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Intel Chiefs Rip Russia But Trump Rips "Russian Hoax"; Donald Jr Suggests Democrat's Platform Similar to Nazi Platform; Unemployment Numbers Drop as China Threatens More Tariff Retaliation; Trump: China & Others Have "Targeted Our Farmers". Aired 11-11:30a ET
Aired August 3, 2018 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:00:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.
Try this on for size. This whole thing is a hoax, but we're going to make it a top priority to make sure that hoax never happens again. That seems to be what the president is saying. Confusing? It should be. It's the show of force versus, well, simply the show.
First, the show of force. Not the space force, the force, the alphabet soup of our nation's intelligence and national security community. DNI, FBI, DHS, NSA, all at the White House speaking publicly and taking questions about election security and the real threats from abroad. No equivocating, no waffling, no sugarcoating what Russia is up to. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: As I have said consistently, Russia attempted to interfere with the last election and continues to engage in malign influence operations to this day.
DAN COATS, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: We continue to see a pervasive messaging campaign by Russia to try to weaken and divide the United States.
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Our democracy itself is in the cross hairs. Free and fair elections are the cornerstone of our democracy and it has become clear they are the target of our adversaries who seek, as the DNI just said, to sow discord and undermine our way of life.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: And then there's this. Hours later, the show of force gave way to the show.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Now, we're being hindered by the Russian hoax. It's a hoax. OK? I will tell you what. Russia is very unhappy that Trump won.
(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: One man's hoax is entire national security team's headache, it appears.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins is in New Jersey traveling with the president.
Kaitlan, how is the White House explaining this apparent disconnect? Are they trying to?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Kate, the White House insists it was President Trump's idea that those officials come out to the briefing yesterday and talk about election security. But we did not hear that from President Trump during that more than an hour speech long last night. The only time he brought up Russia was to say the investigation into Russian interference in the election and whether any Trump officials colluded with Russians was a hoax. We weren't hearing that messaging from the president.
But, Kate, we also learned more from that briefing yesterday, including that the president's own chief intelligence officer is still in the dark about what exactly happened when he met one on one with Vladimir Putin.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
COATS: I'm not in a position to either understand fully or talk about what happened at Helsinki. I will turn it over to the national security director here to address that question.
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Yes, the issue was discussed. In fact, President Putin said, I thought at the press conference, but certainly in the expanded bilateral meeting when the two leaders got together with their senior advisers, President Putin said the first issue that President Trump raised was election meddling.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Kate, it seems to be a tale of two different White Houses. On one side, we have the president's top national security officials offering a blunt, candid assessment that, yes, Russia is still a threat. Then on the other side, we have the president who seems to be still playing defense against the media for the coverage of his summit.
BOLDUAN: Kaitlan, great to see you. Thanks so much. Let's see as the president is on a working vacation in New Jersey.
Joining me to discuss this important issue, Senator Chris Van Hollen, of Maryland, one of several Senate Democrats who wrote a letter to the national security adviser, John Bolton, asking for more information about this issue, how the administration is handling election interference.
Senator, thanks for coming in.
SEN. CHRIS VAN HOLLEN, (D), MARYLAND: Good to be with you, Kate. BOLDUAN: From what you heard back from Bolton and what you heard from
that podium yesterday, do you feel more comfortable that the administration is taking concrete steps to better protect in this upcoming election?
VAN HOLLEN: No, not one bit. John Bolton mentioned a couple things that were done a long time ago. They were relatively small actions. Now he says -- John Bolton says President Trump raised this issue with President Putin. I can tell you, if he did, obviously, Vladimir Putin is not taking him seriously, because we just had the parade of administration officials saying that the lights are blinking red, the Russians are interfering in the 2018 elections. The reason for that is that Putin doesn't care what a bunch of officials in the press room say. What he cares about is what President Trump said. President Trump told the country that this was all a Russian hoax. Clearly, Donald Trump, is doing nothing to protect our democracy and protect the integrity of our elections, which are now I think about 94 days away.
[11:05:11] BOLDUAN: That's where -- that's the core of what I'm curious about today. What do you do with the disconnect between the president and all of those top officials? They say Russia -- they say Russia did it in 2016. They're trying to do it again in 2018. They say that they are -- the point was, is we're on it, basically, is what they were saying in the press briefing room yesterday. Donald Trump says that it's a hoax. I'm trying to figure out how both of these things can be true. Who do you believe? There are people in there like DNI Dan Coats I know you have a lot of respect for.
VAN HOLLEN: That's right. But the question is, who does Vladimir Putin believe. It's Vladimir Putin who is coordinating these attacks on our democracy. He believes the president of the United States. It was interesting to hear John Bolton say that Trump -- hear the president himself say that Putin was really unhappy that Donald Trump was president. We all know that Putin said in Helsinki he was pleased to have Donald Trump as president.
VAN HOLLEN: The reason for that is that Donald Trump has not pushed back on the interference in 2016 elections or the oncoming attacks, which we have seen in the case of Claire McCaskill, the Senator from Missouri, and the Facebook efforts that are coming at 2018. What should we do? This is a moment when Congress has to step up. That's why Senator Rubio and I have introduced the Deter Act, which would make it very clear to Vladimir Putin, if he gets caught interfering in our elections again, there will be immediate, very harsh penalties. His economy will feel a lot of pain. He needs to know in advance that the cost of interference is higher than any benefit he hopes to gain.
BOLDUAN: I want to get to the Deter Act in a second. But I know you are saying who Vladimir Putin believes is Trump. Do you believe what you heard from DNI Coats and the folks yesterday? They are saying they are working on it, they're working on it, they're watching it, they can see the patterns coming. Do you think they are lying at the podium that they are not on top of it? VAN HOLLEN: No, Kate. I believe they are watching it. I believe
they're on top of it in the sense that they are watching this unfold before their eyes. I mean --
BOLDUAN: You don't think they have the tools to stop -- to prevent it?
VAN HOLLEN: They don't have the tools to stop it, which is why it's happening right now. If Coats had the tools to stop it or was stopping it, why is it that he is at the same time saying, you know, all the danger signals --
VAN HOLLEN: -- are blinking red? Because Putin is taking his signals from Donald Trump, not from what a couple officials say in the press room.
BOLDUAN: I think one of the things -- you alluded to it -- that might be most concerning yesterday -- I think we haven't paid enough attention to it -- is what Kaitlan Collins played. When asked about was election meddling brought up and in what way in that one on one with Putin, Dan Coats says -- Dan Coats was asked and he says, "I'm not in a position to understand fully or talk about what happened in Helsinki." Then when Bolton went to answer, he cited Vladimir Putin as the source of the information of what happened inside the meeting. I found that really, really amazing. Do you have any better idea of what agreements were reached in that meeting in Helsinki?
VAN HOLLEN: None. Zero. It is very alarming that, even today, even yesterday, his top national security folks don't know either. That gets us back to the point that the only one who does know, other than Donald Trump, is Vladimir Putin. We know that Vladimir Putin is continuing to interfere. We know that from Trump's own national security folks. If Donald Trump did raise those issues with Vladimir Putin, obviously, Vladimir Putin is not taking him seriously at all. What Vladimir Putin is listening to is Donald Trump yesterday in Pennsylvania where he says this is all a Russian hoax. If you are the president of Russia, and the president of the United States says it's a hoax, you say, hey --
BOLDUAN: Let's talk about --
VAN HOLLEN: -- we will keep doing it.
BOLDUAN: Let's talk about what Congress could do or is trying to do. You have -- you talked about the Deter Act. There's a new bipartisan effort announced yesterday to slap new sanctions on Russia. You have your own version of punishment on Russia. This is getting more attention post Helsinki. Honestly, Senator, are any of these efforts going anywhere? We're 90-plus days out from the election. VAN HOLLEN: Kate, that's the test about whether the Republicans in
Congress, whether the Republican leadership in Congress is really interested and willing to protect our democracy going into 2018. They made some nice sounding statements --
BOLDUAN: They don't seem to be opposed to what you guys put out. The Deter Act you put out with Rubio.
[11:10:02] VAN HOLLEN: Yes. That's exactly right. We have strong bipartisan support. The ultimate question is whether the Republican leadership in Congress, whether Senator McConnell, who said positive things did the Deter Act, whether he is willing to put it up for a vote. We did get a troubling sign just the other day when we had a vote in the Senate on providing more resources to states to protect their election systems and virtually every Republican Senator voted against that simple measure to allow that protection.
But I will say that momentum is building among Republican and Democratic Senators to pass the Deter Act, because they know it's important that we send the signal to Putin and that we cannot rely on the president. If we pass this bill, Putin will know, if he messes around, he will face penalties. He can't rely on the president of the United States to get him out of it.
BOLDUAN: The House is out right now. So let's see how this -- how quickly all of this --
VAN HOLLEN: That's right. You are absolutely right.
VAN HOLLEN: We have to get this done in August. House in September. The clock is ticking. I couldn't agree with you more, Kate.
VAN HOLLEN: That's why the American people need to weigh in.
BOLDUAN: This has been happening for a while.
Wait. I do need to get you on one thing, Senator, before you go. You are in charge of getting more Democrats elected to the Senate. Someone who has the president's ear, the president's son, he said something that's getting a lot of attention today, saying this about essentially the Democrats' platform right now. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP JR, SON OF PRESIDENT TRUMP: You see the Nazi platform in the early 1930s and what was put out there as -- and you look at it compared to the DNC platform of today, and it's like, man, those things are awfully similar, to a point where it's actually scary.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Senator, you want to respond?
VAN HOLLEN: I'm actually not aware of this comment. Not exactly sure who he was talking about. But I can tell you --
BOLDUAN: He literally was talking about the Nazi economic platform and the platform of the DNC. That's basically the context.
VAN HOLLEN: You know what, it's another example of totally ignore an ignorant and outrageous statements coming out of not just the president but other members of the family. The reality, Kate, is what we're focused on is trying to reduce the rising costs of health care, rising costs of prescription drugs. We have a plan to invest and modernize in our infrastructure. We have a very positive plan. At the same time, we have to stop the Trump administration efforts to take away people's access to protection for pre-existing conditions and other things. Obviously, we are fighting the part of the Trump agenda that's undermining people's access to affordable health care. We also have some very positive ideas of how we can bring down the cost of prescription drugs. That's what we are talking about.
BOLDUAN: Differences on policy, for sure. Comparisons to Nazis, we live to fight another day.
VAN HOLLEN: This is coming at me out of the blue. It's one --
BOLDUAN: My goal is not to stump you. My goal was to get your opinion.
VAN HOLLEN: We have had too many moments like these from the Trump administration that people -- it leaves you -- you know it leaves you totally appalled about their whole approach. Again, Kate, I just haven't seen this comment.
BOLDUAN: No. I was not trying to stump you, Senator. Just wanted to get your reaction.
I appreciate your time. Thank you so much.
VAN HOLLEN: Sure. Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Breaking news this morning for us, a pair of major economic developments. The latest jobs report lowers the unemployment rate. But at the same time of good headlines, there are new and troubling threats. New threats from China. Beijing threatening billions of new tariffs. What does this mean for you? That's next.
Plus, he's got the pricey ostrich jacket, but Paul Manafort's bookkeeper may have more troubling news for him, saying the former Trump campaign chief was going broke and lying to banks, falsifying bank records. Details on day four of the Manafort trial coming up.
[11:18:25] BOLDUAN: Good news on the economy this morning, and almost simultaneously, the threat of very bad news today. On one hand, the unemployment rate ticked down. On the other, there's China now threatening to hit back at the U.S. again with billions of dollars of new tariffs.
CNN's Cristina Alesci is here with me now with the good, the bad and the ugly.
Let's start with jobs numbers. What are you seeing there?
CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY & POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Relatively strong report. One number that I keep a close eye on is wage growth. That was 2.7 percent, which is not a bad thing. But you have to look at it in a larger context. At this point in the cycle where we have at or we are near full employment, that means every American who is willing and able has a job. We should see that number between 3 percent and 4 percent. It's stuck at 2.7 percent. By the way, Kate, to my point about context, inflation is 2 percent. That's not a huge raise for the American worker. Overall, strong jobs report, 157,000 jobs added. A little less than Wall Street would have liked. A little less than the trend that we have been seeing of 200,000 jobs added every month. Now Wall Street is trying to figure out whether or not this is a blip or whether this is a seasonal thing or whether or not the economy is, in fact, pulling back and we're going to see lower numbers, which by the way, would not be abnormal in this point of the cycle, because we have added so many jobs. The question is, how many more can we go from here? Also, really interesting in this report, look at the sectors. We saw business services, manufacturing, all of those sectors were up. Manufacturing, still up. Overall, like I said, 157, even though we have this overhang of a potential global trade war, which could disrupt supply chains, make people nervous.
[11:20:09] BOLDUAN: Let's talk about that. What is China now saying about new tariffs?
ALESCI: It's hitting back. It announced today that it might impose 5 percent to 25 percent tariffs on $60 billion worth of Chinese -- of American goods. This is in response to the administration escalating earlier this week when it said it might consider 25 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods. That was up from 10 percent. The Chinese not rolling over.
Here is the thing. When I talk to my sources in the administration, they didn't expect China to really stand down. Right? President Trump thinks that the U.S. economy is so strong that it could inflict more harm on China than China can retaliate with. Technically, he is right, because dollar for dollar --
BOLDUAN: The economy can take this. ALESCI: Right, dollar for dollar, China can't hit us back with the
same amount. But it can do other things to retaliate and that's what we're going to keep an eye on.
BOLDUAN: The economy can take this. But the economy is made up of people.
ALESCI: And companies.
BOLDUAN: And companies. And farmers and producers, and can they take it all along the way until things calm down? Let's talk about it.
ALESCI: You're right.
BOLDUAN: Great to see you. Thank you so much, Cristina. Really appreciate it. Great to see you.
On this very issue, these proposed tariffs would be the latest hit to the U.S. economy. This fight with China is having an impact on many American businesses, businesses like farmers.
I know I have played this sound bite for you multiple times this week. I want to play it again because it is important. Here is what President Trump said about this all on Tuesday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Our farmers are true patriots.
TRUMP: Because China and others have targeted -- China and others -- remember this -- have targeted our farmers. Not good. Not nice. You know what our farmers are saying? It's OK, we can take it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: "It's OK, we can take it."
Joining me now is Christopher Gibbs, a corn, soybean and cattle farmer in Ohio. He recently started speaking out, saying that with all this, this is all a bridge too far for him.
Christopher, thank you for coming in.
CHRISTOPHER GIBBS, FARMER: Hey, Kate. How are you doing?
BOLDUAN: I'm doing all right.
When you are already saying that the tariffs from China are already hurting you -- you are a soy bean farmer. In Ohio, so much of it goes to China, more tariffs now could be coming. That means what for you?
GIBBS: We have already seen what that can mean. We have taken approximately a 20 percent decrease in the price of soybeans since March, since this all escalation started. Certainly, $60 billion of tariffs. I'm not sure the Chinese announced what that's going to be. That's not helpful. Markets are built on a couple different things. They are built on the technical, built on the fundamentals. They're also built on confidence, market confidence. This continued rhetoric, bludgeoning of our trade partners, doesn't give the market confidence. We continue on a downward slide, whether it's corn, whether it's soybeans, hogs. All those are on a downward slide since March. You can relate that directly back to this tariff fight.
BOLDUAN: When the president said that farmers are telling him it's OK, we can take it, when you heard that, what did you think?
GIBBS: Well, you know what, farmers are tough. We don't run. We don't spook. We don't hide. That's fine. But that doesn't mean we can't speak out on policy that's pretty much ill-advised, from my view. I'm a free trader. Let me tell you something. Agriculture has one marketing plan. We have one business plan for agriculture. It's trade. When 95 percent of the people on the planet live outside of the U.S., that's what we have -- those are the folks we have to sell to. When the president uses rhetoric against Mexico, which is our number-one corn customer, and China, which is our number-one soybean customer -- we send 30 percent of our beans to China. And 86 percent of our pork production goes to China and Mexico. When he uses that rhetoric, it makes us nervous out here in ag country. Hey, I can take it, sure. But I don't have to be quiet about it. The president calls it like he sees it. I'm going to call it like I see it.
BOLDUAN: I want to be clear. You are very clear about this, Christopher. You are a Republican. You have always been within. You voted for Trump.
When you wrote this opinion piece for the local paper, "The City Daily News," it's gotten a lot of attention. But about this very issue, you don't mince words. You will speak up. You are angry about it.
I want to read part of it for folks, the part that really sticks out.
[11:25:09] BOLDUAN: "Let me tell you a riddle. I slept with a billionaire because he said he loved me. I expected to make love but, in the morning, I realized I was getting screwed. When I went to tell the world, I was offered cash to keep my mouth shut. Who am I? No, not a model or someone named Stormy. I'm the American farmer."
What do you want to make sure people understand here?
GIBBS: I will tell you what. We were with Trump probably on this trade fight. Because he continues to say that it's going to get better, it's going to get better. We can talk about that in a minute. The moment that the administration announced they were going to borrow $12 billion to shore up and essentially sedate American agriculture, that ended up being a bridge too far for me. What it signaled was this. It signaled the administration was admitting that the policy wasn't working as quick as they hoped. And it also signaled that it was going to be a long time. It was going to take us a long time to get out of it. That's what prompted me to write the article. I certainly want people to read the rest of it, other than the hyperbole. Hyperbole just gets you in the door. So --
BOLDUAN: It's good. I recommend everybody read your piece. I will send it out on Twitter, for sure.
BOLDUAN: That sticks out, Chris, there's no doubt about it.
You talk about -- he is basically making the case that it's short-term pain for long-term gain. Wait, I'm going to cut a better deal. That's his promise. How long can you wait?
GIBBS: Yes. Well, I tell you what. You know what? We must be really fair about this. I don't have a crop today. I don't have a crop today. The crop is out in the field. We were already planted before all of this started. I didn't have a chance to respond, plan a different crop or what have you.
GIBBS: But we're already down the road. Since I don't have a crop, the expectation is that we would be maybe back to normal, that our markets would be -- all this would be settled maybe by January or something. We would go on down the road. I'm not sure how we recall, we rebuild that 20 percent loss. And I'll also be fair as well. We have a good crop out there. There's some expected softness in the market because we have a good crop. But American agriculture has worked since the mid '80s and beyond. We've made relationships. We went on planes, trains and automobiles and we went around the world and, one handshake, one relationship at a time, created markets, just for this eventuality when we had large production, so markets were stable and we had a place to sell our crops and we didn't have to come to the American people.
BOLDUAN: That's not what's happening at this moment.
GIBBS: That's not.
BOLDUAN: Christopher Gibbs, thanks for coming on. I appreciate it. I will continue to check in with you and hope you keep speaking out. Thank you.
GIBBS: Yes, ma'am.
BOLDUAN: Thanks so much.
Coming up, lavish spending while struggling to stay afloat, lying to the bank all along the way. That's what Manafort's former bookkeeper is saying about the former Trump campaign chief in court. What does that mean for Manafort's case? Does it make it any more likely that Manafort will take the stand? We will talk about that next.