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CNN This Morning

Members of United Auto Workers Go On Targeted Strikes against Big Three Automakers; Sen. Debbie Stabenow Interviewed on UAW and Automakers Contract Negotiations and President Biden Reelection Bid; President Biden to Meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy; President Biden and President Zelensky Expected to Meet in U.S. Next Week; Hunter Biden Indicted on Gun Charges after Plea Deal Collapsed; Trump: "False" that He Told Staffer to Delete Footage. Aired 8-8:30a ET.

Aired September 15, 2023 - 08:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It is the top of the hour. Good Friday morning, everyone. And we have a lot of news to get to this morning. Here are five things to start off your Friday, September 15th.

It is official. Members of the United Auto Workers union have targeted strikes against the big three automakers. Three plants on strike this morning as their contract expired at midnight. The CEO of General Motors joins us this hour.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And Hunter Biden is now the first child of a sitting president to be charged by the Justice Department. He is now facing three gun charges after his initial plea deal collapsed last month.

HARLOW: From New England all the way up to Canada, hurricane Lee on track to bring heavy rain, wind, and coastal flooding today and through weekend.

MATTINGLY: And as House Speaker Kevin McCarthy tries to avoid a government shutdown, he has a message for the Republicans threatening to revoke his leadership -- bring it on.

HARLOW: In a new article this morning, NBA legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar asks the question, is Biden too old to be president? The NBA Hall of Famer joins us live in studio just ahead.

This hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts now.


JIM FARLEY, CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: What we've seen in 80 years of working with the UAW. We put four great offers on the table, and we get little pieces of paper about one aspect or the other. We have never gotten a really serious counteroffer in two weeks.

SHAWN FAIN, UNITED AUTO WORKERS PRESIDENT: These companies have got to come to the pump for their workers. They want to call them family when it's easy. But you know what, the proof's in the pudding. And you know what, they haven't been there. They haven't taken care of their workers. We went backwards in the last 16 years, backwards.


MATTINGLY: And breaking just moments ago, the White House says President Biden will speak today about that historic strike against all three automakers. This is the first time in history that the union has gone on strike against all three. This was the scene outside the Ford plant in Wayne, Michigan, after the companies failed to reach a deal with the union by midnight. More than 12,000 workers have walked off the job in targeted strikes in three different plants, in Michigan, Ohio, and Missouri. The United Auto Workers president tells CNN more workers and plants will join the strike if their demands for better wages and benefits aren't met. He says workers haven't had their fair share of record profits while CEOs have been giving themselves huge raises. But Ford's CEO insists the union's wage demands would bankrupt the company.


JIM FARLEY, CEO, FORD MOTOR COMPANY: Forty percent will put us out of business. We would lose $15 billion. We would have to cut people, close plants. What's the good of that? It's not a sustainable business. There is a fine line here that we won't go past.


HARLOW: Our next guest, Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, sent a letter in July to the CEOs of the big three automakers, urging them to, quote, negotiate in good faith. She and her Michigan Senate colleagues wrote this, "Without American auto workers, the U.S. automotive industry would not have become the beating heart of the U.S. industrial revolution. The UAW helped create our middle class."

Happy to be joined this morning by Senator Debbie Stabenow. Good morning to you, Senator. Do you support this strike, do you support the workers?

SEN. DEBBIE STABENOW, (D-MI): I support the workers and what they want, Poppy. And I have to say, first of all, we are here at the North American Auto Show right now in Detroit. And our workers and our companies make the best cars and trucks in the world. The workers just want to make sure they have a fair share of that success.

And I was there working on the auto rescue, very much helping to lead that back in 2009, and the workers took major concessions. There is no longer retiree health care. That hasn't happened since 2007. There's tiered approach to wages. They want to be restored. And then now moving forward, an exciting new clean energy economy, they want to know that they are going to be a partner in that, in the success in that.

HARLOW: You support the workers. You think they need fair wages. We just heard from ford's CEO who spoke to our colleague Vanessa, and he also said that this final offer of a 20 percent pay raise over the life of the contract is the most lucrative they have ever given. Do you believe the union is demanding too much?

STABENOW: Well, this is about collective bargaining. It's not really about what I think, what you think. It's about what the workers need, what they view as just as fair. And that's what this is all about. I know they don't take it lightly. It's a hardship to go out on strike. But I know for a lot of years they have been taking a lot of sacrifice in order to support the companies. And now we want to make sure that they are getting their fair share.

HARLOW: One interesting thing about the letter you sent to the CEOs in July is you specifically used the words "negotiate in good faith."


Here is what the UAW union president said about good faith and bad faith. Here he is.


SHAWN FAIN, UNITED AUTO WORKERS PRESIDENT: Let's talk about what good faith is. They've had our economic demands for six weeks. We have told them from day one we expect a bargain now, not wait to the end. They waited to last week. We had to file unfair labor practices charges on two companies to get them to come to the table. So they waited to the last week to want to get down to business. Shame on them, and what they are saying is complete B.S.


HARLOW: I will say that the Ford CEO Jim Farley said he and Bill Ford, the chair of the company, went to give their final offer in person to Shawn Fain and that he wasn't there at the table. Do you believe the CEOs have negotiated in good faith? Is that your understanding?

STABENOW: I think that everyone is representing their interests. It's rough and tumble. Collective bargaining can be very tough. I think this is a very tough negotiation. And in the end, they are going to have to come together in what they believe is just and fair for everyone. But it's important that those -- excuse me. I'm losing my earpiece. It's important that the workers who are creating these great new vehicles know that they are benefiting from their hard work.

HARLOW: Yes. I'm really interested in your take -- can you hear me OK?

STABENOW: Now I can.

HARLOW: OK, I know, these little buggers, happens to me, too.

STABENOW: I know, I know.

HARLOW: The Biden administration, the Biden factor in this is really interesting, right, because he has called himself the most pro union president in American history. But when our Jake Tapper asked head of the UAW Shawn Fain about that this week, Shawn Fain said, quote, "I think there's a lot of work to be done in that category. I look back at FDR and presidents in that timeframe, and they did a lot of work for labor." Are you concerned about what this strike means? The union has withheld their support for Biden so far. Michigan's a critical state.

STABENOW: Right. Well, President Biden, in my mind, no question that he is the most pro-union, labor president we've had. And we are right now in a fight. And he is leading that to restore the middle class of our country. So it's a process. It's not there yet. I understand the workers' frustrations. But we are turning things around to bring jobs home right now with the chip plants and rebuild America and be laser focused on the middle class.

So this is something in process. We need to keep our workers, strengthening the middle class as the focus. And I know that that's what the president is doing.

HARLOW: Let me -- Senator, let me ask it in this way. Could not having the support of the United Auto Workers for Biden's reelection campaign tip the balance against him in Michigan?

STABENOW: Well, the UAW is very important. I have been very grateful for their support over all of these years. And I think, in the end, when they are looking at the choices, I would be surprised if they were not supporting the president.

HARLOW: I want to turn to what your Republican colleague, Mitt Romney, wrote this week, announcing that he is not running again. He said, frankly, it's time for a new generation of leaders. You are also not seeking reelection in 2024. You said that you were inspired by a new generation of leaders, and you said that's why you've decided to pass the torch. What do you think of that as it relates to President Biden and growing calls and concerns, among Democrats also, about his age?

STABENOW: Well, first, I have to say that this president has done more than any president half his age. When we look at the real results in the economy, I mean, 13.5 million new jobs in the last two-and-a- half years, getting us through the pandemic, what he has done internationally to build coalitions to bring the world back together. When we look at turning things around, no more trickle down, focus on the middle class, I am a strong supporter of the president. And to me this is not about age. This is about getting things done. And he is getting things done.

HARLOW: You would argue Mitt Romney has been effective in terms of standing up for what he believes. You would argue you have been effective, but you are both saying it's time to pass the torch. You don't think the same is true for the president?

STABENOW: I think it's an individual decision that everyone has to make on their own circumstances. First of all, Mitt Romney has, as you know, great ties to Michigan with his --

HARLOW: Of course, his father.

STABENOW: -- who is a former governor. Yes. And Mitt's been really, really a terrific, responsible United States senator.


But I have to say, we each look around at the time and moment for our own personal lives. For me, we have got a lot of great leaders, younger leaders in Michigan, that I feel very confident I can pass the torch to. And so, for me, it felt like the time.

HARLOW: Fair enough. Senator Debbie Stabenow, thank you very much. We will be watching very closely what happens in these negotiations there over the weekend.

STABENOW: Thank you.


MATTINGLY: Thanks, Poppy.

Sources tell CNN that President Biden will meet one-on-one with Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy when he is in the U.S. next week. We're going to ask Christiane Amanpour what we can expect from that meeting. Stay with us. That's next.


MATTINGLY: President Biden is expected to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy here in the U.S. next week. Biden and Zelenskyy are both scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly in New York on Tuesday. It's still unclear whether the pair will meet there or down in Washington where Zelenskyy is also supposed to visit and go up to Capitol Hill.

CNN's chief interview anchor Christiane Amanpour joins us now. Welcome back. I am fascinated by this because of the political dynamics in the United States with the funding.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: And that's why it's important. And that's why Zelenskyy here and he wants to make the case to the world and any other countries that are not supporting him at the U.N. And then he wants to make the case to lawmakers that this is still a just cause, a worthy fight, and with the right amount aid consistently, they can win. That is what he is going to try to say.

HARLOW: So the question is, does it make a difference to the Republicans who have been holdouts on this, and the fact that the majority of American people now do not support new increase funding --

AMANPOUR: Is that right? I was under the impression --

HARLOW: It is. It's 55 to 45 percent.

AMANPOUR: Which is the 55?

HARLOW: The doesn't support.

AMANPOUR: OK, so that's a change, it's going down.


But up until now, the American people, like the people around the world, have supported the defense of democracy and the international rules-based order and the civilians who are being slaughtered by this illegal war from Russia. So, it is going to be interesting to see what effect it has.

But I think the president and other world leaders have made the case consistently that you have a choice. Either we all want to be under the boot of Putin style Russian authoritarianism, or people get the chance to try to defend their right to live free and independent.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN NEWS ANCHOR: We talk so much about kind of the geopolitical repercussions or negotiations or efforts, and sometimes don't talk about the people in Ukraine. And you are on this week's episode of The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper. And I want to play a piece of your piece.


RINUS SPRONG, CREATIVE DIRECTOR: I'm very getting very emotional.

AMANPOUR: Just watching.

SPRONG: Yes, because they all have a story to tell. Each of them has a story to tell, but as a group, they can tell the whole story for their country. One dancer whose father just escaped from the frontline, seven people were there and five were killed. But every week there is something happening like this. Every week.

AMANPOUR: Every week that news filters into this.

SPRONG: Every week there is something happening.


MATTINGLY: So, I've been waiting for this.

AMANPOUR: It's beautiful.

MATTINGLY: Explain to people what they were -

AMANPOUR: So, what you're watching are ballet dancers in the blue and yellow of the Ukraine colors. But what more importantly is a lot of them came out of Ukraine when the war started. This wonderful Dutch ballerina and a Russian-Ukrainian choreographer, very famous, who left Russia after the illegal invasion of Know against Ukraine.

He's a Bolshoi choreographer and came over and helped create a new troop, "United Ukraine Ballet." So, the story is really interesting because they've even been to the Kennedy Center. And what you see is people who want to continue the fight whichever way they can. So, this is their way of standing up for Ukrainian culture and history and art at a time when the Russian aggression is focused on wiping out Ukraine's identity.

So, this is what's so important. And you also hear from some of them who stayed behind and why they stayed behind and why they're dancing still in Ukraine. And we even have stories of ballet dancers, men who've gone to the front and one of them was killed. It's the whole society through art and culture.


AMANPOUR: It is beautiful.

HARLOW: It is haunting.

AMNPOUR: Yeah, and the music is phenomenal. And their heart and their motivation also.

HARLOW: I'd be remiss not to ask you. It is now one year since the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, the young Iranian woman under very suspicious circumstances refused to wear her hijab. So, tell us about what one year means exactly. Tried to really hold those in power to account on this.

AMANPOUR: Yeah, she was wearing a hijab, but they decided it wasn't 'Hijabi' enough, and she was arrested by the so-called "Morality Police", and it's believed she was so severely roughed up that she later died in hospital. Journalists who broke the story are still in jail. The Iranian regime

right now, the reports are that it is trying to preemptively tamp down any anniversary protests and the like.

So, they're now, weighing in heavily on the families. Don't talk about it, don't do, you know, just stay home. They're apparently taking people out of universities, those professors who may have been sort of Anti-regime. And importantly, though, the President of Iran will be one of those leaders who comes over here to the United Nations, tries to put his case to the world.

He's also supporting Russia. And this time last year, he refused to sit down with me because he wouldn't sit down with a woman who by law was not required to wear the hijab here in New York. So, this year, I do not believe he'll be giving any interviews to women.

But the interesting thing is that the Iranian women, while they have not overthrown the regime and they say that wasn't their aim, they are walking around, going to restaurants and being in public without their hijab. So, in a way, they've won part of the battle. In a way, there's so much further to go.

HARLOW: Christiane, thank you very much. And thank you for being at the table with us this week as we celebrate your 40 years at CNN.

AMANPOUR: Pleasure, thank you.

HARLOW: Okay, make sure to watch Christiane CNN's The Whole story with Anderson Cooper. That is this Sunday night, 08:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only right here. So, for the first time in American history, a child of the sitting president has been indicted. What Hunter Biden is now facing and how Americans feel about it.

HARLOW: And House Speaker Kevin McCarthy dropping the F-bomb while staring down another revolt inside his party as the clock ticks down toward a potential government shutdown.


Can he get a deal done while his leadership role comes under threat.


MATTINGLY: For the first time in US history, a sitting President's child has been indicted. Hunter Bart Biden is charged on three-gun related counts. This comes after his plea deal collapsed last month right in the middle of his father's reelection campaign. Joining us now is CNN's Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten.

Harry, I want to start with where do Americans stand on the Hunter Biden cases and investigations?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yeoh's take a look here. The DOJ's treatment of Hunter Biden has been looked at this. The clear plurality says not tough enough. Just 29% of Americans say fair. 6% say too tough, but clearly not tough enough. Beats these, the fair and the too tough combined. Now, as to Hunter Biden's guilt, do you think Hunter Biden is guilty in the tax nonpayment case?

Remember, of course, that that case originally had included the gun charges. Look at this, 59% say yes, he is. Compared to just 2%. I've never seen a number that low, 2% say no, he isn't. A very interestingly high number say 38% say don't know. But clearly the majority of Americans.


Say, yes, he is guilty.

MATTINGLY: Harry something our friend Bakari Seller said earlier on the show that I think has always stuck with me. President Biden is a father. It's a son who has addiction problems and has been fighting through it. How do Americans view that? That's a complicated thing that a lot of people can identify with.

ENTEN: It is a complicated thing. But we asked the question, has Joe Biden's actions regarding his son's investigation, have they been appropriate or inappropriate?

We got a close matchup here, but inappropriate takes the cake here with 55% compared to appropriate at 44%. But, of course, just because they view them inappropriately, it doesn't necessarily mean it's going to change their vote choice come 2020.

So, change in the chance of voting for Joe Biden after the claims against his son here we see clearly 57% say no impact. You do see 34% say less likely, but the vast majority of those are Republicans. So, look, they see Joe Biden's actions as inappropriate, but the idea that's going to change their vote for 2020 just doesn't bear out in the numbers.

MATTINGLY: Other things simply matter more.

ENTEN: Exactly.

MATTINGLY: It's interesting. It's interesting as this all plays out. Harry Enten, you're always interesting, my friend.

ENTEN: Same with you, my friend.

HARLOW: You took my line, Mattingly. Just going to say he's always interesting. All right. New this morning in the federal case against former President Trump and his alleged mishandling of classified documents at Mar-A-Lago, trump did what seems to be a really interesting interview with NBC News, and he said that he did not direct anyone to delete security footage after that footage was subpoenaed.

And as he is accused of doing by the prosecutors in this case. Here's Trump.


KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS STAFF: I want to ask you about the case related to Mar-a-Lago. A new charge suggests you asked the staffer to delete security camera footage so it wouldn't get into the hands of investigators. Did you do that?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: It's false, but let me tell you what under oath. It's a fake charge by this deranged, lunatic prosecutor who lost in the Supreme Court nine to nothing, and he tried to destroy lots of lives. He's a lunatic. So, it's a fake charge, but more importantly, the tapes weren't deleted. In other words, there was nothing done to them.


HARLOW: Let's bring in CNN Political Analyst Natasha Alford, CNN Political Commentator Errol Louis, and Elie Honig back with us at the table. Morning, everyone. Well, let's actually start there and then we'll get to Hunter in a moment. That was really interesting, what Trump said. I don't know if it's bluster if he would actually testify in that trial, but you contrast that with four indictments.

But now Biden's son, for the first time in American history, has also been indicted. Very different charges but it just is sort of this can you just put this in context for us once again? Never before happened in American History in any moment.

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Never before, AND never before, right? Look, the indictment of Hunter Biden is exactly what Donald Trump wanted, and it is all that Donald Trump wanted. If you go back to the first impeachment, if you go back to things that we have heard him say on the record, he was saying he just wanted some rough equivalence.

He wants to try and neutralize all of the criminal allegations against him. And now this gives him some kind of equivalents that he can go out on the campaign trail and say, "Oh, you're accusing me of wrongdoing? Well, let's talk about the "Biden Crime Family" and try to impute to the Sitting president something that his son might have done five years ago."

So that's really all Donald Trump wanted. It's the politicization of an act of government, in this case, the indictment of Hunter Biden, and that's all it has ever been. That is why he instructed his followers and supporters in the Republican conference to say something, to start some kind of impeachment.

They said that they would do it before they even took power. And the point, again, was not to come up with any real information or pursue truth or justice or anything like that, but simply to give Donald Trump what he considered an important talking point, so that when he goes on the campaign trail, he can say, everybody's got corruption charges.

I've got corruption charges. And so does my opponent, Joe Biden.

MATTINGLY: It will never not be fascinating to me that this was literally what got then President Trump impeached the first time, doing exactly this on exactly this issue. Natasha, I think it's striking to me when it comes to the impeachment inquiry this week, you look at this week for President Biden and between the we were talking about this last night and this morning, the strike that's now happening right now, the indictment of his son, which is obviously very personal, but has political repercussions, the impeachment inquiry.

Republicans are nowhere near figuring out how to deal with a potential government shutdown. You had the Ignatius column as well, the David Ignatius column, calling on him to step aside. All it does is just spin Washington, but more importantly, Democrats who aren't tied to the campaign into an absolute freak out, to be completely candid with you.

And I was talking with somebody last night, a Democratic donor, who said was very, very upset about everything and where things stand. I said, "Look, if the impeachment inquiry isn't going to find anything, and so far, they don't have direct evidence, what are you all worried about?" And they said, "Benghazi, with Hillary", we didn't think there was any wrongdoing that was ever shown, but they just really attacked her with it, utilized it, and that's.