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American Citizen Detained by North Korea; Dow Jumps on French Election Results; Haley Talks About North Korean Pressure; French Voters Snub Establishment; Tax Plan Specifics; Trump Hosts Conservative Media; Trump on CBS Ratings. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired April 24, 2017 - 09:30   ET

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


[09:30:00] IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We don't have any charges yet that have been leveled against him. Most of the information coming from the Swedish embassy in Pyongyang, Poppy, because it represents U.S. interests in North Korea since there are not direct relations between Pyongyang and Washington. We do know that he was trying to fly out of the country after teaching for weeks at this Pyongyang university.

And if the past track record for Americans who have been detained by the North Koreans is any indicator, than he's in a very serious situation. There probably have been about a half dozen Americans over the last five years who have been grabbed by the North Koreans usually at the airport when they're on their way out and most of them it has taken weeks, if not months before they are released. Two other Americans are currently in custody right now. One of them, he was a 21-year-old student at UVA named Otto Warmbier. He was detained in January. He was finishing up a tourist trip and he's been sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. Another one by the name of Kim Dong Chul was detained the previous year and he's gotten ten years of hard labor. So we'll be watching this closely.

Of course, it takes place against this backdrop of real tension, this stalemate over North Korea's nuclear program, its ballistic missiles program, all of which are banned under the United Nations Security Council, but which North Korea defiantly insists it will continue to pursue despite the fact that the U.S. and its allies here in the region, Japan and South Korea, both condemn it and say they'll respond somehow to try to stop it and they're trying to get China on board as well to help somehow. And I think that last night's phone call between President Trump and the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, is another indicator of the kind of diplomacy that the Trump administration is trying to pursue to try to get the North Koreans not to conduct another nuclear test. But I think the detention of another American may throw a new wrench into the works here.

Poppy. John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, that timing, very, very important with a lot of activity behind the scenes.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Yes.

BERMAN: Ivan Watson in Seoul for us, thanks so much.

We do have some breaking news, the stock market this morning saying tres bien, mon dour (ph). Look at that, up 203 points just after the opening bell. Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here.

Again, I was speaking French because this does seem to be, you know, outright glee by investors over the outcome of the first (INAUDIBLE) presidential election.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John Berman speaking high school French this morning because the Dow is up 206 points. Why is an American stock index up because of a French election, first round of a French election? It's because the fact that Emmanuel Macron did so well, many people say is good for global multinationalism, is good for France staying in the Eurozone, in the European Union. It puts a frexit, a French exit from the EU, maybe off the table, and that's something that is good for big business and good for the status quo. He's also considered a pro-globalization liberal, and that's something that many people think Europe needs right now. You cannot run away from globalization and want your economy to grow and want the region to grow.

So that's what we're watching here today. A nice rally really for American stocks. Bank stocks doing well with global multinationals. I will tell you, though, the odds of frexit, I'm going to say it again, the odds of frexit seem to be going down, but we also have the odds of tax reform --

HARLOW: Yes.

ROMANS: That we're still trying to gauge here. So I think there's political risk in the U.S. for stock investors right here, especially coming up on Wednesday, coming up also on the 100-days of the Trump presidency, what will we see concrete, if anything, on tax reform. Will it be tax reform or just tax cuts? There is a difference.

HARLOW: A big difference.

ROMANS: There's a big debate going on right now about what it's going to look like.

HARLOW: Indeed. Christine Romans, thank you so much.

ROMANS: OK.

HARLOW: You can tell who the French major is, in this pairing. A little bit you. A little bit more than -- a little bit more than John.

ROMANS: (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: I got a D -- I got a D in high school French, so I hope she's better than me.

ROMANS: Something to be proud of. Something to be proud of, John Berman. HARLOW: The only D the man ever got. Christine, thank you so much.

BERMAN: It's an important one.

All right, let's discuss this, not my D, but what's going on in the world right now with Kimberly Dozier, CNN global affairs analyst and senior national security correspondent for "The Daily Beast."

Kimberly, let's start on North Korea, if we can, and work our way back to France, if there's time.

A North Korea -- this American detained in the midst of all this other tension right now. U.S. military exercise. The idea of another nuclear test. And the time here, just a coincidence or is this a bargaining chip?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, look at what happened the last time North Korea had three Americans in custody. They got the director of National Intelligence, Jim Clapper, to visit. That was one of the last times you saw sort of a trade in return for Pyongyang getting recognized in its terms as a power to be reckoned with, with a visit from a top U.S. official. Could it be hoping for the same thing this time around? Just possibly.

I mean today we had Nikki Haley, the ambassador to the U.N., speaking on another network and drawing what sounds like a red line.

HARLOW: Yes.

DOZIER: The first red line that we reporters have been pushing for, and that seems to have ratcheted up the tension. And we've got a phone call from the Chinese premier to Donald Trump saying, hey, let's ease back on this. I think what we're seeing is that the Chinese are trying to tell Washington, we understand what you need us to do with Pyongyang, but you haven't yet given us the time to do it, and this momentum is picking up pace.

[09:35:24] HARLOW: So, Kimberly, it seems like the red line that Nikki Haley, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, was drawing was a strike on a military base and/or a launch of another -- you know, an ICBM test. But she also talked this morning in that interview about pressure. Pressure ratcheting up that she believes that Kim Jong-un is feeling. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE U.N.: He's very much feeling the pressure. I think you're starting to see him get very paranoid. And I think you're seeing pressure come from all parts of the international community. And I think we just have to keep the pressure up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: What do you see as the evidence that he is feeling pressure?

DOZIER: Well, the fact that they basically got pressure on China to do things like stop some of their coal imports, that China is trying to send an envoy to North Korea to have behind the scenes discussions that apparently aren't yet going very well. So from the White House point of view, from Ambassador Haley's point of view, this pressure is working. But it looks like, from the phone call from the Chinese premier, that they're watching some dangerous building blocks get into position. The American ships getting close to North Korea, being joined by Japanese war ships, the danger of a miscalculation rises. We're also right ahead of a major North Korean holiday tomorrow where they might have another nuclear test, probably a nuclear test because if they have another missile test, there's a risk of a failure. If you have an underground nuclear test, nobody quite knows what went right and what went wrong.

BERMAN: All right, very big couple of days to watch there.

Quickly, on France, this great worldwide debate between nationalism and globalism. We're seeing it play out in France today and over the next two weeks and there's a feeling, at least among investors and sort of the global watchers is that globalism might win.

DOZIER: Well, it looks like every major political party, including the major head of Muslims in the nation, are calling for France to vote for Macron and against Le Pen. So we're going to get an answer about which way France is going to go as a nation, at its heart. Is it going to embrace globalism and a chance to include all members of society, or is it going to go with Le Pen, who's called on things like banishing all dual nationals. You'd have to choose between France or another European nation. You could be a dual national of another European nation, but that is a bad signal to both French Muslims and French Jews who have, say, a passport from Israel.

HARLOW: Kimberly Dozier, thank you so much. We'll be watching that. Of course, the election May 7th, coming up soon.

And still to come for us, the president promising a, quote, "big announcement," a big one, on tax reform on Wednesday. Really? Where are the details? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:42:28] BERMAN: All right, President Trump has promised a big announcement on tax reform coming Wednesday. Now we still don't know what exactly will be revealed in this announcement. The more important question might be, does he know?

HARLOW: Here to help us find out, a guy who just might know, CNN's senior economics analyst Stephen Moore. He's a former senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign. And also with us, Austan Goolsbee, professor at the University of Chicago School of Business and former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers for President Obama.

Gentlemen, so nice to have you here.

Stephen Moore, let me begin with you. Here's how the president's budget director, Mick Mulvaney, described this big Wednesday announcement on "Fox News Sunday." (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE BUDGET DIRECTOR: So what you're going to see on Wednesday is for the first time is, here's what our principles are, here's some of the ideas that we like, some of the ideas we don't like. We can talk about that more if you want to. Here's some of the rates we're talking about. So it's going to be the first step --

CHRIS WALLACE, HOST, "FOX NEWS SUNDAY": Can you say whether or not it's going to be revenue neutral or whether it's going to add to the debt?

MULVANEY: I don't think we've decided that part yet.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: That is a big part, Stephen Moore, not to decide yet, especially when you have a president who promised during the campaign that he would wipe out the $19 trillion debt in eight years. So do you think the president has a plan?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, he has a plan certainly. I worked on it on the campaign. It's -- the centerpiece of that plan is to cut those business tax rates down to -- from the highest in the world to, you know, perhaps close to the lowest in the world and then provides some middle class relief for working families, and to try to simplify the system. The big question is the one that you just asked, Poppy, is, will this be, quote, "revenue neutral," which means that, you know, if they raise Austan's -- if they cut Austan's tax but they have to raise mine. And I never saw as -- look, as an economic recovery plan, I just don't see the logic of making it revenue neutral.

If we grow the economy faster, and I'd love Austan's thoughts about this, if we get more people back to work, if we get businesses more profitable, more revenues are going to come in. And that's the philosophy that I think Donald Trump should employ because if the economy grows faster, the debt is going to fall, it's not going to rise.

BERMAN: First of all, both of your taxes will likely be cut under any plan that comes out of this administration.

MOORE: I hope so.

BERMAN: Let's establish that right now.

But, Austin --

MOORE: I want your -- John, I want your taxes cut, too.

BERMAN: And I appreciate that.

But, Austan, why don't you answer the question that Stephen posed here. Stephen basically suggesting you can grow your way out of debt. That tax cuts can spur growth, which in some ways cuts the deficit. Your reaction?

AUSTAN GOOLSBEE, FORMER CHMN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS FOR PRES. OBAMA: Look, we've been through this 50 times. This is the magic bean staling beans argument, that tax cuts will pay for themselves, they'll lead the economy to grow. It's exactly what George W. Bush said when he cut taxes in 2001 and it wasn't true.

[09:45:14] I think the problem of the tax plan that Donald Trump is facing is that the correct time to have thought trough the details of how you're going to pay for you plan and what you want to include in your plan was in the campaign, was thinking through in some detail before you got into office. Now we have the second problem that Donald Trump seems not to be wanting to just do his job, sit down and work through the details. What he wants to do is make an announcement of vague generalities which doesn't help Congress to draft legislation. Just go try to cut a deal. Put the -- here's what we'll pay for, here's what we want, but he can't do that because they don't have those details.

HARLOW: So, Stephen, where you point to all the critics who say you can't see 4 percent annual growth, it can't happen, and you point them to points in history after, you know, during the Republican and Democratic administrations when it has happened.

MOORE: Sure. Yes.

HARLOW: But let me ask you this. I mean Keith Hall, the guy that the Republicans put in place to lead the Congressional Budget Office, the entity which scores this stuff and tells us if it's actually going to work out and if it could be revenue neutral, said, quote, "in 2015 know the evidence is that tax cuts do not pay for themselves." Is he wrong?

MOORE: Well, look, the Congressional Budget Office just came out with a gigantic report about what's going to happen over the next 25 years or so with respect to the debt and the deficit. And it's a frightening picture that the debt goes to 150 percent of GDP if we do nothing and then we look like Greece.

Now, the reason I bring that up is the main reason that the debt explodes over the next 25 years is because they're predicting very low economic growth. They're predicting, Austan, 1.8 percent. And I believe that, you know, if you look at the 1950 to 2000, the economy grew at about three to three and a half percent, not 1.8 percent. Yes, I think we can grow faster. Yes, I think this tax cut will help bring about some of this -- this growth that we're talking about.

Now, John, I'm not saying that we can only -- you know, it's only going to be growth that's going to get us out of this debt problem. What I'm saying is, if we don't grow faster, if we don't grow faster than 2 percent, we're never going to bring this debt down because you just don't get enough jobs, you don't get enough income and tax revenues to make that possible.

BERMAN: Well, entitlement reform would help also, which is something that the administration, or at least the president, seems loath to do. Austan, we've got to go here, but corporate tax cuts is something that

some Democrats have even supported. Would you support some corporate tax cuts, do you think? In the abstract, corporate tax cuts are a good idea.

GOOLSBEE: I could if they're paid for. Yes, look, if they're paid for, it would be a good idea. But just comparing our growth rates now to a time like the 1950s when population growth in the United States was more than double what it is today, is not realistic. Let's get real. Let's cut a deal if you want on tax reform, but don't just keep announcing that we don't have to pay for it, because that doesn't make sense.

BERMAN: All right, Austan Goolsbee, Stephen Moore, always great to have you.

MOORE: I'd love to see a -- I'd love to see a deal. I'd love to see a deal.

BERMAN: Let's get real. Let's cut a deal. You guys go have a meal and work it out together. Thanks so much, guys. Appreciate it.

MOORE: We're on it.

GOOLSBEE: Steve's --

BERMAN: All right, the Ohio governor, John Kasich, he's never shy to speak his mind and tonight he gets a big chance. Do not miss "America United Or Divided?" with a question mark there. A live CNN town hall moderated by Anderson Cooper tonight 10:00 Eastern only on CNN.

HARLOW: All right, still to come for us, President Trump extending an invitation to a number of conservative media outlets to visit the White House this week. The administration calls it a move toward diversity. Brian Stelter has that next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:53:07] HARLOW: The Trump administration says the conservative media has been neglected for the past eight years, so today the president has invited a number of conservative media outlets to the White House for a reception. This is part of an effort, according to Press Secretary Sean Spicer, to open up the White House to what he calls a more diverse set of media.

BERMAN: We are joined by CNN's senior media reporter, host of "Reliable Sources," Brian Stelter.

Brian, you know, not new that a White House, you know, invites certain groups of reporters or editorial directors to come meet with them, but they are making a bigger show out of it than usual.

HARLOW: Yes.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: For sure. George W. Bush, for example, brought conservative radio hosts to the White House. Now it's more about digital media. It's about Breitbart and websites like that coming to the White House and very openly, very publicly being invited, sort of almost celebrated by the president. This is part of an all of the above media strategy by this White House.

HARLOW: Another point, obsession, I think I can fairly say, for this president is ratings, and he's talking about them in some questionable ways.

STELTER: Yes, there's a brilliant "Washington Post" story out today talking about the president's obsession with television, saying he is still watching all the cable news channels, including this one.

BERMAN: (INAUDIBLE).

STELTER: However, in an Associated Press story, he says he's not watching CNN or MSNBC anymore. He thinks the coverage is too critical. I guess because we have voices on the air that disagree with some of his policies.

There was a really striking quote in the AP interview about ratings. I think we can put it on screen. It shows how focused the president is on television ratings. He said when he went on CBS' "Face the Nation," "or as I call it, "deface the nation," it's the highest for deface the nation since the World Trade Center." He was talking about 9/11, saying, "since the World Trade Center came down. It's a tremendous advantage." I think what he means there is it's a tremendous advantage to have me on your show because I get higher ratings.

But, guys, there's a reason why television networks don't talk about how high their ratings were on 9/11, it's because it's distasteful. So that quote getting a lot of attention this morning from that interview.

It is notable, though, as everyone talks about approval ratings, this president's historically low approval ratings, television ratings are the other standard by which he judges himself. And what's he doing this weekend? He's going on deface, or, actually, "Face the Nation." He's sitting down with that host that he was criticizing in the interview.

[09:55:05] BERMAN: And, you know, and he's counterprograming this weekend also. He's giving a big speech in Pennsylvania.

STELTER: That's right.

BERMAN: The same evening as the White House Correspondents' Dinner. And I think they like the split screen on that.

STELTER: I think they very much do.

HARLOW: Right, where they see the press sort of all glittered up, right, saying, you don't get main street America. I am in main street America.

STELTER: Totally. And I'm sure he'll pay attention to the ratings for that as well.

HARLOW: Yes.

STELTER: But we are seeing an all of the above strategy. Yes, conservative media is being courted by the president, but he's also appearing on big networks. His aides are also becoming more accessible. They know they've got a lot of responses they have to give to all the criticism of the first 100 days.

HARLOW: Yes.

BERMAN: This really is a good thing, so, you know, nothing wrong with that.

STELTER: Yes.

BERMAN: All right, Brian Stelter, great to have you. Thanks so much.

HARLOW: Thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

HARLOW: A major week for the president has begun. We are just days away from, well, possibly the government shutting down if they can't fund it. Will this president make a deal?

BERMAN: And, you know, we have a big political coming out party over the next hour. You remember him? Former President Obama, his very first public comments since leaving the White House. You will not want to miss this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)