Return to Transcripts main page


New 3.8 Percent Jobless Rate Matches 50-Year Low; Dow Up Triple Digits After Strong Jobs Report; Trump Tweets On Jobs Report Before Its Release; Kasich Rails Against Steep Tariffs On Allies; Trump Pardons D'Souza, Says Government Treated Him Unfairly. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired June 1, 2018 - 11:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. Do you hear that sound? Yes, it is the economy. Humming right along, folks. The May jobs report is out and good news for the country and the Trump White House, 223,000 jobs created last month, the 92nd straight month of job growth.

And the unemployment rate ticked down slightly to 3.8 percent. The last time it was that low, Marvin Gay's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" was a new release and we were about to land a man on the moon.

Did you also, though, I heard it again. I heard the noise again. That's the sound of Donald Trump not being able to keep a secret breaking all sorts of protocols tweeting out ahead of the reports that he was looking forward to it. Would Donald Trump be looking forward to the release of a bad report? Ponder that. We'll get to that in a second.

But one potential big economic cloud on the horizon, the president -- of the president's own making. Three key U.S. allies are vowing to retaliate after President Trump stopped them with stiff new tariffs. Canada, Mexico, the E.U., now targeting American products.

CNN's chief business correspondent, Christine Romans is here with more. You know I don't know this stuff. That's why you're here. Lay it out for me.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: You do know this stuff. The economy is doing well here. It has been doing well for seven and a half years of consistent job creation, 223,000 net new jobs created in the month. That's a little better than economists expected.

Companies are hiring, Kate, and they are paying a little bit more, 2.7 percent was the wage growth. You look at the unemployment rate this is the chart I love, it shows you just how well things have recovered here, 3.8 percent, you said it, heard it through the grapevine.

Early 2,000, 3.8 percent, the last time we saw anything less than that was way back in 1959 so that's strong. It is hiring across the spectrum in health care, business information services, retail, also manufacturing. This is the best sort of year for manufacturing job gains since 2011.

What we're hearing from employers is in some cases they can't find enough workers. I think eventually you'll see wages have to increase, pay up to keep and retain their good workers.

BOLDUAN: So, then on trade, Canada, Mexico, the E.U., what are they going to do?

ROMANS: Big question here, why are we fighting with our friends? If the real problem is China, why are we fighting with our friends? Our friends are fighting back. Mexico says it will put tariffs on pork, fruit and cheese.

The E.U. says it will be on denim, bourbon and motorcycles, to the heart of some of, you know, Mitch McConnell's home state, Paul Ryan's home state, Paul Ryan who hates these tariffs. Canada says they'll retaliate with steel and aluminum.

The Canadians really interestingly are so confounded by this. They say, look, we are not a national security problem. That is what the Commerce Department is saying, that the United States needs to put on these tariffs because of the national security threat from the -- our friends here.

When you look at these, I think this will be a problem for consumers, maybe things will rise one or two cents for a can of beer. That will be a consumer reaction, and this is what the Chamber of Commerce says.

They say if, for example, our talks over NAFTA completely collapse, we pull out of NAFTA, that's 1.8 million jobs lost right away, and these are the kind of job losses you could see from some of the other trade moves of the White House is trying to make.

BOLDUAN: Where a lot of Republicans say, completely unnecessary.

ROMANS: Absolutely. The White House says this is America first, that the United States has been taken advantage for so long, they're trying to rewrite the playing field. Here is what the "Wall Street Journal" said in an editorial, a really, really powerful editorial taking apart the president's trade moves.

Canadian steel and aluminum are actually integral to U.S. national defense. Mr. Trump complains that Lockheed's F-35s cost too much, but now he's going to make U.S. fighter jets and other weapons more expensive, which could give Russia an advantage in international arms sales, brilliant. That's what the "Wall Street Journal's" point of view is here.

BOLDUAN: And a lot of other Republicans have the same view right now. Great to see you, Christine. Thank you so much.

So, how are the markets responding to all of this and the new jobs report today? Money and politics correspondent, Cristina Alesci, is at the New York Stock Exchange with more from that vantage point. Cristina, what are you seeing?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, the market popped on the open and it is holding steady, green across the board this morning. It looks like we may erase some of the losses that we saw yesterday. We're up about 200 points, down yesterday 250 points on the Dow at least.

This is really positive reaction and that was helped by the strong jobs numbers that Christine just ran through. The 223,000 jobs, the fact that we're at a low in unemployment, 18-year low, all of that bolstering the positive sentiment here.

But bottom line, a larger context on this report is that it is a goldilocks unemployment report because it is not too hot that investors are concerned the fed may raise rates faster than expected, but it still shows the economy is very strong.

[11:05:04] So, when I'm talking to my sources on Wall Street, they're all scratching their heads, saying, look, the economy is on track. Trump can be taking credit for this and he's injecting this uncertainty by picking a fight with our friends.

And causing a lot of CEOs to really kind of get nervous and when you talk about business confidence, CEOs want certainty, they want to know they can go out and make hiring decisions without fear of a possible trade war with our allies -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Cristina, great to see you, thank you.

Joining me now to discuss this and more, Rana Foroohar, a CNN global economic analyst, global business columnist and associate editor of "The Financial Times," Stephen Moore, CNN economic analyst and former Trump campaign economic adviser. So, Rana, what is going on here? Are you getting sick of winning yet?

RANA FOROOHAR, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: I am sick of America alone. America first, fine, America alone, not so great. Kate, to take the short-term news and midterm news, the economy is doing well, absolutely, that's to be expected. We're at the tail end of a long nine-year recovery period.

We should be doing well right now. On top of that, Donald Trump has put a lot of fiscal stimulus in, in the form of the tax cut, et cetera. But what are we doing over the next few years? What are we setting ourselves up for?

We're not investing in infrastructure education. I think they are going to take us through the downturn and all of the disruption that's coming down the pike with the digital economy and we are picking fights with our allies.

I mean, I've begun thinking about American trade policy, the administration in general, sort of pro wrestling. There is this fake out, a lot of posing, chairs getting smashed. You know, why is this happening? BOLDUAN: When I think of trade and I think of pro-wrestling, I think of Stephen Moore. Things are going so well, why is the trade war necessary? You don't think it is necessary. Why doesn't the White House get it?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: I have to thump on my chest a little bit here. I remember a couple of days after the election, people said we would have a great depression because of Trump's policies. Clearly, the economy is ramped up in a big way.

It is a real tribute to the deregulation policies and the tax cut that Trump did that I think have really -- by the way, we got another report out this morning, amazing on top of the lowest unemployment rate in 25, 30 years, the economy in April and May according to the federal reserve bank grew up 4.7 percent.

That's a blockbuster number. So, things are going well. I was over at the White House yesterday and I was -- my advice is, look, things are going so well right now with the economy. Why would you want to upset this apple cart with tariffs right now? It just doesn't make a lot of sense.

We have plenty of jobs in this country. Trump wanted to, you know, protect a lot of blue-collar manufacturing jobs, but they're coming back big time. We don't need tariffs right now.

BOLDUAN: Did you get an answer when you posed the question to the White House?

MOORE: Well, you know, actually, you know, there is a lot of division at the White House right now over tariff policy. I would say half of the economists over there are very worried about what Trump is doing, others support this. Donald Trump made the decision himself on these tariffs.

My opinion is that if you want to pick a fight with China, which maybe it is the time to do that, it doesn't make a lot of sense to pick a fight with Germany, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Canada. We need them on our side if we have a big trade dispute with China.

BOLDUAN: And Rana, another element of this, you say it is a big deal or a small deal. You tell me. Presidents don't comment about jobs numbers before the reports come out. They don't do it because they don't want to impact the market.

Donald Trump tweeted today that 7:21, markets opened, not before 7:21, that's for sure. That's his tweet. He was looking forward to seeing the unemployment numbers at 8:30. So I asked you, what happens next month when he doesn't tweet ahead of --

FOROOHAR: Well, exactly. I'm glad you're laughing. First of all, it is -- we are probably going to see the next couple of quarters not come in as strong as this. All of this is normalized this president communicates through Twitter. What's more concerning to me is something Stephen alluded, which is that there are tremendous splits is the White House. You get the sense particularly on trade, almost any policy issue that whoever the last person in the room was, that's who has the president's here and there is this lurching at a time when there is so much low hanging fruit for the U.S. to come together with Europe now.

I know you agree with this. There are legitimate trade fights to be had with China. China is a serial infringer. China is the real steel problem, not Europe. We could find so much common ground right now with our allies, particularly Germany, by the way, Germany and China are now doing more trade than Germany and the U.S. are doing. This is a time when Europe has a lot of reasons to move closer to China, not the time to pick this fight.

BOLDUAN: It seems that someone -- John Kasich of Ohio, listen to what he told me yesterday.


[00:10:06] GOVERNOR JOHN KASICH (R), OHIO: I see they're going to put these tariffs on now On the Europeans. It is no longer America first. What we're seeing now is America alone and I don't care who you are, how powerful you are, how rich you are, how famous you are, if you go alone, you're going to fall short.


BOLDUAN: Doesn't this also -- the moves against Canada, the E.U., Mexico, especially Canada and the E.U. in how essential they are in other areas, standing up against ISIS, standing up against Iran, does this kind of standoff now bleed into everything else?

FOROOHAR: Well, you know, I think that's interesting point when you bring in national security. The president is evoking national security in terms of slapping these steel tariffs on -- this is not a national security issue. He's doing that because using that provision gives the most leeway rather than going to the WTO.

We need European steel. We need our allies in bigger fights around technology, around what artificial intelligence will look like. We need to come together with Europe now and make sure that the west developed nations, Europe and the U.S., are setting those rules.

BOLDUAN: Give me your final thought, Stephen.

MOORE: Look, I agree with that. This is the time -- by the way, it is interesting that John Kasich is from Ohio. Ohio is one of those midwestern industrial rust belt states that went, you know, with Trump.

And it is interesting because a lot of those voters, I was there with Trump, a lot of the voters in the midwestern states, they like these tariffs. They're very suspicious of some of these trade deals.

But we're seeing so many jobs in these states now, I'm not so sure that they are necessary, but people like Rana and I have to do a better job explaining to blue collar workers why trade is good. BOLDUAN: Or maybe the president should -- that should be tasked with the president, why trade is good. Come on. You shouldn't have to just -- I would say, Stephen, it is not your job.

MOORE: Tariffs or taxes.

BOLDUAN: You need a different tactic. We're talking about pro- wrestling. Get some chairs, and you need to get in there. OK.

FOROOHAR: Folding chair.

BOLDUAN: I'm not promoting violence. I'm just saying make it look like a WWE match.

MOORE: It is the only -- it is only the third inning in this baseball game and how this --

FOROOHAR: You're switching metaphors here, Stephen.

BOLDUAN: I love a mixed metaphor. I'm just looking for the seventh inning stretch. We have got a lot more innings. I don't know if we'll all be able to have the stamina for it. Great to see you, guys. Thank you so much.

Coming up, you've been screwed. That's the president's message to the man who he just pardoned, but is he also sending a message to people wrapped up in the Russia investigation?

Plus, President Trump calls for the firing of comedienne, Samantha Bee, for her offensive remarks, but he still said nothing about Roseanne Barr. Double standard or political play?



BOLDUAN: Live look right there at the U.S. Coast Guard headquarters where President Trump is expected to speak any moment now at a change of command ceremony. The secretary of Homeland Security is there, and she'll be introducing him. We're keeping an eye on that and this.

President Trump is using executive power with an Oprah-like flair these days. You get a pardon, you get a pardon, everyone gets a pardon. The latest winner, the conservative pundit and political lightning rod, Dinesh D'Souza, who pleaded guilty in 2014 to campaign finance violations.

Trump claims D'Souza got a raw deal from the government. He went around the Justice Department and fast tracked a pardon. D'Souza talked this morning about how he learned the news.


DINESH D'SOUZA, CONSERVATIVE FILMMAKER AND AUTHOR: I was in my office working away and the operator came on the line and said, is this Dinesh D'Souza? Yes. Hold the line for the president of the United States, and there was Trump. And the president said, Dinesh, you've been a great voice for freedom. And he said that I got to tell you man to man, you've been screwed.

He goes, I've been looking at the case, I knew from the beginning it was fishy. But he said upon reviewing it he felt a great injustice had been done and that using his power he was going to rectify it, sort of clear the slate, and he said he just wanted me to be out there to be a bigger voice than ever defending the principles that I believe in.


BOLDUAN: And that's not all, President Trump is also hinting he might pardon Martha Stewart and the disgraced former governor of Illinois, Rod Blagojevich, who is still doing time for his corruption conviction.

Small side note, both these celebrities know Donald Trump personally and happened to have worked with him on "The Apprentice." Is that a big side note though? Let's see. Let's go to CNN's Kaitlan Collins at the White House. Kaitlan, what's the White House saying about all of this?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the White House is denying that the president is sending any kind of signal here to people like Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen with these pardons. But it is hard to deny that forgiveness is clearly in the air. The president doesn't plan on stopping pardoning people anytime soon.

Just after yesterday he had this unexpected announcement that he was giving Dinesh D'Souza this full pardon, someone who is a conservative author, but has also floated conspiracy theories.

The president was talking about other people he might pardoning as well including Martha Stewart and that former Illinois governor, who I should not was convicted by a jury of his peers of 17 public corruption charged after he tried to sell President Obama's vacated Senate seat.

But the president did not know Dinesh D'Souza, never met him before, he said, and hadn't spoken to him until this week as you heard from Dinesh when the president called to surprisingly let him know he was going to be pardoning him.

But of course, the question of these random -- seemingly random pardons comes from is the president just going to pardon people he doesn't know or is he also keeping in mind people he does know who are also facing other federal charges and including his former Campaign Manager Paul Manafort and people like Michael Cohen.

[11:20:02] Now we know before the president was asked, he was considering pardoning Michael Cohen, if that would come up, if it came to that. The president snapped at a reporter who asked that and said it was a stupid question.

But there is no denying the people that the president pardoned or is considering pardoning all have a common tie of who the president -- were prosecuted by people the president believes are his perceived political enemies.

And according to the president, they were treated unfairly by the United States' justice system, something the president thinks has happened to him as well.

BOLDUAN: All right, Kaitlan, thanks so much. Joining me now, CNN political director, David Chalian, CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan. David, is there any room for debate? If this is what Dinesh D'Souza says Donald Trump told him on the phone, you got screwed and he wants him out there, he wants him back out there being able to talk on tv, is there any debate these are politically motivated pardons?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, no, there's no real debate about that. The presidential pardon is political in nature. It is a power that rests with the president and it is an awesome power that rests with the presidency. It is not just D'Souza.

Look at the past pardons this resident issued for Sheriff Joe Arpaio in Arizona or for Scooter Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Cheney who got caught up in the Valerie Plame affair.

So, it is clearly par for the course for President Trump to issue pardons that go around the Justice Department process, and not through the proper normal pardon channels, which is his right to do, I'm not suggesting that that's wrong. It is just that he seems to think this is really a perk of the job and he can hand it out randomly to these high-profile folks.

BOLDUAN: And maybe that's what it is. Paul, D'Souza says he was a victim of political persecution by the Obama Justice Department, the lead prosecutor said he pled guilty because he was guilty. But he avoided jail time, lived eight months in a confinement center, paid a fine and served probation. Did the time fit the crime?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: The judge thought it was an appropriate sentence to hand down and his own lawyer must have recommended the plea. D'Souza pled guilty and he also apologized for his crime at the time of the plea. I think the record would establish, especially when somebody pleads guilty.

I can understand a presidential pardon, you're fighting for your innocence and convicted, and the president says that was an unjust charge and unjust conviction. He was convicted. It has been upheld on appeal and now he's pardoned.

BOLDUAN: With this, a lot of folks are wondering is it a message? Roger Stone just told the Washington post he thinks these pardons are a message to folks caught up in the Russia investigation, saying this, it has to be a signal to Mike Flynn and Paul Manafort and even Robert Mueller.

Indict people for crimes that don't pertain to Russia collusion and that is what could happen. This is what could happen. The special counsel has awesome powers, but the president has even more awesome powers. Do you think that's what this is?

CHALIAN: Well, I think whether or not that is the intention, we don't know. Unless the president reveals that to us. I think it is an undeniable byproduct of this. And to what Paul was just saying, about Dinesh pleading guilty and so there was somebody convicted -- what I think the president is doing here is saying, I thought this was an unjust prosecution.

I don't know about the result or that you pled guilty to something. I think that this was an unjust government prosecution of you and to me, that is the signal to a Manafort or a Flynn or a Michael Cohen is that even if the president is -- if the president thinks the government is pursuing a case it shouldn't be, that is going to be a reason for him to issue a pardon.

BOLDUAN: Interesting. President Trump says he's also considering, Paul, commuting Rod Blagojevich's sentence. His wife went on Fox News and here is what she had to say.


PATTI BLAGOJEVICH, ROD BLAGOJEVICH'S WIFE: I see that. I see that these same people that did this to my family, the same people that, you know, secretly taped us and twisted the facts and perverted the law, that ended up my husband in jail, you know, these same people are trying to do the same thing that they did to my husband, just on a much larger scale.


BOLDUAN: She's saying to Donald Trump possibly. That seems to be like a tactic that may pay dividends.

CALLAN: Absolutely. Looking at this one, it is very interesting. There was a hung jury in Blagojevich's first trial. The second trial he was convicted on 17 corruption counts and the prosecutor was Patrick Fitzgerald, a very close personal friend of James Comey, used to sleep on Comey's couch as a matter of fact.

BOLDUAN: And now part of -- kind of on the legal team.

CALLAN: That's right. And Martha Stewart who he's talking about pardoning as well, the prosecutor in that case and want to put the whole case together was Comey. He talks about it extensively in his book, how that was a send a message case.

[11:25:08] I think Trump is sending messages to people in his administration, don't worry, I'll pardon you, but also slapping the face of Comey, Fitzgerald and anybody else in the justice department that he thinks have crossed his path in a wrong way.

BOLDUAN: Stand by for more. I don't think it is the end. I have no knowledge to the contrary. Great to see you, David. Great to see you, Paul. Thanks so much.

Coming up for us, special delivery soon, North Korea's former spy chief expected to deliver a personal letter from Kim Jong-un to President Trump as the potential peace summit hangs in the balance. What is in that letter? That's next.


BOLDUAN: North Korea's former spy chief, Kim Yong-Chol, is expected to arrive at the White House soon. It is important to note this envoy for the north Korean leader really shouldn't be anywhere near the White House.

He shouldn't be able to get into the country since he's on a sanctions list that bars him from coming in. But he's coming, he's here and he's got mail, carrying a letter from Kim Jong-un to be hand delivered to President Trump. This comes --