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tv   Erin Burnett Out Front  CNN  January 31, 2017 4:00pm-5:01pm PST

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friend and talented director gina fellows as she's joining our colleagues in new york. she'll still be part of the cnn family, but her "the situation room" family will miss her very much. good luck, gina. we miss you already. "erin burnett out front" starts right now. "out front" next, breaking news, president trump about to reveal his supreme court pick. who will it be? we are just moments away. and we're bringing that to you live tonight. plus more breaking news, chaos on capitol hill. democrats boycotting trump's nominees while another pick now accused of plagiarizing. and trump's travel ban. will it hurt or help america? mark cuban is "out front" tonight. let's go "out front."
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president trump announce his supreme court pick coming up. >> we'll be announcing a supreme court justice who i think everybody's going to be very, very impressed with. >> cnn has learned that the top two candidates, neil gorsuch and thomas hardiman, both were summon todd washington today. hardiman driving himself from pennsylvania. this drama oshg straighted by trump resembling an "apprentice"-style announcement tonight, not tipping his hand on who he's saying "you're hired" to. the reason, one person says, trump likes a contest. as for the one who isn't chosen, it's not a you're fired, apparently. trump doesn't see second place as a bad thing. this source telling cnn there will be other openings on the court so the person not picked will be runner-up, all in an attempt to distract perhaps from the growing controversy surrounding the travel ban. today the trump administration tried to deny that it even is a
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ban. >> it can't be a ban if you're letting 325,000 people in. >> this is not a travel ban, not a ban on muslims. >> the problem of course is that trump himself has used the word ban to describe this travel change. much more on that in a moment, but first pamela brown is out front. moments away from this big announcement, apprentice-style built up by the president. what do you know? >> reporter: that's right. it appears to be "supreme court apprentice." as you point out, one source says donald trump likes a contest and this is certainly playing out like one. in fact, we're told from a source that packets of briefing materials on both of the top finalists are being prepared tonight to hand out to the senators. we're told through our sources that the leading contender here, judge neil gorsuch, was covertly flown to washington, d.c., from his home in colorado yesterday. the other contender, thomas
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hardiman, a judge in pennsylvania, left his home this morning, in fact, one of our producers caught up with him at a gas station in between pittsburgh and washington, d.c. he declined to comment but what's clear her is that the white house is trying to build suspense and it's taking extraordinary measures to conceal the top pick. however, our sources are telling us that there are increasing indications that donald trump will pick judge neil gorsuch to fill justice scalia's seat. he's young, he's 49 years old, has a conservative track record. but again, we'll have to wait and see what happens during this primetime address at 8:00 p.m. eastern. erin? >> pamela, thank you very much. everyone awaiting that. of course judge gorsuch interesting enough has never actually ruled on abortion. much more on this pick if he is indeed that pick coming up. also the fallout over the president's travel ban growing and not just among democrats. one of the president's earliest and closest supporters throughout the campaign, the new jersey governor, calling the
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rollout of the ban unacceptable today. but the white house is standing firm against criticism tonight. jim acosta is "out front." >> reporter: across the trump administration, all of a sudden there seems to be a ban on the word ban. >> this is not a travel ban. this is not, i repeat, not a ban on muslims. >> reporter: new homeland security secretary jon kelly insisted the executive order barring travelers from seven predominantly muslim countries doesn't amount to a ban. >> first of all, it's not a travel ban. >> reporter: tell that to the president who tweeted yesterday if the ban were announced with a one-week notice, the bad would rush into our country during that week. a lot of bad dudes out there. and he said this on saturday -- >> working out very nicely. you see it at the airports, all over, it's working out very nicely. we're going to have a very, very strict ban and we're going to have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years. >> reporter: white house press
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secretary sean spicer tried to explain it this way. >> using the words the media is using but at the end of the day it can't be -- hold on. it can't be -- john, thanks. i'll let kristen talk. >> even though spicer used the word ban himself on sunday. >> it's a 90-day pan. >> reporter: then what one of the president's top surrogates, rudy giuliani, told fox over the weekend. >> when he first announced it he said muslim ban. called me up, said put a commission together, show me the right way to do it legally. what we did was focused on instead of religion danger. >> reporter: spicer's answer for that? >> then you should ask mayor giuliani. that's his opinion. >> reporter: the administration is still pushing back on the notion it botched the rollout of the executive order which led to chaos at airports across the country. >> we knew it was coming. it wasn't a surprise. then we implemented it. >> reporter: paul ryan criticized the execution of the order but not the policy itself. >> i think it's regrettable there was some confusion on the rollout of this. no one wanted to see people with
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green cards or special immigrant visas like translators get caught up in all of this. >> reporter: the white house is stand big the firing of acting attorney general sally yates who balked at carrying out the executive order, saying she betrayed the department of justice refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the united states. we're hearing from sources on capitol hill that will secretary of homeland security jon kelly did meet this evening with the chairman of the homeland security committee over in the house. michael mccaul and a source familiar with that conversation that occurred just in the last couple of hours, erin, is indicating to us at this point the administration does not have any plans to make any changes to that executive order, which, of course, caused so much controversy over the last several days. >> jim, thank you. "out front" now, the democratic congressman adam shift, top democrat on the house intelligence committee. thanks for being with me. you just got out of a meeting with the homeland security secretary, jon kelly. you requested that meeting out of concern with the travel ban.
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did he answer your questions? >> a group of us met with the secretary including chairman mccaul and, you know, he did his best i think to put the best face on a policy which i think has been quite disastrous. the issue that i raised with him was whether any consideration was give on the impact on our allies around the world. i was in iraq about two weeks ago and i can only imagine this where we're competing for influence with the iranians what a gift this was to iran. iraqis i think are now in a very difficult position as are jordanians and just about everybody else in the region about overtly working with a country that would ban people of the muslim faith from coming to america notwithstanding the ban on the word ban and the ban on the word muslim apparently. it is what it is. i think rudy giuliani put it accurately in a rare moment of a nonrehearsed answer that this was a way to put the best spin on a muslim ban. >> and let me ask you this, they
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say it's not a ban. you heard sean spicer. of course trump said it was a ban. it doesn't impact more than a billion muslims. they're saying it's temporary until a vetting system is put in place. does any of that convince you? did secretary kelly convince you with any of those arguments? >> no. and i don't think the secretary would downplay the impact on our allies. it's very real. and while it may not affect a billion people who aren't trying at the moment to come to this country, it does affect them and their perception of what america stands for and whether muslims are welcome in america or whether we are really in a war of civilizations as al qaeda and isis would like to portray it. so it has quite a demonstrable impact even on people not trying to come here. obviously those that came or were turned away at the airport overseas who you know, had a new life, the expectation of a new life in front of them taken away at the last moment are the most
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impacted. but imagine, you know, we had the king of jordan we'll be meeting with tomorrow, what pressure he is under not to coordinate too overtly with the people of the united states. >> doesn't surprise you. we just got this interview in from a man who had worked with the u.s. military, u.s. army in iraq, detained coming into the united states. one of those who was putting his life on the line to help american troops. what he said when he got rae leased finally and cleared was, asked about trump, he said, quote, he's a good guy, very good, there is a system, it's okay. when you hear that, are you surprised and do you still have belief as this young iraqi does that there is a system and it's okay? >> well, listen, you know, this gentleman comes from a country where it is very hazardous to speak out against the government. he is a new immigrant on
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american soil. i think he would be naturally very wary of criticizing the commander in chief and whatever concern he might have that that could be taken away from him. but, you know, at the same time, you know, notwithstanding what our commander in chief says, people continue to have faith in america. and, you know, unfortunately that is reliant on the view that the president of the united states doesn't speak for most americans i think on this subject he doesn't speak for most americans. but there's only so long you can do go with so many policies like this before the world starts to think he really does represent american values. and that concerns me greatly. >> i want to interrupt you for a moment. we have breaking news from capitol hill. i want to go to manu raju and bring you back. manu, can you give us the news on trump cabinet nominees? >> reporter: tempers erupting after democrats boycotted a key committee vote earlier today on trump's choice to lead the
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treasury department and health and human services. democrats believe tom price and steven mnuchin did not answer questions honestly in the committee. so they're delaying a vote in the committee and the question is whether or not donald trump will have to recess a point those nominees because of the democrats' lack of cooperation. also jeff sessions to be attorney general, democrats pushing back the vote for one day by not allowing the vote to happen in the committee today. this is all procedural moves to try to make it as hard as possible for donald trump to get his cabinet nominees confirmed but at the end of the day, erin, expect all of these nominees to eventually get the votes because republicans for the most part are supportive of the nominees except for two which could be close. betsy devos facing criticism over plagiarism allegations and nick mulvaney, for budget director, john mccain telling me
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he may vote against him tomorrow. but the money is on donald trump eventually getting all these nominees confirmed. >> thank you. congressman, you heard that reporting. snatch hatch calling democrats idiots and amazingly stupid, among what he told manu about this for delaying the confirmation of so many of trump's nominees. are your colleagues delaying the inevitable? we all know the reality. almost all of these folks if not all are going to get confirmed and this whole waiting is leaving america's most important institutions leaderless and dysfunctional. >> i think democrats need to thoroughly vet these nominees even if the result is going to ultimately be their confirmation because the republicans have their votes. if nominees aren't being fully candid, if their background checks haven't been fully completed, they ought to demand they get the thorough vetting they should before any of them vote on this. so i think they're doing what they need to do but frankly i think all of this will be
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overshadowed with what happens later tonight. senate democrats vigorously opposing any supreme court justice every bit as moderate as merrick garland, to do anything else to rereward the gop vacant veet for an entire year. we'll see that happen again unless we insist on a moderate like merrick garland. >> you're not getting that. >> we may not and if we don't i think we should filibuster and oppose -- >> all the way. hold that vacant as long as you possibly can? >> we ought to insist on a consensus choice because anything less will reward the senate republicans for what i think is the most severe debasement of the supreme court we've ever seen. we'll see that tactic again if it is rewarded. it's more than just a tit for tat. it is i think a repudiation of what the republicans did. so i think they need to insist
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on a consensus and moderate candidate or if i were in the senate i would vigorously oppose any new conservative to the court. >> all right. thank you very much. i appreciate your time. as we said, the congressman pointing out we are moments away from this major announcement. in the meantime, the white house calls it a betrayal, doubling down on firing the attorney general for defying the president. and how are muslims reacting to trump's travel ban? muslims in america? >> i say to muslims they should have more confident in trump, trump is going to protect them. >> maybe not what you're expecting to hear. and look at it, awaiting trump's announcement of the supreme court pick moments from now in the white house. the two finalists are in washington tonight. is this the finale of "the apprentice"? servings of veggies? v8 or a powdered drink? ready, go. ahhhhhhhh! shake! shake! shake! shake! shake! done! you gotta shake it! i shake it! glad i had a v8.
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the east room of the white house moments from now. we are counting you down to that. more than 60 former federal prosecutors slamming president trump's decision to fire the acting attorney general. the bipartisan group putting out a sharp letter calling the order in part a thinly veiled attempt to exclude muslims from certain countries based on their religion. those are the crucial words. they say if they were in sally yates' position it would be our job to say no. this executive order is wrong and should not be defended. today the white house doubled down calling yates' action a betrayal. joe johns is "out front." >> reporter: sally yates was the acting attorney general until monday night when donald trump fired her. >> she was rightfully removed. that is a position of leadership
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that is given to somebody who is supposed to execute orders that are handed down to them properly, of which that executive order was 100% done. >> reporter: the dramatic clash began when yates told justice department lawyers not to legally defend trump's widely protested executive order on immigration and refugees. riding in a letter, my responsibility is to ensure that the position of the department of justice is not only legally defensible but is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all the facts. she was told she was fired by a hand-delivered letter from the president. according to an administration official. and the white house released a statement saying the acting attorney general sally yates has betrayed the department of justice. >> was the president laying down a marker? all of his other cabinet secretaries and officials to say if i give you a directive and you do not follow it you're gone? >> i think that kind of comes with the job, right? he has an agenda he articulated clearly to the american people
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and it is his job to lay that vision out and the people that he appoints and nominates and announces as staff members or cabinet or agency heads, their job is to fulfill that. if they don't like it, they shouldn't take the job. >> reporter: she was set to serve until jeff sessions, trump's nominee for attorney general, was confirmed. ironically, sessions had questioned yates about dissent at her confirmation hearing in 2015. >> if those the president wants to execute are unlawful, should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no? >> senator, i believe that the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and the contusion and to give their independent legal advice to the president. >> reporter: but trump is known for doing things his way. ♪ my way and since he's taken the oval office it's been no different when dozens of career state
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department diplomats signed a memo voicing opposition to trump's immigration executive order, his spokesman said they should find a new job. >> i think they should either get with the program or they can go. >> reporter: and when the national park service retweeted a photo comparing trump's inaugural crowd size to president obama's in 2009, trump personally called the acting director to complain. sally yates wasn't the only high-ranking doj staffer who went out the door at the justice department. when she left, cnn is told by a source that matt axelrod, the principal associate deputy attorney general who served as sally yates' right-hand man, left as well. we weren't able to reach alex rod for comment. the significance of the situation is that it's not just about the president firing sally yates because he clearly had the power to do it, but it's also about the highly critical language that was used in the public statement from the office of the white house press secretary. >> thank you very much. it was stunning.
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"out front," david gergen, jackie kucinich and mark preston. jackie, yates was fired by hand-delivered letter. this is something trump -- he likes to send notes to people. in this white house statement he used the word betrayed, that she was weak. they also used that word. this seems unusually personal. you don't use those words unless you feel personally affronted. >> for most people that would be correct but trump uses these words all the time, calls people weak, disasters, called graham weak two days ago. i'm not justifying it. he hasn't settled into the fact in this role these words really matter. you say someone betrayed you, that means a lot more coming from the president of the united states than from a reality tv star. it just does. and the connotation is to a lot of people, particularly in the
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government and reporters, that connotation is just disturbing. >> it also shows by the way -- granted he doesn't have all his people in position but at least at this moment he is not delegating. he wrote the letter. the words betrayed and weak we know came from donald trump. he is micromanaging what the press secretary says where the letter goes. >> we shouldn't be surprised. there's a small group of people he's surrounded himself with. as the government gets built out as we see other secretaries going through the confirmation process that start getting placed i think you'll see a very small group of people that are going to be making all the decisions. the fact that steve bannon is going to ns, a a meetings on a regular basis goes to show you that. quite frankly anytime there's a job announcement coming out, when they announce they'll keep 1,000 jobs donald trump is tweeting i got them to keep another 1,000 jobs. he's trying to take ownership of everything. >> david gergen, when sean
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spicer made the point that the president has the right to go forth with his agenda which he was elected to do by the american people, he says government officials need to get on board. does he have a point? >> he does. i think in the past, especially with political appointees. the standard had been, listen, you can advise the president up front before he makes a decision, you can tell him anything you want, but once he's made the decision, he said this is where we're going, if you don't want to go that direction you better get out. he gets elected to do that. i think what's different about this is how severe and i think poisonous his relationships with the career civil servants and foreign service officers are likely to be. especially the with the state
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department. they have a rule at the state department, a process at the state department, you can sign a dissent to the policy of the president and those will be taken into account by the department and you won't be punished. that's the understanding. i can tell you a thousand people or more have signed this dissent at the state department over this travel ban. the biggest number they've ever seen. last year about 50 did. they will not be fired but they'll never see an ambassadorship. they'll take names and will be on a list. >> the mem poe, 900 state diplomats have signed it. the question i have and i think david raised a good point, they'll take names if they can, there will be repercussions. the question is for trump. does this energize him? he says these are a bunch of hillary clinton people, liberals
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that worked for the state department, this is proof i'm right. >> it may energize him at the moment and during a presidential campaign but at soim poent you'll come to edge of the cliff and you're going to go over the cliff. you need to be surrounded by people you can trust, what we saw with sally yates, she wasn't with him, so he fired her. to david's point you can't go out and be critical of all these employees in the federal government who are basically the ones on the front lines that are going to have your back. you have to give loyalty back. >> that is crucial. these are people who worked their their whole career. they have to feel loyalty to the commander in chief. >> you don't automatically get that loyalty when the person sits in office. you build it. and he's not doing that. sorry, go ahead.
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>> you have to build trust and loyalty both ways. if you get into a war with the civil service, they can find a lot of ways to quietly sabotage what you're trying to do, slow it down. all sorts of complexities. it's very hard to govern. far better to work with people, build bridges to people, try to reach understandings. so you can make the government work effectively. the trump people will discover the foreign service officers can really make life very difficult for you if they choose to do so. >> all right. thank you. next, billionaire businessman, shark tank star, mark cuban is my guest. he'll weigh in on trump's travel ban after this. and president trump about to announce his first pick to the supreme court. it is his first primetime speech as president to the nation. the short list down to two. you toe cie the supreme court and the white house. known for its perfect storm of tiny bubbles,
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we are a few minutes away from president trump stepping before cameras to reveal his supreme court nominee in
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washington live tonight. there are two finalists. they are waiting right now in washington. the announcement we'll bing to you live. he's built it up "apprentice"-style. it comes at the same time that his controversial travel ban is facing new legal challenges. tonight official in virginia, new york, massachusetts, san francisco all saying they will challenge the ban. they call it unconstitutional and discriminatory. tonight in a story you will see only here "out front," we travel to a city with one of the largest muslim populations in america to get their reaction to the ban. do they hate it? do they think he's terrible? well, what many of them had to say may surprise you. jessica schneider is "out front." >> i would say the muslim community should have more confident, trump will protect them. >> reporter: he's a muslim in dearborn, michigan. a city where more than 40% are arab-american. many of them muslims.
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he's still standing strong in his support for president trump, much like he was immediately after the election. >> and there trump should be held as a trophy, as an image of the american dream. >> reporter: the lebanese immigrant who runs his own construction company voted for trump because of the billionaires business roots and his support isn't waning in the wake of trump's controversial executive order. >> they shouldn't worry because the order, it's not against the muslims. we have 57 nations, muslim nations. all of them they can come here. >> i stand by president trump. i can't say 100% but i tell you 95%. >> reporter: 23-year-old mike hasham's parents came from lebanon. he voted for trump but is now feeling conflicted. >> it has hit home hard. as a muslim and as a republican muslim, i feel that the language in the executive order should have been tweaked. >> reporter: many muslims are
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mobilizing, holding town halls, and strategizing on ways to resist president trump's policies. >> i'm definitely angry. i don't want to say i'm fearful because i still have faith in the democratic process. >> reporter: and now -- >> i still think about how i said i wasn't fearful and i guess i've become a little more and more kind of fearful in terms of not knowing what's next. >> reporter: recent university of michigan dearborn grad mohamed emari is also fearing the future. his family is from iran. his fiancee a dual canadian/iranian citizen. with the travel ban, she is afraid to cross the border and is he. >> i'm scared to go myself. even though i was born here. >> reporter: that's a common concern for many people out here. that's why they're spending the week holding emergency town halls. the messages resist and be
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informed. many people telling me they'd love members of trump administration to visit them. in fact, michigan senator gary peters has sent a letter to homeland security secretary jon kelly inviting him to the detroit area to meet with arab-american leaders. no word tonight if secretary kelly might accept that invitation. >> all right. jess kashgs thank you very much. billionaire businessman mark cuban. thank you for being with me tonight. i know you heard some of the people that jessica spoke to in that piece are worried. you also heard the muslim-american entrepreneur supports trump and his travel ban. are you surprised to hear that? >> you know, who knows, right? i can't speak for other people and, you know, short term versus long term, personal interest, everybody has their own reasons, right? >> do you think that this ban, that it energizes in my way people who support trump? >> oh, yeah. i think, you know, i think a lot
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of people who are what bannon would call the elitists, mainstream media, think peop people -- this is turning people off trump. if you supported him you love him even more now. 49% of people supported this ban and the fact that he has that much support and you know he's looking at those numbers it's going to embolden him further. >> he does look at those numbers. you tear owner of the dallas mavericks as we know. nba put out a statement reacting to the ban. i don't know if everyone knows this. in part it read the nba is a global league and we are very proud to attract the very best players from around the world. will the ban hurt america? >> totally. look, let's be real clear. the ban was half assed and half-baked. if the goal was security, why to you leave off other countries that hosted terrorism? that's like locking your front
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door and leaving your windows open and matching up the obama receive countries to the previous owner because that's what they did. it was half-baked, it wasn't thought out, it was rushed and ridiculous. when something like that happens it calls into question the management skills of the guy in charge. >> and do you think he has the management skills now for this job? are you worried about that? that was the whole reason that he won. right? people said this guy knows how to run a business, knows how to manage. >> am i worried? yes. am i willing to give him a little bit of time? yes. it's not the easiest job in the world and it's not like he's governed anything before. but i do have concerns about the people he's put around him. i do have concerns that he rushed these things out without his attorney general in place, you know, most of his cabinet not being in place. you know, on one hand -- look, in my mind if he was presidential he could have said, look, i want to do abc, but i want to get all my cabinet in place, want to make sure i have
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everybody vet this because i know every liberal and every clinton supporter is going to go bananas when i put this out but i want every idoted and ts crossed because i'm going to ram it down their throat and do what's best for this country, make it the most secure, yada-yada-yada. he could have said that and done it right and people would not have had a response really. you would have said he did the work, he prepared. he did the exact opposite. so now whenever he does something, when there's a new executive order, you have to ask yourself, where did it come from, who did the work, how was it vetted, do we have to question it further. you know, and because he's done such a poor job communicating about -- you know, it's not like when people oppose him in my mind a good leader would say, okay, i need to sit down and talk to the people who oppose me. let me let them voice their opinions and get their thought process. >> you were one of the most vocal opponents, at the debate. has he reached out to you? >> he has not. i sent him a congratulatory
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e-mail, got a thank you and that was that. i'm happy to help. look, he's our guy. i'm an american first. everything else comes second. so i've worked with lot of people i've disliked or thought were incompetent and i don't necessarily dislike or think he's completely incompetent, but it's my country. i'll help wherever i can. they may not agree with me but i'll never back down. i'll always voice my opinion and give my input. they have not reached out. >> talking about his ability. chuck schumer, he said trump isn't taking the presidency seriously enough. you've known donald trump far long time. in this election you were on opposite sides but you've known him a long time. do you think he's taking it seriously? >> in his own mind. when he gets confidence, he's confident, and when he's confident he works based off his instincts and i think that's what's happening. what i think is happening behind the scenes, he's not a learner, a reader, he doesn't dive in and get the foundational issues or
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elements of an issue. so without question in my mind there's somebody sitting in front of him with the executive order saying here's what we're doing, here was your promise, here's how the people are loving it, here's why you should sign it, here's the people who complained. it will be the mainstream media. we'll yell at them, you'll yell at them, we'll all yet at them, that will be our excuse, please sign this. that's the way i think he's doing it right now because things are all going in his favor, in his mind. there may be protests. there may be -- there obviously are protests. huge protests everywhere. the biggest protests you've ever seen, right? but he's ignoring those because he's got a fall guy. the fall guy is the mainstream media. and he's got a backbone and that backbone comes from the polls that he's seeing that support the ban. you put those thing together and he thinks he's unstoppable right now. and so the point i think the people need to take from this is that rather than just -- we have to understand what we learned from the election.
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the people that voted for him 11 days in are not all of a sudden going to change their mind. to them it's like, you know, you went to a wedding and you might not think one of the people is attract tich but you're saying the most beautiful groom or bride you've ever seen. so then, you know, donald trump is the most beautiful president they've ever seen. and they're not going to change their mind just because of strong logic. it will take time and we'll see what happens. and we have to understand that. and one last thing, i think what really could change the tenor of all of this, 25% of people voted against him, 23% voted for him, 52% didn't vote, with those 52%, what they do, i think is the most important thing ha happens right now because that's what's going to change the balance of power and all the polls and that's what he'll listen so. >> true. as you often do boiling it down to a number that is so important. thank you, mark cuban. >> anytime. thank you. next, president trump's announcement of a supreme court we are just moments away.
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two men left standing both probably standing outside the east wing. plus a source close to the selection process telling cnn likes a contest. tonight is looking more and more like the finale of "the apprentice." is there an elk in your bed? with sleep number, there's an adjustment for that. tilt your tormentor and put those snores to sleep. does your bed do that? come into a sleep number store where the queen c4 mattress is now $1199. it's a no brainer.
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you can see the east room of the white house. earlier today spiurprise surpri promised the supreme court nominee will make america proud. >> this particular choice is one the president takes seriously. they will be a worthy successor to the brilliant legal mind and constitutional dedication of justice scalia. >> neil gorsuch and thomas hardiman. two packets of material have been prepared for senators. one source telling us the gorsuch package is fuller. with us now, former ambassador to the czech republic norman eisen. our legal analyst. she's covered the supreme court for 25 years.
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rick santorum, who has known thomas hardiman. and mark preston is back with me. president trump has talked many times about what he wants in a supreme court nominee. he has been very clear. this is going to be -- all the way in debates he used this. this is where i'm a conservative, trust me. because i'll do the right thing by the court. got ted cruz on board because of that. we know what kind of person this is going to be. >> they're very similar. they're strict constitutionalists. both have tremendous records. no matter what he decides he's making a good choice. i think a lot of folks believe there's a second choice and so the fact he sort of highlighted to might give the impression that whoever he doesn't pick is going to be someone that you can look to the future as maybe someone who could replace potentially a ginsburg or
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kennedy or someone who's older on the court who may retire. >> which is the decision that could switch the balance. >> i'll be honest, i know what you're reporting but you can make arguments either way. we'll talk once we know the decision, but they're making a chess play. they're not playing checkers. this is a chess play with this nomination, looking at how likely it is to confirm, how does he fit into the scalia mold, how difficult the next nomination will be and whether we're going to have someone who can hold up under a much tougher confirmation for the second seat. i think they're putting all those pieces in place and i'll be interested to see what they come um with. >> norman, when you look at that, judge hardiman when he was put on the court where he is now was 95-0 in the vote. chuck schumer voted for him. that is someone who in terms of precedent would do well in confirmation. you look at judge gorsuch, this
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is someone who's never ruled on abortion but we know how he feels about antonin scalia when he says the moment i found out, i lost what breath i had left, i'm not embarrassed to admit i couldn't see the rest of the way down the mountain for the tears. he was skiing. you know him. what do you think of him? >> he's a fine man. he's thoughtful, listens, has questions. he is conservative. you used to be in a place in america where you could have a consensus and even liberals could feel voting for a principled conservative. but that consensus was shattered because it has to be a two-way street and the shameful mistreatment of judge merrick garland has complicated the political landscape for any
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justice nominee moving through the senate. that has changed everything. but gorsuch is a fine man and jurist. >> mark, yes, they didn't let merrick garland get the job and would have. chuck schumer led an effort to do a similar thing the last time around. this is what each party does to each other and payback is unpleasant. but yet here we are. congressman adam schefft said if i were in the congress or senate, i would do whatever i could to stop merrick garland. >> democrats try to do that. you could see mitch mcconnell, who senator santorum served with, who could evoke the ultimate nuclear option which would only require 51 votes to get a supreme court nominee. if that happens it will be much bigger than who this pick is for the supreme court. >> the way our government operates. >> it changes the way our
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government operates. the senator may disagree, but the fact of the matter is what little power the minority has in the senate, that's an incredible amount of power they have. >> i agree it will change the way we operate but that's been done. harry reid did that. the idea that supreme court justices and their appointments will be held to a different standard than all other appointments, there's just no basis for that. that's simply something harry reid said but it has no basis in custom. the bottom line is we are at a 51-vote threshold for supreme court justices and that's what we're going to end up being. >> americans trying to understand what this means. they have a few questions. judge gorsuch or judge hardiman. which is more conservative? are either of them to the right of justice scalia? when you look at the world here that we're looking at,000 do you answer those questions? >> no. neither would be to the right of justice scalia because justice scalia was pretty far over on the right wing. i'll tell you what he was. he was a very provocative
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conservative who spoke to generations of students, who then went into things like the federalist society, the conservative group, who then went to law school and wanted to adopt his approach. i think that's what will be different here is, for example, if president trump goes with neil gorsuch he'll go with somebody a little more in terms of -- somebody in the mode of an intellectual thinker, who has a pretty concrete approach to thins. i just want to mention one thing about runners-up to touch on what senator santorum said. in the past, in fact, the runner-up got it the next time. in 1993 it was ruth bader ginsburg chosen by bill clinton and the next year stephen breyer got it. more recently under george w. bush after john roberts was selected for what was first sandra day o'connor's seat and then the chief justice's seat. samuel alito, a runner-up, got it for the next point.
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but it was never this public. one final thing. i am just catching a glimpse of what we're seeing in the east room with all the pomp and glitter there, and i think i caught a bit of maureen scalia, the late justice's wife, so donald trump might use the occasion to salute the man whose seat he's filling. >> you are absolutely right about that. she's covered this more than two decades. she knows. maureen scalia is in the room. to the point about it never being this public, we had a camera following a judge at a gas station driving to washington because at least two of these people were being brought to washington for the unveiling. donald trump is producing this, producing it himself, down to the detail, and it is unprecedented. >> the next chapter in his book. he did this when he was interviewing people to be in his cabinet. cameras were outside the gold
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elevators and everybody had to go up, come down, say nice things about donald trump. this is a another chapter in the very early donald trump presidency. >> you have referred to neil gorsuch has a brilliant writer, thinker, person of integrity. you were saying this to someone who disagrees with him on his opinions. but you think high hi ly of him. >> we ought to be a country where even when we disagree, people have different values, you can respect the integrity, the accomplishments, and the character of a person. and that's how i feel about judge gorsuch. but i want to be very clear, i disagree respectfully with senator santorum. the supreme court justice is not the same as the other nominations that were subjected to the 51-vote threshold. this is a lifetime appointment.
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this is the one court where the judges do not follow but also make the law. it should be subject to a higher threshold. merrick garland, who i have the honor to know, judge gar hand is every bit as good a judge, every bit as much integrity and character as either of these men tonight. he deserved a hearing and confirmation. i thought it was a senatorial coup. and some of that anger unfortunately justifiable is now going to apply to the consideration of some very good men. it shouldn't but it will. >> and mark, it is a lifetime appointment. these men are young. 51 for judge hardiman, 49 for neil gorsuch. they'll be around a long time. >> which makes them two interesting picks and could put the trump legacy on the board for a long time. >> especially considering that,
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again, he may have another pick to make, multiple picks that would completely change the face of the supreme court for a generation. thanks for joining us. our special coverage of president trump's supreme court nominee continues right now with wolf blitzer. >> good evening from washington. i'm wolf blitzer. anderson is off. welcome to especial edition of "360. "in about an hour, jake tapper will host a town hall with nancy pelosi. but in a little less than seven minutes, president trump will northern plains his no, ma'am fee for the u.s. supreme court seat left vacant by the passing of justice antonin scalia. there are two leading candidates, thomas hardiman a judge on the third circuit court of appeals, the same court as president trump's sister, mary anne trump, married. he's 51, a george w. bush appointee with a law degree from georgetown in washington.
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judge neil gorsuch is just 49. he sits on the 10th circuit court of appeals in denver, colorado. he's also a bush 43 appointee, a graduate of harvard law and a former clerk for justices byron white and anthony kennedy. whoever gets the nod will go before a sharply polarized u.s. senate for confirmation. jim acosta is over at the white house. how is the actual announcement going to happen? >> this is what happens when reality television meets the potomac. the cross hall as we call it inside the white house has been lit for a dramatic entrance for the president of the united states. all day long we've been seeing these dramatics building. we understand from talking to our sources that both neil
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gorsuch and thomas hardiman have been making their way to washington today. thomas hardiman as a matter of fact was spotted by one of our producers filling up his gas tank at a sheetz gas station in pennsylvania entering into the nation's capital. presumely he put enough gas in the tank to get here. all indications are neil gorsuch will be president trump's pick. however, we should point out this is president trump. he does have a flair for the dramatic. so all bets are off until we get the final announcement. donald trump's son is here, vice president is here with his wife as well as other top congressional leaders. >> jim acosta, we'll get back to you. stand by as we wait for the president's announcement. i want to go to pamela brown over at the high court for us. what are you learning about the candidates? >> reporter: increasing indications, wolf, at this point
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that neil gorsuch, a judge from colorado, is president trump's pick. he has a conservative track record when it comes to personal lib liberty. he ruled in favor of hobby lobby. he has a conservative track record and he's young, 49. also he shares a similar judicial philosophy as antonin scalia. they both believe the constitution should be interpreted literally. we're told the two were friends and went fishing together. and his confirmation hearing he sailed through. the other contender as jim pointed out is thomas hardiman, a judge in pennsylvania. he arrived in washington today. he has a story that may be appealing to president trump particularly the fact that he comes from a blue-collar working background. he was a cabdriver and worked his way up to become a judge on
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the federal bench. his track record is appealing to conservatives when it comes to guns and immigration. we'll have to see what happens. >> we'll get back to you. jake tapper is with us too. no doubt selection of the supreme court nominee, one of the most important things any american can do. >> reporter: absolutely. a lifetime appointment. we have with us former senator rick santorum who took part in the vetting of both judges. he joins us. you've been advicing? >> i've been an kafd cat for judge hardiman. i can't say i've been vetting neil gorsuch but tom has been a longtime friend for 20-plus years. >> both from pittsburgh. >> yes. i have tremendous respect for him. i'm hear rug mors a to who it is but my feeling is that, you know, this pick, if what i'm hearing is true, i think is a
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good pick. i'm very comfortable. >> you can say. we've been reporting all day that sours indicate it's going to be gorsuch. unless president trump changes his mind at the last second, which is always possible. but it does seem to be him. >> i was getting calls on the way over. >> assuming it is gorsuch, what do you think? >> i think it's a good thing. i've struggled because i'm so close to tom and like him so much but -- >> ladies and gentlemen -- >> he's more like scalia. he's more of an intellectual in that regard. his writing style is more scalia-ish. he's seen as writing these expansive and broad and strong opinions. the thing i love about thomas hardiman is he's more like bruce froemming than he is the babe ruth. you know who bruce is but -- >> explain it. >> he was the