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Stocks Are Falling After President Trump Upped The Ante And His Bid To Secure The Southern Border; Judge Issued Ruling That Will Keep Missouri's Last Abortion Clinic From Closing; AG Bill Barr Lays Bare How Much He Disagreed With Mueller. Aired: 2-2:30p ET

Aired May 31, 2019 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00]

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Drew Griffin, thank you and that is it for me. NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi there, it is Friday. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Just an hour to go into trading day, stocks are falling after President Trump upped the ante and his bid to secure the southern border by threatening tariffs on one of the biggest trading partners with the United States, Mexico.

He says that if Mexico does not help stop the flow of immigrants, the U.S. will slap a new five percent tariff on all imports next month. And that number will increase five percent every month until it hits a maximum tariff at 25 percent in October.

Top Mexican officials swiftly condemned the move. The Foreign Minister, who by the way is on his way to Washington, says it makes zero economic sense, while adding that stopping Central American migrants is not Mexico's job.

And Mexico's President wrote an open letter to President Trump. I'll read part of it for you, quote, "... social problems are not resolved with tariffs or coercive measures. The Statue of Liberty is not an empty symbol. With all due respect, and while you have the sovereign right to express it, your slogan 'America First' is a fallacy ..."

On Capitol Hill, some Republican lawmakers are voicing concern about the action and the President's ability to exercise it. At the White House, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders pushed back on all of this criticism.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Congress should actually fix the laws and we wouldn't have this problem. Mexico should engage with us and we wouldn't have to take any additional steps. But at the same time, the number one duty that the President of the United States has is national security and to protect Americans. It's a humanitarian and national security crisis. And it has to be dealt with.

Unfortunately, the President is the only one that's actually stepping up and putting forward things to stop it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: That's the White House in a blunt statement, Volkswagen the world's largest car maker is leaving no doubt about the impact telling CNN quote, "We believe the tariffs of this kind are attacks on the U.S. consumer and will result in higher prices and also threaten job growth."

So let's start with Alison Kosik, she's our CNN Business correspondent there live down at the New York Stock Exchange. And when it comes to these auto companies today, how are the markets fairing for them?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Those automakers really getting hit hard down anywhere from three to five percent. As far as the overall markets go, we have about two hours to go before the closing bell. And it looks like the Dow is on track to close below 25,000 for the first time in four months.

One trader telling me, he thinks it's a complete disaster, President Trump's threat to impose this five percent tariff on all goods coming from Mexico. Why? Because it introduces again another layer of uncertainty in the financial markets and it messes with the overall economy. It creates an even bigger downward pressure.

As I said, those automakers are really getting hit head on because all of our auto manufacturers here in the U.S. depend on Mexican auto parts to build their trucks and cars.

Deutsche Bank thinks that if these tariffs do go into effect, it could add $10 billion in cost just to the auto industry. And guess who's going to wind up paying all that? The consumer looking to buy those cars and trucks, an estimated $1,300.00 per vehicle.

And that's not it, consumers could also wind up paying more in, as I said, vehicles, electrical machinery. Did you know Mexico was one of our biggest -- we import the most agricultural products from Mexico? So get ready, Brooke, your avocados and mangoes. Yes, they can go up in price as well.

BALDWIN: Yes, when you said $1,300.00 that is such a massive difference for everyone. Alison Kosik, I appreciate it. We've got our eyes on the markets here. Two hours to go with the trading day.

How about this, this announcement comes as CNN is learning stunning, new details about what is actually happening at one of the facilities along the border. A new government report share stories of what they're referring to a dangerous overcrowding and unsanitary conditions at an El Paso, Texas Border Patrol facility after a surprise inspection.

So I am talking about 900 people -- 900 at a facility that should only hold 125 and reports of detainees standing on toilets in the cells to make room so they can breathe. CNN's Polo Sandoval is in El Paso. I mean, I don't even have words, 900 in a facility that should hold 125? How? POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The report, you said it, Brooke,

you said it best, stunning is a word to describe that. However, it shouldn't really be that surprising when you really look back at what we have heard from various, not only administration officials, but also mainly members of the Department of Homeland Security, including the Secretary himself who testified before Congress only about a week ago, speaking to lawmakers and really sharing the story of these men and women in green who are basically processing these families and that are overwhelmed with these numbers.

[14:05:06] SANDOVAL: However, what's important about this report coming from the OIG's office, this is an independent view of what's happening inside. You mentioned one facility, only a short drive from where we are, the El Paso del Norte Processing Center, meant to house about 125 detainees at one point in early May, housing up to 900.

Now, it's still unclear the numbers are still looking like that. But there was one cell there that was meant to House about 35 people, investigators found it was housing up to 155 individuals. Investigators saying that corrective action needs to be taken.

And look, we're hearing from DHS at the end of the report is saying, it's what they had been saying, especially the last several months, the DHS specifically says at the end of the report that the speed in which illegal migrants are transiting through Mexico to reach the southern border, in their own words, is frustrating their efforts to respond quickly.

That being said, Brooke, do not be surprised as this OIG report is cited by administration officials, mainly the White House here, as they continue to claim that officials just south of the border in Mexico are just not doing enough to stem the flow -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: We'll come back to that point. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much. In El Paso, for more on this potential new trade war over the issue of immigration. Rebecca Lindland is an auto industry expert with more than 20 years of experience. She is a former executive analyst for Kelley Blue Book, and the founder of rebeccadrives.com. And so, great to have you on Rebecca. And, you know, just -- this is all about perspective, right?

So one analyst says that the fallout from these tariffs could be, quote, "the greatest blow to the U.S. auto industry since the Great Recession." I mean --

REBECCA LINDLAND, FOUNDER, REBECCADRIVES.COM: Right.

BALDWIN: I know -- you say nobody wins in the U.S. explain why Mexico in particular is so important to the U.S. auto industry?

LINDLAND: Exactly. Well, because we have a free trade agreement with them right now. And the entire industry -- automotive industry is founded on the parameters of that free trade, that tariff free exchange of parts and services.

So they make really high labor intensive parts in Mexico and South of Mexico. And then they import them into the U.S. and these products then go into an automobile.

And, you know, automobile has 30,000 parts. And if you're missing something as integral as a wire harness, which today carries all of your electronics and connects all of your phones and everything to your vehicle, you can't build a vehicle with that, and you won't be able to employ people.

BALDWIN: But you know, people will say, "Just get those auto parts somewhere else." You say, what?

LINDLAND: You can't, you can't. We are not a flexible industry. We are not an industry that can just go to a different supplier here or grab a part here. Everything is designated for that particular vehicle. And you know, this is about jobs. And it's about jobs in Mexico, as much as in the U.S.

And so, if we give Mexico more jobs and better jobs, the idea of immigration goes away because they don't need to move. They don't need to immigrate, we've given them good jobs. So, it's really a benefit to everybody if we utilize Mexico in the best possible way, which is what's happening now. That's how we're utilizing them.

BALDWIN: Our reporter off the top went through how this would affect the U.S. consumer, right? We know Volkswagen calls the tariffs attacks on U.S. consumers and a job threat. Both GM and Ford had previously said that their costs increased because of Trump's 2018 tariffs on steel and aluminum. So now he's adding Mexico to the mix. What does that do for -- what did these companies do because of this?

LINDLAND: It's going to make a vehicle more expensive. And we're already looking at a vehicle, average new vehicle cost of over $35,000.00 a year. And what that is creating is a longer loan term.

So people are borrowing for a longer period of time, which is actually keeping money out of the economy for them to spend on something else. So, if you raise the price of a car, they're not going to be able to spend it at a restaurant or at you know, on other -- in other retail locations because more of their money is going to go towards getting their car.

So this really will have a very negative ripple effect throughout the economy with the increase in prices.

BALDWIN: Rebecca Lindland, thank you so much.

LINDLAND: Thank you.

BALDWIN: We'll move away from this for now. How about this big question today, did Kim Jong-un execute his top negotiator and imprison another after the failed Summit with President Trump? We have reaction from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; and Attorney General Bill Barr speaking out for the first time since Robert Mueller broke his silence on the Russia investigation. Why Barr says he and Mueller sparred?

And the State of Missouri was said to be the first state without an abortion clinic by tonight but the breaking news is, that may not be the after all. We will tell you what just happened. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Breaking News into CNN. A judge just issued a ruling that will keep Missouri's last abortion clinic from closing for now. It was hours away from being forced to close. Let's go straight to CNN's Alexandra Field who is live in St. Louis.

[14:15:08] BALDWIN: So Alex, tell me more about this decision and is it permanent or no?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Look, I just got off the phone with Planned Parenthood, Brooke, and they are calling this a temporary victory. That's because the license was set to expire tonight. That would mean that women across the state had no access to abortion whatsoever.

They have been spared, that clock was running out. At this point, they can continue to operate at least until June 4th. And that's when the next court hearing has been scheduled for.

Today, was the big day because this was the day when that license was set to expire. They went -- they argued in court just a day ago against the State to talk about the kind of injury that this would cause to women across the State if they were not able to continue to operate.

It seems that a judge has heard them, they were arguing for a temporary restraining order. And they have at least a few more days to continue their operations.

To walk this back a little bit for our viewers, this is essentially a regulatory fight, a licensing fight that's happened over at the sole remaining abortion clinic in the State.

Planned Parenthood went to court because they were arguing essentially, that there's a war on abortion in this State. And they say that the State is basically trying to regulate abortion out of existence.

Their license to operate was not being renewed. And that would mean that there were no abortion clinics left. The state said no, there were health violations. And the state also said that there was an ongoing investigation into medical records that that's why the license had not been renewed.

But it seems, for now at least, a judge is giving Planned Parenthood at least a few more days to operate before this can be heard again here in this court -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Got it, we'll have the conversation again when it happens. Alex Field, thank you very much.

In a new interview, Attorney General Bill Barr lays bare just how much he disagreed with Special Counsel Robert Mueller and critical parts of the Mueller report.

Barr told CBS News that when Mueller asserted that there were at least 10 cases of obstruction of justice against this President, Mueller's analysis went against that of the Department of Justice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: We analyzed the law and the facts, and a group of us spent a lot of time doing that and determined that both as a matter of law, many of the instances would not amount to obstruction.

So, we didn't agree with the legal analysis. A lot of the legal analysis in the report, it did not reflect the views of the Department, it was the views of a particular lawyer or lawyers, and so we applied what we thought was the right law.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Julian Epstein, served as the Chief Counsel for the House Judiciary Democrats during Bill Clinton's impeachment. Julian, nice to have you back. You know, you hear Barr say he just didn't agree with Mueller's legal analysis. So based upon everything that I know you have read, whose analysis do you think is correct?

JULIAN EPSTEIN, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL FOR THE HOUSE JUDICIARY DEMOCRATS: Well, nice to be with you as well, Brooke. You know, Mueller in the report lays out about a dozen instances in which the President could have obstructed justice.

He keys in on four or five areas where he says there's substantial evidence that the President obstructed justice, and that really -- those really involved the effort to either fire Mueller or limit the investigation to future interference, as well as the dangling of the pardon to Manafort.

I think there's a rather compelling case. I think most legal experts that look at it, think that there's a rather compelling case that there was obstruction of justice, at least in those four or five areas. Mueller was quite specific, that he didn't reach a determination one way or the other.

You can have substantial evidence of obstruction and the prosecutor can decide not to prosecute for a whole bunch of reasons. But I think the weight of opinion in at least independent legal community tends to think that at least in four or five areas, it would be a pretty juicy case for a prosecutor, if they could proceed with the prosecution.

BALDWIN: Got it. Let me play one more clip, this is Bill Barr saying this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARR: I think one of the ironies today is that people are saying that it's President Trump that's shredding or institutions. I really see no evidence of that. From my perspective, the idea of resisting a democratically-elected

President and basically throwing everything at him and, you know, really changing the norms on the grounds that we have to stop this President. That's where the shredding of our norms and our institutions is occurring.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Julian, no evidence of shredding our institutions. I mean, I see your smile. How can he say that -- how can you say that with a straight face?

EPSTEIN: I find it hard. You know, I actually did a little bit of work with -- when Barr was Attorney General in the '90s and working with him, I found him to be a stand-up guy.

BALDWIN: Yes.

EPSTEIN: I think it's hard for him to say it with a straight face. There are not only a dozen examples of potential obstruction that Mueller reports do in the Russia investigation.

[14:20:00] EPSTEIN: But this President has relentlessly gone after the FBI, the Justice Department, the Intelligence professionals. Even when he was abroad, he even questioned the intelligence community's finding that Russia had interfered.

If he had done so much with just read the indictment -- the Mueller indictment of the Russian intelligence, he would know that the indictment spells out and the intelligence community spelled out exactly who in Russia was infiltrating and hacking computers? What servers they were using? I mean, there wasn't even a question about it.

BALDWIN: Yes.

EPSTEIN: It was it was unarguable, it was proved 100 percent certain. But he has relentlessly attacked every major institution of law. And it's a typical behavior that you see of autocrats.

You see that happening in Hungary. You see it happening in Venezuela, you see it happening in Poland, you see it happening in the Philippines, it's a very typical --

BALDWIN: And in the United States.

EPSTAIN: It's a very typical thing that you see on autocrats. So it's something that should be of concern to the American people.

BALDWIN: You mentioned the other "I" word, and that is indict. So we have heard now from Senator Elizabeth Warren, right? She's one of the Democratic Presidential candidate, she's made news, she's joined Congressman Eric Swalwell in saying they want to eliminate that Department of Justice policy, that a President -- a sitting President cannot be indicted. This is what Senator Warren tweeted, quote, "I pledge to nominate an

Office of Legal Counsel," this is the OLC that everyone's referring to -- " ... an OLC head who will reverse the Watergate-era rule that a President cannot be indicted for criminal behavior. The OLC's purpose is to govern the conduct of the Executive Branch, not act as the President's get out of jail free card.

Explain to me -- first, just why -- there must be a reason right, that this OLC policy is there in the first place, and can it or should it not be undone?

EPSTEIN: I think it will be undone. I think it should be undone. There are two OLC policies: Office of Legal Counsel policies, one in the 70s and then another one, again, reiterated in 2000 that says that you cannot indict a sitting President because you effectively decapitate the Executive Branch if the President is having to defend himself in a criminal court, he can't conduct the business of the United States. And that's a constitutional argument that some make.

I think it's the wrong argument, you know, to Elizabeth Warren's point about a statute. The statute wouldn't undo that, but I think as a practical matter, the next Democratic President will undo that as a regulation and will allow an indictment to go forward.

Look, it's the only way that I think we ensure the President is not above the law. And when I worked on the Clinton impeachment in the 1990s, it was very clear at that point that impeachment was becoming a political tool -- highly, highly politicized, and that the opposite party, the party defending the President and the White House, saw it as basically a political tool.

So I think it's very unlikely we're going to see a lot of bipartisan cooperation on any kind of impeachment going forward. So the President isn't held accountable in that sense in terms of removal.

You have others make the argument that like the current policy, say, "Well, what about prosecuting the President after he leaves office?" That is a fairy tale. There is no incoming President that is going to prosecute a President who is leaving office, because it is just too politically divisive. And an incoming President --

BALDWIN: They'll just let it lie?

EPSTEIN: I'm sorry.

BALDWIN: They'll just let it lie?

EPSTEIN: Well, an incoming President is just not going to want to deal with that political baggage. It's very, very divisive for an incoming President. And then the President who is -- the outgoing President, who was a subject of a potential prosecution, all of his or her supporters, the entire party is going to basically go to war with that existing administration.

It's not really a practical thing to think that a subsequent administration is going to prosecute a President from a previous administration.

So, changing the policy, I think, is the only way to hold the President accountable to make sure he is not above the law. For those who argue you can't decapitate the Executive Branch, there's an easy solution.

What I think the policy ought to be is that you can indict a sitting President, hold that indictment under seal and then continue with a prosecution subsequently, and I think that is the best balance of kind of relative interest here.

BALDWIN: There is one suggestion and I'm sure you are not alone, Julian Epstein. Good to see you. Thank you so much.

EPSTEIN: Thanks, Brooke. Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: Thank you. The Summit with President Trump failed regarding North Korea's Kim Jong-un and talks hit a standstill. So because of it, did Kim execute his top negotiator and put another in a labor camp who the U.S. says has disappeared.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:29:00] BALDWIN: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo says he is checking reports that North Korea executed its top envoy to the U.S. in the aftermath of that failed Hanoi Summit.

A South Korean newspaper quoting unnamed sources is reporting that the top negotiator, Kim Hyok Chol was killed because talks broke down between President Trump and Kim Jong-un back in February. And then there is another man Kim Yong-chol who was the counterpart of Secretary Pompeo. He was reportedly sentenced to forced hard labor and you will remember he was also that same diplomat who hand- delivered that big beautiful letter from his leader to Trump last year.

We should point out CNN has not been able to independently verify any of this. This is Secretary Pompeo though responding to this news when he was asked about it just this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have any confirmation or comments about that? Are you concerned about those reports?

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We've seen the reporting to what you're referring. We're doing our best to check it out. I don't have anything else to add to that today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Bob Baier is a former CIA operative and CNN intelligence and security analyst ...

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