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Insurrection Investigation; Trump's Financial Dealings; President Biden Touts Economic Progress. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired October 08, 2021 - 13:00   ET



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We were among the first in the world to guarantee access to universal education back at the turn of the 20th century.

Now the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development -- catch this -- ranks America 35 out of 37 major economies when it comes to investing in early childhood as a percent of GDP, 35 out of 37.

On all these investments that fuel a strong economy, we have taken -- we have taken our foot off the gas. And the world has taken notice, including our adversaries, and now they are closing the gap.

Look, so, it's essential that we have to regain the momentum we lost. As my wife says all the time, a professor, she says, any country that outeducates us is going to outcompete us. The work of our time is to prepare ourselves to be competitive to win the fast-changing 21st century global economy.

That's why I proposed two critical pieces of legislation being debated here in Washington right now. One focuses on the investments we need to make in the physical infrastructure of America, roads, brings, ports, etcetera, the second focus on the investments we need to make in the American people to make us more competitive.

I know this is my legislation, and I feel strongly about it, but the people who have the most at stake are the American people. So we need to stay focused on what these bills will mean to the people who are just looking for a little bit of breathing room, a fair chance to build a decent middle-class life, to succeed and thrive, instead of just hanging on by their fingernails.

We need to keep an eye, an eye on what's fundamentally at stake for our country, the ability to compete and win the race of the 21st century, as we did the 20th century, a race that other countries are doing everything they can to win.

In recent years, China has spent around three times as much on infrastructure, three times as much, as a share of its economy than the United States has. Our infrastructure bill makes investments we need to rebuild the arteries of our economy, the roads, the highways, the bridges, the ports, the airports, the rail, and are going to allow us to replace lead water pipes, which are poisoning our children and families. It's ridiculous. Build a modern energy grid that can withstand storms

and carry renewable energy across America. Make high-speed Internet affordable and available to everywhere in America. And create good union jobs in the process of putting that together.

We're going to make the largest investment in public transit in American history and we're going to make the most important investments in our rail since the creation of Amtrak 50 years ago.

But it isn't enough just to invest in our physical infrastructure. We're going to lead the world like we used to. If we're going to do that, we also have to invest in our people. And that's what my second bill does, the Build Back Better plan. That's what it does.

Today, only about half of the 3- and 4-year-olds in America are enrolled in early childhood education -- early childhood education. In Germany, France, the U.K., and Latvia, that number is more than 90 percent. We're falling behind.

It's not just early education. According to one study, America ranks -- catch this -- America ranks 33rd out of the 44 advanced economies when it comes to the percentage of our young people who have attained a-post high school degree. The United States, 33rd out of 44?

My Build Back Better plan gets us back on track to making four additional years of public education available for every person in America, two years of high-quality preschool on the front end, which indicates that over 56 percent of the children will be able to go through all 12 years and beyond without any interruption, and investments in community college, so our students can gain the skills they need and carve out a piece -- a place for themselves in the 21st century economy.

We're going to help build families, and we're going to help them afford to care for their new baby, a child, an elderly relative. It's going to extend the tax credit for families with children. It's going to help us meet the moment on climate change and become a global leader in the fast-growing clean energy industries, like solar and wind power.

The whole world knows that the future of the auto industry is electric, electric and battery technology. We need to make sure America builds that future, instead of falling behind. We should build those vehicles and the batteries that go into them and the charging stations they're going to need, the 500,000 we're going to build across America.


Here in the United States, we should be doing this.

And, look, if we get this done, we're going to breathe new life into our economy and our work force, and we're going to breathe cleaner air at the same time. These are the kinds of investments that will get America back in the game and give our workers a chance, a fighting chance. Economists left, right, and center agree. Earlier this year, Moody's

on Wall Street projected the investments in these bills will bring us a higher GDP and additional two million jobs per year in lower unemployment. These bills are not about left vs. right or modern vs. progressive or anything else that pits Americans against one another.

These bills are about competitiveness vs. complacency, competitiveness vs. complacency, opportunity vs. decay. They're about leading the world or whether we're going to let the world pass us by. The American people understand what's at stake here.

They understand that, when workers and families have a better shot, America has a better shot. Given half-a-chance, the American people have never, never, ever, ever let their country down. Today, we received more evidence in the progress we're making.

And I know we can make a lot more in the days ahead.

I want to thank you, and God bless you all. And may God protect our troops. Thank you very much.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: You have just been listening to President Biden There speaking about that disappointing jobs report, not taking questions, as you see.

We're going to bring in our reporters, but just a couple of notes from what the president had to say, again, this report that came out this morning, 194,000 jobs added. That's less than half of what was expected, unemployment at 4.8 percent. And there are a lot of questions about what this says about the current state of not only job market, but of the economy.

We're going to continue to dig in on that, the president touting progress, saying, in his words, that they are making real progress. It may not appear dramatic enough, but focusing on, again, what he says his progress in terms of job growth since his inauguration., meantime also using this moment to really tout his agenda, talking about infrastructure, talking about that reconciliation, the Build Back Better bill that we know Democrats are working to craft, not only to craft, but to find consensus on a top-line number there.

I think we have our correspondents ready to go, CNN's Lauren Fox on Capitol Hill, Jeremy Diamond at the White House.

So, Jeremy, let's start with you.

President Biden, as I noted, really using that moment to not focus too much on the details of that report, which were not exactly glowing, and instead to really push his agenda.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Erica, what really struck me the most is, frankly, how combative the president was in trying to defend his economic record and what this jobs report actually shows.

In the past, we have seen the president acknowledge that a jobs report wasn't perhaps as good as he had hoped, talk about the fact that, ultimately, in the long view of things, we are seeing progress. Today, we saw that last part, but it was much more combative, the president talking about a lot of noise in Washington, but ultimately urging people to look at progress, progress, progress.

And what he also did was, he talked about that unemployment number. He really honed in on that. And that was the beginning of his remarks, talking about the fact that this is the first time in over a year that we're seeing unemployment below 5 percent.

What the president didn't talk about there is that drop in that unemployment rate to 4.8 percent from 5.2 percent is actually in large part due to Americans dropping out of the labor force. That means people who are unemployed who essentially give up on searching for a job, and nothing about that is good.

And yet we saw the president there talking about the fact that unemployment rate has dropped to 4.8 percent. You heard the president say jobs up, wages up, unemployment is down. He said that is progress.

What we also saw the president do, of course, there was talk about the fact that, in order to further that progress, he needs the rest of his agenda passed. And that means the infrastructure deal. That means the budget reconciliation bill, which would expand the social safety net, address climate change issues as well.

Of course, on that front, it's not really a question of getting Republicans on board. It's a question of getting the Democratic Caucus to be singing from the same hymn book here.

So, again, it was interesting to see how defiant the president was in the face of what economists are generally calling a pretty bad jobs report.

HILL: Yes, very weak. You're right.

And interesting, as you point that out. I also thought it was -- as you talk about, he was telling me here moving forward in terms of the agenda what he feels needs to be done, and trying to tie that to the economy as well.

I thought it was interesting, Lauren, that he made a point to talk about the bipartisan efforts on the debt limit, right, and what we saw last night, which is also interesting, based on, frankly, some of the blowback that Senator Schumer has faced, Leader Schumer, based on what he had to say after that vote last night.


HILL: I'm curious how that will land.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you have to remember that, on Capitol Hill, Biden and McConnell, the top Republican in the Senate, had a working relationship, both when the president was the vice president, and also when he was here in the U.S. Senate. They have trust. They have mutual respect for one another. And

yesterday's speech after that debt ceiling vote last night by Majority Leader Chuck Schumer struck a lot of Republicans as a little bit of gloating, a little bit of rubbing it in. There was a lot of frustration as I was walking out with one Republican, Mitt Romney, who actually voted against increasing the debt ceiling last night, but told me he thought that there was sort of a time for grace on Capitol Hill and a time for being combative.

And this was supposed to be a time for grace, given the fact that McConnell helped get his conference in line to make sure that Democrats were able to increase the debt ceiling. They voted along with Democrats to make sure that bill was advanced.

And that is something that Republicans argued Schumer shouldn't have been gloating about on the Senate floor about McConnell really changing his mind over the summer.

Now, I also thought it was interesting that the president laid out here a pitch, a pitch to both the progressive and the moderate wing of his caucus. As we have reported at length, there has been some infighting over the last several weeks on Capitol Hill that has led to some questions about whether or not the president's agenda might be imperiled by the fact that he has two moderate senators like Kyrsten Sinema and Joe Manchin on his right flank.

And he has other progressives on his left flank that just don't see eye to eye on how big his agenda should be, how big that social safety net bill should be. And I think that that has been one of the reasons that you saw the president trying to set reset today at this speech, trying to say, yes, this jobs report may not have been what we had hoped for, but there's progress, there's a way forward. And, Democrats, I'm looking at you to help me out here.

I thought that was an important message the president gave.

HILL: We will see if that message gets through.

Lauren Fox, Jeremy Diamond, appreciate it, as always. Thank you both.

Joining me now to continue the conversation, Justin Wolfers, a professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan.

I would just like to pick up with your thoughts on what we just heard from the president. Do you agree with his assessment that, at the end of the day, this report is really about progress and moving forward, maybe it's not as fast as people would like? But his assessment seemed to be in the end, it's not so bad. Where do you stand?

JUSTIN WOLFERS, UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN: Technically, it's progress, it's moving in the right direction. But when you move in the right direction too slowly, that's incredibly disappointing.

Look, I was surprised that the president took the time that he did. It is distressing to see that the recovery really is stalling. This is not just one month's data. It clearly slowed last month as well. The rise in -- the rise of the Delta variant looks to have scared people and kept them away from work and kept them away from jobs.

HILL: When we look at -- the job numbers are one thing, right, 194,000 added, less than half what was expected. He was really touting that unemployment rate of 4.8 percent, which would be fantastic.

As Jeremy Diamond pointed out, there are questions too, though, about getting to that rate. How much does that include people who have dropped out of the work force? How should we really read this number today?

WOLFERS: So the unemployment rate is relatively low, but, of course, not anywhere near where it was before the virus hit.

This is an unusual recession. It's unusual because a lot of people are yet to return back to the labor force. Either they're worried about going back to work, or they're unable to find work. This normally happens, but it's happening to an extreme level this time.

And so we're seeing low numbers. But, in reality, it looks like the underlying rate of unemployment, if you take account of the fact that a lot of people without jobs just aren't being counted right now, might be closer to 6, 6.25, 6.5 percent.

So this is still an economy that needs a lot of help.

HILL: It needs a lot of help, because, look, there these headlines that are honestly distressing for a lot of families, right? You look at gas prices. We're looking at the price of oil over $80 a barrel.

There are multiple warnings about supply chain issues, how that could affect things at the holidays. If, if Democrats are able to come together as a caucus to put together some sort of a plan, I mean, let's go pie in the sky here, but let's figure they actually pull it together. They get something done. They get a number and a package people can agree on. It moves through.

Is that enough to write this ship fairly quickly?

WOLFERS: Look, everyone in Washington is talking about fiscal policy because that's where the money is. But the reality is the thing that's holding the job market back right now is the virus.


If we want to fix the economy, number one job is fix the virus. If we can't fix the virus, then a bit of a fiscal kick, which is what the president's proposing, will be helpful.

It's funny that he emphasized this as being a strong number, because the strongest argument against his proposals from Republicans has been that it would cause the economy to overheat, that everyone who wants a job already has one, that we don't really need this fiscal help. The reality is today's weak numbers help make the case a little bit more that the economy needs help, and precisely the form that his packages look set to deliver.

HILL: Justin Wolfers, appreciate you joining us this afternoon. Thank you.

WOLFERS: A pleasure.

HILL: Well, Steve Bannon says he will not comply, goes on to say he's standing with former President Trump, perhaps not surprising. He's ignoring, of course, a subpoena deadline for the January 6 investigation. So, the big question, what happens now?

And breaking just moments ago, police are now saying publicly Brian Laundrie's parents wouldn't even talk about Gabby Petito when they first were questioned about her disappearance. We are live in Florida.



HILL: For the first time, congressional investigators are publicly releasing details of Donald Trump's financial dealings.

The House Oversight Committee says record show the Trump international hotel in Washington, D.C., collected millions of dollars from foreign governments. Now, if you're thinking, hmm, you're right. That's a potential conflict of interest for a sitting president.

And despite the former president's claims that the hotel made money, it actually lost tens of millions of dollars during his time in office.

CNN national correspondent Kristen Holmes has been going over this report. She's breaking it down for us now.

So, what did investigators find, because those headlines are certainly something?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Erica, I mean, this is really the most detail we have seen in from financials made public since we started down this path.

And something to keep in mind here is that Congress has been chasing these kinds of details that we are seeing here for years, i mean, when President Trump was in office and afterwards, and the first time we're actually seeing this outlined.

And the most notable thing that you mentioned is that money that came in from foreign governments. The committee is estimating that about $3.7 million, went to Trump from foreign governments. And this is money that flowed through his D.C. hotel and was never disclosed.

And, as you said, it's a conflict of interest. It's also raising a lot of questions as to what, if anything, these foreign governments got in return for spending this kind of money at a Trump property.

Now, of course, despite the fact that he was getting millions of dollars from foreign governments, we are learning that there was actually a loss at the hotel. If you look at these numbers here, the Trump Hotel reported an income of more than $156 million. However, the reality was it was a loss of more than $70 million.

In fact, the loss was so great that the Trump Hotel had to be loaned more than $24 million from other holding companies. And I want to show you here an umbrella of what the committee found. They go through this step by step and they talk about how President Trump was issued misleading information, that he received preferential treatment from a foreign bank, he accepted millions from foreign entities, and that he concealed millions in debts from the GSA, which owns the building, when bidding on the old post office.

So we have just now heard from the Trump Organization. Essentially, they are challenging the accounting of the committee. We will show you this here.

They say: "The allegations made by the House Oversight Committee are intentionally misleading, irresponsible and unequivocally false." They go on to say that "This is a desperate attempt to mislead the American public and defame Trump in pursuit of their own agenda."

But I got to tell you, the committee says they're not done yet. This is an active investigation. And there are just so many more questions now, particularly when it comes to those foreign governments. And if they can get this kind of access that they have here, we're looking at some really deep insight, shedding light on what's essentially been a black box of Trump's finances, Erica.

HILL: Yes, you're right. And it really does raise so many additional questions.

Kristen, appreciate it. Thank you.

Well, the art of defiance. Former President Trump's attorney told these four former Trump aides to defy subpoenas from a House committee seeking to investigate the January 6 insurrection. So far, it seems all four have done just that.

Now a source says Steve Bannon is outright telling lawmakers he will not cooperate. His lawyers say it's for the courts to decide whether he ultimately has to comply. The same source saying Mark Meadows also did respond to the committee. It's not clear, however, what Meadows said. What is clear that the investigation is sort of stuck at this point between a rock and a threat of executive privilege.

Trump now indicating he will try to use that tactic to prevent evidence-gathering. So will it work?

Joining us now is Norm Eisen, CNN legal analyst, special counselor for the House Judiciary Committee during President Trump's first impeachment trial. Elie Honig is a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Good to see you both.

And, Norm, I will start with you. Does executive privilege actually apply here?

NORMAN EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Erica, thanks for having me back.

The ultimate determination as to whether executive privilege applies or not is for the Biden administration, because they are the current holders of the privilege. And they have already indicated that they do not think executive privilege applies, because they have let former Trump administration officials testify about these subjects, the ex- president's assault on the 2020 election, his big lie campaign.


Two very senior DOJ officials have been permitted to testify. So, I think that their determination is going to be that it doesn't apply, but there still could be a big court battle about that nonetheless.

HILL: Which is something obviously that we have seen before, as things have been dragged out, as we have seen.

Elie, when we look at this too, Steve Bannon saying he's sticking with Trump, I'm going to go out on a limb here, Elie, and say that's not exactly a legal defense.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: No, sticking with Trump is not a legal defense.

If you look at the letter that just came through from Steve Bannon's lawyer, there's really two defenses that he raises. The first is executive privilege. As Norm just discussed, it seems quite clear that the executive privilege, it's not definitive, but it seems more clear in our law that it's the province of the current president than the prior president.

And, by the way, Steve Bannon was not a member of the executive branch at the time. The second thing that Steve Bannon and his lawyer invoke is attorney-client privilege, which is utterly nonsensical. Steve Bannon and Donald Trump, neither of them is an attorney. They have never been in an attorney-client relationship. And even if they had some conversation together with an attorney, that privilege is waived when you have another person there.

So this letter that we saw from Steve Bannon is a delay tactic. It's a political strategy, but, legally, it holds no water.

HILL: All right, because, as you point out, I think we do have that and we can just put it up on the screen for folks to see, his attorney saying: "The executive privileges belong to President Trump. We must accept his direction and honor his invocation of executive privilege."

Norm, as we look at where we're at here, you mentioned this could go to the courts. Obviously, that could take a little bit of time. What do you think the chances are, based on your experience, that the committee ultimately could hand this over to the DOJ for contempt proceedings?

EISEN: There's several routes, Erica. That's one of them, a criminal contempt prosecution.

You can't reply -- as Elie pointed out, you can't reply to a lawful subpoena by Congress with the response, I'm sticking with Trump, or nonsensical, if you haven't been a White House adviser. So all of that -- how do you have executive privilege? If you're not a lawyer, how do you have attorney-client privilege?

All of that is contemptuous, can be prosecuted in criminal contempt, or Congress has the power itself to go to court, civil contempt. Or Trump or one of these four individuals could affirmatively go to court. That's a third way. However it breaks, if they defy, I do think Congress is going to seek to suppress the matter.

It can go quickly. When we worked on the impeachment, it took a while. But in Watergate, less than four months from the subpoenas for the Nixon tapes to a Supreme Court decision. The courts must move quickly here, Erica, and it'll be incumbent on Congress and the American public to press them to do just that.

HILL: So those are the roads that are possible.

Elie, which one do you see being taken?

HONIG: They could take both. And I think they can and will take both.

As Norm says, they can go into court, ask for a judge to issue an order, saying you must testify. And then if someone like Steve Bannon doesn't testify, there could be fines, monetary penalties, and criminal penalties. And Norm makes such a good point. The courts have to move more quickly. There's no reason this needs to take two years, like Don McGahn.

Then it could be a criminal matter as well. Now, important to know, though, if Congress sends this over to DOJ, it's DOJ's call. It's Merrick Garland's call whether to bring those charges or not. Historically, attorneys general over the last several decades have not charged in the scenario. But I would argue we're in an unprecedented situation here.

HILL: Well, we will be watching closely, and we will be calling on both of you, as always, for your expertise.

Good to see you both this afternoon. Thank you.

EISEN: Thanks.

HILL: Coronavirus cases and hospitalizations down in a big, very important way. Does that really mean we're turning the corner on the pandemic?

We will discuss.