Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Retailers Warn of Pain from Trade War; Utah Judge Suspended for Criticizing President Trump; Climbers Die on Mount Everest; Pagenaud Wins Indy 500; Honoring Fallen Service Members. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired May 27, 2019 - 06:30   ET


[06:30:00] JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: Past four days. Now, at a news conference earlier this morning, President Trump was casting doubt about ending the trade war with China, saying the U.S. is not ready to make a deal.

The president also falsely claimed that American taxpayers are paying only a, quote, small percentage of the tariffs. But shoppers may be in for a rude awakening when the new tariffs kick in, in the form of higher prices.

We've got CNN's Cristina Alesci live at Macy's here in New York with more.

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John, this plaza behind me, it's going to be full of people shopping today. There are big sales.

But make no mistake about it, U.S. companies and consumers are -- are starting to grapple with the results of the trade war. And despite what President Trump and his administration say, it's the U.S. companies and the U.S. consumers who are paying the price of this trade war with China.

And these retailers, Macy's included, Walmart, Target, Home Depot, all warning that they're going to have to do one of two things, either raise prices on consumers or take a hit to their bottom line. That's because the increase in tariffs is now, in effect, on the existing products that face these levies. That list, which we have for you, includes luggage, mattresses, handbags, vacuum cleaners.

But it's also the threat that President Trump is putting out there that he's going to impose tariffs on an additional $300 billion of Chinese goods. That would eventually tax all goods coming in from China. That's the thing that's got retailers very nervous. In fact, Macy's CEO said last week on an earnings call, quote, looking at all of those categories and those brands that are included, it's hard to do the math to find a path that get you to a place where you do not have a consumer impact.

John, this is not anecdotal. If you listen to the earnings calls of all of these companies, what you will hear is tariffs, tariffs, tariffs. Twenty-nine companies have mentioned that word on earnings calls in the last three months versus seven about a year ago.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: That's really interesting, Cristina, to get that kind of context from you. Thank you very much for all of that reporting.

Now to this story. A Utah judge, suspended without pay for six months, for criticizing President Trump online and in his courtroom.

CNN's Scott McLean is live in Denver with more.

What is this about, Scott?


This was not a one-off remark, nor is it the first time that Judge Michael Kwan has been at odds with ethics rules. Now, his lawyer points out that he presides over the lowest level of court in the state of Utah. He is in no position to be deciding on national issues or presidential policies. But the Utah Supreme Court has ruled that argument misses the point. And now there are consequences.


MCLEAN (voice over): It's not hard to find harsh criticism aimed at the president. Where you don't expect to find it is inside a courtroom. But a municipal judge in suburban Salt Lake City has been sanctioned for just that, taking public potshots at President Trump.

Just days after the 2016 election, Judge Michael Kwan wrote on FaceBook, think I'll go to the shelter to adopt a cat before the president-elect grabs them all, an apparent reference to the "Access Hollywood" tape.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (2005): And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.

BILLY BUSH (2005): Whatever you want.

TRUMP: (2005): Grab 'em by the (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

MCLEAN: On Inauguration Day, Kwan wrote about his disdain for President Trump. The next month he wrote, welcome to the beginning of the fascist takeover. The jabs even made it into his courtroom. Kwan once suggested a defendant not rely on his tax refund to pay fines because the president was building a wall. So if you think you're going to get taxes back this year, uh, yeah, maybe, maybe not. But, don't worry, there's a tax cut for the wealthy.

Greg Skordas is Kwan's lawyer.

GREG SKORDAS, JUDGE KWAN'S LAWYER: We had argued unsuccessfully that judges are humans too, that judges have opinions, that so long as that opinion doesn't detract from their ability to judge, to handle their cases appropriately, and doesn't detract from their credibility, they should be allowed to do that.

MCLEAN: The Utah Supreme Court disagreed, writing, Judge Kwan's behavior denigrates his reputation as an impartial, independent, dignified and courteous jurist and that his postings continue a pattern of inappropriate political commentary.

In 2005, Kwan made lewd comments in court about President Clinton's affair. In 2015 he was president of an Asian-American political advocacy group. He resigned after a judicial commission found his involvement unethical. He was publically scolded in both cases, but the supreme court felt he hadn't learned his lesson, ordering a six- month suspension without pay, a punishment Skordas called excessive.

SKORDAS: I think he feels like he's been muzzled in a way that's inappropriate, but I think he also recognizes that that's the law and he intends to abide by it.

MCLEAN: Kwan doesn't rule on national pro political cases, only small claims and misdemeanors, but the court ruled that doesn't matter.

[06:35:03] MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, MIDDLE DISTRICT OF GEORGIA: Maybe you're a Trump supporter and you appear in front of him. You're going to feel like you weren't treated fairly because this judge had bad feelings about Trump.

And our system works because people have to have confidence in the system.


MCLEAN: Now, Kwan's lawyer says that the city that employs the judge is under no obligation to rehire him after the suspension ends. And so this could potentially mark the end of his career. Now, judges in Utah are appointed, but they have to be retained by voters every six years. And so if Kwan does rejoin the bench, voters get their say on him again in 2022.

Now, Kwan has no plans at this point to appeal the court's decision. And despite his lawyer's urging, he also has no plans to delete his FaceBook account.


AVLON: A surreal story. Thank you.

Well, nine people have died trying to climb Mount Everest just this year. The question is, could these deaths be prevented? We've got shocking scenes at the summit, next.


CAMEROTA: Nine climbers, including four in just the last week, have died trying to scale Mount Everest this year. The tragedies raising concerns that overcrowding near the summit is making the ascent even more treacherous than usual.

[06:40:07] CNN's Arwa Damon is live for us in Kathmandu, Nepal, with more.

What's happening this year, Arwa?


And if you look at some of those photographs that climbers have been posting to Instagram that show the ridiculously long line of climbers waiting to reach the summit, you begin to get a bit of an idea of exactly what is going on. This backlog resulted in waits of about two to three hours for some people trying to make the summit in what is known as the death zone. And this is called that because in this particular area, the last area one needs to cross before actually reaching the peak, there is about a third the level of oxygen as there is in -- at sea level. And we have been hearing about more and more deaths due to climbers succumbing to altitude sickness, mostly while they are on their way down.

And it does seem as if a number of climbers were aware of the heightened risk this climbing season. A British climber, Robin Hayes- Fisher (ph), who died on his way down, had posted to Instagram a photograph talking about his concerns. In it he said, with a single route to the summit, delays caused by overcrowding could prove fatal so I am hopeful my decision to go for the 25th will mean fewer people. Unless, of course, everyone else plays the same waiting game.

But despite the fact that he was aware of these risks, he did end up dying along with at least nine other people, a number that does continue to rise.

There has been a lot of criticism levelled at the Nepalese government as to how many permits they have been issued. There are also a lot of concerns about the number of inexperienced climbers attempting to make this. We spoke to a very experienced mountaineer who said that if nothing changes, John, this could happen again next year and the years afterwards.

AVLON: I mean it's just so extraordinary to see this human traffic jam in the death zone.

CAMEROTA: The gridlock at the top of Mount Everest.


CAMEROTA: Arwa, that's just incredible. I mean if you read "Into Thin Air," as so many people did, you realize that there's lots of people who are not experienced enough to do this but who want this as a badge of honor. And it makes it deadly for everyone around them as well.

AVLON: Yes. The radius of damage and nine deaths in just the last little while is an extraordinary reminder of, this is not a badge. It is a real risk that people are taking.

Extraordinary reporting from Kathmandu. Thank you, Arwa.

All right, we had some drama at the end of the Indy 500. Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

Andy, whatcha (ph) got?


You know, the Indy 500, it's known as the greatest spectacle in racing. And it definitely lived up to the hype this year. More than a quarter of a million people were on hand at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the big race and Simon Pagenaud and Alexander Rossi, a battle for the ages at the end, trading the lead five times in the closing laps. It would be Pagenaud from France winning by two-tenths of a second. And he spoke with CNN's Patrick Snell after the race and said winning the Indy 500 was a dream come true.


SIMON PAGENAUD, INDIANAPOLIS 500 WINNER: I dreamt about this moment. I always believed. And I worked really hard (ph) to get to this point.

Never give up. And that's a lesson I want to tell all the kids, if there are any kids watching, just never give up. Always believe in your dream. Work hard. If you think it's hard, work even harder. And if you do, it's going to happen, trust me.


SCHOLES: Now, that's a great message.

Two weeks from tomorrow the United States are going to take the pitch for their first game in the women's world cup. And yesterday they had their final tune-up against Mexico and they had a special guest perform the national anthem.


SCHOLES: Yes, that's 96-year-old World War II veteran Pete DuPre. He's known as "Harmonica Pete." Just an awesome, awesome rendition. Definitely set the tone for the game. Team USA would win 3-0. And I'll tell you what, guys --

AVLON: Love it.

SCHOLES: Just impressed of the lung capacity that he still has at 96. I probably couldn't do that now.

CAMEROTA: There's something so poignant about that sound of that harmonica.

AVLON: Harmonica Pete. I love it.

CAMEROTA: That rendition of it. That was really beautiful. Thanks so much, Andy.

AVLON: Thanks, Andy.

SCHOLES: All right. CAMEROTA: OK, the true meaning of Memorial Day, remembering those who have died fighting for our country. Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling continues his tradition here on NEW DAY of honoring the fallen who died under his command. He's next.


[06:48:43] CAMEROTA: For many people Memorial Day is the holiday weekend that unofficially kicks off summer. But the holiday's true meaning, of course, is to honor fallen service members who gave their lives for the country.

Retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling has a special way of remember those heroes who died under his command.

And General Hertling joins us now.

General, it's great to see you.

And we always appreciate you being here on NEW DAY and sort of sharing your own personal ritual with us.

We know you have this box that you carry around with you of heroes. And so tell us who you want to bring to our attention today.


And no emotions this morning, but, yes, I've got the box right here. The box a few of us have with "make it matter" on the top. You can see it here.

But today you ask about individuals in the past because on every day I keep this box on my desk and I pick one or two cards out and try and remember the kinds of people that were -- that I was lucky enough to serve with who made the ultimate sacrifice. And you've always asked me in the past, who were the folks that I was honoring on Memorial Day.

And just by coincidence, I got a call from one of our former battalion commanders that was with us in Iraq. And he said, hey, sir, I've got to tell you about this great thing I just learned about Specialist Arturo Horta Cruz (ph). He said -- he says all of his NCO battle buddies would come on a yearly basis to his grave site here in Florida, in Tampa, and visit with the grave and made sure the grave was taken care of. And they did this every single Memorial Day. And he says it not only says so much about Specialist Cruz, but it also talks about the professionalism of the NCO corps in the military and also how they will never forget their fallen comrade.

[06:50:42] CAMEROTA: That's really beautiful. And -- but just tell us a little bit personally about Specialist Cruz, because I understand he was not a U.S. citizen. And so what would make him -- you know, what would make him motivated to pay the ultimate sacrifice or at least take the risk of doing that for a country that hadn't yet given him citizenship. HERTLING: Yes, he was not a citizen. His parents were from Mexico. He

was an immigrant along with them. And he was, in fact, studying for his citizenship test even in combat.

A young man, about 20 years old when he was killed. He was born in 1985. He died in 2008. From Florida. And he was studying for the test and, in fact, was given his citizenship posthumously.

What's interesting about this young man is, he was chosen as the company commander's driver. Now anyone that's been in the military knows that that's a high honor and you really want the best to be next to the company commander. His commander was a guy named Drew Lynch (ph), who is now a lieutenant colonel commanding a battalion in Hawaii. And the two of them were hit with an IED on the 14th of April, 2008. Obviously Cruz was hurt seriously, fatally. Lynch was also injured. He lost an eye in the attack. Even though he's now commanding a battalion, he had serious injuries. Tried to crawl from the Humvee and call in a medevac for his buddy. And couldn't quite do it. They were outside of Tuz (ph), Iraq.

So this is a bond that's been formed with a young man who joins the military for a better life but who also wants to contribute to liberty and really the things that America stands for, our national values, respect one another, liberty for people and freedom for all.

CAMEROTA: General, of course, Memorial Day is so hard for so many families who have lost their loved ones, but it can also be hard for the survivors. And I know that you experienced that. And so can you just share with us, you know, what is survivor's guilt and why it still plays so heavily in people's hearts.

HERTLING: Yes. I'll first comment on the first part, though, the gold star families, Alisyn, because this is a day that's very special for them. This is a -- there's a lot of memories. But this is the day that everyone is focused on those who sacrificed.

But the survivor's guilt is, I think, prevalent in anyone who is -- has seen or been around those who have sacrificed. You come home from war and you're a different person. You lose your innocence. And, in fact, for me on a daily basis, you know, every morning I wake up and when I say my morning prayer, one of the things I always question is, why -- why did I come home and so many didn't?

And that's -- that's a -- a philosophy that so many veterans have. And, in some cases, it's -- it's -- it's often overwhelming. They're guilty about the people who were killed that were their buddies. Why were they killed and why wasn't I taken? And I'm just reminded of that great -- that great line from the movie "Saving Private Ryan," where Captain Miller pulls Ryan in and says, earn this. You have to do your very best to continue to make sure people are civil to one another, that your country grows and that the society is strengthened.

So for those coming home, if you need help, first of all, get it. There are a lot of people out there who will talk to you. But, remember, one of the things you have to do is earn the fact that you're still alive while others have sacrificed the ultimate for the country.

CAMEROTA: General, that's really touching. And it's really powerful. And thank you very much for sharing your box of memories of these people with us. I know that you look in it every day. And we really appreciate you sharing this personal ritual with us on Memorial Day.

HERTLING: Thank you for doing it, Alisyn. A lot of people sometimes have to be reminded of the specialness of this weekend. And just reflect a little bit. And that's all we ask.

[06:55:01] CAMEROTA: I think you just did that. Thank you very much.


AVLON: So powerful. Earn this.

Now, President Trump is at a state dinner right now in Japan, but the president is making headlines from there on North Korea. We'll tell you what he said that had Japan's prime minister directly contradict him. That's next.