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CNN NEWSROOM

U.S. Economy Adds 196,000 Jobs in March; House Democrats Ramp Up Pressure on Bill Barr to Release the Full Mueller Report; T: Trump Wants IRS Counsel Confirmation a Priority; Trump Under Scrutiny as Democrats Push for His Tax Returns; Rep. Brendan Boyle (D) Pennsylvania Interviewed About President Trump's Tax Returns; GOP Warns Demand for Trump Tax Returns Sets "Dangerous Standard"; Republicans Accuse Democrats of Weaponizing the IRS; Democrats Ramp Up Pressure on Barr to Release Report; Troubles Pile Up for Boeing After Two Deadly Crashes; Regulators Order Boeing to Fix Second Software Issue; Boeing CEO Admits MCAS Risk Must Be Fixed After Preliminary Crash Report Clears Ethiopian Airlines' Pilots of Error. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired April 5, 2019 - 09:00   ET

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


[09:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That were beyond sexual harassment, to be honest.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And were you covering them all the time?

(LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: The funny thing about that, and part of the reason why I was inspired to write about it was because, at FOX News at least, the then boss had a feeling about how he did not want those stories covered.

BERMAN: Interesting.

CAMEROTA: Read more about it in "Amanda Wakes Up."

BERMAN: All right. That's all for us. "NEWSROOM" with Jim Sciutto starts right now.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you. It is Friday. I'm Jim Sciutto, Poppy Harlow has the day off.

We begin this hour with breaking news just in the last few minutes. We just learned the economy added some 196,000 jobs last month. That is higher than expected, crucially a bounce back from a real rough February.

CNN chief business correspondent Christine Romans joins me now from New York to break it down.

Above expectations here but also more importantly big jump from last month.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: A strong rebound. We had been worried about that number we saw in February, what was happening in the American economy, were we starting to see, you know, global winds biting here in the United States. And it looks as though that February number was an anomaly.

When you take the last three months together it's about 180,000 on average the last three months. And that shows companies are still hiring. The unemployment rate down to 3.8 percent, that's pretty much steady with where it had been. But if you look at that number, that's a generational low. That shows you a full recovery from the Great Recession.

So where were the jobs? In business and information services 34,000 new jobs there, specifically in architectural engineering services, computer systems design. That is a good job category here. Also in management and technical consulting services.

Look over there in the middle of your screen, healthcare, that has been a steady performer now for years. There are jobs all along the wage spectrum in healthcare that continue to hire. This is a real driver of the American committee.

Manufacturing down 6,000. In February we saw only about 1,000 jobs created in manufacturing. This one will be really close to watch here because the White House of course is fine-tuning its trade strategy to try to support that part of the American economy in particular so that one bears watching.

I wanted to point out wages. 3.2 percent year-over-year wage growth. That's been improving really sort of recently, the fastest wage growth since the Great Recession. You want to see, you know, 3.2 percent to 3.5 percent wage growth to really feel like the worker is coming along here in these job market gains. So we'll continue to watch that, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Christine Romans, great to have you on the news.

President Trump may address those job numbers just minutes from now when he sets out on a weekend trip to California and Nevada. He tends to address the good news. First stop the Mexico border which he had threatened to close just a few days ago, then within a year and then maybe not at all. He's also flip-flopped this week on healthcare and the Mueller report and said that he may enlist the attorney general to help keep his tax returns secret.

Why? Why all the effort?

For their part Democrats who this week subpoenaed the Mueller report in its entirety now want to see in addition all communications between the special counsel's team and the Justice Department.

That brings me to CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

Manu, this is driven in part by reporting that there was some disagreement within the Mueller team, perhaps some disappointment with Barr's summary of the Mueller team's work. How far are Dems going to push this now? Because it seemed like their interest in investigations had waned a bit after the summary came out. That's changing.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Indeed it is. And Jerry Nadler of course has those subpoenas in his back pocket to try to force the disclosure of the full Mueller report and the underlying evidence. He is also saying that he is troubled by these reports of disagreements apparently between the special counsel's team, some members of that team, as well as the Justice Department and says he wants all communications -- between both the special counsel's team and the Justice Department over the release of the report.

Now he doesn't have a subpoena yet for that aspect of it, but he's written a letter to Barr asking for those communications to be turned over.

Now what we're seeing is a split here on Capitol Hill along party lines. Republicans are saying that this is all just an effort to try to get the president. One Republican senator on the Senate Judiciary Committee John Kennedy yesterday told me this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R-LA): And I don't want to get anybody killed by violating national security concerns. Having said all of that, I think Bill Barr is a straight shooter and even if you don't agree with that assessment he's certainly not a moron. I mean, he's going to release as much of the report as he possibly can.

My personal feeling is that my Democratic friends are doing everything they can to create a controversy.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RAJU: So also the question is what happens next. Not only to those subpoenas in Jerry Nadler's back pocket, who comes before Capitol Hill. Yesterday Jerry Nadler told me that it is inevitable that Bob Mueller will come before his committee, expects probably Barr to go first, but eventually Mueller.

[09:05:08] There is some disagreement because on the Republican side in the Senate the Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham told me he has no interest in bringing in Mueller, only to talk to Bill Barr -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, if Bob Mueller appears on the Hill that will be quite an interesting hearing.

Manu Raju, thanks very much.

I'm joined now by former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Renato Mariotti. So Nadler's argument to Barr has been, we understand there's some parts of the report, grand jury testimony, if there's any classified information that should stay out of the public view, but, heck, you know, we are the Judiciary Committee, we at least can see it. Is that a fair argument?

RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's more than fair. In fact, I think it is the only argument that could prevail under the United States Constitution. I mean, remember, at its core this was an investigation of the president of the United States for potential wrongdoing including criminal wrongdoing.

The House Judiciary Committee has sole jurisdiction over impeachment and the United States Constitution gives the House of Representatives full impeachment power. So under the United States Constitution I don't see how the executive branch can possibly keep the results of a criminal investigation into the president of the United States from the House Judiciary Committee.

I think if any one person in the United States is entitled to see the full Mueller report it's Jerry Nadler.

SCIUTTO: Let's take it a step further then. Why shouldn't the public also see evidence if the special counsel found it and apparently even based on Barr's summary he did find it, he did find evidence that the president obstructed justice? Why shouldn't the public see evidence of criminal wrongdoing by the president? The public was able to hear the Nixon tapes. Why not hear this evidence?

MARIOTTI: Yes, I don't see a good argument there either. It's not quite as crystal clear. In other words, there's -- you know, there are arguments that I'm sure that Republicans will make on the other side. Whereas -- as to Nadler I don't think there is an argument any serious person can make. But as to the public, I agree. As to obstruction of justice, for example, the American people have a right to know whether their president broke the law.

I mean, Richard Nixon, before he said "I'm not a crook" said the American people got to know if their president is a crook, right. And I think they deserve to know that.

Now there may be things, classified information, for example. There could be people putting their lives on the line to make sure that America knows about secrets that are occurring overseas, that I think is appropriate. Grand jury material, there may be, for example.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

MARIOTTI: There was 500 people interviewed. There may be some innocent people in there, that's fine, but as to the president, obstruction of justice, I think that's very hard to keep that from the American people.

SCIUTTO: The more we learn and granted it's not a lot at this point but it's more than we learned while the investigation was still under way, there appears to be some difference of opinion inside the special counsel's team as to how severe the evidence was against the president, perhaps even disagreement over whether the president should be charged, and Mueller in the end left it to Bill Barr.

Are you -- do you believe that Mueller himself faces due criticism for not making that decision himself?

MARIOTTI: Well, first of all, just say, Jim, it's not clear that Mueller left it to Barr. I mean, for all we know Mueller expected Congress to make that decision and if he did that I would view that as an appropriate level of humility from a prosecutor. You are never going to see me criticize a prosecutor for expressing humility, for having a sense of feeling the weight of the decisions they are going to make.

That to me is the appropriate way that a prosecutor should act, not with over zeal, but with the appropriate sense of humility. So I don't criticize Mueller for that. I do criticize Barr for instead of having full disclosure, working with Congress to have full disclosure, for doing it appears what he can to keep things from Congress.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Humility in short supply in today's Washington.

Renato Mariotti, thanks very much.

Let's discuss now, joining me now, CNN political analyst Kirsten Powers, getting to the politics of this a bit.

Kirsten, always good to have you on. It seems that Barr's argument here, and this is not an invalid argument, is like, I'm not going to do what Comey did, right. Comey with Hillary Clinton, the e-mail investigation, said, I'm not going to charge her, doesn't reach the standard to charge, but, boy, was she reckless and she did all this lousy, nasty stuff.

KIRSTEN POWERS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. Right.

SCIUTTO: You know, he's basically saying I'm not going to say the same thing about the president here if he doesn't meet the standard for charging. Is that a fair argument?

POWERS: No, I don't think it's a fair argument because Hillary Clinton could have been charged, right, in theory. I think most people agree that the president can't be indicted and so I think it's --

SCIUTTO: Right. Justice Department guideline.

POWERS: If you look back to I think the best comparison would be Watergate and the rules were different then, but back then it went to a judge and then it went to Congress.

SCIUTTO: Right.

[09:10:02] POWERS: But there were no -- the special prosecutor did not in any way say that, you know, he should be indicted or obviously didn't indict him, didn't mean that he didn't do anything wrong, though.

SCIUTTO: Right.

POWERS: Right? I mean, it was laid out for Congress to make a determination.

SCIUTTO: Yes. POWERS: And so it seems likely that because Mueller would be looking

in this and knowing that he can't indict that he just laid out the case. I don't know where Barr got the idea that he was supposed to rule on this. Right?

SCIUTTO: Yes.

POWERS: I mean, this is something that he seems to have decided, but it's not something that is necessarily, I think, was appropriate.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this, did we -- did we in the media but more importantly even Democrats on the Hill, because after that Barr summary came out, you heard it, we heard it on the air, well, maybe we've got to back off now, this thing is done, we've got to move on to other things. Do you think that in effect they got it wrong by declaring prematurely that this investigation was in effect over?

POWERS: Well, I think there was disagreement, you know, among Democrats.

SCIUTTO: True.

POWERS: And so I think that there were some people who felt that and other people who virulently disagreed. And I think on the collusion issue it does seem that Mueller reached a conclusion, right? So -- but on the obstruction of justice he clearly didn't. And so I think that there were still a lot of people saying at the time -- I mean, I know I said at the time, you know, we have -- this doesn't really make sense on the obstruction of justice that -- I mean, we saw things that seemed -- they may not -- they may not necessarily be criminal, but they were certainly problematic and they possibly could be criminal, but he can't be charged. So let's see the report.

And I think that was more the opinion of most people was let's actually see the report or at a minimum, you know, let Congress see the report. The idea that Congress -- Congress gets classified information all the time, right? So the idea that because there's classified information in this it can't go to Congress is just not true.

SCIUTTO: Yes. They get it all the time.

POWERS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: And certainly in the Russia investigation.

POWERS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: The Intelligence Committee, et cetera, they were getting this every other day.

POWERS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Let's talk about this week. We started this week with two big impending stories.

POWERS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: The president was going to threaten the border over the warnings from his advisers about economic damage, et cetera, and, by the way, this is going to be the party of healthcare.

POWERS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: And he's got a plan, his chief of staff was on Sunday shows on Sunday saying in a couple of months we have a healthcare plan. The president turned back on both those. That's a pretty remarkable reversal.

POWERS: Yes, I mean, it's very -- I don't even -- I don't even know the right -- I mean, it's crazy.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

POWERS: I don't really know what else to say. To come out and to make these broad declarations about what your party is going to do on a major policy issue like healthcare and actually not have any plan it doesn't -- doesn't really make any sense.

I think on the border stuff he hasn't been able to deliver on his promises relating to the border and this was --

SCIUTTO: He's going to act like it today.

POWERS: And this is -- yes.

SCIUTTO: He's going to say the wall is getting built. By the way, it's replacement.

POWERS: The key issue with his base, and so I think he has to at least look like he's fighting. Right?

SCIUTTO: Right.

POWERS: So if he looks like he's constantly beating the drum beat about the border, the impending doom, all the terrible things and I'm going to do this, I'm going to do that, it creates a sense that he's fighting.

SCIUTTO: Yes.

POWERS: It doesn't -- you know, I guess they don't care if it doesn't matter that he doesn't deliver on it, but I think he just -- it's something that gins people up.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Works for some.

POWERS: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Kirsten Powers, thanks very much.

Democrats are now demanding to see the president's tax returns, something every president since Nixon has voluntarily given up. Republicans saying the move sets a dangerous standard, while a new report about the president's pick for the chief of the IRS, the chief counsel, rather, is raising hard questions, understandable ones.

And Boeing under fire. A new report, another software problem discovered on the 737 MAX flight control system. We're going to speak to the brother of an American woman killed in the Ethiopian crash. That family is now suing.

Plus, President Trump taps another critic of the Federal Reserve to serve on the board, former pizza executive and former presidential candidate Herman Cain. He says he's a good friend of the president's. What's the president's goal here?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:15:00] JIM SCIUTTO, HOST, NEWSROOM: This morning, President Trump's motivations under harsh scrutiny as calls to release his tax returns intensify. The "New York Times" reporting that on February 5th, 22 days before his IRS chief counsel Michael Desmond was confirmed, the president urged Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell to prioritize that nomination over others.

Here is Desmond's background. "Bloomberg" reports he briefly advised the Trump organization on tax issues before Trump took office. He also once privately worked for a time with two people who currently serve as tax counsels to the Trump Organization.

That's the president's business. Here is the concern, the IRS chief counsel advises the agency's commissioner on, quote, "all matters pertaining to the interpretation, administration and enforcement of the internal revenue code." You might say the president has an interest in that.

And here is the current commissioner of the IRS who was nominated by President Trump, Chuck Rettig who was confirmed last year, he wrote in 2016, "would any experienced tax lawyer representing Trump in an IRS audit advise him to publicly release his tax returns during the audit? Absolutely not."

Well, agrees with the president on that. Rettig also owns property at a Trump hotel in Hawaii. Lots of connections there. Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, he serves on the Ways and Means Committee, which is the committee of course, which has the power to demand anyone's tax returns, and now he's doing that for the president.

I mean, look at this, because this strikes me as pretty transparent. The president picks a --

REP. BRENDAN BOYLE (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Chief lawyer for the IRS who used to work with his own tax lawyers, picks a commissioner of the IRS who has opposed the release of his tax returns. I mean, is he intentionally fixing the system here?

BOYLE: I mean, one plus one clearly equals --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BOYLE: Two, but, you know, it's funny as you were describing that, this is one of about a dozen, 15 or so, conflicts that have come out. It's all the more reason why we need to see the tax returns.

[09:20:00] Just to be clear, the law it is black and white, section 6103 of the IRS code, two individuals have the ability to subpoena tax returns, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee or his counterpart in the Senate. That has now been exercised, there should be no discretion whatsoever.

And the reason why this is needed is because President Trump both as a candidate and president violated a norm of our system. Well, he's violated many norms, but one specifically with respect to taxes and it's a pretty big one, every president since Richard Nixon has voluntarily released tax returns.

Every presidential nominee since Nixon --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BOYLE: Has released those tax returns. So this is something that frankly should have been done two years ago by the Republican Congress. The Republican leadership in the House for the previous two years was more interested in playing party politics --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BOYLE: And less interested in their article one obligation of oversight.

SCIUTTO: So you --

BOYLE: We're now correcting that.

SCIUTTO: Well, you're working on it, Kevin McCarthy still says that the Democrats are trying to weaponize the IRS here. I wonder -- do any of your Republican colleagues privately say, yes, you know what? This is a norm of our system, and, by the way, we understand this is what the law says. Do they tell you that or are they enabling the president?

BOYLE: No, it's interesting -- you know, that's one of the most often asked questions I get either at town halls or just when I'm back around my district in Philadelphia. And not on this specifically, but I can't tell you the number of times privately I've had conversation with Republican members who will say incredibly disparaging things about the president.

Who will talk about his instability, talk about how annoyed they are, how concerned they are, but they say it privately because the overwhelming majority of them recognize that Trump is still popular with about 80 percent --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BOYLE: Eighty nine percent of the Republican base. It's a shrinking base within the country, but within a Republican primary, it is the overwhelming majority.

SCIUTTO: Saying versus doing, there is a big difference.

BOYLE: Yes.

SCIUTTO: So the president is going to fight this. I mean, he's stacked the IRS, he said yesterday, I might go to the DOJ, I might go to the Justice Department about this --

BOYLE: Which --

SCIUTTO: How do you -- how do you overcome that?

BOYLE: There was already fire to begin with. It just shows you the extent to which he's going to not release these tax returns. We know Michael Cohen testified under oath in front of Congress that Trump said to his personal lawyer for 11 years, that the reason why he didn't --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BOYLE: Want his tax returns released is because then groups will be looking at them and he would have to pay them --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BOYLE: More taxes.

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BOYLE: So that's openly admitting --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BOYLE: Gross underpayment of taxes --

SCIUTTO: Cohen also questioned whether he is, in fact, under audit. Whether -- I mean --

BOYLE: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Whether audit would be even a reason not to release your taxes.

BOYLE: One point about -- a historical fact that's relevant here, one of the reasons actually why Congress got the tax returns of President Nixon was specifically because he was under audit. Every president since then by mandate is under an annual audit by the IRS.

We actually don't know if that's going on. We don't know the procedure that the IRS is using. That's an important matter for Congress to exercise -- SCIUTTO: Yes --

BOYLE: Oversight even beyond President Trump, for all --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BOYLE: Future presidents --

SCIUTTO: Generally, you're audited if there are questions about how you've done your taxes. I want to talk about Mueller because you have a big push now to get more of this report out, and the question is, does Bill Barr go there and will his hand have to be forced?

Is it a fair argument when Barr says the Attorney General -- I'm not going to release this evidence, some because it may be sensitive, but also others because it might sully the reputations of people including the president who haven't been charged here.

In other words, he's saying, I don't want to be James Comey --

BOYLE: Yes --

SCIUTTO: Saying, I'm not going to charge Hillary Clinton, but by the way, she behaved recklessly.

BOYLE: Well, that sure is a different standard from the Starr report where the entire thing was released and made into a book that people can purchase in book stores. Given the good reporting that has happened in the last 24 hours, there are serious questions about the extent to which Trump's own appointed Attorney General, someone who auditioned for the job by the way by writing a pretty detailed memo, defending the president and attacking the investigation.

He comes into office shortly before the Mueller report is finished, he then releases a four-page summary --

SCIUTTO: Yes --

BOYLE: Over a weekend on a 400-page report. Look, the Trump administration position on this is quite bizarre. It is -- their position is that this is a complete exoneration and we can in no way release any of the details because it's such an exoneration --

SCIUTTO: Right --

BOYLE: Give me a break. Tens of millions of dollars has been spent over 22 months on this investigation, let's have it out in the open, I publicly called yesterday again for Mueller to come before Congress to testify about his findings, to have the full report in front of Congress, and then let's let the facts decide.

I've been someone who has been saying all along, we needed to protect this investigation and then let's just see what was found --

SCIUTTO: Right --

BOYLE: And let the chips fall where they may.

SCIUTTO: Brendan Boyle, good to have you on --

BOYLE: All right, thank you --

SCIUTTO: Enjoy the weekend --

BOYLE: Thank you --

[09:25:00] SCIUTTO: If you get one. Troubles piling up for Boeing in the wake of two deadly crashes now. I'm going to speak to the brother of an American woman killed on that Ethiopian Airlines flight. Who does he hold responsible for her death? That's coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: The problems, the serious problems mounting for Boeing and its grounded 737 Max fleet. The "Washington Post" reporting that federal regulators have ordered Boeing to fix now a second software problem with the flight control system, what appears to have been the cause of these crashes.

This comes as Boeing's CEO accepted blame for a malfunctioning sensor believed to have contributed to the pair of deadly crashes, in total, they killed 346 people. CNN's Tom Foreman joins me now. So Tom, not one, but two software problems and what we've known, the fix that Boeing recommended between these crashes after the first one didn't work.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it didn't work, not at this point. And you know, a Boeing executive told CNN, this is a minor problem they're dealing with right now. The problem is they don't have any minor problems. This is dealing with the flaps on the plane and maybe the fix.

END