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Erin Burnett Outfront

Communications Chief Resigns Suddenly; Trump Administration Has Historically High Staff Turnover Rate; Trump Claims "Fraudster" Cohen "Directly" Asked Him For Pardon; Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D) Michigan Is Interviewed About Cohen Testimony; Trump: Dems Are Now An "Anti- Israel" & "Anti-Jewish Party"; U.S. Added Only 20,000 Jobs Last Month, Lowest Since 2017; Rep. Mike Turner (R) Ohio is Interviewed About Manafort Attorney Echoing Trump on "No Collusion". Aired 7-8p ET

Aired March 08, 2019 - 19:00   ET



ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR, CNN: OutFront next, Trump's top message man this amid a historically high turnover rate in the administration, how does Trump to spin his way out of this one? And the President trashes Michael Cohen in public obsessing about him in private. Who is telling the truth in this bizarre war of words over the pardon? Plus, a Trump selfie raising eyebrows tonight, Trump pictured with the ex- owner of the spa linked to the Robert Kraft prostitution arrests. Let's go OutFront.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OutFront tonight, chaos at the White House. The President Trump's Deputy Chief of Staff, his Communications Director is out, and the move catching just about everyone off guard. Bill Shine was brought on to clean up the President's public image, fresh from Fox News. But sources tell CNN Trump turned on Shine questioning his judgment when there was no change in how the President was being covered.

So Trump is shipping Shine off to help advise on his 2020 campaign. Role to be determined. Apparently, they didn't know this was coming either. They got this guy coming in now. All right, here's the thing, Bill Shine, of course, came to the White House from Fox. As I mentioned he was a Senior Executive there. But the thing is when it came to his press coverage, Trump cares about a lot more than Fox News.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I could do the greatest thing in the world, and they would make it look bad. I could do, you know, between the Washington Post, The New York Times, ABC, NBC, CBS, CNN is just ridiculous."


BURNETT: OK. Not ridiculous. Well, the President knows it and he cares so deeply. He has now come to realize that a guy who used to run Fox News can't change the situation. Here's the thing about Shine. He's just the latest to fail. The sixth person to have been named Communications Director since Trump was elected.

It's got be a historical record. Some lasting just days. We're talking about you, Anthony Scaramucci, others lasting a couple of months. No one even lasting a year. Bill Shine's ouster coming in part, thanks to how he handled the fallout over the longest shutdown in U.S. history. Remember, this shutdown?


TRUMP: I will take the mantle. I will be the one to shut it down. I'm not going to blame you for it. The last time you shut it down, it didn't work. I will take the mantle of shutting down and I'm going to shut it down for border security.


BURNETT: I mean, it's really hard to blame Bill Shine for that. I mean, it's pretty hard for any communications director to make a President look blameless after that and it does not matter who has had the top communications job at the White House. They all have had to deal with a President who creates his own problems, whether it's trying to spin why he's siding with Russia over his own intelligence agency.


TRUMP: I have President Putin. He just said, it's not Russia. I will say this, I don't see any reason why it would be.


BURNETT: Or attempting to explain Trump's response to the deadly white nationalist attack in Charlottesville, Virginia.


TRUMP: You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.


BURNETT: And now, as the President begins another search for another communications director, there may be only one person left that's up for the job.


JONATHAN GREENBERG: OK, what's your first name by the way?

John Barron: John. John. John Barron.


BURNETT: John Barron, a man who - well, he sounds like President Trump because he is President Trump. John Barron was the name Trump used when he used to call reporters handling his own press in New York. No one else could do it so he made up a name for himself and did it. Talking about how wonderful person he would to date on and on and on. Maybe he's the Communications Director here.

Kaitlan Collins OutFront live outside the White House. And Kaitlan, Shine's departure was very sudden.

KAITLAN COLLINS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, CNN: Very sudden. So sudden that it surprised a lot of people in the West Wing who said they've just been having conversations with Bill Shine about upcoming events or him talking about reorganizing the communications teams. Things that they did not believe indicated he was going to be on his way out.

But, Erin, one thing did, Bill Shine was scheduled to go on the President's trip to Vietnam last week, but unexpectedly just about two days before that trip he announced that he was going to stay back in Washington and no longer go on the trip, which raised some eyebrows among aides. Now, in his statement today, President Trump praised Bill Shine saying that he thinks he'll do good work on his re-election campaign, but actually our sources tell us that behind the scenes the President had been complaining about Bill Shine saying that he brought him in to get him better press coverage and he simply had not delivered on that.

Now, you just raised several instances of why that could be difficult for anyone to get President Trump better press coverage. But even aides in the White House who liked Bill Shine who enjoyed working with him questioned what his media strategy truly was and if it was going to revamp the comms team at all.


Now, the communications team which has struggled throughout the Trump administration is still here but now they're looking for someone else to lead it. And you just laid out how many people have had this job and now people are wondering who is going to take this job and be the seventh communications director.

BURNETT: Lucky seven. Thank you very much, Kaitlan. Let's go now to Joan Walsh, National Affairs Correspondent for The Nation, Scott Jennings, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and April Ryan, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks.

April, you're at the White House day and day out. So we understand that Shine was in planning meetings, he was strategizing in communications in recent days, and all of a sudden he's gone, gone to the 2020 campaign which no idea he was coming. Did you have any indication Shine was on the way out?

APRIL RYAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, AMERICAN URBAN RADIO NETWORKS: Not really but with this President, he sours on you fast especially when his image is not turned around like he wanted. Bill Shine basically failed up and it was on fire me Friday once again when it happens. And basically, Erin, what we saw when Bill Shine was there, he was trying to work with reporters. He was talking with reporters to try to change the image, to soften the tensions between reporters, and this President and the White House.

There's typically something called a friendly adversarial relationship that Mike McCurry, the former Press Secretary for then Bill Clinton would call it. But there's such tension and we even saw it, Erin, when the President started talking to reporters like myself, Abby Phillip and others when we would ask him questions compared to what happened that November after the midterm elections, how he called us out just in a span of days, me, Yamiche and Abby. So we saw a softening of the President, but it just wasn't working. So Bill Shine was on fire me Friday.

BURNETT: And so Scott, look, the President turned on Shine, our White House team is saying the President just decided he was ineffective not what he hoped for when he hired him. Look, this is the sixth person. It would seem an impossible job, unless things - someone can just make something that's black look white and white look black, it would seem an impossible job to do. Would you take this job or not?

SCOTT JENNINGS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Well, I think if the President calls you, you've got to have a conversation about it. It's a high honor to be asked to be in public service by the President. I think the metric for deciding whether this person can succeed is really around what the scope of work is.

And it strikes me that now that the President is in cycle, the two most important things he can task the next person with doing are amplifying the administration's good work on the economy, setting up a war room to get their arms around all of the onslaught of the congressional investigations. Those two things are what the next communications director should be focused on, day in and day out. It's a big government. There's a lot going on. It's easy to get distracted and bogged down.

But if I were advising the President tonight, I would say somebody should be tasked with those two things and if that's what they get done for you over the next year and a half, that will be a successful tenure


BURNETT: I notice you didn't say you would take it or not take it.

JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: Scott might get a call. That sound pretty.

BURNETT: OK, Joan, here's the thing though would Scott succeed or can anyone succeed other than John Barron who by the way is one of the few people if he says you're not allowed to do NDAs anymore. I mean, I don't even know why I'm laughing, it's crazy.

WALSH: John Barron is perfect because - I mean, Trump spends very little time actually doing his own job so as the John Barron figure he has plenty of time to be his own communications director. And I do think that that's kind of where we are.

I mean, the choice of Bill Shine in the first place was a little bit weird, because he already has the Fox audience. He's captured the Fox audience. They've captured him. I don't know which way it goes, exactly, but he's got his little terrarium where people say almost always nice things. He listens to them. He tweets about what they say on Fox & Friends. What did he expect Bill Shine to do?

Bill Shine was Sean Hannity's producer. He had no experience working with a broader non-ideological diverse group of White House correspondents, et cetera, so it was an odd fit to begin with. Also, Bill Shine did not insult three black women as April was referring to a little while ago. Bill Shine did not call the Charlottesville white supremacist fine people. So Trump is the reason he's getting crappy coverage.

BURNETT: Trump himself.

WALSH: Trump himself, it's not Bill Shine.

BURNETT: Right. I mean, April, here's the thing when you look at this when I said this is going to be the seventh person, whoever this person is; Jason Miller, Sean Spicer, Mike Dubke, Anthony Scaramucci, Hope Hicks. I mean, this is kind of absurd.

Now, Bill Shine served a long time. I mean, my gosh look at those other numbers. It's pretty grim. Anthony Scaramucci I beg to differ, I thought he said it was 11 days.


Anyway, you get my point. What does this mean, April, on a day-to-day basis when you have this kind of turnover?

RYAN: And you hit the nail squarely, turnover, when you have that kind of excessive turnover in that job, that is a critical job for any administration. You create the message. You are the message to come out on policy or whatever the President has to say.

But when you have a President that defeats his own purposes who knocks his own self, I mean it's hard to deal with that. I mean I heard you recount putting your hands - I heard Scott recount putting your hands around the issues of these investigations and dealing with some of the other policy issues. But then when you have a President who goes out on Twitter and when he says things just extemporaneously, how do you help a President like that?

This President is his own worst enemy. And then, you were talking about Fox. Fox News, you had a large portion who was for the President, but you have others out there on Fox who aren't necessarily happy with the President. So that didn't do well for his image as well, particularly when it came to the issue of the wall. Can we say Ann Coulter?

BURNETT: Well, it's true.

RYAN: The President is his own worst enemy and no one can take this job successfully and win for the President. BURNETT: Scott, on top of this though, overall top jobs in the White

House, you've got a turnover rate of 65 percent. You have people who had top jobs who stuck it out through some pretty grim moments like John Kelly and we are now seeing memos that they wrote detailing what they thought were extremely concerning, possibly illegal, who knows, things that happened, the general counsel, Mr. McGahn. You have John Kelly doing this.

So even the people who've left they've done this. I mean, this is a big problem for this President, isn't it?

JENNINGS: Well, it will be a problem if they can't find a group of people to come in and take these jobs and sort of stay through the cycle. I mean he's in cycle right now. The campaign has started. The Democrats are running ...

BURNETT: Meaning for the election, yes.

JENNINGS: ... he's effectively inserted himself into the campaign. So right now I think I would be focused on getting the group of people that I trusted that I gave a very defined scope of work to and that were largely going to sync up my White House with my campaign. Look, this is not going to be complicated.

BURNETT: OK. But Scott what you're saying is like make sense, that's what people would do. But he has not had a team that he's been able to trust the trusts him back. I mean, if he has failed at that utterly to this point, which I think should be a non-controversial statement to make with the turnover rate that he has, why do you now suddenly think he's going to hire people? Give him a strict mandate, link it up to the - I mean, you're acting like a normal strategist here.

JENNINGS: Well, I hope I don't ever come on television and act like an abnormal or anything. I'm dispensing the advice that I think would be useful here. The useful advice is you're sitting in a not terrible place. You're in the mid to high 40s. People like the economy. The investigations are going to bog you down.

BURNETT: You're talking about approval, I'm sorry ...


JENNINGS: You needed staff that can amplify the good, handle the bad and sync up with your campaign. Look, he's going to have a lot of advantages that incumbents have as long as his White House and his campaign are synched up. And I think that it's possible, I mean, the alternative is just to stop trying, that's not an option. You have to try to get a team that you trust and it can help you communicate the messages you want to communicate.

The person is out there. Someone is out there who can work with the President, not try to change him but work with what they've got. I think that's the key is understanding. You're not going to change him. You got to try to work with what you got.

BURNETT: The only people who have ever fit in that, Joan, are his former Assistant Rhona Graff in her role.

WALSH: Right.

BURNETT: Michael Cohen for a while.

WALSH: Hope Hicks.

BURNETT: And his own family.

WALSH: And his children, right. Exactly. I mean I think the larger point you're making, Erin, about the overall turnover, we have an acting Defense Secretary, we don't actually have a defense secretary right now. His Secretary of the Air Force just quit this afternoon, it didn't get much news because Bill Shine got all of the news. But like that's a big deal. She just started relatively recently.

So it's not just the communication shop that's out of control, it's all. How many jobs is Mick Mulvaney doing now? He's really had a hard time putting together a team at every level.

BURNETT: A new definition of jack-of-all-trades when it comes to Mick Mulvaney.

WALSH: Yes, Mick of all trades.

BURNETT: All right, thank you all. And next, President Trump says Michael Cohen asked him directly for a pardon. Now, this is now a really, really vile war of words between the two. Is it true and if so why did the President wait until now to reveal it? Plus, new job numbers falling far short of expectations by Ronald Reagan's former Budget Director is warning the economy is now being run by "a delusional unhinged madman." And President Trump claiming Paul Manafort's judge has cleared him.


TRUMP: A very highly respected Judge, the Judge that there was no collusion with Russia.


BURNETT: Except for categorically that is not what the judge said.


New tonight, President Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen are in a very public war of words over Cohen's denial that he ever asked the President for a pardon.


TRUMP: Michael Cohen lied about the pardon and it was a stone-cold lie. He knew all about pardon. His lawyers said that they went to my lawyers and ask the pardon and I can go a step above that, but I won't go and do it now.


BURNETT: OK. So he waited an hour and then he went a step above and he did that in a tweet about Cohen calling him "A bad lawyer and a fraudster" and this is the new and bigger claim, because there he was saying, "Oh, his lawyers asked my lawyers." In the tweet the President claims "he directly asked me for a pardon. I said no." He said Michael Cohen asked President Trump for a pardon directly. That's the new claim for the President.

OK. That comes out. Cohen hits Twitter as well responding "Just another set of lies by @POTUS. Mr. President, let me remind you that today is International Women's Day. You may want to use today to apologize for your own lies and dirty deeds to women like Karen McDougal and Stephanie Clifford."

OK. OutFront now, Democratic Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence of Michigan. She is on the House Oversight Committee and she questioned Cohen during that hearing where he said I have never asked for nor would I accept a pardon.


So Congresswoman, let me just first start with the developments today, the President calls Michael Cohen who stone cold liar. Michael Cohen says the President is a liar. But the President has now said Michael Cohen directly asked him for a pardon, not even through lawyers, directly. Cohen says, "That's a lie." Who do you believe?

REP. BRENDA LAWRENCE (D-MI), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Erin, I'm so glad to be on this show. Let's reel this back. It has been a consistent defining character for everyone that works for Trump. They are liars. Now, you roll that back to our President who has not told the truth and if you want to really define it, he has been a liar from the beginning of his position as President and prior to, so it's very difficult.

I will tell you beyond House Oversight, our Chairman, Mr. Cummings, we are deliberately, if you're reviewing all of the testimony, including asking the intelligence community - committee to look at all of the information, because we're going to have to find some truth in this. It's very troubling because they both are documented liars. And so who's telling the truth? It's like sitting back there saying, "This is ridiculous. You're both liars."

BURNETT: Right. OK. So you're absolutely right about that, but to your point, there are things Michael Cohen is saying that could involve criminality on behalf of this President that he's saying his documentation for. So I just want to put the exclamation point on what you're saying, we're not just having a discussion about he said, he said, and who's a liar because it's fine.

LAWRENCE: Yes, exactly.

BURNETT: We're doing it because there's allegations being put out there by Michael Cohen that we need to find out if they're true and if they can - to prove that. So to look into something specific as to whether it's a lie is important in that context and you - yes.

LAWRENCE: It's important because also the President now has crossed that road of releasing client/attorney privilege conversations. And so that's another interesting level that we as the committee of oversight, we're looking at that as well. That is a very thin line and he has breached that line and we must hold our witnesses accountable.

But remember, he's already have been convicted of lying to Congress, so it continues and the President continues. I can't tell you how frustrating this is to have the responsibility to provide oversight for a whole slew of people who don't know what now truth is.

BURNETT: Right. And regardless of what the truth ends up being in this case, the President saying Cohen asked him directly is - it could be - it's an attempted masterstroke, because that's something that maybe unprovable but it raises that the specter of the question mark and perhaps that's why he's doing it at this time. When it comes to Cohen, you were there in the room as you say when Cohen denied ever asking the President for a pardon and I want to play that again.


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: I have never asked for nor would I accept a pardon from President Trump.


BURNETT: Now, of course, Cohen's spokesperson, his attorney, and Lanny Davis admits Cohen did have his lawyer explore a possible pardon with Trump's lawyers. Again, not even getting into Cohen and Trump directly, but he did direct his lawyers to have a conversation with Trump's lawyers. I mean is there any way that that isn't a lie, what Michael Cohen said?

LAWRENCE: It's all of these levels of untrue, so Cohen can sit there and say, "I personally." And I think his comment was I never asked the President. It was his attorney who had that conversation. So here's a level of, "Is it gray? Did he do it or did his attorney ask them?" So is it true? I never personally had that conversation.

BURNETT: That's misleading though, right?

LAWRENCE: It's very misleading. But this is the culture and this is a character of Cohen and it's also the character of the President.

BURNETT: I want to give you a chance to respond to something the President said today about the anti-semitism issue going on in Congress. You supported the House resolution yesterday that condemned anti-semitism and also other forms of bigotry, which had started out specifically as a resolution focused on anti-semitism because of comments by the Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar that were widely criticized as anti-semitic.

But in the end, it was not just about anti-semitism which would have been targeted at her. It got watered down to focus on a much broader sense of bigotry. Here's what the President had to say about the resolution today.


TRUMP: The Democrats have become an anti-Israel party, they've become an anti-Jewish party and that's too bad.


BURNETT: Your reaction, Congresswoman?

LAWRENCE: I will push back on the resolution being watered down. I feel it was enhanced.


When the resolution was initially presented as solely being about anti-semitic comments, we were very concerned as a caucus that we're putting out this statement when there's so many other isms and there's so many beliefs that we have as a party and we forced the issue from the Black Caucus. We forced the issue from them. The members who were Muslims say, "We are persecuted." And they're people who are saying things, our President, my goodness how many times have we heard it from King, from others who make comments in Congress, that is offensive, so it was --

BURNETT: But there was just a resolution specifically condemning white supremacy because of comments made by Steve King and that was specific and it was about him, so that just happen.

LAWRENCE: That's why I said the resolution was enhanced. It was not watered down. It was enhanced, because if we as a Congress are going to say, "This is unacceptable. We do not want anti-semitic comments made. We do not want white supremacy and races' remarks made." We don't want someone being persecuted because of their religion if they're Muslim, if they're Hindu.

And so it was a statement that we as a caucus that we have to stop responding to everyone that are making inappropriate comments or racist comments. Who are we as a caucus? So I felt this resolution that I voted for was stronger, and it addressed the issue, and it puts it out there and covers it all.

BURNETT: All right, because the resolution was changed though to condemn other isms as you say, right?


BURNETT: It was not longer specifically about anti-semitic things like support for Israel is all about the Benjamins and other things that had initially started out as. The President says that that is because your party is anti-Jewish.

LAWRENCE: The President is very, very wrong. He's not saying something that's truthful. We did include in that statement. It was not taken out. It clearly states that we as a Democratic caucus stand against any anti-semitic, comments, actions and we are clear. And I put out a press statement, it's not so much what you say but what you do and we must understand that one of the things that happen in 2018 we now have a very broad and very diverse caucus, the most diverse we've ever had in Congress.

And why is this statement needed? Because we have people coming from all walks of life with different experiences. And so we needed to come together as a caucus and put down a marker and say, "This is who we are. This is what we stand for." And also to let anyone know if you're making anti-semitic comments that is unacceptable for the Democratic caucus and we are on record saying that and we're going to hold people accountable for that.

BURNETT: All right. I appreciate your time, Congresswoman Lawrence. Thank you.

LAWRENCE: Thank you. And happy International Women's Day. We're very proud of you. You're amazing woman.

BURNETT: Oh, thank you. That is very kind of you. That is very kind of you to say. Thank you. And next, job creation grinding almost to a halt. The former Budget Director under Reagan warning it may only get worse with Trump. Why? He's OutFront. Plus, is President hinting a pardon could be in the works? I'm not talking about Cohen now, I'm talking Paul Manafort.


TRUMP: I feel very badly for Paul Manafort. I think it's been a very, very tough time.




[19:31:26] ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Tonight, a huge mess. There were only 20,000 jobs added in the United States last month. That fell short of every single economist estimate. It's the worst number since September of 2017.

OUTFRONT now, David Stockman, former budget director under Ronald Reagan and author of "Peak Trump: The Undrainable Swamp and the Fantasy of MAGA". And Stephen Moore, informal White House adviser and author of "Trumpnomics".

I don't need to explain who is what side.

David, let me start with you. The Bloomberg headline today said today's big miss is a shock and, quote, the dawn of a long forecast slowdown.

DAVID STOCKMAN, FORMER DIRECTOR, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET UNDER REAGAN: Well, I think one month doesn't mean anything. They get revised all the time it's a lot of noise but I lack at the trend. Trump has had 26 monthly record cards now from the BLS. Average

monthly gain: 199,000 jobs. The last 26 months of Obama. Average gain, 215,000 jobs. There's been no acceleration. There is no Trump boom.

The only thing that's happening is the business cycle is getting older and older, and we're near the end. In other words, we're month 116. The record is 119 in the 1990s when it was a better economic environment.

So, we are heading for a recession. And we have had policies that are upside down in terms of where we should be going. Trump inherited a $70 billion deficit for this year. That's bad ten years into a recovery.

BURNETT: Oh, yes.

STOCKMAN: He added $500 billion for the tax cut, $80 billion for defense, $60 billion in domestic, all the disaster aid that wasn't financed. So we're going to borrow 1.2 trillion this year.

BURNETT: At the end of a boom.

STOCKMAN: At the end of a boom. At the top of a cycle. Now, we're going to have a recession. Nobody has outlawed recessions. There is no acceleration.

I just point out that other than the sugar high of the second quarter last year, real final sales for the eight quarters under Trump are at 2.5 percent. Under the last --

BURNETT: You got a lot in here. And, Steve, you know, look he is right $19.2 trillion you're not supposed to be in this situation when things are good. When things are bad is when you borrow the money. But, no, that's not the way things are.

What's your response?

STEPHEN MOORE, INFORMAL WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: Well, I'll certainly agree with you that things are good. My goodness, Erin, it's true this was a very lousy number in terms of new jobs created.

But let's not bury the headline here that we have the lowest unemployment rate for women in, what, 50 years. We have 7 million more jobs today than workers. And by the way, I think you both know.

BURNETT: I love -- I love the use of the women headline on that.

MOORE: It's great, we love it.

By the way, black and Hispanic unemployment is also at record low.

But one of the problems we have, David, with the economy as you know is it's booming so much that literally ask any employer just about any state in the country, ask them what their biggest problem is, it's finding workers. Basically what we're finding right now in terms of the economy is we just can't find the workers to fill all the jobs we have: 7 million jobs surplus. That's more than the entire population of Indiana.


MOORE: By the way, David, I've known you a long time. I respect you. But you called like, you know, seven of the last two recessions. I remember when you first started talking about doom and gloom in the mid-80s the Dow was at 2,500. Today, it's at 25,000.

STOCKMAN: Well, the point is we do have recessions. They haven't been outlawed. We're at the very end of a long recovery, the weakest one in history. We have now got in enormous deficit buildup.

[19:35:01] We have the Fed finally belated trial trying to normalize a little bit. We have a world trade economy that's slowing down dramatically. China was down 10 percent first two months. Korea was down 19 percent.

So, we are going to have a recession. It will come next year or the year after. No doubt about it. And we will have a $2 trillion deficit we will be adding $10 trillion or $20 trillion to the national debt in the next decade.

BURNETT: The numbers make me sick as a citizen and parents. But you actually used words, David, to describe what you're talking about, what you say is an assault on this country's future -- delusional, unhinged madman. That's used to describe the president. It's not a psychological prognosis or diagnosis -- I'm sorry -- but this is your view of his treating of the economy.

STOCKMAN: Yes, of course. How else could you describe someone who comes in with a $2 trillion tax cut unfinanced, most went to corporations who are use going to buy back stock and do M&A deals.

We have had not had any real acceleration in real business investment. As a matter of fact, in the last for our five months. Orders have been down. So, what we did is we spent $180 billion this year on rate cut and other business reductions.

We got a $20 billion gain in business investments. So, you're going to spend $180 billion you don't have on a credit card to get $20 billion of investment.

BURNETT: That's a bad return on investment.

STOCKMAN: Terrible.

BURNETT: Steve, your response to delusional, unhinged madman?

MOORE: Maybe I'm looking at different statistics than David is, because, look, the business investment is health. It was 7 percent last year, year over year. That was one of the strongest numbers we've had in a decade.

Look, I will agree with David Stockman on something. It is true, David, that the economy is slowing down. We had 4 percent growth in the middle of 2018, and we had 2.5 percent in the fourth quarter of 2018 and now this quarter is looking, Erin, maybe 1 to 1.5 percent. That's a slowdown.


MOORE: But here's where I disagree with. This is a key point. I think the Fed is just killing the economy right now. Those interest rate hikes that took place in September and December have just pulled the oxygen out of the economy. At a time by the way, we had 4 percent growth, no inflation, the lowest unemployment rate.


MOORE: Why raise rates when the economy is so good?

BURNETT: Corporate tax receipts are down almost 20 percent as economic growth is coming down. It's just not the way you would learn in macroeconomics they tell me, the timing is not --

STOCKMAN: Steve, we cannot be beating up on the Fed when it's belatedly trying to get the interest rate above the inflation rate. We've had ten years of negative real interest rates.

MOORE: Why would you raise rates when there is no inflation in the economy?


BURNETT: Quick final word, Steve.

STOCKMAN: I don't know what no inflation you are talking about the running average in the last six months --

MOORE: The last three months, the last three months, the consumer price index has been negative in commodities fallen by 10 percent.

STOCKMAN: Come on. That's cherry picking the last six months, CPI is 2.2 percent.

MOORE: No, it isn't.

STOCKMAN: And besides that, you can't have an interest rate in the federal funds, that's barely positive.

MOORE: David -- you were the budget director, David, who said the economy, according to the Congressional Budget Office, can be $6 trillion larger over the next decade than before we passed that tax cut, $6 trillion additional GDP, I think that's a pretty good investment.

STOCKMAN: I don't think it adds up to much in a $200 trillion GDP over ten years.

BURNETT: $6 trillion is a quarter of the level of the current national debt. I may be one of the few to have an issue but it makes me sick to my stomach.


BURNETT: All right. Thank you both.

And next, President Trump claims Paul Manafort's judge says there is no collusion. The problem is that it's not true.

Plus, president Trump pictured with the former owner of the spa that Robert Kraft was at for things that had nothing to do with being a spa. Who is she? And how did she end up next to the president?


[19:43:00] BURNETT: New tonight, Trump's false claim, the president saying something that is blatantly untrue.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I feel very badly for Paul Manafort. I think it's been a very, very tough time for him. But if you notice, both his lawyer, a highly respected man, and a very highly respected judge, the judge said there was no collusion with Russia.


BURNETT: OK, the judge did not say that. Judge Ellis simply did not say there was no collusion with Russia. That's because the trial that he was presiding over was not about collusion with Russia. It was about Paul Manafort's tax and bank fraud. It had nothing to do with Russian collusion.

And that is why Judge Ellis said Manafort wasn't on trial for or convicted of anything to do with Russian colluding in the presidential election, because the question of collusion remains under the purview of the special counsel Robert Mueller. But the words no collusion mattered deeply to this president and Paul Manafort's lawyer for one knows that.


KEVIN DOWNING, MANAFROT DEFENSE ATTORNEY: What you saw today is the same thing that we had said from day one. There is absolutely no evidence that Paul Manafort was involved with any collusion with any government official from Russia.


BURNETT: And that's not what the case is about. It didn't include that because it wasn't about collusion.

OUTFRONT now, Republican congressman from Ohio, Mike Turner. He sits on the House Intelligence Committee. He's been looking at all the issues from a different investigative perspective.

Good to talk with you, Congressman.


BURNETT: We all know the president says no collusion on a daily basis. It's core to his self-definition at this point to say that. The question for you, though, is do you think these comments from Paul Manafort's lawyer were a direct plea to the audience of one to the president for a pardon?

TURNER: Well, you know, I would be just high-speculation. But, Erin, this case was about collusion, because that's how this investigation began. You can't look at this case --

BURNETT: But that's not what he was charged with.

TURNER: That's correct. Which it's great you make that point.

But the whole thing from inception came from reviewing whether or not there was collusion between the Russian federation and the Trump campaign of which Manafort was a part of.

[19:45:08] So you can't say that they're not related because they are related. Now, what we know is that he was not charged --

BURNETT: Yes, but to be clear, we don't know what Mueller is doing on the collusion front, right?


TURNER: Which is exactly what I'm going to say, Erin, if you let me finish.


TURNER: I was going to say, we have to wait for the Mueller campaign -- excuse me, the Mueller investigation to be completed. But I think it's absolutely incorrect to say it has nothing to do with collusion in this case, because it began out of that investigation. And there were no charges in this for collusion.


BURNETT: But what was being tried and argued in court what was ruled on, Congressman, you and I both know was bank fraud and tax fraud. It was not collusion.

TURNER: This was a financial case.

BURNETT: You can't say there is no collusion as a result of the trial it's false. It's a false statement.

TURNER: I haven't said. What I've said, though, is that you can't say this has nothing to do with the Mueller investigation or Russia -- the issue of collusion, because this is what it came out of. Now, as Mueller began his investigation looking at Manafort, looking at whether or not there was collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian federation of this case where they prosecuted him for financial transactions or came about.

Now, certainly, part of what you suspect is, where is that case? Where are those individuals from the Trump campaign?

BURNETT: We don't know.

TURNER: Or the Trump side that have been charged? No one has. No one has been charged with colluding with Russia. Again, as you and I pointed when we had these interviews before, the Mueller investigation is not complete and we have to wait to see what it says. But to this date, no one has been charged on the Trump side or the Trump campaign with colluding with the Russian federation. That certainly is accurate from this case that came out of that investigation.

BURNETT: Right. I'm simply pointing out that was not what it was. So, to say the conclusion was no collusion it's a false statement. That's what I'm saying. I think you and I agree.

TURNER: It would be false to say that -- right, but similarly it would be false to say it has nothing to do with it and didn't come out of it, because that's how it started.

BURNETT: It did, but no one said that. No one said that, you're disputing something that I didn't say.

TURNER: Well, it sounded very close to that to me, and I just wanted to make sure that that's clear, that these are related. It's not like it has nothing to do with the Russian investigation of collusion. It actually came directly out of it.

BURNETT: OK, but that's not what I said. What I said this case.

TURNER: Then we agree.

BURNETT: This -- this case, this is the verdict that came out this charge and this sentencing was not about Russian collusion, nothing has been concluded that wasn't what was tried, wasn't the evidence presented, wasn't anything to do with what went on in the court in Virginia.

TURNER: Well, again, you can't say it was nothing to do with what went on in the court because it came out of the Russian investigation. And you were saying --

BURNETT: Right. So, they're looking at that and they find out that the guy has been defrauding the government of millions of millions of dollars and committed bank fraud, so they charged him for that. So, if that's what you're saying is it came out of the Russian collusion investigation, I agree with you on that.

TURNER: It came out of investigation, but, Erin, they didn't charge him with any collusion or working for the Russian federation with respect to the Trump campaign. We have not seen any of that.

BURNETT: That is true. We have no idea what Mueller is doing on that. TURNER: And I agree we have to wait to see what the Mueller investigation concludes. But I think it's unfair to say it has nothing to do with it because it came out of it and you would have thought there would have been charges at this point against Manafort if there was some expectation that there were going to be charges against him for collusion. We certainly have not seen that.

But I'm with you. We'll wait until we see what the complete report from the Mueller investigation is.

BURNETT: Now, you talk about your investigation which I know you have been obviously a part of for a long time. Your committee interviewed Michael Cohen behind closed doors this week and you're now raising concerns about a series of meetings that happened before that that Cohen had with the chairman of the committee, Adam Schiff, and other Democratic staffers.

Congressman, do you have any evidence of the meetings what they were about? How long they were, what happened?

TURNER: You know, it's very concerning. Now, we have reportedly Lanny Davis coming forward, the attorney for Michael Cohen and saying that there were four trips to New York and the meetings face-to-face meetings occurred over ten hours in preparation for his testimony.

Some of which the public and we all got to see for government and oversight. That means that his preparation for his testimony, before his public testimony, was longer than his testimony. If you look at that -- the government oversight hearing, probably the Democrats questioned him for three and a half four hours in public and over ten hours in private.

That certainly is very concerning because that's when you cross the line between a professional investigation to professional orchestration when you get to the point where people are actually looking at questions of theater, are you guiding the witness? Are you coaching the witness?

There is a lot when you talk about over ten hours. I could see an hour. You know, this is logistics, this is how it's going to work. This is the subject matter.

But when you're over ten years, you're like way past anything that that's just on the logistics.

BURNETT: You know, you're talking about orchestration, you know, saying it crossed the line there, do you have any direct evidence to suggest that Chairman Schiff or any of the Democrats were directing Cohen about what to say, how to answer questions. Do you have any evidence that that occurred?

TURNER: No, and I think those are questions you need to ask Adam Schiff, because I've got to tell you, you know, we had tons of questions whether or not the president had asked Cohen to lie which he answered, no, he did not. [19:50:06] But in this instance, what did the Schiff team in over 10 hours say to him? What did they suggest to him? Did they like certain ways in which he said things, some things, topics that they wanted to go into further, did it guide them in making certain that Cohen had the answers they wanted? This is -- you know, ten hours of face-to-face meetings with Cohen where the public got to see him for seven in public.

That crosses the line. That's not professional. That's questionable conduct.

I think the Democrats and Adam Schiff need to answer those questions, what happened during those 10 hours? Because no one else was present. It wasn't bipartisan, it was just his staff. I think there are questions that need to be answered there.

BURNETT: So, just on your point there about it not being bipartisan. Obviously, you know, as you pointed out, it was Chairman Schiff and Democratic staffers. Lanny Davis' comment, though, was it was completely appropriate. He would have done the same thing for Republicans had they asked, referring to Michael Cohen, and told that to "The Daily Beast". So, basically saying you guys didn't ask, if you asked, he would have met with you, too. Did you ask?

TURNER: Well, you know, that's not -- that's really not, you know, apples and apples. That's not a comparison.

BURNETT: Why not?

TURNER: In this instance, certainly, if people had known, even when he was testifying before the Government Oversight Committee that he had ten hours of Democrat preparation, certainly people would have wanted to be present there. I think it should have been bipartisan because the dangers are just too great. I can see him spending over ten hours with his own lawyers but when he's spending ten hours with Adam Schiff's staff and talking to Adam Schiff on the phone, as he said he did, at the Government Oversight hearing, you get into the danger zone of what's happening in his testimony, what manipulation, what communication and guidance is happening with Michael Cohen that the public and certainly part of the investigation never gets to hear.

BURNETT: All right. Congressman Turner, I always appreciate your time. Thanks.

TURNER: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, this photograph raising eyebrows tonight. What is the president doing with the former of a spa linked to prostitution allegations against the owner of the New England Patriots, Trump's friend, Robert Kraft.

And presidential candidates who happened to be millennials using age to their advantage.


REP. TULSI GABBARD (D-HI), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Someone tells me to be quiet, I speak up louder.



BURNETT: New tonight, a picture of President Trump smiling with the woman you see there in the front of the picture at Mar-a-Lago on Super Bowl Sunday is raising eyebrows tonight.

It's hard to get your head around this one. You look at this picture and this is Super Bowl Sunday, and now I want to tell you who she is. She's the founder of the Florida spa where New England Patriots owner and Trump friend Robert Kraft was caught allegedly soliciting sex.

Get your head around it. This is new reporting tonight from "The Miami Herald". And this is not the first time she's coming into President Trump's orbit.

Jason Carroll is OUTFRONT.


[19:55:00] JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESONDENT (voice-over): Her name is Li Yang. She goes by Cindy. She's been spotted with the who's who of the GOP, including the president's son at Mar-a-Lago, Kellyanne Conway at the inauguration , and Sarah Palin.

But it's this selfie Yang took with President Trump at a Super Bowl watch party that's raising eyebrows. Yang is the former owner of Orchids of Asia day spa. The massage parlor where Florida authorities say they caught New England Patriots owner and Trump friend, Robert Kraft, on camera paying for oral sex.

CHIEF DANIEL KERR, JUPITER POLICE DEPARTMENT: He's being charged with the same offenses as the other, that is soliciting another to commit prostitution.

CARROLL: Kraft denies any wrongdoing. According to "The Miami Herald", Yang no longer owns Orchids of Asia. The publication reporting she sold it back in 2013.

CNN repeatedly tried but was unable to reach Yang for comment. She did speak with "The Miami Herald".

NICHOLAS NEHAMAS, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, MIAMI HERALD: She didn't answer the question whether she knew that there were sex happening. She simply told us that she's no longer in the spa business. She doesn't know President Trump and she's planning to move to Washington, D.C.

CARROLL: It should be noted, Yang was not charged in any anti-human trafficking bust that led to misdemeanor charges against Kraft and the closing of several spas in South Florida.

The White House declined to comment on Yang, but the president did speak about the charges against Kraft. TRUMP: Well, it's very sad. I was very surprised to see it. He's

proclaimed his innocence totally but I'm very surprised to see it.

CARROLL: As for Yang, she donated upwards of $35,000 to the Trump campaign according to the FEC filings. She's a self-made entrepreneur who according to "The Miami Herald" showed little political interest before the 2016 election and that she had not voted in the ten years prior.


CARROLL: Again, Yang has not been charged with any wrongdoing. It's just the optics of her being in that picture with the president and this indirect connection to the spa. And, you know, also there is an update with Kraft, that we should tell you about, too.


CARROLL: Kraft will have to appear in person for that arraignment that's going to be on March 28th.

BURNETT: So, they've been adamant they won't, but they will.

CARROLL: They will.

BURNETT: Can't get my head around this one.

OK. Thank you, Jason.

And also tonight, he gets carted when he tries to buy beer but he's running for president of the United States.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT.


MAYOR PETE BUTTIGIEG (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: People are sometimes, especially here in Iowa, are a little too polite to ask the question of why a 37-year-old mayor thinks he has any business of being in discussion of the highest office of the land.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): That's precisely the question facing Pete Buttigieg, the youngest candidate in the presidential race. He's the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, now turning heads as he audaciously eyes the White House.

(on camera): How can you make the argument that you're ready to be president?

BUTTIGIEG: So, I know you don't expect to hear this from the youngest person in the conversation, but my simplest answer is experience. I know there's a more conventional path that involves marinating in Washington for 10, 20, or 40 years. But I actually think we want Washington to be looking more like our best run cities and towns, not the other way around.

ZELENY: He's touting his youth as a virtue and his biography filled with the list of first.

BUTTIGIEG: That fact that I'm a veteran, that I'm young, that I'm in a same-sex marriage, those are important parts of who I am. But that profile just gets you a look. The real question is once people take that look, what do you see and what do they hear?

ZELENY: Democrats are giving him a look, but the challenge is to be seen as a serious candidate on a crowded stage.

He's at the forefront of the new generation of leaders who have little appetite to wait their turn.


ZELENY: Even Democrats not old enough to seek the presidency, like Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, is also influencing the party.

On the campaign trail, Buttigieg is not the only millennial in the race.

GABBARD: I don't know about you guys, when someone tells me to be quiet, I speak up louder.

ZELENY: Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is also 37, and an Iraq veteran, who is building his candidacy around foreign policy.

GABBARD: That is the change that I seek to bring to this country, of bringing these uniquely American ideals of putting service before self, that come from my heart as a soldier.


ZELENY: She's still explaining a 2017 meeting with Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad.

GABBARD: I'm deeply sorry -

ZELENY: And has apologized for what she called wrong and hurtful statement where she worked for an anti-gay group.

Two young congressmen also exploring a White House bid, 38-year-old Eric Swalwell of California and 40-year-old Seth Moulton of Massachusetts, highlighting a divide with Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, nearly four decades older. It's become a ready-made punch line at least fo the younger candidates.

BUTTIGIEG: I understand the audacity running for president at my age, especially because sometimes downstairs I get carded when I order a beer.


ZELENY: So, Buttigieg, Gabbard and others are part of the new generation of political leaders who served in Iraq and Afghanistan but they're also the first millennials to run for president. Now, he says the Constitution settled the question of age, you must be 35 but voters, of course, will have the final say -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Jeff, thank you.

And the town halls are on Sunday night at 7:00 Eastern here on CNN.

Anderson starts next.