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Trump Vows to Help Save Jobs - In China; Hawaii Volcano Threat Far from Over; FEC Approves Using Campaign Money for Candidate's Baby- Sitter; DeVos Dismantling For-Profit College Fraud Probes. Aired 11:30a-12n ET

Aired May 14, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00:] JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: The president, with his tweet, appearing to try to save this Chinese telecommunications giant, ZTE, from some financial troubles. The ZTE's -- said last week he was halting major operating activities after the Commerce Department barred U.S. companies from selling to that Chinese telecommunications giant. And the president putting out this statement. But the White House has put out a statement of its own. The Deputy Press Secretary Lindsey Walters saying in a statement that, "President Trump expects Secretary Ross to exercise his independent judgment, consistent with applicable laws and regulations, to resolve the regulatory action involving ZTE based on its facts."

It is important to note, of course, the timing of the president's apparent intervention on this front. It comes, of course, as the U.S. and China have been engaging in trade discussions after President Trump said he was going to slap $50 billion worth of tariff on Chinese imports.

But beyond that, there's also, of course, the backdrop of the potential discussions between President Trump and Kim Jong-Un, the North Korean leader. China will have a lot of cards in this discussion because of its backing of the North Korean regime over the last several decades.

So is the president trying to calm things down here? Trying to ease tensions ahead of his upcoming summit with Kim Jong-Un? That could be the backdrop. The Chinese finance minister is coming to the United States this week to pursue those trade talks. Perhaps the president here trying to foster a little bit of goodwill -- Kate?


Great to see you, Jeremy. Thanks so much.

Joining me to discuss, CNN senior political reporter, Nia Malika Henderson, and CNN chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto.

Nia, first and foremost, why is the president of the United States, who ran on bringing jobs back from a place like China, now saying he wants to bring back jobs to China? How is this a good look for him?

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: Surprise. That is seasonally what my reaction after covering this president, hearing him talk endlessly about how China had taken advantage of the U.S. and really gutted the Midwest, right, of all the jobs and manufacturing jobs what the strategy is at this point is really unclear. You would think that tightening of the reins on ZTE would have been a point of leverage. And now the president is saying he's going to push his commerce secretary to loosen the screws and revive that company. One thing about this company is that it does have 75,000 workers, but it also is sold goods by companies like Qualcomm and companies like Intel and Corning. It is interconnected with American jobs as well. That's not something the president talked about. He did focus on Chinese jobs, which is very odd from this president.

BOLDUAN: To say the least.

Jim, the concerns within the intel and defense community are not secret about ZTE. I know you remember this. Here is one of the memorable moments with regard to talking about ZTE during a Senate hearing in February with all intel leaders testifying. Watch this.


SEN. TOM COTTON, (R), ARKANSAS: Will you please raise your hand if you use products or services from ZTE?

None of you would.

Raise your hand if you would recommend that private American citizens use ZTE products or services?

None of you, again, are raising your hand.


BOLDUAN: So is there any indication that something has changed now, from February to now that these fears have subsided?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: No. In fact, since the president's tweet, I asked the White House that very question, if the president disputes the assessment regarding ZTE? I don't have an answer back. The intelligence community has been crystal clear about ZTE products, even before that moment you showed there in congressional testimony. For years, they warned about it. It is a Chinese company, a private firm, but has close ties to the Chinese government. The concern is that those phones have some sort of back door that could be taken advantage of for cyberattack or surveillance. As recently as a few weeks ago, the FBI director, appointed by him, issued a warning about ZTE phones and you said, the Pentagon just two weeks ago banned ZTE phones from being sold on U.S. bases. So it is a crystal-clear security risk from the perspective of U.S. intelligence and law enforcement, something the president does not address in that tweet, and the White House did not address in their statement that followed that said that Wilbur Ross, would be up to him in effect. But, you know, we continue to ask the White House how they reconcile these two conflicting things, the warnings from security agencies and the president's desire here.

BOLDUAN: Nia, Marco Rubio had something to say about it this morning. He tweeted this, "I hope this isn't the beginning of backing down to China. While Chinese companies have unrestricted access to U.S. market and protection of our laws, many U.S. companies have been ruined after China blocked market access or stole their Intellectual property."

It sure seems that a lot of Republicans are left scratching their heads about this one. What do they do?

[11:35:01] HENDERSON: That's right. Adam Schiff, as well, not a Republican, but tough on this president as well, talking about, why is he essentially kowtowing to this company in China after all of these cybersecurity and security issues have been raised. You saw even last week, Marco Rubio gave a question, offered a question to Gina Haspel, the CIA nominee, the same question about whether or not she would trust using any of these products, ZTE products, and she said, no.

So, you know, here on the one hand, the president wants to be tough in terms of jobs and bringing jobs back. He also talked about being tough on national security. In this instance, he sort of is contradicting both of the pledges that he made as a candidate. And as president, being tough in terms of national security and being tough on China in terms of jobs. A lot of developments going to happen this weekend.

And another question, what does the U.S. get from this, right? Is it sort of like disrupting the status quo, only to go back to the status quo? I don't think we know. As with everything with this president, we have to stay tuned.

BOLDUAN: Jim, does this -- do you think this has to do with ongoing trade talks or something to do with the president's need to have China's support ahead of the talks with North Korea. Can you decide for the chess strategy here?

SCIUTTO: I can't. And trust me, I'm asking White House and national security officials about that very question. It is possible as you know, we have some experience, the president being somewhat transactional in relationships with one country, even when national security is involved. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Is it possible that it is even tied to the North Korea issue? Chinese economic pressure on North Korea has been essential to getting North Koreans to the table here. But, of course, ZTE's history with North Korea, not particularly helpful, right, in that they were trading when North Korea when sanctions were in place.


SCUITTO: So it would be -- if that's what the president is doing here, in the simplest terms possible, opens up several cans of worms on the trade side and the national security side.

BOLDUAN: And, of course, you got the president's tweet and the White House statement after it that this is what the president was saying, they want Wilbur Ross to exercise his independent judgment with regard to sanctions, it doesn't seem to be what the president was saying in that tweet. OK.



BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Nia.

Great to see you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: There was an exclamation point in that tweet, right? Yes.

BOLDUAN: I'll had one here.

Great to see you, Jim!

SCIUTTO: Great to see you.


BOLDUAN: Coming up, the volcanic threat to Hawaii is nowhere near over. New cracks in the ground spewing lava and toxic fumes. The video is amazing. All opening up on Hawaii's big island. Forcing more evacuations, sparking new fears of a potential catastrophic eruption. We'll take you there live.


[11:42:00] BOLDUAN: The volcano in Hawaii's big island just won't quit.




BOLDUAN: Lava and fumes still shooting out of the ground as more fissures are now opening up. Officials there are also now warning more residents that they need to evacuate their homes and get out of danger. And also now even warning that an eruption straight out of the top of the volcano is possible.

Joining me from Hawaii is Scott McLean.

Scott, what are people telling you there?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate. There's really two threats here. One is that the top of the volcano, the other much more pressing threat, is down here at the bottom where those fissures are opening up. You'll notice there's really hardly any traffic. You see the odd first responder drive past. That's because this area is among the evacuated areas. Some 2,000 people have been evacuated, and for good reason, 37 homes and buildings have been swallowed up by these 18 fissures. Two opened up yesterday. I can show you one of them. We're about a mile away. But if we zoom in close, it is harder to see as the daylight has come, but just past those trees you see some of the sparks from this fissure shooting hot lava up in the air. It is an absolutely massive sight to see, especially if you can see those nighttime pictures. Other people in the vicinity have been told to be ready to evacuate at a moment's notice.

Air quality, Kate, also not very good. Sulfur dioxide, a toxic gas that escapes from the earth through the vents. It can be irritating at best. It can be quite dangerous at worst. A lot of people are trying to get their hands on these dust masks, which are hard to find on this part of the big island. But officials are stressing, look, if you manage to get one, they're not going to work. They won't work on this sulfur dioxide gas. They're telling people, go inside your house, stay there, and keep the windows shut. That is the best thing you can do. Or if the gas gets really bad, get out of the area.

The other big risk here is that the top of the volcano and that cone and the crater there. Right now, rocks are falling into the crater. The problem is if so many boulders and rocks that get in there, it will create pressure below, which eventually might lead to an explosion. These rocks, we're talking the size of a refrigerator, talking the size of cars. They could fly half a mile. Smaller rocks, they could fall -- go even further. The problem, they don't know when that might happen or even if it might happen -- Kate?

[11:44:29] BOLDUAN: Yes, how to anticipate it all. And when it comes to your home, your property, there's no way to protect your home. Just got to get out of the way.

Scott, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up for us, a mother of two running for Congress, makes history and she hasn't even won an election yet. What it all has to do with her baby-sitter. She joins us next.


BOLDUAN: There's a record number of women running for political office this election year. And in a landmark decision by the Federal Election Commission, some of those candidates might be able to get some additional help. That's where congressional candidate, Liuba Grechen Shirley, comes in. She's a Democratic candidate for Congress in New York. She also has two children under the age of 4. That is key, because Grechen Shirley petitioned and won an appeal to use campaign funds to pay for child care, the first time a female candidate has gotten the OK for this. The FEC says the $22 an hour she spends on child care are only necessary because she's running for office. This one decision could mean very big things for many other women beyond this one congressional candidate.

Liuba Grechen Shirley is joining me now.

Thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: You called this a game changer. Why is that?

[11:50:02] SHIRLEY: This will allow more women to run for office. Right now Congress is only 15 percent female. We need more women to run for office, we need more people of color, we need more parents, and we need more people of diversity backgrounds to run for office. And this breaks down important barriers, so we can have a more representative government of our society. So this is a game changer.

BOLDUAN: You would not have been able to continue running without this assistance?

SHIRLEY: Absolutely. These are sons that I'm raising. It's not taxpayer dollars. This is money I spend raising to run my campaign. We make decisions every day about how we allocate our resources. This is just one more decision. Our babysitter is just as integral to our team as my campaign manager.

BOLDUAN: You explained how before running for office you made it work. You worked from home. Your mother has helped out, your husband helps out, you do some of your consulting work during nap time just to make it work. Running for office, what changed?

SHIRLEY: A lot. Running for office is a 24/7 job. There's -- it's all-consuming, and there's no salary. So it's very difficult for people who are not independently wealthy to take a year off from your life and forgo a salary and run for office 24/7 and also pick up the additional cost of child care that's necessary.

BOLDUAN: You're a spokesman for - the other Democratic candidate running for office put out a statement, told NPR this: "We understand that child care is a very real concern for lots and lots of families, but all of those other families find a way to pay for child care, and they certainly don't do it with political donations."

Are you taking advantage of the system?

SHIRLEY: Not at all. It's a disappointing statement. Right now, we're not having conversations about how we achieve quality, affordable child care for all Americans. There's a reason for that. More than half of our representatives are millionaires, and they don't understand how the policies they enact in Washington actually affect our lives. We need people having important discussions about maternity coverage, about They voted to take away maternity coverage, about child care. Just last year, our representatives voted to take away maternity care from 13 million women. My opponent voted against paid family leave. He voted against a woman's right to choose, even in a case of rape or incest. And he voted against equal pay for women for equal work. These are the types of discussions we need to be having. And we need to change the type of person we send to Washington to have those.

BOLDUAN: You pointed out you're one of three women running for Congress this year with young children.

SHIRLEY: There's four children, actually.


BOLDUAN: There's one more.

Do you think the child care issue holds people back, holds women back from running?

SHIRLEY: Absolutely. My children --


BOLDUAN: This applies to men, too.

SHIRLEY: It is. This ruling applies to men and women. We need more parents of young children. We're missing that important voice right now in Congress. And my children were my biggest hesitation, whether or not I could juggle having such young children and running for office. But in the end, they were the reason I decided to run. And we need to break down these barriers. The average age for women who run for office right now is 52 years old. Most wait until their children are grown and off to school before they even consider it. But we're missing that critical voice. When you're in the thick of it with young children, you understand how paid family leave affects you at a visceral level. You understand -- a lot of people count on CHIP for their children's health care. We need those voices in Congress.

BOLDUAN: Thank you for coming on.

SHIRLEY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Good luck with --


SHIRLEY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos making big moves and coming under criticism for it as reports say an industry insider was just appointed to investigate that very industry. We'll be right back.


[11:57:53] BOLDUAN: For all President Trump's talk about draining the swamp, some in President Trump's cabinet don't seem to have gotten the memo yet. Take Exhibit A, or whichever you want. The "New York Times" reporting that Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is quietly undercutting an investigative team looking into fraud by for-profit colleges. Several staff members have been let go or transferred, effectively killing some of the investigations underway. And now leaving the team, an industry insider, a former dean at one of the institutions that's currently under investigation.

CNN Politics senior writer, Juana Summers, is here.

Juana, what is going on at the Department of Education?

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: Hey, Kate. This is a team that was set up in 2016 to look into allegations of abuses at these for-profit institutions, including DeVry University. These are schools that were allegedly were misrepresenting their enrollment benefits, job placement rates, program offerings. They were often leaving students with big debts and no degrees. During the final months of President Obama's administration, this team grew to about 12, a dozen or so lawyers and investigators, and they were investigating schools, including DeVry. That investigation of DeVry University, "The Times" reports, ground to a halt last year. By last summer, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos had installed Julian Schmoke, who is a former dean at DeVry University, to head the unit. That team was about a dozen people under the Obama administration. It's shrunk to just three people and its mission has been refocused away from investigating.

Now the Education Department spokesman spoke to "The Times" and defended this, saying that the team shrank due to attrition and that conducting an investigation is only one way the investigation team contributes to the department oversight role.

BOLDUAN: You wonder what else can be shrinking at the Department of Education, Juana.

SUMMERS: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Juana Summers. Thank you very much. I appreciate it.

SUMMERS: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: And thank you all so much for joining me AT THIS HOUR. Another week under way.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.

[12:00:01] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Thank you, Kate.

And welcome to INSIDE POLITICS. I'm John King. Thank you for sharing your day with us.

The president orders his administration to do more to save jobs at a tech company in China. Democrats say, how about workers here at home? And GOP hawks say the company --