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Trump Defends Tariffs Despite Pushback from Allies; Trump Pokes Fun at West Wing Chaos; WAPO: Trump "Angry and Increasingly Isolated"; West Virginia Teachers Strike for 8th Day; DACA Recipients Call for Action on Legislation. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired March 5, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] IAN BREMMER, PRESIDENT & FOUNDER, EURASIA GROUP: Certainly, if the United States, on the security side with the Soviets or with the Russians and the Chinese, there's a lot of "we win, you lose, we build more military capacity, that makes us stronger, makes you weaker." You can see the North Korean negotiations, militarily, denuclearization, "They'll be much less secure, but we'll be more secure, we're stronger, we can force them." On issues like trade, of course, it has historically been for countries at least a win-win. So if the United States decides it is going to put tariffs on other countries around the world, both our friends and foes, they're going to put tariffs on us. That's going to end up costing more money. It certainly is true that a lot of people inside countries haven't necessarily benefited trickling down from that growth. That's Trump's base. So I understand where the politics are coming from. But this will weaken America's position internationally.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: You conclude in your op-ed, "If Trump wants to make the best deals, he'll need to learn a few words, respect, cooperation and compromise."

Especially, with what we have seen with the tariff, what we have seen with other language coming from the White House, do you see that happening?

BREMMER: I don't think he's going to learn it. I think a lot of people around him are not him. And we have certainly seen many advisers to Trump have strongly been slow-rolling the idea of supporting tariffs. We see Paul Ryan just coming out in the last hour saying he's going to try to push Trump very hard away from the idea of throwing these sanctions, tariffs against our allies around the world, that he thinks it is a bad idea. Many red-state governors who will be on the back end of being hit by the Europeans, Canadians, Mexicans, the Chinese, if these tariffs go forward. They don't want to see that go forward.

Trump has been more than capable of backing off of ideas when he can't really get them done or can't get support. We have seen that on immigration, on the Muslim ban. We have certainly seen it on the Mexican wall. We could easily see it here on tariffs. Let's see. None of us have a crystal ball with what's going on inside his head. But Trump, as the American president, is not a supreme leader that gets to make all the decisions, the way, say, Xi Jinping or Putin are. That constrains the ultimate decisions. KEILAR: I'm sure you saw the Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross this

weekend. Let's listen to a sound bite from him.


WILBUR ROSS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: As to the idea of retaliation, sure they may well be some sort of retaliation. But the amounts that they're talking about are also pretty trivial. It is some $3 billion- odd of goods that the Europeans have threatened to put something on. But in our size economy, that's a tiny, tiny fraction of 1 percent. So while it might affect an individual producer for a little while, overall, it is not going to be much more than a rounding error.


KEILAR: When you, Ian, saw that, you wrote on twitter, "I know Ross, he's smarter than this. Never would have made a statement like this before joining the cabinet."

What do you make of him taking that position?

BREMMER: I think Wilbur Ross is an extremely bright guy, that he absolutely understands that trust for this administration on the part of other countries around the world is very low. Concerns about NAFTA, concerns about the U.S. pulling out of Trans-Pacific Partnership, the reality that Chinese are writing very big checks to support infrastructure around the world, while the Americans aren't writing those checks and even can't get the legislation done at home for big infrastructure spent. Wilbur knows all of these things. I understand that as secretary of Commerce, he does not want to be in the limelight saying things that the president does not agree with. That's a fast track to a very challenging week for you. But I also know that it doesn't really sort of recognize the underlying -- understanding of the global economy that he actually has.

KEILAR: So what do you make of that? He's being disingenuous. He's being untrue to facts as he knows them.

BREMMER: He's spinning. But I think we all do understand. I mean, we're not naive that if you're going to be working in this administration, whether you're Mattis or Tillerson, who many consider to be quite patriotic in their -- in the service that jobs they clearly don't need, or Wilbur Ross, there are challenges, particular challenges in working with this president. And it led a lot of people to say one thing on television and something else when talking to allies or antagonists behind the scenes. Let's see where we end up at the end of this week before we make a judgement on what the public statements are or are not. I know there's an awful lot of pushback inside the White House right now, trying to talk President Trump off the ledge when it comes to these tariffs.

[11:34:35] KEILAR: There sure is a lot of talk in the White House.

Ian Bremmer, thank you so much for that.

The White House is in a state of flux. The chaos isn't keeping the president from cracking a few jokes at his own expense, though. But who will have the last laugh? We'll discuss, coming up.


KEILAR: President Trump poking fun at the chaotic state of his White House following a week that saw the resignation of Communications Director Hope Hicks, and the security clearance downgrade of adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

The president took over the podium at Washington's annual Gridiron Dinner and Comedy Roast to land this joke about the recent turnover. "So many people have been leaving the White House, it has been really exciting and invigorating because you want new thoughts. So I like turnover. I like chaos. It is really good. The question everybody keeps asking, who is going to be next to leave? Steve Miller or Melania?"

Here with me now, two CNN political commentators, Democratic strategist, Hilary Rosen, and former communications director for the Trump transition, Brian Lanza.

He also apologized for being late, saying that he is so sorry, but it was because Jared Kushner couldn't get through security. I mean, he was really --




KEILAR: Right.

LANZA: He started off apologizing.

[11:39:59] KEILAR: That was funny in itself.

But there were some really funny jokes more in the tradition of what you would see at the Gridiron, a lot of self-deprecation. But, Brian, that's not normally what he does. He doesn't. He just doesn't.

LANZA: You may see it on TV, but in the small group of people that he has --


KEILAR: He never acts like this in public. We have never seen it, why now?

LANZA: I thought he played true to what the night is, self- deprecating humor. You saw the president's humor. He's comfortable in his own skin, comfortable about joking about these things. A good event for everybody. I see this president in a personal means from time to time. I see that that self-deprecating humor. I see that at CPAC, he was talking about the bald spot on his head. That's the person that all of us get to see from time to time. It is a shame that on TV there is a different image. We are where we are. KEILAR: It is OK for you to talk about the bald spot, though.

LANZA: We'll find out.


LANZA: We'll find out.


HILARY ROSEN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It really wasn't that self- deprecating. He was mostly making fun of other people, which, you know, is different. But what I thought was so interesting --


KEILAR: Come on, who is going to leave, Steve Miller or Melania, that goes to the heart of --

ROSEN: Right. What I thought was so interesting about this dinner from people in the room and similar to CPAC, he's both the talent and the reviewer. He never leaves a joke for the audience to go. After every single joke, on Saturday night, he would say, oh, you liked that one, I didn't think that was going to be a good one. And then he would go to the next one.


ROSEN: I'm not criticizing him. Just saying the amount of -- well, I am criticizing.


ROSEN: But the amount of narcissism and even the delivery of it is just odd.


LANZA: Sometimes it is just entertaining. He goes to rallies and sees the audience interacting, he responds to that. That's what makes him -- gives him the ability to connect with people, he's responding to what's there. We're used to politicians who ignore any noise on the outside. We have a president who is interactive and engaging. That's a different thing. It bothers Hilary. But the vast majority --


ROSEN: It doesn't bother me. I think it was good he showed up. It -- I don't think it is any -- I think it is a problem he shows up at a place that is not televised, that is not, you know, very insidery in the Washington media world, that sort of thing. We'll see whether he ends up going to a place like the White House Correspondents Dinner, which is televised.

KEILAR: On camera. Yes. ROSEN: And whether he can be self-deprecating in that kind of environment. It is worth --


KEILAR: Let's get serious. "The Washington Post" has this report out that is capturing a lot of attention, that Trump is angry and increasingly isolated. Gloria Borger, this hues to what she reported last week. Where there are people who support Donald Trump, they're outside the White House, they want him to succeed and they're worried that he, that the White House, is unraveling.

So, Hilary, if you can take off your partisan hat, and you are just dealing with a principle who is having these struggles, things are off track, what would you say to them to get them back on track?

ROSEN: Look, I think that the president has two problems. People keep saying nothing can be done about this, this is just who he is. But at some point, the fact that they hired a significant portion of the staff that never had any White House experience, the couple of people in there are holding it together. I think as a practical matter they need to bring some people in who actually know how to run the government, which is very different than, you know, a very small circle of people that he always surrounded himself with in business. You can't run a White House that way with, you know, two or three people that you can trust. It has to go broader. And I think that is a significant portion of his mistake. And to simply say, well, he's not manageable, I think it is, you know, it is a travesty.

KEILAR: And, Brian, you're going to work at the White House when again?

LANZA: Not anytime soon.

KEILAR: It is rumored that --


LANZA: No. I mean, listen, I think if asked to serve, you have to have the conversation, I have to talk to my wife too, we're expecting a child.


KEILAR: Sure, you have a lot of personal considerations. But this is a -- this according to reports is a -- I approached it in jest, but this is a real consideration. Where is that process?

ROSEN: It's a disincentive for people with experience to serve, to go in there. Do you feel like it is a career killer? All of those things are things that my Republican friends say they really struggle with. Will I be able to make a difference, will anyone listen to me, I know what they should be doing, but would they actually do it?

KEILAR: What do you think, Brian? In your case? LANZA: What I would say, if I were to go into the administration, I'd

look at the last year of success we had. People would say chaos doesn't work. But we had a tax reform plan, something that hasn't happened in 30 years, was able to happen under this president's leadership. It is a different form that we're used to. We're more used to this button down, you know, politician that sort of goes through every issue, through a political lens and starts looking at it. But this guy is a business man. He looks at it differently. He looks for the end result. That matters more than process. D.C. is in a town that obsesses in process. He's getting the results. Look at the economic numbers. Even look at the trade stuff going forward.

He made a promise to the voters when he came in he would look at issues. He has union support that is supporting him for the trade issues. He's ending the little norms that we're used to. You have many pro-labor supporters that support these tariff increases that are in Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Ohio. There is a strategy behind this. He's committing all these -- he's completing all these promises. It is working.

[11:45:36] KEILAR: All right, Brian Lanza, you may have answered my question.

Brian Lanza and Hillary Rosen --



KEILAR: -- thank you so much to both of you.

Nearly 277,000 kids in West Virginia are out of school for an eighth day as their teachers are on the picket line. Find out what is holding up an end to this strike, ahead.

And DREAMers head to Washington to demand action on DACA legislation to protect their status in the U.S. We're live on Capitol Hill with the latest.


[11:50:30] KEILAR: Teachers across West Virginia are striking for an eighth day as they wait for state lawmakers to meet their demands for a 5 percent pay increase and better benefits. And 20,000 teachers walked out late last month, keeping nearly 277,000 kids out of class, and their parents frustrated.

Joining me from West Virginia with more is CNN correspondent, Polo Sandoval.

Tell me where you are and what's going on, Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brianna, we've been on the ground here for over a week. Frustration certainly increasing here. And so it is with lawmakers to act, to decide. Do teachers get a 5 percent razor do they get a 4 percent raise? As you can see, there are plenty of teachers at the state capitol who

have come in to try to get their messages heard. They have been here, Brianna -- I have seen them firsthand every day, to make their way into the capitol, and now it all boils down to this. Will they get that 5 percent raise or perhaps that 4 percent raise?

For teachers, both current and retired, it's about getting that 5 percent as a show that legislators promise to take up the issue of better benefits.

Including for you. It's very important. You are a former teacher, Maggie. Today is extremely important. What is the issue for you as to whether teachers get that raise or 4?

UNIDENTIFIED TEACHER: We were promised the 5 percent raise. It's going to be in vein if we don't get it and we don't stand up for what we believe is right. PIA is on stop because it does affect me, too. We're here for the 5 percent raise.

SANDOVAL: Right now, it's still in committee, this back and forth. Tomorrow we should get an idea of whether or not they will choose to give you that 5 percent raise as well as other teachers. But if somebody is not swayed in that committee, this could all die. This would be devastating to you and the rest of your colleagues?

UNIDENTIFIED TEACHER: For sure. We're going to stay 55 strong and we're not leaving until they fix it.

SANDOVAL: Thank you so much, ma'am.

Brianna, that's just one of the many stories you'll hear from these teachers.


SANDOVAL: They are so passionate.

To break it all down, here's where things stand right now. Governor Jim Justice and the House of Representatives would like to give the teachers the 5 percent raise, but the State Senate wants to give them a 4 percent raise. That's why they established this committed that has until tomorrow night to come up with a report, submit that report to their chambers and then decide. If there is at least one person that can't be swayed on that committee, then this bill would potentially die. And you heard from Maggie, that would be devastating not only for teachers but other state employees as well.

KEILAR: Eight days out of class, though, life really standing still for many families there in West Virginia.

Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.

SANDOVAL: And kids.

KEILAR: That's right, and the kids who should be in class. DACA recipients are converging on Washington this morning, calling for

action to protect their status in the U.S. They're holding demonstrations and visiting Capitol Hill to urge movement on legislation for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals Program. It's been six months since President Trump announced an end to DACA and put a six-month delay in place. Federal court rulings the government has to renew existing DACA permits made today's deadline really meaningless.

Joining me now, CNN congressional correspondent, Sunlen Serfaty.

Sunlen, you're there on the Hill. Tell me what we're expecting.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, those court rulings, Brianna, you mentioned, took a little pressure off Congress to act. It gave some short-term legal reprieve for the DACA recipients. It basically made Congress be operating without a specific deadline. Of course, that deadline was supposed to be today, so it took a little urgency off the moment for lawmakers here on Capitol Hill. That's what these activists today are trying to do. They're right now marching up Independence Avenue. They haven't reached Capitol Hill yet. But when they do, they want to call on Congress to put some more momentum into this issue, to move on this issue. Certainly, the reality of the moment up here on Capitol Hill, though, Brianna, is that a lot of air essentially is out of the tires. Last month, Congress voted on three proposals for these DACA recipients. All four of those proposals were voted down, including the one that was proposed by President Trump and by the White House. So certainly, that coupled with this court ruling has taken a lot of the momentum out of the air up here on Capitol Hill. That's the idea these activists are trying to bring forth to Congress today to keep up the pressure, especially when faced with all this uncertainty -- Brianna?

KEILAR: When does the urgency kick in, Sunlen?

[11:55:01] SERFATY: That's the question. When does it kick in? It feels like, from the activists' perspective, that Congress is acting on a short-term mentality. Keep pushing this issue. Keep kicking the can down the road. March 5th, today, was the deadline that had been circled for so long, but with those court rulings, it now leaves essentially a question on when the next issue, when the next deadline will be that Congress will be feeling. You have, of course, midterm elections coming up in November. Many politicians here on Capitol Hill very hesitant to take up this issue as that deadline inches closer to November -- Bri?

KEILAR: Sunlen Serfaty, on Capitol Hill, thank you so much for that.

We are standing by at the White House because, just moments from now -- and we're seeing live pictures coming to us from there -- President Trump and the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, are going to face the cameras. Both leaders facing investigations, and neither are planning to take questions from the press.