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Interview with Gen. David Petraeus as Concerns Mount Over Trump Tariff Hike, Iran Posture; New Poll Shows Strong Lead for Joe Biden in New Hampshire; Interview with Border Patrol Chief. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired May 10, 2019 - 10:30   ET

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


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[10:30:52] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right, welcome back. Trade talks between the U.S. and China are under way right now, after the Trump administration hiked those tariffs on Chinese imports this morning by a significant amount.

At the same time, former CIA director David Petraeus is weighing in on all of it. He says the president needs to take the U.S. economy into consideration here. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: Over time, of course, at some point, President Trump has to start worrying about what this does to the economy, as he approaches his re-election campaign next year. He's going to run on the economy. He's made that very, very clear.

But if this agreement is not reached and if this is a prolonged trade war, that obviously will put a dent in that. And he will presumably start to feel some pressure to resolve this issue, and to show that "The Art of The Deal" is still present in his administration.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: All right. CNN Business lead writer Matt Egan got that interview with Petraeus.

Bravo on that. He does not talk a lot and he really opened up to you on a number of fronts. We'll get to Iran in a moment. But why does it matter when Petraeus has that warning on China?

MATT EGAN, CNN BUSINESS LEAD WRITER: Poppy, thanks for having me. You know, I think that General Petraeus is really echoing what a lot of investors and economists are thinking right now.

And that's, it's a really tough balancing act here. President Trump wants to crack down on China, but he doesn't want to undo the gains in the economy --

HARLOW: Right.

EGAN: -- and in the stock market. And, you know, I was struck by how many people that I spoke to at the SALT Conference here in Las Vegas, they really gave Trump credit for confronting China on what many see as unfair trade practices, even some people who are critical of Trump's other economic policies.

But the problem is that it's caught investors off-guard. The return of "Tariff Man," as President Trump likes to call himself --

HARLOW: Right.

EGAN: -- has really rattled investors.

HARLOW: Yes.

EGAN: The stock market is suffering its worst week in -- since December. And so that is all about the concerns here around the impact of tariffs. And clearly, the next few weeks of negotiations are going to be big for the economy and the market --

HARLOW: Yes.

EGAN: -- and the 2020 election.

HARLOW: Right. And that's what Petraeus got at, right? In your interview. Is, like, the consequences of this for 2020, will they come home to roost for the president.

Before you go, Matt, let's talk a little bit about Iran. Because obviously, given all of his experience and as CIA director, his mind matters when it comes to the issue of Iran. What did he tell you?

EGAN: Absolutely. I mean, he was the top commander in the Middle East. And, you know, so General Petraeus, he did talk about how there are, you know rising concerns here about Iran.

And, you know, what I thought was interesting was that Susan Rice, the Obama national security advisor, she warned that she thinks that, you know, the drums of war are starting to sound. And here's what General Petraeus had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

PETRAEUS: I'm not very concerned about an all-out war between the United States and Iran. I think certainly, if Iran were to precipitate that, it would be a -- you know, this is a suicide gesture. This would be very, very foolhardy and they know that. We have enormous military capacity in the region. There's much more we can deploy on very short notice.

I am a bit more concerned about some kind of proxy activity. Some of (ph), say (ph), the militias that Iran has funded, trained, equipped, even directed at different times, either deliberately or perhaps even just inadvertently, ending up in some kind of clash that could escalate and could get out of hand.

The bigger issue here, really, I think, comes down to what is it we truly want out of Iran. What is the real bottom line. So that's really the issue here. And of course, until there's some negotiation, it's pretty difficult to communicate that from one country to another.

And I think another big question is, does Iran just now tighten its belt as their economy goes into a real tailspin and perhaps another six percent comes off its GDP this year, as we tighten the screws a few more turns? Or do they say, next year, start to advance some back-channel communications, as has been the case with previous administrations?

END VIDEO CLIP)

[10:35:10] HARLOW: It's a fascinating interview on both of those fronts. You can watch Matt's entire interview on CNNBusiness.com. Matt, thank you very much for bringing us that. Appreciate it.

EGAN: Thank you, Poppy.

HARLOW: Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Interesting stuff from General Petraeus.

Despite renewed tension between the U.S. and North Korea now, and just one day after Pyongyang conducted its second missile test in just a week, U.S. officials say they are still open to holding talks with North Korea. What would they talk about?

Joining us now to discuss, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, a CNN military and diplomatic analyst as well as former State Department spokesman.

Admiral, thanks very much. So you've had two Kim-Trump summits. North Korea's made no steps to denuclearize, which is the goal of these negotiations --

JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY AND DIPLOMATIC ANALYST: Right.

SCIUTTO: -- and two of the things that Trump has claimed as gains from these talks, the repatriation of remains from the Korean War and a stop to missile tests -- no longer hold.

KIRBY: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: What has he achieved from these talks?

KIRBY: Well, so far, we've achieved nothing. I mean, they're -- North Korea still has a program, they're still advancing that program, they're still testing that program.

And clearly, these recent tests, these launches are an indication of just how impatient and frustrated Kim Jong Un is getting. He's trying to send a strong signal to Trump that "We need to get back to the table and you, Trump, need to be more accommodating to my demands for sanctions relief."

So we really haven't reached any progress. But I will tell you, Jim, I do think that the way President Trump reacted to these launches was appropriate. You know, he could have launched into fire and fury again and said it back, but he didn't. Very measured approach to this. Didn't get too excited about it. Still leaving the door open to get back to talks. We're just going to have to see where it goes.

But clearly, they've achieved nothing.

SCIUTTO: What is the middle ground here? Where's the room for compromise? If U.S. intelligence agencies are assessing and telling the president that North Korea has no real intention of denuclearizing.

KIRBY: I think -- and I'm hoping that Steve Biegun is working on this -- is that they're working for partial trades, right? Partial sanctions relief for partial denuclearization efforts --

SCIUTTO: Right.

KIRBY: -- that are verifiable. And that obviously is key. You've got to be able to trust what you're seeing on the ground. But right now, at least in the wake of Hanoi, you've got these very extreme positions. "We're not going to give you sanctions relief until you fully denuclearize."

SCIUTTO: Right.

KIRBY: "We're not going to denuclearize until you give us full sanctions relief." And that's where we ended up with the walkout.

SCIUTTO: There's been some reporting that Kim is aware of a political dynamic here, that President Trump wants to be able to claim some sort of victory as he gets into 2020, he does not want to admit defeat here. And that Kim is taking advantage of that --

KIRBY: Yes.

SCIUTTO: -- in effect, by pushing this out. Is he playing Trump?

KIRBY: Yes. I think there's some truth to that, Jim. And we talked about this when we were in Hanoi. He, Kim, has the clock on his side. Because he knows Trump's only got two more years left in his term. He might not get re-elected.

And so "Why do I want to get too far down the road to denuclearizing and harming my own security posture if I may be dealing with a president -- very different president than Donald Trump, who is going to be less willing to negotiate and to talk about sanctions relief going forward?"

So, yes, he's definitely got the clock on his mind, Kim does --

SCIUTTO: Right.

KIRBY: -- and I think he is playing that.

SCIUTTO: Admiral John Kirby, thanks very much -- Poppy. [10:38:22] HARLOW: All right. A new poll out of New Hampshire shows

former Vice President Joe Biden with a big lead over all the other 2020 Dems. That is close to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' home turf, of course. So what does that tell us? And, yes, I know it is early days here. We'll discuss it next with David Axelrod.

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HARLOW: All right. A new poll, new Democratic primary poll out of New Hampshire, and it is really good news for Joe Biden. The former vice president isn't just sitting on top of the crowded field of Democrats, he is lapping the competition.

TEXT: If Democratic Primary Held Today, Among New Hampshire Dem Voters: Joe Biden, 36 percent; Sen. Bernie Sanders, 18 percent; Mayor Pete Buttigieg, 9 percent; Sen. Elizabeth Warren, 8 percent; Sen Kamala Harris, 6 percent

The new Monmouth University poll shows Biden with twice the percentage of those who like him at this point -- early days -- 36 percent to 18 percent. Second place goes to Bernie Sanders, of course, the senator from next door. Let's discuss with David Axelrod, former senior advisor to President Obama, and of course, host of the great show "AXE FILES" on CNN and the "AXE FILES" podcast.

Good morning, my friend.

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Poppy.

HARLOW: What do you make of those numbers? Is it more than name recognition?

AXELROD: No. Yes, I think it's more than name recognition because if you jump into the numbers, these are the things that this poll reveals. One is, overwhelmingly, voters in New Hampshire want a candidate they feel can beat Donald Trump. They prize that more than being ideologically in sync with the candidate. And they believe that Biden is that candidate.

And then when you get in the numbers about who's supporting him, he's doing very, very well among voters who call themselves "moderate" and "conservative." In New Hampshire, that's 58 percent of the Democratic primary electorate. There is this notion that somehow the Democratic primary electorate is very left. This electorate is moderate to conservative, and he is dominating that group with 45 percent of the vote to 10 percent for Bernie Sanders, who was in second.

HARLOW: Yes.

AXELROD: And then voters, older voters, voters 65 and older, he is winning with 53 percent of the vote. This is precisely the reason why the Trump campaign fears Joe Biden, because he has a reach into those very voters --

HARLOW: Yes. [10:45:00] AXELROD: -- who have -- who Donald Trump has done well

with in the past. So, you know, the poll is good news for Biden, who's gotten out of the gate very fast.

HARLOW: Sure.

AXELROD: But I always caution everyone that this is a marathon. It's a cliche, but it's true. We're at mile marker number four. And so there's many -- there are many miles to go.

HARLOW: There are many miles to go. That's for sure. Let's talk about Senator Kamala Harris, who is at 6 percent in this poll. "New York Times" piece --

AXELROD: Yes.

HARLOW: -- I know you saw -- talked about campaign strategy shift of hers to go more aggressively directly after the president. Good idea?

AXELROD: Yes, well, it's interesting. The other thing about Biden is, he did that. He jumped right to the general election. His message is, "It's me and him. I'm not bothering with this primary field." And that's been very effective.

And one of the groups that he's doing very well with is African- Americans. He's at 50 percent of the vote nationally with African- Americans. That's clearly a group that Kamala Harris hopes to do well with. And she went to the NAACP and gave -- in Detroit, and gave a blistering speech in which she put the president in -- in the center ring of her attacks.

I think that she is trying to fight her way into the game with both --

HARLOW: Yes.

AXELROD: -- voters of color and with progressive voters. And we'll see -- we'll see if that works.

HARLOW: So, also, in this race, is Senator Corey Booker of New Jersey. He likes to talk about it -- and he talks about it a lot -- being the only one running who's from, you know, urban America, big urban city. And Newark, a city that has struggled a lot.

And of course, he came out this week with his plan, his gun proposal, to have interviews as part of gun licensing in this country. You spoke with him extensively for your show, "AXE FILES." Let's just play a clip that really struck us.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. COREY BOOKER (D-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: So when I'm president of the United States, I'm taking a fight to this issue like folks will have never seen before. Because we're better than this as a country. It's a uniquely American problem. No other country has this kind of carnage. More people in my lifetime have died in this nation due to gun

violence than in all the wars from the Revolutionary War to now. We are not going to give thoughts and prayers, which to me is just bull (INAUDIBLE). I'm sorry to say that, as a man of faith. But I was taught that faith without works is dead.

We're going to bring a fight with everything that I have, to solve this problem. Because it's solvable and we know it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: I mean, David, you know what works for candidates and when there are passions to fight on issues, which this is clearly genuine for him and his passion. Really translates with voters.

AXELROD: And, Poppy, we should --

HARLOW: Yes, go ahead.

AXELROD: We should point out that Corey Booker lives in the inner city of Newark. Just a few days earlier, someone he knew had been killed nearby. He spoke about young people who he had mentored who were killed by gun violence.

We tend to focus on these mass shootings and they're tragic and they're awful. But if you live in those communities, this carnage goes on on a daily basis. He feels it deeply, and you can tell in that answer and throughout his discussion of this issue on the "AXE FILES," that this is something that he feels very, very passionately about.

And you're right. I think that candidates do best when they are talking about things that they genuinely feel passionately about.

HARLOW: Yes.

AXELROD: He genuinely feels passionately about this.

HARLOW: Yes. I think you're right. You see it with that, with Senator Amy Klobuchar when she talks about addiction and talks about her father, right? You can --

AXELROD: Absolutely.

HARLOW: -- it translates. All right. Thank you very much, David. Look forward to the full interview --

AXELROD: All right, Poppy.

HARLOW: -- of course. It's on your show.

AXELROD: Thank you.

[10:48:40] HARLOW: David sits down for an extensive interview with Senator Corey Booker. Watch it on "AXE FILES," tomorrow, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, only right here on CNN. We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

SCIUTTO: The numbers at the border of asylum-seekers, just off the charts. This fiscal year could surpass 900,000 people, first time since the mid-2000s. I'm pleased to be joined, now, by the U.S. Border Patrol chief, Carla Provost.

Chief, thanks so much for taking the time.

CARLA PROVOST, CHIEF, UNITED STATES BORDER PATROL: Thanks for having me, Jim. I really appreciate it.

SCIUTTO: That's a big jump at the border in recent weeks. Why is this happening now?

PROVOST: Well, I can tell you, it's slowly been progressing. Ever since families have heard the word that if you bring a child, you will be released. So they're talking to their family members. Smugglers are encouraging them.

We -- as we interview the individuals in our custody, they're telling us that they're being told, "If I come -- if I come with a child, I will be released."

SCIUTTO: Does the show of force at the border -- deployment of troops and even the president's rhetoric, some of which I'm sure they've heard, does that affect the dynamic at all? I mean, do some people come imagining, "Well, I'd better come now because the policy may change"? Or is it just down to the smugglers?

PROVOST: It's down to the smugglers. The smugglers are telling them to come. This is a profit for them. They are looking at this -- they look at the migrants as a commodity. And they put them at risk. They're not telling the families how dangerous of a journey it's going to be along the way, and they truly don't care about them. They care about the money that they're making.

SCIUTTO: Right. I know you're a career member of the CBP. And I respect that. I just want to ask you -- let's separate the politics. What would work at the border for you? What changes do you need to see made?

PROVOST: Well, we certainly absolutely have to be able to detain family units together throughout the immigration process, until they can get to have their day in court. That is critical because the fact that they know that they're going to be released right now is creating a pull factor for them coming.

For instance, currently, I have more people in my custody than I have Border Patrol agents along the southwest border.

SCIUTTO: Wow, yes. So, you change that. And I imagine family separation is not something you see as having a positive effect?

PROVOST: No. I don't see us moving in that direction, as I stated. We need to be able to detain families together. Currently, because of the Flores Settlement Agreement, we cannot do that. We cannot hold families longer than 20 days, and the immigration process takes more than 20 days.

[10:55:03] SCIUTTO: And I imagine, then, you need more judges to be able to adjudicate those cases?

PROVOST: Definitely.

SCIUTTO: And is it your view that as they come and as they're questioned, that these are principally economic migrants, right? Or folks fleeing danger at home?

PROVOST: The majority of them that we interview are economic migrants. They're coming from poverty-stricken countries and unfortunately, that does not meet the asylum regulations for them. So it's -- it is the economic factors that are pushing. Some of them do have asylum claims. But then we have the pull factor of, if you bring a child, you will be released.

SCIUTTO: Chief Provost, thanks very much for taking the time and we hope we can keep --

(CROSSTALK)

PROVOST: Thanks for having me.

SCIUTTO: -- up (ph) the conversation.

HARLOW: Yes.

SCIUTTO: Poppy, to you.

HARLOW: Such an important interview, Jim. I'm glad she joined us.

All right. Still to come, those trade talks happening right now between negotiators from the U.S. and China. This as the president significantly hikes tariffs on Chinese imports. We'll have a live update ahead.

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