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White House Slaps China with Tariffs on $50 Billion Worth of Goods; Thousands of Starbucks Close for Anti-Bias Training; Trump Unofficial Communications Director after Hicks Departure; Trump Criticized for Touting Own Agenda on Memorial Day; Fast-Moving Lava Swallows Hawaiian Homes. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired May 29, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] MAGGIE LAKE, CNN BUSINESS ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: It is a huge priority for the Chinese administration. So the Trump administration, by going after that, hitting them where it hurts, and maybe trying to counter some of the criticism coming from members of Congress, like Senator Marco Rubio, who said that the Trump administration was not being hard enough or tough enough on China, when it came to these technology companies, we're going to have to watch this closely.

For investors, it creates another round of uncertainty, ratcheting up the tensions, and raises the risks of a trade war. That is adding on the pressure of what we have seen with a host of worries, including what's happening with North Korea, with Italy and with energy. It is making for a tough day for stocks. We're seeing them firmly in the red today.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: You can see that. Last week, it seemed the trade war was off, stand by for this week.

Great to see you, Maggie. Thank you so much.

LAKE: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, more than a month after the arrest of two black men sparked nationwide outrage, Starbucks today closing thousands of its stores for anti-bias training. Is this damage control or is this a start of real change?


[11:35:21] BOLDUAN: If workplace productivity plummets this afternoon across the country, we'll all know why. Everyone will have to do without their Starbucks fix, at least today. Nearly 8,000 company owned stores across the country are closing this afternoon, so employees can attend anti-bias training.

You'll remember how this all came about. An important thing happened. This incident last month at a Starbucks in Philadelphia, a store manager called police on two African-American men who sat down but didn't order anything. They said they were waiting for a friend. Well, then you saw what happened. Since then, the two men reached a settlement with the city, for $1, but a big promise of hundreds of thousands of dollars to be invested in young entrepreneur programs.

The company apologized and changed store policies. But it wanted to take a step further, to go a step more with this training that will focus on understanding racial bias.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ultimately, 529 will focus on belonging in our store and learning about what gets in the way. Remember, 5/29 will just be a start. In the coming weeks, months and years we'll address many other facets of what makes us human. It won't make be perfect, but we are all in this together.


BOLDUAN: Musician and activist, Common, is one of the guides of the training video that 175,000 Starbucks employees will watch today. He said today that -- he says today is an important tool, an important step, but it is only a first step.


COMMON, MUSICIAN & ACTIVIST: We got to hold Starbucks accountable, our political officials accountable, any businesses we support, and we hold ourselves accountable. That's why I'm a part of this conversation.



BOLDUAN: One person who seems to understand, that is Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz.


HOWARD SCHULTZ, CHAIRMAN, STARBUCKS: We realize that four hours of training is not going to solve racial inequity in America, or anyone coming into our stores that may have a problem. But we have to start the conversation. We also said we are deeply committed to this being a long-term journey, which we are going to integrate this training not only in every Starbucks store from this point on, but also the on boarding of 100,000 new people a year.


BOLDUAN: Now what?

Joining me now, Professor Stephanie Creary. She's from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Thank you for coming in.


You've taken a look at what Starbucks is planning for all of its employees today. What do you think of it?

CREARY: I think it is exciting. I want to start by saying one of the important points for us all to remember is diversity training or racial bias training in this case is really just one piece of the larger puzzle. When we look at companies like Starbucks and larger corporations in general, they have a diversity and inclusion strategy. The questions we have seen from the media, consumers, from all of us, from the general public, is this question around what is the largest strategy and how does this racial bias training feed into it? And I think certainly by the clips you've been playing focused -- coming from Howard Schultz, from common, from a lot of the media clips, we see this question around the larger diversity of inclusion and strategy is what is next for Starbucks.

BOLDUAN: Do you think this type of training in the workplace is effective?

CREARY: There are years and years of past research on bias training, diversity training, unconscious biased training, it has been called many different things, to show that at best often what you get is greater awareness, that racial bias, diversity issues exist. Now, the question is, what do we mean by effective? Is it about just changing whether or not people are aware. Are we actually trying to change the attitudes that they might have about other groups or are we actually trying to change the behaviors that we exhibit toward each other? In this case, how we change how Starbucks employees treat employees who come into the store. It is the latter that Starbucks is focused on.

BOLDUAN: When it comes to Starbucks, do you think this is a P.R. effort or is this something more? Is this more sincere than that?

CREARY: Well, it would be a very expensive P.R. effort. I have to say the amount of effort they have spent, the amount of time they have spent turning around this initiative into something that was actionable in a short period of time, the parties that they have enlisted, I think all of these point to the signs that Starbucks is serious about what it is trying to accomplish today.

BOLDUAN: The COO of the company has also said as we kind of heard earlier this is a first step. They're working on additional content and modules, as they put it, that they want to roll out each month. Kevin Johnson says he sees this being rolled into the fabric of Starbucks, the company. If that happens, do you think businesses like Starbucks could actually lead the way in making this change in society?

[11:40:12] CREARY: Well, Kate, the reality is that so many businesses already are. That's what I meant by larger diversity and inclusion strategy. In any given Fortune 100, 500 company today, you have a position -- a person in a position with a chief diversity and inclusion officer, some variation. And they're charged with not just creating one day trainings but a larger platform linking the companies' perspective to what it wants to accomplish. Not just in the marketplace, which is what we're talking about today, but also in the workforce and in the communities that are surrounding the places in which companies like Starbucks serves. So the difference here is as we're hyper focused on a particular training initiative, without a lot of context from Starbucks or from other companies that do the same thing.

BOLDUAN: I also heard from Howard Schultz, he basically, he says that this -- this kind of behavior, what they saw play out in that Starbucks in Philadelphia, this behavior happens, and he points the finger somewhat it seems at President Trump. And the things that he says and the environment that the president creates with his Twitter feed, how does that play into this?

CREARY: It is important to recognize that the larger societal context plays a role. In a lot of times businesses, a sense of urgency to move. In the past few years, a lot of political incidents, but I think we can't go without recognizing the fact that very recently and it seems to be quite frequently we have seen incidents similar where young black African-American men have been profiled in some way. So I think this doesn't just speak to President Trump, I think it speaks to a lot of incidents that have been happening more broadly, particularly in the U.S, and that's creating the motivation to continue the conversation and to create real change.

BOLDUAN: Real change is the important part here.

Professor, thank you for coming in. I appreciate it.

CREARY: Thank you so much, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

Coming up for us, putting the "me" in Memorial Day. Yes, that seems to be what happened. Critics slamming President Trump after he uses the Memorial Day message to tout his own successes, his own agenda. That's next.


[11:46:49] BOLDUAN: The job of White House communications director is officially vacant. Unofficially, of course, President Trump is running the show. According to the "Washington Post," ever since former communications director, Hope Hicks, left the White House, the president has been handling the job himself. He has nothing else to do, of course. In fact, there are a lot of jobs that the president could handle himself at this point. The president has -- that's a lot of people -- has set the record for turnover in the first year of his presidency.

Joining me right now, CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.

Chris, I wonder -- I read that great piece in the "Washington Post." Leaves me wondering, if Donald Trump is the communications director and now running the show, what honestly was different than when Hope Hicks was there?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: I was going to say, name only is the difference there, Kate. They had a communications director. Now that slot is unfilled for two-ish months. Donald Trump is always going to be the communications director, the campaign manager, chief of staff. It is true for most presidents, they do like to have their hands in a lot of things. It is more true for him. He is a -- wanting to believe himself to be the best person to do all of these jobs and I think that's especially true when it comes to dealing with the press, which though he says he hates, he loves.

BOLDUAN: Can he do all those jobs? Can there be an argument made there are just too many people working at the White House under all of the other presidents, they don't need a -- people say he doesn't need a chief of staff.

CILLIZZA: There can be that argument made that the bureaucracy at large is too big. That there are people who are just sort of hanging on, you don't need them, they're duplicate, et cetera. Some of the jobs, it is about delegating. The president's time is spoken for 24 hours a day. He's not awake all that time, so he has to find ways to delegate to trusted people. This was always going to be an issue for Donald Trump because the three people he trusts the most are Donald Trump Jr, Eric Trump and Ivanka Trump. Two of those three, the two boys, don't work in the administration. So he always had a tight-knit family circle that he relied on. That's been taken away from him somewhat. So it was always going to be tough for him to trust anyone and I think that's what you see here. He doesn't trust anyone enough to hire people for the jobs.

BOLDUAN: The "Washington Post" makes the point that even the positions that are filled in the West Wing, the president is actually filling much of the role anyway. I do wonder if that is sustainable. It is how it appears he ran the Trump organization, but I do wonder if that's sustainable.

CILLIZZA: He did. But I remind people, the Trump organization is not the size of the federal government. And the stakes frankly are much, much higher in running the United States, the ship of state than they are running a private real estate company. They just are. He definitely brings the same principles to it and believes this is about me. He said as much. Doesn't matter who the person is, I'm the one who make the decision. True-ish. He is the decider, as George W. Bush famously put it, but you have to rely on people, and you have to trust. And I think the last piece, the trust piece, is the thing he has the most difficulty with.

[11:50:08] BOLDUAN: Blame the deep state. Blame the deep state.

Donald Trump has said a lot that has offended a lot of people over time, African-Americans, Hispanics, Gold Star families. But yesterday, the president's statement on Memorial Day seemed to take the offending to a new level for you.

To remind everyone, the tweet begins with, "Happy Memorial Day," and talked about, "Those who died for our great country would be happy about how well our country is doing. Lowest unemployment in 18 years. Rebuilding the military and so much more."

Why is this new territory for you?

CILLIZZA: Well, here is the deal. A Memorial Day tweet for a politician, it is the hanging curve ball of political statements. Which is, it is very easy to get right. If you look at any statement, Barack Obama statement, George W. Bush, Lindsey Graham, pick a random member of Congress and the statement they put out about Memorial Day, they all say, we honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice for us. We offer condolences to their families and we remember them on this day. Period. End of at the same time. Don't say anything else.

The idea that you would then say, and they would be so proud of the economy, I don't think that the average person mourning someone who lost -- mourning someone they lost in fighting for the military is thinking, man, I'm really glad the unemployment rate for Hispanics is at its lowest ever. Doesn't mean that is not a good thing for the country, it is just not what Memorial Day is when.

He does not have any sort of sense of the moment of what is appropriate and what is not. It is not terribly new, but that he does it on a day like this where the easiest thing to do is sort of express your thanks and your gratitude and end it. You know, it shows that if he had showed that to anyone in the White House who he trusted and listened to, they would have said cut out everything after the first sentence.

BOLDUAN: Just look at the speech he gave a few hours later at Arlington National Cemetery.


BOLDUAN: He stayed on script. So --

CILLIZZA: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: So he seems to know -- well, he knows to read a script, but not when it comes to Twitter.

CILLIZZA: Well, I was going to say, one is very clear. One thing to remember. Trump Twitter is Donald Trump. That is the closest you get to what he is thinking and what he believes at any given time. Reading a prepared speech is staff-managed Donald Trump to the extent that exists. So on one is his like a raw video versus is produced video. The raw video tells you more about what he is actually thinking.

BOLDUAN: Both important to consider, especially the raw video, getting inner workings of the mind of the president.


BOLDUAN: Chris, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

CILLIZZA: Thank you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, looking at live pictures off the coast of Hawaii. New evacuation orders are in effect in Hawaii where fast- moving lava is essentially swallowing homes. This is a live picture from a boat off the coast of Hawaii getting close to the lava flows, a new view that we haven't seen while the crisis unfolds. Wow.

Be right back.


[11:57:36] BOLDUAN: Breaking news coming in. The danger of the lava flows in Hawaii from a whole new perspective, as you see.

Scott McLean is off the coast of Hawaii right now, joining us from a boat.

Scott, what are yare you seeing there?

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate. We're looking at things from a different vantage point. This is actually where the lava is meeting the ocean on the south coast of the big island of Hawaii. And there are just so much fissures that continue to bubble up relentlessly over the past couple weeks that it continues to seize this stream of lava that goes all the way into the ocean. And we have a great view because of the winds, you can see the lava just pouring into the ocean creating the steam and smoke. This is also something called laze, lava haze. It is a potentially dangerous mix of gases, hydrochloric acid and glass and steam as well. We're ready from our vantage point to get out of here if the winds are to shift.

The winds you see here, they are a little bit different than what we're used to seeing. They should be headed this way, and they are headed back on shore. Why is this a problem? Potentially, for the gases. As they head back on to shore, obviously, there are populated areas there that have already been terrorized by some of these gasses associated with Kilauea and the continuing eruption over the last couple weeks. But from this vantage point, Kate, you can see Kilauea is truly not slowing down at least for now.

BOLDUAN: And, Scott, it looks like -- that is the takeaway. It is not letting up at all. The heat is going into the ocean. And 40-plus homes have been destroyed. You've been talking to all the residents. And it looks like from your vantage point this isn't ending anytime soon.

MCLEAN: Yes, and people are getting tired. Some people have been staying at the shelters and then they have just decided to go back into their homes, even if they are quite close to the lava zone. There have been 80-plus structures that have been lost. Half of those, about, has been homes. And so the impact of this is absolutely devastating.

The big story is actually beyond where we can see in these fissures that continue to bubble up. And they are really taking homes that are going down streets that have previously not seen a whole heck of a lot of lava or any at all. So it is like a volcano game of Whack-a-Mole that people are playing on the big island. Just when you think things are calming down in one area, suddenly they bubble up in another area -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: And, Scott, you were talking about the lava haze. Talk to me about the air, that steam you are seeing behind you, and how dangerous it is.

MCLEAN: Yes, so there's a couple of different dangers here, Kate. One is this lava haze, this potentially deadly mixture, I should say.