Trump ally Senator Sessions; ban immigration from countries like Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria
June 19th, 2016
12:05 PM ET

Trump ally Senator Sessions; ban immigration from countries like Egypt, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria

Today on CNN’s State of the Union, Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) joined CNN's chief political correspondent Dana Bash, to discuss how to implement Trump’s proposed Muslim ban, the speculation that Trump’s nomination will be blocked at the Republican convention and more.

For more information, see http://cnnpressroom.blogs.cnn.com/. Also, text highlights and a transcript of the discussion are below.

MANDATORY CREDIT: CNN’s “State of the Union”

Contacts: Lauren Pratapas — Lauren.Pratapas@turner.com; 202.465.6666; Brooke Lorenz- Brooke.Lorenz@turner.com

VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS

Sessions: Trump's immigration ban 'not unreasonable'

Sen. Sessions: I haven't discussed VP with Trump
 

TEXT HIGHLIGHTS
 

Sessions on how to implement Trump’s proposed Muslim ban: He simply said - and the way I understand it, and what I think is that we should slow down.  Let's have a pause and begin to analyze where the threats are coming from. We have a toxic ideology, hopefully very small, within Islam.  Certainly, most people, Muslims don't agree with this violent jihadist approach.  And we need to figure out a better way to identify that. We have written the president, Senator Cruz and I, months ago, saying give us a background of the 580 terrorists that have been convicted since 9/11... [BASH]  But... [SESSIONS]  ... and see if we can't see a pattern, so we can do a better job of blocking the entry of those.  So, slowing down, I think, is a good idea.[BASH]  What does that mean?  Are you going to look specifically at certain countries?  Are you going to look at certain religions?  How would that actually work in practical terms? [SESSIONS] Dana, I think you - first, you look at backgrounds.  Look at the countries where we have a - of this 580 terrorists, about 95 percent or so are from Islamic countries. [BASH]  So, for example, give me some names of countries that you would look at first. [SESSIONS]  Well, all I can tell you is, the public data that we have had indicate that there are quite a number of countries in that region that have sent a large number of people that have become terrorists.  And so...[BASH]  Are you talking about Saudi Arabia?  Or are you talking about.. [SESSIONS]  Well, it all depends.  A lot of it is on population.[BASH]  Iran? [SESSIONS]  Like, Pakistan has a number, people from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen. [BASH]  So, you would consider and Mr. Trump would consider banning immigration temporarily completely from those countries? [SESSIONS]  Not completely. I mean, you have got diplomats and businesspeople who have been traveling for a long time.  But tightening up that, pausing on the normal flow here until we get a good database the administration has refused to give us and protect the American people, that's not unreasonable. You don't have a constitutional right to come to America.  We respect your religion in this country.  We will defend your right to free exercise of religion, but a person with an ideology that goes beyond normal religion that believes you can kill gays, that kills people who change their view about the religion they have, that is a dangerous thing, and we do not have to admit people like that.

Sessions dismisses the idea Trump’s nomination will be blocked at the Republican convention: [BASH]  Let's talk about politics and the fact that there is a movement among some delegates to the Republican Convention to try to get Donald Trump off the ballot, to make sure that he is not the nominee. Do you know of any effort inside the Trump campaign to call these delegates and stop them?  [SESSIONS]  Well, I don't think that has any chance whatsoever. Somebody said they could have as many as 30 people.  Well, they are 2,400 delegates.  He's going to win this nomination, clearly. What I would say to my people that are seeking unity, you need also to listen to the American people.  Why don't we acknowledge that these trade deals haven't worked so well, as Donald Trump says?  Why don't we acknowledge that immigration is now in a lawless state and needs to be restored [BASH]  But is the campaign making.. [SESSIONS]  I think our leaders need to be paying attention also to the people, not just complaining about things that Donald Trump might say. [BASH]  But a fight at the convention is - is not good for anybody inside the Republican Party who is looking for the kind of unity you're talking about. Is the campaign making calls, trying to stop kind of a revolt at the convention? [SESSIONS]  Well, there's not going to be a revolt. But I would say that the administration, that the Trump campaign is definitely reaching out.  We have had a number of meetings, a number of meetings with the Republican Senate leadership, House members, Congressman Ron, Mitch McConnell, multiple phone calls and discussions. But I would just urge them to watch what happened in this election.  The American people don't want another 5,000-page trade deal.  They want an end of lawlessness and immigration.

Sessions on Senator Collins proposed gun measures:  [BASH]  So, one of your colleagues, Senator Collins, is working on a compromise, which would limit the lists to a no-fly list and a selectee list.  So, it would apply to about 109,000 people, as opposed to what you were talking about, the broader one million people or so who are on the terror watch list. Would you back that compromise legislation?  [SESSIONS]  Well, Susan is so careful about those things.  And she's worked really hard to figure out the differences in various lists and what kind of proof it takes to get on that list.  [BASH]  Exactly.[SESSIONS]  So, I would be willing to listen to what she said.  I am open to the details, Dana.  I agree that, somehow, some way, we should be able to make this work. 

Sessions is open to being Trump’s running-mate: [BASH] I can't let you go, Senator without asking you about being Donald Trump's running mate.  You are on every single list that we see. Are you being vetted? [SESSIONS] I certainly expect not. I have not been discussing that with them.  And I don't even - even know if anybody is being vetted, but I think you will be... [BASH]  Would you like to be vetted? [SESSIONS]  I - I have only said.. [BASH]  And considered?  [SESSIONS]  ... if I were asked, I would consider it.  I don't expect that to happen. [BASH]  But the vetting process hasn't started at all? [SESSIONS]  I don't know.  I have not - I have no idea what - what they're doing. I suspect that people are thinking about it.  But it will be an important decision.  He needs somebody who can really be a great president if something happens to him, somebody who can advance - help him advance an agenda that I think is the American people's agenda. 
 
 

FULL TRANSCRIPT

THIS IS A RUSH FDCH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT:  In the aftermath of the Orlando shootings, the Senate is preparing a series of votes tomorrow on new gun measures.

And Democrats may have found an unlikely ally in none other than the Republican presumptive nominee, Donald Trump.

Asked if someone should be barred from buying a gun if he or she is on a terror watch list or a no-fly list, Trump had this to say:

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE:  We have to make sure that people that are terrorists or have even an inclination toward terrorism cannot buy weapons, guns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH:  But will his party follow suit?

And joining me now is Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, one of Donald Trump's top advisers on policy.

Thank you so much for joining me, Senator.

SEN. JEFF SESSIONS (R), ALABAMA:  Dana.

BASH:  Let's talk about what's going to happen in the Senate tomorrow, vote on several proposals that would ban terror suspects from buying guns.

You have said that you support a measure by your colleague Senator Cornyn which would require authorities to prove probable cause in three days.  But why wouldn't authorities just arrest that person?  It wouldn't even get to the point of whether they could buy a gun.

SESSIONS:  Well, they would already be arrested if they had enough proof to arrest them.  So, the problem is, you have got indications on this list of people who might be involved in terrorism.

And we need to keep a list of that, need to do the best we can to monitor those people, so that they don't become an active terrorist person.  But a lot of people may be wrongly on the list.  In fact, I'm sure there are a lot of people on that list that shouldn't be on it.

So, if you're going to deny a person a constitutional right like free speech or the right to have a firearm, then you - that person has to have an opportunity to explain that they shouldn't be on the list.  That's all it's about.  That's what the difference is.

Republicans have voted consistently to ban people from having - on that list from having a gun, but to give them an opportunity to prove they shouldn't be on the list.

BASH:  So, one of your colleagues, Senator Collins, is working on a compromise, which would limit the lists to a no-fly list and a selectee list.  So, it would apply to about 109,000 people, as opposed to what you were talking about, the broader one million people or so who are on the terror watch list.

Would you back that compromise legislation?

SESSIONS:  Well, Susan is so careful about those things.  And she's worked really hard to figure out the differences in various lists and what kind of proof it takes to get on that list.

BASH:  Exactly.

SESSIONS:  So, I would be willing to listen to what she said.  I am open to the details, Dana.  I agree that, somehow, some way, we should be able to make this work.

BASH:  Let's talk about the response that Mr. Trump had to the Orlando shooting.  He said he would - quote - "suspend immigration from areas of the world when there is proven history of terrorism," and also focused on the parents of the shooter, who emigrated from Afghanistan.

Does this mean that Mr. Trump is now in favor of a ban on all immigration from certain countries?

SESSIONS:  He simply said - and the way I understand it, and what I think is that we should slow down.  Let's have a pause and begin to analyze where the threats are coming from.

We have a toxic ideology, hopefully very small, within Islam.  Certainly, most people, Muslims don't agree with this violent jihadist approach.  And we need to figure out a better way to identify that.

We have written the president, Senator Cruz and I, months ago, saying give us a background of the 580 terrorists that have been convicted since 9/11...

BASH:  But...

SESSIONS:  ... and see if we can't see a pattern, so we can do a better job of blocking the entry of those.  So, slowing down, I think, is a good idea.

BASH:  What does that mean?  Are you going to look specifically at certain countries?  Are you going to look at certain religions?  How would that actually work in practical terms?

SESSIONS:  Dana, I think you - first, you look at backgrounds.  Look at the countries where we have a - of this 580 terrorists, about 95 percent or so are from Islamic countries.

BASH:  So, for example, give me some names of countries that you would look at first.

SESSIONS:  Well, all I can tell you is, the public data that we have had indicate that there are quite a number of countries in that region that have sent a large number of people that have become terrorists.  And so...

BASH:  Are you talking about Saudi Arabia?  Or are you talking about...

SESSIONS:  Well, it all depends.  A lot of it is on population.

BASH:  Iran?

SESSIONS:  Like, Pakistan has a number, people from Egypt, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen.

BASH:  So, you would consider and Mr. Trump would consider banning immigration temporarily completely from those countries?

SESSIONS:  Not completely.

I mean, you have got diplomats and businesspeople who have been traveling for a long time.  But tightening up that, pausing on the normal flow here until we get a good database the administration has refused to give us and protect the American people, that's not unreasonable.

You don't have a constitutional right to come to America.  We respect your religion in this country.  We will defend your right to free exercise of religion, but a person with an ideology that goes beyond normal religion that believes you can kill gays, that kills people who change their view about the religion they have, that is a dangerous thing, and we do not have to admit people like that.

BASH:  But the killer in Orlando, the Fort Hood shooter, the San Bernardino shooter, they were all Americans.  They were born in America.  So how would this solution stop the last several massacres, including the biggest one in this country last week?

SESSIONS:  Well, their parents came here with an ideology, and it seemed to have impacted them.

For example, in Orlando, the parent was close to the Taliban, a radical element that we are fighting right now in Afghanistan.

BASH:  But his father lived without breaking any laws that we know of his entire life in this country.

SESSIONS:  I'm just saying, you get two people from Afghanistan, one of them believes in the United States, one of them believes in a democratic republic, and one of them believes in the Taliban.

We can't admit everybody in the world.  Why don't we admit those who have the greatest chance of being prosperous in the United States, to work harmoniously with us?  We don't have a duty to admit people who may be at risk or may place Americans at risk.

BASH:  So let's talk about the reaction among your fellow members of Congress, Republicans.

One called it disgusting, Mr. Trump's speech.  Another said it was highly offensive.  As the key Trump supporter in the U.S. Congress - we hear this in public - what are you getting behind closed doors?

SESSIONS:  Well, the talking heads have been talking about this a lot, but they should read the speech.

BASH:  But these aren't talking heads.  These are senators.

SESSIONS:  They - well, they are talking heads, some of them, and even if you're senators.  We all are, I guess.

But they should read the speech.  It's a great speech.  It lays out carefully the issues and challenges we face.  It exposes President Obama's unbelievably weak response, his unwillingness and her unwillingness to even acknowledge that these attacks are products of extremism within Islam.  I think we have got to talk about that.

BASH:  Let's talk about politics and the fact that there is a movement among some delegates to the Republican Convention to try to get Donald Trump off the ballot, to make sure that he is not the nominee.

Do you know of any effort inside the Trump campaign to call these delegates and stop them?

SESSIONS:  Well, I don't think that has any chance whatsoever.

Somebody said they could have as many as 30 people.  Well, they are 2,400 delegates.  He's going to win this nomination, clearly.

What I would say to my people that are seeking unity, you need also to listen to the American people.  Why don't we acknowledge that these trade deals haven't worked so well, as Donald Trump says?  Why don't we acknowledge that immigration is now in a lawless state and needs to be restored?

BASH:  But is the campaign making...

SESSIONS:  I think our leaders need to be paying attention also to the people, not just complaining about things that Donald Trump might say.

BASH:  But a fight at the convention is - is not good for anybody inside the Republican Party who is looking for the kind of unity you're talking about.

Is the campaign making calls, trying to stop kind of a revolt at the convention?

SESSIONS:  Well, there's not going to be a revolt.

But I would say that the administration, that the Trump campaign is definitely reaching out.  We have had a number of meetings, a number of meetings with the Republican Senate leadership, House members, Congressman Ron, Mitch McConnell, multiple phone calls and discussions.

But I would just urge them to watch what happened in this election.  The American people don't want another 5,000-page trade deal.  They want an end of lawlessness and immigration.

BASH:  You...

SESSIONS:  They want the - the United States to be careful about what wars it gets into.  And they want an end to gridlock in Washington.

I think...

BASH:  I can't let you go, Senator...

(LAUGHTER)

BASH:  ... without asking you about being Donald Trump's running mate.  You are on every single list that we see.

Are you being vetted?

SESSIONS:  I certainly expect not.

I have not been discussing that with them.  And I don't even - even know if anybody is being vetted, but I think you will be...

BASH:  Would you like to be vetted?

SESSIONS:  I - I have only said...

BASH:  And considered?

SESSIONS:  ... if I were asked, I would consider it.  I don't expect that to happen.

BASH:  But the vetting process hasn't started at all?

SESSIONS:  I don't know.  I have not - I have no idea what - what they're doing.

I suspect that people are thinking about it.  But it will be an important decision.  He needs somebody who can really be a great president if something happens to him, somebody who can advance - help him advance an agenda that I think is the American people's agenda.

BASH:  Senator Sessions, thank you very much for coming in this morning.  I appreciate it.

SESSIONS:  Thank you.

BASH:  Thank you.

###END INTERVIEW###


Topics: 2016 Election • Transcripts
tmpl
soundoff (No Responses)

Comments are closed.