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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Source: W.H. Staffers Saying Kelly Not Telling Truth About Porter; W.H.: No Shift In Trump's Guns Stage; Wilbur Ross Downplays Potential Price Hikes Due To Tariffs; President Trump Says Trade Wars are Good; Interview with Wilbur Ross; Interview with Representative Thomas Massie; President Trump's Support Falling Among White Evangelicals; President Trump Versus Alec Baldwin. Aired 7-8p ET
Aired March 2, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: OutFront next, breaking news. John Kelly revives the Porter scandal and says he won't resign over it. But even White House staffers now say he is not telling the truth.
Plus, Trump says a trade war is a good thing. And his own cabinet and party say he's totally wrong. One of Trump's sole defenders is Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is OutFront. And the President takes on Alec Baldwin or is it Alex? Let's go OutFront.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, John Kelly. Just can't get it right. The President's Chief of Staff re-igniting the Rob Porter scandal tonight with an explanation that stunned even his White House colleagues. Some of them saying, point-blank, Kelly is not telling the truth.
Kelly today saying he first learned about a, quote, serious accusation of domestic abuse against Porter on February 6th. That is the day that reporters on the Daily Mail asked him for a response. The allegations, of course, were about verbal and physical abuse against Porter by both of his ex-wives and a girlfriend who had lived with him.
And get this, the embattled Chief of Staff says he never once thought about of putting over the handling of the Porter debacle saying, "I have absolutely nothing to even consider resigning over". OK. It's no surprise that that's a stunning statement or White House staffers say Kelly isn't telling the truth because CNN has reported that Kelly and other top aides were aware of the domestic abuse allegations against Porter by early last fall.
None of this February 6th business or 7th business or whatever it is. And in the days after the scandal broke in February, the White House press corps best defense of Kelly wasn't that he didn't know, it was that he didn't become fully aware of the allegations until the story broke in the Daily Mail. So what did fully aware mean? Apparently, he knew about domestic abuse allegations, but until he saw a picture, he didn't actually have any what that meant.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So I just want you to understand, you've used the term, fully aware. I don't understand what that means. What does that mean John Kelly knew or didn't know?
RAJ SHAH, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Well I do know, for instance, that he had not seen images prior to his statement -- the statement on Tuesday night.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: It was a stunning thing to see then and it's stunning now. And it's just the latest episode in the White House reality show, one that seems to get more bizarre every day. Keep in mind, it wasn't 24 hours ago that Kelly was at the center of another twisted story, involving Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner.
The New York Times is reporting President Trump is asking Kelly to push his own daughter and son-in-law out of the White House. That's a profiling courage.
The article says, "Mr. Trump at times saying they never should have come to the White House and should leave. Yet aides also noted Mr. Trump has told the couple that they should keep serving in their roles, even as he has privately asked Mr. Kelly for his help in moving them out". OK, just think on that for a second.
This comes as sources said the FBI is scrutinizing one of Ivanka Trump's international business deals and that's holding up her security clearance. Well Jared Kushner has seen his security clearance downgraded, and it's all the same week that Communications Director Hope Hicks, the President's most trusted aide outside his the family, abruptly resigned. Gary Cohn, Trump's Chief Economic Adviser is waning he quit and the National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster is likely to leave his post by the end of the month.
OK. Boris Sanchez is OutFront tonight in West Palm, Florida in the President's Mar-a-Lago estate. Boris, in many ways, to people this feels is if the wheels are coming off the bus and Kelly now more embattled than ever. President Trump where you are, behind closed doors, he's with a friendly audience. That the chaos around him is boiling over.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. Just one of these controversies would be plenty for any president to handle. But you compound them all and all of them really unfolding within the past week and it gives you an idea of just the amount of pressure that the President is under, specifically turmoil within his own staff leading to a number of problems. Close allies to the President have privately told CNN that they are worried about him, that they believe that he is losing control.
You noted the departure of Hope Hicks, we reported earlier this week that the President berated her for her testimony before Congress shortly before she ultimately decided to leave the White House. The President also frustrated at his Chief of Staff, John Kelly for his handling of the Rob Porter saga and the issue of security clearances.
Further, he attacks his own Attorney General Jeff Sessions yet again this week. There are now questions about the future of a number of key administration officials, like the National Security Adviser, H.R. McMaster who the President long has had disagreements with. Apparently, Gary Cohn reportedly threatened to resign over the issue of terrorists.
The President frustrating a large number of conservatives with the announcement that he would tax imports of steel and aluminum. But it's not just that.
[19:05:02] The President is also frustrated with his own family, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, as you noted earlier, getting not a full vote of confidence from the President because of negative press coverage specifically reports that Kushner, his financial dealings overseas led a number of foreign governments examine ways of potentially manipulating him.
We've gotten used to a certain degree of chaos from this White House. But allies, again, are telling us that this is different. They worry for the President. They believe that he is losing control and, Erin, we cannot lose sight of the fact that this could, potentially, soon get worse.
The Special Counsel Robert Mueller has given every indication that he intends to interview President Donald Trump something at the White House Counsel's office and said that they are still negotiating. Erin?
BURNETT: All right. Boris, thank you very much. I mean, that's a pretty incredible, just list of things that are going on.
OutFront now, Mark Preston, Senior Political Analyst, Julie Hirschfeld Davis, New York Times White House Reporter, and John Avlon, Editor and Chief of The Daily Beast. Thanks to all.
OK, there's so much to get to here. John, let me just start with the CNN reporting on John Kelly, that staffers inside the White House are stunned by him trying to deny knew anything about the Rob Porter scandal, before it broke in the news. Obviously the reporting shows that that is not the case.
JOHN AVLON, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE DAILY BEAST: Yes.
BURNETT: The staffers are clear, Kelly is not telling the truth. And they're now, obviously, talking about this to reporters. Is this mutiny for John Kelly?
AVLON: This seems to be a feeding frenzy inside the West Wing. I mean, everybody is shooting at everybody. It's clear that Kelly has been really consolidating power. I mean, the stream of hits against Jared and Ivanka seem to be something that Kelly would be tacitly encouraging as he tries to consolidate and professionalize the White House further. But the fact that folks are now coming out against him and saying he's not telling the truth about when he knew, what he knew regarding the Porter saga. That indicates the level of dissension. It also speaks to potential blind spot in Kelly because it's not what they knew. We know they knew in the fall.
But, the military background he comes from, did they adequately appreciate the seriousness of those charges against somebody Porter, who, on the surface presented very professionally but has a clear pattern or unacceptable actions.
BURNETT: Right. I mean, Mark, the big question here, when you look at all of the issues that in the White House right now, with H.R. McMaster and Gary Cohn questioning whether they are going to be there for very much longer. Hope Hicks departing. Jared and Ivanka in this position. Has Kelly lost his authority, his control, his ability to do his job?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, that's an excellent question. And I think we have to go back to the premise, did he ever actually have any authority when he went to that position? You know, and we had hoped, you know, John had just touched upon the fact that he had this military background, would he be able to bring order to a White House that quite frankly has been in chaos from day one?
And clearly, he hasn't been able to. You know, in may ways, a lot of the criticism that were lodged at Reince Priebus for his inability to keep Trump in line could be lodged at General Kelly right now. He has brought some order to that office. I mean, we have to give him credit for bringing some order to the office.
But at the same time, he has med enemies by doing so. And that's why you see aides right now coming out and trying to stab him in the back. So he's in a very difficult position right now.
BURNETT: I mean, you do see all these back stabbing going on, Julie. It's hard to keep track of it because everybody is stabbing everybody else in the back. You know, what are you hearing about John Kelly right now, Julie?
JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS; WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Well, I mean, immediate aftermath of the Porter affair and the whole flop of his resignation, and the White House's refusal to speak openly until almost a month later about who knew what when and how this actually unfolded, there was a point right after Rob Porter resigned when it was very clear to any of us who spend any time in that building, that John Kelly had essentially lost the building. That people felt like he was not being forthcoming, that he was protecting his own flank and not being honest about what had happened, not taking responsibility for what had gone down.
And that had somewhat faded in the last couple of weeks. And as that episode have sort been in the rear-view mirror and for some reason, for whatever reason, today, John Kelly appears to have reopened that whole issue. And so now, you do have a lot of people in the West Wing who feel very distrustful, who feel like he does not have their best interest at heart and who really wonder, you know, what it's going to be like in the coming days, ever since the Porter situation exploded you had the back stabbing that's frankly always gone on in this White House become a lot more overt. And I think this will only enhance that process right now.
AVLON: Yes. Look, I think it's important to realize, though, that I mean, a chief of staff has an enormous amount of power and influence over the tone in the West Wing. But at the end of the day, tone comes from the top. And if the White House is in chaos, it's because President Trump is kept in chaos. That has been a management strategy of his in the past. And now it is overtaking the upper House (ph) government.
BURNETT: Yes. I remember, you know, his -- Tom Barrack, who is in Inaugural Committee is, you know, ages ago, must a year ago, coming on the show and saying chaos, that's how he manages, that's how he likes it.
[19:10:11] BURNETT: What about this quote though, John, in the New York Times, Mr. Trump at times saying he never should have come to the White House and should leave, he's talking with Jared and Ivanka. Yet aides also noted Trump has told the couple they should keep serving in their roles even he's privately asked Mr. Kelly for his help in moving them out.
This is a stunning thing. Everybody says, Trump is loyal to Ivanka. I mean, this is incredible. Behind her back, he's asking someone to try to get rid of her?
AVLON: Well, as you've pointed out in the lead (ph), this is a real profile encourager folks. I mean, you know, first of all, the original sin is bringing in your family into the West Wing. There's a reason we have these laws. This is eight different kinds of a bad idea.
But here we have, President trying to unwind it and he is basically asked the Chief of Staff to do his dirty work, but getting a way where he can get through thanksgiving dinner without having, you know, getting -- meeting taste testers. This is a tough line to walk. But if you're going to, you know, if you're going to try to force out your family and say we've made a mistake, do it rightly because guess what folks, it's going to appear in the press someplace and you can say it's fake news, but it has a ring of truth.
BURNETT: I mean, Mark, it is pretty stunning.
PRESTON: I don't know what to say. It's unbelievably stunning. I mean like I feel like I have a Jeffrey Toobin outrage coming out right now. You know --
AVLON: Give it to it, Mark. Give it to it.
PRESTON: But it's true. I mean, the fact to the matter is, I mean, this was a problem back when John F. Kennedy put his brother when he's the Attorney General, except it's not quite what we're seeing right now. When there's going to be some kind of division or a fight between a family member and a staff member, who's going to win? The family member is always going to win.
And the fact is, it does say something about Donald Trump's inability to look beyond his family for advice, specifically from people who can actually help him in the White House, policy experts because guess what, we're not necessarily seeing policy experts beating down the front door trying to get a job in the White House.
BURNETT: This is the thing, Julie. I mean, you know, the President may, you know, he can yell fake news all he wants, but he cares desperately more than perhaps anybody ever has about what the press thinks about him. And he doesn't like all these negative coverage that Jared is getting, it's about pretty shocking things about his business dealings and possibly getting loans that maybe link to media (ph) at the White House or certainly the timing is very suspicious.
But what happens, Julie, if Jared and Ivanka aren't there? I mean, talk about being an island then.
DAVIS: Well, I mean, I think this is part of what we're seeing this week with all the chaos and the President increasingly seeming to be unmoored making this trade decision where he didn't tell anyone in advance. And in fact, his lawyers were telling him behind the scenes please don't do this on the steel tariffs. I think he is starting to feel increasingly isolated with departure now of Hope Hicks, with the idea that Jared and Ivanka might soon leave.
And, you know, it's like everything else that President Trump, it's not as if he has a strategy, OK, we're going to very gently move Jared and Ivanka out of the White House. This is sort of he fills (ph) from extreme to extreme. One minute, he's upset with John Kelly, one minute he's upset with Jared and Ivanka. I think the consistent being is that he feels like there's nobody he can really trust and who has his best interest at heart and that's why we see him lashing out.
BURNETT: All right, thank you all very much.
Next, President Trump appears to have changed his tune on gun control. Is he the one afraid of the NRA?
Plus, a former Trump adviser and billionaire, still a billionaire, cashing in on steel stocks, which he reportedly sold days before Trump revealed these plans to tax steel imports. He made a hell of a lot of money. Just a coincidence? And the people who help Trump in the White House, jumping ship?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not going to stand for tearing people down. We're not going to stand for bullying people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[18:17:29] BURNETT: Tonight, mass confusion over what exactly President Trump believes when it comes to the nation's gun laws. It's a crucial and substance of question. And the Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says Trump has not shifted on his stance on guns since Wednesday, which is really confusing.
Because last night, the Executive Director for the NRA tweeted, "I had a great meeting tonight with the realDonaldTrump and V.P. We all want safe schools, mental health reform and to keep guns away from dangerous people. POTUS and VPOTUS support the Second Amendment, support strong due process and don't want gun control."
OK. No gun control. Well, on so many levels is the opposite of what the President said on Wednesday with his meeting with lawmakers, right? He supported raising the minimum wage to buy assault weapons to 21. He said take the guns first and due process, whatever, that comes later. He supported expanded background checks. In other words, the complete opposite of what the NRA says that he said last night.
OutFront now, a friend of Donald Trump over 50 years for Republican nominee for Governor of New York, Rob Astorino and former Clinton White House Aide, Keith Boykin. Keith, you are closest to me, let me start with you. The White House says Trump has not change his stance on guns. Is this what it sounds like to you?
KEITH BOYKIN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE AIDE UNDER PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON: It sounds like the President doesn't have a stance on guns. He's been all over the map in this issue. I love the comment about due process and taking away people's guns without due process. If President Obama had ever seen something like the Republic has been up reflected (ph), here is the --
BURNETT: I would say that's true.
ROB ASTORINO, FRIEND OF PRESIDENT TRUMP FOR OVER 15 YEARS: That is so true.
BOYKIN: I mean, and here is the Republican President of the United States in a meeting with bipartisan legislatures talking about taking away people's guns. And the next day he's meeting with the NRA, it's like --
BURNETT: And you supposedly saying I will deal with due process later. That was what he said.
BOYKIN: And that the meeting with the NRA is a totally different story. It's a reflection of the man who has no political core. Donald Trump believes in nothing apparently except Donald Trump. The only issue I make ever has been relatively consistent historically, has been the issue of trade as we saw again this week. But on every other issue, he's malleable about his positions.
BURNETT: So Rob, you know, another way of putting this would be he's like a bowl of jello. And the reason I say that is that's what Chuck Schumer is saying, the Minority Leader, when he talked about the meeting Wednesday and then what the NRA is saying. Here is exactly how he put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK, MINORITY LEADER: When I dealt with the President on immigration, I said negotiating with him is like negotiating with Jell-O. Here, with guns, it's a typical pattern. With the bipartisan group and with the camera lights on, his instincts were to do the right thing. Then the hard right puts pressure on him, in this case, the NRA, and he does total 180 flip.
BURNETT: I mean, Rob, if he meant what he said on Wednesday and the NRA tweeted last night the President support strong due process and doesn't want gun control.
[19:20:03] He's not afraid to go on Twitter and say, hey, whatever, whatever, whatever, about this guy. You're dead, huh. But he didn't. He let that stand.
So now we have him saying, this one day and who is saying the exact opposite the other day. So, does he stand for anything?
ASTORINO: Yes. I do think he's strong advocate for gun rights, I say.
BURNETT: Wait a minute.
ASTORINO: No, gun rights. And he's been pretty consistent on that. Look, this is a very difficult problem to solve. And we've seen it through many administrations.
There was a new poll that came out today, you govern the economist and this is pretty scary to Republicans and gun owners because it really cements their fears. So what we have in this poll? A third of Democrats say that they would do away with the Second Amendment. Half said they would do away with all guns, including handguns except for law enforcement. And 80 percent say they will do away with rifles or so-called semiautomatic rifles.
That says to Republicans and others, they say this is exactly what we say. When you say common sense gun control, we are worried about what you want to do and your next step. And I think --
BURNETT: But that's only 30 percent of Democrats.
ASTORINO: That's a lot.
BURNETT: That's a minority of one party. I mean --
ASTORINO: But half want to take away all guns. That's a lot of people. BOYKIN: And that's -- I don't even know what this has to do with anything. People have different opinions about these issues --
BURNETT: Are you're saying he now convinced I can't do common sense gun control because people will think I'm taking over these guns away?
ASTORINO: No, because I think the other side gets in this, you know, let's think it through the next step, OK? Here's what our concerns are. We agree that there needs to be stronger background checks. But there's also been a massive failure of the system and that has to be part of this, too, if not the real reason why there have been so many of these mass shootings.
Because what will be the next step? Let's just say the next unfortunate, terrible incident is with a semiautomatic handgun. You can have a Glock 17, let's say, with a magazine that holds 17 bullets. So if you have 10 of those, a mass killer can go on with a hand gun and have that.
BURNETT: You're having a conversation about guns and that's fine. But the point is, the President came out and said, take the guns away now, deal with due process later. Enforce stronger background checks, enforce putting domestic violence in, enforce raising the age of 21. And I think what the NRA (INAUDIBLE).
ASTORINO: I think he threw a lot of things at the wall.
BOYKIN: The problem is that President is speaking --
BURNETT: But he didn't mean what he said.
BOYKIN: The President doesn't know what he's talking about half the time when he talked. So when he talked about on immigration issues where he said things (INAUDIBLE), the issue with the healthcare, we had meetings with legislatures and then we find out later he say he didn't care about the details. The President of the United States spoke with the clarity you just spoke with, I didn't even fully understand what you were saying. We would probably have a better discussion right now.
But the President is all over the map. And this is the consequence of having a President who has no political experience and political loyalties to anything or anyone. It was sold as an asset, but that's become a liability because he's shown inability to govern because of that.
BURNETT: Rob, I mean, you know, Johnson said after the President's tariff announcement which was, you know, another things, you know, he sprung on everybody by surprising went against his own party. "There's no standard operating practice with this administration. Every day is a new adventure for us." That's not a compliment.
ASTORINO: Look, I think things can be done a lot better and there's so many unforced errors. And they're coming from within and they're coming by him. And I just think if they were seeing things through with more clarity, if there's a pause, unfortunately, everything is a comma with this President. It just -- He feels like he's got to fill every void instead of --
BURNETT: He's not OK with a moment of silence.
ASTORINO: No. And that's been an enemy of him. Because he gets into trouble when that comma continues.
BOYKIN: Yes. I think the President has shown, he hasn't grown in office and that's a big strategy of this. President Obama said that the White House changes people. Clearly, President Trump is exactly the same person he was before he took office. And that should concern people because he's not just a leader of a family on corporation, he's the head of the world's strongest democracy in the world largest nuclear power. He has the responsibility to do better.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you both very much.
And next, the Commerce Secretary being savaged for what he did and said while defending Trump's tariff plan that (INAUDIBLE) who can. Wilbur Ross is my guest and he'll tell you what he was thinking.
Plus, the President's growing war with his own party.
[19:28:12] BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump going to war, a trade war, defending his widely criticized plan for steel and aluminum tariffs, by tweeting in part, "When a country, USA, is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win"
This is his Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, say a can of soup to claim any price hikes are no big deal.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILBUR ROSS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: This is a can of Campbell's soup. In the can of Campbell's soup, there's about 2.6 cents, 2.6 pennies worth of steel. So, if that goes up by 25 percent, that's about 6/10 of one cent on the price of a can of Campbell's soup. So who in the world is going to be too bothered by 6/10 of a cent?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Wilbur Ross is my guest, I'm going to speak to him in just a moment.
But first Tom Foreman is OutFront. So, Tom the facts first. This tariff announcement since the Dow plunging more than 400 points yesterday when it was announce almost everyone and the President inner circle things to terrible to idea. The President though was doubling down. What is the deal?
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the deal is, you going to look at the numbers and see if you can figure out what it means and it's a little bit confusing. The U.S. imports about a third of all the steel that it uses the raw steel more than 90 percent the aluminum this proposed tariffs would push up the cost about 25 percent, 10 percent respectively.
In theory, at least initially, that would be paid by the foreign companies trying to get their products in to the U.S. And yes, if there something more expensive, that could help U.S. producers who have long complain about unfair practices anyway. But, what about all the companies that use that raw steel and aluminum to make cars and airplanes and appliances and aluminum cans and everything else?
[19:30:03] They would now face a disruptive supply, it might be fine in the long run, but you don't know that in the short run. You don't know what the causes necessarily going to be as this whole shakes out. And base on one study more than 80 times as many people work making things out of steel and aluminum than make steel and aluminum. So those people potentially face uncertain wages, uncertain hours, maybe more off-shoring of their jobs, we don't really know. We also don't really know what's going to happen to consumers. There's an estimate out there that some products in some places could go up by 15 percent or more. I don't think we really know.
What we do know, Erin, there's a lot of uncertainty about this.
BURNETT: So, you know, you're talking ant the steel makers benefiting, the steel users getting crushed. They obviously employ many, many times, 80 times, in the study you cite, more people.
The administration argues, you know, something's got to be done to punish the foreign countries that they say are using unfair trade practices to compete with American steel and aluminum. Would these tariffs do anything about that?
FOREMAN: I think it depends entirely on exactly how they're applied and to whom. Remember, we're the biggest steel importer in the world. And if you look at our foreign suppliers, this is where it's coming from -- Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Russia. These are the top providers out there.
You know who's not even on the top 10 list? China. The country that President Trump always points to as this is one of the serial offenders in terms of bad trade deals out there. So if you're trying to get China with this deal, it looks like you probably would have to go through a lot of long standing trade allies first. And along the way, perhaps unleash that very trade war, which the president may say he's not worried about, but, I'm telling you, Erin, you know a lot of other people are worried about.
BURNETT: Certainly are. You know, they don't have to slap back on the same industry. Right? They could say they're going to do things on clothes or toys and go to Wal-Mart, and affect Americans in a lot of other ways if they wanted to strike back.
Thank you so very much, Tom. I appreciate it. And I want to go straight OUTFRONT now to get some answers to these
important questions from the president's Commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross.
And, Secretary Ross, good to have you with me again. I appreciate your time. And, you know, Tom Foreman is going through some of the numbers there, the American companies that use steel to make things like cars employ as many as 80 times as many workers as American steel or aluminum companies.
You know of course you saw the "Wall Street Journal" op-ed today. They say 6.5 million Americans work for companies that use steel and 140,000 work for people -- for companies that make steel. Why is it worth hurting so many to maybe help so few?
ROSS: Well, first of all, the fact that there are more workers in steel using isn't the important issue. The important issue is what will be the actual effect. On an average car, which is in the $25,000, $30,000 range, the actual impact would be a fraction of 1 percent. That's all. You can't even notice that in the overall price.
For beverage cans, there's only about $0.03 worth of steel or aluminum. In this case, happens to be aluminum in it to begin with. So if that goes up 10 percent, you are talking a fraction of a penny. These products sell for over $1 in the store. So it's nonsense to say that there's a great tragedy looming.
In addition, if you just took the biggest picture, let's take -- let's assume that every product would go up, if it's steel, by the same 25 percent based on its steel content and aluminum 10 percent. You know what that adds up to? One-half of 1 percent of our economy. So it's fine to talk about big, broad polemics. These are the facts and the facts don't support the argument that people should be worried that it will hurt the economy. It's rubbish.
BURNETT: So, obviously, Campbell's Soup, as you know, has said any new broad based tariffs on imported tin plate steel, an insufficient amount of which is produced in the United States will result in higher prices on our one of the safest and most affordable parts of the food supply. Toyota says this would substantially raise costs and therefore prices of cars and trucks sold in America.
Earlier today, you know, you've talked about the average car price in America of $35,000, it would go up by half of 1 percent.
ROSS: $25,000. $25,000.
BURNETT: $25,000. OK. I'm going off the map here of the average car being $35,000, you and I both know most people don't pay that, right? People buy used cars, it's a much more complicated market than that. But you're talking about, what, 100 bucks or something like that? And you're saying that's not a lot of money.
[19:35:06] But if you add that up with a new appliance, you might hire a home renovation, all the cans that you might buy over a year, you compare it to the median tax cut that the median American family got, that's 670 bucks. I mean, you could be talking about a lot or all of that tax cut with this tariff. That way, it sounds like a lot more money, doesn't it?
ROSS: Well, first of all, it would -- the prices won't go up by as much as the tariff. And the reason they won't is that each of these industries still has 20 percent or more unused capacity. So there'll be a lot of competition to take over the market share that's forsaken by the foreigners. So it will be something less. But it remains a fact it's only around a half or two-thirds of a percent on a car.
It remains a fact that it's less than a penny on a can of whether it's Budweiser beer, whether it's Campbell's Soup or it's Coke. You notice the companies complaining never say what's the actual impact.
ROSS: They never say what's the actual amount. This is nonsense. These are the actual figures. I used to be in the steel business. I sold to car companies. Steel -- sold the can manufacturers steel. Those are the facts.
BURNETT: And I know you do know this industry very well. You know manufacturing well. I mean, the one example that we have most recently perhaps is this, Secretary. President Obama put tariffs on Chinese tires. That was in 2009. The goal was explicitly to protect U.S. tire companies and they were loving it. So he saved 1,200 tire jobs. 3,700 retail jobs were lost as a result. That's according to an analysis by the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
That would show tariffs hurt more than they helped in that case.
ROSS: Yes, well, first of all, I'm not familiar with that event because I had nothing to do with it. But the Peterson Institute has never met a tariff that it liked. And its forecast as to what would be the outcome of China entering the WTO, of the U.S. entering into NAFTA, of the U.S. entering into Chorus, have been horribly wrong. In every single case, they forecast they'd be huge increases and it never happened. It was the reverse.
Take Korea, for example. Our sales exports to Korea since the Chorus Trade Agreement have barely changed whereas the sales by Korea to us are way up.
ROSS: So Peterson Institute is (INAUDIBLE) free trade. And their statistics, their forecast have never been accurate.
BURNETT: I want to ask you two personal questions here. The first about someone you know, Carl Icahn, the billionaire, a longtime friend of the president and one of his closest allies on Wall Street. An FCC filing submitted on February 22nd shows that he sold $31.3 million of stock of Manitowoc, which is a company heavily dependent on steel. And that was just a week before the steel announcement. And obviously he made a lot of money on that. ROSS: What was that?
BURNETT: He sold $31.3 -- I'm sorry, Carl Icahn sold $31.3 million of stock of Manitowoc, which as you know is a company heavily dependent on steel. So he made a lot of money because obviously they were hurt when this announcement came out and he sold that stock on February 22nd. Are you 100 percent sure, Secretary, that that was a coincidence, that he did not have any advanced warning from the president?
ROSS: Well, he certainly didn't have advanced warning from me. I can't imagine that he had any from the president, but steel tariffs should not surprise anyone. Go back to the presidential campaign. Look at how many hundreds of times the president said that he was going to do something to protect American steel. It shouldn't be a surprise to anybody in the whole wide world that he put tariffs on steel.
BURNETT: Yes. The timing obviously is the crucial question of the February 22nd sale. But I understand all you can do is speak for yourself and you've done so very clearly. One last question, if I may, Secretary. You know, you're on this show defending this. And you're among the few in this administration but you at least support these tariffs.
There's obviously a big argument going on in the White House. There are some moderates very much opposed to it. We'll all aware of them, including Gary Cohn, the director of the National Economic Council, Politico, among others has reported this could be the straw that breaks the camel's back for Cohn and forced him out.
Are you OK with these tariffs if that decision means Gary Cohn is out?
ROSS: Well, I think you're making a very hypothetical point there, but the idea that there's healthy discussion of alternatives and healthy disagreements that are all brought to the president before he makes his decision, that's true.
[19:40:13] And I view that as very, very constructive because that makes it certain that the president will hear all sides of an argument before he makes as big of a decision as he just made. That's healthy. That's not a problem.
BURNETT: All right. Secretary Ross, I appreciate your time, thank you so much, sir.
ROSS: Thank you, Erin. Nice to be on with you.
BURNETT: All right.
And next, a top Republican in the Senate calls Trump's gun meeting a, quote, "reality show." How bad is the split between Trump and his own party?
And evangelicals helped elect this president. Will they support him in 2020 as his party announced who his campaign manager is? (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are seeing people say, enough is enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: New tonight, President Trump facing growing criticism from his own party, on his waffled position on guns this week, his attacks on Jeff Sessions and his wildly panned massive tariffs. That's just in the past few days. And the GOP has not been shy about slamming the boss. Here is what the number two Republican in the Senate, John Cornyn, told reporters today about the president's confusing meeting on guns this week.
He said, "You may have noticed that interesting reality TV show at the White House the day before yesterday. And that is when he was explicitly asked about the president's position on guns."
Republican Congressman Thomas Massie of Kentucky is OUTFRONT. He's the chairman of the Congressional Second Amendment Caucus.
And I appreciate your time, Congressman. Thanks so much. You know, you hear what John Cornyn had to say.
REP. THOMAS MASSIE (R), SECOND AMENDMENT CAUCUS: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: Are we seeing a reality show or are you confident right now that you know where the president stands on -- let's just start specifically, because he was talking about guns -- on guns?
[19:45:05] MASSIE: Yes. Yes. Well, look, the president's lack of regard for due process concerned me greatly. But you know, John Cornyn has a bill that has the same problem. He would take gun rights away from veterans, and then do the due process later. You know, the Second Amendment is important but due process is foundational to our country.
BURNETT: So when the president said, you know, police should take guns away from people without due process, he was talking about the mentally ill, obviously. You did come out and slam that today on Twitter. And you said in part, Congressman, "POTUS said police should take guns away from person in Florida whether they had the right or not. Advocated for law enforcement to ignore due process. Is anyone OK with this? Because I'm sure as hell not."
Look, you're not afraid to take him on. That was pretty direct. You didn't mince your words there at all, sir. Doesn't sound like you have confidence in what he's saying. Right? He said something on Wednesday, now the NRA says he's saying the opposite. Do you have confidence that you really know what he believes in?
MASSIE: Well, you know, the president won my congressional district by 40 points, but if he's wrong, I'm going to call him out on it. But, you know, Obama was wrong on this, too. He implemented a process that the Social Security Administration and that the Veterans Administration, whereby people's rights to own a gun are taken away without judicial process. John Cornyn's bill called "Fix NICS" would double down on that.
I think everybody's confused about due process. Due process involves a court where you had your day in court. You can't have your rights segregated without a day in court.
BURNETT: So that's the issue of guns where the president is saying something you vehemently disagree with and many others in your party do. They also disagree with many other things he had to say about guns. I know you do, too, as well. You know the age, for example, which you can buy a semiautomatic rifle.
I want to ask you about the president's tariff announcement, though, as well, Congressman. 25 percent on steel, 10 percent on aluminum imports. Many in your party are angry. Speaker Ryan, Orrin Hatch, Mike Lee of Utah calling it a huge job-killing tax hike on American consumers. There are just a few of many, many in your party who think this is a bad idea. Do you support the president on tariffs or not?
MASSIE: Look, if you want to do away with the income tax and replace it with a general tariff, you know, we can talk about that. But I think it's dangerous when you go in and start picking winners and losers and trying to put tariffs on any one industry.
But back to your point on the age, at the age at which you can buy guns, look, 18-year-olds can be called upon to die for their country in the military and they can pick who the president is by voting and so I don't agree with any of the proposals to raise the age to buy a long gun from 18 to 21. That's just taking away somebody's constitutional rights based on their age.
BURNETT: So Congressman, I mean, so just in this interview, you disagree with him on due process on guns, disagree with him on age of buying a rifle, you disagree with him on tariffs. Those are just a few of the things this week. I mean, your colleague in the Senate, John Thune.
BURNETT: Summarized it today, Congressman, by saying, "There is no standard operating practice with this administration. Every day is a new adventure for us."
Do you trust that the president is really on your team, that he believes in the same conservative values that you do when you've just gone through three things this week on which you agree with nothing that he did?
MASSIE: Well, there is one thing I agree with. He said that we need to arm teachers. I completely agree with that. 98 percent of mass public shootings happen in a gun-free zone. We shouldn't label our students as being in a gun-free zone. And we've got at least --
(CROSSTALK) BURNETT: So -- but I mean, I just want to get this point. Do you agree with him on one thing? I mean, do you trust him? Do you trust him to support your values?
MASSIE: Well, we've got three branches of government. You know, he can go out and put forward ideas, and then we'll sort through those ideas and see what we like and we'll put them into law or not to put them into law. But one of the ideas I like is allowing teachers to carry concealed weapons.
MASSIE: It's the only way you're going to stop these mass shootings. The solutions that my colleagues are offering to enhance background checks, these are unserious. They wouldn't have stopped a single public school shooting in this century.
BURNETT: I understand the point -- I totally understand the point you're making. But I just want to get it at this point. It sounds to me that it's pretty clear that you're saying you don't trust the president to fight for what you want him to fight for. You're saying there's three branches of government. I don't have to worry about him. You know, you're talking around it. But I hear what I hear. Am I right?
MASSIE: No, you know, look, there's three branches of government. Our founding fathers didn't trust one person to run the whole government. When he's right, I'll acknowledge it. And he's right on allowing teachers to carry concealed. When he's wrong about short- circuiting due process just like Obama did at the VA and the Social Security Administration, I'll call him out on that, too.
BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Congressman Massie. I appreciate your time tonight.
MASSIE: Thanks, Erin.
BURNETT: And next, evangelicals. They are a very big part of the president's base. And now they're split over whether to stick with him, and it's a crucial question on whether he wins the Oval Office again.
[19:50:07] And Trump whipping one of his favorite targets, himself, as played by Alec Baldwin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: It may seem like what's coming out of my mouth is B-A-N-A-N-A-S.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: President Trump and the first lady attending the funeral service for Reverend Billy Graham today in North Carolina. White evangelicals have been a crucial part of Trump's base but there are signs of a split.
Alex Marquardt is OUTFRONT.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You, ladies and gentlemen, must get right with God.
ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sunday morning in small country church outside Nashville.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And mine will only come to EJ General Church and America would love --
MARQUARDT: Pastor Greg Lott preaches to pews full of white conservative evangelical Christians. Most, he tell us, voted for Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pretty proud of it. I voted for him. And I'll vote for him again.
MARQUARDT: Trump support among white evangelicals is falling but the vast majority have stuck by him as he repeatedly test the limits of Christian values. Amid allegations of misogyny, racism, adultery and his support for accuse child molester Roy Moore.
(On camera): To what extent you think evangelicals are looking at the president and saying, all right, he might not be born again, but you know what, he's getting done exactly what we want to get done so that's all we need?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's a lot of it because whether he is or whether he isn't, he is giving evangelicals a platform. And he's given them a voice that we've always wanted that I think we lost for a lot of reasons. So I think with a lot of evangelicals, it's not just blind followship but it's the end justifies the means.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The way he stands for the Christian values is just --
MARQUARDT (voice-over): Rita Freedman won't say whether Trump is a Christian, but as one herself she's quick to forgive.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The first thing that comes to my mine is if you're without sin, cast first stone. There is none of us without sin.
MARQUARDT: According to the Pew Research Center, Tennessee has the highest percentage of evangelicals in the country. Its Senate race in November likely between Republican Representative Marsha Blackburn and the former Democratic governor Phil Bredesen will be one of the most closely watched. And evangelicals are a critical voting bloc.
Trump was elected with 80 percent of the white evangelical vote. Today his approval with them stands at 63 percent. Still solid but cracks are showing. Grace Point Church is a haven for Christians who no longer feel at
home in the evangelical movement. At dinner they tell us there is an existential crisis.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Whether we call it a paradigm shift or an existential moment, or whatever you want to call it, you know, the phrase earlier this evening, this thing is disappearing in front of us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are seeing people say enough is enough. We are not going to stand for tearing people down. We are not going to stand for bullying people.
MARQUARDT: Dan Scott is a pastor at Nashville's Evangelical Christ Church, a conservative and a harsh critic of the president's who agrees Trump is fueling the breakup of evangelicalism .
[19:55:04] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do evangelicals want? Do we want to spread the gospel of Christ, the teachings of Jesus? Or do we want power?
MARQUARDT (on camera): The Reverend Graham just passed away. He famously stayed away from politics.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
MARQUARDT: Do you think that the core of evangelicals these days have lost their way?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, I do. That's a phenomenon mostly of white churches. It's been a mistake. It's compromised and prostituted our faith, I would argue.
MARQUARDT: You sound frustrated. Disappointed.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am. I think the church in America is losing its way.
MARQUARDT: The fact is, no one these days can really say what an evangelical really is. For decades it has become more and more of a political term rather than a religious one. And this Trump era has driven even deeper wages among these conservative Christians. So many of them thrilled that their priorities are now at the top of President Trump's list while many more can't even stomach the idea of supporting him which could mean the end of evangelicalism as we know him -- Erin.
BURNETT: Pretty incredible. Thank you very much. Excellent report. And thanks, Alex.
And next, the real Trump versus the fake Trump.
BURNETT: Tonight, who isn't Trump feuding with? Here is Jeanne Moos. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alec Baldwin has relentlessly --
BALDWIN: If you need me, I'll be reading at my desk.
MOOS: -- mocked President Trump on "SNL" from the kiddie desk to a shower scene. And now these two are showering each other with tweeted insults.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Trump, everyone can see your tweets.
BALDWIN: Really? And I'm still in this thing?
MOOS: Their latest blowup started when Baldwin described playing Trump to "The Hollywood Reporter." "Every time I do it now, it's like agony," to which Trump tweeted, "Alec, it was agony for those who were forced to watch."
Actually in his original tweet, the president got a few things --
BALDWIN: Wrong, wrong, wrong.
MOOS: Calling Alec "Alex" and killing the English language with the spelling of dying. That tweet was soon deleted and replaced with a corrected one.
MAX BOOT, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: Trump is going on a tirade against Alec Baldwin, but he has nothing to say about Vladimir Putin threatening the United States.
MOOS: In response to the president's tweet about Baldwin being agony to watch, the actor fired back four times, "Agony though it may be, I'd like to hang in there for the impeachment hearings, the resignation speech, the farewell helicopter ride to Mar-a-Lago, you know, the good stuff." These two treat each other like --
BALDWIN: Bad hombres, bad boys, bad boys, what you going to do?
MOOS: Baldwin then imagined what would be in the Trump Presidential Library -- a putting green, a little black book with the phone numbers of porn stars.
In his tweet, the president said, "Bring back Darrell Hammond." But Baldwin brought in Melania Trump. "And Mr. President, please ask your wife to stop calling me for 'SNL' tickets."
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald, have you been working out?
MOOS: Don't expect these two to work this out. No kissing and making up, not even a remote chance of this.
BALDWIN: I deeply apologize.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you trying to say apologize? BALDWIN: No, I would never do that.
MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.
BURNETT: Thank you for joining us. And don't forget you can watch OUTFRONT any time anywhere on CNNGo. Have a good weekend. We'll see you Monday. "AC 360" starts now.