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HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Trump Renews Public Attacks on Amazon; Investors Worry About Potential Trade War; Dutch Attorney Becomes First Person Sentenced In Probe; U.S. Sends Mixed Messages On Its Future In Syria; Putin At The Heart Of Ankara, Washington Meetings; France Braces For Months Of rail Strikes; Aired 3-4p ET

Aired April 3, 2018 - 15:00   ET

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


[15:00:02]

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Nobody has been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump, that is one of the declaration coming from the U.S.

president himself just a short time ago as he stood alongside leaders from three Baltic nations.

The presidents of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania made clear that security is a top priority for them during a news conference at the White House.

Mr. Trump did not directly answer a question about whether they discussed Russia as a threat to its neighbors, but he had this to say about Vladimir

Putin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think I could have a very good relationship with President Putin. I think it's possible

I won't, and you will know about it. Believe me, this room will know about it before I know about it. It's a real possibility that I could have a

good relationship and remember this getting along with Russia is a good thing.

Getting along with China is a good thing. Getting along with other countries, including your three countries is a good thing, not a bad thing.

So, I think I could have a very good relationship with Russia and with President Putin, and if I did that would be a great thing and is also a

great possibility that that won't happen, who knows?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, the Lithuanian president, Dalia Grybauskaite, just walked out of that news conference and she's able to join us live on the phone.

President, thanks very much for being with us. You just had your meeting with President Trump. He told reporters earlier today, no one is tougher

on Russia than me. Do you believe him when he says that?

DALIA GRYBAUSKAITE, LITHUANIAN PRESIDENT (via telephone): I think the situation, the action, sanctions, the 60 diplomats withdrawn from United

States, so that's the action and why we are not looking to the (words) usually because President Putin also says one thing but does another. We

see and we watch and we value what American president and American administration is doing today, and we are quite satisfied for now.

GORANI: So, you're satisfied with the actions the U.S. is taking. You are saying look beyond the words. You were in a meeting with him with two

other Baltic leaders. Did you sense that the president was hearing your concerns and taking your positions into account? How did the meeting go?

GRYBAUSKAITE: The meeting went very well and I think it's very useful because you talk eye to eye and you talk with emotion with information, it

makes a difference and makes an impact. And for President Trump, I think it was also a useful meeting not only for us and we got of course a

commitment to the declaration we adopted today with Article 5 (inaudible) of NATO especially on the reform of NATO itself which yes, pushing Baltic

states very much ahead. So, here we do have I think understanding and a friend and strategic ally with us, so let's give the chance to everybody to

deliver and not only catch up for any (word) (inaudible).

GORANI: OK, President Putin of Russia was meeting his Turkish counterpart today. He said he wanted to -- Russia to take part in the investigation

into the death of the former (inaudible) Sergei Skripal. Your country along with others expelled Russian diplomats to stand in unity with the

U.K. Will you and Lithuania go further than that, further than throwing out a few Russian diplomats?

GRYBAUSKAITE: We already did. We expanded the list, national list of people who are -- for whom prohibited to enter Lithuania, and also, we

expanded an increased amount of people included into Magnitsky Act. So, Lithuania already did quite a lot, and of course, we are fully behind the

U.K. on this issue. And we have added if necessary to go ahead with additional measures, so, yes, I'm very satisfied that the European Union

also quite unitedly reacted, but of course, the leadership of the United States here was also a very good example for us and was also pushing some

other European countries to go for the same measures.

GORANI: Last one, you know, Donald Trump obviously is a very unconventional man and his methods, not a career politician, you know, a

lot of leaders around the world have expressed may be some surprise, some even dismay at his tweeting. What did you find most surprising or

interesting in your meeting face-to-face with him, we're seeing images of you now with him from earlier?

[15:05:01] GRYBAUSKAITE: I will say that it's curiosity which I feel when I meet President Trump because he has unique personality, very interesting

leader, I maybe can softly say that it is predictably unpredictable. And sometimes these features are used with competitors or rivals could be very

useful because the rival or enemy is on constant watch and then some decisions could be made, but the main thing that I am sure that some good

and will make a decision that then time will occur and then will be necessary.

GORANI: The president of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, thanks so much for joining us, just out of that news conference with President Trump in

Washington, D.C. We appreciate your time.

The president of Lithuania, they're actually praising the leadership style, the predictable unpredictability of the U.S. president, Donald Trump.

Let's get a live update from the White House. We're joined by CNN political reporter, Dan Merica.

Let's talk first about the headline here from this news conference, the president talked about Russia, unsurprisingly, he was with the leaders of

three Baltic states that are quite concerned about potential Russian expansionism into their neck of the woods.

DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: If you listen to what the Baltic leaders said throughout their meetings, they talked about Article 5 of

NATO, they talked about the importance of NATO, they talked about beefing up security in NATO, all of that and all those views were meant to counter

Russia in their region, in their part of the world.

President Trump, though, you know, took kind of it on himself to say that nobody has been tougher in the United States than me basically said, Donald

Trump has been the toughest president on Russia and all of this is an attempt to both go after Putin. Certainly, the Trump administration has

gone after Putin, has expelled 60 diplomats, Russian diplomats from the United States. At the same time, as you noted, as you played before your

interview with the president there, that he thinks he could have a good relationship with the president. He's invited him to meet one-on-one,

face-to-face.

So, President Trump is trying to kind of have it both ways. His administration is striking down on Putin and the number of different ways,

sanctions and expelling these diplomats while he is leaving the door open to having a good relationship with the Russian president.

Obviously, all of this and what hangs over all of these comments are the fact that the Russian investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller

continues on and continues to nag the president here in Washington, it's news almost every day. He keeps on hearing about it. His lawyers had

previously told him it would be over by possibly even the New Year and it continues to persist. So, even if this is ongoing, the president is saying

he's trying to keep up good relations with Russia. But all of this cannot be seen through any other prism, but through the special counsel's

investigation, Hala.

GORANI: Right. And the more this counsel's investigation, the special counsel's investigation wraps up, the more tweeting the president does on a

wide, wide variety of topics, immigration, Amazon, the Washington Post, fake news, it goes on and on and on.

One of the things he said today as well that raised many questions is that he's saying that the border with Mexico and the United States will be

guarded with the military until the wall is built. What does that mean because it appears as though military sources aren't fully aware of any

such plan?

MERICA: Yes. The short answer is we don't know much about this. You know, he didn't provide many details when he said this today. He has made

comments like this before, certainly in private. We have previously reported that he's interested in using the military, using that Defense

Department budget to fund some of this wall project, but really when he said it today, he didn't provide many details. Does that mean that there

is an active duty military on the border? Does that mean the reservists are on the border or is it what other presidents are done in the past,

which is dispatch the National Guard? All of this needs to be seen through the prism of his base.

His base voters were really animated in 2016 by his message about immigration, about cracking down on illegal immigration into the United

States. At a time when he is being pestered by kind of ongoing cabinet shuffle by the Mueller investigation he wants to show to his base voters,

I'm still with you, I'm still going to be the same person I was in 2016.

And this comes also at a time when Republicans are trying to vie for seats in the House of Representatives, the critical midterm election year, and

President Trump knows he's going to need those base voters to be with him if he's going to stave off what looks like it could be a really bad

election for the White House.

So, as he talks about immigration, it's important to remember this is a political issue here in the United States and he's trying to make a

political case to the voters that animated his 2016 campaign. While also not providing a whole lot of details about how this is going to work out.

GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Dan Merica. And as I was discussing with Dan, he tweeted about and discussed a whole range of issues. You

mentioned Syria in that news conference as well as China. We'll get to all of that a little bit later because there's a lot to unpack.

[15:10:12] While Donald Trump was meeting Baltic leaders worried about Vladimir Putin, half way around the world, the Russian president is having

meetings of his own. He's in Ankara meeting with his Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, another of the prominent players in the conflict in

Syria, I was going to say proxy players. I mean, you do have Iran. You do have non-state actors as well in that country, Syria, all battling it up.

They will be joined on Wednesday by none other than Iran's president, Hassan Rouhani.

Let's get a sense of all these diplomatic and strategic maneuvers. Our international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson is here. So, is this as

some people have said basically Putin, Erdogan, and Rouhani are just going to meet. It's going to be this 2018 Yalta Conference where everybody just

carves up Syria?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: The answer to that is where is Syria and Syrians at the table. I think that would be the broad

answer --

GORANI: And they are not there.

ROBINSON: -- and they are not there, and the narrative that comes from the United Nations, from the special representative from Washington, from

London is you need to follow the process has been put in place by the U.N., the talks in Geneva.

So the outside narrative would be no, they can't carve it out for themselves. So, the reality is these men are the biggest players and that

what they say --

GORANI: Do you think the reality is they cannot?

ROBINSON: The reality is these are the biggest players and what -- it's in their hands at the moment. However, what they are reminded of from

Washington, from London, et cetera, is that you can't bring peace and they should bring the parties together on the ground. And if you can't bring

peace on the ground then you are going to be mired in a continuing conflict, which is going to kill your soldiers, which is going to cost you

money over a period of time. They are reminded that the path that they're on without bringing in these the opposition players is one that is not

going to succeed.

GORANI: Yes, and as we mentioned, no Syrian representatives there and Putin, by the way, spoke about the Salisbury poisoning, and he said he

seized on the finding from U.K. authorities that the Novichok that poisoned Skripal and his daughter could not be traced back to anyone country.

ROBINSON: Yes, and he --

GORANI: We are going to listen to how he praised that. Sorry, we'll be right back.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): They weren't able to say that this product was produced in Russian Federation. In this

regard, first, it is surprising that there was this speed with which the anti-Russian campaign was promoted and accelerated.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: So, there you have it. So, he's saying you can't even trace it back and we are talking the U.K. authorities here, don't point the finger

at us.

ROBERTSON: Yes. What he also went on to say was that he hopes he can begin to draw a line under this. He said that we need to have a place in

the investigation. There is an emergency meeting at the OPCW, the U.N.'s international body on chemical weapons, and he said his words were several

times that we want to be part of the investigation. They've said this to the British authorities. This is clear what the point that they are going

to make to the OPCW emergency meeting tomorrow and his view is the one that we've heard continuing off in Russia. It wasn't them. Don't blame us.

So, when you are looking at -- let's say some of the Baltic states like Lithuania, you know, that it expelled one diplomat. The pressure on the

countries have only expelled one or two diplomats to isolate them away from this unified position of Britain having expelled a lot, the United States

having expelled a lot.

If there's this question of doubt that Russia can sow and that's exactly what they're trying to do here from the beginning. So, this question of

doubt that they were responsible then they will be hoping that parties will perhaps not try to begin to mobilize their relationship that will be the

aspiration. But his interest in (inaudible) saying he was surprised at how quickly this international reaction was formed.

GORANI: Right. These are in some cases (inaudible) moves, right, expelling one diplomat, the U.S. expelled 60, but there's no cap on how

many Russian diplomats can work in the United States, which means they could send back even the phone number if they wanted with different people

and replace them.

What is with the Putin- Erdogan bromance here because a few years ago Turkey shut down a Russian jet that encroached they said into their

airspace. Now they are signing weapons deals and they're getting along famously.

ROBERTSON: S-400, very sophisticated Russian surface-to-air missile system capable of bringing down planes. Not only that, they're asking Russia to

bring forward the sale of this. It's very clear that Erdogan recognizes that Putin is in control and in charge in Syria. That there are energy

needs that Turkey can get from Russia. If you will, it's sort of stepping out of the fold of the other NATO nations very much so on buying Russian-

made military equipment, but also stepping out of the fold of where it was heading a couple of years ago towards the European Union.

[15:15:07] The Europeans are looking for energy supplies outside of Russia because they feel that that's potential threat. Russia could throttle back

the liquid natural gas that they are supplying on these new pipelines, and then that would put them in a difficult position.

GORANI: We are seeing that in real-time realignments of allegiances and alliances.

ROBERTSON: There are places that are clearer than that.

GORANI: Thanks so much, Nic Robertson. Appreciate having you in the studio as always.

As we were discussing with Nic, one side noticeably absent from this discussions about Syria is, well, Syrians. CNN is reporting from inside

the war-torn country right now and our crew witnessed some rebel fighters leaving Douma, an area inside Eastern Ghouta.

Let's go live to Damascus. Fred Pleitgen is there. You reported on these evacuations from these rebel-held enclave outside of Damascus today. What

did you see?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, people are wondering, Hala, when exactly these last rebel enclaves outside

of Damascus are going to be fully clear of the rebels that have been in there for five years, some of them. And it certainly seems as though right

now there is a drip of people leaving those areas, mostly on buses, and mostly being brought to the north of Syria, which is, of course,

essentially under Turkish control.

Now the Russians say that they are working on an agreement trying to (inaudible) rebels out as fast as possible and it's certainly seems as

though that is something that is taking place. We are not sure that they've reached an agreement just yet. In fact, the rebels denied that,

but it is something that certainly seems to be moving forward and that's very, very significant for the situations here around Damascus, but also

the Syrian civil war in general. Here's what we saw today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN (voice-over): We are at the final entry checkpoint to Douma, which is the last rebel enclave on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. Now

what we've been seeing here is several buses with what we believe to be rebel fighters exiting this area.

Now most of those fighters in the past couple of days have been bused to other locations mostly in the north of Syria. The groups that we saw were

not sure, which rebel group they were from and also were not sure where they were being taken. But in the past couple of weeks, the rebels have

lost a considerable amount of territory here on the eastern outskirts of Damascus. They used to hold a gigantic area, but after extremely heavy

fighting, tens of thousands of civilians fled this area and then also thousands of fighters were bused out as well.

Now with the rebels only holding one small enclave, many believe that a deal will be reached soon for those rebels to go out as well. So, far it's

unclear when exactly that's going to happen. But there do seemed to be people here in Damascus who think it will be very soon. In fact, we spoke

to people who came here to this checkpoint and said that they had relatives who were kidnapped by the rebels. Some of them for years whom they hope

will come out soon. Here's what one woman said.

"I depend on God," she says, "This is my only hope. I will wait here as long as it takes for my father to come out." Now the deal to try and get

the last rebel group here in this part of Damascus called the Jaysh al- Islam to give up is being negotiated mostly by the Russians. And it certainly seems as though the government of Syria believes that deal will

happen soon. In fact, there are already dozens of buses waiting here outside of Douma District ready to take those fighters to the north of

Syria, which essentially would mean that the rebels would no longer hold any sort of significant territory in or outside the Syrian capital.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PLEITGEN: And that, of course, is something that's key on the ground for the situation of civil war in Syria, Hala. It was very difficult for the

Syrian government forces to move their troops around the country especially to those strongholds in the north like Homs, Aleppo, as well. Just getting

them out of Damascus was a problem for a very long time and that certainly isn't the case anymore. One major highway is already essentially being

reopened by the government forces (inaudible) talking about the fact that the Syrians are absent at the negotiating table at that summit between the

Turks, the Iranians, and the Russians. But certainly, on the ground here, you can see the Syrian government forces are making huge strides and have

been especially over the past couple of weeks, Hala.

GORANI: I want to ask you about something the U.S. president said today that he wants to get out of Syria. The U.S. doesn't have a huge military

presence in the country, but it is there. This is what he said during his news conference with the Baltic leaders.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our

nation. We will have as of three months ago, $7 trillion in the Middle East over the last 17 years, we get nothing, nothing out of it. Nothing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: So, Fred, what impact would a complete withdrawal of the small number of U.S. forces in Syria have on the conflict?

PLEITGEN: Well, I think that it would certainly make the hands of the Russians and especially the Turks even stronger than they are, anyhow,

right now, but if you look at some of the territory that's held by those pro-U.S. forces, the Syrian Democratic Forces, those are all areas that, of

course, are highly interesting especially to the Russians.

[15:20:13 - this may be incorrect as I deleted a sentence here since it was a duplicate] Some of them are areas that have oil field. There are Russian

companies that are already involved here that are getting 25 percent cut of all the old fields that are won back by the Syrian government.

And you know, we had a situation, a couple weeks of ago, Hala, where apparently pro-Russian forces seemed to have been irregular forces trying

to move into an oilfield that was held by the Kurds apparently not knowing American special forces were there. And they were really bombed into

submission and they had took some pretty heavy casualties. So, it certainly would make it easier, but I think in general or at least make it

easier for the Russians.

But I think in general, just the president saying that already to a certain extent marginalizes the position of the United States because if you put

yourself in the shoes of those, you know, especially Kurdish fighters that have been fighting (inaudible) the ground forces of the U.S. here in the

fight against ISIS, a lot of them are already alienated and a lot of them have already started talking to us. For instance, the Russians to see what

the situation could hold for them in the future because they are not sure whether they can rely on the United States, Hala.

GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Fred Pleitgen. And confusingly he added if Saudi pays for it perhaps they'll stay. We're not exactly sure

what that means, but certainly, they are news making line out of that news conference. Thanks very much.

Still to come tonight, Britain's Prince Philip is in a London hospital at this hour. The latest on his condition with Max Foster just ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Britain's Prince Philip is in a London hospital today. A royal spokesman said the 96-year-old husband of Queen Elizabeth is scheduled for

his surgery on Wednesday. Well, after 65 years in the spotlight, Prince Philip retired from public life last August.

Max Foster joins us here with the latest details. So, do we know exactly what this operation is meant to address? What it's about?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: No. So, there's been three recent engagements to these councils hasn't turned up on and we found out last

week that it was relating to his hip, and then we find out he's having his operations tomorrow.

I mean, it's his age, as you know he's 96. These operations are most serious to older people, but they're saying it's routine. They don't seem

alarmed in any way. It's whether or not, you know, this operation was brought forward in the circumstances around it. They just don't want to

give, as they say, a running commentary. So, they're not very clear on it, but they don't want to alarm people, that's the point.

GORANI: And how will they communicate further on this issue?

FOSTER: They are going to let us know tomorrow as it happens, how it proceeds. I think there was a rethink after Christmas. Remember, there

were some concern about the Queen, and she didn't appear a couple of times, but she had a cold.

And then speculation went rife and reporters like myself deployed to Buckingham Palace. The feeling was they shouldn't give these updates as

things unfolded. They don't have to feed the media machine but at the same time speculation does rise up if they don't.

[15:25:09] So, I think the feeling is that they will give updates, regular updates, but they are not going to be quiet and they are not going to give

us too much information either.

GORANI: And so, you said, he canceled a few events, but he's still active them. What's the difference between -- what did he retire from last year?

FOSTER: A little bit of a gray area. He retired, but he -- so it's under any official engagement as such, but he can choose to go to engagements and

accompany the Queen if he wishes. It's quite a low bar for him to pull out these things, which is why we are particularly concerned last week.

Also, just last month, you saw carriage driving as well so still fit and healthy and he is very well for his age. And I don't think they'll be

carrying out this operation if they don't think he was strong enough to handle it.

GORANI: At 96, he's got a lot of energy.

FOSTER: A lot of energy and he's with it and he's still cracking his jokes.

GORANI: Yes. Well, we'll wait for more updates. Thanks very much, Max. And the operation is tomorrow morning?

FOSTER: We don't know.

GORANI: We don't know, OK, but tomorrow. All right. Max Foster, thanks very much.

Still ahead, President Trump has repeatedly said it's the source of a tremendous loss for the U.S. economy. Is it China, Mexico or an American

company? Find out which one next.

And Spotify debuts on the big board in a very unorthodox manner. Details coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: U.S. markets are bouncing back after a dismal start to the second quarter yesterday, Monday. It was about half hour of trading left to go.

The Dow Jones is up 1.5 percent more or less. That's 375 points up.

But one prevailing issue for investors is Amazon. It's been taking a daily beating from U.S. President Trump on Twitter which has dragged the stock

down and the tech heavy Nasdaq along with it. This is the Amazon stock there. It's lost some ground, although I understand it bounced back,

right, Sarah, a little bit? It's in positive territory, just a little bit. In any case, this is what Donald Trump have to say about Amazon just a few

hours ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PRESIDENT TRUMP: When you take a look at the Post Office, you take a look at the Post Office and the Post Office is losing billions of dollars and

the taxpayers are paying for that money because it delivers packages for Amazon at a very below cost and that's not fair to the United States. It's

not fair to our taxpayers and Amazon has the money to pay the fair rated the Post Office, which would be much more than they are paying right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: We are going to fact check all this. No worries. Here is Amazon up 1 and 9/10 of a percent trading at 1,397 per share. Richard Quest is

here to help us understand what is going on. He is live in New York. So, Amazon is back. I guess, it's a bit of bargain-hunting, right, for Amazon

because it's been down so much over the last several days?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN ANCHOR, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS": Yes, I mean, look, this stock topped out at a 52-week high of over $1,600. It's down 14 to 15

percent. I have a sort of slight test that I'm doing when asked about this, Hala, and it really comes down to this, when did you last buy

something from Amazon. Ask anybody in the control room, when did they last buy something from Amazon?

GORANI: Sarah, my producer, yesterday. Me, this morning. Who else?

QUEST: Me? Yesterday.

GORANI: Amy, our live show producer, yesterday. How about you, Richard?

QUEST: Full things yesterday, including razors, some cleaning equipment, advisory. Look, my point is this, it's the old Warren Buffet story. Look

around at what people are buying and using in their everyday lives and they are the stocks to buy. And that is why, yes -- and I'll say it, I mean,

I'm not suggesting anybody should buy any particular stock. But Amazon down 14 percent and that's just going to go into a full-scale war with the

president of the United States, which it doesn't seem likely. Remember, Jeff Bezos and Amazon hasn't retaliated against this barrage of offensive

tweets. So it is a good buying opportunity with Amazon at these prices. Yes.

GORANI: Yes. I mean, Jeff Bezos is not minding to start a dispute online or in any other form with the president of the United States, maybe just

let the storm pass.

QUEST: Hannah, this is extraordinary. What you have here is the president launching a personal attack, a dominant attack against a particular

company. But think about this one statistic, Hala, Amazon employs about 530,000 employees. It's the largest private employer in the United States.

The U.S. government has 1.9 million employees. So Amazon is 25 percent the size of the U.S. government in terms of employees. What sort of effect

does it have on half a million employees when they see their share piece beaten up, when they see value diminished of their own 401 K's, because the

president is launching an attack. If you have a --

GORANI: but let's not -- I guess, but let's not forget the president is attacking a company whose CEO also owns in the Amazon, we have to underline

this every time, the Washington post. And the Washington Post has been called time and again fake news by the president and has been attacked

because it has been, well, I don't say credible, it has covered the president, fairly.

QUEST: Right. And if that's an argument that he says is not relevant, but of course it is. The truth is if the president has a legitimate concern at

the post office with its various commercial dealings, then you bring out a policy paper. You put out a white paper, you have discussions, you do not

try and solve this in 280 characters or less when it's going to decimate all of that way, but destroy such large value in a major company. It is

not the way capitalism works, period.

GORANI: Thanks very much, Richards Quest. We'll see you on "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" at the top of the hour, 27 minutes away.

What is behind President Trump's repeated attacks on Amazon? Who better to ask than his former economic advisor Stephen Moore, who is also CNN senior

economic analyst, and he joins me from Washington.

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Hi, Hala.

GORANI: Thanks for being with us. Hi.

MOORE: Just to set the record straight, I don't think I've ever used Amazon in my life, but my wife uses it about every day, so.

GORANI: OK. Well, there you have it. At least one percent in your household certainly who uses it often enough to qualify as a company that

is used in a regular basis. I want to ask you a little bit here about Amazon. Because first of all, I looked into this idea that the post office

is being decimated because of Amazon. Actually, it's just not the true. It's been losing money for years. It has a lot more to do with its pension

scheme than with the fact that it loses money on shipping parcels. In fact, parcels is probably one of the bright spots for the U.S. postal

service. It's registered a revenue increase in that department. So what the president is saying is not factually correct here.

MOORE: Well, I mean, there's no question that the post office has been losing a lot of money for a long time. We probably don't need U.S. postal

monopoly anymore. We should just let it compete in the private sector and let private companies deliver our mail and our parcels.

But look, this point about whether or not Amazon -- by the way, Amazon is a great, great company. I agree with everything that Richard just said.

This is one of our great technological and innovative companies. It's made a lot of money for a lot of millions of American shareholders and produce a

great service to Americans. But there is a legitimate issue here about whether Amazon is paying its fair share in terms of the clause that it is -

- it is charged by the postal service for delivering these parcels. Now, that's also true of other parcel companies as well. Amazon is not

responsible for that pricing mechanism. It's been set by the postal service itself. But there is a real issue about whether companies like

Amazon should be paying more for the parcel delivery.

GORANI: And there's also an issue on whether or not Amazon should be paying more federal taxes. They were taxed in 2017 less than a billion

dollars. This is a company that's almost of the trillion dollar market in terms of market cap. Its revenues are in the billions and billions.

What's going on there? Because what they pay in federal taxes is less than 15 percent.

[15:35:10] MOORE: Well, look, one issue is whether or not an internet company -- because it is an internet company, should be having to pick up

the sales taxes in local governments. That's a dispute that has not been resolved. There's going to a big court case about this coming up. So it's

not resolved in the American jurisprudence. But look, Amazon pays a lot of taxes every year. Do I think they pay too little taxes? No. We just

passed a corporate tax cut because we want companies to grow. We want to encourage the next Amazons to part of the American business structure.

But, no, I do not believe that Amazon pays too little taxes.

GORANI: So what's behind the president's attack on this American company? Why is he attacking an American entrepreneur? The perception is he's

attacking Jeff Bezos because he doesn't like Jeff Bezos, because Jeff Bezos owns the Washington Post.

MOORE: Maybe there's something to that. Look, I live in Washington, D.C. So I read the Washington Post most mornings. And it is true that 90

percent of the stories in the Washington Post are negative about Trump, so they've battened him up pretty badly. Trump probably reads the Washington

Post himself and he's probably getting a little bit fed up about that.

GORANI: But let's assume that's true, which I don't know where you're getting the 90 percent. But let's assume that's true. So what? Isn't the

president of the United States' role as commander in chief to attack a private corporation because its CEO owns a paper he doesn't like?

MOORE: No, I do not believe that the president or anybody in the government should do that. I do not believe we should use the awesome

power of the United States government which has the power to destroy companies. No, I don't think it's an appropriate thing to do. I would

tell Donald Trump that himself to his face. I think we want American companies to succeed. And as I said earlier, Amazon is an incredible

success story. I mean, this is I think maybe one of the two or three most profitable companies in the world today. So we want more of them not less

-- so I want to be very firm here. I do not believe the government should use its power to bully American companies. I think it's a bad idea. It

hurts shareholders.

GORANI: A quick last one that's worrying shareholders of other corporations and that is the potential trade war between China and the

United States and that could have much wider implications, right? And it seems as though now it's little hits here, three billion here, a few

billion there. But what if it escalates?

MOORE: Well, let's hope it doesn't escalate because we saw what happened to the markets late last week where we saw 600, 700 or 800 points declines

in the Dow. But here's an area where I find myself in a lot of agreement with Donald Trump. I'm a free trade guy, I think as you know. But there

is a real issue about whether the United States can continue to have free trade with the country that is stealing our technologies. A government

report finds they're stealing about $300 billion, not 300 million, $300 billion of our technology and our patents and our drugs and vaccines and

computer software and they're not paying us for that. You also have problems where they have all sorts of nontariff trade barriers that inhibit

American companies, the ability to penetrate the Chinese markets the way Chinese companies are penetrating our market.

So Trump is trying to use this leverage of tariffs to try to get China to behave. And you know what? I find myself in agreement. I think most

Americans agree that we cannot continue to allow China to cheat and steal with impunity. But I don't want to see this escalate. I want China to

start behaving itself. But I think Trump does too.

GORANI: OK. Stephen Moore, thanks very much. Appreciate your time on the program this evening.

Well, it was a scene the New York Stock Exchange doesn't get to experience often. Shares in the music streaming service Spotify went public. That,

of course, is not unusual companies go public. But the way the company went about it certainly was.

CNN Money's Clare Sebastian was there to witness the action and she's up in New York Stock Exchange. What was different about how Spotify went public?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, exactly. I think there are questions about whether you can actually all this an IPO, Hala.

It was a direct listing. This wasn't about raising money. The company was simply selling existing shares. So we were expecting a little bit of

volatility. We were expecting it to take a little longer to open than usual IPOs do. That all happened. It was about just over three hours of

price discovery playing out on the floor in real-time, a market mediator essentially trying to set a price based on market demand. Usually you have

underwriters doing that, smoothing the way, bringing ambiguous investors. This was really a live show on the floor of the stock exchange. The CEO of

Spotify, Daniel Ek had said he didn't want any of the pomp and circumstance. He wasn't down here to ring the ball. But he got to hold

different kind of pomp and circumstance.

[15:40:06] As for the volatility, we have seen a little bit. The shares opens at about $165. That is a huge valuation, Hala. That's more than

Snap, that's more than Twitter. They have come down a little bit from there. It just in the 150 last I checked. But I think overall people here

are thinking that this was actually quite a smooth start for Spotify.

GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Clare Sebastian with that. Still ahead, prosecutors warn you should be an example to anyone considering

lying to investigators in the Russia probe. We'll see who's just become the first person sent to prison in Robert Mueller's investigation.

And from Ankara to Washington, Russian president, Vladimir Putin was at the heart of conversations today. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Special Counsel Robert Mueller has just reached a landmark in his nearly year-long investigation of the Trump campaign's ties to Russia.

Today, a Dutch lawyer became the first ever person sentenced in the probe and he is going to prison. A U.S. judge ordered Alex Van Der Zwaan to

spend 30 days behind bars and pay $20,000 in fines. He pleaded guilty in February to lying to investigators over his communications with former

Trump campaign official Rick Gates. That he figured in Mueller's investigation.

Prosecutors warned that Van Der Zwaan's case should be an example to anyone else considering lying to investigators. Let's get more now from CNN

justice correspondent, Evan Perez. So, what did he lie about and what context?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, he lied, Hala, in particular with about communications that Rick Gates, who was the deputy to Paul

Manafort, the former chairman of the Trump campaign. Rick Gates was having interactions with a person that the FBI says was a Russian intelligence

agent and that Rick Gates knew that this person worked for the Russians. And of course, this was all happening in September and October of 2016 in

the middle of the U.S. presidential campaign.

Today, in court, Van Der Zwaan, said -- he apologized to the court and he also said what I did was wrong. But I got to tell you, you could see from

looking at those pictures, you see the slicked back hair. He looked like something out of a GQ photo spread. And he looked a little bored sitting

there in the courtroom. And the judge even scolded him. But in the end, she treated him very leniently. She gave him 30 days in prison. He could

have gotten up to six months. He was facing up to $250,000 in fines. He ended up getting ordered to pay $20,000. All this means that he's going to

get to go back home to London where his wife, who's the daughter of a Russian oligarch lives. And she's due to give birth to their child in

August. So, all in all, it's not a bad day for Alex Van Der Zwaan who could have -- who could have faced even more stricter consequences for

lying to the FBI.

[15:45:02] GORANI: Why was the judge lenient?

PEREZ: Well, I think part of what happened here is that after he lied, he did come clean and provided the documents that the government was asking

for. And that key piece of evidence, the information I talked about, this interaction between Rick Gates and this alleged Russian agent, I think it's

going to be a very key piece of information for this investigation going forward. Because it ties together this key thing that the Mueller

investigation is trying to look at, which is whether or not there's any collusion and improper interaction between the Trump campaign people

associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government. Again, he becomes a key piece of information there for the Mueller investigators.

GORANI: Thank you, Evan Perez joining us from Washington, appreciate it.

At the beginning of the show, I told you about two meetings happening in different parts of the world, but with one man at the very heart of both.

In Ankara, Vladimir Putin was meeting with Turkish counterpart, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. While in Washington, President Trump was meeting leaders

from the Baltic States and answering his own questions on how he treats Russia, saying no one has been tougher on Russia than Donald Trump.

Let's get more on this with Steve Hall. He's a CNN national security analyst and retired CIA chief of Russia operations. He joins me via Skype

from Tucson, Arizona.

So let's talk first about the president. President Trump saying nobody's been tougher. I spoke with a Lithuanian president and she said, well, what

he says and what the U.S. is actually doing, the sanctions, the diplomatic expulsions, we believe that the United States is doing the right thing.

But what do you make of it all?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, a couple things, Hala. The first is, it is undeniable that the United States government has taken

and throwing actions against Russia and Vladimir Putin specifically. Recently, the expulsion of diplomats, ongoing sanctions with regard to

retaliation for the Crimea situation and the criticism that has come not only from the United States but from most of the western allies on the

attempted assassination of Mr. Skripal in England. So there have been some things.

But there's also been a couple of other things. First of all, Donald Trump has not specifically himself come out and criticized Russia and Vladimir

Putin. And you have to look at this through Putin's eyes. Putin lives in a place and he's in control of the place where he is the leader and when

the leader speaks, that's the most important thing. He hasn't heard the leader of the United States speak yet, and that's important.

GORANI: And in fact, he said, maybe we could get along. I mean, he didn't -- he hasn't never been really personally critical of Vladimir Putin.

One of the other things that he said is, I want to get out of Syria unless Saudi Arabia pays for it, in which case maybe we would stay. So that

confused me a little bit. What did you make of it?

HALL: The Middle East situation, I think is a really difficult one for Donald Trump. It's complex. It requires a lot of study, a lot of

contemplative thought and into diplomacy and all the other instruments of power. None of this plays well, I think, into Donald Trump's wheel house.

And of course, the other complicating factor is that there's a Russian element to the Syria problem. And that's a result, frankly, of the

previous administration for not being quick enough when Russia made its way into Syria. So there's a lot of complexity there. And I think we're just

going to have to wait until -- when Donald Trump says something, it might be completely different as we've seen before as to what his advisors have

said. Or even some of his policy implementers have said, so I think we're just going to have to watch and see what happens with Syria.

GORANI: In fact, our Barbara Starr is reporting that her sources -- military sources are saying that the U.S. is considering the exact

opposite, which is sending more troops into Syria. But you mentioned the Obama administration leaving this vacuum that Russia has filled. Probably

no one is happier than Vladimir Putin about Donald Trump saying something along the lines of I want to get out. This consolidates his power in that

important part of the world than he's now with Erdogan and the Iranian president talking precisely about that, about who gets what in Syria.

HALL: Yes. And this is the complexity that doesn't work well, I think, for this administration. I think you're right. Vladimir Putin has to be

very pleased when, again, the guy that he looks to, which is Donald Trump, and so much the White House, not so much U.S. congress, what is the head of

the country say and when Donald Trump is saying things like, well, maybe we need to get out of there and that's a win for Vladimir Putin. We have to

be really careful with the answer. You're right.

The other thing is I think absolutely critical is that Donald Trump actually considered inviting or discussed according to the Russians,

inviting Putin to the White House right after they've done a whole number of unacceptable things on the international scene. So it's a very

complicated relationship. It's difficult to tell what the White House and the president are going to say next about it.

[15:50:01] GORANI: And Vladimir Putin seized on the findings that this Novichok that was used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter could not

be traced back to any one country. This is coming from U.K. investigators and he's basically saying the U.K. made this assessment way too quickly and

here you have your own experts telling you they cannot trace it back to us.

HALL: Well, I think more importantly he's saying much more than that. I mean, the Russian government is doing what they're doing to these

circumstances which is lie bigger and lie harder. They're saying no, it wasn't Russia. As a matter of fact, believe it or not, it was the British

special services that actually attempted this assassination on Skripal, so it's to make us look bad. It's the Old Russian provocations to try to

basically just turn things around. And they know that the west will sometimes believe this because of our western sensibilities. And so it's

worked for them before and now I'm sure that they'll try it again.

GORANI: Were you surprised that U.K. experts said they could not trace this Novichok back to anywhere specific?

HALL: No, it's not a surprise, because again, this is something that the Russians are very good at and that is it's my -- it's my guess, educated, I

guess that the real reason that the British are able to get back to Russia was in terms of where this nerve agent came from is probably through

intelligence sources, which the Russians know the British cannot reveal because it would reveal sources and methods. It would tell them who gave

it to them, probably a Russian. So they will demand proof knowing full well that the British government, the British intelligence services can't

provide that in a public setting. And they'll just say, well, you see? We told you so. There is no proof. Despite the fact that the Russians have

killed a good number of folks that were anti-Putin in Russia -- excuse me, in the U.K. previously and there's just a track record of that. So, who do

you believe on this?

GORANI: Steve Hall, thanks so much for joining us. Appreciate your expertise.

Still to come tonight, the strike is rolling. The trains are not. The travel chaos in France, which is happened to be headed that way is just

ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: Emmanuel Macron won the French election with promises to reform France's labor laws. Now, he's finding out what he's up against, although

he's predicted it. French railway workers paralyzed more than 80 percent of high speed and regional train services today. They say black Tuesday is

just the first wave of pain. This will go on for months.

Melissa Bell joins me now from Paris with more. So, how bad was the -- were the disruptions today?

MELISSA BELL, CNN PARIS CORRESPONDENT: It was pretty bad, Hala. It was in the end on a national level one in eight trains that was running. That

tiny one in five at a regional level. And, of course, travel commuting chaos for many people here in France. But as you say, this is just the

beginning. We're looking at 36 planned days of such action between now and the end of June. So there will be plenty more travel misery to come for

commuters with the leaders of this strike, those who are organizing the action and particular those train union representatives saying that

Emmanuel Macron really hasn't seen the full fury, the full disruption they can unleash and that he will back down. He, of course, is saying that he's

as determined as ever to carry out exactly as you said, Hala, what was essentially his election platform, that he was the man to brush aside left

and right and the entire political class of the past in order to make France at least reformable.

GORANI: I wonder -- because we've seen governments fold, we've seen governments fall as a result of mass strikes in France. Will the Macron

government, though -- I wonder -- I mean, is there the critical mass to put that much pressure on him?

BELL: The key question, I think, Hala, is public support, public opinion. The last strike and sort of social action on this scale was back in 1995.

And you're point right, Alain Juppe, who was the prime minister at the time folded on a number of his most controversy measures. The streets were seen

to have won. The unions were seen to have won and this sort of idea that France was essentially unreformable was born.

[15:55:15] The big difference now is that the breadths of those taking part of this strike are pretty important. It isn't simply the rail workers. It

is also, for instance, Air France, it is people who work in waste management. Students also have gone on strikes. But nothing like the

breadths that we saw back in 1995. And crucially, public opinion does not appear to be as firmly behind this action as it was back then.

The other thing on Emmanuel Macron's side, Hala, is the strategy that he's chosen. You'll remember that when he reformed those labor laws that you

mentioned back in the autumn, he went through these presidential decrees that many of you saying him of wishing to bypass parliament with. Once

again, he is using them this time, that means consultations, it means there will be compromises. And what the government hopes is that by the end of

this process, they will manage to get most of their reforms through, as they did with the labor laws without too much of a parliamentary fight.

Hala.

GORANI: All right. Melissa Bell, thanks very much with that.

In the U.S., it's teachers who are walking out, some very vocal protests. Tens of thousands have walked out in the state of Oklahoma and in the state

of Kentucky. Oklahoma teachers are among the lowest paid in the United States and you'd be shocked at how low they're paid. But it's not just

about pay. They're also protesting a lack of basics like paper, desks, and books.

And finally, here's a good lesson on why you should always check what's lying around the house. A director of an art complex was poking through

his galleries closet and he stumbled across an old oil painting.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERT WARREN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HOYT SHERMAN PLACE: I was a little surprised because it's a wood panel painting. I didn't really know much

about it, but until I looked at the back of it and I could see the webbing. The contents of the front was so badly damaged and there were water stains

on it. In a room filled with junk, I had no idea that it was as valuable as it turned out to be.

GORANI (voice-over): Oh, it was valuable. The painting is the work of 16th century Dutch master, Otto van Veen and it's likely worth more than $4

million.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Thanks for watching. I'm Hala Gorani. "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" is up next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(CLOSING BELL RINGING)

QUEST: Closing bell ringing on Wall Street. Dow Jones very strong, late rally in the afternoon, just around 3:00 we'll get to grips with that on a

day. Oh, yes, sir. Well done.

END