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President Trump Taking Policy Advice From Fox News?; Oklahoma Teachers Stage Walkout; Trump Attacks Amazon, Stocks Dive. Aired 3- 3:30p ET

Aired April 2, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:03]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: This is day one for him on the job, for the former TV personality, who has been a vocal critic of Trump's tariff plans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LAWRENCE KUDLOW, PRESIDENTIAL ECONOMIC ADVISER: Tariff hikes are prosperity killers. They always have been and they always will be.

Look, if it's $50 higher, if it's $100 higher, that can hurt. That can hurt a family budget. It could be more than that. Look, in theory, if you raise the tariff by 25 percent, the price can go up by 25 percent. OK?

You have got also 155 million Americans who are working. It's incalculable, but so many of them, particularly the middle and lower, middle income, are going to be hurt by this tax.

It comes down to understanding that tariffs, particularly across-the- board tariffs like this, damage the users of the commodity, in this case, steel. It's a tax.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So I have Richard Quest with me, our CNN Money editor at large.

But I also want to begin with CNN's Alison Kosik, who is downtown at the New York Stock Exchange with some of these numbers.

And so talk me through some of the reaction and what may be some of the factors going into the numbers this afternoon.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK, you look at the Dow down right now, Brooke, 626 points. That's actually off the lows of the session, so it's looking pretty good right now, because we're seeing things stabilize.

The mood here, very calm. The way many traders see it is we have seen the market go up, up and up and it's about time we see the market correct. However, I did talk with one trader who did say for a president who claims to be pro-business, that President Trump is literally killing the stock market, especially with his tweets.

Many telling me they want those tweets about Amazon to stop. You look at Amazon shares, that really has been a major driver for the run-up in the market that we have seen. Just year-to-date, you look at those shares for Amazon, up over 60 percent. You know, 12 percent of that run-up for Amazon shares are due to the Trump rally right after he was elected.

So many are saying that the president is pretty much shooting himself in the foot every time he sends a tweet out for Amazon. The other reason, the other trigger for the huge sell-off today, many traders say, yes, that is generated by the president as well, and that is the worrisome feeling here on the floor that we could be in for some sort of trade battle, or at this point, rather, trade dispute, but some sort of trade battle with China -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: So, Richard Quest, you hear Alison saying a lot of these traders are saying, it's the president. The president is doing this. He has his finger on the stock market with all the criticisms against Amazon. How do you describe what's going on?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the sense that the president is lighting the blue touch paper of the firework, yes, he is. There's no question.

But what you have -- to completely mix the metaphors, you have had a market that has risen very fast, very sharply, to vertiginous heights. And you end up with this tower that's a bit wobbly.

Now, in that scenario, what you would like to see is concrete being poured in to support the tower, these gains. Instead, what you have got is somebody digging the foundations out. You have got somebody giving it a good shake, and that's what these tweets are doing.

The reason the market is down 641 points today is not simply because of a presidential tweet. It's a presidential tweet on top of allegations and threats of trade wars, on top of trade sanctions coming from the Chinese, on top of the prospect of more in the future over intellectual property.

And that is the foundations, if you like, of this market being weakened.

BALDWIN: But part of the reason the concrete isn't being poured, to continue your analogy, is entirely in the control of the president of the United States. He is criticizing that American company. He is the sitting American president. And depending on who you talk to, it's political and personal, and it's all about Jeff Bezos, who's in charge of "The Washington Post," and not just about Amazon, although he has points on mom and pop shops losing business.

QUEST: Right.

But there is a general principle of constitutional law and that is governments do not attack individual persons and they do not attack individual companies with the force of law. What this president is doing is exactly that. He has chosen to go to

war with Amazon, as he did before he took office against Boeing and Lockheed and others. So, yes, there is a reason why this is happening.

BALDWIN: Isn't that dangerous?

QUEST: Look, let me ask you this question.

BALDWIN: Hit me.

QUEST: When did you buy something last from Amazon?

BALDWIN: Probably three days ago.

QUEST: Right. I bought four things from them yesterday. Ask yourself the same question. When did you buy something from Amazon? The reason I say that is not to say how brilliant Amazon is.

I say that to prove a point that he's attacking a company that is now at the heart of the U.S. economy and the global economy. And when you start doing that, I mean, just think about every purchase you have made. When you start attacking Amazon, you really are tinkering with the foundations of this market at the moment, because you don't know who's next. You don't know where it's going next.

[15:05:03]

But why tinker with it when the economy has been so great?

QUEST: Absolutely.

BALDWIN: And he has run on -- I understand the jobs piece, to prove his point, that a lot of people are -- when was the last time you went to a brick and mortar store vs. hopping online at Amazon? I understand his point. But isn't it dangerous to be tinkering with the economy by criticizing this company?

QUEST: It is -- I won't say -- it is dangerous. It is bordering or irresponsible because a tweet, in 280 characters or less, you cannot advance a nuanced position on policy, which is what he's talking about in relation to the post office and how much money they have spent and how much money they're losing because of Amazon's contracts and whether Amazon, mom and pops -- these are extremely complicated issues that go to the heart of retailing at the moment.

And you're going to solve them with a tweet of 140 or 280 characters? That shows the difficulty of this thing. This market ain't rallying, not without some purpose.

BALDWIN: OK.

QUEST: Not today.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Richard Quest, you probably aren't. Let me give you that credit. I'm going to give you that credit.

Richard Quest, thank you so much.

QUEST: Yes.

BALDWIN: So as we keep our eye on the market for the next hour here, it isn't just Amazon falling victim to the president's Twitter fingers.

President Trump unleashed myriad tweets, everything from the dreamers, to his own Department of Justice, even going as far as calling the actions of the agency a -- quote, unquote -- "embarrassment to our country."

This after a series of tweets in which the president declared DACA is dead, claimed the U.S. is being stolen by undocumented immigrants, threatened to pull out of NAFTA and again called for a wall. Then the president placed the blame squarely on Democrats.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrats have really let them down. They have really let them down. They had this great opportunity. The Democrats have really let them down. It's a shame. And now people are taking advantage of DACA and that's a shame.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Give me one second.

First, Michael Bender, CNN political analyst, White House reporter for "The Wall Street Journal."

Michael, nice to see you.

MICHAEL BENDER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi.

BALDWIN: All these outbursts from the president, right, name the issue. I want you to tell me who has been in his ear in the last couple of days to explain what has been going on.

BENDER: Well, I think it's more the other way, who hasn't been in his ear. He was down in Mar-a-Lago. He spent the weekend with friends and family and staff.

And one person who wasn't down there for the weekend was Chief of Staff John Kelly. John Kelly has told us several times that his job is not to stop president from tweeting. But part of his job, like his predecessors, has been to narrow the type of information, to cull the information that the president gets.

And what the president has been getting is a steady stream of conservative media that has been focused, and this part -- when it comes to the DACA issue, on immigrants coming from Central America. Now, the conservative media and Republicans blamed President Obama when DACA was approved for an uptick in immigration -- illegal immigration among children when it happened.

And it was -- but what the president's tweet missed, you're talking about the nuance, how it's hard to get nuance in a tweet on economic policy -- same goes for immigration. There's a lot of violence down in Central America and that's helping push a lot of people to the border.

But what the president here is doing is blaming his political opponents, once again, for some of the nation's biggest problems. It's worked for a while on immigration, but we will see how long that works. He mentioned the Democrats missed an opportunity to deal on DACA.

Well, this president declined the opportunity and a couple of offers from Democrats to fix the issue as well.

BALDWIN: That's right.

BENDER: So, as much as he wants to blame his opponents for this, he's going to own this issue very, very soon, if not already.

BALDWIN: You mentioned the caravan. We are going to talk to Raul Reyes in just a second here on exactly what it is, the significance and the facts of that.

But let's talk about another tweet, Michael, from the president on his own Department of Justice and FBI. So this is what he tweeted.

"So sad that the Department of Justice and the FBI are slow-walking or even not giving the unredacted documents requested by Congress, an embarrassment to our country."

Yes, these attacks aren't new, but that's the point. When a U.S. president calls the Justice Department and the FBI an embarrassment, that is what's noteworthy and should continue to be.

BENDER: Yes.

And, Brooke, I think what you're doing here is taking the long view of this and the damage that this can do to a very important federal agency. And so often, the president's tweets are more about the moment. And what we know about the moment is that he's very upset with Jeff Sessions, as attorney general, who is not going to leave on his own.

So he's going to continue to try to shame him into leaving. And at the same time, these sort of tweets will serve to discredit the Mueller investigation. That's the arm of the DOJ.

[15:10:00]

And as long as he is criticizing that, the department, it has the effect of casting doubt on the investigation, so that if that comes back with some tough news for him, he can say, well, I told you so on this a long time ago.

BALDWIN: Sure.

Michael Bender for us at the White House, nice to see you. Thank you so much.

We mentioned the caravans a second ago. I really want to hone in on that. The president's outrage over these migrant caravans and the dreamers is getting echoed by the Department of Homeland Security.

Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen fired off these tweets, writing that the department is working with Mexican officials to address the caravans and she is demanding Congress address any immigration loopholes.

Raul Reyes is with me, an immigration analyst, attorney, and opinion writer for CNN.com.

So, welcome. Nice to see you.

RAUL REYES, CNN.COM OPINION WRITER: Nice to see you again.

BALDWIN: First, these caravans, annual caravans. It has been going on for a number of years.

REYES: Right.

BALDWIN: Can you first tell me about them? Who are they?

REYES: What they are, this is a group of people, they known as Pueblo Sin Fronteras, meaning the People Without Borders.

They are literally a caravan, a group of people from Central America who are attempting to pass through Mexico to the United States border. Now, what they are aiming to do is to, most of them, to seek asylum, because they are from Central American countries. These are people who are really fleeing for their lives, so they're not really to be confused with the issue, the whole issue of DACA.

But that's what the president is doing is sort of conflating these two issues. But where this does have direct relevance to what the president is doing is the president, in his tweets, he was saying Mexico is doing nothing in terms of addressing this problem.

Mexico actually is doing a lot in terms of deterring migrants at its southern borders, because Mexico -- the people who enter Mexico from Central America, they don't -- their destination is not Mexico. They want to pass through Mexico to come to the United States.

And every year, Mexico deports between 80,000 and 160,000 people at its southern people. But the more that Trump denigrates Mexico for he says, is they're doing nothing, the less inclined they are to do this, which is one reason why this caravan, which has happened in the past, that's one reason why it's been so big this year, because the Mexican government is allowing it to gain steam and go forward.

And what I don't think Trump has grasped is a real reckoning is coming in July, when Mexico has its presidential election. The new president is very much a Mexican nationalist. He's a front-runner right now and he is running very much on an anti-Trump administration, push back against Donald Trump platform. So, there will be a regime change.

BALDWIN: Before, though, we think of the Mexican election, the question is , well, how did the president get on this to begin with?

And so maybe perhaps he was watching the other channel and saw this segment. Roll it.

(LAUGHTER)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: An army of migrants is literally marching or riding or making their way from -- is it from Honduras?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: From -- most all of them from Central America. The big question is, what happens when they do arrive in the U.S.? I know they want to seek protection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some are speaking asylum.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But they won't necessarily get that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, no, they're going to be arrested. You can't illegally come to the United States.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will they, though? I don't know.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think? If there's a small migrant army marching toward the United States peacefully, but wants to cross our border, how should it be handled?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Army, small migrant army.

REYES: Exactly. It's presented very much as a threat.

But touching on something that you were asking Michael Bender about, about who had the president's ear in Florida, John Kelly did not go with him to Florida. Stephen Miller did. And Stephen Miller is one of the true immigration hard-liners.

He views this type of movement as a -- or anything related to undocumented immigration, even legal immigration, as a tremendous threat to this country. What will likely happen to these people, if they make it to the U.S. border, they have a right under international law, under a U.N. High Commission of Refugees, to apply for asylum.

Some may be denied. Some may be taken to detention if they're unaccompanied minors. But this is the law. If Trump doesn't like that, he would have to work with Congress to reform our policy toward asylum seekers and refugees.

But this is not the same and should not be in any way conflated with the DACA situation. Totally different.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Which, by the way, isn't even accepting other people and is something that the president put an end to and then kicked it to Congress.

(CROSSTALK)

REYES: Right. He created this crisis.

BALDWIN: Yes.

Raul, thank you so much.

REYES: My pleasure.

BALDWIN: Nice to have you on, Raul Reyes.

REYES: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, the White House and the former VA chief at odds over whether the former secretary was fired or resigned. We will explain why that difference really matters.

And President Trump welcomed several FOX new hosts to Mar-a-Lago over the weekend -- how their advice may have more influence over policy than the actual members of his own Cabinet.

And these huge protests today, Kentucky, Oklahoma, these are educators, teachers who say they're not getting enough pay and their students are not getting the resources they need to succeed. We will speak live to one couple, both of whom are teachers, who walked out of their classrooms today.

You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:19:07]

BALDWIN: Did he jump or was he pushed? That is the question surrounding former Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin. Shulkin left his post at the VA just last week.

The White House says Shulkin resigned during a phone call with the chief of staff, John Kelly, who was calling to tell him the president planned on removing him as the head of the department.

But you talk to Shulkin, he maintains he did not leave voluntarily and was instead fired in a tweet from the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Were you fired or did you resign?

DAVID SHULKIN, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: Well, I came to Washington with the commitment to make our system work better for veterans. That's the commitment I went to work every day. I continue to feel strongly about that.

There was no reason why I would resign.

CAMEROTA: So why don't you just say you were fired?

SHULKIN: Well, I think that's the alternative to resignation. I received a phone call saying that the president wanted to make a change. And that's certainly his prerogative to do that, and that's what happened.

[15:20:06]

CAMEROTA: You received a phone call from Chief of Staff John Kelly, who fired you?

SHULKIN: General Kelly gave me a heads-up that the president would most likely be tweeting out a message in the very near future, and I appreciated having that heads-up from General Kelly.

CAMEROTA: So the tweet fired you?

SHULKIN: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Yes, he says.

CNN politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza is with me.

Listen, it may be seem like we're parsing words, but how Shulkin left his job is critically important to the future of the agency. Tell us why.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: OK, first of all, Brooke, we may be parsing words, but that's because politicians parse words.

So, it's important. All right, so let's throw up here why it matters. OK, here's what we know. David Shulkin, not the VA secretary anymore, but natural line of succession would go to his deputy, Thomas Bowman. It didn't go there.

Instead, it went to Robert Wilkie. Why does that matter? Because there is an act within the federal government that allows the president of the United States, totally no problem, to appoint a preferred replacement when a Cabinet member resigns.

It doesn't make that same provision, much less clear at least, when a Cabinet member is fired. It matters because you now have Donald Trump's choice, Robert Wilkie, who's going to be there for a while because this guy over here , Ronny Jackson, who is it's White House physician, who is Trump's nominee, has to be confirmed by the Senate.

So this person, Robert Wilkie, is going to be there for a little while. So the fact that he's going to be the acting VA secretary could well open the Trump administration up to legal challenges, because he bypassed the obvious next person in line. So parsing words does matter. But I also want to talk about this

weekend at Mar-a-Lago. Can we go to that slide?

BALDWIN: Yes. Yes. Tell me who he spent his weekend with and why that matters as well.

CILLIZZA: OK. So, this is totally fascinating. Amid all this, did he resign, did he get fired, we know that Donald Trump is getting rid of people who tell him things he doesn't like -- David Shulkin is one example of that -- and bringing in people who tell him things he does like or he feels closer to, Ronny Jackson being an example of that.

OK, so these are the people Trump was with from Thursday until last night. He was at Mar-a-Lago in Florida for the Easter break. Here are some of the people he met with. What's the common theme here? Well, number one, there's a lot of FOX News folks, Jeanine Pirro, Sean Hannity, Bill Shine, all in there, Bill Shine, former uppity up in FOX world, these two being on air.

All of these people, Don King, you will recognize if you have been alive in pop culture for the last 30 years. Bernard Kerik is a guy who is sort of a loyalist in the Rudy Giuliani mold.

Mike Lindell, you have seen him on TV, the MyPillow guy, sell those MyPillows and is again a Trump loyalist. All of these are people who Donald Trump, number one, feels comfortable with, number two, people Donald Trump has seen on television, and, number three, people who largely tell Donald Trump what Donald Trump wants to hear.

BALDWIN: Likes to hear.

CILLIZZA: Remember, who he chooses to spend time with matters. It influences his thinking. It is not by accident that after a weekend with these six people, Brooke, we got a lot of very hard-line immigration tweets, this morning, an attack on the Justice Department.

That is not an accident. He is influenced by who he talks to. When he talks to people like this, you are going to get a certain version of Donald Trump and that's what we have gotten.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Those were the people who were in his ear, thus the tweets over the last couple of days.

Chris Cillizza, thanks so much breaking that down perfectly for me.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Next: Oklahoma schools closed again tomorrow in the midst of a massive walkout from teachers. A husband and wife who are both teachers join me live to explain what it is they're asking of from lawmakers.

And her home newspaper is among those calling for a Democratic congresswoman to resign after she kept her chief of staff for months, despite allegations of abuse against him. And now her boss, Nancy Pelosi, is weighing in on this.

Back in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:28:30]

BALDWIN: Tens of thousands of teachers from Kentucky and Oklahoma are rallying on the steps of their respective state capitols today. They are demanding more education funding for students and better pay for teachers.

This was the scene inside of the Kentucky Statehouse. Teachers flooded the chamber, chanting "Rocky, Rocky." That's the name of the minority leader there, Rocky Adkins, as lawmakers were making their way inside.

Outside, other protesters say they're upset about a bill that would bring unwelcome changes to their pension plans.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think we realize that the election cycle is where we're going to have the reality show through, but what we really want to say to all of them is that is we are out here, we are vocal, we are apparently in front of you, and we believe that what you have done is wrong.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: In Oklahoma, teachers there did get a pay raise, did receive more school funding, but it was well below what they wanted and well below what many say is necessary to survive and provide these young people a quality education.

So, with me now, Jason and Jessica Lightle, both Oklahoma teachers who walked out today.

So, welcome, welcome to both of you, and thank you for being teachers, first and foremost.

JASON LIGHTLE, OKLAHOMA TEACHER ON STRIKE: Thanks for having us.

JESSICA LIGHTLE, OKLAHOMA TEACHER ON STRIKE: Thank you very much for the opportunity.

BALDWIN: I want to get into, obviously, why you all are walking out today, but just a little bit about your lives.

I mean, tell me, what time are you up in the morning? How many jobs do you have to work to make ends meet?

JESSICA LIGHTLE: We both work two jobs.

We're up at 7:40 -- well, we're at work at 7:45.

JASON LIGHTLE: Five o'clock.