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Trump Stokes Fear on Immigration Crisis; Interview with Representative Eric Swalwell; Interview with Kevin Hassett. Aired 10- 10:30a ET
Aired November 2, 2018 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[10:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On November 6th, I'm voting for women's rights because I want all girls and women and all people to have equitable access to education, jobs, and affordable health care.
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POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so we want to hear from you. We got four days to go. Post a video, tell us why you are voting. Use the hashtag #whyivoteCNN on Instagram.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Well, today more proof that the economy is strong. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.
HARLOW: And I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Good Friday morning to you.
The jobs report beats expectations. And the U.S. economy added a quarter million new jobs last month. That is a great number any way you slice it. And the Carville rule of it is the economy, stupid, is as true now as it was way back in the '90s.
So with four days to go until the midterms, why isn't the president hammering this message to voters? Yes, he tweeted about it moments ago but his overarching message is one of fear and immigration. It is stoking fear, fear of immigrants and fear of Democrats -- Jim.
SCIUTTO: And the president doing that as he surges campaign rallies around the country. There are two more set for today. According to a new "Washington Post" count, that has meant a surge of misleading claims, from five a day in the beginning of his presidency, already pretty high for a U.S. president, to 30 a day over the last seven weeks.
CNN White House correspondent Abby Phillip joins us now live from the White House.
You got good economic numbers today. Any indication that the president changes his overall message of fear four days to the election?
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Great economic numbers, Jim. And the question of why isn't the president talking more about it is one that I think a lot of Republicans are asking today. The president has been pushing something completely different over the last few days and has been dedicating virtually all of his public energy, his time, his tweets to pushing this idea that there is a crisis and an invasion at the border.
He's even gone so far as to suggest that the U.S. troops that he's sending to the border in a support capacity should greet rocks with guns.
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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Anybody throwing stones, rocks, like they did to Mexico and the Mexican military, Mexican police, where they badly hurt police and soldiers of Mexico, we will consider that a firearm. Because there's not much difference. When you get hit in the face with a rock, which as you know, it was very violent a few days ago. Very, very violent.
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PHILLIP: So U.S. Military officials are permitted to be -- to use force in the face in self-defense, but President Trump's suggestion there is one that a lot of former military officials are saying really flies in the face of the rules of engagement for our service members, especially considering that they are being sent to do something completely different, not to interdict people at the border but to add support, perhaps build fencing, and to aid with the Department of Homeland Security's existing efforts.
But President Trump is just trying to refocus the attention in these last few days before the election on immigration. Trying to gin up concern and fear among his supporters. And with two rallies today in West Virginia and Indiana, it's likely that we will hear more and more of that, but for Republicans, especially the ones facing competitive races in certain districts, suburban districts, the message of the economy is one that they would much rather be talking about, Jim and Poppy.
SCIUTTO: Straight up violates the rules of engagement for the U.S. Military.
SCIUTTO: Abby Phillip at the White House.
HARLOW: Thanks, Abby.
So joining us now, CNN military analyst, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling.
You are the perfect voice, General, to have on this. What do you say to the president saying respond to rock throwers, et cetera, if necessary with gunfire, and what are you hearing from the broader military community on this?
LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, the first part, Poppy, and thanks for having me, is the concept of them responding to rock throwers. Remember, these are support personnel. So the president's word picture showing people that, hey, if anyone throws a rock at the military guys, they're going to shoot back. And you know, I suggest that they treat it as a rifle. First of all, if they are used properly, these are engineers, signal corps soldiers, intelligence soldiers, aircraft crews. So they won't be up against troops coming -- up against civilians coming toward the border, and even if they were, according to (INAUDIBLE), they should not be asked to conduct law enforcement operations. That's number one.
So he's actually building a word picture, assuming, to the American people that these troops are going to be on the front lines, and they're not. Secondly, the fact that he did say this does violate the law of land warfare, and it seems to be a trend that the president has executed both in his campaign and since he's been in office. Remember, this is the same president who said we should bomb Iraq and take all their oil. A war crime. That we should bomb and kill terrorist families to send a signal. A war crime.
[10:05:08] Suggested that a false story about a president purging, dipping bullets in blood and using them to scare away Muslims. A war crime. Are all kind of in line with this war crime that he is suggesting American soldiers do.
The law of land warfare says that soldiers can't use disproportional force. It's one of five principles of the law of land warfare, and any commander worth his salt wouldn't allow it, and all the soldiers who have been trained in the values and the Geneva Convention and the law of land warfare would not do it.
SCIUTTO: General Hertling, as I often remind viewers, you commanded U.S. troops in combat in Iraq. You know about the exercise of force, deadly force when necessary. You hit on a great point there, that basically the president is creating a fantasy because those forces are support forces. They will not be face-to-face with these migrants, and it would be unlawful for them, as you say, to shoot rock throwers.
But I wonder your concern about how the U.S. military is being used here, deployed by the thousands to the border to fit the president's political narrative and fear-mongering claim? Does that damage the U.S. military?
HERTLING: It absolutely does, Jim. And it just reminded me, I didn't answer Poppy's second question, which I'll get to, which is, have I heard from others about this? Yes, I have. From sergeants to captains who are deploying. Actually one captain I talked to yesterday is already deployed to the southern border with an engineer company, and I was talking to her about that deployment. But also from senior general retired officers who are all very concerned that the president is now pulling in the military as part of this divisiveness strategy.
In fact, let me read to you, as long as I have it here. I got a note from a senior general officer, in fact, higher ranking than me, yesterday. I won't name him, but he said, "Everything the president is doing is to distract, divide, and generate fear and discount anyone who disagrees with his daily agenda. We have gone from a nation of hopefulness with an instinct to cooperate, the force that you and I were involved in, Mark, to one where we're a nation of fear and an instinct to suppress disagreement."
I think that sums it up very succinctly that, you know, other departments within the government have been divided by the president's rhetoric, and now he's pulling in this institution of the military. And it's caused and seeded a great deal of distrust because now people are saying, will military shoot at people coming to our border? Do they have control of the people? Will it be another Abu Ghraib or Milie (PH) or Kent State? No, it won't be, but the president has seeded those fears and it's really unfortunate because it's another slam against an institution that provides for the security of the United States.
HARLOW: OK. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, such important insight. Thank you for being with us this morning.
HERTLING: Thank you, Poppy. Thank you, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Thank you.
HARLOW: Let's talk more about the broader politics of this. Our chief political correspondent Dana Bash is back.
So, Dana, you importantly last hour reminded us of the Republican autopsy conducted after Mitt Romney lost in 2012. That we have to expand the umbrella. We have to talk to Hispanic voters. We have to do better with them. And it's the opposite of what the president has done from the minute that he came down that escalator and announced his candidacy. And it may work for him. It did in 2016. It may work for him in some ways in the midterms here. May work for him in 2020, but at what cost to the Republican Party as a whole, by saying, you know, treat rocks thrown by migrants as rifles, et cetera, that's just the latest. And if it's going to result in a cost for the Party, why are leaders in the Republican Party not more upset about it?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, that is such a great question. To be fair, a lot of the leaders in the Republican Party were upset about it. Throughout the whole 2016 race. Paul Ryan didn't ever appear with candidate Donald Trump. Pretty much for this reason, and others, but primarily this because he didn't think that Donald Trump was leading the Republican Party in the right way for the long-term health and viability of the GOP.
Same goes for Mitch McConnell. He was no Donald Trump fan. But things are different now because Donald Trump is president and I'll just say in the case of Mitch McConnell, it's a marriage of convenience. Mitch McConnell's lifelong political goal has been to stack the courts with conservative judges. And guess what. He's worked hand in glove with the Trump White House in doing just that. Never mind the Supreme Court. But the lower level federal benches.
And so look, they have made a deal. And they're doing what they can, but they are not comfortable about it. And I think that Paul Ryan, now that he is on his way out, sort of picked another fight with the president on this very issue of immigration specifically the question of birthright citizenship.
[10:10:11] SCIUTTO: Talking about long-term implications of the president's strategy, the Democratic strategist Paul Begala, he noted the following, he said the more explosive element is college educated women. They are not itinerant voters like a lot of the Democratic base. They're rooted and they always vote. Is there evidence that -- there is certainly evidence that they are turning away from the Republican Party.
SCIUTTO: But is there evidence that they're turning away long term or is it more about Donald Trump?
BASH: That's a great question. I don't think we can answer that yet, to be honest. Because I will just tell you that my experience about this time in 2016, two years ago, going to the ultimate battleground for college educated women, the suburbs of Philadelphia that Paul Begala knows very well, he's done a lot of races in Pennsylvania, and they were turning away from Hillary Clinton surprisingly and towards Donald Trump, because they were fed up with business as usual, politics as usual. Didn't love Hillary Clinton.
I'm obviously, you know, generalizing here, but that is what I found. And it bore out in the polls. And so I think the way to answer that is to see what the alternative is, because in 2016, on a presidential level, ironically for these women, many of them did not see the benefit in electing the first woman because they didn't like that particular female candidate. And we'll see what happens down the pike.
In the short term, when you're talking about the election on Tuesday, we are seeing these women, at least in the polls, leading up to the election, turn away from the Trump Republican Party because they are so disgusted with the rhetoric, with the tone, with the tenor. Never mind the fact that the economy is so good. That is why this $6 million ad buy is now in the ether from the Trump campaign, specifically targeting women who are potentially independent, who need to be reminded the economy is good and that's good for their families. That's not an accident.
SCIUTTO: Well, we're going to get a lot of data on Tuesday. Right? We'll look at the results. Dana Bash, thanks very much as always.
BASH: Thanks, guys.
SCIUTTO: Still to come, Roger Stone now admitting that he talked to the Trump campaign about the upcoming WikiLeaks disclosures of stolen Clinton e-mails, that he did so during the 2016 presidential race. Did he have inside information?
HARLOW: Also, the U.S. economy is thriving, 250,000 new American jobs added last month. The head of the president's Economic Council of Advisers Kevin Hassett will be our guest. And can't wait for this story. She captured our hearts when she stood
awe struck in front of that portrait of Michelle Obama. Well, now this little girl, look at her, on Halloween, she dressed up at the former first lady. Little Parker Curry will join us ahead.
[10:17:45] SCIUTTO: Roger Stone, a political operative and longtime ally of President Trump is now admitting that he talked to the Trump campaign in 2016 about WikiLeaks' plan to release a stockpile of stolen Clinton e-mails to hurt Clinton's campaign. Stone published an e-mail exchange with Steve Bannon, then the chief executive of the Trump campaign, where Stone said there'd be a load every week going forward.
This as the Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team looks into 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.
Joining us now is Democratic congressman from California, Eric Swalwell. He was a member of the House Intelligence Committee.
Congressman, thanks for taking the time this morning.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Of course. Good morning, Jim.
SCIUTTO: So when Stone testified before your committee last year, he said, and I'm quoting, he had no advance knowledge of the source or actual content of the WikiLeaks disclosures. Do you feel that Stone lied to your committee?
SWALWELL: I do. And Jim, Democrats on the committee have tried to refer a number of transcripts to Bob Mueller's office. We've asked the Republicans to allow us to vote those out. You know, I've seen reporting that Bob Mueller has those transcripts. I don't think that's accurate because they would have to be sent over from the House Intelligence Committee, and every time we've asked, Devin Nunes and the Republicans have voted against that. And it's for this very reason, testimony just like this that we're very concerned.
SCIUTTO: If the Democrats regain the House, will you bring Stone back to testify before the committee?
SWALWELL: Well, I think we'll fill in the gaps where they exist in the Russia investigation, which first would be to send the transcripts to Bob Mueller then show the public the transcripts and then interview witnesses. But also, to test their accounts using the subpoena power. And so I think first what we want to do is to test what Roger Stone told us by subpoenaing Twitter, subpoenaing bank records, going after travel logs and communication logs.
We ran a take them at their word investigation with a gang that was not worthy of being taken at their word.
SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. If it is proven and we're not there yet, but if it is proven that Roger Stone was in touch with WikiLeaks, which U.S. intelligence views as a middleman used by Russia to get these stolen e-mails out, if he got advance notice from WikiLeaks about these materials and if he passed that advanced notice on to the Trump campaign, would he or members of the Trump campaign in your view be guilty of a crime?
[10:20:11] SWALWELL: Well, Jim, my view is that we have to protect the American people from outside interference. Bob Mueller is pursuing the crimes so our job was to tell the American people what our adversaries are trying to do. I think it's offensive to our democracy if you're willing and eager to work with a foreign adversary and be a middleman between that adversary and a presidential campaign.
Now putting my prosecutor hat on, you know, I've retired from that career, but there's potential accomplice liability, there's potential conspiracy liability, but again we'd have to see just, you know, how dirty Roger Stone got in this business.
Jim, Roger Stone, for decades, has called himself a dirty trickster. It's very hard to believe that he shed those dirty tricks for this campaign. Leopard doesn't change its spots, and Roger Stone does not forget dirty tricks. I think those are two rules to live by in politics.
SCIUTTO: We're four days away, of course, as you know, you're up for re-election as well from the midterm elections. Great job numbers again today. Continuing a trend under this administration. What is the Democratic Party's -- what is your counter message to voters on Tuesday? What will you do for American voters' economic interests that Republicans are not?
SWALWELL: Jim, I grew up and represent Dublin, California, and to people there, the economy is not the stock market. It's not the unemployment rate and it's certainly not the GDP. It's whether people are doing better, saving more, and dreaming bigger for their kids. And right now when health care costs are going up during open enrollment right now in some states, premium increases as high as 30 percent, when tax cuts are going to the top 10 percent in our country while everyone else has to pay for them, that's not seeing people get ahead. That's just allowing you to get by.
So Democrats are running a for the people message which will protect health care by putting back in place protections around pre-existing conditions. Protect paychecks to make sure tax cuts go to every person on every floor, not just people on the top floor of every building, and to protect our democracy. Outside, you know, corruption that we see with the Russians and other countries like Saudi Arabia, and inside where we see dirty money and dirty maps polluting our democracy. There's a lot to do, a lot to protect.
SCIUTTO: Do you -- but do you feel that that's a message that's getting out? Because many Democrats, party leadership, Nancy Pelosi included, associated with a simpler message, which is basically we're not Trump. Right? I mean, do you think that American voters see a clear alternative with Democrats other than it's not the party of the president? SWALWELL: Yes, well, I'm on the leadership team of the House
Democrats. I sit in a meeting with Nancy Pelosi every week, and we do conference calls as well. And there is no person who is keeping us more disciplined about health care, health care, health care, and it's because she hears it and I hear it across the country. That is top of mind for the American people. Their protections have been gutted. Pre-existing conditions are no longer being defended by the administration as being not able to be charged more for having one. And so we've got to protect those first.
And then I think, Jim, in 2020, that field of candidates will define largely what the economic message is. Right now we're in a storm. We have to batten down the hatches and protect the American people, and then we can start to rebuild this country after the midterms.
SCIUTTO: Final quick question. Yes or no, are you running in 2020?
SWALWELL: I'm considering it, Jim. Just had a baby last week. So I got --
SCIUTTO: Congratulations, by the way.
SWALWELL: Thank you. Cricket is her name. And we've got midterm coming this week and I'm going to make decisions about the long term after this coming Tuesday.
SCIUTTO: All right. Well, we're going to ask you again.
SWALWELL: All right.
SCIUTTO: After Tuesday. Congressman Swalwell, and congratulations to you and your wife.
SWALWELL: Thank you, Jim.
HARLOW: Cricket. I love that name. Congrats, Congressman, to you. That's wonderful.
SWALWELL: Thank you. Thanks, Poppy.
HARLOW: Enjoy this time.
All right, so the economy is on a boom. A winning streak, but are there some warning signs ahead? The chairman of the president's Council on Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, is with us next.
[10:28:46] HARLOW: All right. A boost for the U.S. economy just days before the midterms. 250,000 jobs added last month. 3.7 percent unemployment, a 49-year low. Solid wage growth of 3.1 percent. The chairman of the president's Council on Economic Advisers, Kevin Hassett, can't stop smiling. And he joins me now.
KEVIN HASSETT, CHAIRMAN, COUNCIL ON ECONOMIC ADVISERS: Yes. It's great to be back, Poppy. (LAUGHTER)
HARLOW: Good morning. So your reaction --
HASSETT: Good morning.
HARLOW: Your reaction to the numbers.
HASSETT: Well, you know, I think that the real big headline for me is that first that wage growth is the highest we've seen in more than a decade. It's way above inflation. And that's been one of the top priorities for us going all the way back to the fall. But the other thing that jumps out at me is that there's a big increase in labor force participation. And so that the people who had been previously disconnected from society, discouraged because they were long-term unemployed because of the great recession, they're really coming back to the labor market in droves.
And now we've got 1.3 million people who were so discouraged they were out of the labor force who have reconnected and gotten a job or started to look for a job since President Trump took office. And that's 1.3 million people who's really their lives have turned around. And that's really, really the best news in this report.
HARLOW: Kevin, we're happy to hear that. Let me get you to see if I can get you on the record confirming something that Bloomberg is reporting this morning. Bloomberg is reporting that President Trump has officially asked officials to begin drafting a potential trade deal with China ahead of his meeting with President Xi at the G-20. Can you confirm that?