tv CNN Newsroom With Carol Costello CNN January 31, 2017 6:00am-7:01am PST
applied for a job and showed up in a suit and hired on the spot. >> these last ten months i have lost faith in humanity. i didn't think it would happen to me, and it did. i owe them so much. >> that's a beautiful story, and you can look online and figure out where you can donate suits and dresses because they help people. time for the "newsroom" with carol costello. >> nice way to end the show. thanks so much. "newsroom" starts now. good morning. i am carol costello. thank you for joining me. a wild morning in washington today. key notes a donald trump picks about to kick off, after he files the attorney general sending shock waves. yates, an obama hold over, said her justice department lawyers could not defend the travel ban because she felt it was
unlawful, and she was promptly replaced. and then the senate judiciary committee expected to vote on jeff sessions but it may not become a referendum on the immigration order itself. tonight in primetime in an address, president trump will announce his pick for the u.s. supreme court. no word if that nominee is among these three perceived frontrunners. we are covering all the developments on this whirlwind morning. let's get to the white house first. >> reporter: an extraordinary series of events here overnight at the white house that is threatening to take this young presidency off message. this criticism is not just coming over democrats over the immigration order, it's coming from inside the trump administration, from cabinet secretaries and republicans on capitol hill who say they were
not consulted about this. it was an extraordinary series of events, really, in the last 12 hours that is threatening the justice department and could influence the confirmation hearings ahead. in an extraordinary move, president trump firing acting attorney general, sally yates. her dismissal coming via hand delivered letter only after she stood in defiance of the valve ban. she cited the solemn obligation of the department of justice is to always seek justice and stand what is right. >> we had a monday night massacre. sally yates, a person of great integrit integrity, who follows the law, was fired. >> reporter: the white house attacking the career prosecutor claiming yates betrayed the department of justice and is weak on boarders after she instructed the justice department not to defend the president's executive order on immigration and refugees, and
immediately following the swearing in of new acting attorney general, dana boente, and he directed the department of justice, to, quote, defend the lawful orders of our president. >> appoint by president obama, yates garnering bipartisan support in 2015, and sessions who is currently awaiting confirmation is seen here asking her if she would been to political pressure from obama. >> should the attorney general or the deputy attorney general say no? >> senator, i believe the attorney general or the deputy attorney general has an obligation to follow the law and the constitution, and to give their independent legal advice to the president. >> in yet another swift move on monday night, president trump naming thomas moman.
in the meantime, the president's travel ban met with growing outrage in washington. >> your executive order was too broad and you can't vet it. >> across the country. only ten days after leaving office, former president barack obama weighing in, and saying the protest are exactly what we expect to see when the american values are at stake, and trump told for those that did not agree to quit. >> thank you so much. when it comes to donald trump's firing of yates, and many are hailing it as a hero, and trump supporters don't see it that
way. let's bring in cnn justice correspondent, evan. >> it's a microcauseam of what you here inside the justice department, and you have people that believe she is a hero and don't believe this executive order is something they can defend and you hear from other lawyers inside the justice department are uncomfortable with the showdown and feel if she was not comfortable defending it she should have just resigned and not order justice department lawyers to not defend the president's executive order and calling into question whether they were lawful. no question, no doubt, the language she used in her memorandum dared the president to fire her.
she was fired four hours after issuing that memo. boente, he, like, sally yates, because an barack obama appointee, and both served as career prosecutors inside the justice department and he is prepared to defend the president's order. what we will see now if boente will serve as the lead in the justice department until sessions gets confirmed. >> as you heard evan say minutes from now the senate judiciary committee gathers for a vote on jeff sessions, and that kicks off a busy day on capitol hill with three other trump nominees facing votes. >> reporter: a very busy day up here on capitol hill with many of president trump's cabinet
nominees inching towards final confirmation up here, and all eyes are on the senate judiciary committee, and they will ultimately vote on sessions' nomination, and the president's executive order on immigration is setting a new context for this vote that was contentious even before president trump's move. you have many democrats trying to hold the nominees' feet to the fire on where they stand on the travel ban, and chuck schumer saying are they in support or not? and senator sessions in a written response from senator leahy on the committee said he had no direct role in trump's recent executive orders, but that notably does not answer where he falls on the specific travel ban. we will not hear from senator sessions today. he will watch the committee vote
from elsewhere as is typical, but we certainly will hear from many democrats concerned about his nomination as they have been throughout the process. it's likely he will be voted out of committee, and then they will send this to the full senate for a vote this week. the former connecticut attorney general, welcome, sir. >> thank you, and great to be with you. >> nice to have you here. senator sessions will not be in the room when the committee votes on his nomination today, and that is typical. do you wish he was, though? >> i wish we had another opportunity to question senator sessions, because, again, the question for him is where he stands on this immigration ban, and whether he has the grit and grace that sally yates demonstrated in standing up to the president and speaking truth to power. that's exactly the question i
posed to senator sessions during the hearing, and it's the question he posed to her at a hearing that i remember well because i was the ranking member helping to preside there, and it's the classic question for any attorney general, will you preserve the integrity and independence and the rule of law of the justice department? that's the job of any government attorney, to do justice and not just win convictions or cases. i am opposed to senator sessions because i failed to believe that he has that kind of determination. >> so just to make things clear, sessions will be confirmed by the committee today and then it goes to the full senate and you will get to vote on senator sessions' confirmation and you will vote no? >> i will vote no because the attorney of the united states has to be a champion to the rule
of law. he has championed this kind of ban and restriction on refugees come into the country, and he was an architect, and even an author, perhaps, indirectly of these orders. his -- his determination to stand for the rule of law is what most bothers me. >> it's difficult to determine what senator sessions will do when it comes down to it. i know many women will protest the sessions confirmation hearing in committee, because of an interview during the run up to the election sessions was asked about mr. trump's assertion that he grabbed women by the gentles, and he said i don't characterize that as sexual assault and i think that's a stretch, and then the
interviewer said that's not sexual assault, and senator sessions said at the time, i don't know, it's not clear how that would occur, and then at the hearings, he said that was sexual assault, and do you think he was playing politics so will he take the job seriously? >> he will take the job seriously, but the question is what are his real beliefs, and he has been a staunch opponent of roe v. wade, and once he is confirmed, he is in that chair and holding him accountable is so much more difficult. we need somebody with the independence and integrity who will stand up to the president and be a legal conscience for the country. >> isn't it likely, senator,
that democrats will lose this fight? he is likely to be confirmed no matter how many democrats vote no, frankly? >> holding him accountable in this process is very important. he needs to know we will be watching and the country will be watching and issues like voting rights and civil rights, and women's freedom where he has demonstrated hostility, we will be holding him accountable, and yes, we may still lose the vote but there's a chance we could block the nomination. >> before you go, i want to ask you about senator schumer and president trump calling his tears fake tears, and this is how schumer responded to that. >> i'm not going to dig tphau tpaoeu that kind of silliness.
let him roll up his sleeves and put out something that does prevent terrorists rather than this, and he ought to stick to the substance, and name-calling is what led to the problem we are seeing, and he doesn't take the presidency seriously enough, at least in this instance. i have said all along, there are times he flatters me and sometimes he calls names, and that's not going to influence me and i am going to do what i think is the right thing. >> trump supporters say he is keeping his campaign promises and moving fast and they are saying why are democrats just playing the role of obstructionist here and not caring about whether the country moves forward? >> the fact is that is set of immigration orders actually makes us less safe. they are contrary to the goals that president trump arctticulad during his campaign, and they do not include countries that are
the major sources that are extremist, like pakistan and saudi arabia, and they alienated our allies, and they, in fact, encourage the kind of extremist to join the isis movement. we are at war with isis. these orders are contrary to the stated goals, and name calling really is just a distraction from the failure of these orders to achieve what they are supposed to do. >> senator blumenthal, thank you for being with me today. house minority leader, nancy pelosi taking a swipe at the president also after he mocked a rally held last night. pelosi and chuck schumer and other democrats gathered, but there were technical glitches. >> thank you very much for
coming out -- is the sound working? >> trump mocked the effort on twitter, and you can see what he wrote and i don't bother to read it, and he said they were a mess because of the technical problems. just a moment ago nancy pelosi fired back and released a statement that said the mike did not work -- you know, this is her response, but, i don't know, when you get right down to it it's silly arguing back and forth. you have to wonder if this is what we are going to have to look forward to in the years to come, and i bet my answer is yes. tonight, trump's first primetime address. let's talk about that now. his first primetime address as president and we will finally find out who he is nominating to fill the spot left vacant by antonin scalia. he said he will nominate somebody, quote, like scalia.
and let's talk about this with our correspondent, pamela brown. >> the president has been building this anticipation since the campaign when he released the 20 names for the high court and he is trying to suspend the suspense with tonight's primetime announcement and we are told trump's likely nominee is one of two federal judges, and he narrowed it down, judge gorsuchs from colorado, and thomas hardiman. gorsuch is 49 years old, and he shares the similar judicial philosophy as scalia, and he's a strong believer in the separation of powers. and thomas hardiman is 51 years old, and he is the first in his
family to graduate college and drove a cab for a while to make money, and conservatives like his defense of the second amendment, and he sits on the bench with donald trump's sister, and the two of them we are told are friendly, and they are making these final preparations today for tonight's announcement, and we are told they have not been informed about the president's choice but one member acknowledged the immigration order, quote, certainly doesn't make this any easier, carol. >> still to come, we are moments away of what is expected to be a fiery meeting on the hill. sessions' vote coming hours after president trump fires the acting attorney general in place. we'll break it all down for you next.
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so let's recap. president trump fired the acting ag, sally yates, this after she told the department of justice lawyers to not defend president trump's executive order on immigration, and hours later a new acting ag was sworn in, and he also named holman of the director of i.c.e., so i would like to break down the last 24 hours with my panel. welcome. let's put the chaos in perfecttive if that's possible. how is this different than other administrations? >> in every possible way. separate from the policy, just the implementation, the rollout and the communication, bringing stakeholders together, and this is what we have seen in democratic and republican administrations overall, and donald trump said he would blowup washington and change the
way it's done and i think they are trying to find the difference between disruption and chaos because that's a place they would rather be in on the disruption side and not the chaotic side, but they are working at a pace, and with less experience at this than any administration i can recall. >> so i suspect one-half of the country says you go, donald trump, this is exactly what we voted for, right? and the other half is protesting in large numbers, and it's just a strange time in this country? >> if you think back to 2009 and 2010, there was something similar, right? president obama wins with a popular mandate and the tea party comes along and the pendulum swings the other way, and we are seeing some of that. getting back to whether or not this is intentional chaos or disruption that the public wants, and if you go back to the reagan administration, that was
disruptive but ordinarily, and it was clear things were going to change, and different things -- certainly there was an attack on entitlements and domestic policies as well, and it was done in an ordinarily fashion, and it was known this is going to be long-term permanent change, and some of the chaos in the last week raises the question if this is sustainable. >> i have heard conspiracy theories out there that they are doing this on purpose, creating chaos in order to pass more controversial measures that people won't notice because it will be lost in all the chaotic happenings around different things. is that crazy? >> i don't know if i can vet all the conspiracy theories. we know steve bannon believes very much in this confrontational approach. they want the fight in many ways. the way i think about this, carol, is donald trump has to make a decision at some point, i think, for just his own vision of the presidency. does he want to be president for the 40% that are with him that
are with him at 100% devotion? they are not going anywhere. does he just want to be the leader of that movement or does he really want to broaden out a bit and be a 55% approval president that has a majority backing of the country behind him? i'm not sure that that decision has been settled upon. >> i think it has, though. >> the different factions that believe different things. >> this played out in the republican primaries, does he want to win the whole republican party or his faction, and we got that answer, and in the general election, does he want to be the president of the republican people or the core, and we got an answer to that, and i think the -- >> it's my way or the highway, and his new favorite song was "i did it my way," right? sean spicer stood up and said this.
>> i think they should get with the program or go. hold on. hold on. this is about the safety of america. it's his number one duty as it should be with any leader to keep our people and institutions safe from attack, and if somebody has a problem with that agenda, then they should -- you know, then that does call into question whether or not they should continue in that post or not. >> so at this twist, right, senator rubio, he called the state department and asked about the travel ban and he was told the state department was instructed to answer no questions. >> he got a frequently questions hand out, no briefing. i think this is where the one place in washington where the reality of the way washington works and trump's disruption, he can accomplish some things by executive order but to accomplish big stuff he has to get it through congress and have a legislative agenda, and when he goes to congress with his
agenda, he will create something not as disruptive as his white house is and how that gets negotiated will be critical to his success or failure. >> republicans are bulking in congress, and can't they force his hand? >> we have not seen a hint of that, as a matter of fact. the people in the streets are the anti-trump people and they are coming out in huge numbers for a variety of reasons, and remarkably the democratic political establishment seems to be completely outside of that, and they are not organizing the rallies at the airports, and they didn't organize the women's march or anything like that, and i don't know if they are going to pull that trigger anytime soon, but they may have to. in part, if they seriously want to pick a multi-sided fight with every institution in town, with the courts and congress and military and the intelligence agencies, they are going to have to bring their folks into the street at some point.
it remains unclear as to whether or not they are prepared to do that. >> i have to leave it there. herald lewis and david khalen, thank you so much. christine romans is following this story for us. >> what in the world does the travel ban have to do with the markets here. markets have been very, very enthusiastic about swift and comprehensive tax reform with house republicans leading the way, and they're worried dissent within the republican party with the republicans in the house and senate could be a problem for tax reform and that could derail what is their biggest wish list, and the concern is how the travel ban hurts his ability to work with congress. you can see futures down again yesterday, and about 122-point decline on the dow jones industrial average. asia closed lower and oil is
higher. let's show you the stock market since the election. it has been a good trump rally, and even the president himself has cheered it and sean spicer said how his policies are ushering in the up, up, era, and the right of that is a concern trump rally not warranted if you have discord among the republicans especially with the tax reform. still to come, attorney general, the would-be attorney general is about to appear in front of a congressional committee, and in response to the travel ban, we could see fireworks. i am benedict arnold, the infamous traitor.
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i am carol costello. thank you for joining me. i want to take you live to capitol hill where hours after president trump fired the acting attorney general. you can see the hearing for sessions under way. democrats expected to put up quite a fight over backlash from the travel ban continues, and this was delayed last week so the committee could review 200 additional pages of answers sent to sessions. i am joined by the acting attorney general under h.w.
bush. is there any way jeff sessions will not be confirmed? >> i don't think so. it would be a disservice to the country if his confirmation were not to occur, or even be delayed. the chaos we have seen over the last few days is in part the result of not having this important national security cabinet position fulfilled in my view. >> democrats are concerned about that, because apparently jeff sessions wasn't consulted by president trump about this travel ban. should he have been even though he's not attorney general yet? >> i can't really speak to that, carol. i think that -- i don't know whether he was or wasn't, but i wouldn't think it was necessary or appropriate that he be consulted given, as you say, he's not yet been confirmed and in the position. >> may i interrupt you, sir,
because senator grassly is speaking positively about sessions. >> adopt a new role as our chief law enforcement officer, and he told us he will execute that law with strength, with inteaggrity and providing justice for all. that's precisely what we want in an attorney general, equal and fair application of the law. his answers to written questions made all this more clear. i might add, there were quite a few written questions given to him in addition to what went on during those ten hours, and senator sessions answered roughly 700 written questions, including over 350 questions
from members who announced they would vote against his nomination even before they submitted a single written question. one consistent thread that ran through all of his answers is this, he will follow the law regardless of whether he would have supported it as a matter of policy as a senator. the written testimony that we heard at his hearing tells the same story, we heard from witnesses concerned that the attorney general must provide full and fair law enforcement, and then we heard from witnesses who have known senator sessions personally and worked for and with him for decades. those witnesses included former attorney general mukasey, and
former attorney general thompson, and lawyers that worked with senator sessions for a long period of time. all of those witnesses who actually know senator sessions said, in effect, the same thing. if you are concerned with securing the strong and equal enforcement of our laws, you should look no further than senator sessions to find an attorney general that is up to that task. senator sessions was asked a number of questions about policy positions, a he's taken as a legislation, and that's good and well. but the test isn't whether or not you agree with policy positions senator sessions may have taken as a legislature, and i will refer to what ranking member feinstein said in her opening statement at the hearing on this question.
the test is whether senator sessions, as attorney general, will uphold the laws he voted against as senator. on issue after issue then, senator sessions made clear that he will. it's important to recall what senator sessions said in this regard. quote, the office of attorney general of the united states is not a normal political office, and anyone who holds it must have total fidelity to the laws of the constitution of the united states, end of quote. and everybody on this committee, be they republican or democrat knows senator sessions to be a man of integrity and a man of his word. because we know him to be a man of his word, we know that he will uphold and enforce all laws
equally without regard to person just as he pledged. i'll take a second and address a few questions concerning executive orders issued by the president. some on the other side have raised concerns about senator sessions, whether he was involved in drafting or reviewing the executive orders. it's not clear to me why it would be a problem even if he had been involved, but the fact of the matter is he was not involved. in his written responses to senator leahy, senator sessions stated for the record, quote, neither i nor any of my current sta staff, end of quote, had a rofo.
as we all know senator sessions is not yet attorney general. he is not yet running the department because now roughly three weeks and over 700 written questions after his hearing this committee is still debating his nomination. to me this underscores that we shouldn't needlessly delay this vote any further. the department needs strong leadership, and needs it in place as soon as possible. i would also like to take a moment to address a criticism i have heard lodged against senator sessions that i believe is particularly unfair. as i have said, it's fine to ask senator sessions policy questions about votes on legislation, but to imply that because he had a principled objection to a provision in a
particular bill that he therefore didn't support the underlying purpose of that legislation, and that sort of approach is unfair. senator sessions has been repeatedly criticized for voting against the democrat version of the 2013 violence against women act, and of course his critics routinely failed to mention that he voted for my version of that act which provided stronger provisions for grant accountability and tougher penalties for abuse, and, of course, critics also conveniently failed to mention that senator sessions supported violence against women act, reauthorization before when it was brought up in 2005. so to claim that he didn't support the underlying purpose of that legislation is just a rhetorical trick.
it's an unfair one, and maybe even mean-spirited, and i will explain it this way, and we all know this committee on both sides of the aisle disagree on bills for all sorts of reasons at different times, and every democrat in this committee opposed my version of the legislation which included mandatory minimums to combat child pornography and assault, and are we to assume those proposed to my amendment are not opposed to child pornography? of course we should not make that conclusion. when members oppose legislation to combat terrorism because that legislation includes the death penalty, would it be fair for us to claim that those members don't care about protecting the nation against terrorism? of course not. if we were to do that, that would be shameful.
>> all right, we are going to break away from the ag confirmation hearing and committee and go to the white house, and donald trump is meeting with the pharmaceutical companies, the ceos. let's listen in. >> i think you people know that very well, and it's very unfair to this country. our trade policy will priorities that foreign companies will pay their fair share, and so we have the greater resources to development the new cures, and i think it's unfair what other countries are doing to us, and i think a lot of the companies have moved out and they don't make the drugs in our country anymore, and a lot of that has to do with regulation and a lot of it has to do with the fact that other countries take
advantage of us with their money and their money supply and detpal sraeugs, because we don't -- our country is run so badly we don't know anything about devaluation. you look at what china is doing and what japan has done over the years, and they played the money marketed and the devaluation market and we sit there like a bunch of dummies. so you have to get your companies back here. we have to make products back here, and we will get rid of a tremendous amount of regulations and i know you have problems where you cannot even think about opening new plants and you can't get approval for the plant and then you can't get approval to make the drugs, and other than that you are doing fantastic. so we are going to get that taken care of, and we are cutting regulations at a level that nobody has ever seen before, and we are going to have tremendous protection for the people, and maybe even more protection for the people, and instead of it being 9,000 pages,
it could be 100 pages. and you don't have to double up and hire -- we have companies where they have more people working on the regulations than on the company, so it's very unfair. we have to lower the drug prices. the competition, the key to lower drug prices. we have competition, and a lot of time that dissipates. that includes price fixing by the biggest dog in the market, medicare, which is what is happening. we can increase competition, and bidding wars big-time, and the numbers we pay -- we have cases where if i go to a drugstore and buy aspirin, the aspirin cost me less than what the united states pays for aspirin, and the united states is biggest purchaser of drugs anywhere in the world by
far, so i can buy aspirin at the drugstore for less money, right, and we will talk about that, and we have to do something about that. we are going to have national security priorities, very important, and we are going to basically work on innovation, and we are going to work on price, and we can save tens of billions of dollars, and you people are going to do great. you are going to do great. so what i want, we have to get lower prices, and we have to get even better innovation, and i want you to move your companies back to the united states. i want you to manufacture in the united states. we are going to be lowering taxes big league and getting rid of regulations that are unnecessary, big league. somebody said the other day, what is the percentage of regulation? i said maybe 75%, and it could be up to 80%, which is what you need, because you can't even function. other countries have no regulation, and you go there for
that reason, and you produce a good product and you want to produce good product also, so we're going to produce great product, and streamline the fda, and i have a fantastic person that i think i will be naming soon, and it's going to be a quick process and not going to take 15 years. and we're going to do, i think, a tremendous -- i think we are going to make a tremendous difference to you. it cost sometimes $2.5 billion on average to come up with a new product. >> 15 years. >> 15 years, $2.5 billion to come up with a product where there's not a safety problem, and it's crazy, and i know you, and i'm very disappointed, and that's why we are here today, right? with that, i would love to go
around the table and introduce ourselves and let's see, and then we will start a little meeting and we will ask the press to leave so just two seconds, you can stay for a couple minutes longer. >> former chair of pharma, and our company is headquartered in new jersey, and we operate all over the country, and 60 countries around the world, and when i joined the company ten years ago we were ranked as one of the top ten companies in the country to go bankrupt, and we are looking forward. >> bob bradley, mr. president, thank you for having us. glad to be here. we share with you the advancing to be able to eradicate some of the diseases you mentioned in your speech, and we are adding
jobs this year, and that's our confidence in the outlook and the innovation as a company and the industry, and we look forward to >> i just heard you're going to be adding a substantial amount of jobs. that's really good. >> chairman? >> i'm greg walden. i chair the energy. >> you've worked on it long and hard. now we'll get your labors, they'll pay off. thank you very much. >> dave ricks, the new ceo of eli lilly. 140 years in indian ain indianapolis, and that's where we make a lot of our products. we're hiring manufacturing jobs as i speak. which is good news for people in indiana but also some of the policies you've come out and suggested, i think could help us do more. i'm looking forward to moving ahead and tax deregulation are things that could help us expand operations. >> thank you.
>> our great vice president. >> -- a company that employs about 50,000 people. one of the largest investments in -- >> johnson & johnson, good company. >> i'm from novaris. spent about $3 billion in research and development. our global headquarters is up near boston. we have about 13 manufacturing sites here in the u.s. and employ about 20,000 people. >> are you going to expand within the united states? >> one of the things that can us is a lower tax rate. if you look globally, that's a massive help. >> yep, we'll get it. >> mr. president, steve with pharma. a pleasure to be here. on behalf of the whole industry, we employ 4.5 million americans directly or indirectly. the industry invests about $70 billion in r&d in the united
states. more than any other industry. and we're just delighted to be here this morning to talk about reducing regulation, lowering taxes. we think stronger trade deals will lead to lower costs for american patients and for the taxpayer. >> thank you, steve. >> i'm ken frazier, chairman and ceo of merck. we've been in this country for 125 years. we employ about 23,000 american employees and invest about $7.5 billion a year in r&d. in all of the states of america and high skilled, high paying jobs, including manufacturing jobs in the united states and we're bringing manufacturing back for our cancer drug. you may have heard that we have an immuno oncology drug that stimulates the immune system to kill different cancers. we're bringing those jobs here, mr. president. >> thank you very much. thank you very much. okay, press, thank you.
>> should senator mcconnell uphold the -- >> let's go. >> going to wait until 8:00 tonight for your announcement? thank you, sir. >> all right. you see president trump not wanting to answer the press' questions about anything other than the matter at hand which is drug prices in this country. he has vowed to bring them down which is why he assembled all the ceos from around the country and vowed he was going to lower the tax rate so they could make drugs cheaper and get rid of 75% of regulations. he said it won't take 15 years to approve drugs through the fda. back to the senate judiciary hearing for jeff sessions nomination to attorney general. this is the ranking democratic member dianne feinstein who has been telling the committee that jeff sessions is merely a puppet
for donald trump and will not uphold the constitutional law. let's listen. >> -- at airports across the country. press reports have stated between 100 and 200 people were detained at american airports and more than 300 were not allowed to board planes to the united states from foreign airports, including my home state of california. in addition, the order effectively bars entry of people ranging from iraqi translators who helped american soldiers for years in iraq to syrian refugees fleeing horrible violence. it is also been interpreted to apply to people with approved visas and dual nationals. the question is, if confirmed, what will this nominee do? will he support and defend these broad and destructive executive
orders? will he carry out and enforce the president's actions that may very well violate the constitution? if past is prologue to the future, it's not difficult to assess that he will. just one short year and two months ago, on december 7th, 2015, then candidate donald trump issued a press release calling for a total and complete shutdown of muslims entering the united states, end quote. three days later, on december 10th, 2015, senator leahy, the man sitting to my left, authored a resolution in the judiciary committee. and here's what it stated. quote, it is the sense of the senate that the united states must not bar individuals from entering into the united states based on their religion. as such action would be contrary
to the fundamental principles on which this nation was founded, end quote. the vote was 16-4 in favor of the leahy resolution. the chairman and a majority of republicans, gentlemen, voted for it. but the nominee voted no. in fact, he spoke for nearly 30 minutes against it. he had to know that this type of ban would raise serious constitutional questions. he had to know that it was effectively unenforceable, but he supported it anyway. this no vote speaks volumes but it was certainly not the last word. according to "the washington post" and again i quote, from immigration and health care to national security and trade, sessions is the intellectual godfather of the president's
policies. sessions' reach extends throughout the white house with his aides and allies accelerating the president's most dramatic moves, including the ban on refugees and citizens from seven mostly muslim nations that has triggered fear around the globe, end quote. now, if it were just this one article by the post, just one campaign event, just one vote, maybe there would be an open question. but there are many disturbing actions and statements throughout his record. let me name some of them. i'm also concerned about the president's repeated calls for an investigation into voter fraud. simply because he lost the popular vote by 3 million. and again last week, the white house press secretary reiterated the president's belief that there was widespread voter fraud
in this past election. and that millions of illegal votes were cast with no evidence whatsoever. what will this attorney general nominee do? will he use the awesome power of the department of justice and spend taxpayer dollars to launch partisan investigations into voter fraud? or will he use his position to defend the voting rights of millions of americans. when asked about voter fraud by senator franken, senator sessions responded that he believes, and i quote, we regularly have fraudulent activities occur during election cycles, end quote. in reality, claims of widespread voter fraud have been repeatedly debunked, and even isolated
cases have found to be extremely rare. this past december -- excuse me -- "the washington post" reviewed the 2016 election and out of over 135 million people vote, they found four documented cases of voter fraud. if confirmed, what will senator sessions do when faced with questions on reproductive rights? this is an issue of real importance to a majority of women in this country. at this hearing, i ask directly if it is still his view that roe v. wade is, quote, one of the worst colossally erroneous supreme court decisions of all time, end quote. he said, quote, it is, end
quote. he said he will, quote, respect, end quote, roe v. wade but believes the decision, quote, violated the constitution, end quote. as attorney general who says he believes a woman's well-established fundamental rights are unconstitutional is essentially inviting states to pass more restrictions to women's access to health care knowing full well the justice department may, in fact, support those in court. in fact, i asked whether the justice department under his leadership would seek to overturn roe or change precedent on reproductive rights. he left the door open by saying, and i quote, such decisions would depend upon the unique circumstances of the case or