Return to Transcripts main page


Trump's False Claim; Bailout for Farmers; Robert Mueller's Testimony; Judge Orders Smollett Case Documents Unsealed. Aired 9:30- 10a ET

Aired May 24, 2019 - 09:30   ET


[09:32:06] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, the market just opening here. You've got the Dow up 146 points right now. This is after a big slide yesterday. Top of mind for investors, how long this trade war with China is going to last, how it could affect all of us.

Joining me now, chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

And, Romans, I was on a trading floor yesterday and I asked them, what's going on here. They said the three t's, Trump, trade and tech.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right, and all three of those things go together when you talk about the trade battle here. You know, it's sinking in that the trade war might not be over any time soon. The president is signaling his tariff regime with China is here to stay by bailing out American farmers, who he says are being attacked by China and those retaliatory tariffs. The president promising $16 billion in aid and said that China, China with charges and tariffs was going to pay for it. That, of course, is not true. China is not paying for the farmer rescue, just likes Mexico is not paying for the president's border wall.

Trump does not have a magic bank account with tariff revenue that he can write a check from. It comes from all the money that's in the Treasury coffers, just like everything else. It just doesn't work like that.

Now, the program the USDA, the Ag Department, wants to use began as a depression era emergency facility meant for economic disaster. Essentially the White House confirming the president's trade war is a disaster for farmers. And farmers will not be made whole by this. The bailout won't be enough to cover everything they've lost because of the trade war. The National Corn Growers Association said the last bailout amounted to a penny a bushel for corn.

Farmers don't want bailouts. They want access to global markets. Farmers are the collateral damage here. And there's new evidence that American consumers are paying the tariffs not China. The New York Fed reported the latest increase in tariffs on China is costing the average American household $831 a year.

Now, something to think about her. In the greatest capitalist economy in the world, the president of the United States is picking the winners and the losers. He's essentially affecting a transfer of wealth from consumers, who ultimately pay those tariffs, to farmers, who are being hurt by his policies. And small farmers feeling it the most here.


ROMANS: They, you know, as Miguel Marquez, who is in Iowa today, said so eloquently, if today you resolve this, it would still be months and years before farmers could figure out how to get back on their feet here.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes. Exactly.

Christine, thank you.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

HARLOW: Important reporting. Appreciate it.

With me now is one of those more small scale farmers who is feeling the brunt of this who says now that the second round of bailouts in coming, he is still waiting to see the benefits from the first round. With me now is fourth generation farmer John Boyd Jr., the founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association.

Good morning, sir. Thank you for being with me.


HARLOW: How is it possible that you still have not seen a penny, you say, from the first $12 billion bailout for farmers?

BOYD: Well, you know, historically, when subsidy payments go out to farmers around the country, black farmers are seemingly always left out of the equation, or their payments are a fraction of what they should be. And even the proposed payments that the president is talking about today, they are leaving out that millions of dollars would go to foreign countries such as Brazil and large scale companies like Smithfield Foods will receive these type of subsidies.

[09:35:24] This administration has failed small scale farmers, has failed black farmers like myself. I've been reaching out to this administration to talk about the effects of tariffs to my farming operation and it has a rippling effect, it's going to hurt the timber industry, truckers, all of these people will be affected. So anytime you losing timber off your farm and you can't get a fair price for your crop, the president says this is going to be a great time to be a farmer. That's the wrong message to send out to the American people where farmers like myself are suffering at the hands of this administration and the tariffs have hurt farmers.

HARLOW: Let me -- I'm from Minnesota and so much of our economy relies on farming as well. I'll never forget a video about a month ago of a dairy farmer in tears, a young man in tears, because of what he's faced in terms of prices, et cetera. For you, I was reading that your soybean crops have gone from about $16.80 a bushel down to $8. I mean that's the reality of what you're facing.

BOYD: Yes.

HARLOW: If you were to get the money, of the bailout money, sir, were to come to you from the $12 billion or now the new $16 billion package, let's hope it does come, is that what you want ultimately or do you want a fundamental trade change?

BOYD: No. Farmers want free trade. Farmers want a fair price for their commodity. When I harvest my crop, I simply want to load my truck up, take it to my local grain elevator and get a fair price for that crop. I'm not interested in going to apply for additional moneys at USDA that I will probably never get, going through the paper shuffle and going through the calls of speaking to numerous people about how to get these payments. That's not what farmers need.

We need to reopen these doors to places like China, who had -- who was purchasing 90 percent of U.S. soybeans.

HARLOW: Right.

BOYD: And this administration has failed to open up new markets. And that's what's hurting us here.

HARLOW: Let me --

BOYD: So you take away the biggest market and don't open up, you know, new doors for farmers.

HARLOW: Let me ask you this finally, sir. Obviously you've been a vocal critic of the president for a while on this front. You're a Democrat. I believe you ran for public office at one point. I'm interested --

BOYD: Yes.

HARLOW: I'm sure you've got a lot of Republican friends, sir, right, who are farmers, who voted for the president. I'm --

BOYD: Well --

HARLOW: Well, let me just finish the question. I'm just interested in if those Republican farmers are sticking with the president on this or if they're telling you this is enough?

BOYD: They seem to be sticking with the president. And I can't understand why. You know, what is it going to take for them to say, listen, we need some type of new leadership. We need something here. We need a person that can bring this country together and bring it together for small people, both black, white, blue, green and brown. What this administration seemingly has left out people like myself. When we've asked to meet with the president, asked to meet with the Agriculture secretary, the Agriculture secretary says, just talk about the tariffs, he talks to black farmers every day during his -- during his official rounds and he doesn't turn down any invitations. He turned down my invitation. And if he's watching this show today, the door is still open to talk about these tariffs because that's what America is supposed to be about. Even though I don't agree with him, we should be able to sit down at the table and come up with some amenable things that can help everybody, not just some people, not the just large scale farmers and big companies, but people that look like me, too.

HARLOW: John Boyd Jr., thank you very much. And we are out of time, but I just want to say how sorry I am that you had to face that racial slur that was spray painted on the dumpster at the entrance to your farm.

BOYD: Well, thank you.

HARLOW: That shouldn't happy to anyone. And I'm so sorry that it happened to you.

BOYD: And to America that's watching, love is greater than hate.

HARLOW: There you go.

BOYD: And I believe that God is sitting high and looking low and I forgive those people. I forgive them. I don't appreciate what they've done and there's a difference between forgiveness and love. Love is greater than hate, people.

HARLOW: Wow, what a message. Thank you and good luck to you, John Boyd Jr.

BOYD: Thank you.

HARLOW: We appreciate it.

BOYD: Thank you.

[09:39:34] HARLOW: All right, so back in Washington, the House Judiciary chair is shedding new light on the possibility of the special counsel, Bob Mueller, testifying before Congress. Why he says that Mueller wants that testimony to happen now in private.


HARLOW: All right, welcome back.

So it appears this morning Robert Mueller is willing to testify before Congress, but House Judiciary Chair Jerry Nadler says the special counsel wants that testimony to be behind closed doors.


REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): He's willing to make an opening statement, but he wants to testify in private. And we're -- we're saying that he ought to -- we think it's important for the American people to hear from him and to hear his answers to questions about the report.


HARLOW: And it's not just Nadler calling for Mueller to testify before his committee. House Intel Chair Adam Schiff wants the same thing.

Let me bring in our congressional correspondent, Phil Mattingly. He joins me now.

So, I mean, the reasoning here is that Mueller doesn't want to appear political at all.


HARLOW: Right? Doesn't want -- I mean, think of -- think about Comey.

MATTINGLY: Yes. I think there's a lot of concern. Robert Mueller is not new to Washington.


MATTINGLY: He has seen how hearings go. He's been through his share of hearings when he was the FBI director and understands that they very quickly turn into political circuses and sideshows, if you will. And I think that's what you heard Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, last night first say publicly what we had reported a couple of days ago, that Mueller and his team were reticent about going up here because they didn't want him to become a political punching bag and become a political figure. He has stayed behind the scenes. He's not said anything over the course of the last two years publicly. And they prefer him to be in that place.

[09:45:27] The problem with that is, given the number of questions that are in the 400-page plus report in terms of, what was his intention, particularly in the second section on obstruction. Was he -- one of the big things Democrats have said is, it looks like he's been laying out a roadmap for potential impeachment or for Congress to take action, but nobody really knows. What are the questions about what the conversations were like with the attorney general? Things like that. Democrats want those in public. They want the hearing public. They want the TV spectacle of it because they're concerned that this report and what it details has kind of fallen by the wayside without that. So that's why you heard Nadler say that he wants this in public.

I've talked to a lot of Democrats. They are counting on this being in public. What Nadler said is they have offered a public statement and then going behind these closed doors and then perhaps releasing a transcript. Everybody I'm talking to on Capitol Hill right now on the Democratic side says that's not going to be enough, but we'll have to see.

As you can expect, the president, obviously, is tweeting about this, this morning, saying he doesn't understand why they would want Bob Mueller to come up. They just want a do over. Democrats have made very clear, they want him to come up because they want the focus and attention on this report and they have a lot of questions they want answered, Poppy.

HARLOW: Yes, I don't know which way this one's going to go. We'll watch. Phil, thanks so much.

It is a multi-million dollar deal between Harvey Weinstein and victims of his alleged sexual misconduct. We'll tell you about that, next.


[09:51:05] HARLOW: Disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein has agreed to pay $44 million in a settlement to resolve civil lawsuits over his alleged sexual misconduct. The settlement has nothing to with his criminal case, however, and that's very important.

Our national correspondent Brynn Gingras is with me with more.

Right, because otherwise that could be seen as some sort of admission. So it has nothing to do with the criminal case.

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: (INAUDIBLE), but it's going to be interesting to see --


GINGRAS: To see how these more than 80 people who have come forward, this money gets divvied up to who? So that money, though, this is also important, it's coming from insurance policies that not Weinstein himself, according to his brother, Bob Weinstein's attorney, Adam Harris.

Now, Harris mentioned this deal in court to a bankruptcy judge in Delaware. And this settlement is in response to the New York attorney general's civil lawsuit filed last year against Harvey and Bob Weinstein and their former film studio, Weinstein Company, which the brothers sold a year ago. The AG suit claimed egregious violations of New York's civil rights, human rights and business laws and noted claims of employee victim sexual harassment, intimidation and other misconduct. Of course, we've reported on dozens of those accounts.

Now, according to a source, this is how the $44 million settlement would be divvied up. $14 million would go to legal fees to Weinstein associates who are named as defendants in that suit, and $30 million would go to alleged victims, creditors, and former employees of the Weinstein Company.

Now, one of those victims named in that suit is Paz de la Huerta, who accused Weinstein of rape on two different occasions in 2010. Her lawyer said the settlement, quote, is positive for the victims involved and that this helps them avoid the stress and trauma of full litigation.

Now, the details of the settlement still need to be approved by the judge at a hearing in June. Weinstein's spokesman and the attorney general's office would not comment about this. But again, keep in mind, this does not have anything to do with the five criminal charges that Weinstein's still facing. He's accused, of course, of raping a woman in a hotel room in 2013, to remind you, and forcibly performing oral sex on another woman in 2006. And that trial is coming up, September.

HARLOW: That will be the trial here in New York?

GINGRAS: Yes, the criminal trial. So --

HARLOW: We'll be on it.

Thank you, Brynn.

GINGRAS: Absolutely.

HARLOW: We appreciate it very much.


HARLOW: Also, we'll soon get a look at documents in the Jussie Smollett case, now that a judge has decided to unseal the files. Of course, he's the actor who was accused of staging a racist and homophobic attack on himself, but prosecutors unexpectedly dropped all 16 felony counts against him back in March. Several media outlets, including CNN, fought to get those court records released.

My colleague, Sara Sidner, is with me on those details.

What do we know? What are they going to show?

SARA SIDNER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, we're expecting to see documents within the state's attorney's office there in Cook County that would maybe shed some light on exactly why there was this very surprise and sudden dismissal of all charges against Jussie Smollett, though Smollett did relinquish his $10,000 bond, which went to -- back to the city, but he did not admit any wrongdoing and has maintained his innocence throughout. But it was a surprise to a lot of people that this case was suddenly dismissed.

What we have already received are some documents from the courts. And I'll give you some examples of what are in those documents -- many of the things that we already know. For example, the court, you see the actual sealed stamp that the court put onto the document, so you couldn't even see the sealing order that the judge put forward, and that's because of a law, a newly enacted law in Illinois that is basically to try to protect people who have been exonerated or who have had their charges dismissed, to keep them from not being able to get employment, for example.

But the judge decided after media companies like CNN, "The New York Times," and others came forward and said, look, this is an exceptional case because he is a public figure, and the judge agreed that he brought a lot of the publicity on himself. He is the one that made this public. And so now all the documents involving what the state's attorney's office decided to do and how they decided to dismiss this case should be open to the public.

[09:55:08] Prosecutors, we learned from the courts, also didn't object to sealing those documents. But, certainly, there is a lot of information that people are expecting to see as to how this all happened. And I think a lot of the people in the public want to see that as well, Poppy.

HARLOW: Of course they do. There's huge interest in this.


HARLOW: Sara Sidner, you've been on the story. Stay on it. We appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

So, the president, overnight, giving his attorney general more power to investigate the investigators, and he's ordering the intelligence agencies of this country all to comply with that. We have that ahead.

Also, join CNN Monday night for a special comedy special that's bigger than both sides. "Colin Quinn: Red State Blue State" premieres Memorial Day, 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.