tv CNN Tonight With Don Lemon CNN January 31, 2017 12:00am-1:01am PST
hello. u.s. president donald trump has fired the acting u.s. attorney general for refusing to enforce his executive order on immigration and refugees. he sent sally yates relieving her of her responsibilities. >> she said she didn't think the president's travel ban was legal and told them not to defend it. the new acting attorney general has already reversed her guidan guidance. he ordered them to defend the lawful orders of our president. >> it has sparked days of protests around the world and in airports across the u.s. justice core respondent has --
correspondent has more. >> reporter: president trump fired sally yates because she ordered the justice department not to defend the president's executive order on immigration and refugees. it banned travel to the united states of people from seven countries deemed to be security r risks. she a nearly 30 year career lawyer in the justice department. she told justice department lawyers that i am responsible for ensuring that the positions we take in court remain consistent with the solemn obligation to always seelk justice and stand for what's right. she went onto say she didn't think the executive order was lauf lawful. the white house release add
statement that yates has betrayed the department of justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the united states. he will remain in office until they confirm jeff sessions, expected late they are week. cnn, washington. >> let's get more with michael moore. he knows sally yates. thank you for joining us. >> glad to be with you. >> i want to read this quote we are getting from the new acting attorney general who ordered the department of justice to quote do our sworn duty and defend the lawful orders of our president. as somebody who knows both of the characters involved in this, what is your perspective on this situation? >> i'm not surprised to hear
dana's order. i think the keyword in there is lawful. she injecting the employees to carry forth the lawful orders. the question is whether or not this is lawful. sally yates determined it was not and ultimately lost her job because of that. that will be what we are deba debating over the next couple of days. >> are you suggesting from the wording that he refer today there he may do something other than follow the executive order? >> i don't think many lawyers at the level we are talking about with dana and sally and other high-ranking officials put together sentences with words don't mean something. i don't think he threw the word lawful unless it meant something. he will take a look at this and make a decision about it. we know some issues have been taken up by the courts.
i think ultimately he will make a decision on whether or not it is something that would with stand constitutional scrutiny. >> so you do not mean this that it made a determination that it is lawful? >> i think if he determines that the order is lawful he'll expect the department of justice to enforce that order. i think if you had the president implementing torture. just because he puts it in an order doesn't make it lawful. i think that's the word we'll be looking at and talking about over the next few days. >> putting the legal argument aside because you do know both of them we are interested to find out what you know about each of them and what would have motivated sally yates to take a stand like this. she exposes herself by doing this in a way. she makes herself vulnerable by taking a stand on principal.
>> i know dana in a professional capacity. he served during the time that i served and we would attend meetings and conferences and that type of thing together. i found him to be extremely cordial nice guy. i think he had a long distinguished career with the department. he has filled in and he received his appointment as united states attorney after mcbride tleft eastern district of virginia. my familiarity with him was always pleasant. i think he is a fine gentleman. my familiarity with sally is more in depth. i had a pleasure of serving in georgia with her when she was the united states attorney. i consider her a professional colleague. i consider her a friend. tonight after she has had the fortitude and courage to make the statement that she made i'm especially proud to call her a friend. i think it took a great deal of courage. i think it took someone that
recognized that her job is not simply to agree with the president simply because he is the president or wishes something done. in fact she is a servant to the constitution and a servant to the people. she analyzed her duty and looked at the constitution very carefully and decided that the order that president trump put forth won't with stand constitutional scrutiny. >> a number are saying even though they may find it what this order is insisting upon that when it comes to the legality of it it would pass because of the wording they have used. >> i think it is a decision that gets made in the courts. there will be one side that says it doesn't with stand constitution naal scrutiny and other saying they feel the president had the authority to do what he did.
i think he has a certain amount when it comes to border security. this was an executive order that was put out. we have heard so much it is an executive order that was put out which essentially allows in its worse case for there to be a religious test. i think that's the problem when we look at the constitution. >> i think there are different views depending on what side of the aisle you're standing on. senate majority leader says the attorney -- the fact this administration does not understand that is chilling. as against that ted cruz says president trump was right to fire an acting attorney general to carry out her duty to enforce the law.
very different interpretations. the attorney general should be enforcing the law. the conclusions everybody differs on. >> i think that is maybe inherent to our judicial system. there will be opposing views that make their way into the courtroom and they judge somewhere and it may become the supreme court that will make a decision about this. nonetheless there could be different views. i'm simply saying i believe sal s ly is a professional. i think she made a decision that she felt like she could not direct the employees to enforce this order. so for taking a stand i mean i applaud her for that. there may be other people that disagree. if senator cruz was the attorney general he may have ordered people to move forward. i think the american people ought to take some comfort in
have been an attorney general who is willing to put the brakes on power from the white house. i think it's an important aspect we shouldn't forget. we want the attorney general to be willing to stand up to and have the backbone to push back against an overreach of executive power. >> even though history told us it doesn't happen very often. >> all right. thank you so much for joining us. >> it is my pleasure. thank you very much. >> thank you. all right. let's stay with this. we are joined now by scott at the university of birmingham. donald trump has dealt with a lot of opposition. for any other president you would say this is a really rocky start to the presidency, the kind that could undermine the whole time in office.
is this effecting his presidency or not? >> you're absolutely right. this is unprecedented. including this order is that they can count on a snominority people to intimidate almost anyone that challenges them. they have been trying to do this with the media. they have been trying do this with members of congress. they have been trying do with with the court. what i would have to say is that having seen the protests that took place the day after the inauguration over a variety of issues and haven't seen the reaction this weekend to this latest executive order we are at the start of a significant and defining moment in american society, probably the most significant of the 1960s. >> some of the opposition we have seen over the last few days
seems to be self-inflicted, the way it was rolled out. the absence of coordination with var koious agencies, perhaps securing the legal case for us. what does it tell us about the way decisions are made in this white house? >> that is a wider context for what michael moore just told you. that's what they reportedly the two men who drafted this executive order did not consult to the justice department therefore they did not get a legal opinion. they did not consult the department of defense. they did not consult the state department. they did not consult homeland security. that has been the case not only with this order but with a series of executive orders. the envirenvironmental was not the decision to renew the pipelines. they were put under a gag order not to make any comment on that. >> do you think it is done on purpose or think it is just
growing pains, learning the business of office? >> this is not growing pains. it is a different type of administration because the character of the advisers, they are going to try to rule by fiat or it is an authoritarian type of rule. it will be a real test to the american system. >> tcan a u.s. president in thi political system do that? >> remember, our founders designed this precisely in the 18th century so no one man or group of men could push their way across the rest of us. the question as to whether they can do it for four years, it depends in part on the congress, in part on the courts, in part on the military and on the american people. >> all right. thank you very much for your views, scott lucas. >> thank you.
president donald trump is responding forcefully for those who on immigration and refugees. he fired sally yates after she said she wasn't sure that it was legal. >> she told them not to support the controversial travel ban. dana has rekrended her guidance. cities across the united states people took to the streets for another night of protests. >> thousands gathered in louisville, kentucky. take a listen to this emotional speech. >> i graduated from middle
school in this beautiful state, high school in this state, have no debt, pay all my taxes. so i have earned my right to call this place home. >> former u.s. president barack obama is speaking out for the first time since he left office 12 days ago. he issued this statement. >> the president fundamentally disagreed with because of their faith or religion. citizens exercising their constitutional right to assemble, organize and have their voices heard is exactly what we expect to see when american values are at take. >> for more on all of this we a joined by james. he worked on donald trump's presidential transition team on foreign policy and homeland security up until the
inauguration. thank you so much for being with us. >> it's good to be with you. >> let's start with breaking news. president trump firing the acting attorney general sally yates after she instructed lawyers not to defend mr. trump's executive order. why not wait until his own attorney general was in place and the rest of his team before signing this executive order and trying to move things along so fast and creating all of this chaos right across the country. >> that's a really fair question. i think what they are weighing is the risks of going forward versus not doing nothing. this executive order was designed to deal with the immerging threat. as isis is losing space the remainder have to go somewhere. everybody believes they go to
the seven countries that were listed. it's not just us. the obama administration believe that. the concern is you have to have mechanisms in place that if they try to come to the western united states you're prepared to deal with that. i think what was on the mind of the incoming administration is on january 20th we own this. if something happens it it's on watch. if there's a terrorist attack on the 21st of january nobody is going to accept, well, we just did what the last guy did. my point is i think there is a sense that we own this and we need to be responsible and get our processes -- >> why not just slow it down? it's not a matter of whether they do it or don't do it. it's a matter of doing it whether everybody is in place. the list of seven nations here, the majority of muslim countries where there have been no
attackers. those countries that haven't been included, they are not on the list and they are not -- so where is the logic with this? >> right. so let's focus on those seven countries. let's focus on that decision first. it's very clear is the same reason the europeans have restrictions on these seven countries, the same reason the obama had restrictions -- >> but not as broad as this. >> right. you ask the questions and let me answer them. the idea here is that's the country where everybody believe that is when foreign fighters run away, that's where they can go, that's where they will go and that's where they will try to exit from to go to the west. we have seen them go into attacks on western europe.
it is very clearly focused on where the immerging threat is coming from. it doesn't mean don't worry about the domestic terrorist threat. it is dealing with a specific threat that people recognize. it's like everybody gets accused of preparing to fight the last war. the administration says we need to be prepared to fight the next wave which is not just us. >> it still doesn't answer the question why. >> sure it answers the question. >> why pakistan, the nations that have -- >> that's a ridiculously easy question to answer. foreign fighters are not flowing into those countries and they are not flowing out of those countries. saudi arabia, katar are not even taking any refugees so that they
issue a foreign fighter threat flow can only be by somebody that doesn't know. it doesn't pass the laugh test. >> all right. thank you is much for zwrojoini us. >> thank you for having me. president trump suspended the admissions of all refugees for the next four months. >> she is the middle east assistance project. can you tell us what impalct yo have seen on the ground? can you describe the situations you witnessed? >> the impact here is a devastating impact. they have estimated about 20,000 refugees around the world are immediately effected by this ban. it doesn't even tell the full story. the u.s. direct refugee admission, they are also susp d suspended by this.
that number is about 58,000 the last time official numbers were reported. in addition to that most of those people in addition to being iraqi allies may have u.s. citizen family members in the united states who they are now separated from. among the 20,000 from the numbers those aren't any refugees. those are the most vulnerable 1% of all worldwide. most don't even get considered. they have to page due in the country they first flew to. they look for those who have urgent medical needs, for those who are orphaned. the devastating. >> can you give me an example of the kind of people you have been dealing with abdomnd the kind o stories you have seen? >> absolutely. when this draft was issued our clients read the draft and they read what was being said on
various groups on facebook and they came to our office in tears in some cases have been been up all night in anxiety about what would happen to them. one of my claients fled to lebanon because her family found out she was transgendered and theyi they issued a death threat against her. she came to lebanon. she is not safe from her family here. we have other people who have been brought back to iraq to be killed by these tribes. so they need to get out of lebanon because they are not safe here. this ban prevents them from doing that. she sat in my office and showed me a certificate showing she had gone through cultural orientation sessions to prepare her for building a new life in
the united states. she said america is a country that respects the rule of law. why would they pull the rug out from under my feet like this. >> before this executive order was signed just how difficult was it for refugees to enters the u.s. and do you think the administration understands the vetting system that was already in place for the u.s.? >> it appears -- and i think this is very disappointing. it appears they don't understand the system that was already in place. i sincerely believe this is an issue that most americans would truly change their mind about about the fact that was already in place. it is not like the situation that may be occurring in some countries in europe where a large number and those requests
need to be processed in a quick amount of time. this is a situation where the vetting process, it takes 18 to 24 months. they go through rigorous interviews with u.s. c.i.s. it is run through databases at the department of defense, department of homeland security in addition to other government agencies. if at any stage something comes up their application is done. this is not something that any of these agencies take lightly. i think many americans have been mislead and believe that the first time we are investigating the background is when they arrive at the u.s. border. that's simply not the case. we have been through an extremely thextrem extremely thorough vetting process. >> thank you very much. thanks a lot. we'll take a short break. when we come back, as we have seen, the u.s. immigration ban is causing political and legal chaos. we'll take a closer look at the
sally yates told justice department lawyers not to defend it. >> dana says he will enforce the president's order. the senate is expect today vote on nominee for jeff sessions on tuesday. >> so let's get more now on all of this. we are joined by page. great to have you here. >> thank you. >> let's start with this, the firing of the acting attorney general by president trump. he calls her defiance a betrayal because he wasn't ready to carry out his executive order on immigration. so talk to us about the legality of that, where president trump stands and what she should have been doing in the midst of all of this. >> certainly. she works for president. the president clearly has the
legal authority to replace her if that's what he decides to do. when you're faced with a situation when you to decide if you're going to step into a courtroom and defend an order you think may be unconstitutional. you should have the back and forth with your boss before that happens. mrs. yates says you didn't follow with anybody senior level in the justice department before you issued this order and now you expect us to simply walk into court and parrot what you tell us to say. think she had a problem with that and that's why the president fired her. >> she didn't just challenge the executive order on the basis of legality. she also questioned whether it was wise or just. is it the role of the attorney general or in this case the acting attorney general to discuss the wisdom of a presidential policy? >> that's a good question. for most people that hold a
cabinet level position you're there and expected to serve the president, of course. i've always that the justice department here is a little bit different because not only are you a part of executive, you deal with the judicial branch all of the time. so you an obligation to the rule of law, to the constitution. that's what you swear in oath to to make sure not just everything that crosses your desk, the i's are dotted and the t's are crossed but that the process is with the constitution. that's what she had a problem with here. >> and at this executive order banning people at the time being at least for people coming from these seven nations. talk to us about whether that is constitutionally possible, you know, where it stands constitutional and and morally. >> right. those are two separate questions. politically there's even a third question. you know, there's been a lot of
extreme language on both sides of this issue. it is clearly constitutional or clearly not constitutional. it's not entirely clear one way or the order. i'm sure it was written intentionally this way appears to be at least on its fa. they focused ton way it was being implemented. what they were doing at the airports and at the border were stopping people who had the right to come back into the country or to come into the country for the first time. they had already been approved so they have different rights than someone that shows up at the border. i think while on its face it doesn't say anything that's entirely inconsistent with the constitution, the way they are carrying out this process, i think is. >> we talked about this constitutionality of this and you mentioned it has been
written in such wha way they ca probably get this through. where does it leave some of the legal challenges in place right now? are they likely to succeed or not? >> a lot will depend on the judge. there may be inconsistent decisions. lawsuits filed in virginia, lawsuits filed in new york, a lawsuit field in seattle. and so far at least with the initial state order it has been consistent. there has been no determination about constitutionality. they are saying let's keep everything status quo. which ever side looses they are going to appeal. it will go up to the united states supreme court where we are short one justice. >> do you wonder why the trump team wouldn't wait until their
own attorney general was in place, not only what we are seeing now unfold but also with people arriving and nobody knowing what to do once people have actually landed and they had visas. >> someone had to think this through. from my standpoint, a legal standpoint, you're fnot going t do something as dramatic as this that you have not run by the senior level unless you are intentionally bypassing them. >> are you saying he might have expected or wanted this level of disruption? >> from a political standpoint, yes. legally no one could have ass e assumed that sally yates or anyone would have decided to defend this order given their reservations about this. >> thank you. always a pleasure to talk with you. the protests have gone
beyond u.s. borders. >> in london thousand of protesters marched on monday. in addition a petition on the parliment web site to block a visit has passed the 1 million signature mark. >> nina, let's start with the protests, how extensive have they been and how many people are turning out to voice their concerns? >> we don't have official numbers but i can tell you people gathered in the thousands and right near downs street and between the official seat to voice their concerns. some of them were saying frankly disgusted at this travel ban. the irony being that johnson has said that this country could be one of the only countries where dual nationals who also hold
passports but hold u.k. passp t passports could be exempt from this travel ban. people really voice their discontent not just verbally but in the form of the placards here. some of these are ones i recognized from about a week and a half ago. a lot of the same characters having kept them and taking them to the street. >> yeah, and i also want to ask you about that petition calling on the british government to block trump's state visit. it garnered more than 1 million signatures. what is likely to happen with that? will it make it into parliment? will it be discussed? >> because of the number of signatures this petition has gathered it will have to be
discussed by parliment. just yesterday evening teresa may's office said she is committing to having extended this state visit offer to donald trump and they are standing by that for the number ten downing street. as you said, yes, it gathered more than a million and a half petitions so far. this was a web site petition set up by a lawyer well before this travel ban had caused so much. it has been gathering more signatures. we'll have to see where it goes from here. as you point out, yes, it will have to be discussed. teresa may has stuck to her words saying she extended the invitation on behalf of the queen. there is also some about whether or not that invitation was given to hastily.
they said perhaps this particular invitation should be downgraded from here to try to downgrade the level of public anger we are seeing in the u.k. >> all right. thank you. that reaction from london where it is 8:40 in the morning. many thanks to you. and despite protests there are plenty of americans who favor the tighter restrictions. >> we visited a community in pennsylvania where voters are not afraid to speak their minds. >> we have to check out who is coming in. we have to know who is coming in. >> reporter: supporters of president donald trump and his refugee plan weren't hard to find in pennsylvania. after all, trump won this county with 58% of the vote, a major reversal from president obama's tight victory here in 2012. do you think this will make
america safer and prevent terrorism? >> yes. yes. >> reporter: why? >> because there are so many of them here now it's hard to keep track of them. they just keep coming and coming and coming. >> reporter: this pennsylvania farmer, a long-time registered democrat swic democrat switched parties to support trump. how do you feel about it? >> it's not. she doing the right thing. those people have to be vetted. these people are coming off the street. we have no idea who they are. >> reporter: but the state department does vet them already. they spent a couple of years vetting these folks. you're saying it's not enough? >> there is still enough people to sneak through. i don't think they get everybody. >> reporter: and many here told us don't even bother vetting, just keep them out for good. >> there's a lot of bad people there. we don't know their backgrounds or where they came from.
we don't know fully what they are behind. >> reporter: you know you sound like donald trump when you say that? >> i kind of agree with him. >> reporter: not a single trump supporter considers it discriminatory. what do you say to those who call it discrimination and illegal? >> you can't call it discrimination when we have to much violence with the bombings and attacks. it's like he is just trying to keep us safe. >> reporter: will this make america safer, do you think? >> i don't know. i don't know. i'm hoping it will. >> reporter: in a diner jammed with trump devotees this woman stuck out, an independent who supported hillary clinton. she says president trump is bullying muslims. what about the bans? >> the ban is a disgrace. this country is made up of immigran immigrants. he just wants to sign executive orders to show that she doing something. he has no idea what it's all
about. >> reporter: is this discrimination in your view? >> absolutely. it is discrimination, illegal and a disgrace to our country. >> reporter: this woman couldn't disagree more. she says it's the only way to stop terrorism. what about the terrorism? what scares you about that? >> you never know where it is going to be. you could be shopping or you can go to church. they might want to blow up your church. >> reporter: cnn, hazelton, pennsylvania. coming up donald trump's chief strategist is elevated to a seat on the national security council, a look at how much influence steve bannon has in the white house. that's still to come. what? who's replacing me? splenda naturals? well... she's made with stevia. come on! stevia has a bitter aftertaste. hold on. splenda naturals is not bitter. she's as sweet as sweet can be, and calorie-free. again with the calories?
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highest level national security team. >> many are wondering how much power steve bannon has in this white house. steve reports. >> reporter: steve bannon is the white house chief strategist. it may not do justice to his influence in the west wing. including the president's immigration order and travel ban that sparked a global backlash. it's his elevation to a permanent spot on national security council that is outraging many republicans who question why he has a seat alongside the secretary of state and defense secretary of national security. the president said in a weekend memo the director of national intelligence will no longer have a standing seat on the group known as the principals committee. robert gates said it was an unprecedented move.
>> i think pushing them out of the national security council meeting except when special issues are at stake is a big mistake. i think they bring perspective and judgment and experience that every president, whether they like it or not, finds useful. >> reporter: sean spicer brushed aside criticism as utter nonsense. >> this administration is trying to make sure we don't hide things. it recognizes the role he is going to play. steve is not going to be in every meeting. >> reporter: a person close to him tells cnn he thrives on it. bannon sees his role as disrupting the and putting his imprint on trump's presidency. he calls himself a nationalist who says trump could create a new poppist movement.
>> reporter: he joined trump's team last august. at 62 he has one of the loudest voices in the white house who is rarely heard or seen outside. last week been bannon -- >> i think the media is the opposition party in many ways. >> reporter: cnn, washington. we will take a very short break. when we come back, one suspect is in custody charged in a deadly attack on a canadian mosque, the latest on the investigation. stay with us.
prime minister condemned the attack and marched in support of the mosque at a vigil in quebec city monday. we have the latest. >> reporter: can nad yan authorities charging alexander with six counts of first-degree murder at a quebec mosque. police calling him a lone wolf in what's considered an act of
terror. he is previously unknown to police and not on any watch lists. >> received the call for shooting. all of the police officers were here to try to know what happened and make safe security. no we consider the event like an act of terrorism. >> reporter: a second man arrested shortly after the shooting is being called a witness and not a suspect. 8:00 p.m. sunday a gunman ernted the mosque and opened fire on worshippers including children. the six men were between the ages of 39 and 60. 39 others escaped injury. >> we have three people in intensive care. we have three other people in traumatic care and they are more
stable. >> reporter: in this city where mass shootings are an uncommon tragedy he couldn't control his emotions as he remembered the people gunned down in a place of worship with people who were praying. a pig's head with a message. canada taking in tens of thousands since justin took office in 2015. many of them from muslim majority nations. as large crowds showed up quebec's premier reached out to reassure muslims living in canada. >> we are with you. this is your home. you welcome here. we are all quebecers. >> thanks for joining us. i'm rosemary church.
breaking overnight. an extraordinary move from the white house. president trump fires his acting attorney general after she refused to cooperate with his travel ban. who is in charge now and how will it effect the executive order? a major distraction hours before the president is set to make first nomination to the u.s. supreme court. will the battle over attorney general effect the nomination to the high court? so many questions this morning. a lot happening. good morning. welcome