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Dow Opens Higher; Pruitt Scandals; Kelly's Influence in White House; Imprisoned ISIS Fighters; Delay in Cosby Retrial. Aired 9:30- 10a ET

Aired April 9, 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] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Watching the market open with us, 500 points down on Friday, expecting to see some gains early today, Alison.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, John.

We are expecting to see stocks bounce back, of course, with the help of White House officials who made the Sunday morning talk shows circuit trying to allay fears that there's an impending trade war coming between the -- between China and the U.S. But every investor knows that, you know, the genie is out of the bottle, that this issue over trade is far from resolved. It still will hang over the market and cause a lot of uncertainty.

The reality is, it caused stocks to crash at some point during the past several weeks. The S&P 500, the Dow have lost all their gains for the year. And that doesn't spell good news for Donald Trump, who bills himself as the stock market president. Last year the money that people made, that investors made, actually was one of the best for President Trump. But, since then, not so much. It doesn't even rank in the top five.

If you invested in stocks, in Dow stocks, since inauguration day, now it doesn't even register in that top five for Donald Trump. It actually is less than other presidents, like Clinton and H.W. Bush, as well, and Obama.

As we see the opening bell settle in here for the day on this Monday morning, we do see the Dow up 179 points.

John, back to you.

BERMAN: All right, Alison Kosik, down at the New York Stock Exchange.

You know, Bianna Golodryga, it is very interesting, the president seems to be all in on this tet-a-tet (ph) or, you know, with China right now and his people have been trying to back off the notion that there will be a trade war. All weekend they were trying to calm those fears. Do you think it's working?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Look, this is not sustainable, this sort of back and forth, the markets down 500 points one day, up, you know, 200 points the next day. The markets are forward looking indicators, right? And for business leaders, you're hearing from them, who supported this president, saying, we cannot afford a trade war. We need to have some sense of direction as to where this country's policies regarding trade are going so that we can make business decisions and implement them going forward, as well.

It is quite unnerving when you see the president make one statement saying that it may hurt for the next few months or the next few years, but in the long term it's going to end well for us. And then you have his top advisers, like Larry Kudlow, coming out and saying the president doesn't want a trade war, let's walk back, and you see the markets reacting minute by minute --

BERMAN: Right.

GOLODRYGA: To different comments and different commentary, not unlike what we're seeing with Syria, by the way. So this is not just reflective of the president's economic agenda, but foreign policy as well.

BERMAN: And the investors just don't know because the people in the White House, frankly, do not know where this is headed.

GOLODRYGA: Right.

BERMAN: They don't know what the president --

GOLODRYGA: These are serious issues.

BERMAN: Absolutely.

Just one more point on Pruitt before we leave this matter all aside, the EPA chief. One of the reasons that apparently he has claimed he needed all this security, which is about $2 million worth a year for security for the EPA chief. As he said, there's been unprecedented death threats. That's what the president says on that. Well, Buzzfeed apparently FOIA-ed the EPA and the EPA says there's no record of any death threats against Scott Pruitt.

GOLODRYGA: Look, Scott Pruitt may have the president on his side, at least for now, and that's something that he considers a positive. What he doesn't have on his side are many insiders at the EPA. And so if the president or Scott Pruitt is waiting for this to die down and over the next few weeks the subject matter changes, I think what we're seeing here is the consistent drip drip of leaking coming from within the EPA itself and those who know him. And every day a new headline that embarrasses the EPA, that embarrasses Scott Pruitt, that embarrasses this administration of, you know, getting rid of the swamp, I think the president may shift gears and go back to what Alex had said, you know, it may be time for him to leave.

BERMAN: You know, it's interesting, the president wrote about Scott Pruitt over the weekend. He also wrote about the chief of staff, John Kelly, denying this "Washington Post" report, yet a new report, that the chief of staff is unhappy and, you know, may be considering leaving and has no power left in the administration right now. You do wonder what drives John Kelly to show up to work every day if he is as upset as these stories, Errol, seem to say he is.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, the reporting has been excellent, by the way. The president always denounces the unnamed sources and so forth.

BERMAN: Right.

LOUIS: Those unnamed sources, if you lay story after story from "The Washington Post," from "The New York Times," they all appear to be accurate. Getting inside his mind as to what drives him, let's take him at his word, let's take him at his career, his life's work has been public service. And everyone who walks in that White House, whether or not they were originally part of the political Trump -- Trump political operation knows that there's a lot of work to be done there. There's a lot of chaos there. There's a lot of unfilled positions. There's a lot of fuzziness coming out of the Oval Office itself. That anybody who wants to lend some clarity to that is really doing a benefit to all of us. And I'm going to assume that that is what brings Kelly there every day under very trying circumstances that may not last very much longer.

BERMAN: Alex.

ALEX BURNS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think Errol sort of alluded there to a looming issue for the White House as -- that sort of ties together the John Kelly situation, the Scott Pruitt situation, a lot of other issues -- personnel issues that they've had lately. They are already looking at three tough confirmation fights for secretary of state, CIA director, and secretary of Veterans Affairs. If you were to throw EPA on top of that, if you were to throw a search for a new chief of staff on top of that, and this is not even anticipating other members of the cabinet who may face scandals or who may, at the year and a half mark decide, actually, I'd like to move back to New York or wherever else.

[09:35:19] You are looking at a really grueling schedule of confirmation hearings for the Senate and you're looking at a really tough lift for the White House in terms of vetting people and finding people to do difficult jobs under a lot of scrutiny at a moment when the administration is not in a great place. That is a really, really rough position for the president to be in. And it doesn't seem like it's getting easier.

GOLODRYGA: And counter that with reports that the president wants to be his own chief of staff and is sort of emboldened now that he's surrounded himself with the people he feels most comfortable with. You could make the argument that Kelly is saying because he feels that there needs to be some sense of a purpose there and somebody manning the ship, regardless of how the president feels about it.

BERMAN: And it always matters, right? I mean you need order in the White House always. You want to have a sense that the systems are in place and working the way they should always.

But, on a day like today, Errol, you want it in particular. There is a discussion, or needs to be a discussion within the next several hours, about whether the United States will take a military response against Syria for an apparent chemical weapons attack.

LOUIS: Well, that's right. There are thousands of U.S. military men and women who are right in the middle of this. There are millions of refugees that, you know, have already left that region and you've got Israel, the important ally to the U.S., that's also now sort of ramping up operations.

It's not clear what the policy is. As you and others have reported, we've heard one thing. We've seen another. You know, last summer he's launching tomahawk missiles. This year he's saying, well, we're going to be out of there pretty quickly. And all along we've got nothing but sort of indecision and chaos.

Here again you've got a chief of staff, you've got a national security operation that the president has partly been at war with that's trying to make sense of all of this. And as we get closer and closer to the midterms, I'm thinking that the chaos itself is going to be one of the main things that the Democrats run on. You know, whether you like the policy, whether you think we should stay in Syria, whether you think we should pull out of Syria, we've got to have a policy. We've got to have some direction. We've got to have some leadership and some clarity.

BERMAN: And to be clear right now, this is an issue over right or wrong policy. We just do not know where the president stands on this.

GOLODRYGA: Right. And the bigger issue here, at least one of them, facing whatever decision we ultimately make is that for now at least Assad is not going anywhere. So how do you explain to the American people and the American public that whatever action America is going to be taking, that this man, who is, by the way, the one behind from every indication we're hearing, the one -- the man behind the gassing of his own people will be staying in power. That's a hard sell for Americans.

BERMAN: Right. Bianna, Errol, Alex, thank you all so much for being with us. Covered a lot of ground today, Really appreciate it.

They're accused of carrying out gruesome beheadings that shocked the world. CNN has an extraordinary interview with two jailed ISIS terrorists. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:42:09] BERMAN: New this morning, Russia claims there is no evidence that Syria used chemical weapons on its own people, but the pictures appear to tell a very different story. This apparent attack comes just days after President Trump said the U.S. would withdraw from Syria very soon. The president has been primarily focused on the battle against ISIS in Syria.

Our Nick Paton Walsh sat down with two jailed ISIS fighters, once among the most wanted terrorists in the world. Nick joins us now with this remarkable interview.

Nick, these people were part of a group known as "The Beatles," behind horrifying acts, including beheadings, correct?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed. In fact, the State Department includes the two men you're about to see an interview with as being behind potentially waterboardings, crucifixions and beheadings of some western hostages.

And, of course, standing in a town like Kabani (ph), the seat of so much fighting against ISIS, you can be remembering exactly how at one point ISIS appeared ten feet tall to some degree, yet these men are extraordinary ordinary, snickering sometimes, confused, incoherent, angry, again, extraordinary to some degree, but also still able to say some extraordinary things.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

WALSH (voice over): Once some of the world's most wanted, but now nobody wants them. The last two of the British ISIS cell dubbed "The Beatles," now jailed in Syria and suddenly fond of the home they spurned (ph).

WALSH (on camera): Would you prefer to be tried anywhere in particular, like the U.K.?

ALEXANDA KOTEY, BRITISH ISIS DETAINEE: Definitely familiarity is the easier option. My experience with the British judges is that they're quite fair and just.

Yes, I might miss like a fish and chips.

WALSH (voice over): They revel in their rights, like presumed innocence, when I tell them several westerners they allegedly imprisoned and abused in ISIS jails like these have identified their voices and faces.

EL SHAFEE ELSHEIKH, BRITISH ISIS DETAINEE: It's just an accusation legally speaking. You know, if the -- if the Britain's said we're going to deal with you by -- with barbaric law or with law from the medieval ages, then, yes, hung draw (ph) and court me, right? That's not the case. I'm just merely pointing that out. I don't believe in democracy. But I am being subjected to democratic law. So it is only right for those who claim to uphold this, to fully uphold it, because it -- it's their mistake, not me really.

KOTEY: I think the American administration or the British government, they decided they want to be champions of the sharia, Islamic law and apply Islamic law upon myself and Shafee, then, by all means. If not, then they should adhere to that which they claim to be champions of.

[09:45:06] WALSH: ISIS is nearly defeated, but the arrogance of their beliefs is not.

WALSH (on camera): What keeps you awake at night?

KOTEY: There's these lice in my clothes in the place I'm sleeping.

WALSH: So there will be some people who see you make a joke of that question and think that whatever's gone before to you is sort of being a bit of a laugh. Are you saying that there's nothing that you witnessed here in Syria or been involved in that troubles you?

KOTEY: No. If I want to talk about while I was in the Islamic State, the kind of things that keep you up at night is the sound of like F-16 jet flying the sky and some Syrian neighbors with his kids crying.

WALSH (voice over): There is so much bravado, it's hard to see if they really think it all, the videos, the savage beheadings, went too far.

WALSH (on camera): Do you regret that sort of messaging?

KOTEY: Yes, definitely, it would be damaging. And it's regrettable and that -- you know, that families have to see that.

WALSH: So Jihadi John, who's dead now, what kind of a guy was he?

SHEIKH: He was a friend of mine.

WALSH: For -- for what reasons?

SHEIKH: For what reasons was he my friend? Do you need to have a reason to be a friend of somebody?

WALSH: I'm just asking you to describe him as a person.

SHEIKH: Oh, to describe him as a person? Obviously I know the people in the western world are not going to want to hear this. But the truth has to be said. (INAUDIBLE). He was one of the most loyal friends I've had, trustworthy, honest, upstanding.

WALSH: Were you surprised when you saw videos of him cutting off people's heads?

SHEIKH: Surprising, yes.

WALSH: You didn't approve?

SHEIKH: Did I approve of the act or did I approve of the video?

WALSH: Did you approve of the act by your friend?

SHEIKH: I would rather not answer that question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WALSH: It was strange there he had to ask whether or not it was the video or the act that he should be disapproving of. Remarkable also to hear, you might say, a degree of hypocrisy, men who joined a group who were about undermining the entire western way of life, frankly, now looking back to it, it seems, to provide some kind of solace from their potential fate here in northern Syria.

But that is the major complexity now. There are dozens, if not hundreds of ISIS foreign fighters in the custody of American backed Syrian Kurdish forces. Here they simply don't have the detention facilities to secure such potentially dangerous individuals. Their home countries don't seem that interested. They're not coming forward quickly. Many of them, like the United Kingdom, are actually saying we simply don't want these people.

So a broad question that's pretty urgent, what happens to these men who the west have been hunting for years but now don't know what to do with them.

John.

BERMAN: Remarkable to hear them almost try to seem unattached to the evil that they were associated with.

Nick Paton Walsh in northern Syria.

Thanks so much, Nick, appreciate it.

The retrial for Bill Cosby set to get underway very shortly. But controversy over a juror could cause a delay. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:52:31] BERMAN: All right, we have breaking news in the sexual assault retrial of Bill Cosby. A potential issue with a juror seems to be causing a delay.

Our Jean Casarez is now live outside the courtroom.

Jean, what's going on here?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, right now the judge and the attorneys are in chambers and they are talking to, first off, the woman who was not a juror. She was actually stricken by the prosecution at the end of the week, so she is not on the jury. But she believes that she heard a comment made by someone who ultimately got on the jury that Bill Cosby, everybody knows he's guilty, let's just get out of here. And so they're questioning her first.

She actually went to Tom Mesereau, lead defense attorney, called up the office, looks like didn't get anywhere. So then called second in command, the defense attorney out of Henderson, Nevada. Left a phone message, but ultimately gave a sworn affidavit stating that that was what she had heard. And she went to the defense attorneys because she wanted Bill Cosby to have a fair trial.

So they're starting off this morning asking her, in chambers, it's on the record, though, exactly what she heard and then they will go to the juror, who is juror number 11, a white male, late 20s, we think about, to see if in fact that's what he said or if that he didn't say that. So they've got to see the voracity of this claim.

BERMAN: Before they even get started, Jean. And today was supposed to be opening statements in this trial, correct?

CASAREZ: That's right. And so I think it still could be, but I think that they have to make sure that they have a jury that is fair and impartial.

Now, if it's found that the juror did say that Bill Cosby is guilty, that means he has a formed and fixed opinion. The judge may ask him if he can set it aside. But, if not, then alternate one may come on board. Because this is a potential appellate issue also. So you don't want any issues before you even get going.

BERMAN: All right, Jean Casarez for us in Norris Town, Pennsylvania, watching this trial very, very closely. An unexpected twist here before it even begins.

Thanks, Jean. We'll check back in with you when there is a development there.

FaceBook CEO mark Zuckerberg meeting today with lawmakers on Capitol Hill. This is a day before he is set to testify about the company's privacy crisis. A source tells CNN that he is meeting with members of the same committees holding the hearings this week on Cambridge Analytica.

[09:55:02] Cambridge Analytica is the company which harvested data from FaceBook, really without consumers' knowledge. FaceBook says it plans to notify the 87 million users who had their personal information violated by the firm. People affected will see those notices in their news feeds today. They'll begin to see them today.

The top of a full bus of high school students was sheared off when it crashed into an overpass last night in New York. At least seven people were injured, two seriously. The students and the chaperones were headed back from JFK Airport. They were returning from a trip from Europe. Police say the driver is not from the area, did not seem to know about the low overpass.

All right, President Trump could speak very shortly about the suspected chemical attack in Syria. His defense secretary says the military action has not been ruled out.

Stay with CNN for the very latest.