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Former President Obama "Fundamentally Disagrees" with Executive Order on Immigration
| Air Date: 01/30/2017
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Former President Obama "Fundamentally Disagrees" with President Trump's Immigration Executive Order

LESTER HOLT, anchor:

Good evening. Behind me, the Statue of Liberty which for nearly 130 years has symbolized the welcome arms of a country of immigrants but tonight she also stands as a symbolic flashpoint in a country in the midst of soul searching over the limits of its generosity in an age of international terrorism. This evening, protesters joined by some members of Congress have gathered outside the Supreme Court in Washington, following a weekend of fierce and emotional reaction and confusion over President Trump's temporary ban on travel to the United States by citizens of seven predominantly Muslim countries. The White House calls it a necessary step to protect Americans at home from threats from abroad. Critics call it a solution in search of a problem and an unconstitutional and thinly disguised ban on Muslims. Tonight we'll hear from both sides. And we begin with White House correspondent Kristen Welker.

KRISTEN WELKER, reporting:

President Trump defiant and digging in today amid a mounting firestorm over his travel ban.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: We actually had a very good day yesterday in terms of Homeland Security.

WELKER: The President aiming to put a positive spin on a weekend of chaos and outrage. Protests erupted at airports all across the country as more than a hundred people were detained, including an Iraqi who served in the U.S. military mission in Iraq, today the White House calling it a small inconvenience in the name of safety. And today tensions mounted as a memo circulated throughout the foreign service slamming the ban, "Such a policy runs counter to core American values of nondiscrimination." That prompted the White House to unleash this threat.

SEAN SPICER: These career bureaucrats have a problem with it? I think that they should either get with the program or they can go.

WELKER: But the administration facing a barrage of legal challenges and Democrats today also vowing to block the ban which restricts travel from seven Muslim majority countries for 90 days and stops all refugees from coming to the U.S. for a 120 days. Opponents insist there is no evidence it will make the country safer.

SENATOR TIM KAINE: I got a kid in the military. People overseas on the field of battle who work with our troops should be able to do that and know if they help us, they will be protected.

WELKER: What do you say to those who argue this travel ban will make the country less safe?

SPICER: Let's-- let's go back and look at what it is. Seven countries that the Obama administration had already identified needed further travel restrictions.

WELKER: That argument is not entirely correct. The Obama administration did list those countries as areas of concern but never banned travel. Today a spokesperson for former President Obama said he is heartened by the protesters and insisted "The President fundamentally disagrees with the notion of discriminating against individuals because of their faith or religion."

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER: This executive order was mean-spirited and un-American.

WELKER: The President firing back.

PRESIDENT TRUMP: Chuck Schumer, yesterday with fake tears. I'm going to ask him who was his acting coach.

WELKER: Also fuelling a backlash, Mister Trump appointing his chief strategist Steve Bannon to his national security team, while top-ranking intelligence and military officials will attend only when discussing issues pertaining to their responsibilities and expertise.

SPICER: On issues of Homeland Security and domestic policy, they are always welcome to attend, 100%. However, if the issue is on, you know, pandemic flu, it would be a waste of time to drag the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff over.

WELKER: Tonight the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff backed up the White House, General Dunford is saying he's confident he will be a full participant in advising the President on national and Homeland Security. President Trump will try to turn the page when all of this when he announces his Supreme Court pick tomorrow night. Lester.