famous after he went to the Seychelles in January, I believe, of 2017. And that he is now cooperating with Mueller, handing over his computer, his phone records, et cetera.
And, you know, he met with a Russian banker. He also met with some folks from the UAE. And the question is, was he doing this to establish a Russian back channel, which he says he wasn't? But who was he doing this for? And what was he doing there in the first place at a meeting with this -- with this Russian banker? So it's clear that -- that Mueller is pursuing this meeting in the Seychelles we've heard so much about.
BLITZER: Yes, despite all the heat, Mueller and his team, they are moving forward. They are moving -- we have no idea what they're doing, because they don't leak. But they're moving forward in a wide range of areas.
Guys, thank you very much.
We're going to have much more on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the travel ban.
Also ahead, as Mitt Romney looks to make a comeback with his Senate race in Utah, Dana Bash is pressing him about his willingness to call out President Trump.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [18:48:44] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Tonight, we are following the results of multiple primaries across the country, including the Republican Senate race in Utah where former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney is hoping to make a political comeback. He is running as a friend and a foe of President Trump.
Our chief political correspondent Dana Bash is joining us from Utah right now.
Dana, you had a chance to speak with Romney about his rather complicated relationship with the president.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Complicated to say the least. You remember, it was in March of 2016, in the middle of the Republican primary season, that Mitt Romney came out and became the poster child for the Never Trump movement. Right here in Utah, he decided to have a press conference, give a speech slamming Donald Trump, calling him a fake and a phony and worse. Clearly, that idea, the Mitt Romney brand of Republicanism was not something that Republicans voters were buying.
And it was just eight months later, Mitt Romney was saying very nice things about Donald Trump when he was being considered for secretary of state. So, therein lies the illustration of how complicated it is.
But fast forward to where we are now, the Republican nominee from 2012, the presidential nominee wants to be in the U.S. Senate.
[18:50:01] And it is a different place, a different party. I asked him about that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: Do you think the Republican Party is the party of Donald Trump?
MITT ROMNEY (R), UTAH SENATE CANDIDATE: Well, I think the president has overwhelmingly shown he has great support with the rank and file members of the Republican Party. And I think that's a great tribute to his capacity to pull them together and to get them to support him. That's something which I think you have to acknowledge.
At the same time, if he's going to say something that's right, good for the good country, I'm going to be all for it. If he says something that I don't feel is right, well, I'm going to feel obligated to speak my mind.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASH: And speak his mind is exactly what a lot of very concerned Republicans who we've talked to here who have voted in this primary want him to go to Washington to do. Particularly since there is a void, or will be a void starting next year of people who do that regularly who are retiring. People like Bob Corker and Jeff Flake in the Senate, John McCain has not been there because he's battling illness. But on the other side, Wolf, you have a lot of voters who I've talked to, clearly, we have talked to Mitt Romney, who are very much supportive of he president and so that is what Mitt Romney is trying to balance today on this primary day. We're a little more than an hour away from polls closing here.
You see the beautiful backdrop. This is where Mitt Romney will come in what he is hoping will be a victory speech here in Utah. The general election, of course, is in November, but this is a very Republican state. So, assuming that he actually does win the primary tonight, it should be sort of smooth sailing up and through the general election -- Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll stay in close touch with you. Dana, thank you very, very much. A beautiful state indeed. Utah. Love that state.
There's more breaking news we're following. President Trump's travel ban upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. CNN's Chris Cuomo, he'll preview his coverage later tonight on "CUOMO PRIME TIME". There you see him. He's standing by live.
[18:56:40] BLITZER: A divided U.S. Supreme Court upholds the president's travel ban. It's a major breaking story.
Let's bring in CNN's Chris Cuomo. He's the anchor of "CUOMO PRIME TIME".
Chris, how are you going to be tackling the Supreme Court decision on the travel ban later tonight?
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, "CUOMO PRIME TIME": Head on in terms of what it is and what it isn't. I think that there's a little bit of confusion about what the Supreme Court does.
People are scrutinizing the travel ban in terms of it as a policy, as it's politics. Who do we want here? Who do we not want here? What messages does this decision reinforce?
Those are not issues for this Supreme Court. Their domain, their purview, is whether or not this was lawful and it got shot down a couple of times in lower courts because of the obvious. It seems tailored to exclude a religion, Muslims, specifically.
Now, this version they found lawful at the Supreme Court level is greatly watered down from early ones. How so? Well, it has other countries that aren't Muslim dominant included. It has processes included in terms of who the determinations are made about who gets in that are much more sophisticated by the Department of Justice.
So, whether or no it is good policy is something that the Supreme Court said outwardly it wasn't tackling. Whether it is lawful was their domain and the president does have broad powers when it comes to deciding who gets in and out of the country. So, that's the part of what it isn't. It isn't about the Supreme Court saying this is good for the country as policy.
What this law is, what this ban will be is a metaphor. For a moment in our culture, that is very real, Wolf. We are facing definitional questions about who and what America is about.
And this ban is a big part of the answer for Donald Trump. The push back, the politics, the negotiating, that's what comes next.
BLITZER: Yes, truly an historic day here in Washington with this decision.
Also tonight, you're going to be interviewing Republican Congressman Steve King, who I take it is not apologizing for retweeting a neo- Nazi. He says he just didn't know he was retweeting that neo-Nazi. What do you want to ask him tonight?
CUOMO: Why? Why? Why won't he do what would seem obvious at any other time? In our culture, which is, oh, I didn't know I was into this ugly stuff. I was just saying that, you know, people around the world are starting to be very careful about who they let in. We should do the same.
But Steve King isn't doing that and he needs to explain why because I think it's a window into a reluctance to give even an inch that we are so divided. We are so us and them. That it is literally existential for the players on both sides and I think it is unhealthy, as you know, Wolf.
But, Steve King is a real player in this because immigration the battleground. This is the issue and the set of problems that goes to the heart of what is trying to be decided about the future of this country and who it is and what it means and what it will do in terms of dividing or excluding. And King is big because his part of the party is fundamental to Trump's base of support on this.
BLITZER: Ask him why he hasn't deleted that retweet as well, and we'll be watching later tonight.
Chris Cuomo, thanks very much.
"CUOMO PRIME TIME" later tonight, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.
That's it for me. Thanks for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.