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Trump-Russia Probe Deepens; Trumps Not Leading By Example During Made in America Week?. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 17, 2017 - 16:30   ET




The money lead now. From the president whose theme was make America great again and who brought you the modern-day version of the American first slogan, today, the White House kicked off Made in America Week, highlighting products made in the U.S. of A., a week that requires us all to pay no attention on the label on Trump brand ties and shirts and much more.

The big question, of course looming over this entire week, do the Trumps plan to lead by example?


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We believe in two simple rules: Buy American and hire American.

TAPPER (voice-over): It's a popular presidential promise that Donald Trump has given time and again to a nation eager for more American jobs, especially for those in factory towns decimated by trade deals and other forces.

TRUMP: We're going to do everything in our power to make sure more products are stamped with those wonderful words, made in the USA.

TAPPER: But those wonderful words rarely seem to be printed on Trump products. And as the president launches Made in America Week at the White House, the big question looms. Will President Trump and his family lead by example? Here's how the White House responded to that question earlier today.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There are certain supply chains or scalability that may not be available in this country.

I'm not going to comment on specific products. But I will tell you that the overall arching goal, of course, though, is to grow manufacturing, to grow investment here in the United States.

TAPPER: Shirts, shoes, handbags, neckties with the Trump family name have often been manufactured in countries such as Bangladesh, Indonesia, China, where labor costs are much cheaper, something the businessman tried to explain to me in 2015 when I confronted him on where my Trump tie had been made. TRUMP: My ties, many times are made in China, not all of them, by the

way, but a lot of them are made in China, because they have manipulated their currency to such a point that it's impossible for our companies to compete.

TAPPER (on camera): When it comes to outsourcing jobs, which is what this tie would be a representative issue of, one of the issues is that the people in China, the laborers, are paid a lot less and the standards are worse when it comes to the environment and health care and worker safety.

TRUMP: Many problems. I agree with that.

TAPPER: Isn't that what -- but what do you say when somebody says, well, why don't you -- why don't you be a leader and make these in Philadelphia? I would be willing to pay more for this tie.


TRUMP: You would. And, unfortunately, you would see that it's very, very hard to have anything in apparel made in this country.

TAPPER (voice-over): But good news, Mr. President. Here's your press secretary in April of this year talking about China.

SPICER: They aren't, since he's been in office, manipulating their currency.

TAPPER: So now could be a good time to lead on this issue. The truth is the Trumps are far from alone; 97 percent of apparel sold in the United States is made in other countries.

But some businesses do manage to make their products in America; 50 such companies showed off their goods to the president today.

SCOTT PAUL, PRESIDENT, ALLIANCE FOR AMERICAN MANUFACTURING: Hopefully, he will also learn from those 50 makers and see how they are making it America and perhaps he can ask them how they're doing it so he can give it a try.

TAPPER: Ivanka Trump's fashion line has long since worked with manufacturers in China. President Trump's daughter took a leave of absence from her company in January, but still retains an ownership take.

The company declined to comment for this story. The contrast in messaging is not lost on critics who are tagging the president and his family on social media, posting photos of Donald and Ivanka Trump brand merchandise purported to be made elsewhere.


TAPPER: Let's talk more with my political panel about this and much more.

Bill, I guess I feel like I'm just kind of stunned that they would even have a Made in America Week without an accompanying announcement that Trump ties will now be made in New Jersey or whatever.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Yes. Well, I guess he's gotten away with it so far, and he just thinks he can keep on getting away with it.


The whole idea of the week is honestly pretty stupid, I think. I don't know. Maybe I'm just overreacting. I found it a little off- putting. It's one thing for a congressional district to have peanuts made in our districts when you come or whatever, kind of cute promoting stuff.

But this is America, the center of the global trading system. The idea we're going to have a hokey let's put American products on the lawn of the White House and in the East Room, I don't know. I find it a little awkward.

And we should be proud to import a lot of great things and a lot of great works. And the idea we're sort of looking inward, and, oh, we want everything to be made here, it's not a recipe for economic success, I don't think, and nor is it the recipe for world leadership.

TAPPER: I remember Tim Geithner, when he was treasury secretary in the Obama administration, which you worked for, Jen, he pushed a made in America thing briefly.


Look, administrations push made in America. I think we should celebrate companies that are making products and are successful by doing that. I think the problem we're obviously seeing here is not just that this is kind of a theme week. Theme weeks are kind of a little old-school anyway. I realize it's sort of an organizational tool and maybe that's good for them.

But the fact that Trump and the Trump family are, of course, not making things in America. So ,as you pointed out in the piece, that's the irony they have here. I think many administrations will come to will do made in America weeks and we should celebrate companies that do that.

KRISTOL: I would add they seem not to believe that opposition research about their presidential opponent needs to be made in America.

Didn't Donald Trump just say -- tweeted today that anyone would have taken that meeting with the Russian to get oppo on Hillary Clinton?


TAPPER: Foreign-made opposition research is OK.

KRISTOL: It's just fine.

TAPPER: I will get to that in a second but I do want to move onto this health care issue.

Vice President Pence, he made a claim about how Obamacare is allegedly hurting some disabled people in Ohio. Let's play that sound.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know Governor Kasich isn't with us, but I suspect that he's very troubled to know that in Ohio alone, nearly 60,000 disabled citizens are stuck on waiting lists, leaving them without the care they need for months or even years.


TAPPER: Governor Kasich's office responded saying the claim is not accurate and that whatever waiting list exists, it has nothing to do with Obamacare.

Do you think that this is one of the reasons or this is one of the problems that President Trump and Vice President Pence have had winning support for Obamacare? Is it actually sometimes they're going after their fellow Republicans?

PSAKI: Well, they have a lot of problems.

One, they need a research team, ironically, in that White House that's checking the things the president and vice president say publicly, especially the vice president, who I don't think wants to go out and say things that are inaccurate.

The other problems they have, governors around the country, many of them have expanded Medicaid. Obviously, Ohio is one of those states. So is Nevada. The senators in those states and their views are intrinsically linked to what the governors think and how they feel about this.

He went to the NGA this week to go make his pitch for the health care bill, but he didn't address any of the concerns the governors had. He didn't listen to them clearly about Medicaid expansion, the impact this would have on the states, and you heard that from a lot of them when they came out of the room from the meeting.

TAPPER: It's tough for a Republican governor or any governor to go out there and say, we don't want this money anymore and we're going to take people off the insurance rolls.

KRISTOL: The conservative policy wonks I know think the Medicare reform is promising and think you can make a real strong defense, get it to the states.

TAPPER: In the new legislation.

KRISTOL: Yes, block grant it to the states. It would give them a huge amount more flexibility. People are not happy with their Medicaid as working. There is a lot you could do to improve Medicaid. Arkansas has taken the Medicaid money to try to give it to people to buy the subsidized premiums, so they're in a regular health care system, so to speak, not cordoned off into Medicaid. Anyway, it's a complicated policy issue.

The Democrats have the upper hand because they can just say, oh, they're cutting Medicaid, they're hurting people. You have to make the argument sort of on principle and on the big picture, not make it seem as if Republican legislation is going to cover more people than the Democratic legislation, which is not likely to be the case.

They shied away from making the kind of principled arguments of various conservative reforms. So, now they're in a who can help more people argument. And there, almost by definition, Obamacare is going to defeat this attempt to cut it back.

TAPPER: Here is some polling on this, Obamacare more popular than ever.

In the new ABC News/"Washington Post" poll, 50 percent prefer it to the GOP plan, 24 percent, other, 26 percent -- 50 percent support, not a great number, but certainly the number on the board I would like to have on the board if I was supporting one of them, Jen.

Must be somewhat vindicating for somebody who worked for the Obama White House.

PSAKI: Sure.

I think early on we thought it would be more popular sooner. But we thought over time as people learned more about the benefits, it would become more popular. But it is being helped, certainly, the popularity of Obamacare, by the fact that right now the debate is about taking something away from people.

Whether you have a disability, whether you have maternity coverage, whether you have asthma, and that is a hard debate to win. So, Obamacare and certainly the Democratic argument is being helped by that.


KRISTOL: And given the failure to make the argument on the part of Republicans, I have always been skeptical they would pass anything, because when has Congress ever passed a major piece of legislation that was 2-1 against in public opinion?

It just tends not to happen. Obamacare was close. It was slightly underwater, but it's one thing if you're 45-55. Can you really get your members to pass something that public opinion opposes by 2-1? I think that's hard.

TAPPER: It's pretty tough.

By the way, I just got word from McCain's office. We're told he is at home recuperating and recovering comfortably, so that's the latest on that.

You brought up Russia before. I was I thought showing admirable restraint not bringing it up, but now let's bring it up.

I want you to take a look at how the president characterized his son's meeting with the Russian lawyer on Twitter earlier today -- quote -- "Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don Jr. attended in order to get information on an opponent. That's politics."

So in that construct, the goal is obviously to go get opposition research. But take a listen to Sean Spicer just a few minutes ago talking about this same meeting.


SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not going to get into the specifics of this.

But I will say that it is quite often for people who are given information during the heat of a campaign to ask what that is. That's what simply he did. The president has made it clear through his tweet and there was nothing as far as we know that would lead anyone to believe that there was anything except for discussion about adoption and the Magnitsky Act.


TAPPER: Kind of word salad there, but he basically was saying there's no reason for anyone to think it was about anything other than adoption.

I just don't know how you make that argument when even the president is out there saying clearly this was about opposition research.

PSAKI: And the e-mails Trump Jr. released himself certainly stated something otherwise.

I think the piece that is very concerning -- there are a number of pieces, but one that is very concerning, I think, that should be to Democratic and Republican operatives is this is not standard, this is not normal, this is undemocratic. It's not something either party participates in or does.

Many people tweeted have that back when Al Gore's campaign received George W. Bush's debate book, they called the FBI. That's what should happen.

I have done three presidential campaigns. This would be a fireable offense at a minimum, having this meeting. Probably more than that. This shouldn't be normalized. This isn't who we are as a country and I think that piece is pretty concerning, at least to say me.

KRISTOL: And the official Trump defense was, we didn't get any help from the Russians. Then it was, well, if we did, it was minor and there's nothing illegal about it. Then it's, well, there's nothing wrong with it. And now the current Trump defense is basically, it would have been malpractice not to have gotten this help from the Russians, because it was so important to discover the truth about Hillary Clinton.

It's pretty astonishing in two weeks the degradation in a way of our discourse by people wanting to defend Trump.

TAPPER: Amazingly, and just as a factual matter, let's again reassert, all of us who live and work in Washington, it is not normal to go to a meeting where there is an agent from a foreign government to get oppo on your opponent.

KRISTOL: Introduced in an e-mail that says, in effect, this isn't going to be a normal meeting. The e-mail says this is ultra sensitive information.

It come from, what does it say, the chief prosecutor...


TAPPER: The crown prosecutor.


KRISTOL: Sounds like something from Gilbert and Sullivan, the crown prosecutor of Moscow or something like that.

Now, people can say, well, Goldstone is exaggerating, he's trying to get his client a meeting. But we don't know that actually. He is working for people who know Trump. Hew may have some interest in actually telling the truth about what is going to be discussed at this meeting.

But, in case, if it's ultra sensitive, and I don't want to send it directly to Trump because that might be too sensitive, so let's meet with you, Don Jr. That's what the e-mail says, basically, right?

Then you say just well, it's routine.

TAPPER: Let me just do a quick yes or no.

Do you think President Trump knew about this before a few days ago?


TAPPER: Do you?


TAPPER: All right, Bill, Jen, thank you so much.

The head of the government agency in charge of making sure President Trump doesn't use the influence of the Oval Office to benefit his businesses, he is stepping down in just a couple days. He's telling CNN why he's leaving and what it might mean for concerns about any future conflicts of interest.

Stay with us.


[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We're back with today's conflict of interest watch. The man stepping down is the top government ethics watchdog is calling out President Trump for his constant visits to and promotions of Trump properties. The President did it again just this weekend. He joined the crowd at the Women's Open Golf Tournament at Trump National, his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, tweeting at least half-dozen times about the event at his property.

Outgoing Ethics Walter Shaub says he's warned President Trump about his property visits along with the number other potential conflicts of interest. Shaub throws up his hands and resigned as Director of Office Government Ethics effective Wednesday. But before he leaves, he's talking about his contentious relationship with the Trump administration. CNN's Cristina Alesci sat down with Shaub today and joins me now. Christina, does Schaub feel like he was - he was pushed out of the position at all?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: Well, not directly, but he's clearly very frustrated and he wants to take a job where he feels like he can actually make a difference as opposed to not making a difference, which is what he told me today. He thinks that there's - the White House has a fundamental misunderstanding about how to handle ethics. He thinks that you should never go up to the line and potentially cross it, that there should never be any question about whether our President has potential financial conflicts and what he's seeing is the exact opposite. Listen.


WALTER SHAUB, OFFICE OF GOVERNMENT ETHICS DIRECTOR: You see the President essentially giving his own properties free advertisements by traveling there at our expense. You see him holding financial interests that leave us unable to know whether decisions are motivated by policy aims or by personal financial interests. And we've seen sort of the level of carelessness about ethics on the part of senior appointees. I don't know that I'd go so far as to say in most cases they're intentionally pushing the envelope, but it's - that a message has been sent from the top and the - and the tone from the top is everything in ethics that this just isn't a high priority enough something you need to focus on. We are in a state of crisis right now. And I'm very concerned about risks of integrity of government and the perception about the risk of the integrity of government.

[16:50:21] ALESCI: You're talking about the White House that is taking on in an inordinate amount of risk. But how do we know and how do you know that it's not actually breaking the law or committing any violations?

SHAUB: Well, we can't know. And that's always a problem with an ethics program because it's hard to detect violations and it's really hard to be able to prove them even if you do. The question of whether they're illegal or not, and there are some who shrug this all off and say, well, if it's not illegal, it's fine, that's just not how the ethics program has always worked. I'm not making this stuff up as I go. There's 1983 OGE opinion that cites a 1974 Department of Justice opinion that says the President should resolve their conflicts of interest. And until now they all seemed to have understood that ever since the enactment of the Ethics and Government Act.

ALESCI: The White House says that you never told it that the President shouldn't be visiting his own properties. Is that true, did you not warn the White House about this?

SHAUB: Do you have to be told not to give your properties free advertisements? I've talked from the start about the need for him to divest. And I did also have some very specific recommendations like stock going to your properties or announce that White House officials won't go to those properties but our hot-headed Counsel to the President shouted me down. Now, he recently told somebody he didn't think that happened, and I don't think he's lying, I just simply think that from his perspective, telling me he didn't want to hear it and talking over me may not have been shouting down because we didn't get into a shouting match back and forth. I had advice to give, I offered it repeatedly and he shot us down.

But that's sad. I think I've been very clear and very public the only way I can to communicate to the President that his conflicts of interest are a problem and that you want to avoid the appearance of profiting from the Presidency. But let's go with the White House statement. Let's say somehow they didn't know it was bad for him to keep going to his properties. Well, I'm telling you right now, stop going to your properties. Tell the White House officials not to go to those properties. So let's see if they take that advice now that they've heard it since their defense is they weren't aware.


ALESCI: So not only is Schaub basically challenging the President not to go to his properties over the weeks and months ahead, which probably won't happen, but he also is demanding more transparency from the White House. He said, you know, part of the ethics program is not just understanding a person's financial positions, their assets, but it's also understanding what they do in the White House. So you can put those two pieces of the puzzle together and find out if there are actual conflicts. And he said that's been hard to do because the White House has not been transparent with what some of its employees are actually doing there. I reached out to the White House for comment. It has not gotten back to me specifically for this interview but the White House has been pretty critical of Walter Shaub. They say that he's a grandstander who's looking to just get more power for himself and you know, they're basically shooting him down everywhere. But that's not going to intimidate him based on what I know about him, based on my reporting, it doesn't seem like he's going to be intimidated. He's going to be pushing for change from the outside.

TAPPER: All right, Cristina Alesci, thank you so much. Appreciate it. There may be new hope for the parents of a terminally ill baby who's gotten the attention of Pope Francis and President Trump. Stick around for more on that story.


[16:55:00] TAPPER: We're back with today's "HEALTH LEAD" in what the parents of baby Charlie Gard and their supporters see as perhaps the last chance to save this child's life. The British couple have brought in an American to examine their son. The 11-month-old has been on life support with a rare genetic disorder that causes weakened muscles and organ dysfunction. A New York Neurologist says that his experimental treatment could possibly improve Charlie's condition. This after British Doctor said they explored all other possibilities. Let's go to CNN's Erin McLaughlin with the new hope offered by this American Neurologist.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, an American doctor has arrived here in London to assess Charlie Gard in person. Doctor Michio Hirano is a Professor of Neurology. He's also an expert in the kind of experimental treatment he says could benefit the 11-month-old. He'll have full access to Charlie's medical records and brain imaging. He met with the Director of Great Ormond Street Hospital, the same hospital long claimed for their treatment is futile and will only serve to prolong Charlie's suffering. Last week Dr. Hirano gave a very different assessment to a London court citing new data from recent research. He said, he now believes the experimental treatment could help Charlie Gard. He also says there is no evidence that Charlie is suffering. In light of this new evidence, the judge has asked Hirano to examine Charlie in person. He's also asked all sides to come together, Charlie's parents, the hospital, the experts, to try to reach a consensus on what's best for Charlie Gard. Jake?

TAPPER: Erin Mclaughlin, thank you. And of course, our thoughts and prayers are with that family.

Turning to our "WORLD LEAD," a short time ago, the White House has said that Venezuela needs to hold new free and fair elections and end the crackdown on dissonance. This comes after more than 7 million people voted to in an unofficial referendum on Sunday to reject Venezuelan President Nicholas Maduro's plan to rewrite the country's constitution and consolidate power. At least one person was killed outside of polling station in the capital city of Caracas yesterday. Political violence there has claimed close to 100 lives since April.

That is it for THE LEAD, I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer, he's in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, not in the clear.