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U.S. Economy Adds 201,000 Jobs in August; Trump Slams "Deep State Operatives" After Scathing Op-Ed; Ex-Trump Campaign Adviser Papadopoulos to Be Sentenced After Pleading Guilty to Making False Statements to the FBI; Man Who Allegedly Linked Roger Stone WikiLeaks Faces Grand Jury; Special Counsel Mueller Continues to Probe Former FBI Deputy Chief McCabe; Congress Grills Kavanaugh on Day Four. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired September 7, 2018 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:03] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone. It is Friday, I'm Poppy Harlow in New York, and we do begin this morning with breaking news on the economy. 201,000 jobs added last month. It's a big number, a positive sign.

Christine Romans, our chief business correspondent here with me.

Look, it keeps getting better and better and better.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Yes. Well, this is better than economists thought. It's pretty much in line with what we've seen all year. You've got 201,000 net new jobs and when you look at the trend, you know, they always say the trend is your friend here.

HARLOW: Sure.

ROMANS: And this shows more than 200,000 jobs on average for most of the year. That means the unemployment rate is still stuck there at that 3.9 percent. That is a generational low, that is what many economists consider full employment. You have six million job openings today in America. Six million job openings.

HARLOW: Wow.

ROMANS: And what you hear from companies is they don't have the skilled workers to fill them. So there's sort of the disconnect.

What about the sectors? Business information kinds of jobs, office jobs, they're lawyers, these are accountants, these are tech folks. 53,000 net new jobs there. Health care, Poppy, for years health care has been growing so strongly. Manufacturing down a little bit and that bears watching because this has been a pretty decent year so far for manufacturing jobs in this country.

HARLOW: That's true. And that's been a big focus of the president certainly. Certainly. What I find interesting, fascinating, and confounding, though, is why the president's approval rating overall and then even his approval rating on the economy is not better.

ROMANS: Yes.

HARLOW: I mean, on the economy.

ROMANS: Right.

HARLOW: It's not tracking in line with where Bill Clinton, despite scandals, despite issues.

ROMANS: Right.

HARLOW: Was on the economy, you know, '99, and when the economy was doing so well.

ROMANS: Even as the president talks about it all the time, about how well the economy is doing.

HARLOW: Yes.

ROMANS: We talk about how well the economy is doing. It could be because wages are not going gang busters here. In this report we see 2.9 percent annual wage inflation year over year. You know, it's been stuck at 2.5 to less than 3 percent for years now. The thing has been missing in this recovery, this jobs recovery, has been the wages so 2.9 percent, the strongest number I've seen since 2009 but it bears to see if we can get some of that.

HARLOW: Good point.

ROMANS: Trend, you want to see more than that.

HARLOW: Right.

ROMANS: This is a strong -- this is a strong report. We've got -- I think 95 months in a row now of net job creation.

HARLOW: Ninety-five months?

ROMANS: Ninety-five months. That is a record. That has not happen since we've been keeping these numbers. It just shows you this is not a short-term rebound here. This is a long slow, wageless recovery. And maybe you're going to start to see signs of those wages coming.

HARLOW: I hope so.

ROMANS: I hope next year America gets a big raise. That's what I'm hoping for.

(LAUGHTER)

HARLOW: Yes. I think we all agree with you on that one. Thanks, Romans.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

HARLOW: All right. It is a rare morning for President Trump because he's not waking up at the White House nor at a property with Trump in the title. He is in Billings, Montana, this morning after a rally where he railed against the so-called deep state, conspiring not just against him he says but against democracy itself. He also warned his most diehard supporters if he winds up being impeached next year it is not the deep state he will blame. Here's who he blames. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If it does happen it's your fault because you didn't go out to vote. OK? You didn't go out there. You didn't go out to vote. That's the only way it can happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: It's you, it's his supporters' fault. The president says. Well, next hour he will head to Fargo, North Dakota. Later today he will head to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, for even more campaign events. Meantime, a Trump campaign aide in the 2016 election, a name you know by now, George Papadopoulos, he will appear in federal court this afternoon. He is going to be sentenced on his guilty plea in the Russia probe.

Much more on that in a moment, let's go to the White House. Abby Phillip joins me there.

So good morning, Abby. Quite a night in Montana from the president. A lot of focus from him in that rally on the anonymous op-ed by one of his senior staffers in the "New York Times" but also interestingly a lot of talk about impeachment from the president and the fact that he pointed his finger, you know, sort of to rally his voters I supposed, saying look, if I'm impeached, it's your fault. Meaning don't let Democrats overtake the house.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. It seemed very much impeachment was top of mind for this president who has spent so much of this week dealing with a lot of blows coming at him, first from this Bob Woodward book that implied that the president's aides were trying to undermine him regularly then from this op-ed that was also reportedly written by a senior official in his administration also talking about ways in which a silent group of people trying to undermine him, work every single day in this administration so the president using all of that to make a case to his supporters that they should be worried about this and that they should come out to vote but he also renewed his calls for the "New York Times," using a national security rationale, to turn over the name of this anonymous staffer.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Nobody knows who the hell he is, or she. For the sake of our national security, the "New York Times" should publish his name at once.

[09:05:03] Unelected deep state operatives who defy the voters to push their own secret agendas are truly a threat to democracy itself.

(END VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: So it's clear there that the president is still very much focused on it but there is a lot of speculation about who this person can be and that speculation is causing so much angst in this building behind me. Aides frantically searching to find out who this person is.

We're also getting Republican senators suggesting to the White House that they should use a lie detector test to try to ferret out disloyal aides within the administration. Meanwhile, President Trump is heading back out to the campaign trail today as you mentioned, North Dakota and South Dakota campaign events talking about the stakes at hand for Republicans this November but we'll also be looking to see what more he says about this issue that is really consuming his administration these days -- Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. Abby, thank you for the reporting.

Let's talk about it. Errol Louis is with me, our political commentator, also from Politico senior Washington correspondent Anna Palmer.

Nice to have you both.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Good morning.

HARLOW: Happy Friday. Lots of news.

Errol, on the "New York Times" op-ed last night, the president seemed to find an upside and his upside he claims -- and let me quote the president -- "even liberals who hate me say that's terrible what they did." You're a political reporter, are you hearing outcry from liberals.

LOUIS: I haven't heard anybody who hates Donald Trump saying hey, this is a terrible thing. I think really where the president is kind of out of sync where a lot of the commentary is going is that the very serious underlying program is the chaos itself. I mean, you notice you can get a parade of senior officials saying, I didn't write it. I didn't write it. Whoever wrote --

HARLOW: But it's what they're not saying in this statement. Yes.

LOUIS: What they don't say is that this is not the way life is inside the White House. What they're not saying is we they have a well organized professional operation in the White House, this doesn't reflect reality. Nobody --

HARLOW: Those are all the denials, by the way. I mean, you're looking at it.

LOUIS: Yes. So not one of those people as far as I can tell has said this is off base, we're all taking the president's orders and following them faithfully in an orderly fashion.

HARLOW: Right. And we just showed that full screen of all those faces, those senior administration officials who say I am not Deep Throat, this is not me, but remember Deep Throat? Remember Mark Felt? Let's listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MARK FELT, FORMER FBI ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR: No, no, I am not Deep Throat and the only thing I can say is that I wouldn't be ashamed to be because I think whoever helped Woodward helped the country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: So how much stock should we put, Anna, in the denials that we're hearing now?

ANNA PALMER, SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: I mean, clearly there is an effort to Distance Themselves From Any Kind Of Trying To Say That This is what it's actually like in this White House but I don't think you can say -- it might be this was in 10 years, one year later, every single reporter in town is now trying to fixate, trying to find out who exactly it is.

HARLOW: Do you think that it would -- I mean, the president -- his argument last night was well, it's not fair -- it's not right because we can't discredit them. Like the book is one thing because we can discredit it. You know, we can't discredit them because we don't know who it is. Would that really make a difference here?

PALMER: Well, I think there is a frustration that whoever -- among Republicans that whoever this is that they are deciding to do this anonymously instead of saying hey, if you really do have a problem -- Speaker Ryan said this yesterday, you know, on the Hill, saying if you have a problem, just come forward and say it. Don't be in this administration, you work for this president.

HARLOW: Yes. There are -- it is interesting, and your colleagues in Politico, Anna, have noted that, you know, some Republicans like Ben Sasse, you know, the backlash is that it is only going to make it harder to restrain the president which I do find interesting, Ben Sasse said what it's going to do is foster more paranoia. Then you have other Republicans like the chair of the House Freedom Caucus Mark Meadows who is saying possibly investigate this person. I suppose using taxpayer dollars.

And Axios is reporting this morning, Errol, that he has said -- Meadows has said a number of unnamed congressional Democrats have been calling his office apparently supportive of that.

LOUIS: Yes, I would love to hear the names of the Democrats who are actually supporting it. I think Representative Meadows risks going down a very familiar rabbit hole. Leaks have bedeviled every administration in the modern era. It drove the Nixon administration almost insane. The same thing happened to Reagan. The same thing happened to Clinton.

You know, the Obama administration very much cracked down and actually prosecuted people around this kind of thing. You can spend a lot of time, you can waste a lot of effort. The reality is we have an open political culture. The flipside of this of course is when every administration wants to leak some good economic numbers or some good news, or some new policy or programs.

HARLOW: Sure.

LOUIS: So that the country can discuss it. The reality is it never works to try and stop all of the leaks.

HARLOW: Right. I mean, it's hard to be critical --

LOUIS: You can actually get -

(CROSSTALK)

HARLOW: -- of leaks when you do it, you know, on purpose yourself. When it benefits you.

All right. So the president also this morning is taking to Twitter and blasting the Woodward book once again which comes out on Tuesday.

[09:10:07] Woodward is going to start the series of interviews on Monday. I think you can sense the president's concern over this. Let me read you part of what he wrote. "I don't talk the way I am quoted. If I did, I would never have been elected president."

Well, you know what we all heard days before the election? Remember this?

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: When you're a star they let you do it, you can do anything.

BILL BUSH, FORMER "ACCESS HOLLYWOOD" HOST: Whatever you want.

TRUMP: Grab them by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED). You can do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: So if he, Anna, is talking, for example, about using the R word to describe Jeff Sessions as Woodward reports, or calling him a dumb southerner, how can the president argue things like that are beneath him when we heard him on tape there?

PALMER: I think the president often argues whichever way to his own benefit but clearly Bob Woodward is a total pro. He's done a lot of these books. I think his reporting has so far stood up very well. And so the problem this White House has is they can't really refute it, that they can' go on record, they can have Sarah Huckabee Sanders go to the podium and say it's not true. But everybody put a lot of stock to what Bob Woodward writes.

LOUIS: And he's really sort of bolstered that case by releasing original documents. I mean, I love the little anecdote that's already been leaked about Gary Cohn snatching a piece of paper off the president's desk to stop him from signing it.

HARLOW: Right. A letter. Yes.

LOUIS: Yes, a letter. And Woodward produces it. He produces the letter so it's not like it never happened.

HARLOW: Which was about a really serious issue and that was, you know, presence in South Korea.

LOUIS: That's right. When the administration understandably for political reasons, like I said every administration goes through this. They're obsessed with why are people making a distinction between supporting the president and supporting the presidency.

HARLOW: Yes.

LOUIS: And the country, the reality is that gap is what we should be focused on. Why do they think that supporting the country means disobeying the president?

HARLOW: Thank you both. Nice to have you. Have a good weekend. It's going to be a busy week next week, for sure.

Anna, Errol, thank you.

Ahead for us, a former Trump campaign aide will find out today whether he's going to prison for lying to the FBI about his contacts with Russians. The details on that. And also the Roger Stone associate set to testify before Mueller's grand jury today.

Also ahead, day four of what has become explosive Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Minutes from now supporters and critics of Judge Kavanaugh get their chance to testify. And later President Trump stokes the controversy over the national anthem on night one of the NFL season.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Who's going to win this cultural showdown of standing for the anthem?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are.

TRUMP: We are.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00] POPPY HARLOW, HOST, NEWSROOM: All right, in just a few hours, this man, George Papadopoulos; a former Trump campaign adviser will find out if he's going to prison. He pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his attempts to arrange a meeting between then candidate Trump, Trump campaign officials and Russians back in 2016.

Let's go to my friend Shimon Prokupecz, my colleague who covers all of this. I think it's really interesting, his team, his lawyers have come forward and said look, he's already served this, you know, probation, et cetera, go easy on him to the judge.

They are hoping that the judge is going to give him literally nothing, like no jail time --

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Well --

HARLOW: Even no -- even no probation, is that right?

PROKUPECZ: Yes, that's exactly right. I mean, they're hoping -- his lawyers have submitted a letter to the judge, saying that he's essentially been under supervision now for quite some time, and they're hoping that, that means that he would get no jail time, no probation.

Even prosecutors here in this case, this special counsel, Mueller's team, they're asking for up to six months in jail. You know, what's really important here, Poppy, is you know, we've talked a lot about how Papadopoulos who is this cooperator, obviously he worked on the campaign, that is significant.

But what prosecutors have said in their own letter to the judge is that he essentially did not provide substantial assistance, that he had lied to them repeatedly, that it wasn't until they confronted him that he came forward with information.

So you know, we spent this really last year talking about him. You know, the president has referred to him as a coffee boy, but really when you have prosecutors here in this case telling the judge that we believe that he should get up to six months in jail, even know there was limited cooperation, limited assistance. That is pretty significant.

Certainly, Papadopoulos, his wife who I've talked to, they expect him to get some jail time, so we'll see, we'll know this afternoon. And really, the other significance here that you have the first person that worked on this campaign to be sentenced now possibly facing some jail time, Poppy.

HARLOW: And he was the first one arrested certainly that had worked on the team. All right, Shimon, before you go, that we've also learned just in the last few minutes that the special counsel, Mueller's team, one of the associates of Roger Stone who was subpoenaed by Mueller's team was interviewed by the grand jury for hours yesterday, another will appear in front of the grand jury today who we just heard some interesting things from. Tell us about both of them.

PROKUPECZ: Right, so the person yesterday was set to appear before the grand jury today, Jerome Corsi. He is not now appearing before the grand jury. He did meet with Mueller for hours, Mueller's team, that is yesterday, essentially, he's Roger Stone associate.

It seems based on everything we know that they wanted to question him about his communications, about his talks with Roger Stone, and the other person who just appeared here within the last hour, who we've talked about quite a lot is Randy Credico; he's a former radio host, a comedian.

He had some funny words on his way to court this morning. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RANDY CREDICO, COMEDIAN & RADIO HOST: Yes, how did I ever the hell get involved in this mess is what I'd like to know? A nice guy like me, what's a nice guy like me doing in a place like this? Can you hold on to that? Yes, Marty.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[09:20:00] PROKUPECZ: And so really, Poppy, what Randy Credico and what the Mueller team is trying to get from him, Roger Stone as we've all been reporting claim to have information from WikiLeaks ahead of time, certainly hinted at it.

And now, it is believed that this is what the Mueller team, what the grand jury is looking at. And they want to know if Randy Credico was the back channel, was the person or part of perhaps several people who may have been communicating with WikiLeaks and then giving information to Roger Stone.

HARLOW: And as far as we know, correct me if I'm wrong, Shimon, but Roger Stone himself has not yet been subpoenaed, not yet testified before the grand jury, right?

PROKUPECZ: No, and that's --

HARLOW: Right --

PROKUPECZ: Significant, Poppy --

HARLOW: Yes --

PROKUPECZ: It's a great question because for two reasons, first is, we usually know if you're a target of an investigation, Mueller does not talk to you, does not interview you, so that is significant in this case and Roger Stone has said to us that he has not spoken to anyone on the Mueller team and he himself has not been subpoenaed to appear before the grand --

HARLOW: Yes --

PROKUPECZ: Jury.

HARLOW: All right, Shimon, great reporting, thank you, my friend. With me now, Elie Honig; former federal prosecutor, good to have you. Shimon was talking about, you know, the person in touch with the Russian hackers, about Guccifer 2.0.

And it's largely believed that the person that was named in what was it? Paragraph 44 --

ELIE HONIG, FORMER ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, NEW JERSEY DIVISION OF CRIMINAL JUSTICE: Forty four --

HARLOW: Of the indictment of those 12 Russians for packing tied to the election was Roger Stone. It's not known, but it's largely believed. So given these two subpoenas of these two people around Roger Stone, how significant is this?

HONIG: Yes, it's very significant. Roger Stone himself thinks he's the person in paragraph --

HARLOW: Yes --

HONIG: Forty four, he said that -- and I think I agree. This is huge. Clearly, Mueller is circling around Stone and talking to all the different people who may have had contact with him. And what makes Stone so important is he could be that link between Guccifer 2.0; which is the Russian hackers and WikiLeaks and the campaign.

Because remember, the --

HARLOW: About e-mails --

HONIG: About the e-mails, about the stolen Clinton and DNC e-mails. And what it says in paragraph 44 is this U.S. person --

HARLOW: Right --

HONIG: Stone, was in regular contact, so not just one contact, regular contact with senior members, plural, of the Trump campaign.

HARLOW: Right --

HONIG: So if they have Stone, I presume they will also know who those senior members of the Trump campaign are, and now we could start seeing direct linkage between the hacking and the campaign.

HARLOW: Right, and that's why you've said this could be the first formal link that we see between the Russian hackers and the Trump campaign if it bears out.

HONIG: Correct, it really could be sort of the end of the no collusion cry, although I'm sure they'll continue to say it.

HARLOW: George Papadopoulos, OK, so his team is asking for a lot of leniency here. But let's be clear, he admitted to -- pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, a very serious offense which has taken a number of people down. You know, and he does not have any formal cooperation agreement, right? He did give them some info, they said they would tell the judge that ahead of sentencing. Does he get jail time?

HONIG: He's going to jail. I know we're not supposed to be in the predictions business, but I think he's going to jail. He's worst than just the sort of cooperator who didn't work out, he's a failed cooperator. And if you look at Mueller's team sentencing memo, they blast him for it.

He lied to the FBI not once, multiple times, and the -- Mueller's team goes out of the way to say these were important lies, these were material lies, these lies impacted our investigation. When they had the chance to interview this mysterious professor who approached Papadopoulos with the offer of the e-mails, they didn't have full information of Papadopoulos, and they said as a result of that, we must --

HARLOW: It impeded the investigation.

HONIG: Yes, they said we could have arrested this guy.

HARLOW: Another reason why he is significant is because in the last week in a court filing through his lawyers, he has publicly disputed what Attorney General Jeff Sessions, sitting Attorney General Jeff Sessions says happened in terms of this meeting.

I think we have the picture if we can bring it up. There was this meeting during the campaign where Papadopoulos was at the table, the president was at the table and Attorney General Jeff Sessions was at the table. It's this picture, right?

It was at this meeting that it was brought up by Papadopoulos, I could arrange a meeting between Russians and the Trump campaign, you know, and maybe even the president. And Sessions, the Attorney General said last year, quote, "I pushed back against that suggestion. Papadopoulos last week in his court filing said, Mr. Sessions appeared to like the idea, stated the campaign should look into it."

HONIG: Yes, it's hard to know who to believe. I think there's credibility issues on both sides of that, but Papadopoulos is so thoroughly shredded as a cooperator in terms of his credibility. I wouldn't bank anything on him. Clearly, the Mueller team has written him off.

He started as a potentially promising cooperator, but he has lied about so many different things and misstated so many things that have been now disproven. So I don't know who I'd bet with that of the two of them.

HARLOW: Before you go, the "Washington Post" just moments ago is reporting that FBI Deputy Director Andy McCabe who has been fired is now still under investigation --

HONIG: Yes --

HARLOW: Significance of that?

HONIG: Yes, it's significant, I wouldn't draw too many conclusions, but if you remember, the Inspector General's report back earlier this year recommended a criminal investigation.

[09:25:00] HARLOW: That's right --

HONIG: Now, if these reports are correct and there's a grand jury, that would be what a criminal investigation is. It doesn't mean McCabe --

HARLOW: For specifically?

HONIG: For lying to congressional investigators. McCabe, it appears was behind a leak to the media about the FBI's involvement --

HARLOW: Right --

HONIG: In the Clinton Foundation, and then appears to have falsely denied that he was the leak to the investigators, and then the investigators referred it for a criminal investigation which is now happening at court. You know, the fact that there's a grand jury tells us they are actually criminally investigating the case. He may get indicted, he may not. But that's what the facts will sort out.

HARLOW: OK, thank you, Elie, and

HONIG: Next time --

HARLOW: And all those points to a busy day, we appreciate it. Also happening, I'd be remiss not to get you to this. A very big day again on Capitol Hill in just minutes, President Trump's second pick for the Supreme Court, people are for and against him, will be testifying about the Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Will we see another day of fireworks? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)