Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Markets Open after Brutal Sell-off; China Retaliates after Tariff Announcement; Ex-Playmate Speaks Out; Students meet with Lawmakers before March. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 23, 2018 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:30:00] CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Any fears of an all-out trade war may have been slightly exaggerated. They're taking heart from a couple of things. One, the scale of the Chinese response, $3 billion in tariffs, compared to the 50 or even 60 billion that we had from President Trump yesterday. They're also taking heart from the fact that in terms of the previous tariffs that the president announced on steel and aluminum, there's now been exemptions, temporary exemptions, granted to the EU and other trading partners. So I think they're feeling that this may have been a negotiating position from President Trump and this could eventually end up being slightly watered down.

But there's still jitters out there. Don't forget, there's been a -- there's been a number of factors hitting the market this week. Concerns over FaceBook. The Federal Reserve hinting a slightly faster pace of interest rate rises over the long term than many had perhaps expected. And now with trade as well. So certainly we expect that we could see some volatility as the markets continue to trade today.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: You know, Christine Romans, the market down more than 700 points yesterday on the announcement of these tariffs.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes.

BERMAN: What do those tariffs do and what did China announce and what would that announcement mean?

ROMANS: OK, so what China said overnight, those Trump tariffs are arrogant and reckless and China will fight a trade war to the end. So those are fighting words, no question.

Here is what China said they're prepared to do, a 25 percent duty on pork and recycled aluminum, also maybe 15 percent on 120 different products, including fruits and nuts and wines. Many of these categories hit right into Trump voter land. So you can see a strategic reaction there from the Chinese.

The Trump tariffs on Chinese goods, it's up to $60 billion. $50 billion or $60 billion in goods. That's roughly 10 percent of Chinese imports last year. So that's a big, huge category of stuff. And the biggest losers on the Dow yesterday were big companies like Bowing, like Caterpillar, like 3M, that do a lot of business with China. So this is the concern here. You're at the early stages of what could be a very complicated and contentious global trade situation.

Was it an overreaction yesterday? That's what traders this morning are saying. But I think there's a lot of headline risk here for investors because, you know, every day you could see things very, very, very tense between these big trading partners.

BERMAN: Liz Ann Sonders, what are the off ramps for the U.S. and China here if these countries want to avoid a trade war, short of capitulating to the other side's demands?

LIZ ANN SONDERS, CHIEF INVESTMENT STRATEGIST, CHARLES SCHWAB: Well, I think a couple of important things that happened yesterday. I think the rapidity with which China came back with their own list and how detailed it was suggests that they are prepared for this.

One of the things that has worked fairly well in the past, is not just the U.S. going after China one to one, but that if the U.S. could somehow form a coalition of sorts and have China therefore be left sort of on their own. What was odd then about the exemptions that the administration added in, all of which were good news stories with Canada and Mexico and the EU, is that at least as of now it excludes Japan. So that seems to be a disconnect if you truly wanted to have this, you know, allied base coalition.

But beyond that, you know, I don't think any of us have a great sense of what the next steps are going to be from the Trump administration, especially with the moving parts of people involved in this discussion.

BERMAN: No, not when he keeps changing staff, not when he keeps changing his own positions on subjects like the $1.3 trillion spending bill, which he's been on six different sides of a two sided issue over the last 24 hours.

You know, Christine Romans, the market right now up 134 points.

ROMANS: Yes.

BERMAN: But showing investors maybe not as nervous about the idea of a trade war.

If this keeps on escalating, though, what sectors in the U.S. have the reason to be most concerned?

ROMANS: Agriculture, number one. Seriously, agriculture is where I'm the most concerned here because we are a huge exporter and we export a lot to China. And that sends a message immediately to the American farmers. And that's a political message. I mean if you are another country and you want to punish Donald Trump, you punish his voters and you punish that part of the country. No question.

You know, I will tell you, though, that Peter Navarro and Wilbur Ross, the two sort of architect of this policy and this -- and this tradition for the -- this direction for the president, they say that it's a false narrative, that the American consumers are going to pay more. And they say it's a false narrative that somehow, you know, agriculture in this country is going to -- is going to be crippled. And many of the people around the president keep saying, you guys have been wrong. The so-called globalists and the elites have been wrong all along here. This is not going to cause a big trade war. This is only going to right some wrongs that China has done, that we've complained about for years about the Chinese.

So, you know, there's two very different world views here. President Trump was elected to rock the boat and he is rocking the boat. The big worry among some investors is that he sinks the boat.

BERMAN: All right, Christine Romans, Liz Ann Sonders, Clare Sebastian, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, a CNN exclusive, the ex-playmate who says she had an affair with Donald Trump more than a decades ago breaks her silence, and she has a message for Melania Trump.

[09:35:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAREN MCDOUGAL, SAYS SHE HAD AFFAIR WITH TRUMP: I'm sorry. I wouldn't want it done to me. I'm sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BERMAN: For the first time, former playmate Karen McDougal is speaking out, breaking her silence exclusively to CNN, about what she says was a 10 month sexual affair with Donald Trump before he was president. McDougal told Anderson Cooper she met Donald Trump in 2006 at an event for Trump's show "The Apprentice." Anderson began the interview with McDougal describing her first date with Donald Trump. This is what she said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAREN MCDOUGAL, SAYS SHE HAD AFFAIR WITH TRUMP: We were driving over to the Beverly Hills Hotel. And Keith drove around to the back and he said, we have to get out here because we don't want to walk through the hotel. And at that minute I'm like thinking to myself, are we going to a room? Because I thought we were having dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, "AC 360": In the actual restaurant?

MCDOUGAL: Right. Well, we did have dinner at the Beverly Hills Hotel, but in his bungalow instead. We had dinner there for a few hours. We talked for a few hours. And we had a great time. We were getting to know each other. We were talking about his birthday. And then, as the night ended, we -- we were intimate.

[09:40:15] After we had been intimate, he -- he tried to pay me. And I actually didn't know how to take that.

COOPER: Did he actually try to hand you money? MCDOUGAL: He did. He did. And I said, I mean I just had this look of,

I don't know, just -- I don't even know how to describe it. The look on my face must have been so sad because I had never been offered money like that before, number one. But, number two, I thought, does he think that I'm in this for money or why I'm here tonight or is this a normal thing? I didn't know. But I looked at him and I said, that's not me. I'm not that kind of girl. And he said, oh. And he said, you're really special. And I was like, thank you.

So I left. I actually got into the car for Keith to take me home and I started crying. I was really sad. And it really hurt me. But, I went back.

COOPER: Do you have any text messages, photographs, videos, anything that would dispute the Hope Hicks' statement that this never happened?

MCDOUGAL: Let me just say this. If you're in a loving relationship, do you try and collect evidence?

COOPER: That's not what you were thinking about?

MCDOUGAL: No, not at all.

COOPER: When you heard other women coming forward alleging inappropriate touching, inappropriate behavior, I'm wondering what you thought?

MCDOUGAL: Again, I was kind of mortified. I was like, wow, is he capable of that? Because I didn't see that.

COOPER: And what was the thought of selling the story in your mind?

MCDOUGAL: To get my truth out there. I wasn't looking for money, clearly, but when he said it's worth many millions, I'm like, you know --

COOPER: That was something that was hard to pass up?

MCDOUGAL: Sure. Of course. But if you fast forward, I ended up not wanting to do that deal. So we were going to go to ABC and tell the story just to get the story out there and -- for nothing. There was no pay.

I just backed out. I just backed out. Well then the Republican -- he won the Republican nomination, and AMI was interested in the story again.

COOPER: Once Donald Trump won the Republican nomination --

MCDOUGAL: Right. Correct.

COOPER: You're saying AMI suddenly came back to you with interest in this story?

MCDOUGAL: Well, to Keith, yes, to us for the story, yes.

COOPER: Why do you think it was that it was after Donald Trump was the Republican nominee that they came back?

MCDOUGAL: They wanted to squash the story.

COOPER: You're saying they wanted to protect Donald Trump?

MCDOUGAL: I'm assuming so, yes.

Why did I file a lawsuit?

COOPER: Yes.

MCDOUGAL: I want my rights back. I mean --

COOPER: You want the -- the rights -- the life rights to your story?

MCDOUGAL: I want my life rights back. You know, it's been -- yes, I want my life rights back. I feel like the contract is illegal. I feel like I wasn't presented correctly. I was lied to and -- by everybody involved in this deal. I want the rights back. And I want to share my truth because everyone else is talking about my truth, which they're -- I need to share my story.

COOPER: If Melania Trump is watching this, what would you want her to know?

MCDOUGAL: That's a tough one.

COOPER: Or say to her?

MCDOUGAL: Yes, what can you say except, I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I wouldn't want it done to me. I'm sorry.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: All right, there is a lot in here to dissect, and we'll talk about the political implications, which might be greater than the legal implications over the next hour.

First, though, I'm joined by chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

And there are some legal questions here, Jeffrey.

Number one, if you listen to what she's saying, she's suggesting that the fact of her relationship, you know, there was an attempt to cover it up with a payment from this organization that was close to the president.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Oh, absolutely. And, you know, David Pecker, who was the head of AMI, which owns "The National Enquirer," I did a profile of him for "The New Yorker," and I asked about this whole situation about the payments to Karen McDougal. And he said very explicitly, I paid that money because I wanted to get Donald Trump elected president and I paid her and didn't run the story. I did that as a service to my friend Donald Trump. So this was clearly an -- you know, a -- you know, you could call it conspiracy, not a criminal conspiracy, but an agreement to help Donald Trump by burying the story.

BERMAN: This is a definition of an in-kind contribution, by the way. If you're doing something to help someone get elected and it involves a payout of more than $100,000, that sounds like a contribution.

TOOBIN: Right. I mean there are other ways -- you know, that money also went to pay her --

BERMAN: Right.

TOOBIN: For certain articles she'd write about fitness and whatnot.

[09:45:07] But there is no question that the primary motivation for getting her that money before he campaign was to help Donald Trump win.

BERMAN: Keith Davidson was her attorney who handled this agreement.

TOOBIN: Right.

BERMAN: Right.

Keith Davidson was also the original attorney for Stormy Daniels, which seems --

TOOBIN: Small world.

BERMAN: Like to small of a world.

TOOBIN: Right. Well, I mean, you know, there does appear to have been some sort of system in place to try to keep these women quiet. Now the money came from different sources. American Media paid Karen McDougal. Michael Cohen, which I still find unbelievable, says his own money, Donald Trump's lawyer, went to pay Stormy Daniels.

But the fact is, in the lead up to the campaign, there were these multiple payments from people to keep these women quiet. And that's a pretty amazing news story.

BERMAN: There is an allegation of contact as well between Michael Cohen and Keith Davidson in the case of Karen McDougal.

TOOBIN: Right.

BERMAN: You know, if Michael -- is that possible to come up in the Stormy Daniels' lawsuit? Will she be able to say, hey, look, this lawyer is involved with a whole bunch of different things here. There's a pattern.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. And, you know, one of the, you know, great unanswered questions about the 2016 campaign is how many women were paid off for their silence and what affect that had on the campaign?

Now, I don't think paying these women for their silence is illegal in any way. I mean I don't want to suggest that. I mean there's no crime here. But it is certainly, as we are evaluating the history of the 2016 campaign, and evaluating the conduct of Donald Trump and the character of Donald Trump, it is certainly relevant that all these women got paid off.

BERMAN: Do voters have a right to know that one, two, maybe more women were paid off in certain ways to maintain their silences about relationships?

TOOBIN: You know -- and certainly, you know, that -- Karen McDougal's description of that relationship last night, she sure didn't sound like she was lying to me. It's hard -- very hard for me to imagine anyone could watch that interview and think she was making the whole thing up.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, great to have you with us. Thank you very, very much.

Happening now, lawmakers and shooting survivors on the steps of the Capitol. All this ahead of the major rally tomorrow, the "March for Our Lives" nationwide.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:51:49] BERMAN: Students, all kinds of people arriving in Washington ahead of Saturday's "March for Our Lives." Hundreds of thousands of people expected at this anti-gun violence rally at the Capitol and hundreds of thousands of others all around the country.

Parkland school shooting survivor Lizzie Eaton joins me now.

Lizzie, it's terrific to see you again. Thanks so much for being with us.

LIZZIE EATON, MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT: You too, John.

BERMAN: Nearly a million people expected to be there in Washington. You know, I don't even know how many around the country. There are going to be a lot of people marching tomorrow. What does that mean to you?

EATON: I think it's great to see the unity from all over the country and all over the world just for our school. And I never imagined this would happen. So I'm really excited to see the turnout tomorrow.

BERMAN: What are you expecting?

EATON: I'm expecting us to have our voices heard and for them to start making small steps to ban assault weapons and to make us feel safe again.

BERMAN: Last time I spoke to you, you were down in Tallahassee when the Florida legislature had just begun discussing measures. And you told me that you didn't think lawmakers were listening to you. Well, that was before they actually voted. That was before they passed some laws that, one, increased the age to purchase a firearm to 21, instituted a three day waiting period, created a system to police to petition to remove guns from someone deemed a threat, and also put more money towards school safety. Do you consider that to be a victory?

EATON: I definitely do. You know, there's still changes to be made, but this is one small step through a big journey. So I definitely think that was a great first step and I'm excited to see what's to come.

BERMAN: Why is it, do you think, that you had some effect in Florida, the Florida legislature moved on it, while there's been comparatively little movement in Washington, D.C., where you're standing right now?

EATON: Because this tragedy happened in Florida and when we all traveled up there, they really saw how passionate we were about this and that we really wanted to make a change. So I think, you know, Florida, since it happened, that's the first step. And now that we're all here in Washington, hopefully the same reaction will happen.

BERMAN: Do you consider the White House to be an ally of yours on this issue?

EATON: Some things. Like I know President Trump was talking about universal background checks. But, you know, there's some people who are, and some people who aren't, so that's why we're here to talk to them and to get us to hear our stories.

BERMAN: Are you back at school? I mean have you been able to go back to class and get any kind of normalcy back in your life?

EATON: Yes, I've been going back to school. It's a bit hard, you know, seeing the building where it happened and knowing that it could have been anyone. And, you know, I had some classes in there. So for them to be, you know, displaced and to be in different classrooms, it's a little weird. But I'm getting back to it. And we have a really great school system and support system every day there. So it's been -- it's been good.

BERMAN: What do you think we'll be talking about one year from now when it comes to this issue?

EATON: Hopefully there will be more changes. We don't know what's going to come for the future, but hopefully that we'll feel more safer again and that will have some legislation put into place.

[09:55:01] BERMAN: All right, Lizzie Eaton, a pleasure to see you again. Thanks so much for being with us. Good luck tomorrow and good luck on the rest of the school year.

EATON: Thank you so much.

BERMAN: And we should note, CNN is going to have coverage of these marches, these demonstrations all day tomorrow. It should be something to see.

A familiar theme at the White House this morning, shake-ups and chaos, frankly. Minutes ago, the president throwing Congress a curveball on the $1.3 trillion spending bill, suggesting maybe he will veto it. Is this some kind of bizarre bluff?

Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:00:07] BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. John Berman here.