'This Week' Transcript 1-29-17: Sean Spicer, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and Robert Gates
A rush transcript for "This Week" on January 29, 2017.
— -- THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT FOR 'THIS WEEK' on January 29, 2017 and it will be updated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Starting right now on THIS WEEK with George Stephanopoulos -- first week firestorm. Protests around the country after Trump limits entry to the U.S. President Trump not backing down.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're totally prepared. It's working out very nicely. We'll have a very, very strict ban and we'll have extreme vetting.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Federal courts intervening overnight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We believe this executive order is clearly unlawful.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Will Trump's order survive?
We have all the breaking details. Plus:
TRUMP: The American people will not pay for the wall.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): After a wild week one, we cover it all and go straight to the new power brokers. Tough questions ahead for White House press secretary Sean Spicer, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell, Iraq veteran Congressman Seth Moulton and former Defense Secretary for two presidents, Bob Gates.
From ABC News it's THIS WEEK; here now, co-anchor Martha Raddatz.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARTHA RADDATZ, ABC HOST: Good morning. A whirlwind week for our new president: 18 executive actions, three TV interviews, three speeches, a joint news conference, a blizzard of activity and controversy over the wall and who will pay for it; those unfounded allegations of voters fraud.
And then Friday it got real with an executive order that had immediate and profound impact.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I’m establishing new vetting measures to keep radical Islamic terrorists out of the United States of America. We don’t want them here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: No surprise for anyone following the election. Trump has been promising this extreme vetting for more than a year. But, still, it came as a shock. A 90-day ban on travelers from seven countries -- Syria, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Yemen, Sudan and Libya.
Even green card holders, who thought they were free to come and go, caught in the chaos. All refugees also banned for 120 days. The result: hundreds of people detained or turned away, many thousands in a state of high anxiety, like 29-year-old Syrian Dr. Mohamed Mustafa (ph), here legally since 2013.
Saturday morning, his wife was returning to Dulles Airport, where she was immediately turned away and put back on a flight to the Middle East.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): They told her while she was on the plane that her visa would be canceled and she was like terrified, even when she was on there. And then when she came down and the officers started to talk to her in a rude way, it was, like this is not your visa, this is America's visa and will take it away from you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: With stories like that spreading like wildfire on social media, protesters descended on airports around the nation: New York, Chicago, San Francisco. In the Oval Office Saturday, after a round of phone calls to foreign leaders, Trump defended his action.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: It’s not a Muslim ban but we were totally prepared. It's working out very nicely. We'll have a very, very strict ban and we will have extreme vetting, which we should have had in this country for many years.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RADDATZ: Let's bring in our David Kerley at Dulles International Airport.
David, you heard the president say the government was totally prepared.
Is that the impression you're getting out there?
DAVID KERLEY, ABC NEWS CORRESPONDENT: The short answer this morning, Martha, is no. Sources are telling ABC News that the agency charged with carrying out these executive orders were not fully briefed. In fact, a lot of Homeland Security officers were basically making decisions on the fly yesterday as individuals were coming into the United States.
There were families, protesters, a small army of immigration lawyers; it was quite the scene here at Dulles and airports around the country.
In Seattle, police actually dispersed some crowds with pepper spray. It was a day of high drama at those airports. Cheers broke out at JFK airport, when a federal judge in Brooklyn ordered a nationwide order, protecting anyone on a plane coming into the country at an airport from actually being immediately deported, kicked out of the country.
And here in Virginia, another judge issued a seven-day ban on the government removing green card holders who have been detained here at Dulles International.
And airlines were kind of at a loss as to what exactly to do. The Airline Transportation Association, the international association of airlines, put out a statement so airlines had to make decisions how they were going to handle the hundreds of people who were detained or told they could not come into the country -- Martha.
RADDATZ: Thanks, David.
Let's take this to Terry Moran, who covers the Supreme Court for ABC.
David mentioned those stays issued on this executive order.
What does that mean?
TERRY MORAN, ABC NEWS CHIEF FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a time-out, Martha. Right now the courts, three courts have said, three judges have said, that the people who are appealing for relief from this executive order, people trying to get into this country, who have been stopped, they've got a good enough case to take a close look at.
Doesn't mean they'll win but the judges say if they don’t take the case and they’re turned around they'll suffer irreparable harm.
Now they take a hard look at the law. And the law, much of it is on President Trump's side. The Constitution, many laws of Congress, many precedents of the Supreme Court all give sweeping powers to any president to decide who does or doesn't get to come into our country.
Now Congress has passed a couple of laws, saying you can't discriminate against people on the basis of national origin. But they've also passed a law, saying any time a president determines that a group of people is detrimental to the interests of the United States, he or she, any president, can suspend their permission to let those people into the country.
So the bottom line here is, while President Trump is testing the limits of presidential power, when the cases are close, the tie almost always goes to the president.
RADDATZ: But, Terry, no major terror attacks have been carried out on U.S. soil by people from any of those countries, those seven countries.
So why is that a national security risk?
MORAN: Well, that's an argument and it may be a very good political argument, a good argument to have with some of your guests today.
But judges sit in courthouses and they defer all the time, they let the president decide matters of national security. They say we don’t get the intelligence. We aren't talking to the generals. We don’t have diplomats. all over the world and so you do. Unless you've done something really outrageous, courts will generally let the president decide what is in the national security interests of the United States.
Now that said, President Trump is testing the waters here. One, he has a religious qualification there; he says that members of religious minorities in these countries will get special treatment. And he's gone on television and said that means Christians.
Well, that's probably unconstitutional under the establishment clause of the First Amendment. You can't choose on the basis of what religion a person is, how you'll enforce the law against them.
And then many people who have already established lawful, permanent residence in the United States, the United States government has given them the permission to be in this country, they may get caught up in this law.
And the courts may not like this executive order, stripping those people who are already lawful, permanent residents of the United States, of their rights.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much, Terry.
So let's turn straight to White House press secretary Sean Spicer.
Good morning, Sean. I know there are many people who support this. But you heard those strong reactions, those stories of people stranded at airports, detained; Jesuit priests, veterans calling this un-American.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, let’s look at the facts of what happened. There’s 325,000 people from foreign countries that travel into the United States yesterday. There were 109 people that this actually addressed that had come in post-entry from seven countries that we've identified, that, in fact, actually, the Obama administration -- Obama administration had previously identified needed further travel restrictions.
We've gone in, as Terry pointed out; it's a 90-day ban to ensure that we have further vetting restrictions so that we know who is coming to this country.
The safety of the American citizens, the safety of our country has got to be paramount. That's what the president did yesterday is to ensure that the people that we're letting into our country are coming here with peaceful purposes and not to do us harm.
So this really comes down to 109 people, who are all being processed through the system to make sure that, when they've gone out of the country, gone somewhere that is one of those seven countries and coming back, that they've done so and not tried to go there and do anything that would cause our nation harm.
RADDATZ: A 109 people, probably Muslims.
What message does this send to Muslims worldwide.
SPICER: What it sends is that we'll protect our country an people. There are 46 other countries that with Muslim populations that are not part of this. And I think that's an important thing to note. So whether you're talking about Algeria, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman or the UAE, there's 46 Muslim majority countries that are not in this seven.
These seven country were identified by the Obama administration needing further --
RADDATZ: But what about -- what about the countries like Pakistan, like Afghanistan, where there have been terrorist cells?
SPICER: And we’re going to continue --
RADDATZ: Saudi Arabia on 9/11?
SPICER: We're looking at -- we’re looking at all of this holistically. But I think the first step --
RADDATZ: But why these first, where there haven't been --
SPICER: I just said it twice because I think these were the Obama administration put these first and foremost and said that these countries need to have further travel restrictions based on the intelligence that we have.
RADDATZ: Let’s --
SPICER: So, you know, those were identified by the previous administration. There were further travel restrictions already in place from those seven countries. What the president did was take the first step through this executive order of insuring that we're looking at the entire system of who's coming in, refugees that are coming in, people who are coming in from places that have a history or that our intelligence suggests that we need to have further extreme vetting for.
RADDATZ: Let's talk about Iraq. You saw that an Iraqi interpreter for America was detained temporarily. I have been in Iraq with those interpreters. They have saved lives --
RADDATZ: -- of American solders and now you're saying you can't come in.
SPICER: No, that's not what we're saying, Martha, not at all. We're going to say we're going to make sure that we don't let someone slip through the cracks who seeks to do our country harm. That's it. The person was processed in. I know that in some cases there's going to be a bit of an inconvenience. But the inconvenience --
RADDATZ: Is there any humiliation?
SPICER: No, there's 109 people that were slowed down, over 300,000 foreign visitors that came in. But what do we say to the family who loses somebody over a terroristic (sic) -- to whether it's Atlanta or San Bernardino or the Boston bomber? Those people, each of whom had gone out to a country and then come back. Now granted they're not on -- on the country --
RADDATZ: None of those are countries on this list.
SPICER: But the potion is we took the first step in insuring that a terrorist attack won't continue to occur on this country. And so what do we say to the family or to the individual who gets hurt or the family of someone who gets killed because we didn't take these steps? Protecting this nation and our people is the number one priority of this president and our government.
RADDATZ: And you want to protect them against ISIS. Right now --
SPICER: We want to protect them against everything.
RADDATZ: -- Americans are fighting side by side with the Iraqis. Have you had any reaction or any indication that the Iraqis will now say, Americans can't come in here either.
SPICER: Look, we are working through all the diplomatic channels necessary to make that sure our friends and our allies around the globe understand that our position is to protect our borders and to make sure -- and, again, this is about slowing the process down. Those 109 people are being processed through the system to make sure that the vetting is applied, that they didn't do anything nefarious overseas. And I think that's what we should be doing. We shouldn't let people just reenter the country who are not citizens of the United States because they have gone to a place we have concerns about. They should be asked certain questions. They should go through extreme vetting to make sure that when they re-enter that they continue to do so with peaceful purposes.
RADDATZ: How much of a heads-up did you give homeland security? You've seen the scenes at this airports --
SPICER: The question --
RADDATZ: You heard David Kerley report that --
SPICER: The people that needed to know knew.
RADDATZ: -- people weren't ready.
SPICER: What we couldn't do was telegraph our position ahead of time to ensure that people flooded in before that happened, before it went into place. So the appropriate leadership was notified and cables were being sent out through the state Department as we speak.
The issue was, I know that when you get down to the TSA level and some of the customs and border officials who are on the front lines, we had to do it in a way that ensured the safety of America was preserved. And if we had telegraphed that ahead of time, then that would have been a massive security problem. So what we did is made sure that we were coordinating with the appropriate leadership at the appropriate level so the department and agencies, both Homeland Security, Border and Customs Protection.
RADDATZ: OK. The executive order also stipulates that after the refugee program is reinstated in 120 days, the government will prioritize religious minorities persecuted in their country. How will you determine what religion people are? How do you vet them?
SPICER: During this 120-day period, we're going to put a system in place that looks country by country, group by group, and make sure we put appropriate vetting in place. Again --
RADDATZ: A religious test?
SPICER: Hold on, no. What we're going to do is make sure that people who have been persecuted for either religious or other reasons have an opportunity to apply and go through a vetting system that ensures they're coming to this country to seek asylum, to seek a new life for themselves or their family, but to do so with peaceful purposes.
RADDATZ: OK, President Trump said during an interview on the Christian Broadcasting Network that persecuted Christian refugees should be seen as a priority. Why --
SPICER: Well, in some countries they should.
RADDATZ: Why are Christian refugees -- let me finish. Why are Christian refugees more worthy of admission to the United States than Muslims or even Jewish refugees?
SPICER: Well, it's a question of making sure that in many so of these countries they are the persecuted group. And so it's just -- it's a fact that when they live in a majority country of another religion, they are a minority being persecuted, not able to practice their religion, in some cases under threat. And so it's just a fact that they are being persecuted in some of these countries and we need to make sure we recognize them so that they can come to this country and be able to practice their religion in accordance with our laws and our constitution.
RADDATZ: If you feel the threat is so great from these countries and so great from these refugees, why just 90 days? Why just 120 days? Can you really get this done?
SPICER: I think we can. And that's the point, is to make sure that we put the safety of our nation first and foremost, And that we put a plan together during that period to put those extreme vetting measures in place.
Look, this is nothing new. President Trump talked about this throughout the campaign and the transition and he's doing exactly what he told the American people he was going to do.
It's interesting, he's -- the criticism that's coming is from someone who has gotten into office, hit the ground running, had a flurry of activity to do exactly what he said he was going to do, whether it was bringing back jobs, fighting for American taxpayers and cutting the cost and waste out of government programs or doing what he said overseas and protecting this nation.
But he is not going to apologize for putting the safety of this country first and foremost.
RADDATZ: I want to turn to Yemen.
RADDATZ: President Trump, as president, as commander-in-chief, suffered the first loss...
RADDATZ: -- of an American service member in Yemen today in a raid on al Qaeda operatives and three service members were injured in that raid. Another when we lost an aircraft in our heartland.
RADDATZ: And what can you tell us about that raid and who did they get?
SPICER: They got 14 individuals. They killed 14 individuals and captured a whole host of information about future plots that's going to benefit this country and keep us safe.
We mourn for the loss of life of the service member who so bravely fought for this country and was killed.
And then obviously, as you mentioned, three others were injured in the raid, another one when the aircraft went down. That aircraft that was destroyed...
RADDATZ: Was that aircraft shot?
SPICER: That aircraft was destroyed in a hard landing or it was...
RADDATZ: It was a hard landing...
SPICER: It was a hard landing.
RADDATZ: -- that it was destroyed in?
SPICER: And we destroyed that people to ensure that we didn't allow any of our technology out there.
But it is...
RADDATZ: Will he go to Dover?
SPICER: It continues to show...
RADDATZ: Will he go to Dover?
SPICER: Look, I'm not going to get ahead of it. This obviously is developing right now when we spoke.
But the president was informed throughout the evening of the situation. He extends his condolences.
But more importantly, he understands the fight that our servicemen and women conduct on a daily basis to keep this country safe.
And that's why this order is so important. People are over -- throughout the world and in some of these important regions like Yemen -- and countries, rather -- to ensure the safety of this country.
And we need to take steps that if they're going to go to out there and put their lives on the line every day to fight ISIS, to fight other people who are seeking to do us harm, to capture information that will protect future plots, that we do our part to make sure that we're not having an open door to allow people right -- to march right into our country.
RADDATZ: Let me turn...
RADDATZ: -- let me turn to Russia.
SPICER: -- the executive order, though, ties right into that, because we've got to do our part here to make sure that while they fight so gallantly overseas that we're protecting the country and our borders.
RADDATZ: I want to turn to the Russian sanctions. President Trump talked to Vladimir Putin yesterday about mutual cooperation in defeating ISIS and working together to achieve more peace throughout the world, including Syria.
RADDATZ: Kellyanne Conway opened the door on Friday to removing sanctions against Russia. And the readout from the Kremlin said they underlined the importance of restoring mutually profitable trade and economic connections.
Could President Trump agree to remove those sanctions without...
SPICER: Well, he has...
RADDATZ: -- consequences for Ukraine?
SPICER: Yesterday was -- it was the first call that they had. We're continuing to work with them to combat ISIS, especially in Syria, and deal with this crisis in Aleppo.
There is an area in which we've got to work with them if we're going to defeat ISIS. And I think that's the first step. We have not made any decisions on sanctions. The president will continue to have conversations and our team will continue to lease with Russian state -- with Russian officials.
But no decisions were made. That really wasn't brought up in the call yesterday.
RADDATZ: Republican John McCain said, "For the sake of America's national security and that of our allies, President Trump should put an end to the speculation about lifting sanctions."
Are you not willing to do that?
SPICER: The president doesn't take anything off the table. He is a world class negotiator. Part of the reason he's been so successful and part of the reason that he was elected president is because understand that not only is he a successful businessman, but he's an amazing negotiator.
And he doesn't come in telling people what he's going to take in or off the table to get the best deal possible for this country.
He's going to work with Russia, or any other country, for that matter. And there is a shared agreement.
And if protecting this country, going back to what we have been talking about so far, he's going to work with them. If we can come up with a plan or partner with them in any way to defeat ISIS, then we're going to do it.
RADDATZ: I want to turn to the National Security Council. The National Security Council executive order that has now been put in place removes the director of National Intelligence, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the NSC principals meeting. They are now only invited when, quote, "issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise are to be discussed but allowed instead in all of the meetings, White House chief strategist, Steve Bannon."
Former national security adviser, Susan Rice, Tweeting this morning, "This is stone cold crazy, after a week of crazy. Who needs military advice of intel to make policy on ISIL, Syria, Afghanistan, DPRK," adding, "chairman of Joint Chiefs and DNI treated as afterthoughts in cabinet level principal meetings and where is the CIA? Cut out of everything."
She also re-Tweeted this. "Trump loves and trusts the military so much, he just kicked them out of the National Security Council and put in a Nazi in their place."
SPICER: That's clearly inappropriate language from a former ambassador. Look...
RADDTAZ: Stone cold crazy?
SPICER: The comments that she made -- look, the reality is that General Flynn, former head of defense intelligence agency, brought significant reforms to the NSC and to the Homeland Security Council headed by Tom Bostert, who is an expert in all of this area.
We are instilling reforms to make sure that we streamline the process for the president to make decisions on key, important intelligence matters. You've got a leader in General Flynn who understands the intelligence process and the reforms that are needed probably better than anybody else. And when you talk about the missteps made by the last administration with all due respect I think Ambassador Rice might want to wait, let and see how we handle this, because I think so far they've got an expert team of folks that have come in to understand the national situation -- our intelligence systems and how to modernize.
RADDATZ: Streamlined without the chairman, without the DNI.
SPICER: We have got an unbelievable group of folks that are part of the NSC that are making decisions to get that -- the president gets plenty of information from the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. He continues to meet with him on a regular basis. He gets briefed by the Secretary of Defense, but what they have done is modernize the National Security Council so that it is less bureaucratic and more focused on providing the president with the intelligence he needs.
RADDTAZ: And Steve Bannon, what does he provide?
SPICER: Well, he is a former naval officer. He's got a tremendous understanding of the world and the geopolitical landscape that we have now.
RADDATZ: and so he's giving military advice in there.
SPICER: No. He's not giving advice.
Part of this is analysis. The data comes in and how we synthesize that data to make the best decision for our country is not something that's not just about intelligence, it's about the intelligence that comes in and the analysis that comes out of that. Having key decision makers, and the chief strategist for the United States -- for the president to come in and talk about what the strategy is going forward is crucial.
The data comes in raw. And what these key individuals do is help provide guidance or the president to make decisions.
Having the chief strategist for the president in those meetings who has a significant military background to help make -- guide what the president's final analysis is going to be is crucial.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much for joining us this morning.
SPICER: Thank you, Martha.
RADDATZ: Sean, good to see you.
Now we turn to Washington's other power broker, the man who leads the senate. Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been working closely with the president at the White House and at the Republican retreat in Philadelphia this week. Where the GOP mapped out its agenda for the year. Majority Leader McConnell joins us now. Nice to see you this morning, Leader McConnell.
Do you support president Trump's temporary immigration ban from these predominantly Muslim countries.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Well, I think it's a good idea to tighten the vetting process. But I also think it's important to remember that some of our best sources in the war against radical Islamic terrorism are Muslims, both in this country and overseas. And we have had some difficulty in the past getting interpreters as you suggested in the earlier segment who are helpful to us treated properly.
So we need to be careful as we do this. Improving vetting, something...
RADDATZ: And yet right now they're being detained so -- do you support this or not support this.
MCCONNELL: It's hopefully going to be decided in the courts as to whether or not this has gone too far. I don't what to criticize them for improving vetting. I think we need to be careful. We don't have religious tests in this country.
RADDATZ: In the past, you've called the Muslim ban completely and totally inconsistent with American values. The president says this is not an outright Muslim ban, even if this is temporary, how is this order consistent with American values?
MCCONNELL: Well, if they're looking to tighten the vetting process, I mean who would be against that? But I am opposed to a religious tests. The courts are going to determine whether this is too broad.
RADDATZ: So it sounds to me like you are opposed to certain parts of this. If we're detaining or holding back people who have helped Americans in the fight.
MCCONNELL: Well, obviously I'm against that.
RADDATZ: A religious test then you're opposed to certain parts of this.
MCCONNELL: Look, the president has a lot of latitude to try to secure the country. And I'm not going to make a blanket criticism of this effort. However, I think it's important to remember, as I said, a lot of Muslims are our best sources in the war against terror.
RADDATZ: So, do you think this will have blowback in the world? I mean, are you sensing that already? You've seen the reactions.
MCCONNELL: Yeah, well, we'll see. And it's important, however, to emphasize it's important to keep America as secure as possible and we'll see how it plays out.
RADDATZ: Just tell me again how you would summarize what happened with this executive order.
MCCONNELL: How I would summarize.
RADDATZ: Yes, how would you -- what would you say about it? Others are saying it's devastating, others are saying it's un-American.
MCCONNELL: Well, I'm not saying either of those things, I'm saying what I just said a few minutes ago, which is to the extent they're trying to improve the vetting process, I think that's in order. We need to bear in mind that we don't have religious tests in this country and we also need toremember that some of our best allies in the war against Islamic terrorism are Muslims.
RADDATZ: I want to turn to Russia. President Trump hasn't ruled out the possibility of lifting sanctions on Russia. You heard what Sean Spicer just said.
Would you like him to see the sanctions lifted?
MCCONNELL: I’m opposed to lifting the sanctions against Russia. They were imposed because of their annexation of Crimea, their incursion into Ukraine. And now we know that they were messing around in our elections.
I’m absolutely opposed to lifting sanctions on the Russians. If anything, we ought to be looking at increasing them.
RADDATZ: Should Congress take any action to prevent the president from lifting sanctions on Russia if he chooses to do so?
MCCONNELL: Well, we'll wait and see. I hope the president will follow our advice and not be lifting the sanctions on the Russians.
RADDATZ: Do you think -- I asked Sean Spicer this -- that they should just tell now whether or not they'll lift them?
MCCONNELL: You mean the administration?
MCCONNELL: Well, the president is taking a look at it. I’m giving him my advice publicly that I would not consider, if I were in his shoes, lifting sanctions on the Russians for what they've been doing the last few years.
RADDATZ: And the move in the National Security Council to have Steve Bannon in there, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs out, the DNI out in certain cases.
MCCONNELL: Yes, I’m not going to give the president advice about how to run these internal agencies.
RADDATZ: Not at all?
MCCONNELL: No, I’m not. I’m not going to give him advice about --
On the Supreme Court, President Trump says he's announcing the Supreme Court nominee on Thursday. He has said that if Democrats try to filibuster he'd encourage you to invoke the so-called nuclear option and lower the 60-vote threshold currently needed to confirm Supreme Court nominees.
So will you consider getting rid of the filibuster?
MCCONNELL: Well, look, let me tell you what ought to happen. President Clinton, in his first term, had two Supreme Court nominees, Ginsburg and Breyer. There was no filibuster. And for your listeners, there was no requirement that you get 60 votes to consider them.
President Obama had two Supreme Court nominees in his first term. There was no filibuster against them.
We're in the first term of a new president. What we're hoping is that our Democratic friends in the minority in the Senate, as we were during those same comparable periods under Clinton and Obama, will treat this nominee in the same way and give him an up-or-down vote.
If cloture, that is, if getting 60 votes is required, that happened with Justice Alito; a Democratic minority insisted on that. Cloture was invoked. In other words, he was given the opportunity to have an up-or-down vote on the final nomination.
So it's way too early for me to tell you or anybody else what we might do. I think how this is handled depends on our Democratic friends. Let me tell you what I do think we'll get. I think we’re going to get a really outstanding nominee, who will be very hard to argue against because the president has been working on this for some time.
I’m privy to some of the information about what's been happening. And I think we're going to get a great nominee, who will be very difficult to explain to the American people -- we're not even going to let them have an up-or-down vote in the Senate.
RADDATZ: Should there be a litmus test on abortion?
MCCONNELL: I don’t think there should be a litmus test on judges, no matter who the president is.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much for joining us, Leader McConnell. We appreciate you coming in.
Coming up, what impact will Trump's immigration bans have on America's key alliances in the fight against terror?
I’ll talk to a man who knows these issues well, former Defense secretary and CIA director, Bob Gates, on the Trump doctrine.
RADDATZ: So how did President Trump's first week play out on the world stage? I'll ask former Defense Secretary Bob Gates who served under Presidents Bush and Obama. That's up next.
RADDATZ: We're back now with Congressman Seth Moulton, Democrat from Massachusetts. Congressman Moulton has personal experience with the refugee issue. I first met him in 2007 when he was a lieutenant in the U.S. Marines preparing to serve his fourth tour in Iraq and trying to help his Iraqi interpreter seek asylum in the United States after he risked his life working for U.S. service members.
Welcome, Congressman Moulton.
REP. SETH MOULTON (D), MASSACHUSETTS: Thanks, Martha.
RADDATZ: You had some pretty strong words for Donald Trump, tweeting, "Your Muslim ban is completely at odds with our most fundamental value, freedom. I'm ashamed that you are our president."
MOULTON: That's absolutely right. It's fundamentally un-American and it's also making America less safe. And that's something that Americans need to understand today, is that what Trump is doing is harming our national security. It will incite attacks against us. ISIS is already using this ban as propaganda. And it will prevent us from being able to get the allies that are so critical in our war against terror.
RADDATZ: But if he believes there is a threat and he is the president, he is Commander-in-Chief -- Sean Spicer just said he believes the threat is real, he's trying to protect people -- why not do this?
MOULTON: Because there's nothing in his executive order that improves the vetting process. He's just putting across a blanket ban that will be used against us. And I know personally how important it is to be able to rely on these allies overseas. I know how ISIS can use our words against us. And what Trump is doing will make the fight against terror more difficult. So, he's not making us more safe at all.
Look, it's totally reasonable for a president to come in and say we need to have a national security review. What he's doing in the fight against ISIS to say how can we better attack terrorists in the Middle East?
That's fine. That's reasonable.
But what he's doing with this Muslim ban just is so wrong and un-American, you see why so many Americans across the country are rising up against it.
RADDATZ: And they will tell you again and again, it is not a Muslim ban.
MOULTON: Let's be honest, I mean I think Rudy Giuliani was just on TV saying that Trump called him and asked, how do I do a legal Muslim ban?
There's no question what's going on here. We're not stupid. We see what Trump is up to.
RADDATZ: I want to know what you would say to General Mattis and General Kelly about this, who certainly relied on interpreters in Iraq, as well.
MOULTON: You know, I worked for General Mattis. I know him. There is no way in hell that he is supportive of this. He relied on translators for his life, just like I did. He understands what it means to put your life in the hands of an Iraqi or an Afghan.
And he also knows that implicit in that is that they put their lives in our hands, as well. And now we're abandoning them.
So what's frightening about this situation is it shows that people like General Mattis and General Kelly clearly don't have a voice in the Trump administration, that Trump is just doing things for political gain, not in the best interests of our national security.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks very much, Congressman.
And I will add that General Mattis seemed to have a voice on torture.
But let's bring in the former Defense secretary as well as CIA director, Robert Gates.
He has served under eight presidents from both political parties and is author of the book, "A Passion for Leadership," out now in paperback.
Welcome, Secretary Gates.
You're a prolific writer these days.
I want to get your reaction to the refugee ban, the immigrant ban, especially for Iraqis.
ROBERT GATES, FORMER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE: Well, I think, first of all, that any effort to strengthen national security, to improve the vetting process, I think that's all perfectly reasonable and totally legitimate. In fact, we would expect that of the president.
I think the key is doing it in a way that doesn't risk creating more enemies than threats it deters. And that's the balance that has to be weighed.
RADDATZ: And do you think this executive order will create more enemies?
GATES: Well, I haven't read the executive order and to be honest, immigration policy and refugees was not in my bailiwick.
But I will say that at a minimum, the way it has rolled out and the way it has been perceived...
RADDATZ: But you say you haven't read it...
GATES: -- has confused (INAUDIBLE).
RADDATZ: -- you know what's happening. They're banning people from these seven countries...
GATES: No, I understand.
RADDATZ: -- including Iran and Iraq.
So is this the right way...
GATES: Well, I...
RADDATZ: -- is that...
GATES: -- I would just pick up on one of the things that was just said. I know that former senior commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan are very concerned about this order and what it -- the impact it will have on those that helped us in Iraq and Afghanistan, the interpreters, translators and so on, who were promised safe haven in the United States and now may not get it.
I spoke as recently as last night with General Petraeus and he and others, like General Chiarelli, are very concerned about this.
So I think one thing the administration ought to do is clarify this as quickly as possible.
RADDATZ: Will this make Rex Tillerson's job harder, the man you recommended...
RADDATZ: -- to be secretary of State?
GATES: Probably, because I think there will be a negative reaction among -- in -- in many countries.
RADDATZ: I want to talk about this week in general.
In an op-ed piece last Florida, you called candidate Donald Trump willfully ignorant, beyond repair, stubbornly uniformed and temperamentally unsuited.
You've said that you spoke out against Candidate Trump during the campaign because you took issue with some of the statements made during the campaign about national security.
But in his first week as president, he repeated some of those comments and followed through with campaign promises reiterating his support for torture, drafting memorandums like this one to ban several Muslim majority countries, building a wall, insisting Mexico pay.
After what you've seen this week, do you have concerns again?
GATES: Well, my view is that it is very important for us, now that Mr. Trump is president, for us to be successful and for him to be successful in national security policy. It's one of the reasons that I introduced General Kelly to the Homeland Security Committee for his nomination. The same way with Rex Tillerson.
And I believe that people like General Mattis and Rex Tillerson and John Kelly will bring to the president extraordinarily good advice and in a very realistic appreciation of the world. And I give the president credit for being willing to appoint strong, independent-minded individuals to advise him on these matters.
RADDATZ: So do you have absolute confidence in him as president and Commander-in-Chief?
GATES: It's one week in. I think that's a little early.
RADDATZ: It's a big week. A lot of executive orders repeated these claims --
GATES: I think we need a little perspective, Martha. I mean, every administration I worked for begins with a flurry of executive orders overturning what their predecessors did, or amplifying it in the case of the first President Bush. So, so let's just give him a little time. But I do worry about the impact of this executive order in terms of the way it's received around the world.
RADDATZ: And on that, in his inaugural address, President Trump said it's going to be America first. Do our allies view that as America retreating from a leadership role? And does that create a vacuum?
GATES: My worry is that I think the way in which we withdrew from Iraq and Afghanistan -- first of all, that was always going to be complicated to avoid sending the message we were withdrawing more broadly from leadership around the world. I think a lot of the steps that were taking in the last couple of years or so of the Obama administration created the impression of U.S. pulling back. I would say that the actions and the rhetoric of the new president simply continue that drumbeat of giving the impression around the world that the United States is pulling back. This creates, whether we want it or not, a vacuum and that vacuum will not be filled by benign forces.
RADDATZ: I want to, very quickly if you will, your 2007 Naval Academy commencement, you said, "The press in my view is a critically important guarantor of our freedom. The press is not the enemy, and to treat it as such is self-defeating."
So what is your reaction to what Donald Trump and Steve Bannon are saying? That we're the opposition party?
GATES: Well, first of all, as you've mentioned, I've worked for eight presidents. Every one of them thought that the press was their adversary. Whether -- it doesn't matter which one of them, a Republican or a Democrat, they all felt that the press was out to get them in one way or another.
Different presidents have dealt with it in different ways. But it's just a fact of life when you're sitting in the White House, and the press's role is to be an adversary in many respects. So, you know, I think that's the proper role for the press and, frankly, I told senior commanders that the Department of Defense, I said if there is a newspaper story that's critical of something you're doing, first of all, find out whether it's true. And if it is true, then fix it. And if it's not true, then have the facts to push back.
RADDATZ: OK, and very quickly, one more, Steve Bannon in the National Security Council meetings and the chairmen.
GATES: Adding people to the National Security Council never really bothers me. My biggest concern is there are actually, under the law, only two statutory advisers to the National Security Council and that's the Director of Central Intelligence, or the DNI, and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. I think pushing them out of the National Security Council meetings, except when their specific issues are at stake, is a big mistake. I think that they both bring a perspective and judgment and experience to bear that every president, whether they like it or not, finds useful.
RADDATZ: Thanks very much for joining us once again. Great to see you. Hope you come back.
GATES: Thank you.
RADDATZ: Up next, the powerhouse political team on trump's wild week in office.
RADDATZ: A jam-packed first week in the Trump administration. The Powerhouse Roundtable is here and ready to dig into it all.
RADDATZ: Let's bring in the powerhouse roundtable: Republican pollster and ABC News contributor Kristen Soltis Anderson; ABC news contributor and senior ESPN writer LZ Granderson and “Washington Post” chief correspondent Dan Balz.
Good morning to all of you.
What a week, Dan. It was supersonic as far as I’m concerned but it really did all come to a head on Friday with that executive order. There's been outrage over there but this is what he promised.
DAN BALZ, "THE WASHINGTON POST": You know, the first week of his presidency is a logical extension of the campaign he ran. I mean, he is governing the way he said he would do when he ran for president.
For people who are his supporters, I think they are thrilled with what he's been able to do in the first week or what he has set in motion.
For people who didn't support him, I think they're deeply alarmed by what they see, both in terms of some of the policy changes that he’s implementing but also in terms of the way he's handling himself with some of the distractions that he's created.
Look, one week is only one week. We don’t know what the outcome of all of this is going to be. But he has set in motion dramatic changes. And now the rest of the country is going to have to react to that.
RADDATZ: And, LZ, I just want your reaction to Friday and the whole week, a good week for Donald Trump?
LZ GRANDERSON, ESPN CORRESPONDENT: A good week for Donald Trump and his supporters; as you were saying, a bad week for basically everyone else. I went back to listen to some of the campaign speeches he gave during 2016.
And one thing that kind of reoccurred over and over again was, oh, let them protest. They'll eventually go home. And then I had some conversations last night with a Republican senator, who disapproves of this ban.
And one of the first things he said to me that was so striking was that, you know, it's going to be exhausting opposing Trump. So this seems to be part of who he wants to be and how he wants to govern. Let your critics get exhausted. And eventually they’ll leave you alone and let you do what you want to do.
The question is whether or not the American people will stop protesting.
RADDATZ: Kristen, one of the things he backed away from is torture. He said he believes in it. He said he thinks it works. He said he's talked to people who say it works. And yet he said he'll cede control basically to Secretary Mattis, the new Defense secretary.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, "WASHINGTON EXAMINER": So think about the way that he ran his campaign, all the things that he promised, one of them was he'll bring in the best people and listen to them. And I think that's a piece of this, that he has surrounded himself with a cabinet, where in many places he’s got folks like General Mattis, who I think -- he understands -- he doesn't necessarily know everything about Defense policy or everything about foreign policy and wants to defer some of that to people that he trusts.
But this is right in line with what he said he would do, that his brand with most American voters is that he is somebody who can competently run a big organization. He's trying to move into this role as CEO of America. And so I think the idea of delegating --
RADDATZ: But so should he be moving this fast?
ANDERSON: I think that it certainly is right in line with exactly what he said he would do, that, again, in corporate America, you want to make a change, you can do things quickly. The wheels of government move more slowly.
So that's why you're seeing a lot of this friction when Donald Trump is doing stuff that seems bold and is really upsetting the apple cart, that it's changing the way that we're used to things being done.
GRANDERSON: A part of the reason why things typically move slowly is because there are checks and balances and as we've seen this week, he’s skipped a lot of checks and balances, didn't even talk to the Department of Health about what this Obamacare decision would mean to the American people. I mean, those sorts of things are important ---
ANDERSON: There are a lot of folks who are about to suddenly become big fans of things like executive restraint, making sure that we don’t put tons of power in the hands of the White House, which is something that I think constitutional conservatives have believed in for a while. It’s about to become a lot more popular.
RADDATZ: And what do you think we'll see on the Hill in the coming weeks?
BALZ: Well, there will be resistance to a lot of what he's doing. He can't govern for four years by executive order or executive action. I mean, what he did yesterday in terms of asking for a plan to defeat ISIS is simply that, is asking for a plan.
It is not a plan. He suggested this is the plan that will defeat ISIS, it is a step in the process. The ban he has put in place on immigration has real impact. And we are seeing what that impact is. And there are unintended consequences of it and they'll have to deal with that.
I think the Hill will -- I think the Hill will push back on a number of these things.
RADDATZ: Let's look at the world view here. He -- one of the things he did announce this week is he's going to build that wall. Mexico seems none too pleased with that idea and basically insisted they are not paying for it.
Does this hurt him at all?
BALZ: Well, it certainly has created a rift with Mexico when there was no need to create one right out of the box. And I think that the White House understood that, which is why there was that hastily arranged telephone call between the Mexican president and Donald Trump, probably to try to kind of put this back in a box so that this wouldn't get out of hand immediately.
But it was a sign of the way he's inexperienced in these things. We know he is inexperienced. He's a negotiator. He's a deal maker. But he's never done it in the context of diplomacy and national security.
RADDATZ: And, LZ, amid all these executive orders, wants to look into what he calls voter fraud, unsubstantiated claims about voter fraud.
GRANDERSON: It's just one more attempt to try to attack the legitimacy of President Obama's legacy, right?
We know that he was elected, based upon this coalition, and he's long said that well, most of those people that voted for you aren't legal.
And now he's suggesting that the reason why he lost the popular vote is again, this made up sort of concept of voter fraud, de-legitimizing other people's presidency to make himself feel better.
And there's one other aspect to his executive orders that I think it's really important to bring up. Other nations that we're not on the list were nations that he has business ties to. And this is part of the reason why we've been harping on the conflict of interest issue with this president, because they also need to know if the American people, yes, it is important to keep us safe, but if the reason why Saudi Arabia is not on that list is because of your business ties or because you honestly believe they don't pose a threat?
RADDATZ: Heard Sean Spicer say it was because those countries were flagged by the Obama administration, as well.
GRANDERSON: Yes, but we also heard that the reason why he wants this ban is because of a potential terrorist threat. Well, we know most of the men that attacked this country on 9/11 came from Saudi Arabia.
So it seems a bit inconsistent to suggest that you're following the Obama administration here, but with your own logic, you're not following all the way through with.
SOLTIS-ANDERSON: I think one of the things this administration needs to be careful of is on these issues, whether it's something like making sure that American elections have integrity or making sure that we're preventing people from coming to this country who mean to do us harm, these are things that most Americans broadly agree with.
But it's the implementation -- and the devil is in the details -- where you can go from an 80 percent support issue to 40 or below.
And so I think when it comes to something like, for instance, the voter fraud question, you have a lot of folks that believe we need to make sure that every vote cast in America is one that should be cast.
But when you start saying things like three to five million, you open yourself up to a fight that's unnecessary. When you start turning away people at the airports and creating these human stories, you open yourself up to criticism for something where you could have significant majority support for the idea of what you're trying to do.
RADDATZ: OK, thanks to all of you.
We'll be right back.
RADDATZ: We'll be right back after this from our ABC stations.
RADDATZ: That's all for us today.
Thanks for sharing part of your Sunday with us. Check out "WORLD NEWS TONIGHT" and have a great day.
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