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Trumps Hits Allies With Steep Tariffs On Steel And Aluminum; Trump Hints At More Celebrity Pardons; North Korea Official To Hand- Deliver Kim Jong-un Letter To White House. Aired 10:00-10:30a ET

Aired June 1, 2018 - 10:00   ET

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


[10:00:00]

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: But largely instinct with a presidential tweet that is now raising some eyebrows. More in that in a moment

BRIANNA MARIE KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: And speaking of the President, Poppy, today is the days of his controversial tariffs take effect on steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and also Europe, all American allies. Many economists fear that these could put the brakes on job growth and dampen the impact on tax cuts. CNN'S Christine Romans is here to break this down for us. Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Let's start with the first of these two very big money stories today. The jobs report, a strong report, seven and a half years now of job creation month after month that is a record, and when you put it in context. You see that 223,000 net new jobs, is a little stronger than the average for the year. The unemployment rate, this is the really spectacular number that has gone all the way down to 3.8 percent. The last time we saw 3.8 percent was in early 2000 before that 1969.

Now, there are about six million open jobs in America. There are about 5 million or 6 million workers who haven't re-entered the labor market. So, that is a little bit of a point that you want to start to get to fix. But overall, a very strong employment report, something that economists call full employment.

When you look at wages up 2.7 percent a little stronger that we've seen lately. So, that might indicate, Brianna, that now what we've been hearing from employers that they can't find workers they're having to pay up for the workers they're getting.

Where are the jobs coming in, retail, health care, across the health care spectrum. We've seen jobs for several years now. And in manufacturing, this is the best year for manufacturing job growth since 2011, Brianna.

KEILAR: Wow. That is interesting, all right. What's the reaction to the tariffs?

ROMANS: So, the tariff is something that is really concerning to a lot of people who are, you know, invested in the markets, who are doing business in the markets because you have America. The United States sort of going at it with its allies on trade here and that is causing some concerns.

Look, Mexico is already said that it will retaliate with tariffs on pork, fruit and cheese. The EU had said. Look, we're going to retaliate on denim, bourbon and motorcycles, in Canada as well.

Really, the tone from Canada, disappointment and outrage really. The Canadians saying, look, we have stood by the United States, for two world wars, Korean conflicts around the globe. We send aluminum and steel to the United States to build your tanks and help build your aircraft. We are neighbors in the United States, how can Canada be a national security threat.

So, the concern here is that a trade war could happen and that would mean country after country slapping tariffs and quotas on the United States in response to the United States trade moves. And that could mean lost jobs.

The numbers you're seeing on your screen here are an estimate from the US Chamber of Commerce. That's a big business lobby. They say, look, if trade talks completely break down over NAFTA. That's 1.8 million American jobs that could be lost and you saw this other job loss estimates.

Some are saying that's worst case scenario, maybe an exaggeration, but when you're talking about raising costs for manufactures in this country. You're talking about passing the costs along and either hurting consumers or potentially having employers hiring fewer people. Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Christine, thank you so much for that report. Poppy?

HARLOW: So, the President hinted that this is probably going to be pretty good job support. Tweeted about it an hour before the official release. Why does that matter? Kaitlan Collins at the White House with that part.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, the President once again raising eyebrows with a tweet of his which certainly is not unusual. But what he tweeted is. This morning, about 7:21, the President tweeted this. Then, he was looking forward to seeing the jobs report come out a little over an hour later.

Now, that's unusual because there is a 1985 rule that prevents Federal employees from commenting on the jobs report until an hour after they have already been released. The White House has skirted this rule before. Commenting on them before the hour is up.

But here's the President very clearly going against that rule, tweeting about it, a significant amount of time before it had even come out. The reason that's important is obviously, the President gets a heads up about the reports typically.

We can't say for sure that he did here, but he clearly, he was anticipating some very good news in this report. And that's important because the data in these reports that come out on a monthly basis can really affect what is happening on Wall Street and trend and whatnot.

So, certainly, the President there foreshadowing this, raising a lot of eyebrows again with the tweets, which is cause to show one more time the President is stepping us good news with this job reports in the solid numbers that are part of it with a tweet of his foreshadowing it before it came out.

HARLOW: Yes. And there is a reason that matters not just, you know, it's against this old law protocol. But as Christine's Romans explained back markets moved. Just a bond yields move and the dollar moves on this. So, that's matter.

COLLINS: Exactly.

HARLOW: Great.

KEILAR: Well, joining us now. We have CNNMONEY Senior Writer Jeanne Sahadi with us and Nathan Bomey, Business Reporter for USA Today.

Jeanne, do these tariffs, it's very simple, right? Because these tariffs help American workers?

[10:05:03] JEANNE SAHADI, CNN MONEY SENIOR WRITER: They might protect some workers in the steel and aluminum industries. But broadly because of the retaliatory actions from Mexico, Canada, the EU, and anybody who is working in a business that relies on steel and aluminum imports. They could potentially be hurt.

Why? Because businesses that are facing tariffs on their imports either have to suck up the bigger prices and take a hit on the profits or they have to raise their own prices. And if they raise their own prices, they're not as competitive. Either way, you're affecting profits and if your profits are lower, that means you can't pay workers as much and you might not hire as much.

HARLOW: So, Nathan, you're looking at the amount of the sanctions slapped on our allies. It appears that it's larger than the sanctions that are supposed to be implemented against China starting, you know, mid-June.

When you look at the numbers here, I'm scratching my head trying to figure out why? Why slap such broader higher tariffs on US allies than even on China if this is the President that said China was raping us on trade.

NATHAN BOMEY, BUSINESS REPORTER, USA TODAY: Well, feels like this actually could be shadow boxing or strategic maneuver in some sense. I mean, a lot of this is theater because I think that China is the ultimate goal here. And so, if you show that you're willing to impose tariffs on your closest allies, then surely you also be willing to do it to China, which is really the ultimate enemy in one respect of the administration from a trade perspective.

KEILAR: Nathan, when you hear the commerce secretary say that this is going to affect less than 1 percent of the U.S. economy. It's going to create American jobs. Is there any argument to be made in any of this? Are you hearing economist argue at all that the current system? Well, you know what, it is fair, and China is not taking the US for a ride.

BOMEY: Well, I do think there's something to be said for the fact that some of these tariffs may not have a huge impact. I mean, if the cost of an aluminum can goes from a penny or two. That's probably not going to affect sales of beer, you know. But I do also, I think it's also fair to say that none of the economists are saying this will create jobs. I think, certainly, the biggest risk is that job lost will occur.

HARLOW: Jeanne Sahadi, you have fascinating piece this morning on CNNMONEY about all of this. And the point you make is such an important one in terms of sort of who this would hit in Trump country and why? And the fact that it could erase the gains that middle income Americans are getting because of the President or Republican parties tax cuts.

SAHADI: Right. So, the reason that the trade -- the potential trade war and the US tariffs might hurt is because, it really stands in direct contrast to the reason they overhauled the tax code in the first place. The biggest reason was to make US businesses more competitive internationally, to level the playing field, and to attract investment into the United States.

HARLOW: Right.

SAHADI: That they promised Middle Americans men more jobs and higher wages. You know, we're still early days with the tax bill. So, we can't say exactly how successful it's been, even though it has some positive signs. But this stands in direct contrast to that.

This is saying, hey, US businesses. You're either going to have to pay more on your imported goods or if you get a retaliatory tariff on stuff you want to export, that means you're going to lose customers abroad.

So, it does defy logic in that sense. There's really no economist that has come out and said, yes, this is a great idea. This will really help and I should say. We surveyed readers about a month ago. Said, hey, how are the tax cuts affecting you? What are you doing with the money?

We got hundreds of responses. A lot of people said. You know, yes. I'm getting tax cuts. I'm using it to pay down debt, et cetera. But a big portion also said I'm getting something but you know what? It's getting outpaced by higher gas prices and higher health costs. So, now, if you tell them, hey, your consumer costs will go up too. That's going to really eat into them. They might not eliminate some entirely but it's going to eat into it.

KEILAR: And, Nathan, Republicans don't like this, right? The House Speaker doesn't like this. They hate it, right? Senator Orrin Hatch, he said this is going to have damaging consequences. Republican Senator Ben Sasse, quote, "This is dumb. I mean, you're not finding any love for this on the rights." SAHADI: No. And in fact this is.

BOMEY: Well, it's usually because, you know, I think that tariffs scramble, you know, tariffs is where, you know, politics get scrambled. And you see sometimes unions will actually supportive it. Well, unions often end up on the left and then, Republicans are often against it because of the free trade sensibilities

And so, you know, I think this is a unique situation from that respect and I would also say. I don't know that this is necessarily about boosting the economy. That may be the rhetoric. But I think a lot of this is about politics because in coal country, for example, the steel tariffs play well. And so, I think that's important to keep in mind.

HARLOW: Quote.

KEILAR: Nathan Bomey, Jeanne Sahadi -- I'm sorry. What were you going to say, Poppy?

HARLOW: Quote of the day, Bri. Ben Sasse, "Make America great again shouldn't be make America 1929 again."

KEILAR: I like quote. "This is dumb."

HARLOW: OK.

KEILAR: That's a bumper sticker.

HARLOW: Yes.

KEILAR: You win with that one.

HARLOW: Both from the Republican senator.

HARLOW: That's right. Away with words. Jeanne and Nathan, thank you so much to both of you.

[10:10:04] BOMEY: Thank you.

KEILAR: And still to come, mystery letter. North Korea's former spy chief set to hand deliver a note from Kim Jong-un to the White House. We'll have more on this rare trip, ahead.

And President Trump weighing in on -- sorry. Go on, Poppy.

HARLOW: President Trump weighing in on the controversy surrounding Samantha Bee, the comedienne, starting to lose advertisers after that slur against the President's daughter, Ivanka Trump.

And a new hurricane season has begun officially today. Puerto Rico, though, still reeling from hurricane Maria nine months later, we are live in San Juan.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

KEILAR: What do a celebrity chef and former Governor of Illinois have in common? Well, both may soon get a helping hand from President Trump after they were convicted of crimes.

The President says, he may pardon Martha Stewart and commute the sentence of Rod Blagojevich. So, why are these two next on his list? Let's go to CNN's Kaitlan Collins live at the White House. Why are they next, Kaitlan?

[10:15:07] COLLINS: Well, Brianna, forgiveness seems to be in the air here at the White House. The President pardoning Dinesh D'souza yesterday and unexpectedly announcing he is considering pardoning several other people including Martha Stewart, and the former Illinois governor who was convicted on 17 corruption charges. I should note.

And the common thread that all of these people the President have pardoned or considered pardoning has, is that the President believes they were all treated unfairly by the government. But I should note, there, you can see Blagojevich was convicted of corruption. He tried to sell President Obama's Senate seat when he became President. And also Dinesh D'souza, this conservative author, who floated conspiracy theory's that the President pardoned yesterday, is someone who pled guilty to his charges. He was involved in a straw donor scheme, where he convinced people to donate to a Senate candidate in New York, an offer that he would reimburse them in cash.

Now, the President have never met Dinesh D'souza and never spoken to him before this week. But Dinesh D'souza said this morning that this is what the President said when he called to let him know he was going to pardon him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DINESH D'SOUZA, POLITICAL COMMENTER: 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 that 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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

COLLINS: Now, Brianna, the White House says President Trump isn't sending a signal with these pardons to people like Paul Manafort and Michael Cohen. But it's unmistakable to see that the people the President has pardoned or is considering pardoning all have been prosecuted by his perceived political enemies. And they also, the President argues, were treated unfairly by the justice system something the President also believes he is a victim of as well here. Brianna.

KEILAR: What did you say earlier? It's a good day to be a celebrity convicted of a federal crime.

COLLINS: It is a good time.

KEILAR: Kaitlan Collins, you cracked me up. All right. Thanks so much. Just the White House, Poppy?

HARLOW: All right. Joining us now Kaitlin who burns the National Political Reporter for REAL CLEAR POLITICS and CNN National Security and Legal Analyst Susan Hennessey. Ladies, thank you for being here.

Susan, let me begin with you and let's place aside importantly the pardon of Jack Johnson, right? The American boxer who was pardoned after the man act was used against him in a very racist way. He was posthumously pardoned thus probably champion. That pardon aside, these are the five pardons we had so far from President Trump. You call this an abuse of exercise of constitutional power, really?

SUSAN HENNESSEY, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LEGAL ANALYST: Right. So, this is clearly -- I think it's important to note that President Trump is clearly able to do this. It's within his constitutional authority but we give the President this really remarkable power, right?

The ability to essentially nullify both the will of the legislature and the court system for a really important purpose and that's because the pardon power is supposed to be corrected. But expressions of mercy more like that previous case that you noted where we're using it to correct something where the system has gone wrong.

HARLOW: Right.

HENESSEY: What we're seeing President Trump doing is essentially handing it out like party favors to political allies and he's being quite brazen about it. I do think that is an abuse and improper use of this power.

HARLOW: I will say, Kaitlan, -- before I get to Kaitlin. To Susan, you do have some Republicans like Rudy Giuliani pointing to President Clinton's pardon Marc Rich for example, Susan, what do you think?

HENESSEY: Right. So, I think a President Clinton pardon of Marc Rich is a good example. That also was an abusive use of the pardon power. I think, the differences that President Clinton at least have the decency to sort of be ashamed of himself. He did it at right at the end as he was leaving office. It was a political disaster for him.

HARLOW: Yes.

HENESSEY: Continue to haunt his legacy. The difference with what we see President Trump doing is he's doing it early.

HARLOW: OK, yes.

HENESSEY: He's brazenly doing it and he's not paying any political price.

HARLOW: Marc Rich is a big hedge fund manager who gave a lot of money to the Clintons in the Democratic Party, gets that pardon on the president's way out.

Kaitlin, to you, the part from D'souza's interview this morning on Fox News, it struck me so much about the call the President made to him when he made this pardon is this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

D'SOUZA: He said he just wanted me to be out there, to be a bigger voice than ever defending the principles that I believed in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: We know that the President, Kaitlin, circumvented the sort of DOJ, circumvented the Pardon Office, didn't tell them about this. He has the right to do that but when he does that, and then, tells folks like Dinesh, I want you to be out there, being a bigger voice for what you think. Dinesh was one of the biggest, most vocal supporters of President Trump in his candidacy, et cetera. Does that tell you this is a President not only rewarding loyalty but also, you know, pushing for then -- those people to thank him for these pardons by being a vocal voice and support of the President?

COLLINS: Sure. I think what Dinesh was saying was what the President wanted him to be out there not only talking about. The President playing him up but also talking about the injustices that they see of the Justice System, which the President has also been putting forth as we know.

It's really difficult not to see a pattern, though, with these pardons. When you look at Dinesh D'souza, when you look at the putting out there of Martha Stewart, which I should note Giuliani in an interview just last week talked --

HARLOW: Yes.

COLLINS: -- mentioned in terms of, you know, she went to jail and as she lied to investigators. You know, also, with Blagojevich and corruption. You see campaign finance violations. You see lying to investigators. You see corruption at the highest level, the swampiest level.

It's really hard not to see a pattern here and when you go back to the first pardon that the President issued for Joe Arpaio who was a political ally of the President. And now happens to be running for the US Senate in Arizona.

HARLOW: Right.

COLLINS: You see that the President has not faced really any political backlash of any significance when it comes to these pardons. So, he is doing this really, you know, in a way that he hasn't received any political consequences as of yet, especially not from his own party.

HARLOW: And, Susan, to you, Blagojevich's wife, Patty Blagojevich, went on Fox News after this news. And she was clearly trying to seem send a message to the President, essentially saying, you know, they did these things to my husband that they're now trying to do to the President. HENESSEY: I say, it's pretty clear that the President is trying to send particular messages, both sort of this grievance politics and potentially even messages to individuals and the Mueller investigation.

I think what we saw with Mrs. Blagojevich yesterday was people understand that message, right? They're picking up on it. We see comments from Robert Stone. We see people now going to Fox News, apparently sort of the most effective way to communicate to the President directly and pleading their case.

HARLOW: Thank you, both. Susan Hennessey. Appreciate it Kaitlan. Thank you for being here.

Also, we want to tell you about a big interview this airing tonight, 9:00 pm Eastern right here on CNN, Fareed Zakaria sits down with Steve Bannon for a fascinating hour. You'll see it right here.

And ahead, Kim Jong-un with a new letter being hand delivered today to President Trump for the summit soon be officially back on

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:27:10] KEILAR: Today President Trump is expected to be handed a letter from Kim Jong-un. And delivering that letter to the White House is the former North Korean spy Chief Kim Yong Chol.

Last week, you may recall, President Trump canceled his June 12th summit with Kim in a letter, is it back on, though? Seems like that may be the case and we're looking for signs about what the answer to that question is.

Joining me now is Gary Samore. He's a former top nuclear adviser to President Obama. So, we're reading all the tea leaves here. You have the Secretary of State, Gary, saying, there's been real progress in the last 72 hours. Pompeo also said there remains a great deal of work to do. How are you reading this as to whether the summit June 12th will be on?

GARY SAMORE, FORMER TOP NUCLEAR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT OBAMA: I think it's very likely the summit will take place on June 12th as planned. How much the communique of the summit resolves the essential disputes between the US and North Korea I think it's much less certain.

At this point, the summit communique may very well be a general political level commitment on the part of the US and North Korea to negotiate a subsequent agreement that will have all of the crucial details. And that subsequent negotiation could take months or even years to complete.

KEILAR: This is going to be -- assuming it takes place, a bilateral summit between the U.S. and North Korea. It's not like what we have seen in the past where you've had many parties at the table.

So, we're seeing all of this last minute jockeying on the sidelines, right? With China weighing in, Russia, Japan as well. What effect is that going to have on this process?

SAMORE: Well, I think the nuclear issue has always been fundamentally a bilateral US-North Korea issue. Other parties, of course, have a very strong interest in the outcome and other parties can contribute or make it more difficult to come to an agreement.

But fundamentally, whatever the US and North Korea agree to as a resolution of the disarmament issue. That's something that other countries will support and all of the parties in the region that you mentioned would like to see some kind of diplomatic process. And an agreement that reduces tension and avoids the risk of war.

KEILAR: What do you think is in this letter that Kim Jong-un is sending to President Trump?

SAMORE: Well, there have not been many letters like this in the past. But the ones that I've seen that were addressed to previous US presidents are very general. They're short. They're letters of reassurance that North Korea is committed to complete denuclearization in the context of peace on the Korean peninsula and normalization of relations with the United States.

So, I expect the purpose of the letter is to reassure President Trump that he should go ahead with the summit meeting on June 12th, and that at the meeting Kim Jong-un would be willing to commit in a general way to denuclearization.

KEILAR: You've said that the real work here is after the summit. If the summit doesn't have --