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U.S. Economy Adds 250,000 Jobs in October, Wages Up 3.1 Percent; Trump Stokes Fears About Immigration Crisis Ahead of Election; Roger Stone Reveals He Talked to Trump Campaign About WikiLeaks; Washington Post Reports Trump is Misleading More As He Ramps Up Campaign Rallies. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 2, 2018 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:01] BERMAN: "NEWSROOM" begins right now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Very good Friday morning to you. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. We're glad you're with us this morning. And we do begin on an upbeat note. On the economy, breaking news on the economy. The October jobs report beating expectations. 250,000 jobs created. Another huge and good headline is wage growth.

Let's go to our chief business and economics correspondent Christine Romans.

This is a good news story all around.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It really is. And this is a good story for American workers. Another powerful month of hiring in October, Poppy. And I can show you these numbers and walk you through them. 250,000 new jobs created in the month of October. The unemployment rate still at that generation low of 3.7 percent and that wage number, you're so right to point that out, 3.1 percent. That's almost the fastest wage growth in just shy of a decade.

So we finally are seeing the paychecks get a little bit fatter. When you look at the overall jobs add over the past year we're averaging the last three months about 218,000. You see September, that looks like a little bit of a slower hiring period. That's because of the hurricane, Hurricane Florence. But look at August. Strong hiring there. Strong hiring in October as well.

Jobless rate has been trending down for about nine years now. So we have seen a solid trend of an economy that's slowly getting back up on its feet. And now some economists would call this near full employment.

Leisure and hospitality, a lot of jobs there. Health care as well. These are jobs, 36,000 health care jobs. Those tend to be -- they can be higher paid, they can also be lower paid. A big spectrum there and manufacturing, 32,000 jobs added there. This is a strong report overall. And it tells you what the Fed has

been doing, raising interest rates to try to keep a lid on a maybe overheating economy. That's why the Fed has been doing that because these labor market indicators are very strong.

HARLOW: Doing their job. We're going to be joined next hour by Kevin Hassett.

ROMANS: Right.

HARLOW: Who runs all things economy at the White House. We'll talk to him about it. Thank you for the news. We appreciate it, Christine Romans.

A great jobs report. So this begs the question, with four days to go until the midterms, why isn't this the president's dominating message, Jim, to voters?

SCIUTTO: Well, instead the message very clearly is be afraid. Stoking immigration fears as he works his way through a surge of campaign rallies. Two more set for today and according to a new "Washington Post" count, that means a surge of misleading claims by the president. Averaging 30 a day over the last seven weeks.

CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip joins us now live from the White House.

So any indication, Abby, that this good economic news changes the president's closing argument?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, you know, rarely have we seen this kind of message discipline from the White House when it comes to immigration. But as you point out, the economy is so strong, the economy is the thing that Republicans believe that they ought to be running on. Instead, President Trump is really focusing the entire energy of the federal government on this issue of what is happening on the southern border.

Beginning yesterday, when he used the White House as a backdrop for remarks about the immigration issue on the border and saying that he would next week sign an executive order changing asylum rules to make it more difficult for people coming up from Central America to gain asylum once they get to the U.S. border. But he also made another eyebrow raising claim as he said this week that there would be some 15,000 U.S. military troops sent to the border.

He actually also said that perhaps if migrants threw rocks at them, they ought to use their service weapons to confront them. Listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When they throw rocks like they did at the Mexico military and police, I say, consider it a rifle. Because there's not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock.


PHILLIP: So there are a lot of former U.S. officials who are pushing back on that saying that that violates the military's rules of engagement. And also we've heard from Mexican officials that the two -- there were two military officials in Mexico who had rocks thrown at them, but their injuries were not considered life threatening. But meanwhile President Trump is really heading back on the campaign trail in full force this afternoon with two campaign rallies scheduled in West Virginia and Indiana.

And again, Jim, the economy being so strong, you would think that this would be a centerpiece of his campaign in the final days, but I think it is likely we will hear more from him on this immigration issue. The White House is intending every single day to push this issue forward in an effort to get their base voters out to the polls on Tuesday -- Jim and Poppy.

SCIUTTO: So, Abby, on the issue of president calling for shooting unarmed members of this migrant caravan, it is U.S. Military rules of engagement that that is not allowed. Is the White House answer on that that the president disagrees with that assessment or that the president attempting to instruct the military to disregard the rules of engagement?

[09:05:03] PHILLIP: That's a very good question. And it's not clear what the White House's official position on this. The president often says these things without necessarily having gone through some kind of consultation with his staff. And I would also point out that based on our reporting this week, the people going to the border from the military are not going to engage with the migrants coming up, with people crossing the border.

They are there in a support capacity. So it's not clear even if they would be in a position to do what the president appears to be asking them to do. But of course we'll be asking the White House to clarify that today as well -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Abby Phillip at the White House, thanks very much.

Joining us now to talk about this CNN chief political correspondent Dana Bash.

You know, one phrase caught me there from Abby Phillip, Dana, and that is that the president is mobilizing the entire energy of the federal government on this immigration message here.


SCIUTTO: And he is. He's deploying the U.S. Military by the thousands to the border. He is talking about overturning the Constitution, right? He had an event yesterday talking about asylum rules here. I mean, that's really the point. It's not just the president propagating a political message. He is using the tools of his office to get that point of fear across.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: He sure is. Look, presidents have done this before. When I say this, I mean using tools. Maybe not to this extent. Never mind just being in the sort of hallowed room of the Roosevelt room at the White House, usually, you know, reserved for very kind of momentous occasions, policy occasions for effectively a campaign rally.

But more importantly the way that he is using the military certainly has a lot of people in the military and retired military officers very upset, frankly. Not to say that there -- you know, that there isn't potentially something that needs to be done. President Obama to a lesser extent used the military for, you know, issues in and around the border. But, look, this is, you know, one in a million examples, Jim and Poppy, of the president, you know, kind of thinking about and approaching the job to a standard and around the standard that he would not and others would not accept for anybody else. And I think we can't lose sight of that.

HARLOW: Dana, can I just note, I think something that got lost in the mix a lot yesterday, but our colleague Chris Cillizza pointed it out, is that in that immigration speech in the Roosevelt Room that Jim referenced, the president said, and I quote, "We have no idea who they are," referencing those in the caravan. So all of this U.S. Military might for the people that the president by his own admission says we don't know who they are.

Here is how former Defense secretary Chuck Hagel addressed it. Listen to this.


CHUCK HAGEL, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY UNDER PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, my reaction in listening to that coming from the commander-in-chief of our forces as president of the United States is one of disgust. That's a wanton incitement of unnecessary violence. It's a distraction. It's a distortion. It is of rank political purpose to use our military like this and say those kinds of things is really astounding. Not in my lifetime have I ever heard those kind of words from a president of the United States.


HARLOW: So, Dana, some acolytes of the president may brush him off as an Obama administration official. But he's a Republican and he's a Vietnam veteran, you know?

BASH: Yes, exactly. I mean, I covered him for years in the U.S. Senate, a Republican senator there. And there is no question that when he speaks about these things, he comes from the perspective of his own -- as you said, his own military experience in battle in Vietnam but also running the Defense Department regardless of who's there.

Look, this is -- it is one of those examples of how unfortunate it is that the president continues to govern for his base and not the broader people. I mean, I mentioned this yesterday, and I think it bears repeating that it was only six years ago -- actually five and a half years ago, to be precise, that the Republican National Committee, because they lost so badly among Hispanic voters when Mitt Romney was on the ballot in 2012 did an autopsy.

And the basic message to the party was we have to talk to and talk about Hispanic voters differently. We have to deal with immigration reform. And it's remarkable that it was only, you know, that short time ago, five and a half years ago.

[09:10:03] And now the Republican Party under Donald Trump has changed so radically because of the way he approaches it. And he approaches it this way because it works for him with this slice. It is short- term. Frankly, shortsighted because the demographics of the country are changing. And that is what the RNC recognized and realized five and a half years ago.


BASH: And it certainly isn't changing.

SCIUTTO: Let's bring in Jonathan Martin, national political correspondent for the "New York Times" as well.

Jonathan, is that a resolved question that it works for this president, that there is a lot of indications, particularly among college educated women, suburban women, even those who voted traditionally Republican that the Republican Party has lost them? Is it a settled question that this works, this kind of method?

JONATHAN MARTIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, we have a story today -- we have a story today in the paper on the backlash in the most sort of high income suburbs and cities around the country, places that had historically been identified with the Republican Party as sort of in their DNA, is that they're Republicans, whether it's the mainland of Philadelphia or places like Houston, Texas. For the last half century that's who they have been.

So the answer to your question is, in the 2016 campaign in a perfect storm, basically, it did work well for President Trump to get the electoral college victory because of where he won, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan, Wisconsin. To the broader issue of, is this a durable way to build a governing majority in the White House and Congress I think is a much more open question.

I think where we're headed is now towards a kind of divided government where the Senate is more red because on the very nature of how the Senate is laid out, with more strength in rural states that are now more conservative. And the House obviously is more driven by population. And that's more Democratic leaning at this point. I think that's the kind of verdict that we're headed to on Tuesday.

BASH: And can I just add --

HARLOW: Yes, go ahead, Dana.

BRIGGS: Just briefly. First of all, Jonathan's piece this morning is excellent.

HARLOW: It's great. BASH: Because it does show, you know, what I witnessed going out to

the suburbs of Denver where the Republicans have given up on that Colorado state congressman Mike Kauffman for many reasons. But one of the main reasons is exactly what John is talking about. They don't identify with the Trump Republican Party, even though many of those voters have voted Republican before.

But Jonathan started to make this point that the House and the Senate in the short term, that's what I was talking about, the short term and shortsighted, are so different in terms of how the dynamics are playing out, that it is hurting him in these -- this rhetoric is hurting him in these suburban districts that Jonathan wrote about this morning. But the map of the U.S. Senate, the battlefield and the battleground where this whole election is playing out is in ruby red states where the president won, and those are the places where this rhetoric plays, and that is the president's instincts, and he's following his instincts. And that's what we're seeing play out.

SCIUTTO: We should clear, that's this cycle, right, where you --


BASH: That's what I meant about shortsighted. Exactly.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Right. Yes.

BASH: And that's by long term, you know, it could be a huge, huge problem for the Republicans.

SCIUTTO: We'll see. Dana Bash, Jonathan Martin, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Jonathan's piece, as Dana said, is great. And you should read it this morning. It gives you a big picture look of what's going on.

Ahead for us, did he have a inside track? Longtime adviser to the president, Roger Stone says he did talk to the Trump campaign about upcoming WikiLeaks leaks during the presidential race. So what does that mean for the Russia probe?

SCIUTTO: Plus more trouble for another Trump Cabinet official. The "Washington Post" reporting that the president himself is worried about Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke that he may have broken federal rules. We're going to tell you how.

And it was one month ago today that journalist Jamal Khashoggi walked into the Saudi consulate with his fiance waiting outside and never walked out. His fiance today pleading for the Trump administration to find justice. But the secretary of State says it will be weeks, weeks, before the U.S. can respond.


[09:15:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CO-HOST, NEWSROOM: Roger stone, a long-time associate of President Trump and a political operative is now admitting that he talked to the Trump campaign in 2016 about WikiLeaks plan to release a trove of e-mails stolen from Hillary Clinton's campaign, stolen by Russia.

Stone published an e-mail exchange with Steve Bannon; the chief executive of the Trump campaign at the time in which Stone said that there would be a load every week going forward. This is special counsel Robert Mueller's team investigating whether Stone had an inside track with WikiLeaks and whether he shared any of that information with then candidate Trump or Trump's inner circle.

We should note that U.S. Intelligence views WikiLeaks as a middleman as it were between Russia and the rest of the world. Joining us now is Evan Perez; Cnn Justice Correspondent. Evan, it strikes me that the essential question here for the special counsel is, was Roger Stone making up or exaggerating what he knew about what WikiLeaks plans and these releases, or did he have some advance notice, which could speak to the possibility of collusion?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICECORRESPONDENT: Right, exactly, Jim. Look, I think that's the big question, frankly, we just can't answer at this point. But, look, this is why -- and you know this, this is why we keep saying that the collusion part of this investigation is still ongoing.

This is why Mueller is still working on this. We'll show you the e- mail exchange between Roger Stone and again the chief executive of the Trump campaign at the time, Steve Bannon. And this is in October 4th of 2016, this is right after Julian Assange; the WikiLeaks founder has some kind of live stream event and gives some vague hints of what's to come.

[09:20:00] And Steve Bannon says, what was that this morning? And Roger Stone responds, "a load every week going forward." This was a reference to WiKileaks and e-mails that might be coming forward. Now, the truth is that WiKileaks was saying some of this stuff publicly, so it's not clear whether Roger indeed had any kind of in with WikiLeaks, Jim.

It is clear though that he was trying to set himself up as someone who had that kind of access. You could talk to Roger Stone nowadays though, he says he was just bluffing, he was just full of it, and that's the problem with whether or not Mueller can bring charges on this.

If you would ask me is Roger Stone going to get indicted? I don't know. Roger Stone seems to think he will and certainly we know that once the -- once the midterms are passed, we know we're going to hear again from Mueller. So we shall see.

SCIUTTO: Evan Perez, thanks very much. Poppy, that's the big question, because there were a lot of other times when Roger Stone claimed to have advanced knowledge.

POPPY HARLOW, CO-HOST, NEWSROOM: Exactly, so whether you believe what he said. What does Mueller believe of what he said? Let's bring in Jeff Toobin; our chief legal analyst to discuss exactly that. So Jeff, what is so fascinating? I mean, I remember interviewing Roger Stone the day after the president, you know, basically cut off working ties with him, right?

He remains a confidant of the president that basically fired him. And I didn't know what to believe because he contradicts himself of the time. I mean, he admits to this puffery. Could that actually help him?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It could, actually because, remember, the criminal investigation here relates to, did Stone make false statements when he's testified before Congress denying any sort of contacts with the Russians or with WikiLeaks and the campaign.

The question is was he actually in contact with WikiLeaks, as he certainly implied in those e-mails?

HARLOW: Yes --

TOOBIN: Or was he simply being the Roger Stone we all know, which is someone who puffs up his own importance, who is a B.S. artist, to use a technical term. And the question is -- and as you point out, the fact that he's so well known for --

HARLOW: Yes --

TOOBIN: Being someone who doesn't always tell the truth, that might actually help him get out of being charged here.

SCIUTTO: Jeffrey, we're not there yet, let's admit the special counsel is still trying to establish this. But if he establishes that Roger Stone did have these contacts and did get advanced notice from WikiLeaks, which U.S. intelligence views as a middleman for this, that Russia used them to kind of get this information out and communicated those releases in advance to the Trump campaign, would that be a crime?

TOOBIN: Probably not, in my opinion. I mean, hacking is a crime, and obviously John Podesta's e-mails were hacked, the DNC's e-mails were hacked and they were released through WikiLeaks. Those are crimes. Simply knowing about a crime as it took place is not a crime. You are not obliged as a citizen to go to the police or the FBI and report criminal activity if you are aware of it.

So simply being aware that this hacking was taking place and being distributed through WikiLeaks is not a crime. Now, if he somehow facilitated the hacking or assisted in the hacking or aiding and abetting -- aided and abetted the hacking, that is potentially a crime. But just knowing about it is not a crime.

HARLOW: Jeffrey, why hasn't Bob Mueller, from all indications, interviewed, sat down with Roger Stone yet?

TOOBIN: Well, Stone is obviously someone who is at risk of being charged. And under Justice Department policies, if you are investigating a person and about to potentially, not necessarily going to, but seriously considering indicting them, the custom, the rule -- it's not a law, but the custom is not to interview that person.

It's very unnerving to have all of your associates brought in --

HARLOW: Right --

TOOBIN: As has happened here with Stone, and not be -- have any contact yourself, but that appears to be what's going on here. It's quite clear that Stone is at risk of being indicted. But whether he will be indicted, I certainly don't know.


SCIUTTO: Jeffrey Toobin, I imagine --

HARLOW: Thank you --

SCIUTTO: We'll find a lot -- find out a lot about the special counsel's investigation after the midterms --

TOOBIN: After --

HARLOW: Yes --

TOOBIN: The midterms, yes.

SCIUTTO: Thanks very much, Jeffrey, here is a straight fact and we'll learn more today. The economy is doing well, really well? Here's what isn't true. This migrant caravan hundreds of miles away, a direct threat to the U.S. So why is the president sticking with fear over the facts?


SCIUTTO: The latest fact checked findings from the "Washington Post" are out, and here are the facts. For the past seven weeks President Trump has made 1,419 false or misleading claims, that is an average of 30 per day. At his rallies in October, that average nearly tripled.

Joining me now is the former White House Director for Legislative Affairs Marc Short. We should note Marc signed a non-disparagement agreement when he worked on the Trump campaign. Marc, thanks very much for joining us as always this morning.


SCIUTTO: I want to start with the president's closing argument as it were before the midterm elections, which is so focused on immigration and fear particularly of this migrant caravan.