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Putin Extends Invitation; Trump to Speak on Economy; Trump Speaks About Economy. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired July 27, 2018 - 09:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:31:37] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We are waiting to hear from President Trump. He is set to speak any moment on the South Lawn. Later today he will meet with his national security team about election interference. And that meeting comes only five days after he said the idea of Russian interference was all a big hoax and three days after he said he was concerned about Russia hacking the upcoming election, but that they would do so to help the Democrats.

There's a lot going on this morning, folks. This also comes, as we've learned just a few moments ago, that Vladimir Putin said that he would come to Washington, and also that he invited President Trump to Moscow.

There's a lot to break down. Jeffrey Toobin and Elie Honig are still with me. Also with me Margaret Talev and Bianna Golodryga.

So, Bianna, just to you, trying this all together as we wait to hear form the president on strong economic numbers, that's what he's coming out to talk about. He's also going to take reporter questions. And you know they're going to ask him about Michael Cohen, about being invited by Putin to Moscow. What's your read?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: On which topic? I mean there are so many to get through.

HARLOW: On the invitation -- on the invitation to Moscow from Putin.

GOLODRYGA: Look, it's a summit that just won't end, right? They can't quit each other. On the one hand with Vladimir Putin anticipating a visit to Washington, many that have been following him would wonder what -- how that benefits him at all because unlike Helsinki where he was on level ground with the president, he really would be shunned here you would think by most of Congress. You had Paul Ryan say that they would not welcome him to speak before Congress. So there's not much upsides other than possibly more bad headlines for the president with Vladimir Putin coming here other than the optics.

I can't imagine President Trump going to Russia, but never say never. Huge win for Vladimir Putin if that would be the case. Under normal circumstances, they would be meeting in Argentina at the G-20 in November. HARLOW: We have the two minute warning to the president, means --

which means he's going to walk out here at any moment.

Margaret, to you.

Remember, this is a president who has not taken a single question about Michael Cohen and that tape that was released earlier this week. In fact banned our CNN reporter after she tried to get answers from the president about Michael Cohen and this tape. And now we understand, after he talks about the economy and this GDP news, Margaret, he's going to take reporter questions.

MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, we have seen a preview on Twitter just a little while ago of how he might speak about it, if he were going to speak about it publicly in person today. Absolutely so far on Twitter refuting the idea, rejecting the idea that he knew anything in advance about that meeting and suggesting that his former lawyer is trying to save himself and misleading people. So we will see if he does in fact take questions on this. But signaling so far on Twitter what his strategy would be.

HARLOW: Jeffrey Toobin, when it comes back to the -- to the issue of credibility, I mean this is -- look, Michael Cohen has made his case clear though the media and now the president's going to make his case clear. Who -- who are the American people going to believe?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, if there's anything we know about the last year and a half is that nothing changes people's mind. That the polls have essentially not moved on Donald Trump. They are basically 60-40 against on any question you ask. And every time we think, oh, this is really going to change things, whether it's the Helsinki summit or the treatment of the kids at the border, nothing changes poll numbers. And I am going to make the bold prediction that this won't change the poll numbers either. People seem to have made up their minds and, you know, the midterm elections seem to be the only event that might actually dislodge people's (INAUDIBLE).

[09:35:10] HARLOW: Well, and, frankly speaking, the economy is what often moves votes. And he's doing very well on the economy.

TOOBIN: He is. But even that, I mean one of the paradoxes of the Trump presidency is you would think a president, with an economy that seem to be doing --

HARLOW: Would have higher poll numbers.

TOOBIN: Is doing as well as this one and --

HARLOW: And Clinton -- Clinton, in the middle of the Lewinsky scandal, had high poll numbers because of the economy was doing so well despite the scandal. It's sort of upside down for this president on that front.

TOOBIN: It's what we call a paradox as Jack Nicolson said in "The Departed." GOLODRYGA: And to support Jeffrey on that theory, I mean, look, worst case, if voters and those that support the president specifically find out that the president did not tell the truth and did know about this meeting ahead of time, what -- the president will focus on the outcome of that meeting, which we know they said was nothing, right? It was a nothing burger. They were disappointed. They didn't get the information that they wanted from the Russians. So maybe the president didn't handle it right and he shouldn't have lied to the American public. But, at the end of the day, nothing came of this meeting so it's no big deal. I could see that theory playing out.

HARLOW: Elie, what about the honesty of the president when it comes to how he feels about how honest and what a good man Michael Cohen is or is not.

ELIE HONIG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Yes.

HARLOW: I mean Rudy Giuliani, we played it for you, May of this year, the man is an honest, honorable lawyer. Last night, he's been lying for years. He lied all his life. A man that the president chose to be by his side on everything to be his quote-unquote fixer.

HONIG: Yes, so I came up as a prosecutor doing organized crime cases and this feels awfully familiar. Whenever you have a boss underling scenario, as we have here, there's kind of three stages. The first stage is when they're together, before an trouble comes in. They're doing business together. Sometimes potentially crimes.

Stage two is when they feel trouble coming in, subpoenas. And at that point, what does the boss do? He tries to round up his people, keep them in line, and that's why we saw the pieces from Jim earlier. And a few months ago, Rudy Giuliani and the president were saying Trump's a -- excuse me, Cohen's good man. He's a honorable man.

And now we're in stage three when the boss sees that the underling is going to flip and then it becomes, he's a pathological liar and he's not be trusted and I never really liked or knew this guy anyway.

And, you know, look, Rudy Giuliani and the president can say what they want about Michael Cohen now. The fact is, Robert Mueller didn't pick Michael Cohen as a witness. The Southern District didn't pick Michael Cohen as a witness. That was Donald Trump who chose him when he made him his lawyer back then.

HARLOW: How do you think, Jeffrey, Robert Mueller is going to view all of this? Meaning, what does this do with the trajectory of the Russia probe?

TOOBIN: You know, everything I know about Robert Mueller's investigation is, he doesn't give a damn about what we're saying here. He's not watching. He's not -- is that all he cares about is getting the evidence from these people. Get them in and force them to testify either in front of FBI agents or in a grand jury, look at the documents, look at the corroborating evidences, if it exists, and draw it's own conclusion. I mean I -- that's been the entire M.O. of this organization -- this operation. HARLOW: As we wait for the president, again, he should walk out at any

moment, to talk about the economy, but you can bet questions will be about many other topics.

Margaret Talev, to you.

This is ahead of this afternoon the president will meet with his national security team on the issue of election interference, on a day when we've learned that, you know, Senator McCaskill's -- there was an attempted hack on her ahead of the midterms. And as the president tries to clean up after the first Putin summit saying, you know, that America's been foolish and blasting our intelligence community. And then, Margaret, it comes, as we've learned, this invite to Moscow. Tie it all together for us.

TALEV: I'm going to try.

HARLOW: OK.

TALEV: This meeting is at 3:00 this afternoon. It's in the Situation Room. It is, unfortunately, closed to the press, although if they'd like to invite us in, we'd be happy to come and cover it.

Who's going to be there? The full national security council, principals, as far as we know. We know Vice President Pence also is going to be there.

Until now the very little bit that we know about what the administration is actually doing proactively to try to head off election meddling in 2018 and beyond we know is a process that involves the Department of Homeland Security. Is the president going to shift control and coordination and messaging on this more into the National Security Council realm, is John Bolton going to play a top role, is the chief of staff going to play a top role, will he announce new initiatives? There must be some public messaging because this isn't a sort of meeting that the president himself would need to preside over. It isn't the sort of meeting that the White House would need to announce.

And so the fact that they have put it on the public schedule suggests that the president wants to have a lever to message to the public about it. But so far the White House, the National Security Council, have told us almost nothing about what would be rolled out by the president himself or in terms of policy at this meeting today.

HARLOW: All right. Let's also bring in Steve Moore, who have been waiting patiently by.

Steve, thank you so much. Who was a senior economic advisor to President Trump during the campaign.

[09:40:01] So just set up for us what you think we're going to hear from the president here, 4.1 percent GDP in the second quarter is very strong. He said yesterday he'd be happy with anything that began with a four. Maybe he'll come out with Wilbur Ross, his commerce secretary, who knows. What are we going to hear from the president? STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, I think there's no doubt he's going to take a victory lap. I mean this is a very, very strong number that we got. It shows the economy is now really firing on all cylinders, Poppy. I mean when you combine this with the really solid employment reports we've seen over the last, you know, six months or so, it shows that we've got an economy that Trump knows what he's doing when it comes to getting an economy moving.

Now, you can read too much with just one quarters growth, but, you know, I was looking at some of the numbers underlying this high GDP report. And one of the things that I found is very hopeful for the future is that business investment, you know, what they're investing in, new plant, new equipment, new technology, which leads to more jobs, that has surged. So there's a lot of business optimism out there and I'm sure Donald Trump is going to have a big smile on his face when he talks about these numbers.

HARLOW: Let's also, though, Steve, to be fair here --

MOORE: Yes.

HARLOW: And politics aside, put it in context, right --

MOORE: Yes.

HARLOW: Because there were four times during the Obama administration where you did have quarterly GDP -- quarterly economic growth over 4 percent. At the end of 2014 he had 5.2 percent growth. All past three presidents have had at least one quarter with 5 percent growth here. It's a good thing, but is it sustainable? You know there's a lot of concern over whether this is sustainable for the year.

MOORE: Well, sure. And, Poppy, look, you make a good point that one quarter of growth, these numbers do bounce around a lot. But what we've seen over the last six quarters now is a bump up in growth. I call it the Trump effect where, you know, we were growing at 1.6 percent in Obama's last year in office, so the economy is decelerating. Now you've got an economy that's growing on an annual basis of about three.

HARLOW: And, Steve, we are looking -- sorry to jump in.

MOORE: Yes. OK.

HARLOW: We're looking at the president's team, a lot of them walking out, smiles on their faces, happy about this news. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is there. He's got Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin there as we -- as we wait for the president. A lot of folks that you worked with on the Trump team. But why don't -- continue until we see the president.

MOORE: Me?

HARLOW: Yes, go ahead, Steve.

MOORE: So, yes, just -- I was saying that, you know, the investment numbers look really good. I think Trump has really caused the kind of confidence boom among businesses and consumers, and that's where the numbers have really turned out very strong in the last quarter.

HARLOW: Can I -- can I just ask you, this quarter, you know, and I'm not trying to be Debby Downer on these numbers, they're good.

MOORE: Yes.

HARLOW: But I will say, a big part of it was exports and we know from "The Wall Street Journal" reporting, et cetera, that China and the like were buying up products from the U.S., like soybeans especially, ahead of the tariffs. And they were doing it to save money, right?

MOORE: Yes.

HARLOW: And so couldn't this number be artificially inflated?

MOORE: Maybe. But, you know, look, the --

HARLOW: All right.

MOORE: There was a big -- there was a big deal that was made this week that will hopefully reduce these tariffs.

HARLOW: Let's listen to the --

MOORE: Yes.

HARLOW: Let's listen to the president. And there is Vice President Pence next to him.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Good morning.

Moments ago, the numbers for America's economic growth for GDP were just released. And I am thrilled to announce that in the second quarter of this year, the United States' economy grew at the amazing rate of 4.1 percent. We're on track to hit the highest annual average growth rate in over 13 years.

And I will say this right now, and I'll say it strongly, as the trade deals come in one by one, we're going to go a lot higher than these numbers. And these are great numbers.

During each of the two previous administrations, we averaged just over 1.8 percent GDP growth. By contrast, we are now on track to hit an average GDP annual growth of over 3 percent. And it could be substantially over 3 percent.

Each point, by the way, means approximately $3 trillion and 10 million jobs. Think of that. Each point. You go up one point. It doesn't sound like much. It's a lot. It's $3 trillion and it's 10 million jobs.

If economic growth continues at this pace, the United States' economy will double in size more than ten years faster than it would have under either President Bush or President Obama. Perhaps one of the biggest wins in the report, and it is indeed a big one, is that the trade deficit -- very dear to my heart because we've been ripped off by the world -- has dropped by more than $50 billion. $52 billion to be exact. It's dropped by more than 50. Think of that, the trade deficit has dropped by more than $50 billion. And that's added and adding 1.2 GDP.

[09:45:10] That's a tremendous drop. We haven't had a drop like that in a long time. You'll have to go back a long time before you find it.

By increasing growth to 3 percent over the next ten years, that would mean 12 million new American jobs and $10 trillion of new American wealth, at least. And that's not including the fact that since I was elected we've created approximately $7 trillion of new wealth.

The year before I came into office, private business investment grew at only 1.8 percent. Last year it jumped to 6.3 percent. That was my first full year. We had to do a lot of things to get it to grow. And this year it's growing at 9.4 percent. So that's a very tremendous increase. There hasn't been an increase like that in many, many years, decades.

And I think the most important thing, and Larry Kudlow just confirmed to me along with Kevin Hassett, that these numbers are very, very sustainable. This isn't a one-time shot. I happen to think we're going to do extraordinarily well in our next report next quarter. I think it's going to be outstanding. I won't go too strong because then if it's not quite as good you'll not let me forget it. But I think the numbers are going to be outstanding.

We've accomplished an economic turnaround of historic proportion. When I came into office, 1.5 million fewer prime age Americans were working than eight years before. We had lost almost 200,000 manufacturing jobs under the previous administration. And you all know, they say, well, you have to lose manufacturing jobs. It'll get worse and worse. Manufacturing jobs are obsolete. No, they're not obsolete. They're the greatest jobs we have.

More than 10 million additional Americans had been added to food stamps in past years, but we've turned it all around. Once again, we are the economic envy of the entire world. When I meet the leaders of countries, the first thing they say invariably is, Mr. President, so nice to meet you, congratulations on your economy. You're leading the entire world. They say it almost each and every time.

America is being respected again and America is winning again because we are finally putting America first. Everywhere we look we are seeing the effects of the American economic America. We have added 3.7 million new jobs since the election. A number that is unthinkable if you go back to the campaign. Nobody would have said it. Nobody would have even, in an optimistic way, projected it.

We are in the midst of the longest positive job growth streak in history. New unemployment claims have recently achieved their lowest level in almost half a century. The African-American unemployment rate has achieved the lowest level in recorded history. African-American unemployment is the best it's ever been in the history of our country. The Hispanic unemployment rate has reached the lowest level likewise in history. The Asian unemployment rate has recently reached the lowest level, again likewise, in history. Women unemployment rate recently reached the lowest level in 65 years. And soon that will be in history. Give it another two or three weeks.

Veterans unemployment is at its lowest level in 18 years. And that number is rapidly going up. On top of which we just received and won from Congress choice where veterans can go out and see a doctor if they can't get service, the service that they deserve.

Unemployment for disabled Americans has hit a record low. Lowest in history. More than 3.5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps, something that you haven't seen in decades -- 3.5 million Americans have been lifted off food stamps. That's because they're able to go out and get a job. And they're going to love their jobs.

And 95 percent of American manufacturers are optimistic about their company's outlook. And that's the highest level also in history. And that's an old survey. Been around a long time.

[09:50:10] Manufacturing wages are expected to rise at the fastest rate in over 17 years. Business and consumer confidence has reached historic highs. So far this year, American exports are up nearly 20 percent. I've only been here a little more than a year and a half. Over the same period, in the year before I took office, we have become a net exporter of natural gas for the first time since 1957. We have gotten rid of tremendous amounts of regulations which allows us to do things. And we still have tremendous regulations on clean air, clean water, the environment. It's very important to me, very important to everybody. But we had unnecessary regulations that were hurting our economy and hurting our country.

We have eliminated a record number of job killing regulations. And with the help of Republicans in Congress, we passed, without one Democrat vote, the biggest tax cuts and reform in our history. And, as you know, the Democrats want to end that and raise everybody's taxes. That will be a disaster for our economy.

As a result, more than 6 million Americans are now enjoying new bonuses, better jobs and far bigger paychecks. Yet every single Democrat voted against the tax cuts. Every single one. We didn't get one vote. They voted against working families. They voted against small businesses. Not good.

In the first three months after tax cuts, over $300 billion poured back into the United States from overseas. We think it's going to be, in the end, when completed, over $4 trillion will be back into our country.

Apple alone is bringing in $230 billion. And they're building new plants. They're building a magnificent campus. They're going to be spending their money very wisely. But they're spending it in our country, not in some other country. That was made possible by the new tax cut and reform plan.

At the same time, we are finally cracking down on decades of abusive foreign trade practice. We were abused by companies. We were abused by the companies within countries. But in particular, we were abused by countries themselves, including allies. Abused like no nation has ever been abused on trade before. Because we had nobody watching. They stole our jobs and they plundered our wealth. But that ended.

Yesterday, I was at Granite City Steel in Illinois. It was an incredible sight. We had an audience of steel workers. Some of the roughest, toughest people you've ever seen. And half of them had tears coming down their face. I don't know if these people ever cried before in their life, to be honest. Half of them had tears coming down because we opened a tremendous United States steel plant. They're opening up seven other plants. And the steel industry is back. They're open for business. And we need the steel industry. And the tariffs did it. And nobody mentions the fact that these plants are creating tremendous numbers of jobs. Tremendous. And billions of dollars are pouring into the United States coffers. Billions of dollars.

But we're getting jobs. We're getting money coming in. We're respected. And, eventually, the steel prices will really start to go down because all of these new plants are going to be competing against each other. But we won't have foreign countries dumping -- that's the word they use, dumping -- steel all over the place and destroying our factories, destroying our plants, destroying our companies and destroying our jobs.

Since I was elected, we have added 400,000 new manufacturing jobs. Remember, that was the obsolete deal. Obsolete. I used to say, why is it obsolete? We have to make things. Manufacturing jobs are among our best jobs. And we're just getting started.

We've also liberated millions of Americans from the crushing burdens of Obamacare. The cruel individual mandate penalty is gone. That's where you pay a lot of money for the privilege of not having to buy bad health care and pay for it. It's gone. Nobody thought we could get rid of it. That was the most unpopular provision by far, probably on anything, but certainly in Obamacare. And Obamacare is now on its last legs, fortunately.

[09:55:16] And through associated health plans, we're giving Americans the ability -- just opened. Millions of people going to be signing up. Millions and millions. We're giving Americans the ability to join together to purchase much better and more affordable healthcare and health insurance, including bidding across state lines. So all of the insurance companies are going wild. They want to get it. You're going to have great health care at a much lower price. It will cost the United States nothing. Nothing. Think of that, will cost us nothing.

And that's Secretary Acosta, Secretary Azar is coming out with another health care plan, somewhat different, result, the same, much less expensive health care at a much lower price. It will cost our country nothing.

We're finally taking care of our people. Finally, there's another matter that's of profound importance to me. And I wish to discuss it right now before we leave. Because there's nothing like what we have been working on. So important for the lives of not only Americans but lives all over the world. At this moment, a plane is carrying the remains of some great fallen

heroes from America back from the Korean War. They're coming back to the United States. Mike Pence, our wonderful vice president, will be there to greet the families and the remains. And I want to thank Chairman Kim for keeping his word. We have many others coming. But I want to thank Chairman Kim in front of the media for fulfilling a promise that he made to me. And I'm sure that he will continue to fulfill that promise as they search and search and search.

These incredible American heroes will soon lay at rest on sacred American soil. Even during the campaign people would come up to me -- it was a long time ago, many decades ago -- oftentimes they were older, in some cases they were younger, great grandfathers. My great grandfather, my grandfather, my father, they asked if I could do something about it. I would look at them and say, we don't get along too well with that country. They said, whatever you could do. And it's something that was very important to me. Many people have asked that.

I've asked the vice president and others to just pay a special tribute. And they will do that.

So we honor the sacred memory of every incredible American patriot who fought and died in that war.

In everything we do and every action we take, we are fighting for loyal, hardworking, patriotic citizens of our blessed nation. We're making our country great again. We're respected again all over the world. Our military will soon be stronger than it's ever been by far. That in itself will produce thousands and thousands of jobs. Nobody makes equipment like we do. Nobody. Whether it's planes or missiles or any form of military equipment, we make the best in the world by far. We're making it possible for our allies to buy that equipment quickly where they don't have to wait for two-year approvals and more.

We're doing great and I'm very honored to see that 4.1 number. Perhaps I'm even more honored to see that deficit shrink -- the trade deficit shrink so much.

With that, I'd like to ask Kevin Hassett, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and my very good friend Larry Kudlow if they could both step forward and say a few words.

Thank you all very much. It's a great day.

KEVIN HASSETT, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL OF ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Thank you very much, Mr. President. And thank you for your leadership and for the faith that you put in me when you offered me this job.

And thank you for standing up for our veterans. My father and my uncle both fought in the Korean War. And you just can't imagine how much it means to those veterans that you didn't forget their comrades.

[10:00:06] You know, as an economist, it's my duty, sir, to remind that we should not make too much of one number, right?