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  This Week With George Stephanopoulos  ABC  February 5, 2017 8:02am-8:17am PST

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and as this tussle between the president and the courts played out, i met with vice president mike pence at the historic congress hall in philadelphia, just steps away from where our constitution was drafted. the president is vowing to overturn that order. this morning, he called the ridiculous order from a so-called judge. so-called judge, is it appropriate for the president to be questioning the legitimacy of a federal judge in that way? >> through the course of the campaign, in the early days of this administration, president trump has made it clear that our administration is going to put the safety and the security of the american people first. the executive order he put into effect, which suspends immigration from seven countries that have been compromised by terrorism and don't have the kind of internal systems that we can be certain that people that are applying to come to this country are who they say they are was legal. it was appropriate. our administration will use all legal means at our disposal. >> i understand. is it right for the president to say so-called judge?
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doesn't that undermine the separation of powers in the constitution written right next door? >> well, i don't think it does. i think the american people are accustomed to the president speaking his mind. speaking very straight with them. it's very frustrating when scholars on the left and the right, people as distinguished as jonathan turlly of george washington university have said while he doesn't agree with the executive order, he recognizes that the president has the full authority to put the security of the homeland first. >> but this judge was appointed -- >> to see a judge suspend that order is frustrating to all of us. >> this was a judge nominated by president bush. 99-0, confirmed. how is he a so-called judge? >> well, again, there's simply no question under the constitution, and frankly under federal law, that the president of the united states has the authority in the interest of national security to determine who has the right to come into this country. and we're going to challenge the
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judge's order on that basis, because the reality is, we face a dangerous enemy, the president is determined to use the authority that he has under the constitution and under the law. but we'll -- >> but doesn't this judge have the authority to do what he did, as well? >> he certainly does. that's why the administration is complying with the order as we speak and we'll go through the process in the courts to get a stay of that order so that, again, we can implement the action that is entirely focused on the safety and security of the american people. look, we have got to do things differently. and the obama administration and the last congress identified these seven countries, repeatedly, as seven countries that have been compromised by terrorism. and so by putting a pause in. as secretary kelly described it accurately. putting a pause in for all the countries, except syria, and beginning to identify ways we can assure that anyone that's coming here is -- is -- doesn't represent a threat to our
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families and communities is what the american people expect. >> there's been a chorus of criticism of this ban from other courts. our allies, teresa may. the french president. from republicans in congress. when you look at how this was done, do you take away lessons where it could have been done better? drafted better? >> i think the early days of this administration will be described in the history books as days of action. and the american people welcome the decisiveness that president trump has shown on this issue. putting the safety and security of the american people above the niceties of communicating with people in washington or in some cases around the world. he acted, he put the safety of the american people first. and i think that's the kind of leadership the american people want to see. >> definitely some support. a lot of resistance you have seen crop up as well. i want to move on. the democratic leader in the senate has responded this morning saying that each action testing the constitution and each personal attack on judges president trump raises the bar
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even higher for judge gorsuch's nomination to serve on the supreme court. do you think it will have an impact? >> probably, you know, i look at the first few days of this administration and -- i love to tell people to watch this president work sitting behind that resolute desk in the oval office. you see a president who is in the promise-keeping business. and, my view, chief among those promises, was his commitment to nominate someone to the supreme court ho -- who will be faithful to the constitution. interpret the law as written. he said he wanted someone who was exceptionally qualified. and judge neil gorsuch, with his academic background, with ten years on the court, someone unanimously confirmed by the u.s. senate ten years ago. i think represents that promise kept to the american people. and we remain very confident that despite some of the posturing that we see in the
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senate today, that judge gorsuch is going to be well received by the members of the senate. and i'll promise you, one way or the other, he'll get an up or down vote on the floor of the senate. >> whether it takes the nuclear option or not. president trump promised a pro-life justice. judge gorsuch has never direct ly ruled on a pro-life decision. are you confident he would vote to overturn roe v. wade on the court? >> as someone who cherishes the sanctity of life. i was honored be part of the process. >> you spoke with the judge, right? >> i did. the president asked me to be part of a small group that interviewed all the finalists for the decision. what the president directed us to look for is someone who would be faithful to the constitution. who would simply apply the law as written. who would have the character, the temperament, and the courage
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that the american people want to see. >> did you ask him directly about roe v. wade? >> i did not. what the president charged us to do was to find someone who had the background, the experience, the unimpeachable credentials, the character. but also just to be faithful to the constitution as written. we're in this hallowed hall where the congress met in 1790. right next door to the hall where the constitution was written. that and the framework of this government have created the greatest quality of life in the history of mankind. i'm confident in judge neil gorsuch we have someone who will keep faith with the constitution. >> president trump decided to leave stand the executive order of president obama's on lgbt rights. a question from a prominent conservative. our base is wondering why obama's executive order is allowed to stand. what is the answer? >> i think throughout the campaign president trump made it clear that discrimination would have no place in our administration.
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he was the very first republican nominee to mention the lgbtq community at our republican national convention and was applauded for it. i was there applauding with him. i think the generosity of his spirit, recognizing that in the patriot's heart, there is no room for prejudice is part of who this president is. i think the speech he gave this week at the national prayer breakfast, reiterating his commitment to repeal the johnson amendment. it's put a chilling effect on free speech in religious incis y incity -- institutions around the country. all a part of the leadership -- >> do you think a new executive order is necessary on religious liberty? >> the president has made it clear he wants to take action on the johnson amendment. in the 1950s, it threatened the tax-exempt status of churches
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and synagogues and religious institutions if they were seen to be involved in political expression. i have to tell you. i don't think we would have ever made it to these hallowed halls back in 1790 if the folks of the country had been silenced from speaking about what they thought was right and wrong. the president provided real leadership in the campaign. he identified the johnson amendment. he told people of faith, of every background across the country that he would work to repeal it. he's directed the administration to look at ways legislatively and through executive action -- >> no executive orders beyond that? >> it will be the purview of the president to determine if that is necessary. but i will tell you for our part, the focus of the administration will be to have a safer america. a more prosperous america. and to continue the advance the president's agenda on capitol hill and through executive action and carry the message all across the country. >> the president took executive action on iran yesterday.
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imposed those new sanctions. general flynn said iran is on notice. what does that mean exactly? >> it means we're watching. >> what are we watching for? >> it means there's a -- iran would do well to look at the calendar and realize there's a new president in the oval office. and iran would do well not to test the resolve of the new president. >> what would testing the resolve be? >> well, the ballistic missile tests down in the last week were in direct violation of u.n. security council resolutions dealing with limiting them in that regard. that's the reason the president took the decisive action that he took to impose economic sanctions on their supply chain. for their missile program. let's recognize that the rebels in yemen are fully subsidized by iran. and the attack they leveled using iranian arms against a saudi arabian ship this last week all represent the kind of hostile and belligerent actions
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that are simply not going to be tolerated by this administration. >> it might require military action? the president said everything is on the table. >> the president said everything is on the table. look, the iranians got a deal from the international community that the president and i and our administration think is a terrible deal. it essentially allows iran to develop a nuclear weapon in the years ahead at a date certain. they received hundreds of millions of dollars. >> but secretary mattis and secretary tillerson say we have to stand by that deal. is that administration policy? >> well, we're evaluating that as we speak. >> secretary mattis said the u.s. has to stand by the deal. he didn't say he was evaluating the deal. is that administration policy? >> i think the president will make that decision in the days ahead. he'll listen to all his advisers. make no mistake about it. the resolve of this president is such that iran would do well to think twice about their continued hostile and belligerent actions.
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>> russia is violating the cease-fire in ukraine. are they on notice, as well? >> we're watching. and very troubled by the increased hostilities over the past week in eastern ukraine. i know the president had a conversation with vladimir putin. >> did he say he was troubled? >> they spoke at that time about ukraine. i expect those conversations are going to be ongoing. but -- but -- look. there's, i think there's a growing recognition in the world community that there is a new style of leadership. not just a new leader in the white house. president trump is bringing a very candid. and direct type of leadership to the white house. and in conversations with leaders around the world, frankly, i think they find it very refreshing. >> some of them find it unsettling. >> well, to the extent that we have a president with broad
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shoulders willing to put the interests of the american people first and speak directly to leaders of the world about america's interests, it may be unsettling to some. i think it's encouraging to millions of americans. >> will the sanctions on russia remain in place as long as russia is violating the cease-fire in ukraine? >> i think that's a question that will be answered in the months ahead. and -- it just simply all depends. >> on? >> on whether or not we see the kinds of changes in posture by russia and the opportunity, perhaps, to work on common interests. and the president's made it clear that the top priority of this administration is to hunt down and destroy isis at its source. he's directed our military commanders. and our secretary of state to collaborate and to develop a strategy in the region to bring together the resources and the allies necessary to do that.
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russia has a common interest in confronting radical islamic terrorism and especially isis. if we have opportunities to work together, the president is looking for an opportunity to begin that relationship anew. but, make no mistake about it, those decisions will await action and they'll be very dependent on how the russians respond in the days ahead. >> i want to ask you about obamacare. senator lamar alexander came out and said, we have to start talking about repairing obamacare. not replacing. he said, comparing to it an old bridge. don't close it until a new one is complete. in the meantime, we repair it. no one is talking about repealing anything until there is a concrete alternative in place. does the president accept that? >> i think -- i think what the senator was talking about was simply the process. what the president has said is that we're going to repeal obamacare, which has put a
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tremendous burden on families across the country. we have some states across america, george, where health insurance premiums have gone up more than 100%. and the president made it clear to the congress, right after the election, he wanted to see us move on repealing the most corrosive elements, the mandate, the taxes, the penalties of obamacare. but he's also made it very clear that at the same time that we repeal obamacare, we're going through both executive action and legislation, set into action a replacement of obamacare that will be orderly and -- >> it doesn't have to be complete? the replacement before repeal? >> when he gave that speech here in philadelphia in the course of the campaign on obamacare, he talked about a commitment to repeal and replace this deeply flawed legislation. >> not repair. >> but he also said it would be an orderly transition.
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the way i interpret what the senator said is that we're going to ensure that we have that orderly transition. the american people know we can do better. we can lower the cost of health insurance without growing the size of government. with mandates and with taxes. the president is committed to that. i have to tell you, we're very encouraged by the support and the partnership of leadership in the house and senate in achieving just that. >> going to pick a winner in the super bowl? >> i'm going to go and cheer them on. i'm an indianapolis colts fan. i'm be on neutral ground in the houston owner's suite. what a privilege it will be to be there with president george herbert walker bush. we're so pleased, i know the president is pleased to see him doing well. there for the coin toss. to be able to be there to celebrate that great tradition in the company of some of amer