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The Washington Post: Mick Mulvaney Says GOP Inconsistent On Deficit Concerns; White House Touts U.S. Economy But Silent On Soaring Deficit; Storm Dumps Heavy Snow In North Carolina As Frigid Temperatures Grips Northeast; Inside Wuhan Field Hospital At Center Of Coronovirus Crisis; Polls: Donald Trump Leads In Wisconsin, Trails In Pennsylvania & Michigan. Aired 6.30-7a ET

Aired February 21, 2020 - 06:30   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Really interesting new comments from White House Chief of Staff or Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney about the U.S. economy in specifically the deficit under President Trump. We're going to be joined by one of the senior economist in the White House. I see him in the wings right now Peter Navarro joins us next.


BERMAN: President Trump is campaigning for reelection on a robust economy, but the White House has remained mostly silent on the ballooning deficit which has nearly doubled since President Trump has taken office.

"The Washington Post" reports that at a speech yesterday, the President's Acting Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney said, "My party is very interested in deficits when there's a Democrat in the White House. The worst thing in the whole world is deficits when Barack Obama was the President. Then Donald Trump became President, and we're a lot less interested as a party".

Joining me now is Peter Navarro President Trump's Direct Review Officer Trade and Manufacturing Policy. You're laughing. Why?

PETER NAVARRO, WHITE HOUSE TOP TRADE ADVISER: You put Mick on the hot seat here. Deficit is a legitimate issue to talk about. But elections do have consequences and this last budget we had to do, we had a Democratic House. We - bill was a little higher than it did otherwise would have been.

My focus John is creating good jobs for people who work with their hands. That's kind of what I focus on.

BERMAN: I get it. But the first two years, the President was off he had a Republican Congress.

NAVARRO: He did.

BERMAN: Right. And the deficits were way up then as well $779 billion in 2008 $984 billion in 2019 and then of course the estimate for this year $1.2 trillion. So you can't put this all on the Democrats. So the Republicans at the Senate at the whole time you have Republican in the White House. Why have they doubled?

NAVARRO: The question is, is it a bad thing? Will it get better? What our focus is on, John is basically growing the economy as fast as possible. The difference between the 2 percent and 3 percent growth rate, 3 percent, 3.5 percent is all the difference in the world. What we've been trying to do is consistently outperform CBO predictions which we've actually done.

BERMAN: Which you've been at 2 percent in the last three quarters. So you're not at 3 percent.


NAVARRO: Well, we're outperforming projections. I think if you look at everything we're doing, we've got household income up. The real GDP is actually performing better than expectations. Manufacturing jobs we've created over half a million although they've been down recently.

BERMAN: Although down the last two months.

NAVARRO: Yes. And you know there are certain head winds we've had to deal with that. I think the GM was a challenge. The Boeing was a challenge, but here's the thing. The beauty of the Trump Administration culture is that we have a President who every day gets up thinking about how to create jobs.

And that's a different kind of culture than we had. And we do it not just with macro policies like deregulation, tax cuts, and fair trade, but my job is to do it kind of one job at a time in places like Lime, Ohio where we combat vehicle plans. So Marionette, Wisconsin make it sure littoral combat shift. With Philly we're rebuilding that Philly shipyard. This is kind of what we do.

BERMAN: Look, these are - but manufacturing jobs in some of these states are down even worse than nationally.

NAVARRO: Well, but the unemployment rate is at historic lows.

BERMAN: Absolutely. But you yourself said your job is to add manufacturing jobs.

NAVARRO: I think we're doing quite well at that. If you look at the Obama Administration, they were down 200,000 manufacturing jobs. And they said they would never coming back you know the famous Obama Magic Launch Speech. We did half a million so far.

Like I said, the culture of this administration is basically focusing on people who work with their hands. I think we're doing quite well with that.

BERMAN: Okay, the President wakes up every morning thinking about jobs. Has he woken up any morning you said thinking about deficits? NAVARRO: I'm sure he does. But until the bond market starts reacting negatively to that and still we start seeing inflation, that's not going to be a concern. What we're going to focus on is growing wages for workers. We're not afraid of that cause and inflation like some people on Wall Street.

We're going to increase productivity through investment. And that's the plan and it's working beautifully. I think if you look at the stock market, that's outperforming the Obama Administration. If you look at just every single metric, we're doing better.

BERMAN: Just one more question on deficits. You spend most of your life as an economist, not necessarily a political figure. But if deficits are bad in a Democratic Administration aren't they also bad in a Republican one? You can't have it both ways.

NAVARRO: We had the same issue in the Reagan years. There was a deficits don't matter. Deficits do matter. I think my focus is basically on manufacturing jobs. That's where I'm at. And today by the way--

BERMAN: You're here just to go to the airport, yes?

NAVARRO: Yes. This is a great day. We've been working on these operation Mega Flex Blitzes. So I'm going out with a whole team today from customs and border protection and for the eighth month in a row we're going to be opening thousands of packages from China to check for things like counterfeits, controlled substances, and agricultural violations.

And John, it's absolutely frightening what we've seen across the ports of entry coming in. We get a double digit hit rate. We get a million packages coming in by air from China every day. If we're getting more than 10 percent hit rate for things like counterfeits, certainly there is a 100,000 Americans a day are being potentially harmed by this. Defrauded or actually in some cases like child car seats which are counterfeits. Those things kill.

BERMAN: So that's a big part of your job. And that's why you're in New York today. How much of your job or what's your role been in recent weeks and months trying to figure out who anonymous is? Who wrote the anonymous book and the anonymous op-ed?

NAVARRO: Sure and I think ever since that op-ed came out, there's been a poll cast over everybody in the administration. Everybody's a suspect. So within the administration, everybody's hunting, as it were, for anonymous.

BERMAN: Including you?

NAVARRO: Yes of course. It's a vocation with everybody.

BERMAN: How much time? What does that mean? What have you been doing?

NAVARRO: You read the book, you read the op-ed, you think about it. That's about it. But here's the point. We've had over 20 people in this administration accused in print of being anonymous. That's a terrible poll cast over the White House. It makes you distrust everybody.

So I would think that at this point the honorable thing would be whoever anonymous is come on out and do this. Let me ask you a question. Do you think that that it's right for somebody to lie within an administration; Democratic or Republican basically spy on the President?

BERMAN: I wouldn't call it spying. But we've said from the beginning we're dying to know who the identity of an anonymous is. I'm not willing to call it spying but let me ask you this--

NAVARRO: What would you call it?

BERMAN: Victoria Coats who was the Deputy National Security Adviser moved over to the Department of Energy. Did you think she was anonymous?

NAVARRO: I have - suspects are everywhere.

BERMAN: But she moved and there are now people inside the administration saying it wasn't her who are saying that you were saying it was.

NAVARRO: Here's what's interesting about that, John. Find me a story about that that actually quotes somebody with a name. Again, it's all leaks from so-called senior administration officials. I'll give you one tip, John.


NAVARRO: I'll bet you a million dollars right here that whoever anonymous is not actually a senior administration official like "The New York Times" claims. We'll see. This is going to be one of the greatest mysteries of all time.


BERMAN: You know who spoke off the record for 15 minutes on the plane yesterday? President Trump. I mean, we know that there are unnamed senior administration officials all the time who do talk. Will you acknowledge that?

NAVARRO: But you take my point that a lot of these stories have came out of China, on the China stories. It is always like a person close to I just - transparency would be a nice thing.

BERMAN: We love the fact that you have come on. It's great to have you on CNN. Thanks for coming on.


NAVARRO: I appreciate the hospitality. And hopefully we find some counterfeits and put an end to that because that's a big thing for Americans. BERMAN: All right, good luck. Appreciate it.

NAVARRO: Yes, thanks John.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN HOST: Okay, John up next, a rare look inside a makeshift hospital in the epicenter of the Coronavirus outbreak. What life is like for people in quarantined?



CAMEROTA: The death toll from the Coronavirus rising again and millions of people remain on lockdown in Wuhan. CNN has gained rare access to a field hospital in the epicenter of the outbreak which reveals the dire conditions there. CNN's David Culver is live in Shanghai, China. So David, what have you learned?

DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, initially when we started reporting on this story, we were hearing about some of the overwhelmed hospital staff and hospitals not being able to take people in. And we've been talked about some of the testing that was delayed and put off all together.

It seems things have swung the opposite direction. What we are now hearing and this is rather bizarre, that some people who say they are recovered from the Coronavirus or are perfectly healthy are being rounded up and put into hospitals.

You are walking through one of several Wuhan field hospitals this one a converted exhibition hall. It is aimed to contain this spread of the novel Coronavirus. Notice bed after bed after bed, people crammed in just feet apart from one another.

Portable toilets, a bit messy inside, and trash can overflowing. You can see the piles of used face masks. The woman who toured CNN via video chat through this field hospital tells us the conditions here worry her. She asked we call her Lisa Wang, not her real name.


LISA WANG, WUHAN RESIDENT: There's a great danger of cross infection and there are people who are healthy and got taken here by mistake.


CULVER: Chinese state media aired images of the same field hospital before it opened much cleaner inside. Wang says she and others here are recovered and healthy and were still forced into the facility.


WANG: I'm very angry because I feel I shouldn't have come here. I'm very anxious. I want to be back home soon.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CULVER: Wang contracted the virus in late January, but fully recovered within a couple of weeks. Both her CT scan and swab test results show that she twice tested negative. But officials still bused Wang and several others to the field hospital for further treatment despite her negative test results.


WANG: They told me if I refused, they would force me to go.


CULVER: Bo Hanlin faced a similar rounding up in Wuhan. His wife was a confirmed case so he was listed as a close contact person. But his first two tests came back negative. The neighborhood committee tried to hospitalize him nonetheless.


BO HANLIN, WUHAN RESIDENT: I feel quite angry about this because there are so many people who have not been hospitalized at the moment. Why do they quarantine the healthy people?


CULVER: CNN reached out to the Wuhan Health Commission to better understand how the field hospitals are being used? And to ask why people whose medical records show they're recovered were taken here? We've not yet heard back.

People in all kind of circumstances are getting rounded up in multiple parts of Hubei Province, the epicenter of this outbreak. In Tianmen City, the local government said they picked up people who were disobeying police orders to remain off the streets and have confined them to a gymnasium. All part of the strict lockdown policies.

After Wang complained to local health officials Wednesday, she acknowledges they responded swiftly. The next morning she says she and six other who had likewise already recovered were transferred back to the hotel quarantine. She's still bothered by how officials initially handled the matter.


WANG: They couldn't provide me with a hospital when I was sick. Now when I'm recovered, they forced me into one.


CULVER: We talked about China's containment effort, the lockdown. Some of them have been seen as rather extreme. However, we should point out John that the World Health Organization has praised China and its rapid efforts. While some consider them extreme, they think they might be effective.

We did reach out to the World Health Organization. We want to see what exactly they thought about this situation in particular. Is this actually effective because a lot of folks who are talking on Chinese social media or our sources on the ground in Wuhan are really questioning the effectiveness of this effort, of rounding up the healthy?

BERMAN: All right, David Culver for us in Shanghai. David thanks so much for staying on this. This is an issue not going away. Meanwhile, a strong storm moving through parts of the Eastern U.S. it dumped snow across North Carolina and Virginia as millions of people are waking up to below freezing temperatures. Chad Myers now with the forecast. Chad?

CHAD MYERS, MAS METEOROLOGIST: Some pretty pictures there, John. But some really icy roads across parts of Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee this morning so watch your drive. Temperatures are obviously cold enough to make the ice and wind chills are well below that.

This weather is brought to you by the Ninja Foodi Deluxe. It is a pressure cooker the pressure cooker that crisps. Here we go now across parts of the Northeast temperatures are going to be cool today. It's the last cold day, I think. We warm up for tomorrow and into Sunday. That's the good news.

Here's the snow the winners or the losers depending on your point of view underachiever when it comes to a snow event, but they'll take the pretty pictures up there anyway. Just watch out until the sun comes up where things especially on bridges and overpasses are going to be very slick today.


MYERS: Temperatures will warm up above normal for D.C. and also into New York for the rest of the weekend. Enjoy that sunshine, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Okay, Chad. Thank you very much. So which candidate is poised to win in Nevada tomorrow? And what does new polling tell us about whether anyone can beat President Trump? We break down those numbers next.



CAMEROTA: Okay. Nevada voters make their choices tomorrow. Which way are they leaning? Let's get the forecast with CNN's Senior Politics Writer and Analyst Harry Enten.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER & ANALYST: Which way are they leaning it is Friday leaning towards the weekend. All right, Nevada odds. You've seen them before. I'll show it to you again. Look Bernie Sanders is the clear favorite here with a 14-20 shot, about a 70 percent chance of waning.

We have a limited number of high quality polls and polling in the past hasn't been all that predictive. So 70 percent clear favorite. But there's still room for someone like a Biden perhaps or a Buttigieg or even a Klobuchar to surprise. But this is really it.

BERMAN: He's the only one on this board with chances seems to be getting better.

ENTEN: That's exactly right as you see here his chances have gone up in the past week. That's in part because even the low quality posts show him with a significant lead.

CAMEROTA: What are you seeing about President Trump?

ENTEN: So we're going to jump to the general election here. I almost got a sing there but decided to cut myself off. I don't know why. Look. Here's the deal. The President is getting more popular if you look among the average of polls among voters, what do we see?

We see that on Election Day 2019 at a 43 percent approval rating. Now it's up to 46 percent now the disapproval rating meanwhile has gone the other direction not a big surprise there from 55 percent a few months ago 51 percent now.

On the net, he was at minus 12 just a few months ago. He is now just at a minus 5 which is getting much closer to break even which to be honest if you've given the split that we're expecting between the Electoral College and the popular vote, this is not an awful place to be at this point.

BERMAN: And you have much more evidence when you start talking about the Electoral College that he's not in a bad place to be.

ENTEN: That's exactly right. Pennsylvania he is actually in a pretty bad place if you look at the new Quinnipiac University Polls. They have polls from Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin. He's trailing all the Democrats in Pennsylvania. Perhaps not surprisingly he's trailing Biden by the most who obviously was born in Pennsylvania. He's down by eight points.

But all the Democrats have a pretty clear lead on them especially Biden and Klobuchar and Bloomberg but Michigan which of course is another key state, right? Well, Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Wisconsin all three of these states were Obama states went over to Trump broke through that blue wall.

And we see Michigan has a much closer race going on here. Look at this, Sanders is only up by five. So is Bloomberg. Biden by 4 but all of these given the margin of error are actually within it and that of course looks a lot like those "New York Times"/Sienna College Polls that we saw all the way back a few months ago which also showed a very significantly tighter race in Michigan than you might expect given the national polls.

CAMEROTA: And then Wisconsin is a different story.

ENTEN: Wisconsin, a very, very different story. So look here all of the Democrats trailing the President of the United States and by significant margins.

BERMAN: Outside the margin of error.

ENTEN: Outside the margin of error. The closest Sanders and Biden down by seven Bloomberg down by 8 Buttigieg down by 8 Warren down by ten Klobuchar all the way down by 11. These are not particularly strong polls for the Democrats.

Now, of course, the question is, is this type of result given everything else, is this outlier? So what I did was I took an average of all the polls since January in Wisconsin and what do we see? Look. The average is not as bad for the Democrats as that Quinnipiac University Poll.

But even here look at this in the Biden, Sanders, Buttigieg and Warren matchups which we have enough to form an average, it's still really, really tight if anything especially against Warren. This is a pretty decent lead for the President of the United States in an average of polls.

BERMAN: Two reasons why this is important and hope you get to both of them. Number one, if it's only Wisconsin, how much does that matter? And number two, why?

ENTEN: Okay. I'm going to actually reverse the order here. I'm going to answer in the order I wish to. Wisconsin - there we go. It is Friday I can do what I want. Wisconsin is a state that has a lot of white voters without a college degree.

We know that's a Trump's base. Wisconsin has a lot of rural voters and Wisconsin has a very low African-American population which especially compared to Michigan and Pennsylvania. So it's a state that you'd really expect--

BERMAN: It's grouped in with Michigan and Pennsylvania but it's different in very significant ways.

ENTEN: Exactly right. And I will point out that if we look at the 2016 Presidential Map, Michigan and Pennsylvania go down. But Wisconsin stays red. What do we get? Donald Trump barely holds on. 270-268. Democrats need to find another state even if they get Pennsylvania, Michigan. Maybe Arizona, maybe Florida, maybe Wisconsin we'll see.

CAMEROTA: Harry, very interesting. Thank you.

ENTEN: Salome good - to everyone.

CAMEROTA: Have a wonderful weekend.

BERMAN: Thank you very much. Breaking developments about the Russians' preference to re-elect Donald Trump "New Day" continues right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Intel officials say that Russians are interfering in America's election again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Republicans in the room grew angry with this assessment.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These guys have lost their mind. Vladimir Putin is not running some operation with Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Nevada Caucuses, they are tomorrow.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Biden folks feel better about their chances here in Nevada.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D-MA) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Americans understand they're getting the short end of the stick.

SEN. AMY KLOBUCHAR (D-MN) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This election is a threat to the nation and to the democracy at large.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is "New Day" with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman,