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President Donald Trump fired acting U.S. attorney general Sally Yates; Aired 11:00-12:00mn ET
Aired January 30, 2017 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[23:00:00] ALAN DERSHOWITZ, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: And she could have done a more new ones job of saying I will not defend the parts of the law that are unconstitutional but I will defend hose parts of law that are constitutional. I disagree with the policy. She could have argued against kind of his political blunder-bus approach by being more subtle, new answered and sophisticated. Instead, she said, I'm going to consider the whole lot together. I'm not going to let anybody defend any part of it. And that I think was wrong.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: OK. Stand by, everyone. I just need to reset David. And we are going to come right back to you. So just stand by, everyone.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
LEMON: All right, everyone. This is the top of the hour, Monday night massacre.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
President Donald Trump firing the acting attorney general and Obama administration appointee for refusing to defend the executive order on travel restrictions for immigrants and refugees.
And again. So I want to get right back - let's get right back to these two gentlemen.
David Gergen, you are arguing a point, go on.
DAVID GERGEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, she -- Sally Yates as I understand the story agreed to stay on at the request of the incoming Trump administration. And they apparently had trust and faith in her, they wouldn't have asked her to stay on.
A law - so she's there. She is doing her job. And along comes this executive order that they don't check out with her, they don't get it vetted through the justice department. She like many other Americans is horrified by the result, and she feels it is, you know, there are at least parts of it are, you know, unconstitutional or illegal. And she is unwilling to say, I'm not going to carry this out because, you know, I don't think it is lawful. Why should she have to do that in the closing days?
She knew that she was going to be fired when she did this. But it seems to me that was an honorable thing to do. And she was speaking (INAUDIBLE). As someone who said, look, I agreed to stay on, but not under these circumstances.
DERSHOWITZ: She should have resigned.
LEMON: I have to get to our reporters on this. Thank you, gentlemen, I appreciate it.
I want to go right away to CNN global affairs correspondent Elise Labott, CNN's White House correspondent Sara Murray and justice correspondent Evan Perez.
Good evening to all of you.
So Evan, bring us up to speed on exactly what happened tonight in response to the opposition to the president's executive order?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, it's an extraordinary series of events, obviously, this evening. We had the acting attorney general Sally Yates who as you mentioned is an Obama appointee, and had agreed to stay on until the Trump appointee, Jeff Sessions as senator, got confirmed. We expected that was going to happen later this week. Well today, he today she sent a notice to the attorneys at the justice department ordering them not to defend this executive order that was signed by the president on Friday. And then chaotically put into place over the weekend.
And I'll read you a part of her statement in which she says that my responsibilities to ensure the position of the justice department is not only legally defensible but it is informed by our best view of what the law is after consideration of all of the facts. She goes on to say that she did not believe that this executive order was lawful. And so, that's what she ordered the department to do.
And look, I -- from talking to sources all weekend, Don. And you know how chaotic this weekend was, we know that she was struggling with what to do here. And we also know there were U.S. attorneys who were struggling on whether or not they could defend this. Some of them did not want to. But obviously some of them did because they felt that they had no other choice at that moment.
She decided today to issue this order. And she knew once she did this, she knew that she would be fired. And look. The president deserves to have an attorney general, an acting attorney general, who is going to defend his actions, his executive orders. And so, that's what happened.
Hours after she put this notice out to the justice department lawyers, we know that the White House issued a statement attacking her for being weak on immigration and also said that she had betrayed the justice department by refusing to defend a legal order from the president - Don.
LEMON: OK. So Sara, what does tomorrow have in store? And does this White House know that they are in crisis mode right now?
SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, don't you know better than to ask what tomorrow has in store? Under a Trump administration, it could be any number of things. Look, I think that they are beginning to understand the gravity of what it meant to take so many people by surprise on this, even before the Yates move today, the letter she put out, and Donald Trump's decision to fire her. I was hearing from people today, said why would you implement this travel ban without having your attorney general in place? You know it's going to be challenged in court and you are not putting yourself in a position to defend it.
Donald Trump also did not have very many Republican allies on Capitol Hill defending this travel ban today because of the way they rolled it out. Because key people on Capitol Hill, two committed members, two people in leadership were not consulted on this.
And because they are members of Donald Trump's own government agencies that weren't sure how to implement this, that weren't briefed far enough ahead of time, which is what led to some of the chaos and some of the confusion over the weekend.
So there is no doubt that this discussion will continue tomorrow. But the Trump administration has made very clear they plan to do a lot of different things at once. And that applies to tomorrow as well. He is having a cyber-security meeting, we're expecting him to sign an executive order on cyber security. And then tomorrow evening, he is slated to name a Supreme Court pick in the evening. So it is supposed to be another busy day in the Trump administration.
[23:05:47] LEMON: All right, Elise, I was going to you next. So we heard that. So we won't do that, Elise.
So listen. What's the reaction to the state department to what we are seeing with this travel ban and the confusion and chaos this weekend today?
ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, I mean, just to go on Sara's point to build on that. I mean, this is all done without having a secretary of state in place, and all of these countries usually, what would happen after a big policy move like that? Those countries would be brought in. Those ambassadors would be brought in to the state department. You would see all the ambassadors come in. And the state department would brief them on these new changes, how to implement them, how the U.S. would be working with them.
Many ambassadors I spoke to today, said they have not talked to anybody at this state department. They are getting calls, some of these from some of these countries and countries who have dual nationals, from their parents of students who are here. They don't know whether they should leave. They don't know whether they should come back.
And now you have -- the state department memo, this is what we have been talking about this dissent channel. What started with dozens is now more than 100 career diplomats and civil servants who are saying, in this memo, that not only does this policy not keep America safe, but it actually harms America from preventing terrorist attacks. So it's really a, you know, these career diplomats serve both
Republican and Democratic administrations for decades. This is a very rare opposition to this policy, but certainly one that's provided for in the state department regulations for something like this, where they have a lot of concerns.
LEMON: And you know, Sara, you warned me about that. You said I should never ask anyone what to expect because it is the Trump administration. And with that said, Evan Perez, the president has also replaced the head of immigration and enforcement, right?
PEREZ: And customs enforcement.
LEMON: And customs enforcement. So what do we know about that now?
PEREZ: Well, it's not exactly clear what happened there, Don. We know that the president has now appointed an acting -- another acting head of that agency while, you know, they still haven't even nominated anybody to fill that job. That's the job that has to go through the Senate.
And so, we know that the ICE and the customs and border protection, were two of the agencies that were scrambling this weekend on how to do, what exactly to do with this executive order. And even into today, there was still a lot of -- a great deal of confusion.
I want to address one quick thing from your panel that was at the end of the hour. The question of whether Sally Yates should have just, you know, walked away and resigned. Look, we had the situation like this at the end of the Bush administration, the beginning of the Obama administration, where the Obama people came in and they wanted the acting attorney general, Mark Phillip at the time, a Republican, they wanted him to sign off on some Gitmo orders, Guantanamo orders and he refused. He said, look, this is something that your new attorney general should sign. And you know what? The Obama administration said, you are right. And they walked away from it. They did not force the issue as happened in the last couple days here.
LEMON: They didn't fire him?
PEREZ: They didn't fire him. But you know, the issue never came a head because they didn't really ever go around his back and do this. This is what happened here. You had the Trump administration decided to put this order into place. They did it secretly, without even consulting her, and then expected her to sign off on the defense of an order that she disagreed with. So that's what happened here in this -- and it's what makes this so different from what has happened in the past.
Look. This hasn't happened in decades. This is a crisis that hasn't happened in decades and certainly this is something that the Trump administration caused by virtue of the way they rolled out this executive order.
LEMON: All right. Everyone, stand by. And thank you for your expertise on this. I want to bring in now Wajahat Ali. He is a creative director of the
"finest labs," who is a contributor to "The New York Times." Senior political analyst David Gergen is with us. CNN political commentator Carl Bernstein, he joins us by phone, and also, Page Pate.
I'm so glad to have all of you on this evening.
So, Page, talk to us constitutionally. What exactly is happening here? Are we in a constitutional crisis?
[23:10:16] PAGE PATE, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: I don't think we're there yet, Don. I mean, obviously, Sally Yates decided to step aside, because she had both legal and moral problems trying to defend this executive order in court. But the Trump administration moved quickly. They went ahead and appointed someone else to serve in that capacity as acting attorney general.
But I think we are seeing a pattern here that really is problematic. It seems they have some impatience in the White House that they cannot wait until they have their people confirmed and approved and into the job before they start making major policy changes that may very well have constitutional or legal problems. You needed an attorney general, some senior folks in the justice department to review this thing before it was signed, and before it was implemented. And I think Sally Yates' primary problem was that it wasn't done that way. And nobody talked to us about it. And so, you can't ask now us to step in and defend this thing, when we don't believe in it.
LEMON: David Gergen, that is a lot of big moves in one night. Who is calling the shots at the White House?
GERGEN: Well, it's hard to tell, isn't it? Obviously, Donald Trump has the final say, but it does sounds from all reports that Mr. Bannon, Steve Bannon has expanding influence in the White House, not only over domestic policy, you know. He was a co-author reportedly of the president's inaugural address. It was his dark vision that animated that address. But also, his -- it appears he was the guiding force in this executive order, and in getting it out the door the way it was done. I think Sean's - I think the -- Priebus has to accept responsibility as chief of staff for the way it was done too.
But I want to go back to one thing, Don. I think that you may -- the president may have some additional consequences. I think there may be trouble brewing about the way the White House is doing these -- taking these important steps without conferring with his full national security team.
It's shocking to me that General Mattis was not brought into this. That the homeland security General Kelly was not brought into this at the time. And the state department Mr. Tillerson was not brought into this.
But I want to make a particular point to General Mattis now. This is the second or third time the reports have been out that he has been incensed that things are happening without being checked with them before they do it. And I have a sense -- my reading would be that when they put out the word that they were going to move on torture, they were going to move affirmatively on reinstating torture. And the next day, President Trump said I think I will defer to General Mattis on this.
My bet is it matters put his job on the line. I'm out of here of you guys keep doing this. I'm quickly oppose to this. So I think these guys have some leverage in the cabinet. But what is stunning to me is that the White House has done this more than once to people like Mattis, that they act -- Bannon acts, they don't check it out.
LEMON: But we saw this, David, during the campaign, he would say something and do something and then his surrogates would have to come out afterwards and clean it up. And many times they found out about it as they were sitting here on the set about to go and talk about it in the news. But I want you to stand by, David.
GERGEN: That's a very good point, Don.
LEMON: I want you to stand by as well. Lots of moving parts here. We have some more developing news. I need to get back to Evan Perez, our justice reporter.
Evan, what do you have for us?
PEREZ: Well, Don, one of the big questions was tonight whether Dana Boente, the U.S. attorney for the eastern district of Virginia who just took over as acting attorney general. He was assigned - he was sworn in at 9:00 p.m. Whether he has the full authorities of the acting attorney general. I'm told that by people who have been looking at this tonight that he does, he is a Senate confirmed U.S. attorney. He was confirmed by the Senate in 2015. And by the way, he served in the justice department for like 29 years. He has been around for a long time.
And because he is a Senate confirmed U.S. attorney and now acting attorney general, he has all the authorities including the ability to sign surveillance warrants, which is a big part of the job, these are warrants that come across the desk of the attorney general every day, in order for the NSA, the FBI to be able to do some of the most important national security jobs they do. And he has the authority to sign off on those, that's something that was going to be a big issue for the Trump White House, if they couldn't find someone to fill these shoes, since they were going to fire Sally Yates. That's what we are told. That's the ruling from the lawyers who have been looking at this all evening, that he does have the full authority of the acting attorney general. Meanwhile, we wait for Jeff Sessions to come in.
[23:15:02] LEMON: yes. And that could take longer now, considering what's happened, Democrats will probably have a lot more questions for us.
Wajahat, I want to get to you now because, you know, fired works really well for Donald Trump on television. The question is will it work in the White House? I have been watching you all weekend. This started as, you know, with this refugee ban, which you see as a Muslim ban. And then snowballed now to a crisis of leadership, what do you make of what's going on and all of the developments that have happened this weekend.
WAJAHAT ALI, CONTRIBUTOR, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, President Bannon - I'm sorry. Excuse me. Trump's Muslim ban is a Muslim ban. And the reason we know that as Rudy Giuliani probably because he is going to really (INAUDIBLE) his mouth and said that President Trump - Bannon's (INAUDIBLE) came to him and said I want to do the Muslim ban. Find me the legal way to do it.
President Trump through his entire campaign said the following: That he would do a temporary or permanent ban of Muslims. That he said openly, Islam hates us, not radical Islam, Don, Islam hates us. He said he is open to a Muslim registry. He said he wants to do an extreme vetting of Muslims. So yes, call this what it is, it's a Muslim ban. Anyone who says anything else, it's an alternative fact which is double speak for a lie.
I'm an American-Muslim, born and raised in this country. And my wife, Sara, is from Okeechobee, Florida, right. She was born in Okeechobee, Florida and literally there were no other minorities. And so, for about 20 years, people thought she was Latino, even though she's South Asian.
She told me three days ago, for the first time, and this is a very sobering point. She says, for the first time in my life, I'm worried about the safety of our two American-Muslim kids in this country. It broke my heart. I have these two babies, Ibrahim, two-and-a-half years old, (INAUDIBLE). And my warrior princess, (INAUDIBLE) who is six months old, both of them are adorable and cute, and look just like Sara. Thank God, they don't look like me. And it broke my heart at the same there's a saying of the prophet Mohammed. And it is a beautiful saying.
It says even if the Day of Judgment is around the corner, plan the a seed. And it may look like one of the four horse men of the apocalypse is present in Bannon, excuse me, President Trump. But plant a seed. My faith (INAUDIBLE) to be hopeful, not to give me the despondency, cynicism, and hate.
And you know what I'm going to tell my kids, Don, and this is important. I told my son right before I left, I don't think he understood me, the two-and-a-half. I said, you're going to resist. This America belongs to you, and I want you to succeed and I want you to thrive. There are going to be haters who are going to try to bring them down. But you are going to outwork them, outsmart them, outdebate them, outthink them, out-tweet them. You are going to outhustle them, you are going to out dream them, out hope them and in Shalah, you will forgive them.
The beautiful thing about President Bannon is the following, he has awakened a multicultural coalition of the willing. Slumbering giants, kings and queens have woken up and taken to the streets. Men of different colors ethnicity, national origins, religion are out there saying we want to defend America, and we are coming for the crown, Steve Bannon and we are going to take it and we're going to win.
LEMON: And I have to get to the break. Thank you very much, gentlemen. I appreciate it.
Our breaking news coverage continues right after this.
[23:22:26] LEMON: The breaking news on CNN, Monday night massacre. President Donald Trump fires the acting attorney general for refusing to enforce his travel ban.
I want to bring in now Kara Swisher. She is the executive editor of "Recode." Before we go on and talk about the tech part of this, which is the big part of it, what do you make of what's happened this evening?
KARA SWISHER, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, RECODE; Well, I don't know what to say, the last 15 minutes, I'm waiting to see what happens next on the show. It seems crazy. It seems crazy, one thing after the next. And tomorrow is full of busy inning things, an announcement on cyber security, Supreme Court justice, still dealing with this Muslim thing, directors flying everywhere. It seems insane at this moment. But, you know, yes you guys are getting a lot of good TV out of it. It's really quite a story, I guess.
I usually try to limit my TV time on weekends and I couldn't tear myself away from CNN this weekend, especially yesterday evening.
LEMON: Yes, I used to try to limit my TV time on weekends and I couldn't share myself away from CNN this weekend especially yesterday evening.
SWISHER: Yes. I mean game of thrones is going to be a relief when it comes back on I think. You know, a little light watching.
LEMON: When the executive order was announced, here was what you tweeted. You said, well, technically, this come out strongly and probably against Trump's Muslim ban. I'm taking names. First part of that expression to follow, right? And then to tech companies have been among the most vocal critics of the travel ban. Are you surprised by the response?
SWISHER: No, I think they were ready to. I think they - you know, they had been very quiet and sort of embarrassed. I have been trying. As you know, I came on last time and I talked about that they should say something, because this was coming. So I think when it did arrive, they were pretty shocked by it because they have been told by, you know, people in the Trump administration, presumably Peter Teal. You know, I remember he said that Trump shouldn't be taken literally but seriously, and actually he should have been taken literally from what he said.
And so, I think tech was shocked by it. And initially - you know, I put that out, because I was like, now you have to say something. That this is a critical issue to your employees and to your businesses. And I started calling a lot of them on Friday night, it is like late at night. I started texting and emailing all of them, and said, when are you going to say something? And they started to. It started to dribble out on Friday night and
Saturday. And Mark Zuckerberg had said something early on on his Facebook, and then the rest of them started to, and they increased in vociferousness or emotion or strength. I think read Hastings from Netflix really want (INAUDIBLE) on his personal fate on Facebook about how it was un-American. Other people just shows a pretty much stick to the employees --.
LEMON: Well, can we get to some of these responses?
LEMON: Because you said that these tech guys are going to have to get used to, you know, to a very political atmosphere fast. Is that because of young people who use their apps and who use their product, they are so politically engaged? Why is that?
[23:25:03] SWISHER: I think their employees. I think the employees - I have been hearing from thousands of employees at these companies, all, you know. The thing is that tech companies in the good times like to talk about how they are changing the world. But the world has changed in part because of all their inventions and now they have to be part of that. And they tend to avoid it, and say, we're just a platform. It is not us. And this hits directly a lot of things. I mean, surely immigration is a massive issue for tech and for talent and, you know, this visa directive that might come out over work visas, the HV1 visas.
You know, gay and lesbian rights is a big issue for people working (INAUDIBLE. They have been big backers, you know, (INAUDIBLE) and Tim Cook were big opponent of Mike Pence when he passed and saying in the (INAUDIBLE) that looks like, you know, they are considering again to do a directive, but who knows.
You know, all these things are important to tech. And obviously, they have some things that they want from the Trump administration, less regulation, they want all that money back, repatriated cash. But on this issue, it sort goes to the heart of what Silicon Valley is.
LEMON: I want to ask you because you mentioned, Peter Teal and then I want to get to this Uber thing because I thought -- I found it fascinating this weekend because, you know, it cause New York City a lot of folks use Uber on the weekend. I got this whole delete Uber thing this weekend.
So here's what you said. You said Trump has one big supporter in Silicon Valley. PayPal founder Peter Teal. And you write about him today and you said it quite "every time you open your mouth, you look more and more like you got played by Steve Bannon in this army of hobgoblins to the detriment of tech leaders who you somehow got to bow and scrape to the new administration." You are referring to the fact that Teal got Elon Musk and then Uber's CEO on to the president's advisory board.
SWISHER: Yes. Into that big meeting, the silent meeting of tech executives who could never shut up suddenly became silent which was fascinating to me.
LEMON: Yes. And we talked about that last time. So Uber is facing a big backlash, and you know, telling people to - the internet telling people to delete Uber, their Uber account and to start using Lyft. Lyft then comes out and says, we are going to make a million dollar donation to immigrants. And then after I guess figuring out that they were in major trouble with this, because Uber sent people to the airports, they also got rid of their surge pricing so they could pick people up from the airports. And social media went crazy about this.
SWISHER: I know people immediately want to jump on Uber. In that case, I feel like that they were trying -- they didn't realize what was happening at the time. I think it is a little bit of they got caught in a situation, if they had put surge pricing in, people would be furious, or if they left it in, which would have happened in that case, because the airport was blocked and the taxis went on strike.
LEMON: But for those (INAUDIBLE), we are still operating?
SWISHER: Yes. They shouldn't have done that. That was stupid. I think they were not - you know, the thing happened so quickly. These things happened. And I think they really weren't - again, they are not attuned to the fact that we are in highly political times and everything you say is going to be scrutinized. And you know, people still like they had a pretty relatively better year than before, in terms of controversy among Uber. And it just reminded people bad, it was a mistake. It was cloddish tweet. They shouldn't have it. And they are paying for it because they are now --.
LEMON: $3 million.
SWISHER: And then they had - then they did their $3 million things. And they allowed Lyft to come in looking like the good guy.
I think more to the point, I think the real point of the problem is Travis Kalanick, because the CEO of Uber is on this advisory panel along with Elon Musk and several others. The people in tech are not as tolerant to them being there given all these. And it began to pile up. It's going to be very difficult for them to be on it, and continue to complain there and make their case, and serve on it at the same time. So I think that's going to be a push me/pull you for the two of them.
LEMON: And we should say, Kara, that the Google founder Sergei Brent also went to one of the marches?
SWISHER: Well, he is a refugee. He is an actual refugee, and he said so. And today at Google protests, a lot of Google -- it was symbolic walkout of Google. He told the story. We have it on out site of being a refugee, and he is. And so like a lot of people, the head of Microsoft, immigrant. The head of Google, immigrant.
LEMON: Steve Jobs was the son of a Syrian migrant.
SWISHER: Steve Job is a son of Syrian immigrant. So it just goes on and on and on. And you know, it is at the heart -- this particular issue as I noted a month ago is at the heart of these things. There is many others, encryptions, gay right net neutrality. It's going to be one disastrous encounter with the Trump administration after another.
LEMON: It's going to be interesting to watch this play out.
Thank you, Kara Swisher. Appreciate it. All right.
SWISHER: No problem.
LEMON: I want to get to the phone now. Joining us on the phone now is George Terwilliger who was a deputy attorney general under President George H. W. Bush.
Mr. Terwilliger, thank you for joining us this evening. I want your take on this as a former justice department official, on what just happened so far.
[23:30:07] GEORGE TERWILLIGER, DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE H. W. BUSH (on the phone): Thanks, Don. It's nice to be with you. I'm either up early or up late. I was due from London.
What happened at the justice department tonight is actually quite sad for the department and for the acting attorney general.
If an attorney general, acting or otherwise, has a policy difference with the president about something involves court cases and the justice department's responsibility as the lawyer for the executive branch, for the president, then her job is to either work that problem out or to resign if she can't work it out to her satisfaction. But it is abomination for her to order the lawyers of the justice department to stand down from doing their jobs.
We have an adversary system of justice as we all know. And the job of the justice department's lawyers is to go into court and be an advocate in that adversary system for the executive branches position, its legal position. And when the acting attorney general took attention to make herself an umpire, and stand between and arbitrate between the president and legal opponents of this executive order, she was out of line. So if she didn't resign, she had to be fired and rightly so.
LEMON: Mr. Terwilliger, I want you to listen to Chuck Schumer from the Senate floor just a short time ago.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: I would say this to the president-elect and his minions, there are a lot of people who voted for President Trump, not the hardcore. And they are appalled by the simple ineptitude of this administration. Substantively is even more important, how can you run a country like this?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: What's your reaction? TERWILLIGER: Well, Senator Schumer has no shortage of a flair for the
dramatic, that's for sure, or for taking political advantage of things that come his way. But my reaction to it, Don, really, and maybe without having a distance looking at this across the ocean for a moment is we are seeing a bit of a political revolution in the United States right now. And revolutions just sometimes are a little messy, particularly at their opening stages. So it's obviously true that the Senate where Senator Schumer is the minority leader has contributed to not having his team in place, maybe this would have all been handled differently, if Jeff Sessions have already been confirmed. He is obviously well qualified to be the attorney general, and he will be confirmed. And the fact that politics are being played with that process is troubling.
LEMON: All right. Thank you, George Terwilliger, the - was a deputy attorney general under President George H. W. Bush. Thank you. I appreciate it.
We will be right back.
[23:37:25] LEMON: Our breaking news tonight, Monday night massacre, President Trump fires the acting attorney general for refusing to enforce his travel ban.
I want to bring in now Randy Olsen, his wife Zaineb Al Qazwini, and Brandon Friedman, who is a CEO of McPherson Square Group, a former Obama administration official.
I'm so glad that all of you could join us this evening.
Brandon, I want to start with the story of you, and an Iraqi interpreter Hameed Darweesh, who helped U.S. troops overseas. He was detained this weekend at JFK airport. Tell us what happened.
BRANDON FRIEDMAN, CEO, MCPHERSON SQUARE GROUP: So he worked for a long time to come here and this is a guy who really deserved to get in the country. He had first signed up to work with us in April 2003 right after the invasion. This guy is absolutely fearless and totally committed to assisting U.S. troops while we were there. So if any deserve to come here, it was him.
And he worked for a long time for it. He got his visa approved and it was - he got the final signoff last week, I think, on Wednesday. And he was supposed to fly over here on Friday. And while he was in the air on Friday, that's when the president signed the executive order banning people like him from entering the country. So when they got to the airport, he was there with his family. They let his family go after a few hours, and they held him there for 19 hours. And to me, the whole thing was just utterly disgraceful that someone who had protected U.S. troops for so long, would be treated like that, as soon as they set foot on U.S. soil.
LEMON: Brandon, Hameed spoke to the press after he was released on Saturday, let's listen? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you want to say to Donald Trump?
HAMEED JHALID DARWEESH, DETAINED TRAVELER: I like him, but I don't know, this is a policy, I don't know. He is the president and I'm a normal person. But I have a special immigration visa in my passport, me and my family, because I work with the U.S. government. I support the U.S. government during the war. But when I came here, they say, no. And they treat me as I break the rules, I did something wrong. I'm surprise, really. Really surprise. And when I get out, honestly, I surprised all those people, waiting for me, they support me. They don't know me. They never meet me. They leave everything and come to support me.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So you heard him, Brandon. He says I like him. You know, this guy may have been on his side, but now he is not winning any fans, you know, any future fans. How is he doing now? How is Hameed doing?
FRIEDMAN: Well, I will tell you. When he said that, he handled that situation with a lot more grace than I think I would have been able to.
But to your question, it's been a long weekend for him. He is still in New York with his family. They are all reunited now. And they are planning to get started with their new life here in the U.S. And we are going to do everything we can to make them comfortable and help them out, and try to return the favor in some way to what he did for us when we were in Iraq and we were in danger.
[23:40:24] LEMON: What would you like to see happen with his executive order moving forward?
FRIEDMAN: They have to rescind it. It is ridiculous. This is one of the most absurd things I have seen a president do. This is -- it's not only unfair, but it's a moral failing on our part. These people risk their lives. They risk their lives with their families to make sure that we were safe and taken care of in combat. And to repay them by telling them that they are not entitled to come here, I think is a real failure on our part as a country. We have always done the bear minimum to help the translators who helped us, and now we are talking about barring them completely. It's unconscionable.
LEMON: Brandon, thank you.
No, I want to bring in Randy and Zaineb.
Randy, you posted on Facebook that you had been planning to relocate to the U.S. from Singapore with your 2-year-old daughter (INAUDIBLE), Iraqi citizenship. She has a green card. So walk us through what happened.
RANDY OLSEN, AMERICAN TRYING TO GET WIFE AND DAUGHTER TO U.S.: Well, we are just living in a basic state of confusion and fear. We've tried reaching out to the embassy. The lovely people at the embassy have actually been very helpful with us. But they don't have any information other than what you are reading in the headlines.
I was just there this morning, two hours ago, and they wanted to help, but they don't have any information other than what the executive order states. And they wished us the best of luck and to keep in touch.
We tried calling the airlines, the airlines do not have any information. They will allow us on a plane with our green card. But they cannot determine what will happen to us on the other end when we reach the U.S. We contacted several organizations that assist, in what type of travel documents are necessary to travel around for any citizens of the world with any type of pass or document, and they don't have any information on it. So it's very encouraging to hear news that green cardholders will be allowed back in. But that information has yet to make its way to the other side of the world where we are because we are not feeling that on the ground here.
LEMON: So I understand, Zaineb, that officials told you that if you were to show up at the U.S. border with your green card in hand that you may be put in handcuffs and detained? What was your reaction when you heard that?
ZAINEB AL QAZWINI, RANDY OLSEN'S WIFE: So that's what officials told us, that's what we have been reading from the news because we have not been told any official communications of anyone. We are just clueless about what is going to happen if we show up at the U.S. border today, if I will be allowed in or if I will be sent back or detained. We don't know. We just hear all these stories on the media, just like you do, and we try to get any communication, so nothing.
And I feel -- I just feel sad and heartbroken. We have gone through this long process of what we call vetting, we have gone through two years of vetting, all the required paperwork and interviews, and when we finally got the -- I just got the green card finally this past December, and we are trying to make our way back to be with family or families and start our new life, and stay even just then we get this news a few days ago, well, it's like the door just slammed in our face, and we have nowhere to go. I mean, our visas are expiring soon here in Singapore, and now we don't know if I will be able to get in with my husband and daughter.
LEMON: What do you you're there, I see your daughter who is asleep, and I'm glad she seems to be doing well. You said you wanted to relocate to the U.S. from Singapore with that beautiful little 2-year- old. What do you want her to know about the U.S.? What should she think of America now?
AL QAZWINI: I always thought that for me America is where I felt that I can find happiness and freedom. I spend my entire -- my whole life running away from oppression. (INAUDIBLE) to do that. I studied very hard and got scholarships in some of the best universities in the world to be away from the mess and be able to get freedom, to freedom and happiness. So that's what I know about --. LEMON: Randy, you said this ban is un-American?
OLSEN: I definitely feel that way. I mean, I have been living abroad for six years, supporting American business interests. I have been paying my taxes. I'm a proud American. And then to be told at the 11th hour - minute, that I won't be able to return home. And we are living in a state of limbo, Don. Like our visas are going to expire here in Singapore. I can't go back to America. I'm unsure what will happen when we go back to America. We obviously are not going to go back to Iraq. Our visas here will expire because they are dependent on our employment which we have severed. Se say goodbye to our work so we don't have anywhere to go until we get some further information on what we can do, what are the options.
LEMON: Well, keep us updated. We wish luck. Thank you so much, Zaineb. Thank you, Randy. And also our thanks to Brandon and Randy and Zaineb's 2-year-old daughter. Thank you. We really appreciate it.
Coming up, President Trump's travel ban. Does it make the U.S. safer?
[23:49:52] LEMON: Our breaking news tonight, after defying President Trump's travel ban, acting attorney general Sally Yates has been fired and replaced with Dana Boente.
He is the-- here to discuss now is Michael Weiss, co-author of "ISIS inside the army of terror." Mubin Shaikh is a former national security operative, Bob Bear, the former CIA operative, Joel Hosenberg, author of "Without warning." They are all here. And I'm so glad you're here.
Mubin, I want to start with you. You said that President Trump's travel ban from these selected countries is counterproductive and is a bonanza for ISIS. Why do you say that?
[23:50:00] MUBIN SHAIKH, FORMER EXTREMIST: Yes. I mean, you know, again, I'm not American. I don't speak from a partisan perspective. I speak only from a security perspective. I was one of the people who was training coalition (INAUDIBLE) operators who are in the field right now, fighting the propaganda fight against ISIS. My role was to play ISIS. So I can tell you that this is a recruiting bonanza for ISIS.
LEMON: So for many people -- first of all, why do you say -- why is it a recruiting bonanza? They are going to play it and say America hates us?
SHAIKH: Well, you know, one thing is, remember, groups like ISIS, no matter what you do, they are still going to hate you, OK. Let's be clear on that, but we shouldn't be giving them ammunition. You know, they wanted this to be portrayed as a war against Islam, a war against all Muslims. They just released a statement saying at least the two previous presidents hid their hatred for Arabs and Muslims. Now that it's out in the open, this will make people open their eyes. LEMON: Yes. I'm sorry about the problem. We have a problem with
your microphone there. Hopefully, it can get it fix and we will continue or conversation. But I want to bring Joel now.
Joel, you say it's right for the president to protect the homeland from radical Islam. But this executive order was poorly drafted and was mishandle. It can and should be fixed. Why is it a good idea in principle? And how would you fix it?
JOEL HOSENBERG, FOUNDER/CHAIRMAN, THE JOSHUA FUND: Sure. Well, look. It's good to have a president that finally will call out radical Islam. We haven't had that in eight years. And who is willing to take bold, decisive action, build a national security team who is serious about defeating ISIS and other radical Islamic terrorist groups. So the objective is right.
The problem is how it's been done. There's a series of unforced errors, right? Some of those are, you know, the green card issue should have been dealt with when you sit around the table with your principals and say, what are the holes in this draft? Right? People that were translators for us and other heroes, you know, that would have come up. But it seems like it wasn't well vetted, ironically, since it's a whole document about vetting.
But look. Taking several months to review and improve the vetting process is an excellent idea. There are some gaps, though. If you're going to do these seven countries, why not Afghanistan, as just one example. We have been fighting there since 2001. Seems a little odd, based on the principles that we think we understand about the document now, why wouldn't Afghanistan be on the list, as just one example?
LEMON: And why not Saudi Arabia and other countries where --
HOSENBERG: Right. Exactly. Gaza.
LEMON: And it's been said that not in places where Donald Trump has businesses located. Yes. So that's an interesting point. I'm sure that deserves more reporting, but I have heard people say that. Michael --.
HOSENBERG: I'm not sure if he has a business interest in Afghanistan. So I think that's probably a bit cynical.
LEMON: Yes. Do you agree with him? He said, you know, we finally have a president, an administration that will call out radical terrorism radical Islam?
MICHAEL WEISS, SENIOR EDITOR, THE DAILY BEAST: To me, it was sort a non-argument, this, you know, the (INAUDIBLE) issue, for the reason that - look, I call it radical Islamic terrorism. The former president Barack Obama called it ISIL, the I in ISIL stands for Islamic, right. Middle East scholars, analysts and academia, the discourse, it's accepted to say Islamist and Islamic. That to me is a red herring.
The real issue is look, two of the countries on the list, Iraq and Syria, consist of people, Muslims who are fighting the war against ISIS on the front line, keeping America safe. I just got off the phone today with a guy called Mustafa Zushari (ph). He is a political director of a brigade called the Liwa Mutasa, which is backed by the Pentagon for one exclusive purpose in the war in Syria, to fight ISIS. Legally, they cannot fight Assad, Hezbollah, Iran, the Russians, they can only fight ISIS. The Pentagon is backing him for that sole purpose.
He said, we already have a target on our back because we were seen as American proxy. Al-Qaeda wants to kill. The regime wants to kill us. ISIS certainly wants to kill us. We used to go on the media and say, at least we can defend America because they are helping us liberate our country from extremists. Now, how can we go on the media and defend American when they are not even invited there? When we're ban because we are held under suspicion of being the very things that we are trying to combat of being the kind of terrorist that wants to kill us more than it want to even kill Americans? So the hypocrisy here. And you know, the question is it making us safe? No. It's making the state of the world much more dangerous. And it's alienating the very constituency, mostly Sunni Arabs that we are going to need to win this war against radical Islamic terrorists.
[23:55:04] LEMON: So it has been said that that makes us safer. But you think it is safer than - we are less safe than we were Friday when with this ban?
WEISS: Yes. I think this is what the Brits call an own goal. I think it is shooting ourselves in the foot. It is self-destructive ultimately.
LEMON: Bob, Steve Bannon, Donald Trump's chief strategist was behind the executive order along with Steven Miller. Here is Steve Bannon. This is on 2014. He was speaking to a Christian conference in Rome, and he said that we are at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic factions. And Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEVE BANNON, SENIOR COUNSELOR TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But also to make sure that we understand that we are at the very beginning stages of a global conflict. And that if we do not bind together as partners with others and other countries that this conflict is only going to metastasize. They have a twitter account up today, ISIS does, about turning the United States into a river of blood if it comes in and tries to defend the city of Baghdad. And trust me, that is going to come to Europe. That is going to come to central Europe. It is going to come to Western Europe. It is going to come to the United Kingdom.
And so I think that we are in a crisis. Like I said, a crisis of capitalism and the underpinnings of capitalism. And on top of that, we're now, I believe, at the beginning stages of a global war against Islamic fascists.
Bob, what are your thoughts? BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Don, it sounds like
the, you know, preaching for the first crusade. And this is not going to be taken well in the Islamic world. Seriously. I mean, this is, you know, the countries that have been banned, it makes no sense at all. And this administration, even putting any sort of ban on is going to look very bad. We are going to lose allies. And 99 percent of our intelligence in the Middle East comes from allies, from Iraqis, from Syrians, and the rest of it. And now we are saying, you are second-class citizens. You are not allowed in our country. And this, you know, now you look at Iraq, we have 5,000 troops there. The Iraqi parliament is saying this, let's throw the Americans out. So how do you fight the war on terrorism? None of this makes sense. I mean, there's, you know, there is nothing more impervious to fact and reason than political fantasy and this is what Bannon represents.
LEMON: Well, but he now has a seat, a top seat, Bob, on the national Security Council. He is going to have a role in some of the most sensitive operations facing this nation. He is going to have access the top intelligence. I mean, what do you think of that?
BAER: Well, what they are doing, Don, is like in a set-up, a parallel intelligence service. And that is why the DNI, the director of national intelligence was thrown off. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was thrown off. They are going to find their own facts, alternate facts. And that's what they have done so far, and it's going to get worse. And I just don't trust Bannon to figure this out. So he has no experience in policy, no experience in coordinating government agencies and you look at the revolt in the state department and it is not just the senior officials that have been fired, it is -- rank and file are sending a letter, you know, could dissent communications, saying we are less safe. These bans are going to get Americans killed.
LEMON: All right. I have got to run. That's the last word. Thank you very much.
We will be right back.