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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Administration Puts Iran On Notice; Awaiting Trump At Secretary Of State Ceremony; Senate Approves Rex Tillerson As Secretary Of State; Trump National Security Adviser Threatens Iran; Trump About To Appear At Swearing-In Of Secretary Of State; Trump Returns To WH After Paying Respects To Navy SEAL; Trump Attends Return Of Navy SEAL's Remains; Trump Visits Air Base To Honor Fallen Navy SEAL; Spicer On Deadly Yemen Raid: Not A 100 Percent Success; Trump: Rarely Been Conflict In The World Like We See Today; Trump Speaks At Secretary Of State Swearing-In; Aired 7-8p ET
Aired February 1, 2017 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Erin Burnett OutFront starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT HOST: OutFront next. The breaking news. Threatening Iran, Trump's National Security Adviser says he's putting Iran on notice. What does that mean? Plus more breaking news, the president about to swear in the Secretary of State. We're going to take you inside the Oval Office for that this hour. And Trump's surprise visit to Dover Air Force Base tonight, paying his respects to a fallen navy SEAL. What went so wrong in Trump's first military raid? Let's go OutFront.
And good evening to all. I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight. We begin with the breaking news. The White House putting Iran on notice tonight. Trump's National Security Adviser appearing in the White House briefing room today to deliver a threat.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GEN. MICHAEL FLYNN, (RET.) NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: President Trump has severely criticized the various agreements reached between Iran and the Obama administration as well as the United Nations as being weak and ineffective. Instead of being thankful to the United States in these agreements, Iran is now feeling emboldened. As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: That warning coming on the heels of Iran's ballistic missile test launch and the big question of course tonight is what action will Trump take? His team tells us, they are reviewing all their options and nothing is off the table. That's a very significant statement and it comes as Trump is moments away from swearing in Rex Tillerson, his secretary of state in the Oval Office. He will be at the center of so many of these crucial decisions on Iran.
Tillerson approved by the senate late today with four democratic votes and of course all republicans, many of those voting against him though raised questions specifically about him and Iran. We're going to speak to a key senator, the top democrat on the foreign relations committee in just a moment. First though, Michelle Kosinski is OutFront at the state department. And Michelle, you know, putting Iran on notice, is this Trump's new "red line?"
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Erin. Yes. Well, it's definitely being presented as a hard line on Iran. If you want to call it a red line, maybe somewhat blurry one at this point. But the White House is saying that it is dedicated to holding Iran accountable after this latest missile launch. And that it's considering a whole range of options in a response and, yes, that does include a military one.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KOSINSKI: A tough line on Iran at the White House today.
FLYNN: As of today, we are officially putting Iran on notice.
KOSINSKI: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn offering a cryptic warning after Iran tested another ballistic missile, Sunday.
FLYNN: The Obama administration failed to respond adequately to Tehran's malign actions including weapons transfers, support for terrorism, and other violations of international norms.
KOSINSKI: The new administration making it clear it believes the missile launch violated the U.N. resolution. Flynn's comments today follow this warning from U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley yesterday.
NIKKI HALEY, AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: The United States is not naive. We are not going to stand by. We're going to act. We're going to be strong. We're going to be loud. And we're going to do whatever it takes to protect the American people.
SEBASTIAN GORKA, DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT: There is a new sheriff in town. His name is Donald J. Trump and we are not going to follow the policies of the prior administration.
KOSINSKI: Wanting to send a strong message but how exactly the U.S. will act's is unclear. Administration officials say they're not taking any options off the table including a military response. The former deputy national security adviser for President Obama, Ben Rhodes, lashed out on Twitter while Russian intervention and Ukraine increases, National Security Adviser Flynn takes time to publicly criticize Obama and not Putin.
Iran has launched ballistic missiles several times over the last few years. January 2016 the Obama administration's treasury department did impose sanctions specifically targeting those helping Iran get supplies for its missile program. But prior tests have gone down with no more response than statements of condemnation. Experts say the missile tests while provocative do not violate the nuclear deal. The U.S. and o five other countries helped negotiate.
TONY BLINKEN, FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: Some will say that there are those in Iran who are actually trying themselves to undermine or sabotage the nuclear agreement that we reach with Iran. They're trying to take provocative actions to get us to respond, to get us to pull out of the agreement.
KOSINSKI: President Trump on the campaign trail talked about getting tough on Iran but not necessarily ripping up the nuclear deal.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a horrible agreement. I will make that agreement so tough and if they break it they will have hell to pay.
KOSINSKI: Here at the state department, they're not using the same language at the White House as the White House is at this point. And keep in mind Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was just confirmed today. And they're not saying definitively that this missile launch violated the U.N. resolution. They're saying things like it was a defiance of it. It was inconsistent with it. It was provocative and they're not --also not completely clear right now exactly what are these options that the White House is talking about. Erin?
BURNETT: All right, thank you so much, Michelle. And OutFront now, Senator Ben Cardin, the top democrat on the foreign relations committee. Senator, obviously this front and center for you tonight now. I know you voted against President Obama's Iran deal. It was a carefully considered decision and you wrote very eloquently about why you chose no. Today, the Trump administration saying Iran's missile test was provocative that they're, "putting Iran on notice," is that right move?
SEN. BEN CARDIN, (D) RANKING MEMBER, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE: Well, I think the Trump administration needs to work with congress. There is strong support in congress to make sure that Iran understand they cannot violate ballistic missile obligations without a consequence. We can toughen sanctions. There are other things we can do. We can work with our allies in regards to their violations of ballistic missile obligations. They also are financing terrorism.
We need to be mindful of how we can go after them for those activities. They also have human rights violations. So we understand in addition to their nuclear program, there are other issues. And congress is willing to work with the administration in a responsible way with our international partners to isolate Iran on these activities.
BURNETT: And of course, I know among your frustrations is, right? Once the sanctions dam was unleashed, when the deal happened, it's pretty hard to plug that if not impossible. You know, you heard Donald Trump there saying he will so tough on Iran. If they break that deal, there will be hell to pay. Do you think they should try to open it back up? Is that even a possibility on your horizon?
CARDIN: No. We don't need to open up the nuclear agreement. We can deal with ballistic missile violations. There is a series of actions that we can take that can affect Iran's ability to obtain weapons. So we can do that working with our international partners. So there are steps that we can take that can respond to what Iran is doing. And we need to do that.
BURNETT: So today you voted against Rex Tillerson as secretary of state. He's about of course to be formally sworn in by the president. He was confirmed. Do you trust him to get Iran right? Because this is now going to be on his table -- on his desk.
CARDIN: Mr. Tillerson is now or shortly will be the secretary of state. We want to work with him. He will be our chief diplomat. I will do everything in my power to make sure that he promotes Americans' values, stand up to Russia, Russia's activities have been very much against our interests. And we need to make sure they understand that we're going to be as tough with Russia as the president just said with Iran.
BURNETT: Now you have been out outspoken about Donald Trump's travel ban. One of the first diplomatic moves he made since coming into office that of course along with the wall executive order. You've met with the Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly now about your concerns. What did he tell you?
CARDIN: Well, he told us it was a rough beginning and that they are committed to keeping America safe. And we're committed to keeping America safe. This executive order does just the opposite. It isolates America from other countries around the world. It compromises America's leadership on the refugee issue. It promotes the anti-American rhetoric that can be used by recruiters for terrorist organizations. So what we heard yesterday was that they're committed to this policy.
We believe the only thing we can do right now, what we should do, is repeal this executive order. It's offensive. It's not what America stands for. We don't impose bans on people based upon their religion coming into America.
BURNETT: Did he talk to you at all about how long the ban would last? Whether more countries would be added? Anything about their intent?
CARDIN: I think the administration's made it clear that they intend to keep this ban in place. I think congress needs to speak and say no. This is un-American. It's not keeping us safe. It's just the opposite. It makes us more at risk. Refugees had not caused problems in our country. They're properly vetted. So I think it's now up to congress to take action to reverse what the president has done.
BURNETT: Before we go, Judge Gorsuch, some of your colleagues of course are threatening a filibuster. You called republicans' actions towards President Obama's supreme court nominee Merrick Garland in your words, reckless. The big challenge for you, of course, is this. Should democrats now be equally as reckless? Or should they give Gorsuch a fair and speedy hearing?
CARDIN: Well, we need to carry out our constitutional responsibilities. But we do understand that the republicans in the senate, what they did to president Obama was outrageous. But they did to the office of the presidency and not even considering a Supreme Court appointment in a ten-month period. So we are suspicious as to how this process will play out with Judge Gorsuch. So we're going to be very careful to make sure that we have adequate time, that we can understand all of his judicial philosophy, that we could see whether, in fact, he is mainstream or not. There's a lot of cases that he was involved in to get many of us heart burn. We're going to be asking a lot of tough questions and we're not going to rush this.
BURNETT: But you're not trying to holding it up or automatically support a filibuster or anything like that, right?
CARDIN: I must tell you, it depends on how the process unfolds. While we understand how we've been treated in the past and we are very suspicious as to how the republican leadership will treat us on this nomination.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you so much, Senator Cardin. Thank you tonight.
CARDIN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And OutFront next, Trump grappling with the first American combat death in his presidency in a raid he said was successful, he went to Dover Air Force Base tonight. Plus, the president about to swear in his secretary of state. We're going to go inside the Oval Office with you with that and confirmation chaos on Capitol Hill today.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He personally went after me. He personally imbued my integrity. You didn't object then, did you?
BURNETT: Breaking news. President Trump honoring fallen hero tonight. These are new pictures right now just coming in of the president returning to the White House with his daughter Ivanka. He made an unannounced visit to Dover Air Force Base early this evening to pay his respect. The Chief Petty Officer William Ryan Owens, Owens was a decorated Navy SEAL, he was killed during a deadly counterterror raid in Yemen this weekend. This operation was the first mission approve by president Trump. Jim Acosta is OutFront with more.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: A solemn day for the new commander-in chief-making his first trip to as president to Dover, Delaware, to meet with the family of Chief Petty Officer William Ryan Owens who was killed in Yemen during the weekend raid targeting Al-Qaeda in the Arabian peninsula. President Trump called Owen's family Tuesday, the White House said, to recognize his sacrifice and years of dedicated service to his country.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He went back, deployed 12 times because he loved his country and he believed in the mission. And knowing that we killed an estimated 14 AQAP members and that we gathered an unbelievable amount of intelligence that will prevent the potential deaths or attacks on American soil is something that I think most service members understand that that's why they join the service.
ACOSTA: White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer appear to clarify a White House statement on the raid issue Sunday, said in a successful raid against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula headquarters brave U.S. forces were instrumental in killing an estimated 14 AQWP members and capturing important intelligence. Today Spicer sought to qualify the definition of success.
SPICER: It's hard to ever say something was successful when you lose a life. You never want to call something a success 100 percent when someone is hurt or killed.
ACOSTA: It was the first covert operation under President Trump. CNN has learned planning for the operation began months ago during the Obama administration. But for operational reasons, including the schedule of moonless nights needed to obscure the approaching missions, it could not be done before Obama left office. According to a diplomatic source familiar with the operation, President Trump authorized the mission fairly quickly.
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, (RET.) CNN MILITARY ANALYST: In order for an operation like this to be planned as thoroughly as you need to plan it. You often create a cell of contrarians who are poking holes in every one of your steps along the way.
ACOSTA: But the team ran in trouble almost immediately with drones overhead the whole time, navy SEALs working together with UAE Special Ops approached the sight with the special ops team was spotted and a fire fight ensued. The terrorists which included female fighters took cover in a nearby building. An air strike was called in against the building. Yemeni officials say 13 civilians were killed in the raid including eight-year-old Nora al-Awlaki.
Her father was Anwar al-Awlaki, the U.S.-born cleric who directed attacks against the U.S. and was killed in a U.S. drone strike in 2011. Three U.S. service members were wounded and navy SEAL Owens was killed. Ospreys were launched from the U.S. as make and to retreat the wounded. One of the osprey made a hard landing due to technical problems. The aircraft was deliberately destroyed by the U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis left a gala dinner in Washington Saturday evening to address the mission that was fraught with risks.
MARKS: Those kinds of things will happen in operations like this. So there is a clearly a risk assessment. You mitigate the risk as best as you can. There will often be casualties. That's just the nature of this business.
ACOSTA: Still, administration officials stress U.S. commanders were able to gather computer hard drives and other reams of intelligence that may provide crucial details on terrorist operations. And the White House kept this visit under wraps in private for much of the day at the request of Ryan Owen's family and out respect to the family's wishes, there were no pictures of that dignified transfer of remains at Dover earlier today.
And Erin, and just the last few minutes, President Trump did comment on his visit to Dover. He called it very sad and very beautiful during the swearing in ceremony for his new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Erin. BURNETT: Thank you very much, Jim Acosta. And as Jim said, the president has just arrived back at the White House from his visit to Dover Air Force Base with the Owens family. You see him there getting off Marine One. And as Jim said, he said it was a very sad, very beautiful visit with Mr. Owens' family. OutFront now, John McGuire, former Navy SEAL retired U.S. Army Major General Spider Marks, you just heard from and Alex Berenson, former New York Times Reporter, best-selling author.
His latest book, The Prisoner just hit bookshelves this week, yesterday in, fact. Let me just start with you, Alex. President trump said the raid was a success. Of course, he is getting a lot of criticism for using that word because an American Commander, navy SEAL lost his life lives and there were civilians who lost their lives as well. Is the criticism warranted?
ALEX BERENSON, FORMER NEW YORK TIMES REPORTER: I don't think we know what they got. It certainly seems tactically they ran into some serious problems they weren't expecting. And one of the things we were talking about just a minute ago was why they went in with ospreys which are loud rather than, you know, the special forces have silence Blackhawks. I don't know it was a tactical decision because of distance. You know, they aren't in the middle of the desert. But they clearly ran into some issues they weren't expecting.
BURNETT: And their approach obviously would have been heard using the much louder aircraft. General Marks?
MARKS: Yes. I was going to say, I'm not going to second-guess any decision that was made by a combatant commander or the commander on the ground who's got the responsibility to execute this mission as to what type of aircraft or what type of personal protection the detailed planning for every one of the missions is exhaustive and they go through scenarios upon scenarios to ensure they get it right. And guess what, war has costs. And things will go wrong.
BURNETT: So,John, one of the things when Alex said it depends, you know, we don't know what they got was I think how you put it exactly. John, we know the U.S. Special Forces were searching for intelligence specifically. Obviously this is the second major raid in Yemen in more than two years putting U.S. lives on the line, right? It's not something they're doing every night. They go in, they have something very specific, something significant. Do you have any sense of what intelligence we could be talking about?
JOHN MCGUIRE, NAVY SEAL(RET.): Well, first, my heart goes out to the family of fallen and the wounded. I'll tell you, Ryan was a fearless warrior who did everything for his brothers. He puts his brothers first. But the intelligence could be in any locations and any movements, anything can help us get an edge on the war on terror.
BURNETT: And Alex, what you are learning in your reporting as to why, you know, we do know they were planning for this for a long time. They were waiting for a moonless night. But of course, something happened they did not expect. There is no question about that.
BERENSON: Well, they're not going to have strategic surprise. These people know that we want them.
BERENSON: And they know that we're targeting them. So the best thing, you know, for is some kind of a tactical surprise. And why they didn't have that, I suspect there is a lot of smart people asking that question right now. In Tampa, you know, in the -- in the Pentagon.
BURNETT: And trying to understand. General Marks, I mean, here's one of the things we know. We know at least 40 people were killed, 14 of them at least were Al-Qaeda fighters, at least 13 of them were civilians, six of those children, seven of them women and, of course, the navy SEAL. We know they spent weeks doing this. Planning this raid. How could all these civilians though have ended up in the line of fire?
MARKS: Well, you know, Erin, that's what will be uncovered over the course of the next couple of days through a very, very thorough after- action review on every aspect of this operation from planning execution, withdrawal, you know, actions on the objective, et cetera. The thing that's important to realize is decisions -- the decision point for execution has a certain time line associated it with it based on how fast it takes to get to the objective, how much time do you have on the objective, what are you trying achieve?
And then how do you expel away from that? And while you're en route, intelligence is being updated. You have these amazing intelligence capabilities. So that the men and women that are about to execute this operation of getting the very latest so they get a better sense so that they hopefully can overpower the objective, be as deadly and as accurate and precise as they can be.
How civilians in the collateral damage assessment always goes to what is on the objective that we don't want in the object. Those assessments take place. So clearly, the arrival of civilians on the objective was identified once they got in contact because I can tell you, if they had known that in advance that, would have been an abort mission. They would have tried to clear that away at some point.
BURNETT: John, let me give you a chance to make that clear. If they had known that in advance, right? They would not have gone ahead with this mission. You know, forget whether these were the children of Al- Qaeda or whatever. They were children.
MCGUIRE: Well, just like the general said, there is so much detail planning contingencies that goes into these type of missions. And that's because thing do go wrong. And good intelligence saves lives is not going to fall in our lap. So we need to risk our lives to go in and protect our country. But had we had Intel like this we probably would have aborted.
BURNETT: Does this chase him, Donald Trump? This is his first mission of route.
BERENSON: No, no, absolutely not. As we can see, Donald Trump has his opinions and he does not change them in response to a sing le attack going wrong. I don't think this chases him at all. And I -- so, in my books, it's easy. But in the real world, it's hard.
BURNETT: And, of course, you do you write about a lot of these things happening as you reported on them over the years. Thank you so much all three of you. And next, go nuclear. That's what Trump is telling republicans to do about his Supreme Court pick. We're live on Capitol Hill tonight. Plus, fashion forward or Fashion Faux Pas. Jon Stewart sounds off on Trump's presidential style.
JON STEWART, THE DAILY SHOW HOST: The president sets men's fashion and this is -- I saw the inauguration. Super long tie. Dead animal on head, boom.
TRUMP: Thank you very much. Just returned from an amazing visit with a great, great family at Dover and it was something very sad, very beautiful. Ryan, a great man. Secretary Tillerson, I first want to congratulate you, Renda and your entire family on this incredible honor and it is that an incredible honor. You bring the unique skills and deep, deep insights and I've gotten to see it firsthand into foreign diplomacy, our nation needs to foster stability and security in a world too often trapped and right now it's trapped, in violence and in war.
You understand that the job of our diplomats and the mission of the state department is to serve the interests of the United States of America to make our nation safer, our country more prosperous, and our people much more secure. And that mission you also understand the importance of strengthening our alliances and forming new alliances to enhance our strategic interests and the safety of our people. Your whole life has prepared you for this moment.
And you really have had a tremendous life heading up one of the great companies of the world and doing it magnificently, absolutely magnificently. And I can say this is a man that's respected all over the world before he even begins. But as Renda said, now he is beginning his big, big and most important journey. This is where you were meant to be right here today at this cross roads in history. It's time to bring a clear eyed focus to foreign affairs, to take a fresh look at the world around us and to seek new solutions grounded in very ancient truths.
These truths include the fact that nations have a right to protect their interests, that all people have a right to freely pursue their own destiny, and that all of us are better off when we act in concert and not in conflict. And there's rarely been conflict like we have in the world today. Very sad. I'm excited for you. I'm excited for your family. And perhaps most importantly, I am excited for our great country. Though you inherit enormous challenges in the Middle East and around the world, I do believe we can achieve peace and stability in these very, very --
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: -- great country.
[19:30:03] Though you inherit enormous challenges in the Middle East and around the world, I do believe we can achieve peace and stability in the very, very troubled times.
May God bless new this journey and may god bless our very, very special and great country. Thank you very much.
Mike, you can do the honors. Thank you.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On behalf of President Trump, it's my great privilege to administer you the oath of Office of Secretary of State of the United States of America.
Please place your left hand on the bible and raise your right hand and repeat after me.
I, Rex Wayne Tillerson, do solemnly swear --
REX TILLERSON, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I, Rex Wayne Tillerson, do solemnly swear --
PENCE: -- that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States --
TILLERSON: -- that I will support and defend the constitution of the United States --
PENCE: -- against all enemies foreign and domestic.
TILLERSON: -- against all enemies foreign and domestic.
PENCE: That I will bear truth and allegiance to the same.
TILLERSON: That I will bear truth and allegiance to the same.
PENCE: That I take this obligation freely --
TILLERSON: That I take this obligation freely --
PENCE: -- without any mental reservation --
TILLERSON: -- without any mental reservation --
PENCE: -- or purpose of evasion.
TILLERSON: -- or purpose of evasion.
PENCE: And I will well and faithfully --
TILLERSON: And I will well and faithfully --
PENCE: -- discharge the duties --
TILLERSON: -- discharge the duties --
PENCE: -- of the office upon which I'm about to enter.
TILLERSON: -- of the office upon which I'm about to enter.
PENCE: So help me God.
TILLERSON: So help me God.
TRUMP: Would you like to say a few words?
TILLERSON: Well, first, I want to express my profound thanks to President Trump for giving me this extraordinary opportunity to serve my country. I also want to thank Vice President Pence for giving me the honor of swearing me into this office today.
I have a few folks in the room that are with me that have helped me over the last month to get to this point of confirmation. They represent a much larger cadre of people who have worked enormously long hours, tirelessly, helping me and guiding me through the confirmation process and to them I will always be eternally grateful for the sacrifice they made of their time and effort this past weeks.
I've also received over the last month so many messages, letters, phone calls of best wishes and encouragement, prayers from family, friends, and colleagues who know me well. But I've also received an enormous outpouring of wonderful messages from people all over the country whom I do not know, words of encouragement and their prayers. And it's their messages that are going to really stand in steadfast reminder to me as I enter the responsibilities of secretary of state. That as I serve this president, I serve their interests and will always represent the interests of all of the American people at all times.
And again, Mr. President, thank you for this extraordinary opportunity.
TRUMP: Thank you, everybody.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, guys.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[19:35:06] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: Rex Tillerson now the secretary of state as you saw sworn in by Mike Pence, commenting Donald Trump returning from Dover Air Force Base. The body of a slain Navy SEAL came back from the Yemen raid and speaking very somber and subdued as the swearing in happened.
I want to bring in now, "The Washington Post" national political reporter Abby Phillip, our senior political analyst Mark Preston and special correspondent Jamie Gangel.
As we were sitting here together watching we all noticed Donald Trump, yes, he was reading. He read very carefully from his prepared remarks. But he was clearly somber, subdued.
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And literally had to par take in what has got to be the hardest thing to do as a commander in chief.
You know, we often say like he's the president of the United States, leader of the free world, commander in chief. Well, today, he had to take that responsibility to a place that nobody wants to go. He actually have got to give him props that he would get on Marine One, that he would get to Andrews Air Force Base and greet the family and there be for when this Navy SEAL's body returns.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, we have seen these moments where he is sober. That first meeting with President Obama in the Oval Office, you saw he was very different. I think we saw another moment like that today where the weight of the office was obviously on his shoulders.
BURNETT: Obviously on his shoulders. And, Abby, he did he read from the remarks. They were prepared. He stuck them. There were a couple traditional Trumpian asides. It's sad as one of them.
But all levity aside, it was very serious what he had to say. And one thing he said stood out to me, I'm curious what you thought about it, he said when introducing Rex Tillerson, "It is a time as a nation we act in concert, not in conflict."
ABBY PHILLIP, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: That's very interesting that he would say that considering the environment in Washington this week in particular and in just the 13 days since he's been sworn in. You know, I think the president views the world as being something that needs to be kind of revamped and rethought. And he wants the United States to look inward.
And what is interesting about Rex Tillerson's job as secretary of state is that he has to put in place a foreign policy that actually is a little bit of a departure from what past secretaries of state have done. Trump wants him to help disentangle the world from conflicts so that he can refocus inward on some of the domestic problems whether they're political or economic. And so, that's very challenging. I think Trump understands the gravity of the job that Tillerson is in and also, you know, President Obama mentioned when he was on his way out that there are moments in this job that remind you of how hard it is and I think Trump had one of those moments today.
BURNETT: He had one of those moments as he was about to swear in his secretary of state, which I think made him realize how important that was. But I did think it was significant that he read from his prepared remarks and that they included that act in concert, not conflict. It seemed to mean, can you read too much into it? But a nod to I understand -- that's not how people perceive me or my goals to be, but I'm going to come out here and say this.
PRESTON: Leadership comes from the top and leadership needs to come from him.
When President Obama came in 2000, he ran in 2008 and came to Washington in 2009 as president, he talked about bringing hope and change. Now, he certainly wasn't successful in changing Washington. Donald Trump said the same thing, "I'm going to change Washington." Except, it's been a very divisive first couple weeks of his presidency, and a lot of that divisiveness has come out of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
BURNETT: Very tough ten days, but in the past 24 hours, a different story.
GANGEL: A big difference. And I would say what we saw today is very much like what we saw yesterday. This was -- he had a good day yesterday. The Supreme Court announcement went very, very well. It was scripted. He stayed on message.
And you know what? He got a lot of good reviews for it. And one thing we know about Donald Trump, he watches television and he is sensitive. I think he understood and we saw it today obviously was a very different situation that the mood of yesterday, we saw today.
GANGEL: The demeanor.
BURNETT: All of you staying with me. Because next, Donald Trump, president urging Republicans to go nuclear to defend his Supreme Court pick, announced, of course, just last night. We're live on Capitol Hill.
Plus, White House sources tell CNN, Trump is angry with the rollout of his travel ban. So, who will pay the price?
[19:43:36] BURNETT: Tonight, the breaking news, President Trump telling Senate Republicans, go nuclear if you have to. The president talking about the so-called nuclear option to get Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch confirmed. That would mean Gorsuch is confirmed by a simple majority, not the 60 votes now required to break a Democratic filibuster.
Manu Raju is OUTFRONT.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER (voice-over): As President Donald Trump's choice for the Supreme Court made the rounds on Capitol Hill, Senate Democrats were struggling with this key question -- how hard should they fight the selection of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the high court?
Trump warning that his party may try to cut out Democrats altogether if they filibuster his nominee, urging Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to invoke the so-called nuclear option to allow just 51 Republicans to confirm Gorsuch rather than the 60 votes required now.
TRUMP: I would say if you can, Mitch, go nuclear. Because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in the web.
RAJU: Democrats are firing back.
SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), RANKING MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: That's enormously unhelpful. That's a threat.
RAJU: But Feinstein declined to say if she'd back a filibuster.
(on camera): Do you think Democrats should filibuster this nomination?
FEINSTEIN: I'm not there yet. I can't say.
RAJU (voice-over): Liberal Democrats are still fuming at Senate Republicans for refusing to even have a hearing, for former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland and they believe Gorsuch is too conservative for the job.
SEN. ED MARKEY (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Yes, I'm going to -- I personally going to fight as hard as I can in order to block this confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States.
RAJU: Yet other Democrats say since Trump is not affecting the ideological balance of the court, they should save their firepower and the filibuster for the next fight when Trump may replace a more liberal justice.
Senator Joe Manchin bluntly issuing this warning to his party.
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: If we're ever going to be back into the majority, they're going to have to learn to work with moderates. If not, they're going to be in this super minority.
RAJU: The White House is hoping to win over mansion and nine other Democrats who are up for re-election in states Trump won, including Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill.
REP. CLAIRE MCCASKILL (D), MISSOURI: I want to listen and learn. But no way we should give up the 60-vote margin which is the filibuster.
RAJU: The battle comes as tensions turn to rage over Trump's cabinet. With Republicans taking an unprecedented step to change the rules in advance two of Trump's cabinet nominees, after Democrats boycotted a committee vote on Tom Price's nomination to head Health and Human Services, and Steven Mnuchin to run the Treasury Department.
Meanwhile, Senator Jeff Sessions is a step closer to becoming attorney general, but only after a divisive fight in committee produced a party line vote in favor of his nomination.
SEN. AL FRANKEN (D), MINNESOTA: We have an important job to do here and requires that each and every one of us understands the nominee's record accurately. It's not our job to shade his record.
RAJU: And, Erin, tonight, two Republican senators say they will vote against Betsy DeVos' nomination to be education secretary, those senators, moderates, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine, and that's going to require Vice President Mike Pence to come to the Senate and break a tie to ensure this nomination gets confirmed. It's a sign, Erin, that no matter how controversial some of the nominees may be, they're going to eventually get their job if Republicans stay largely united -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right, Manu. Thank you.
And my panel is back with me.
Jamie, let me start with you. You know, Senator Murkowski, Senator Collins voting against DeVos. Of course, she is going to get approved, thanks to Mike Pence. But those are very significant statements that they have now made to this president and to this administration.
GANGEL: Right. These two senators are the first people to go against one of his nominees. And my understanding is that this was -- they liked her. They respected her, but they simply didn't feel she knew enough about education.
And those hearings were very rocky. She had -- she had a lot of problems. And in the end, their phones were ringing off the hook. They looked at it seriously and they decided they wouldn't go.
I just want to say one thing, every Republican I spoken to today says she will make it through. But there is a little bit of concern that the fact that these two senators did this, that maybe -- I stress maybe -- someone else might -- flip over.
BURNETT: Might flip over, and then, of course, she doesn't.
BURNETT: I mean, because it would be stunning after all this and all these delays and shenanigans and things people despise about Washington that have been going every single day, all day long, that he's going to get all the nominees through, after all of this complaining.
PRESTON: And how amazing was it a few moments ago that we see Rex Tillerson who is, you know, one of the most controversial nominees who got four Democrats to vote for him. But yet, Betsy DeVos is unable to get through, unless the vice president has to go up and vote on her behalf.
But I do think it shows this, that Donald Trump didn't think deeply enough about who he wanted to put into that Department of Education slot which is extremely important. There is a lot of money that goes into that department that has incredible amount of control with local school boards.
GANGEL: The sense I heard was that they didn't feel she was well prepared and that people didn't -- she wasn't helped to prepare. But the secretary of education ends up being the one. It is really stunning.
BURNETT: It is extremely stunning.
And, Abby, now, we get to the issue of the nuclear option, the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.
You know, Senator Ben Cardin was on the show earlier this hour and, you know, refused to answer the question as to whether he would support a filibuster or not. But I think by all accounts we know this man is incredibly qualified. Yes, what happened to Merrick Garland was not good. But do you think we're going to see a heated fight or will Democrats do the right thing and say let's just put someone who is qualified for the job, this is who it is?
PHILLIP: I think there will be a fight regardless. I think the Democratic base right now is in a place where, you know, where some Republicans were in 2009 when Obama came in, they want their party to fight.
[19:50:06] And you will see I think a vast majority of Democrats doing that.
But I -- given the nominee, given the person who Gorsuch is and the fact that he is viewed as a reasonable jurist, he is viewed as largely in the line -- in line with Scalia, which does not shift the court dramatically to the right, I think we'll see a lot of Democrats coming over and saying, we should give this guy a chance. At least give him a chance for a vote.
And, you know, we may not get to the place where Mitch McConnell has to go nuclear, because they may be able to get to 60 without that -- without going that far. We don't know yet. And there are some indications that, you know, the usual suspects, the Manchins of the world, the folks in red states are going to give him a chance.
BURNETT: All right. Let's hope. So, because such a small things working add up to big things over time. Thanks to all.
And next, White House source telling CNN the president is upset with the way the travel ban has been handled. Is a power struggle brewing?
[19:55:09] BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump fighting back against critics of the travel ban tweeting, quote, "Everybody is arguing whether or not it is a ban, call it what you want. It's about keeping bad people with bad intentions out of countries."
But the growing outrage over the rollout of Trump's travel ban is forcing the White House to change course and fast.
Dana Bash is OUTFRONT.
TRUMP: The rollout is fantastic.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On his Supreme Court pick, the president has reason to be, to use a favorite Trump term, braggadocios.
TRUMP: Judge Gorsuch, the podium, sir, is yours.
BASH: Choreographing a tightly scripted event, with GOP lawmakers there to applaud and lining up an experienced team to shepherd his nominee across Capitol Hill.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are a nation of immigrants and we must --
BASH: A stark contrast to the clumsy way Team Trump managed the president's executive order on travel restrictions. Sources tell CNN the president has expressed anger to aides at the way that was handled. The fallout still sullying the new administration, high profile GOP criticism still coming in.
SEN. JOHN THUNE (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: I think this was unnecessarily confusing and the way that was rolled out. And they deserve to give more clarity to the American people on a big decision like this.
BASH: CNN has learned that White House is taking steps to try to avoid such confusion even the appearance of incompetence in the future. Chief of Staff Reince Priebus will take more control of systems dealing with basic functions like executive orders. It is authority Priebus already technically had but was not able to fully exert given that power is splintered among several strong players, from Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, to counselor to the president, Steve Bannon.
One senior administration officials blames the sloppy rollout to, quote, "irrational exuberance of Trump aides eager to keep campaign promises but lacking experience to get it done right."
(on camera): Trump aides say one of the biggest system failures was with fundamental communication, preparing not just the agency's who execute travel restrictions but arming allies and advocates with talking points on how to defend it.
(voice-over): Message strategy is usually the job of White House communications director. But Team Trump doesn't really have one. Press Secretary Sean Spicer does double duty.
To remedy that, CNN is told that Trump senior adviser Kellyanne Conway will take on more of the communications responsibilities.
Trump aides insist they are trying to course correct. Organize the White House more traditionally or at least as traditional as possible with a president who himself often guides message for better or worse on Twitter. (END VIDEOTAPE)
BURNETT: And Dana Bash is joining me now.
Dana, the chief strategist Steve Bannon as you reported, plays major role in the drafting, the rollout of the travel ban. Now that they're trying to play cleanup here, what does that mean for his role?
BASH: It is hard to imagine that his role is really going to be diminished. He has been very close with the president and, frankly, I am told even Priebus, the chief of staff, and, of course, Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, they're all still working together. And more importantly, the idea that Steve Bannon is going to sort of somehow walk away into the sunset is not going to happen any time soon.
And what people have told me since the campaign, Erin, is that the president, then candidate, really saw and sees Steve Bannon as an equal. So, I don't see that happening, don't see that changing much.
BURNETT: Yes, there is something people were saying that, I remember someone close to us saying they're similar in age. They're similar in experience. There was just sort of a peer, for lack of a better word.
BASH: Exactly, exactly.
BURNETT: -- how Donald Trump sees Steve Bannon as opposed to others, including Reince Priebus.
But you have some reporting there, that he's going to be taking more control.
BASH: That's right. He's going to try. And that's what I sort of tried to lay out that it's not as if he didn't have that authority. He is the White House chief of staff. That is the job of the White House chief of staff to make sure that the trains run on time, to be sort of the gatekeeper for the president. But also make sure when the president does something major like an executive order, that it's thought through on all levels.
From the perspective of Priebus, the good news is that this experience has made it more clear to the people around the president and the president himself that you need somebody responsible for that, so that this disastrous rollout doesn't happen again.
BURNETT: All right. Dana, thank you so much.
BASH: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: And thanks to all of you for joining us.
Don't forget, you can watch the show OUTFRONT anytime, anywhere go. You just have to CNN Go.
Thanks so much. We'll see you back here tomorrow.
"AC360" begins right now.