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Is Trump Doing Enough To Prevent Russian Meddling?; Trump Ties Proposed Tariffs To Issues With Mexico And Canada; Former Trump Economic Adviser Urges President To Reconsider Tariffs. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 5, 2018 - 07:30   ET



And let's just look at it for one second. The tariff that he's talking about, particularly as it relates to aluminum, is a cost of -- and "The New York Times" wrote this story so this isn't the right-wing propaganda. It's one cent on every beer can that you're going through.

So you buy a six-pack of beer, it costs you six cents more if and only if they use 100 percent of the domestic aluminum available. If they continue to use recycled aluminum --


LEWANDOWSKI: -- which is about 80 percent of what a beer can is made of, it's a half one cent on a can.

So, are U.S. citizens willing to pay three cents more for a six-pack of beer to create aluminum manufacturing jobs in the U.S.? I think the answer is yes.

CUOMO: Well, but that's not the metric. The metric will be how does the market respond, how do your trade partners respond, and what does that do in terms in putting pressure on U.S. labor? We'll have to see how it plays out if it actually happens.

Corey Lewandowski, appreciate you taking the opportunity, appreciate your perspective.

LEWANDOWSKI: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Erica --

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump says North Korea wants to talk but there's a catch. What the U.S. wants before sitting down with Kim Jong Un, next.


[07:35:00] CUOMO: Is President Trump doing enough to prevent Russia from meddling again in the 2018 election? The Intelligence Community says they are the midterms that we're looking at. They say those are at risk and they aren't getting any directives from the president to combat it so it would seem the answer is no.

Let's get some deeper perspective from Richard Clarke. He served as President George W. Bush's point person on cybersecurity and was the national coordinator for security and counterterrorism for both Presidents Bush and Clinton.

Good to see you again, sir. I like the beard.


CUOMO: All right. So we keep hearing -- and please tell me what's not true in any of the premise here -- that nothing's being done. That the Congressional committees are looking at it.

Yes, the NSA and different parts of the Intelligence Community are always in an ongoing battle that takes place digitally as well as indifferent for fighting against America's enemies -- that that's always going on -- but that specific to the election meddling there is no program in place, there is no strategy.

What's your take?

CLARKE: Well, Chris, for any of the presidents I worked for if there were a major threat to the United States to our democracy the president would have asked for and personally got involved in crafting a comprehensive program, but this president hasn't done that.

And yes, the government does sort of work on automatic pilot on some issues but for some things the president has to give an order.

And for NSA, and cyber commands, and the CIA to do some things covertly in cyberspace to stop the kind of attacks that are still ongoing with the Russian bots and Russian trolls trying to make America argue against itself, trying to create discord in the United States -- for that kind of counterprogram to happen the president has to give an order.

He hasn't done it and I think there's a very clear reason why he hasn't done it and why after Congress overwhelmingly approved new sanctions on Russia he refuses to implement them and the reason I think is inescapable. It is that he believes the Russian activity benefits him politically.

CUOMO: How so?

CLARKE: Well, the very same bots that helped get him elected are still out there. The organization that did it is still out there and they are still supporting his causes.

They are still making dissent likely in the United States, pretending to be Black Lives Matter groups, pretending to be pro-gun groups. They're whipping up dissent, they're whipping up discord. And on every issue in cyberspace and the social media forums, these Russian bots are still backing him. Why are they still allowed to do that?

Why hasn't NSA or Cyber Command attacked their computers, which they could do with existing technology and they could do it easily? They could fry all of those computers, they could take down the so-called Internet Research Agency in Saint Petersburg but they haven't because they need an order to do so and that order has not been forthcoming.

CUOMO: So, let's take a step further down that road. We saw Vladimir Putin come out with a video presentation last week where these supposed missiles they have that can go anywhere in the world and the target he chose was Florida and it looked like they were headed right for Mar-a-Lago and the president said nothing about that.

Why would Putin antagonize a guy that he's trying to help and why would the president say nothing when he's so easily provoked and he goes after our allies with such a low standard, but nothing when the guy targets his house with missiles?

CLARKE: Well, I think you can guess.

The president has never really criticized Putin. He likes Putin. He says he admires Putin. You're not going to hear him criticize Putin no matter what he does.

Imagine any other president -- imagine Ronald Reagan or George Herbert Walker Bush if the leader of Russia gave an anti-American speech with pictures of missiles attacking the United States. Could you imagine them being silent under those circumstances? But this president is silent.

CUOMO: North Korea -- we have word that South Korean officials are up there. There is parlay with North Korean officials in North Korea.

Supposedly, the goal is to bring the United States into dialogue with the North and there's this political intrigue where the president said North Korea reached out to me to want to talk. I said you've got to denuke first, and North Korea laughs off that suggestion.

What's your take on the state of play?

CLARKE: Chris, of all the issues the president is dealing with this is the most dangerous. This could, if mishandled, result in a war. A war in which perhaps millions of people would die and perhaps even people in the United States -- certainly, Americans in Korea -- so we have to be very, very careful how we handle this.

[07:40:13] And for the president to say I'm not going to talk unless you completely capitulate before the talks even begin is a very dangerous path. We need to be in discussion with North Korea and we need to find some compromise because two weeks ago at Pearl Harbor, the American military commanders conducted what was called a tabletop exercise for a war in Korea and they were horrified by what they saw would happen. It's a terrible outcome out there and it could happen this year if we're not careful. We have to do everything we can to avoid that and talking without precondition is one of those things. And so far, the president has said he will only talk if North Korea says yes, we'll give in. We'll give up our nuclear weapons program, now let's talk.


CLARKE: They're not going to do that.

CUOMO: Richard Clarke, thank you so much. It is great to have your perspective on the show. It's good to see you, sir.

CLARKE: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: Erica --

HILL: President Trump wants to impose hefty tariffs on aluminum and steel, so how will it affect you? "CNN Money" has those answers, next.


[07:45:00] HILL: Time now for "CNN Money."

President Trump, defending his proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, promises no countries will be exempt, so could that spark a trade war?

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is in our Money Center with more. And we know what the president said about trade wars, of course, last week.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "EARLY START": Yes, and just moments ago, Erica, the president tying NAFTA negotiations with these new tariffs.

In a tweet, he slams our allies -- Mexico on drugs and Canada on agriculture -- and he says he won't strip off those tariffs on steel and aluminum imports unless he gets what he wants from NAFTA.

Meanwhile, the E.U. plans to retaliate, threatening tariffs on quintessential American products -- bourbon, Levi's jeans, Harley Davidson motorcycles. That's $3.5 billion in exports.

And it's strategic here from the E.U. They're targeting Kentucky, home state of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; and Wisconsin, home to both House Speaker Paul Ryan and Harley Davidson.

So, if the E.U. follows through, President Trump threatens to tax European cars. Europe does impose a 10 percent tariff on American cars but European automakers also employ tens of thousands of workers in the U.S. They have plants in states like Alabama, South Carolina, and Texas.

And even U.S. carmakers could be hurt by these tariffs. The likes of Ford and GM import lots of steel and aluminum and as both get more expensive it could force them to raise prices.

But the commerce secretary Wilbur Ross, he downplays that price hike, you guys, and he does this math, Chris. For a 25 percent steel tariff on a $35,000 car you'd pay about $175 more. He calls that no big deal.

But consider this, $175 is nearly 20 percent of that supposed $1,000 tax cut the administration claims most Americans will get from the new tax bill. So the pro-growth tax policies -- will these trade policies start to chip away at that?

CUOMO: That's a fair point and that doesn't even take into consideration well, what's the retaliation? What is the prices --

ROMANS: Exactly.

CUOMO: -- of other goods?

ROMANS: Exactly.

CUOMO: They're all good considerations. Thank you for outlining them for us, as always.

All right. So, as we go to break here, some of President Trump's former advisers are telling him to back off these tariffs. The White House has a new message for those people, next.


[07:51:20] HILL: President Trump's decision to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum sparking backlash not just at home but around the world.

Even former senior economic adviser for the Trump campaign, Stephen Moore, urging the president to reconsider his plan in an op-ed he co- wrote which reads, in part, "President Trump genuinely believes that his steel and aluminum tariffs will save thousands of blue collar jobs. But even if tariffs save every one of the 140,000 or so steel jobs in America, it puts at risk five million manufacturing and related jobs in industries that use steel."

CNN senior economics analyst Stephen Moore joins us now. Good to have you with us.


HILL: In that piece, you also went on to -- which you co-write with former economic advisers Larry Kudlow and Arthur Laffer -- that you likened the proposal to imposing sanctions on our own country. Called it a crisis of logic and a regressive tax on low-income families. Not mincing words here.

Has there been any response to that op-ed? MOORE: Well, Donald Trump, who I've talked to many times about trade protectionism since I first started working with him two years ago, knows my position and Larry's position as well.

I think he made the wrong call here, Erica. I do think he really does care about these steelworkers and aluminum workers in the Midwest and those Rust Belt states who are worried about losing their factories.

But the point we were making is this isn't going to help our manufacturing sector because for every worker that's employed in steel and aluminum there are 30 or 40 that actually use steel and aluminum as an import and their jobs are going to be put a bit in jeopardy here.

But what really worries me at this right -- this very moment is the report that you just heard from Christine Romans about the retaliation --

HILL: Yes.

MOORE: -- from other countries. I mean, we're at a very dangerous moment right now.

I do think it would be a big mistake if the Europeans, and Canada, and China retaliate because knowing Donald Trump as we all do this is a guy who doesn't back down and he's a counterpuncher.

And I do believe if they start imposing higher tariffs then you're going to get an escalation and that's how trade wars do start. And one thing President Trump was wrong about is nobody wins a trade war.

HILL: Well, in terms of retaliation, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro was just asked about that on "FOX AND FRIENDS." Take a listen.



You know, at the end of the day, we're getting a bad deal and the president has said, quite clearly and quite correctly, that these countries around the world are running huge trade surpluses with us. We're shifting our wealth off shore, they're taken our jobs and factories, and all we're trying to do with our trade --


NAVARRO: -- policy is to get a fair and level playing field.



HILL: So, who cares? Is that saying bring it on in terms of retaliation because as you point out, that may not end well?

MOORE: Well look, I mean, there is something to what Peter Navarro is saying and Peter's a friend of mine. I disagree with him on this issue.

My belief is that it is true that China, and Canada, and Mexico benefit more from trade with us than we do with them. I mean, it's true that -- for example, China's economy couldn't perform at all if they didn't have access to U.S. markets.

So, you know, what -- I think what Donald Trump is saying here is we have some leverage because they do -- their economies are so dependent on access to U.S. markets and he wants to use that measure -- that leverage to get China to behave itself.

Now, what really worries me right now, Erica, is the situation with NAFTA because as you know, this is all happening are we're renegotiating NAFTA. We're going to hopefully come up with a NAFTA 2.0.

But there's a heat and a tension right now -- you can feel it -- with -- between Canada, and the United States, and Mexico and that is not a good situation for negotiating a new trade deal with them and I believe the big issue here is can we get NAFTA renegotiated?

[07:55:08] I worked on that in the mid-1990s. Ronald Reagan was in favor of it, Bill Clinton was in favor of it. It would be bad for the whole North American continent if we can't get that done.

HILL: It will be bad if we can't get that done but this morning the president tweeting about NAFTA and basically saying look, these tariffs --


HILL: -- are going to happen and they'll only come away.

So using that as bait, is that the way to get it done? Is that really the way to use the leverage?

MOORE: Well, good question. I mean, Donald Trump is a good negotiator so we'll see. But they haven't made a lot of progress so far this year and -- so, it's a really tense moment right now in trade. It's been making me nervous.

And by the way, as you know, the financial markets have not reacted at all positively to this. I think the Dow has fallen 600 or 700 points since Trump made this announcement.

And incidentally, Donald Trump -- he does pay attention to the financial markets, he does pay attention to what's happening to the Dow Jones, and he pays attention to jobs. And now, you have a lot of American companies say hey, this is going to hurt our ability to export.

So, stay tuned. This is the first act. I mean, I hope that cooler heads prevail and that Donald Trump will maybe just impose these steel tariffs on China.

There's no reason we need to have steel tariffs on Mexico and Canada if it's a national security issue, right? I mean, is anybody worried about Canada invading the United States?

HILL: That's something that we've been trying to get an answer to as well. Is that -- is that where the national security threat is? We don't have an answer on that.

And then bottom line is that we don't have all of the details we need, although we're told --

MOORE: We don't.

HILL: -- this is going through.

You say this is a first step but in terms of looking at the markets, in terms of listening to business leaders, we've heard enough. We've seen it pointed out by you. We saw it pointed out again this morning --


HILL: -- in "The Wall Street Journal" about the millions of jobs that are potentially affected versus the 140,000 jobs that are directly within the steel industry.


HILL: Domestically, there is opposition. On an international level we know there is. In a phone call with Prime Minister Theresa May yesterday, she expressed deep concern about these tariffs.

How much of that, though, could actually go to seeing some sort of a reversal from the president or seeing him in any way change course?

MOORE: We will see. I mean, there's a lot of options here for the president right now. For example, one of the things that's being discussed is maybe we should just put these tariffs on China.

Look, I'm for getting really tough on China. I think China is an adversary. I don't think they're playing by the rules.

I think what they're doing in -- with North Korea is simply inadmissible -- you know, cannot -- impermissible. We can't allow that to happen.

So I don't think the president could get tough enough with China. With Canada --

HILL: Then why not stick it to China, then because if you're not the only person with --

MOORE: Exactly.

HILL: -- the president's ear who's telling him that -- MOORE: That was exactly --

HILL: -- and he clearly has believed that.

MOORE: Right.

HILL: So what's the -- what the issue here? Where is the disconnect and is this --

MOORE: Right.

HILL: You know, are we going to see Gary Cohn leave over this?

MOORE: There's a lot there.

HILL: There is, sorry.

MOORE: I think that I would like to see this more focused on China and that was the point I was getting at is there's some discussion. Let's just orient this towards China and maybe some of these other countries that are breaking the trade rules, not Canada and Mexico and our allies, Germany.

I think -- and by the way, I think there's a real possibility that they slim this down, so we will see. And look, there's a -- there is a disagreement within the president's own cabinet among his own economists. I think it's split right down the middle about whether this is a wise policy or not.

I'm really hopeful that the president tones this back a little bit but we will see in the days ahead.

HILL: How difficult would it be for the president just to tone it back because this president doesn't always like to step down from a point that he's made. So is he just going to stick with this to stick with it?

MOORE: Well, here is my point is I think the foreign -- the foreign nations, I think, are making a big mistake in escalating this right now because we know, as I said earlier, Donald Trump is a counterpuncher. You punch him, he'll punch back.

And as Christine Romans just said, OK, what is this going to lead to? Could this lead to auto tariffs? Could this lead to tariffs on American bourbon and blue jeans and projects like that? That really could cause big problems for the world economy.

Look, international trade is good for everyone. I mean, it's lower in prices, it's giving people in all these countries access to products they wouldn't otherwise have. And American consumers, by the way, are big beneficiaries of trade. So much of what you can buy is cheap because of imports.

Now, I want America to have a manufacturing base -- don't get me wrong. I'm with Trump on that. We do need to retain our industrial base but the way to do that is to compete, keep these taxes -- tax cuts in place so we can be on the level playing field. And I have no doubt we can retain our steel, and auto, and our aluminum factories in this country.

America compete. We've got to have -- Bill Clinton, of all people, once said America has to compete, not retreat, and I believe that's as true now as ever before.

HILL: We're going to have to -- we're going to leave it there. We're out of time.


HILL: Stephen, good to talk to you, as always. Thank you.

MOORE: OK, thank you.

HILL: We are following a lot of news on this Monday morning. Let's get right to it.


BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is not what this country needs to reestablish any global stature.


SEN. ANGUS KING (I), MAINE: You want to do these kinds of things with a scalpel, not a chainsaw.

WILBUR ROSS, SECRETARY, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE: If he says something different it will be something different.

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They're all talking about internal staff struggles, not talking about their agenda.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER GOVERNOR, NEW JERSEY: He only creates half the drama.