Return to Transcripts main page

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS

Wall Street Certainly Watching A Meeting Between President Trump And China`s Vice Premier Very, Very Closely; Owner Of The New England Patriots Is Defending Himself Against Two Charges Of Soliciting Someone To Commit Prostitution; Trump Speaks to the Press After Meeting with Chinese Vice Premier; Donald Trump: U.S. Relations with Pakistan have Improved; Trump Says it`s Likely that a Trade Deal with China will Happen; A New Source Tells CNN a Mueller Report is not Expected Next Week; R. Kelly Indicted for Sexual Abuse; Pinterest Blocks All Searches on Vaccinations; U.S. Authorities Worry About Biggest Measles Outbreak in Decades; Social Media Sites Criticized Over Vaccine Misinformation; Movie Industry`s Biggest Night Rocked By Controversy. Aired: 3-4p ET

Aired February 22, 2019 - 15:00   ET

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


ZAIN ASHER, ANCHOR, CNN: Well, will you look at that, a nice green optimistic end to the trading week. Markets certainly very hopeful

crossing their fingers that there could be some kind of trade deal announced between the U.S. and China, although details certainly still

hazy.

We know the U.S. President is meeting with the Chinese Vice Premier as I speak. This is what is moving the markets on Friday, the 22nd of February.

It is the moment investors have been waiting for. We`ll get pictures any minute of Donald Trump`s meeting with China`s top trade official, and a

crazy day for Kraft Heine of Warren Buffett. Billions of dollars and reports say some of America`s biggest companies could be hit with the new

tariffs if the trade feud in Washington gets any worse.

Hello, everyone. I`m Zain Asher and this is "Quest Means Business."

All right, welcome. So tonight, trade talks reach the Oval Office. Wall Street certainly watching a meeting between President Trump and China`s

Vice Premier very, very closely. President Trump says that trade talks are going very well and that he expects to meet with China`s President very

soon. Apparently, that`s when the decisions on a trade deal will indeed be made. U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods are due to increase dramatically in

about a week from now, after March 1st, although President Trump has said that that specific deadline, it`s not a magical figure and it could

actually end up being extended.

We are waiting for footage of that meeting to come in literally any minute now. We`ll of course bring it to you as soon as we get it. In the

meantime, take a look at this, it rare you see a company`s stock move like this. Kraft Heinz shares are down nearly 30% on Friday. Let me tell you,

they`re certainly at a record low. Kraft is known for its tagline, 57 varieties. Today, investors are tasting three varieties of financial

trouble.

First, a $15 billion write down on two of its brands, Kraft and Oscar Mayer. Some investors are questioning whether Kraft and Heinz should even

have merged ever at all. Second, a 36% dividend cut. The company says that will help its balance sheet. And third, a probe by the Security and

Exchange Commission, the SEC.

Heinz says the SEC is investigating its procurement and distribution practices. Paul La Monica, ever the expert on all things stock related.

Thank you so much for being with us. So we`re talking about Kraft Heinz and we`re also talking about Warren Buffett as well, because boy, oh, boy,

did he lose an eye watering amount of money, $4 billion or so.

PAUL LA MONICA, REPORTER, CNN BUSINESS: More than $4 billion. Berkshire Hathaway is the largest shareholder in Kraft Heinz by far. So with this

haircut the stock has taken today, down about 30%, it`s a more than $4 billion hit to the value of Kraft Heinz, and then not far behind, 3G

Capital, which is the company that teamed up with Buffett to begin with to first buy Heinz and then merge it with Kraft, they`ve lost about $3 billion

or so, and it`s more egregious for them because it`s the 3G people that are really running the show right now. Like, if you want to blame someone for

the problems, it`s probably not Buffett, it`s the 3G side.

ASHER: Well, in terms of Buffett because he`s a household name that everyone sort of likes to look at, especially for what he says about

investments. He talks about the fact that he loves to take bargain stocks - buy bargain stocks. Do you think that he`s going to sell as a result of

this, or is he going to hold on and maybe even buy more because they`re down so low?

LA MONICA: Yes, that is a great question. I don`t think we`re going to get any more color in the annual letter that will be released tomorrow

morning. This news probably broke a little too late for that. But that, I think, is the debate a lot of people are going to be having right now.

Will Buffett cut bait on Kraft Heinz because of their problems or does he double down and say, "Hey, you know what, it`s even cheaper now, so I`m

going to buy more."

ASHER: So about a year or so ago, I mean, he referred to Kraft Heinz as still a fundamentally good business. Obviously, everyone associates

ketchup with Heinz, synonymous with Heinz. So my question is what went wrong for the company? They`re dealing with a lot of competition, a lot of

sort of smaller private companies that aren`t as famous that might be healthier options when it comes to things like ketchup.

LA MONICA: Yes, I think that the problem that Kraft Heinz is facing is that they really haven`t refreshed a lot of the food offerings that they

have, and not a lot of them are very healthy, and for Warren Buffett, that may not be necessarily a problem. He has been an unabashed fan of Coca-

Cola, for example. For years, he has joked about how he`s -- you know, what a big percentage of his body is probably Cherry Coke.

And when you look at the fact that he is nearing -- you know, he is over 85 years old and he`s had a couple of health scares, but he`s still with us,

he can obviously look back and say, "Hey, I had my fair share of Cokes and fast food and I`m still here." But I think a lot of Americans don`t share

that view. They want healthier organic food, and Kraft Heinz has been behind in that.

[15:05:10]

ASHER: Definitely. He has had his fair share of Cokes and also a fair share of success as well. Paul La Monica --

LA MONICA: You only lose $4 billion when you have it.

ASHER: When you have it. Good point. All right, Paul La Monica, live for us. Thank you so much.

Okay, so U.S. stocks are actually off the highs of the day. They`ve retreated just a bit at -- they`re up 105 points. Markets are still

squarely focused on those trade talks between the U.S. and China. And we are, as I mentioned, at the top of the show expecting footage any minute

now from the Oval Office.

We asked some U.S. business owners to share with CNN how the tariffs impact them and what they would like to see come from the current negotiations.

Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ISAAC SHOWAKI, PRESIDENT, OCTAPI BREWING: We have very big increases in our order pricing, specifically in cans. We have had about 23% increase in

the past six months. It has cost us a direct impact in our bottom line, $100,000.00 last year or $150,000.00 this year, and if it gets going,

$300,000.00 next year.

DOUG SCHROEDER, SOYBEAN AND CORN FARMER: Our profitability has just about gone totally out the window here, so trying to make money is a lot bigger

challenge today.

DREW GREENBLATT, PRESIDENT, MARLIN STEEL The trade war impacts marlin in America because China is cheating. Every day, Chinese products come to

America, and they are stealing our product lines. They`re stealing our intellectual property. It`s very harmful to the American worker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like negotiations to move quickly. There`s no reason we can`t get this resolved. I know there`s a lot of issues

involved, and I as a farmer, I understand there`s a lot of issues other than just agriculture involved.

SHOWAKI: We hope that the U.S. negotiators fix this. We would love the tariffs to end. We would love to see the price of aluminum come down and

our can prices stabilize.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would like to see them get back to purchasing as much beans from us as they did eight, nine years ago.

GREENBLAT: We need to hire more middle-class employees. That`s only going to happen if we have better trade deals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just let us do our job of growing a sustainable, reliable, healthy product for the entire world and we can help out with the

balance of trade, for sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ASHER: All right, so Donald Trump has just said that he expects to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping sometime soon. Jamie Metzl is a senior

fellow with the Atlantic Council. He joins live now. So, Jamie, does the Vice Premier Liu He actually have the authority to sign off on anything

here, or are they just working towards some kind of skeletal framework and then Donald Trump will meet with Xi Jinping and that`s when the real

agreement will be ironed out.

JAMIE METZL, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: So right now, they are in the process of seeing whether they can agree, and it seems as if, we don`t

know many of the details, but there is progress being made. And then it appears that President Trump and President Xi will meet at the end of

March, and that`s when, if there is going to be some kind of agreement, then that`s when it would be signed.

ASHER: But what about, you and I were talking about this in the makeup room.

METZL: Right.

ASHER: What about the sticking points? I mean, you know, everyone has talked about the fact that it`s unlikely that the Chinese are going to

completely restructure their economy, opening up the Chinese economy to U.S. businesses, intellectual property rights, that sort of thing. I mean,

Xi Jinping has promised his people a lot just in terms of technology. So how does the U.S. turn that around?

METZL: It`s not just that. I mean, China has grand ambitions for being the leading country in the world by 2050 and they see the path from here to

there as leading across the field of technology, of dominating the commanding heights of the 21st Century economy.

And they have their plan Made in China 2025 that is about how they get from here to there. And so what we have seen is a lot of theft of intellectual

property rights, a lot of forced technology transfer. and a lot of structural designs in the Chinese economy of how they move to that position

where they would like to be, so the United States, if this is about deficits for the U.S., it`s very easy for China to buy a lot of soybeans

and liquefied natural gas.

But the United States needs to make sure that they are getting -- and it`s tough for the U.S. --

ASHER: We`re not going to change the soul of their country.

METZL: Well, that`s the thing. The United States needs structural reforms in China, and China will only make structural reforms if they see it as

being in their interest and they`re willing to fight pretty hard to not make any changes that they don`t see as necessary.

And so that`s why it is what`s going to be difficult, and that`s why having someone who has been as dogged as Robert Lighthizer on the U.S. negotiating

size is kind of an asset at a time like this, because China has made multiple of the same concessions to the United States over and over and

over, year after year, and then it doesn`t happen and they make the same concessions.

So the U.S. seems to be saying, all right, if you`re making, you, China are making concessions, how are we going to know that you`re following through

on your word and if that doesn`t happen --

ASHER: So how do they know?

[15:10:01]

METZL: Well, they know because the U.S. companies will either be forced to transfer their assets or not. Either there will be Chinese companies like

Huawei and ZTE, or others that will introduce products in the world with stolen U.S. code in them or not. So I think that that is certainly going

to be the challenge. It is to say what are the proper metrics so that we can say, "All right, either China is living up to its word or not?" But

China certainly has a long record of a lot of promises and not a lot of living up to those promises.

ASHER: Right, so when we look at the results of this meeting, it`s not just about what is agreed to on paper, it`s also what is agreed to in terms

of actual enforcement as well.

METZL: Absolutely. And then that`s why -- and both President Xi and President Trump are under a lot of pressure, they both need to deliver.

ASHER: Okay, so Jamie we would love for you to stick around.

METZL: Will do.

ASHER: Because we have got the meeting coming up. We`re about to get footage of that meeting in just a few minutes. So I would love for you to

stick around to answer more questions.

Okay, still to come, rival concerts by rivals for the Venezuelan presidency. Richard Branson throws a benefit on the Colombian border,

1,000 meters away from a gig organized by embattled President Nicolas Maduro.

Also ahead, Nigerians head to the polls after three delays. So will Saturday`s vote happen? Will it happen? We discuss the outcome for

Africa`s tough economy. That`s next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ASHER: All right, welcome back, everybody. This time, three weeks ago, Robert Kraft was hoisting the Super Bowl trophy. Now, the owner of the New

England Patriots is actually defending himself against two charges of soliciting someone to commit prostitution.

Police in Florida say the charges relate to two of Kraft`s visits to the orchards of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter. Officials say they now have video

evidence of Kraft inside the spa receiving what they call paid acts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DANIEL KERR, POLICE CHIEF, JUPITER, FLORIDA: Obviously, our concern in this investigation centers around the possibility of victims of human

trafficking, the appearance may be of that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ASHER: Okay, so a spokesperson for Robert Kraft has categorically denied the accusations. But certainly, let me tell you, Robert Kraft is an

extremely, extremely big deal in the world of American sports.

He may actually be the most successful owner in NFL history. The New England Patriots have actually won six Super Bowl titles since he bought

the team. His company is the Kraft Group, no relationship to Kraft Heinz. It controls several paper companies and a soccer team, the New England

Revolution.

He is also by the way, a longtime friend of Donald Trump`s, even once giving him a Super Bowl ring.

[15:15:10]

ASHER: Let`s talk more about this with Christine Brennan who is a CNN sports analyst and a columnist for "USA Today." So Christine, I mean,

listen, the NFL doesn`t exactly have a squeaky clean image, but how much damage does this do? We`re talking about the 79th richest man in America,

net worth, $6.6 billion and a lot of people associate him with the success of the Patriots.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, SPORTS ANALYST, CNN: Oh, without a doubt, Zain. This is a terrible day for the National Football League. Obviously, these are

just charges. There`s a denial from the Patriots. We don`t know how this is all going to play out, if there would ever be a conviction, if he would

plead guilty to any of this. So that`s of course, the ultimate disclaimer, first of all.

But it`s terrible. I mean, this is as well-known an owner in sports in the United States as the U.S. has and Robert Kraft has put himself out there.

He has welcomed the spotlight. He is an icon, not only in New England, but really around the country and the Football League. A major presence with

the NFL.

He has always been close with Roger Goodell, I`m told the Commissioner of the NFL -- until deflategate. And of course, that controversy, which took

out all the oxygen of the NFL for about a year or so.

So here is a man who has been a huge presence in American culture and American sport now for several decades, and for this news to hit like this,

77 years old, just a few weeks, as you said, after the Super Bowl, it`s a shocker. It`s stunning. You cannot really even fathom that this would be

what he would be up to and this would be allegedly what he would be doing. And it is devastating for his reputation and it is terrible also for the

National Football League.

ASHER: Okay, but in America, it is technically innocent until proven guilty. So can he be disciplined by the league? I mean, he`s the owner of

the Patriots though, can he be disciplined in any way?

BRENNAN: Yes, he can, and there is precedent for this, including the Indianapolis Colts owner several years ago, when he pled guilty to impaired

driving. Jim Irsay was disciplined six games suspension, which is kind of funny to hear about an owner being suspended because he is not playing,

he`s not on the field, but suspended for six games, and then also fined a half million dollars. That happened five and a half years ago.

I would expect that if this in fact plays out as it might, that the NFL would throw at least that kind of harsh punishment against Kraft. In other

words, a half million dollar fine and a six-game suspension. This is really not good for the National Football League and it brings all kinds of

scorn and of course, laughter and whatever else you might throw on this.

Today, if you look at social media, everyone is having a field day. The Patriots are either revered or reviled, and those who cannot stand the New

England Patriots are just reveling in this terrible news that has come out today for the Patriots, for Robert Kraft personally, and for the National

Football League, and the NFL eventually will mete out punishment, absolutely guaranteed.

ASHER: Yes, my husband is a massive New England Patriots fan. So suffice to say, today was not a good day for him. Christine Brennan, live for us.

Thank you so much. Appreciate that.

BRENNAN: Thank you.

ASHER: Okay, so rivals for the Venezuelan presidency are holding rival concerts at either side of the Venezuelan and Colombian border, but only

one has the backing of billionaire entrepreneur, Richard Branson who has actually organized the benefit concert on the side of the Colombian border,

hoping to raise $100 million for aid and somehow get past the government`s blockade.

Meantime, President Nicolas Maduro is holding a rival event just 1,000 meters away on the Venezuelan side. It`s called, "Hands off, Venezuela."

Nick Paton Walsh has been speaking to Richard Branson. He is at that concert along the Colombia-Venezuela border.

So the purpose of this concert, Nick, is to somehow try to persuade members of the military along the Venezuelan border to allow aid in. Obviously,

it`s a tall order. What are the chances of that happening at all?

NICK PATON WALSH, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Well, it`s essentially this concert is about laying ground really for what may happen

tomorrow, which is to say is to push aid across the border. Now, we are seeing over here hundreds of thousands of people have arrived for the

concert. Listening now to Luis Fonsi, the Puerto Rican star`s hit, "Despacito." And we have just seen Richard Branson himself actually drive

an aid truck around here, had a bit of a photo opportunity.

The idea is to get them to stay the night and then perhaps help be part of this humanitarian wave to bring the aid over the border. There are a

similar number on the other side, but here, you`ve got I heard from Richard Branson earlier on today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RICHARD BRANSON, FOUNDER, VIRGIN GROUP: I have met a lot of Venezuelans who have fled Venezuela because they couldn`t get food, they couldn`t get

medical help. They couldn`t get jobs. Inflation is through the roof. And they asked if I could help. I decided --

[15:20:05]

PATON WALSH: ... initially, materially like this or --

BRANSON: No, I then rang Juan Guaido and introduced myself and said, "Look, if I can help, let me know." And he said, "Look, we need -- try to

organize a free concert at the bridge within three weeks."

PATON WALSH: Which is almost impossible, right?

BRANSON: Which is almost impossible, and fortunately, I had a Colombian friend, called Bruno Ocampo, who is just a brilliant friend who just got

his family, his friends, volunteers together, artists from all over the world agreed to come and all over South America, and miraculously, three

weeks later, we have what looks like one of the best organized concerts ever and it`s going to be magical.

PATON WALSH: Juan Guaido was initially was keen on this happening. It was his idea, right? Just to the event --

BRANSON: Yes, I mean, we had a discussion and we were trying to think of what would be the best way of trying to open the bridge and get

humanitarian aid in. You know, we are hoping that the Army standing on that bridge will hear the music and that tomorrow when people bring white

roses to those people on the bridge that they`ll let the much needed supplies in.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PATON WALSH: How joyous is this moment is, too and about unity and aid, tomorrow carries with it a lot of risk. Nicolas Maduro has been very

clear. He does not want to see the aid cross from Colombia or across the border. But a bit of caveat, there is not a lot of it, but it`s the

political symbolism coming out to frankly push it past the Venezuelan military that Juan Guaido is relying upon, the interim President, self-

declared as he was about a month ago.

This is an utterly key moment, and I have to say, there appears to be elements of organization here emerging. The Colombian government will

restrict border traffic among people unless they`re helping with humanitarian aid. But there`s also a sense of this being made up very much

as it goes along, and I think many are concerned about tomorrow, the volume of people, the level of expectations, and the amount of resistance likely

we may see from Venezuelan Security Forces -- Zain.

ASHER: Nick, you`re clearly in the heart of the concert, and so it`s a little bit loud where you are. I am just trying to make out what you`re

saying, but just in terms of the money raised by the concert, where is the greatest need for Venezuelans?

PATON WALSH: Sorry, I didn`t hear that question, Zain. Forgive me.

ASHER: I just was asking, Nick, where is the greatest need for Venezuelans just in terms of the money that will be raised by this concert?

PATON WALSH: Yes, I mean, any money raised by this, but I don`t think that`s really point. We are working on a 48-hour kind of window here. It

was supposed to be begun by the symbolism of this concert, as Richard Branson said, hoping the soldiers across the border would hear the music

and be greeted by white roses.

Now, the feeling is that maybe they can pull that off, but it`s about tomorrow, very early in the morning, these people have been asked to stay

overnight. They`re not here really here for the fund-raising efforts, they`re here for the moment of pushing through the border, whether it`s

peaceful or there ends up being a greater sense of tension there, we simply don`t know. But it is a very high-stakes gamble by Juan Guaido, this

concert bringing international attention --

ASHER: Nick, I`m sorry, I have to interrupt you -- Nick, I have to interrupt you. President Trump is actually meeting with the Chinese Vice

Premier to discuss trade. Let`s listen in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is drawing down U.S. troops a consideration in your upcoming summit with North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, it`s not. That is not a consideration. That is not one of the things on the table.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is on the table?

TRUMP: Oh, you really want me to discuss that now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do.

TRUMP: Everything is on the table. Everything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, do you have any concerns about the Labor Secretary`s handling of the Jeffrey Epstein case?

TRUMP: I really don`t know too much about it. I know he`s done a great job as Labor Secretary, and that seems like a long time ago, but I know

he`s been a fantastic Labor Secretary. That`s all I can really tell you about it. That`s all I know about it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What about the charges against Bob Kraft? I know, he`s a friend of yours.

TRUMP: Well, it`s very sad. I was very surprised to see it. He has proclaimed his innocence, totally, but I`m very surprised to see it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you spoken to Bill Barr about the release of the Mueller report? Have you spoken to him about that?

TRUMP: No, I have not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You`ve said nothing --

TRUMP: I have not.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you expect to?

TRUMP: At some point I guess, I`ll be talking about it, but you know the nice part? There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. There was

no anything. So that`s the nice part. There was no phone calls, no nothing. We have -- I won the race. You know why I won the race? Because

I was a better candidate than she was and it had nothing to do with Russia. And everybody knows it`s a hoax. It is one of the greatest hoaxes ever

perpetrated on this country. So I look forward to seeing the report. If it`s an honest report, it will say that. If it`s not an honest report, it

won`t.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, you have been at this and your teams have been at this trade deal for a long time.

[15:2510]

TRUMP: Yes, well, it`s not a long time when you consider it`s probably the biggest deal ever made.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It seems like it`s getting close to the finish line. I just want to know, when you boil it all down, do you believe it`s more

likely that a deal does happen or a deal doesn`t happen?

TRUMP: Well, I think I can speak for the United States. The question is an interesting one. Is it more likely that a deal happens or doesn`t

happen? Speaking for the United States, I would say it`s probably more likely that a deal does happen, but that doesn`t mean it`s going to happen.

Speaking for China, if you would like to answer that question, you can. But I would say that it`s more likely that a deal will happen. The fact

that they are staying -- and this is a very high delegation. This is a man who is revered all throughout China as the Vice Premier.

So the fact that they`re willing to stay for quite a bit longer period, doubling up the time, that means something. I think there`s a good chance

that it happens. Go ahead, would you like to answer that. Wait, would you like to answer that question? Yes, speak Chinese and you`ll speak loudly.

They can`t hear you.

LI KEQIANG, VICE PREMIER OF CHINA: (Speaking in foreign language).

TRANSLATOR: So, from China, we believe it is best.

TRUMP: You have to speak louder, I am sorry.

TRANSLATOR: For China, we believe that it is very likely that it will happen, and we hope that ultimately, we will have a deal.

LI: (Speaking in foreign language).

TRANSLATOR: And the Chinese side is ready to make our utmost effort.

TRUMP: I think we both feel that way. I think we both feel that there`s a very good chance that the deal will happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, on troops in Syria, why are you reversing course?

TRUMP: I`m not reversing course. I have done something that nobody else has been able to do. In another short period of times like hours, you`ll

be hearing -- hours and days, you`ll hear about the Caliphate. It`s 100% defeated. Nobody has been able to say that. That doesn`t mean there

aren`t some very bad people walking around and strapping on bombs and all of these things, but we have done a job that nobody else has been able to

do.

I heard Lindsey Graham this morning congratulating me on having defeated the Caliphate. And Frankly, I`m getting a lot of congratulations. At the

same time, we can leave a small force along with others in the force, whether it is NATO troops or whoever it might be, so that it doesn`t start

up again. And I`m okay. It`s a very small, tiny fraction of the people we have. And a lot of people like that idea. And I`m open to ideas.

But the 2,500 people we had there will be going to different parts of the world. They may be going over to Iraq where we have a very powerful base,

a base that costs billions of dollars to build, frankly, and that we`ll be using, but we have had tremendous success in defeating the Caliphate.

And now everybody is admitting. I did more in the last three or four weeks than people have done in years, and it`s been very successful. But we want

to make sure it stays that way. Yes, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tech transfers, going back to the trade deal, we`ve heard that you haven`t made a whole lot of progress on the tech transfers.

TRUMP: Do you want to talk about the transfer of tech.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does that still have to be --

TRUMP: Yes, I`ll let Bob answer that. Go ahead, Bob.

ROBERT LIGHTHIZER, UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE: The answer is yes. It`s one of the structural issues. It has to be done properly and we have

made a lot of progress. But whoever told you we weren`t did not know what they were talking about.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, why haven`t you condemned the North Carolina election fraud, this is a big story. A Republican candidate is

calling for a new election. Why have you not condemned that given you condemned other crimes?

TRUMP: Well, I condemn any election fraud. And when I look at what has happened in California with votes, when I look at what happened as you

know, there was just a case where they found a million fraudulent votes. When I look at what`s happened in Texas -- excuse me, when I look at what`s

happened in Texas, when I look at that catastrophe that took place in Florida, where the Republican candidates kept getting less and less and

less. And fortunately, Rick Scott and Ron ended up winning their election, but it was disgraceful, what happened there.

So I look at a lot of different places all over the country. I condemn any voter fraud of any kind, whether it`s Democrat or Republican, but when you

look at some of the things that happened in California in particular, when you look at what`s happened in Texas with all of those votes that they

recently found were not exactly properly done, I condemn all of it. And that includes North Carolina, if anything, I guess they`re going to be

doing a final report, but I would like to see the final report. But any form of election fraud, I condemn.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, when do you want to have that meeting with President Xi, and do you expect to have that in Mar-A-Lago?

TRUMP: Probably at Mar-A-Lago. Probably fairly soon, during the month of March. Bob, do you have a date? Steve, do you have a date?

STEVE MNUCHIN, UNITED STATES SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY: We`re planning it with your schedule.

TRUMP: So we have two schedules and we`ll be planning that with the schedule.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have anything further about Michael Cohen`s testimony?

[15:30:10]

TRUMP: Well, no --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, are still considering --

TRUMP: Lawyer-client, but you know, he`s taking his own chances.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where do things stand with Huawei and ZTE? Would it still be considered a --

TRUMP: Well, ZTE paid a big fine of $1.2 billion, which nobody has even heard of before. And we want everybody to compete. And I guess it will be

somewhat of a subject that we`re talking about here, Bob. We`ll be talking about it, we may or may not include that in this deal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Include what?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you drop and then start this --

TRUMP: Huawei and ZTE.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Would you drop criminal charges against Huawei as per this deal?

TRUMP: We`re going to be discussing all of that during the course of the next couple of weeks, and we`ll be talking to the U.S. attorneys, we`ll be

talking to the Attorney General. But we`ll be making that decision. Right now, it`s not something that we`re discussing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think that Republicans will stick with you on your emergency declaration and vote --

TRUMP: Oh, I think they`ll stick, yes, everybody knows we need border security. We need a wall. I think it`s a very bad subject for the

Democrats. We need a wall. We`ve apprehended more people than we have in many years. Apprehended, meaning we`ve gotten.

With the wall, we wouldn`t have to apprehend them if we had the proper structures, costing us a lot of money with the military, we have a lot of

military there. We have tremendous border control and border security there. We have -- I`ll tell you what, the people of border security,

people of ICE, the law enforcement generally speaking, have done an incredible job at the border.

We have caravans heading up, and we`re able to head out the caravans. We`ve done a great job, but if we had the wall, it would be much easier,

and frankly, it would be a job that would be perfecto and it would cost actually ultimately a lot less money.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you don`t think --

TRUMP: OK --

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On question from -- kind of deal(ph), are you --

TRUMP: Kind of deal(ph) --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yesterday, in fact, are you -- the U.S. would not block out kind of the more emphatic technology in terms of backing 6Gs, what do

you mean?

TRUMP: Well, I`d like to have all companies to be able to compete. I don`t want to artificially block people out based on excuses or based on

security. I don`t want to have a security problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Including Huawei?

TRUMP: Wait, I`m talking about everybody, really, including, but I`m talking about everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --

TRUMP: I don`t want to use artificial blocking, we want to have great 5G, ultimately, that`s going to morph into 6G and probably 6G will be obsolete

in about two months the way it`s going, you know, the way the whole world moves.

But 6G at some point in the future will be obsolete, but I want to have competition with China, fair competition. I don`t want to block out

anybody if we can help it. Now, if there`s going to be a security reason or something that we have no choice, but that is one of the things we`ll be

discussing today. We want to have open competition. We`ve always done very well in open competition. Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. president, your officials mentioned that there was a deal on currency. Can you explain to us what that was?

TRUMP: Well, we`ll let you know at the appropriate time, but we have a deal on currency and currency manipulation, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you definitively veto that resolution that was introduced today that would block the national emergency if it passes?

TRUMP: On the wall?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes --

TRUMP: Will I veto it? One hundred percent, 100 percent. And I don`t think it survives a veto. We have too many smart people that want border

security. So I can`t imagine it could survive a veto, but I will veto it, yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President --

TRUMP: Yes --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Last year in (INAUDIBLE) --

TRUMP: No, I stopped paying Pakistan the $1.3 billion that we were paying them. In the meantime, we may set up some meetings with Pakistan.

Pakistan was taking very strong advantage of the United States under other presidents, and we were paying Pakistan $1.3 billion a year. I ended that

payment a year to Pakistan because they weren`t helping us in a way that they should have.

And honestly, we`ve had -- we`ve developed a much better relationship with Pakistan over the last short period of time than we had. But I did. I

ended the payment. We were paying Pakistan $1.3 billion a year. I ended that about nine months ago. A lot of people don`t know that, but I ended

it nine months ago.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pakistan distinguished itself, coming from Pakistan, I think it came after Pakistan and India. Do you foresee an Afghanistan and

do you foresee --

TRUMP: But what are you talking about? What are you -- what are you trying to refer to? Yes, you have to speak up, I can`t hear you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is coming from Pakistan --

TRUMP: Yes --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: India forcing industry --

TRUMP: That`s right, no, it`s a terrible thing going on right now between Pakistan and India. Is a very bad situation, and it`s a very dangerous

situation between the two countries. And we would like to see it stop. A lot of people were just killed, and we want to see it stopped.

We were very much involved in that, yes, if that`s what you`re referring to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People in India are taking right to self defense --

TRUMP: No, India is looking at something very strong. India just lost almost 50 people, and with an attack, so I can understand that also. But

we`re talking, and a lot of people are talking, but it is a very delicate balance going on right now.

[15:35:00] There`s a lot of problems between India and Pakistan because of what just happened in Kashmir.

(CROSSTALK)

Are you talking about Kashmir? Yes, in Kashmir, it`s very dangerous -- yes, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President --

TRUMP: Wait --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: On Huawei, sir, just one big follow-up. Are you moving in an executive corridor on Huawei?

TRUMP: Well, we`re not doing anything right now, we may or may not put that in the trade agreement. We may be discussing it, but we`d only do

that in conjunction with the Attorney General of the United States. Because that is a matter that is outside of what we`re doing.

So we do that with the Attorney General if we do anything. And I guess there`s a question as to whether or not that`s being included in the

agreement. Yes, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, we haven`t gotten your response yet to Amazon pulling out of the USA, your home city --

TRUMP: I think it`s a big loss for New York City. I think it`s a big loss. I think it`s -- if you look at the deal, the deal was not a great

deal from the standpoint of -- they could have made a better deal than that, a much better deal. But still, I think it`s a loss for New York

City.

And the $3 billion wasn`t a check, it was a form of taxes over a period of time that now they`ll never see because, you know, they were -- they were

going to take in a lot of jobs, they were going to take in a lot of taxes. So I think it`s a big loss for New York City.

It`s the kind of thinking that our country is going to on the left, on the radical left, but ultimately, it`s not good for jobs and it`s not good for

the economy. But I think it was a big loss for New York City. I come from New York City, I love New York City. I think it was a big loss for New

York City. Yes, sir.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, what were your briefs on the Coast Guard member who was arrested for threatening Democrats and other members

of --

TRUMP: I`m actually getting a very final briefing and a very complete briefing in about two hours after this --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And do you have any thoughts on this man?

TRUMP: I think it`s a shame, yes, I think it`s a very sad thing when a thing like that happens. And I`ve expressed that, but I`m actually getting

a very complete briefing in about two hours.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think you bear any responsibility for moderating your language when it comes to that?

TRUMP: No, I don`t. I think my language is very nice.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, I`m Banki Chaven(ph) --

TRUMP: Yes --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From People`s Daily --

TRUMP: From China, from China.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trade conflict has been one year, now negotiations are going on. So what do you -- what do you think?

TRUMP: Who are you with in China?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "People`s Daily China", news site --

TRUMP: "People`s Daily"?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, OK --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And then, what do you think, in that cooperation deal that the solution --

TRUMP: Great cooperation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes?

TRUMP: We have great cooperation, both ways with China, and a lot of good things are happening. I mean, I think you see that. So many people every

day, they are going to make a deal, they aren`t going to make a deal, they don`t know, they have no idea, it`s fake news, you know, it`s one of those

things.

Do they have fake news in China? I think so.

(LAUGHTER)

But it`s a question, are they going to make a deal, aren`t they? I think we have a very good chance of making a deal. But both parties want to make it

a meaningful deal. We don`t want to make a deal that doesn`t --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes --

TRUMP: I can speak for the Vice Premier, I can speak for President Xi, I can speak for myself, both parties want to make this a real deal. We want

to make it a meaningful deal. Not a deal that`s done and doesn`t mean anything. We want to make this a deal that`s going to last for many years,

and a deal that`s going to be good for both countries.

But we want to make it meaningful. Now, with that being said, China has the advantage of having many years of tremendous success at the expense of

the United States. So they understand that. And I never blamed China for that. I blamed our past leaders.

Our leaders have done a lousy job with trade. Our country lost $800 billion last year with trade generally, $800 billion. So the Vice Premier

understands that. So this same agreement should have been made 20 years ago, not now. Because for 20 years, the United States has been really

taken advantage of.

And I`m not blaming China, but we should have done the same thing to them. But we didn`t do that. We had presidents that didn`t do their job. You

want to know the truth, we had presidents that did not do their job. Yes, go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will this be a long-term deal, how long would your MOU state --

TRUMP: I think the MOU is going to be very short term. No, I -- we expect to go into -- I don`t like MOUs because they don`t mean anything. To me,

they don`t mean anything. I think you`re better off just going into a document. I was never -- I`m never a fan of an MOU.

ROBERT LIGHTHIZER, TRADE REPRESENTATIVE OF THE UNITED STATES: An MOU is a contract. It`s the way trade deals are generally viewed. People refer to

it like it`s terms used, not a term used, it`s an actual contract between the two parties. A memorandum of understanding is a binding agreement

between two people. And that`s what that is. It`s detailed, it covers everything in great detail. It`s just called a memorandum of

understanding, it`s a legal term, it`s a contract.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In which you think, that would be a very long-term deal, sir?

LIGHTHIZER: Contracts last while they last. There`s no term. They last while they last.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, on North Korea --

TRUMP: By the way, I disagree. I think that a memorandum of understanding is not a contract to the extent that we want -- we`re going to have --

we`re doing a memorandum of understanding that will be put into a final contract, I assume, but to me, the final contract is really the thing, Bob,

and I think you mean that, too, is really the thing that means something.

[15:40:00] A memorandum of understanding is exactly that. It`s a memorandum of what our understanding is. But to me, the contract is -- the

real question is, Bob, so we do a memorandum of understanding, which frankly, you could do or not do. I don`t care if you do it or not, to me,

it doesn`t mean very much.

But if you do a memorandum of -- how long will it take to put that into a final binding contract?

LIGHTHIZER: What? From now on, we`re not using the word memorandum of understanding anymore. We`re going to use the term trade agreement, all

right?

TRUMP: OK, right.

LIGHTHIZER: No more, we`ll never use the term --

TRUMP: Good --

LIGHTHIZER: We`ll have the same document, it`s going to be called a trade agreement. We`re never going to use MOU again.

TRUMP: Are they going to put that into another --

LIGHTHIZER: You know, what will happen will be a trade agreement that -- if we have -- we have major hurdles. I don`t want to put the cart in front

of -- assuming you decide on an agreement, it will be signed by the two people, it will be a trade agreement between the United States --

TRUMP: Good --

LIGHTHIZER: And China --

TRUMP: Good --

LIGHTHIZER: We`re not using --

TRUMP: I like that much better. I like that term much better.

LIGHTHIZER: Do we agree with that?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, good --

TRUMP: I wouldn`t go into a memorandum, I would go right into a trade agreement. Either you`re going to make a deal or you`re not. To have

these other agreements doesn`t mean anything --

LIGHTHIZER: We`re not using that word again --

TRUMP: Because they`re not that meaningful in my opinion, but anyway, I like that much better.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, what do you think needs to be done after your meeting with Lynne Patton on which --

TRUMP: On what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you ready to meet Lynne Patton on the New York City housing authority?

TRUMP: Lynne Patton is great, and I can tell you, the New York City housing authority, the mayor of New York has done a terrible job with

public housing. We`re trying to help them, but the mayor of the city of New York has done a terrible job with respect to public housing. We`re

getting reports back and it`s a disgrace how badly New York City handles its public housing.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you say it`s Iowa?

TRUMP: Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Go ahead --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any answer for Bill de Blasio heading --

TRUMP: Well, I think he has to learn how to run New York City before he starts running the country because he hasn`t done a very good job --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On North Korea --

TRUMP: Including, by the way, with Amazon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: On North Korea, their only administration official say that Kim Jong-un has not actually decided yet whether he wants to

denuclearize. So how can you meet with him if he doesn`t want to denuclearize?

TRUMP: We have had such a great relationship, and China has helped us a lot with North Korea and with Kim Jong-un since I got to office. If I were

not elected president, he would have been in a war with North Korea. We now have a situation where the relationships are good, where there`s been

no nuclear testing, no missiles, no rockets.

We got our hostages back, and we have many of the remains back and coming back rapidly. The remains of our great warriors from many years ago, and

the families are so thrilled and so happy, we had a great relationship. The Singapore was a tremendous success, only the fake news likes to portray

it otherwise.

We would have gone -- we would have been -- we would have literally been at a war with North Korea, in my opinion, had I not been elected. OK, thank

you very much, everybody, thank you --

(CROSSTALK)

ZAIN ASHER, HOST, QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: All right, fascinating wide- ranging meeting between the president, press gaggle as well. They touched on a broad range of issues including Syria, including Amazon`s HQ2,

although that deal didn`t work out in New York City.

The president was very much against the fact that it failed. But because it`s a business show, we`re going to talk about the main issue of the day

in terms of what`s moving the markets, and that is the potential trade deal with China. The president actually said this has the capacity, the U.S.

trade deal with China has the capacity to be one of the biggest deals ever made.

He said that it`s more likely that a deal does happen, but that doesn`t mean that it`s going to happen, so typical sort of Trumpian negotiation

strategy. The Chinese delegation then came out and said, you know, they have been cooperating with the president, they want a deal to happen too,

but one thing that stood out to my previous guest who is back with me now, Jamie Metzl, is the fact that the president wasn`t even sure whether or not

it involved a memorandum of understanding, an MOU or not.

The president -- we actually saw Robert Lighthizer basically briefing the president --

JAMIE METZL, SENIOR FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL: Right --

ASHER: On live television as to really the framework of the agreement with the Chinese.

METZL: Yes, it was this very bizarre moment, because Trump is asked about the MOU, and his team has been negotiating, trying to get this MOU, which

is the apex of their goals that finally after all these years of China agreeing to things and not living up to their agreements, they`re trying to

get China pinned down with this memorandum of understanding.

And that`s like the big potential win, and then Trump all of a sudden says, oh, I don`t like --

ASHER: I don`t believe in MOUs --

METZL: I don`t like MOUs, we don`t even --

ASHER: And then Robert Lighthizer is like, no, Mr. President, you don`t understand --

METZL: And he`s like an MOU and a trade agreement are the same thing. We`re never going to use the word MOU again. And then Trump is like saying

like, no MOUs --

ASHER: That`s --

METZL: Only a trade agreement --

ASHER: I don`t think I`ve ever seen anything like that.

METZL: Well, it`s kind of bizarre, but anyway, it points to is that there is this disconnect --

ASHER: He`s not obviously not been involved, the president. He doesn`t even know --

METZL: Well, he has not been involved, and what his thing is, he needs kind of the big story, the big tweetable moment. And that, it creates a

real danger because we have -- the United States government still has really incredible people who are working hard and negotiating very well.

[15:45:00] But if the president on this -- based on some little misunderstanding or just on a whim tweets out or says no --

ASHER: Yes --

METZL: Our position is X --

ASHER: It could ruin the whole --

METZL: It has huge implications --

ASHER: Everything could be unraveled --

METZL: Yes --

ASHER: Right, that --

METZL: Right --

ASHER: But Jamie, we have to leave it there, because we only have 15 minutes left and so much needs --

METZL: Yes --

ASHER: Needs to get through, thank you so much.

METZL: My great pleasure --

ASHER: Maybe he`s thinking about --

METZL: My pleasure --

ASHER: By the way, hope you were as entertained as I was. OK, some more news just into CNN, a source tells us that a report from special counsel

Robert Mueller is actually not expected next week. The special counsel report from Robert Mueller`s office is actually not expected next week, and

apparently, that report has always been a moving target.

I want to bring in Shimon Prokupecz, who is joining us live now from Washington. So Shimon, initially, we heard that we were going to get this

report next week, and then now all of a sudden, we`re not, what happened?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME & JUSTICE REPORTER: Yes, well, it`s not exactly clear what happened here. What we were told that it was possible

as early as next week that this report, the Mueller report, would go to William Barr, the Attorney General, over at the Department of Justice, and

that they would review it.

But now we`re told by a justice official, our Laura Jarrett, justice correspondent, was told that that`s not going to happen. They don`t expect

to receive the report from Mueller next week. We`re not told exactly when the report is going to come, all we`re told is that now it`s not expected

to be delivered next week.

And one of the things that we`ve been told by a senior official is that the concern has always been that they do not want to step on the president`s

trip. You know, obviously, he`s traveling overseas on Monday, it`s a big trip for the White House, and I think there was some concern about the news

of this report being delivered and essentially the Mueller investigation ending would somehow overshadow the president`s trip, and that is not

something that justice officials want to do.

There`s no indication to us that anything new has happened which has delayed this, it was that there`s something new in the investigation or

there is about to be some new indictments or something else that`s delaying it. We`re not told exactly what`s delaying it, but certainly, the fact

that the president is traveling could be one of the reasons why the Attorney General has decided that it`s not coming next week.

ASHER: All right, Shimon Prokupecz live for us there on the fact that the hotly anticipated Robert Mueller report is no longer expected to land on

everyone`s desk next week. Shimon, thank you so much.

OK, so the other piece of breaking news that we`re also following this hour, this time it`s about R. Kelly. The Cook County state Attorney

General`s office or state attorney`s office rather in Chicago, Illinois, says musician R. Kelly has been indicted. He`s been indicted for ten

counts of aggravated criminal and sexual abuse involving four victims that were minors at the time of the alleged abuse.

The singer will be facing a bond hearing on Saturday. We`ll have more on this story as we get it. We`ll have a quick break, we`ll be back in about

two minutes, don`t go away.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ASHER: Social media science are taking more drastic actions to stop misinformation about vaccines being spread online. While Facebook is hit

with criticism over misleading material turning up in search results for vaccines. There are also reports Pinterest is blocking all searches.

This comes as U.S. authorities worry about the biggest outbreak of measles in decades. Renee DiResta investigates what`s true and what isn`t across

social networks. In the interest of disclosure, she asked that we tell you that she has actually started a pro-vaccine and advocacy organization

called Vaccinate California. She joins us live now from Washington.

So thank you so much for being with us. Here`s the thing, obviously, social media companies have been in the media a lot because of

misinformation beyond Facebook or other social media sites. When it comes to vaccination, it`s really a matter of life and death. What should the

social media companies particularly Facebook be doing?

RENEE DIRESTA, CO-FOUNDER, VACCINATE CALIFORNIA: So we increasingly get our information from the internet. You know, I`m a mom, I have two kids,

that was why I started an immunization advocacy organization. Because I would go and I would try to find solid information, and at this point we`re

really seeing what`s most popular, not necessarily the most reputable sources.

And this creates a problem or people because we need to be informed. As you mentioned, it`s a matter of life and death, and it`s not just vaccines,

this is common to people who receive cancer diagnosis, they go searching for information and they find juice fast.

So I think social platforms have moved into becoming a place where people go for information for community, for support groups. They began to have

to carry a greater weight in terms of their responsibility to show us higher quality information.

ASHER: So some social media companies like for example Face -- sorry, Pinterest rather, their sort of solution is to sort of blacklist certain

controversial terms, like for example vaccinations if you search vaccinations on Pinterest, it comes out blank.

Wikipedia, for example, when there`s an issue with a site, I`m talking about vaccinations here everyone, there`s a general issue with a site or an

article -- there`s a flag at the top that says there are issues with this article. Is that the right way to go about this, do you think?

DIRESTA: I think they`re all trying to figure out individually, given their layouts, what the right way is. So for Facebook, it has pages, it

has groups, it has search, there`s a number of different ways you can find information on Facebook. Google has implemented something that it calls

your money or your life for search results.

Where it`s saying that search results related to health and finance deserve a higher standard of care because they are so significant and they can`t

just be who runs the best SEO game that decides what`s on top.

I think what we`re seeing now is each platform trying to come up with a way to deal with this while still, you know, recognizing that a lot of them

really are prioritizing their users ability to express themselves. So they don`t want to be seen as censoring these opinions or these groups, while at

the same time, they have to weigh their obligation when they`re actively curating it and promoting it and serving it up.

ASHER: All right, Renee, appreciate you sharing your perspective on the show, thank you so much --

DIRESTA: Thanks so much.

ASHER: OK, so the Oscars are almost here, just two days left, the road to the red carpet is not even bumpy though, the category of biggest

controversy has been particularly crowded. The nominees are Kevin Hart stepping down as host, problems with movies up for best picture, that

includes allegations of sexual misconduct against the director of "Bohemian Rhapsody", and changes to the show format, which eventually were scrapped.

Those include presenting four categories during the commercials and not having all best song nominees perform. Cori Murray is the entertainment

director of Essence which actually held its Black Women in Hollywood luncheon awards on Thursday. She joins us live now from L.A.

So Cori, thanks so much for being with us. So, the question I have for you is, do some of the controversies surrounding the Oscars, does that actually

end up helping with viewership in the end? What are your thoughts?

CORI MURRAY, ENTERTAINMENT DIRECTOR, ESSENCE: I hate to believe, you know, that classic thing, you know, any bad publicity is good publicity, and I

think if anything, it does make people want to kind of tune in just to see what are they going to do? Also, I think a lot of people don`t want to

admit that they love the grandeur of the Oscars, you know, the beauty of it, the pageantry, I think it`s a timeless thing.

I think everyone will still tune in regardless of the controversies, just to see what people are wearing, who`s going to win, even if they`re

watching it and critiquing that whole part of it, I think that still is going to draw in viewers for the Oscars.

[15:55:00] ASHER: So, obviously, Kevin Hart was supposed to be the host. Then apparently, last time I checked isn`t a host, although some sites on

the internet seem to dispute that, that maybe there`s going to be some kind of a surprise host. Do you think it will be less interesting if there

isn`t anyone to tie everything together?

MURRAY: Actually, you know, I`ve been going the past couple of years, and I think it was like two years ago, when last year, they had like all those

surprise people come out. I actually don`t think they need a host. I think it would be great just to have different pairings of people come out

and do the presentations for each category.

And I think you would be fine, that`s my personal opinion. I think they could do without a host, and actually it would help make the show shorter.

ASHER: And -- OK, that`s actually going to be my next question because that was an issue that the Academy was struggling with. They ended up

trying to cut out certain categories, for example, sound editing, makeup artist --

MURRAY: Yes --

ASHER: Cinematography, they were going to be announced during the commercial breaks to make the whole ceremony much shorter. That`s unfair

because obviously, if you`re nominated for an Academy Award, you want to have your moment in the spotlight. The Academy ended up reversing course.

But what do you make of the fact that, they even considered that in the first place?

MURRAY: I can see what they`re trying to do there, but I agree with the people who raised their hands to say no, we don`t want to do this because

as you know, to make a film, it`s just not about the stars, it`s not just about the directors, it`s about all of the people who help put it together.

And a lot of those people, like a sound mixing, like editing, those are the things that really give you that final product, that silver screen finish

that you love, and I think it`s -- you need to give everyone the same platform and recognize them. They still will be an Academy Award winner

regardless if they`re on that stage or not, but I think they deserved a spotlight --

ASHER: I --

MURRAY: Because that is a proud moment for them.

ASHER: I agree. You can`t discriminate against people because they`re not famous. But Cori, we have to leave it there --

MURRAY: Exactly --

ASHER: We have to leave it there, thank you so much. OK, there are just moments left to trade on Wall Street, we`ll have the final numbers and the

closing bell right after this, don`t go away.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

ASHER: All right, investors on Wall Street have just about one minute left to trade. The Dow, as you can see there is actually up by triple digits.

It`s risen since the Oval Office meeting between President Trump and Chinese Vice Premier as well.

President Trump says that trade talks are going very well, and that he expects to meet with China`s president very soon. The Dow is actually

above 26,000. It`s crossed that mark the last time we saw that was in November. And that`s the closing bell behind me, and of course, that is

QUEST MEANS BUSINESS --

(BELL RINGING)

I`m Zain Asher in New York, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper is next.

END