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Is American Economy as Good as Trump Says It Is; Investigators on Whether Model Colluded with Captors; Climate Change Reports Point to White House Crisis of Credibility; Trump: 17-Day Break is "Working Vacation". Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 8, 2017 - 11:30   ET



[11:32:30] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump touting the strength of the economy as a number of key indicators continue to rise. Should President Trump be taking credit for it?

Let's take a deeper dive with "CNN Money's" Paul LaMonica.

Great to see you, Paul.


Let's dive into a few things the president talks about He often touts the unemployment rate, one measure he talks about. Where do we stand?

LAMONICA: When you look here, Kate, we have an unemployment at a 16- year low, 4.3 percent. Of course, the unemployment rate was already starting to drop during President Obama, so I don't think it's fair for President Trump to take all the credit for the job gains we have had and the drop in the unemployment rate. The trend is going in the right direction.

BOLDUAN: The trend hasn't turned.


BOLDUAN: So no matter what, every president will take credit for all positive economic numbers over their watch, right?

LAMONICA: Of course.

BOLDUAN: The president marked the 200 days talking economic enthusiasm. One thing that speaks to economic enthusiasm is the housing market. Where are we with that?

LAMONICA: When you look at housing prices, housing prices in 2006, that was before the bubble burst and they were above 200,000. They cratered in 2009 until 2011. They have come roaring back. Part of that is due to the economic growth during the end of President Obama's term as well. $263,800 for an average existing home price is a record high. For so many consumers, their wealth is tied up in their homes. It's not the stock market, although, we are going to talk stocks next. It's in their housing prices. BOLDUAN: What do the reports say, about half of the country, give or

take, is not invested in the stock market at all? So that really speaks to this.

LAMONICA: So many people still feel burned by the crises and economic scandals and corporate scandals of the 2000s.

BOLDUAN: This is where their money is tied up, in their house.

Let's talk about the other 50 percent who are invested in the stock market. The president talks about record highs and would love reporters to talk about it more than we do, despite we do cover it. How is it looking?

LAMONICA: "CNN Money," we write about the market pretty much every day.


LAMONICA: To President Trump, if you are watching, we are not ignoring this.

BOLDUAN: We're not ignoring it.

LAMONICA: Exactly. The Dow is at a record high and it has come surging since the election, even though, remember the night of the election, stock market futures tanked because everyone was shocked. The hopes about economic stimulus have led the market higher. Even though we haven't had much in the way of any significant reform, yet, from the president and Congress, companies are shrugging this off, consumers are spending. And that's driving stock prices.

BOLDUAN: There's still hope for tax reform in terms of the stock market.


LAMONICA: Luckily, for President Trump, earnings are still strong.

[11:35:14] BOLDUAN: Keeping an eye on that because it does change every day. Who knew?

Great to see you, Paul.

LAMONICA: Thank you very much, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for laying it out.

Coming up for us, a pair of stunning reports accusing the White House of downplaying or suppressing new information on the dangers of climate change. We'll have the details on that, ahead.

Plus, police are ruling out a new theory or some questions in the case of the British model who was drugged and held captive and stuffed in a suitcase. Details on that coming up.


[11:40:01] BOLDUAN: New details on the British model who went to a photo shoot and ended up drugged and stuffed in a suitcase to be sold on the dark web. Italian police say for now they have ruled out that the model colluded with captors.

We are also getting new details on how she was captured and held for a week in Milan, Italy. Chloe Ayling told police a man wearing black gloves put one hand around her neck and another over her mouth. And she said a second man in black gloves injected her with something before she lost consciousness. Italian authorities initially questioned why she was seen in public with her captors. Her lawyer tells CNN that she only complied because her abductor threatened her life. He says, "She was going to be sold to somebody in the Middle East for sex. She was terrified. If your captor tells you something, you believe it. You go along with it hoping every minute your liberation will be real."

Now there's this. Another hit to the credibility of the White House. New reports about climate change are raising serious questions. CNN obtained e-mails telling staffers at the Department of Agriculture to avoid using "climate change" at work and use "weather extremes." In a second report, government scientists so afraid the administration would change or suppress their new report on climate change, they leaked it to "The New York Times."

Chris Cillizza is joining me now, CNN politics reporter and editor-at- large.

Great to see you, Chris.


BOLDUAN: You take this all in combination, the reports and the poll numbers that say the White House is facing a real credibility crisis, is this climate change stuff helping that?

CILLIZZA: No. Donald Trump, frankly, had a very long record -- I spent some of the morning going through past tweets and statements on climate change and global warming. Going back to 2012, he has been outspoken as a very strong skeptic. He probably tweeted 30 times, "It's cold in New York, climate change isn't real." You have that.

You have Scott Pruitt, the head of the EPA, as someone who is a skeptic of carbon dioxide being a primary factor in the warming of the climate.

And then you have this real fear among folks who are not the high- profile people we usually talk about on tv, but lower-profile people in agencies that are concerned that a finding that might run counter to that might not see the light of day.

So, this is not an administration, Kate, with a lot of room to spare when it comes to the public giving them the benefit of the doubt. So, that's where this report lands. BOLDUAN: But, but, but, it is not a president, Chris, that ran on

being honest and trustworthy. That's not a criticism of him. If you look at the poll numbers from the campaign, Americans thought the same then or similar, that he wasn't honest or trustworthy, and they elected him anyway. It was other qualities of Donald Trump they elected. Can the White House say this is nothing to do about anything on the credibility crisis?

CILLIZZA: You are exactly right. Look, Donald Trump got elected with 33 percent of people saying he was honest and trustworthy, and 64 percent saying he wasn't. He won! That was in the exit polling, he won that. Why? Because people think most politicians don't tell the truth. They didn't believe Hillary Clinton. Her numbers on honest and trustworthy were about the same. And they thought Donald Trump represented change and we needed change. We focus on the credibility gap. I think it's fair, too, because I think, as it relates to broad policy, domestically and internationally, it's important that the president doesn't have the trust of the public. At the same time, I think we should be careful predicting doom for Donald Trump politically speaking because his numbers on honest and trustworthy are where any other politician would panic. His numbers have always been there.

I think the more important thing, as it relates to Trump, when we are trying to assess where he is going politically speaking, is how is he managing the government. On that, in the new CNN poll, about a third of the people are saying he is effectively managing the government. Remember, Kate, he was elected to do that. These people who doing it are dumb and bad at it, I'm a businessman, I'm smart and good at it. Well, people don't buy that. That to me, is more damaging to Trump's political future than the idea that people think he is lying or misstating things. They have always thought that.

BOLDUAN: In addition to how is he managing effectively, is he bringing the change the country needs? Is he a change agent? That number is taking a hit as well. That's one of the core thing he promised.


BOLDUAN: He said, they don't know what they are doing. I'm going to throw the bums out.

CILLIZZA: That's right. Those things move in concert. Change has to mean some movement.


BOLDUAN: You have to manage something.

CILLIZZA: Some Evidence that something is changing. That simply is not there yet.

Again, he's six months and a little into a four-year term. But, that, I think, is more the thing to watch than whether people think he is honest and trustworthy. They didn't on the day he got elected president.

[11:45:15] BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Chris.

CILLIZZA: Thanks, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Honest and trustworthy, I think you are.

CILLIZZA: Thank you. I try. I do my best.

BOLDUAN: I say that with a slight bit of joking, only because it's you.

Great to see you.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, the president insists his 17-day trip to a golf club is definitely not a vacation. Why did President Trump blast President Obama whenever he hit the links? Of course, there's a tweet for that. Fascinating comparison of their golf habits, ahead.

Plus, shocking video of a jogger pushing a woman into the path of an oncoming bus? Remarkable video and the outcome, too. That's next.


[11:50:20] BOLDUAN: President Trump is bristled at the suggestion his 17-day visit to his New Jersey golf club is down time. He says it's a working vacation. To be fair, every president's vacation is a working one as the job always follows. Some of Trump's working vacation is devoted to his golf game. Crunching the numbers since Inauguration Day, he spent one of every four days at one of his golf resorts.

Senior Washington correspondent, Brianna Keilar, is taking a closer look at all this.

Brianna, what happened to the president saying he wouldn't be playing golf?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: It's confounding, Kate, he really ever said that. Donald Trump not playing golf is like Donald Trump not tweeting. It's just not going to happen.


KEILAR: For President Trump, golf is more than just a game. It's a way of life. It seems he'd rather entertain world leaders like the Japanese prime minister, Shinzo Abe, on the links than in the White House. And Trump casual, it's not jeans and sneakers. It's khaki pants and golf shoes, even for a visit to tour the U.S.-Mexico border as a candidate.

In March, the president held a meeting with several cabinet secretaries at his course near washington, and spent a 17-day working vacation at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club. He tweeted, "This is not a vacation. Meetings and calls."

But also --


KEILAR: -- golf. Trump, in a clear state of play, greeted guests of a wedding saturday at Bedminster's clubhouse. All this time on the course --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump for the birdie.

KEILAR: Head-scratching, considering Trump constantly hammered President Obama for golfing.

TRUMP: Everything's executive order, because he doesn't have enough time, because he's playing so much golf.

I'm going to be working for you and won't have time to golf.

He played more golf last year than Tiger Woods. I love golf. I think it's one of the greats. But I don't have time.

I'm not going to be playing much gold, believe me. If I win this, I'm not going to be playing much golf.

KEILAR: At this point, in his presidency, Obama spent 11 days golfing. Since taking office, Trump has visited his golf properties several days each month, 48, as of tuesday and counting.

In 2012, Trump criticized Obama for playing mostly with close friends, tweeting, "He should play golf with Republicans and opponents. That way maybe the terrible gridlock would end."

As president, Trump hasn't taken his own advice. He's played with Senators, but only members of his own party, Rand Paul, back in April, and Senator Bob Corker in June, joined by football great, Peyton Manning.


KEILAR: The president teed it up with CEOs and quite a few professional golfers, including Ernie Els, David Frost and Rory McIlroy, who revealed in February he had played 18 holes with the president after now White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump only played a couple of holes that day.

The White House has tried to downplay just how much golf Trump plays, and with whom, saying a trip to a golf course doesn't mean he played.

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Just because you go somewhere doesn't necessarily mean you've done it. On a couple of occasions actually conducted meetings there, had phone calls. So just because he heads there doesn't mean that that's what's happening.

KEILAR: But in the era of social media, even the walls of the country club have ears and eyes. On Instagram in March, check out that presidential golf glove. And in June --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The only place he can drive on the green? Right?

KEILAR: Busted on Twitter breaking a cardinal rule of golf etiquette.

But that's the norm, according to sports writer, Rick Riley, who played with Trump when he was writing his book "Who's Your Caddie?"

RICK RILEY, SPORTS WRITER: It's like bringing your own ham to a great restaurant. It's just not done. The worst thing you can do. And he also parks his cart on the tee box. And when you ask him why, he says, hey, it's my course.

KEILAR: Trump has only visited courses he owns since becoming president. He has 17, from Los Angeles to the east coast to Ireland, Scotland and the United Arab Emirates. He takes as much pride in his courses as his game. Those trying to get on his good side do best to mention it.

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Here what I say about the president. He is the most competitive person I've ever met. He sinks three-foot putts.

KEILAR: Short-lived communications director, Anthony Scaramucci, probably meant to say 30-foot putts. Three-foot putts aren't hard to make, especially when you take gimmes the Trump way.

RILEY: Most people give you a putt within the leather, that means the length of the leather grip on your putter. He takes putts within a driver, like the long drivers. It's just like, wait a minute, what about that putt you just took? That moment, it's gone. Now he's over here tipping greens keepers, and then over here yelling at people that are building his cart path. It's madness.


[11:55:10] KEILAR: Also, a lot of fun, though. He is the consummate host, Donald Trump is, according to folks who play with him. Factually challenged on score. He claims a handicap that would have him shooting about low to mid-70s's. When you talk to folks who have played with him, they say he's more like an 80s player.

BOLDUAN: It's like bringing your own ham to a great restaurant.

KEILAR: That's right.

BOLDUAN: That is a good quote.

BOLDUAN: Brianna, good to see you.

KEILAR: Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: Thank you.

Imagine this, one moment, you're just walking on the sidewalk when suddenly a jogger runs past, shoves you directly into the path of an oncoming bus. A stunning incident caught on camera. And now the police have a search under way right now. That's coming up.


[12:00:06] DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Dana Bash. John King is off.

Donald Trump is making history six months into his presidency, but not in a good way.