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  This Week With George Stephanopoulos  ABC  January 29, 2017 8:07am-8:21am PST

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so, let's turn straight to white house press secretary sean spicer. good morning, sean. i know there are many people who support this, but you heard those strong reactions, those stories of people stranded at airports, detained. jesuit priests. veterans calling this un-american. >> well, let's look at the facts of what happened. there's 325,000 people from foreign countries that traveled into the united states yesterday. there were 109 people that this actually addressed that had come in post-entry from seven countries that we've identified, in fact, actually the obama administration identified -- the obama administration had previously identified needed further travel restrictions. we've gone in, as terry pointed out, it's a 90-day ban to ensure that we have further vetting restrictions so that we know who is coming to this country. the safety of the american citizens, the safety of our country has got to be paramount. and that's what the president did yesterday is to ensure that the people that we're letting into our country are coming here
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with peaceful purposes and not to do us harm. so, this really comes down to 109 people who are all being processed through the system to make sure that when they've gone out of the country, gone somewhere that is one of those seven countries and coming back that they've done so and not tried to go there and do anything that would cause our nation harm. >> 109 people, probably muslims, what message does this send to muslims worldwide? >> what it sends is that we're going to protect our country and our people. there are other countries with muslim pop layings that are not part of this and i think that's an important thing to know whether you're talking about algeria, jordan, kuwait or the uae, there's muslim majority countries not in this seven. these seven were identified by the obama administration needing further travel scrutiny. >> what about the countries like pakistan, like afghanistan, where there have been terrorist cells, saudi arabia on 9/11. >> we're looking at all of this holistically.
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but i think the first step -- >> why these first where there haven't been -- >> i just said it twice, because i think these were the obama administration put these first and foremost and said these countries need to have further travel restrictions based on the intelligence that we have. so, you know, those were identified by the previous administration. there were further travel restrictions already in place from those seven countries. what the president did was take the first step through this executive order of ensuring that we're looking at the entire system of who is coming in, refugees that are coming in, people who are coming in from places that have a history or that our intelligence suggests that we need to have further extreme vetting for. >> let's talk about iraq. you saw that an iraqi interpreter for america was detained temporarily. i have been in iraq with those interpreters. they have saved lives of american soldiers. >> absolutely. >> and now you're saying you can't come in. >> no, that's not what we're saying martha, at all. we're not going to let someone slip through the cracks that
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seeks to do our country harm. that's it. the person processed in, i know in some cases there will be a bit of an inconvenience -- had >> is there any humiliation? >> no, there's 109 slowed down. over 300,000 foreign visitors came in. what do we say to the family who loses someone to a terrorist -- whether atlanta, san bernardino or the boston bomber, those people each of whom had gone out to a country and come back, granted not -- >> none of those are countries on this list. >> we took the first step in ensuring that a terrorist attack won't continue in this country. what do we say to the family or to the individual who gets hurt or the family of someone who gets killed because we didn't take these steps? protecting this nation and our people is the number one priority of this president and our government. >> and you want to protect them against isis. right now -- >> we want to protect them against everything. >> americans are fighting side by side with the iraqis. have you had any reaction or any indication that the iraqis will now say, americans can't come in
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here either? >> no, look, we are working through all the diplomatic channels necessary to make sure our friends and allies around the globe understand that our position is to protect our borders and to make sure -- and, again, this is about slowing the process down. those 109 people are being processed through the system to make sure that the vetting is applied that they didn't do anything nefarious when they were overseas. i think that's what we should be doing. we shouldn't let them re-enter the country who are not citizens because they have gone to a place that we have concerns about. they should be asked certain questions. they should go through extreme vetting to make sure when they re-enter this country, that they continue to do so with peaceful purposes. >> how much of a heads-up did you give homeland security? you've seen the scenes at the airport. you heard david kerley report that people weren't ready -- >> what we couldn't do is telegraph our position ahead of time to ensure that people flooded in before that happened, before it went into place, so the appropriate leadership was notified, and cables were being sent out through the state department as we speak.
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the issue was, i know that when you get down to the tsa level and some of the customs and border officials who are on the front lines, we had to do it in a way that ensured the safety of america was preserved. and if we had telegraphed that ahead of time, then that would have been a massive security problem. so, what we did was made sure we coordinated with the appropriate leadership so department and agencies both homeland security, border and customs protection. >> the executive order also stipulates that after the refugee program is reinstated in 120 days, the government will prioritize religious minorities persecuted in their country. how will you determine what religion people are? how do you vet them? >> during this 120-day period we're going to put a system in place that looks country by country, group by group and make sure we put appropriate vetting in place. again -- >> a religious test? >> hold on. no, what we'll do is make sure people who have been persecuted for either religious or other reasons have an opportunity to apply and go through a vetting system that ensures they're coming to this country to seek
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asylum, to seek a new life for themselves or their family but to do so with peaceful purposes. >> okay, president trump said during an interview on the christian broadcasting network that persecuted christian refugees should be seen as a priority. why -- >> in some countries they should. >> why are christian refugees -- >> because -- >> let me finish. why are christian refugees more worthy of admission to the united states than muslims or even jewish refugees? >> well, it's a question of making sure that in many so of these countries they are the persecuted group, and so it's just -- it's a fact that when they live in a majority country of another religion, they are a minority being persecuted not able to practice their religion in some cases under threat, and so it's just a fact that they are being persecuted in some of these countries, and we need to make sure that we recognize them so that they can come to this country and be able to practice their religion in accordance with our laws and our constitution. >> if you feel the threat is so great from these countries and so great from these refugees,
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why just 90 days? why just 120 days? can you really get this done? >> i think we can. and that's the point, that we make sure we put the safety of our nation first and foremost and that we put a plan together during that period to put those extreme vetting measures in place. look, this is nothing new. president trump talked about this throughout the campaign and the transition and he's doing exactly what he told the american people he was going to do. it's interesting, the criticism that's coming is from someone who has gotten into office hit the ground running, had a flurry of activity to do exactly what he said he was going to do. whether it was bringing back jobs, fighting for american taxpayers and cutting the cost and waste out of government programs or doing what he said overseas in protecting this nation, but he is not going to apologize for putting the safety of this country first and foremost. >> i want to turn to yemen. >> yeah. >> president trump as president, as commander in chief suffered the first loss of an american service member in yemen today in a raid on al qaeda operatives
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and three service members were injured in that raid. another when we lost an aircraft in a hard landing. >> that's right. >> what can you tell us about that raid and who did they get? >> they got 14 individuals. they killed 14 individuals and captured a whole host of information about future plots that's going to benefit this country and keep us safe. we mourn for the loss of life of the service member who so bravely fought for this country and was killed. and then obviously, as you mentioned, three others were injured in the raid. another one when the aircraft went down, that aircraft -- >> was that aircraft shot? >> that aircraft was destroyed in a hard landing or it was -- >> there was a hard landing that destroyed it. >> we destroyed that plane to ensure that we didn't allow any of our technology out there. but it is -- >> will he go to dover? >> it continues to show -- >> will he go to dover? >> i'm not going to get ahead. this is obviously developing right now as we speak. the president was informed throughout the evening of the situation. he extends his condolences but, more importantly, he understands
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the fight that our servicemen and women conduct on a daily basis to keep this country safe and that's why this order is so important. people are over throughout the world in some of these important regions like yemen and countries rather to ensure the safety of this country. and we need to take steps that if they're going to go out there and put their lives on the line every day to fight isis, to fight other people who are seeking to do us harm to capture information that will protect future plots that we do our part to make sure that we're not having an open door to allow people right -- to march right into our country. >> let me turn to russia. >> the executive order ties right into that because we've got to do our part here to make sure that while they fight so gallantly overseas, that we're protecting the country and our borders. >> i want to turn to the russian sanctions. president trump talked to vladimir putin yesterday about mutual cooperation in defeating isis and working together to achieve more peace throughout the world including syria. kellyanne conway opened the door on friday to removing sanctions
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against russia, and the readout from the kremlin said they underlined the importance of restoring mutually profitable trade and economic connections. could president trump agree to remove those sanctions without consequences? >> yesterday was the first call that they had. we're continuing to work with them to combat isis, especially in syria, and deal with this crisis in aleppo. there's an area in which we've got to work with them if we're going to isis and that's the first step. we have not made any decisions on sanctions. the president will continue to have conversations and our team will continue to liaiase with russian decisions but no decisions were made on the call yesterday. >> john mccain said for the sake of america's national security and that of our allies, president trump should put an end to this speculation about lifting sanctions. are you not willing to do that? >> the president doesn't take anything off the table. he is a world class negotiator. part of the reason he's so successful and part of the reason why he was elected president is because people
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understand he's not only a successful businessman but an amazing negotiator. he doesn't come in telling people what he'll take in or off the table to get the best deal possible for this country. he's going to work with russia or any other country for that matter in areas of shared agreement, and if protecting this country, going back to what we've been talking about so far, he's going to work with them. if we can come up with a plan or partner with them in any way to defeat isis then we're going to do it. >> i want to turn to the national security council. the national security council executive order that has now been put in place removes the director of national intelligence, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff from the nsc principals meeting. they are now only invited when, quote, issues retaping to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed but allowed instead in all of the meetings white house chief strategist steve bannon. former national security adviser susan rice tweeting this morning, this is stone cold crazy. after a week of crazy. who needs military advice or intell to make policy on isil,
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syria, afghanistan, dprk adding chairman of joint chiefs and dni treated as after-thoughts in cabinet level principals meeting and where is the cia? cut out of everything and retweeted this. trump loves and trusts the military so much he just kicked them out of the national security council and put in a nazi in their place. >> that's clearly inappropriate language from a former ambassador. look -- >> stone cold crazy. >> the comments that she made, look, the reality is that general flynn, former head of the defense intelligence agency brought significant reforms to the nsc and homeland security council headed by tom bostert. he is an expert if all of this area. we are instilling reforms to make sure we streamline the process for the president to make decisions on key important intelligence matters. you've got a leader in general flynn who understands the intelligence process and the reforms needed probably better than anybody else and when you talk about the missteps made by the last administration with all
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due respect i think ambassador rice might want to wait, see how we handle this. because i think so far they've got an expert team of folks that have come in to understand the national situation, our intelligence systems and how we can modernize -- >> streamlined without the chairman, without the dni? >> we have an unbelievable group of folks that are part of the nsc that are making decisions to get that. the president gets plenty of information from the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and he continues to meet with him on a continued basis and gets briefed by the secretary of defense but what they have done is modernize the national security council so that it's less bureaucratic and more focused on providing the president with the intelligence he needs. >> and steve bannon, what does he provide? >> he was a former naval officer with a tremendous understanding of the world and the geopolitical landscape we have now. >> and so he's giving military advice in there? >> it's not giving advice. part of this is analysis. the data comes in and how we synthesize that data to make the best decision for our country is not something about just intelligence but the intelligence that comes in and the analysis that comes out of that. having key decision makers and
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the chief strategist for the united states for the president to come in and talk about what the strategy is going forward is crucial. the data comes in raw and what these key individuals do is help provide guidance for the president to make decisions. having the chief strategist for the president in those meetings who has a significant military background to help make, guide what the president's final