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U.S. adds 390,000 New Jobs In May, Unemployment Holds At 3.6 Percent; Jan. 6 Cmte To Hold Hearings Thursday In Prime Time; Zelenskyy Marks 100th Day Of War: "Victory Shall Be Ours". Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 03, 2022 - 12:30   ET



JOHN KING, CNN HOST: Today's new jobs report is strong, very strong. The American economy, take a look, at it a robust 390,000 jobs in May. And the unemployment rate held steady at just 3.6 percent. President Biden a short time ago celebrating the numbers as historic yet, he also acknowledged persistent inflation is straining family budgets and making Americans pessimistic about the economy, even though the jobs report and other indicators do show strength.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Even with today's good news, a lot of Americans remain anxious, and I understand the feeling. There's no denying that high prices, particularly around gasoline and food are a real problem for people. But there's every reason for the American people to feel confident that we'll meet these challenges because of the enormous progress we've made on the economy.


KING: Let's get some important perspective now from Kai Ryssdal. He's the host of Public Radio's Marketplace. Kai, great to see you. Let's focus on the jobs report, hiring across most sectors looks strong. That's a big robust number. When you look at all this new data, what does it tell you about the fundamentals of the U.S. economy?

KAI RYSSDAL, HOST, PUBLIC RADIO'S MARKETPLACE: Look, the fundamentals of this economy are and have been strong for a long time, right? If you want a job in this economy, you can get one. If you're trying to move ahead in this economy, you can do that. The catch, of course, is as the President said, and as we all know, inflation at 8.3 percent by one measure is just, it's eating into people's livelihoods. And we all see it every day. So that's the challenge.

But look, here's the thing to take away from today's numbers, right? If you're Jay Powell trying to run this economy, this is a little too good for you. You don't want to see 390,000 new jobs because that increases wage pressure. Wage pressure helps drive inflation. And that takes direct aim at what Powell and the Federal Reserve are trying to do which is cool this economy just a little tiny bit. [12:35:08]

KING: So sometimes good news can be too good news, I guess, is what you're saying. And so, you mentioned, you talked about Jerome Powell and the Fed. And the President, of course, is hoping the Fed can help him and bend the inflation arc as we get for American families. Number one, but for his own politics, as we get closer to Election Day, if you look at the University of Michigan consumer sentiment index, and you almost don't even need to look at the numbers, just look at the right side of your screen.

Consumer sentiment, even though the economy is adding robust jobs, even though as you said, if you have a job, you're probably getting a raise, if you want to switch you can. The Americans are in a funk consumer said, that is the two by four of inflation, right, gas prices, food prices, hitting them in the head?

RYSSDAL: Right. That's exactly right. And the consumer sentiment thing is interesting, because we feel terrible about this economy, with some reason, right? I mean, I'm paying $6.39 a gallon at the gas station across the street from my house. Yes, it's you know, California, but on a national average is $4.70. And that's just not doable. But when you look at consumers feeling bad, you have to -- the flip side of that is that consumers are still spending because, yes, wages are slowing down a little bit. But in the aggregate, right, wages plus the number of hours work plus the ability to get a job in this economy, are staying just a little bit ahead of inflation. And that is why consumers are still spending.

And as we all know, consumer spending or spending on behalf of consumers by the government is 70 percent of economic activity. And that's what's driving the growth in this economy that the Fed and others are seeing for this quarter and for the out quarters.

KING: Kai Ryssdal, grateful for your insights. Appreciate it. Thank you.

RYSSDAL: Glad to do it.

KING: Let's come back to our reporters here in the room. And if we could put up the University of Michigan consumer sentiment graphic again, this is one of my indicators that I use in covering campaigns over the years. And so look at this closely at home. If you look at 2012, that line is mostly up, Obama wins reelection. If you look at 2016, it's mostly flat. Democrats lose the White House to Donald Trump. If you look at 2020 it's dropping like a rock, that's the Coronavirus pandemic, Donald Trump loses the White House. Then you come over to 2022, it is dropping again, like a rock, Jeff Zeleny, which if you're Joe Biden, in your political environment, that's an economic statistic. But that's a political whoa.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: A political warning sign. And they are following that more than anything else. And one of the main drivers of that, of course, the price of gas. That is what generally the every voter I talked to across the country, Republican, Democrat, regardless of where they are. That is what is driving the pessimism, the dark cloud that is hanging over this economy. The upside for this administration is the fundamentals as Kai was saying there are strong underneath. So they can get beyond this, but there's no sign that they're really going to get beyond this.

So the challenge for the President is trying to walk this careful line of not talking down the economy, but not saying it's too good, because no one believes that, that's not what they feel. So every time he sort of touts the strengths, he also has to say, but I feel your pain. And that sort of leaves things stuck in a neutral horse (ph). So the reality is, there's very little that he can do except watch this unfold.

KING: And so you make a key point there, the President's credibility with the American people is critical here, because it's going to take time, inflation is not going to go away by Election Day. It's just not. So the question is, can the President convince the American people he's on top of this, and he's telling the truth about where we are? You mentioned the gas prices. Let's just show the new record high. It's every day, almost every day now. And again, there's not much a President can do about this, but gas is $4.76 a gallon right now on average, it is 5.11 if you buy mid-grade, it is 5.39 if you buy premium. We just heard Kai Ryssdal, he's out in California, a state with a higher gas tax.

So the President is going to the Middle East and Europe. His staff now says he will go to Saudi Arabia and meet with the Crown Prince, his staff says that. His staff says that in part, that is to try to get Saudi Arabia to increase oil production, to help with that gas number. The President was asked about this today. That's not what he said.


BIDEN: I'm not sure whether I'm going. I have no direct plans at the moment. But let me tell you that I have been engaged in trying to work with how we can bring more stability and peace in the Middle East. I'm not going to change my view on human rights, but as President of the United States, my job is to bring peace if I can.


KING: The last part is remember candidate Joe Biden called the Crown Prince a pariah and Saudi Arabia a pariah because of the Khashoggi killing and other human rights abuses by the Saudis. President is now going, his staff says, he's going. Is he pulling back? Is he telling his stuff, no, I'm not? Or is he just not being candid?

FRANCO ORDONEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, NPR: I mean, I guess we'll find out. I mean, I think he has been trying to push back. And he's concerned about this narrative, and a narrative. He did call bin Salman a pariah. And he's concerned about the controversy surrounding that. He's now talking about going there for, you know, trying to invoke peace in the region.

But obviously, you know, you showed the numbers, oil is a huge issue. Saudi Arabia is one of the biggest producers of oil. The administration, the White House has been there, staff has been there trying to encourage officials in Saudi Arabia to pull out more oil, and they've only gotten so far. So it is hard not to see that this is a really big part of it. He's also going to Venezuela and other authoritarian government. So this is a real issue that he's trying to get in tackle and he's facing some controversy in the process.


KING: So why not just say, look, this job is hard. Sometimes you got to sit down with bad actors.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. You know, and that's sort of Joe Biden's kind of political identity, right? He shoots straight from the shoulder. He levels with the American people. This I think gets at a larger problem this White House has with just communication and the staff being on the same page, as the President. The President saying one thing, the staff saying another, this is yet another example of that. And we've seen that particularly I think around foreign policy. Many, many times the staff has had to walk back something that the President has said we'll see what happens, but this is critical to the American economy, the idea that sometimes Americans have to do business with bad actors all across the world.

KING: And when the staff says one thing and the President says another just extends the story. It extends the shelf life of a story that might not be pleasant.

Up next for us, live to Kyiv. This is day 100 of Vladimir Putin's war. President Zelenskyy says Russia now controls, get this, one-fifth of Ukraine.



KING: The January 6th Committee is moving to primetime. Next Thursday, 8:00 p.m., the Committee plans to present unseen documents and provide new witness testimony about the Capitol insurrection. Denver Riggleman is a former congressman, also is a senior technical advisor to the Committee spoke to CNN this morning about what he sees as the biggest challenge facing this Committee.


DENVER RIGGLEMAN, FORMER SENIOR TECHNICAL ADVISER, JANUARY 6 COMMITTEE: The biggest challenge we have, Brianna, is how do we compete with a story of fantasy? How do we compete with that compelling, sort of fantastical apocalyptic conspiracy theory that we have to take over the government or there's a deep state or globalists or QAnon? Facts are boring. And I think the thing that we have to do is we have to be able to present those facts in a compelling way.


KING: Reporters are back with us. He says deal with the facts in a compelling way. One thing we do know, and we can put up on the screen, we know who's already met with the Committee. And we know it includes a who's who of Trump world, including the President's daughter and the president's son and the president's son in law, and a whole bunch of people inside and outside the West Wing, very close to Donald Trump. When the Committee puts their testimony up, assuming some of it is unfavorable to the former president of the United States. That's a trigger.

ORDONEZ: Oh, yes. I mean, we all know how easily triggered former President Donald Trump is, you know, anything that is slightly against him, sets him off. I'd be very curious to see what Ivanka Trump testified, what Jared Kushner testified, and what comes out and see how he responds to that because family obviously, is a different scenario. That said, I am also interested in how, what comes out, and whether the Justice Department does anything with that information.

KING: Will the Justice Department do anything with it is part of it. We do know that some of the focus is going to be about people around Mike Pence and Mike Pence that day. The Vice President of the United States was at the Capitol. The crowd was chanting hang Mike Pence. He had obviously defied the President. The President wanted to come up with some theory that doesn't exist, just block the Electoral College. We know that attorneys for the Vice President, his former chief of staff may testify, former federal judge who helped the Vice President go through the legal options, and they decided there weren't any. Some of those people have credibility. Those people you're looking at right there do have credibility in Trump world, or at least did have credibility in Trump world. Can they change minds?

ZELENY: We'll see if they can change minds. I think by this point, it seems like most minds are made up. But those are very respected conservatives. So we will see if any Republicans on the Hill, their minds can be changed. I think in terms of the viewers of this at home, we are going to learn a lot just the roadmap of the text messages, who was calling and sending messages into the Oval Office on the afternoon of the 6th that is just interesting for history. So that is what this is likely going to be about, is a document for history, a broader understanding of this, it may not be more than that.

HENDERSON: I think that's right, this Committee has had a pretty good media strategy so far. So they're leaking different text messages for Mark Meadows, in different papers, into different outlets. And so here they are having this first hearing at 8:00 o'clock, which typically is reserved for big, you know, events that the public should listen to. So in that way, we'll see. I mean, they've clearly reserved some of the more damning information for this hearing, you know, and not revealing whatever people like Ivanka Trump said, or Jared Kushner or some of the other folks. So I think you know, it's going to I think land with the American people in a way that might not change minds but will certainly break through.

KING: I said the same thing, I said earlier about the gun debate. What is the harm of coming into a conversation with an open mind? Listen, watch, listen, watch, listen, see, maybe it'll change your mind, maybe it won't.


When we come back, Russia making key gains in Ukraine on this day 100 of the war.


KING: To Ukraine now, President Zelenskyy marking the 100th day of Vladimir Putin's war telling the world quote, victory shall be ours. But Russia is making big gains especially right here in the east and making them fast. The last Ukrainian stronghold their, Severodonetsk, you see it right here on the map. Invading forces, they're already controlled about 80 percent, about 80 percent of the city there, now one-fifth of the entire country, the President says, President Zelenskyy says is under Russian control. Let's get live to our Ben Wedeman. He's in Kyiv for us today. Ben, what's the latest?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest really is that all eyes are focused on the situation in the East, John, in Severodonetsk, a city that we -- I was in in April. And it all back then it was taking a daily pounding from Russian forces. But the Ukrainians were able to hold on, but it appears that the Russians are using their massive advantage in terms of artillery just to pulverize that city, pulverize the resistance. Only about 20 percent of the city is still under Ukrainian control. And we've heard from the Ukrainian general staff today that Russia is assembling more forces to take a strategic town just about a 25-minute drive north of that, Severodonetsk. And that would be Slavyansk, where they have tried in the past to take that city.


So it does appear that the Russians have given up their ambitious plans. Certainly Kyiv couldn't be more peaceful at the moment. They've given up on plans in taking Kyiv, the country as a whole. But definitely the East is taking the brunt of the artillery from the Russians at the moment. John?

KING: Ben Wedeman, live for us in Kyiv, Ben thank you very much. And thank you for your time today in Inside Politics. Hope we'll see you back here on Monday. Try to have a nice weekend. Ana Cabrera picks up our coverage after a break.