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Trump Turmoil Stretches Around the Globe; NRA: Trump Doesn't Want Gun Control; Nor'easter Hits This Morning. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired March 2, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:00] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: And get ready for a messy day in the Northeast. Evacuations in Massachusetts and federal offices closed in D.C. We'll have the full forecast for you. It is ugly. The National Weather Service in Boston calling it a life-or-death situation.

Thanks for getting an EARLY START with us. I'm Dave Briggs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Christine Romans. It is Friday, March 2nd. It is 5:00 a.m. in the East.

Let's begin with the big trade story. President Trump slapping tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, a controversial move sparking fears about a trade war. The plan, impose tariffs on 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum to help build struggling industries.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When it comes to a time when our country cannot make aluminum and steel and somebody said it before and I will tell you, you almost don't have much of a country.


ROMANS: Trump gave no further details. In fact, he said the policy hasn't been written yet. And while this decision makes good on the campaign promise to get tough on trade, it was made against the wishes of his top advisers and could bring a host of negative consequences. Conventional wisdom hold that tariffs are bad for the U.S. economy. "The Wall Street Journal" slamming this as Trump's biggest policy blunder, that it will punish American workers, invite retaliation that will harm U.S. exports, divide his political coalition at home, anger allies abroad and undermine his tax and regulatory reforms.

Now, if you drive a car, if you fly an airplane, if you drink beer, prices could go up. Anything with steel or aluminum will become more expensive, forcing companies to raise prices or cut jobs. A beer industry group predicts this will cost about 20,000 jobs.

Now, it's not clear if the tariffs will exempt key allies to the U.S. some trading partners -- I mean, look, we have Canada. We've got a big trading relationship with Canada. We're trying to renegotiate NAFTA. Could this spark retaliation? Maybe, especially from China. Farmers in particular here are worried China could slap tariffs on soy beans. It is the top client for U.S. soy.

But that damage is all theoretical here. Global stocks, though, are feeling it. The theoretical is enough for them to be worried. Asian and Europe markets falling overnight. The Dow down 420 points later after the president said this. The Nasdaq and S&P also down more than 1 percent.

Shares of plane and carmakers were especially hit hard. Boeing, GM and Ford, those companies would see higher costs for their products. Stocks don't like uncertainty, there is a lot of uncertainty about the deal.

BRIGGS: Is part of the problem here the process? Pulling a cake out of the oven before it's even half baked? I mean, that just sinks and folds without details.

ROMANS: Look, a lot of people say this guy was elected president, if he were elected to the presidency, you'd see the stock market collapse because his trade policies are so bad for the American economy. He hasn't really enacted his trade policies yet, only a little bit around the edges. This is the first real concrete action. That is why the stock market is concerned.

BRIGGS: The top importers of steel? Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Brazil. Not China. Not on the top 10.

The president's tariff talk drawing condemnation from U.S. trading partners from round the world. The president of the commission denouncing that move blatant intervention to protect American industries. In just the last few years, China weighing.

That's where we'll find Matt Rivers.

Matt, how is China reacting?

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Unsurprisingly, Dave. They are not in favor of this move, even though they're not one of the top exporters to the United States of steel. They're still not in favor of this. They say it could get in the way of what they called a slow global recovery.

But more so than the reaction today, we're more interested in the reaction that could come in the weeks and months ahead, because how is going -- how is China going to retaliate in a way that could potentially hurt U.S. workers, U.S. jobs?

You heard Christine just talked about it. Soy is a great example of U.S. industry that supports tens of thousands of jobs for ordinary Americans relies on access to the Chinese market. Billions of dollars in soybeans are shipped from the U.S. to China every single year. If China is really unhappy with this particular proposal from the president, and it goes forward, they could easily choose to say, we're going to import more soy from Argentina. We're going to import more soy from Brazil.

And that has a negative effect in states that employ these workers -- states mind you that largely voted for Donald Trump in 2016. The Chinese government knows that. And in order to get them to back off, maybe they put political pressure in a place that Donald Trump's base relies on this industry for jobs.

BRIGGS: It could be a big battle ahead. Matt Rivers live for us in Beijing -- thanks.

ROMANS: The NRA claims -- excuse me -- it has the president on its side. After huddling at the White House last night with the president and the vice president, the head of the NRA's lobbying arm, Chris Cox, tweeting a blunt message afterwards, insisting both men oppose gun control.

BRIGGS: The president himself called the meeting great in a tweet, but asked if the White House agrees with Cox's assessment, a senior official would only say the president, quote, believes in the Second Amendment. There is the president's reaction there on Twitter.

Last night's meeting with the NRA follows Mr. Trump's freewheeling meeting with the bipartisan group of lawmakers to discuss gun reform.

[05:05:06] The lawmaker at that meeting, Florida congressman and Army vet, Brian Mast, still believes the president will take action.


REP. BRIAN MAST (R), FLORIDA: He said very clearly that if we get him a bill that addresses bump stocks, background checks and buying age, that he's going to sign it.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The NRA met tonight with the president and the vice president. Do you think the president may tack back to his original position, which were more in line with the NRA positions?

MAST: I certainly hope not. You know, he's had a great deal of strength on this issue, you know, telling all the other lawmakers, look, you've got to be strong in this, you can't be afraid, you've got to go with your gut, you've got to do what you think is right. You can't say that and then walk away from that.


ROMANS: And the president's suggestion that the meeting, that bipartisan meeting were more in line with Democratic positions. Now with officials scrambling, sources say the rollout of new measures to curb gun violence will not be released today, as planned. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate will take up a banking bill next week, dashing hopes of quick action on guns in the wake of the school shooting in Florida.

BRIGGS: All right. Joining us this morning here in New York, CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University.

Good to see you, sir.

ROMANS: Good morning.


BRIGGS: We get into this trade news in just a moment. Let's start there on guns. With immigration, we saw this reality TV unfold. We saw Tuesday and Thursday Trump.

This time it appears to have taken 24 hours for the president to do a 180 on guns if you believe what the NRA tweeted there. What happened?

ZELIZER: Well, I think the NRA might have gotten a little spooked from hearing the comments. They understand he is not the most predictable president in the world. And they are back and they are reminding him, I'm sure, in that meeting and they're reminding members of Congress the amount of votes they can deliver, the amount of money they can deliver. And they are trying to give a reality check if anyone in the GOP tries to move too far on this issue.

ROMANS: You know, the president says, you don't need to be afraid. Why is everybody so afraid of the NRA? But clearly, the access the NRA has to the Oval Office, too, you know, a lunch meeting, and now this sort of crisis meeting after. I mean, this is a lobby that, you know, President Trump doesn't want to look like he's in their pocket. But they certainly have a lot of influence.

ZELIZER: Look, they have money, they have lobbyists, they also can deliver votes. And we have to remember that and they can deliver votes in areas that are very important politically. So, when you combine all of that, you have to take all of the talk about gun control with a grain of salt. Only in the political pressure against it is absolutely immense.

BRIGGS: But to Christine's point, perhaps the corporate world will lead the way and the Congress can just follow. Similar to what happened on guns, Republicans were furious. And then maybe they appear to be coming down. Republicans are furious with what happened on trade right now. Here is some reaction from the latest tariffs on steel and aluminum, 25 percent and 10 percent.

Senator Roberts who's the chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee said every time you do this, you get retaliation. I think this is terribly counter-productive from the ag economy and I'm not very happy.

Here is Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse speaking on Fox News.


SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: No trade war has ever worked. We don't want to make America 1930 again. And forgotten men and women of America don't want to be drafted into a trade war. It doesn't work. Trade creates jobs. All the data shows that, and trade lowers prices for American families. Trade wars do the opposite.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: Congressional Democrats and labor unions celebrating a move by the president, which is a tad ironic. What's the impact of all this?

ZELIZER: It's the riskiest thing he did. Only in that this really does go against the Republican orthodoxy. And it's a real measure of what people are thinking and what's going to happen with the stock market plunge.

That said, remember this was a promise that was appealing during the campaign to many workers in Democratic areas. And if the stock market effects and the trade effects are not totally damaging in the long run, you can imagine in 2018 and '20, Republicans saying, look, the president delivered. He went against the Republican Party. And this is what you elected him for.

ROMANS: He delivered for steel in steel towns. I mean, that is something we hear time and again, that the president, at the end of the day, every decision comes down to the people who put him in the White House. So, that's what he's working for.

ZELIZER: But it has to be balanced with the economic reality. If this doesn't have that economic effect, that's where Republicans could pay the price during the midterms. So, we don't know which way it's going to go.

ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: Well, "The Wall Street Journal's" numbers, there are 6.5 million jobs that are in steel using, in their words. There are 140,000 that are steel making. So, the numbers are not on his side.

Let's just step back and look at the broad 30,000-foot view of this week. You have the moves on trade that we saw there. The moves on guns that still haven't figured out, and then look at the last 72 hours. H.R. McMaster appears to be on his way out. Hope Hicks, arguably his most trusted adviser really on the way out. Trump attacks his attorney general once again, calling him disgraceful.

[05:10:05] This is a bad week even by Trumpian standards.

ZELIZER: A bad week, but just another week in the Trump presidency. This is the normal. And every time it happens, they're surprised, they're shock and predictions that everything is going off track.

We've only had a few weeks where this really wasn't what was going on. There's chaos, disarray and instability. That's what characterizes this White House. Will it work politically? We don't know.

But I think this is how he governs. This is how he shapes the narrative about the media. And this is how he makes his decisions in this kind of environment, and there's no way to really stop it.

BRIGGS: It's interesting though. I mean, his favorability numbers start to creep back up and the general ballot was looking good for Republicans and things were somewhat normalizing. ZELIZER: Well, that's the economy buttressing a lot of this. And so,

that's why this trade decision is interesting and potentially very important politically.

ROMANS: You know, jobless claims yesterday at a 50-year low. Like, you know, it's unbelievable. The job market is really doing well.

People feel that.

BRIGGS: Consumer confidence remains.

ROMANS: People feel that.

All right. Thanks so much. Come back in about a half hour.

ZELIZER: Thank you.

ROMANS: U.S. officials say they are skeptical about Vladimir Putin's claim to have a missile so powerful it can penetrate NATO defenses and Mar-a-Lago. We are live in Moscow.


[05:15:20] BRIGGS: Five-fifteen Eastern Time.

U.S. intelligence experts are skeptical about the Vladimir Putin's claims of resurgent Russian military might. One U.S. official calling Putin's announcement, quote, cheesy, insisting U.S. officials' military capabilities remain second to none, Romans.

ROMANS: The Russian leader claiming his country has developed invincible nuclear weapon systems with unlimited range. And Mr. Putin's address featuring video clips of nuclear warheads hitting Florida, the very site of President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate, flourish there on the presentation. Top U.S. officials un-amused and unconvinced.

Let's go live to Moscow and bring in CNN's Matthew Chance.

And I think it's important that this was for a domestic. Putin is facing an election soon. This was all about chest thumping for the domestic Russian audience, no?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think it was, at least in large part. I mean, yes, you're right, in 16 days, he's got the presidential election here. He is certain to win it. I mean, no one is suggesting otherwise.

But, you know, he likes to take every opportunity he can to present himself as a strong president, the strong leader, macho image who rides bare back on horses, bare-chested rather on horse. You know, he has to secure his nation and his nation's military on his mind.

He takes every opportunity to push that image of himself forward. He was doing that again yesterday in that speech to the joint houses of Russian parliament. And that's how it is perceived very much in Russia.

The only bit of criticism I detected in the Russian press so far is that, look, there's some discussion as to why Vladimir Putin is presenting himself as this potential enemy of the West when what some in the media here are saying, look, shouldn't he focus on the Russian economy and making the lives of ordinary Russians better before the election? Christine?

ROMANS: Maybe a really super cool missile then becomes a distraction from that kind of stuff, the real day-to-day life for the Russian people.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much, Matthew Chance in Moscow for us this morning.

BRIGGS: All right. If you are commuting out of the east, you know this, a very ugly day in store for all the Northeast. Rain and dangerous wind, snow, possible flooding, power outages. Forecasters warn you should take this one seriously. The latest, next.


[05:22:11] ROMANS: All right. For millions of people, life or death situation today, the National Weather Service in Boston calls today's nor'easter life-and-death situation. Coastal residents in Massachusetts town of Scituate urged to evacuate. More than 1,500 flights already cancelled and federal offices in D.C. are close for the day.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam has more.


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Our nor'easter is well under way across New England. In fact, we'll feel the impacts of the storm for the next 36 to 48 hours. Strong gusty winds, heavy rain, heavy snow, coastal erosion and power outages all possible with the system. In fact, the strong parts of the storm will coincide with multiple high tides.

That's why we have coastal flood warnings where you see that bright shading of green with flood watches in effect for many of the coastal areas as well. We have a winter storm warnings for upstate New York. Upwards of a foot or more of snow by this time as storm is all said and done.

And then on top of that, we have tropical storm force winds with gusts near hurricane force, especially along the coastal area. So, look out Boston, all the way to Long Island. In fact, D.C., Philly, New York and into Boston, you have an extremely windy next 24 to 36 hours ahead of you.

Here's the snowfall totals. You can see, they'll be highest across the Catskills. We keep temperatures warm enough to keep the precipitation in liquid variety for New York, as well as D.C. Temperatures today for the Big Apple 42 degrees.

Back to you.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you, Derek.

BRIGGS: Brutal. Let's see if the president can make it to Mar-a-Lago later.

Meanwhile, the FBI investigation into recruiting scandal in college basketball. Arizona's head coach returning to the sidelines and saying he did nothing wrong.

ROMANS: Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Andy.


Arizona head coach Sean Miller did not coach last weekend after an ESPN report claimed the FBI had a wiretap of Miller discussing payment to secure star player Deandre Ayton. After weeks of discussion with the school, Miller returning to the sidelines last night. Before the game, he proclaimed his innocence, slamming that ESPN report.


SEAN MILLER, ARIZONA COACH: Let me be very, very clear. I have never discussed with Christian Dawkins paying Deandre Ayton to attend the University of Arizona. Any reporting to the contrary is inaccurate, false and defamatory. I'm outraged by the media statements that had been made in the acceptance by many that these statements were true. There was no such conversation.


SCHOLES: Despite Miller's denials, ESPN is standing by its original reporting.

All right. The head baseball coach of Texas Wesleyan University was fired on Thursday after an e-mail surfaced that he had sent to a potential recruit. In the email, Mike Jeffcoat said his team was not looking at high school players from Colorado because of the state's recreational marijuana policy and how he feared players from Colorado wouldn't pass drug test.

[05:25:05] Jeffcoat also told the player, quote, you can blame your liberal politicians.

After announcing the firing yesterday, Texas Wesleyan president said the school does not discriminate on the basis of the public policy of any state.

All right. Heartbreaking news in the sports world this morning. Legendary Bills quarterback Jim Kelly's cancer has returned for a third time. Kelly's wife Jill sent an Instagram post that the family is shocked, heartbroken, sad, angry and just darn tired.

Kelly was first diagnosed with oral cancer in 2013 and again in 2014. Recently, Kelly sat down with CNN's Coy Wire and discussed how he beat cancer twice.


JIM KELLY, HALL OF FAMER: I've been through so much in my life. And I never could imagine the word cancer coming in my life. I always look back to my son. He fought for every day of his life and I fought every day of my life, and I fought because I have two beautiful daughters and I had a wife that sacrificed so much to spend time with me and to make sure that I was all right.


SCHOLES: Now, Kelly lost his son to a rare disease when he was 8 years old. In a statement, Kelly asked for prayers, saying, with all of you by my side, we will fight and win this battle together.

All right. Finally, it looks we could be in for one exciting March. Virginia was down by four with under a second to go last night. And they won the game after a travel call and out of bounds play. De'Andre Hunter gets the ball right here and the bank was open late. He knocks it in to beat Louisville, just a heartbreaker for them. But, man, can you imagine? Down four under a second and you win the game. That does not happen very often.

BRIGGS: It's going to be a wild tournament. But, again, man, our thoughts and prayer with Jim Kelly and his wife Jill, two of my favorite people in the world.

SCHOLES: Absolutely.

BRIGGS: I saw them in Minnesota at the Super Bowl. Always a smile on that man's face.


BRIGGS: We love them. Thank you, Scholes.

ROMANS: Thanks, Andy.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead, "The Wall Street Journal" calls it the biggest policy blunder of Donald Trump's presidency. A new plan for tariffs, but no plan to actually announce just yet. Global stocks are down as the week of chaos in the White House expands to our trading partners. That's next.