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Carrier Union Leader on Trump; Scott Pruitt to Lead EPA; Trump Threat to Companies; Pesticide on Food; Pizzagate conspiracy Impacting Businesses. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired December 8, 2016 - 08:30   ET



[08:30:08] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Earlier on the show, Chris spoke with the union boss who Donald Trump tweeted about last night. His name is Chuck Jones. And he was not backing down after questioning the president-elect's numbers in that Carrier deal. Listen to this.


CHUCK JONES, PRESIDENT, UNITED STEELWORKERS 1999: He overreacted, President-elect Trump did, and I would expect if he's going to tweet something, he should have come out and try to justify his numbers and try to justify when I called him out.


CAMEROTA: All right, here with your "Bottom Line" on this and so much more is CNN political analyst David Gregory.

Hi, David.


CAMEROTA: So, if the numbers of saved jobs were 800 instead of 1,100, does that mean that it was any sort of less noteworthy what President- elect Trump did in saving some jobs from going to Mexico?

GREGORY: No, I don't think it is. And I think there's a larger issue at work here is that here is another example of an incoming president who's much more of a counterpuncher, much more of a street brawler in the wheeling and the dealing. And the way he's going to deal with companies, the way he's going to try to save jobs, the way he's going to deal with company decisions, trade decisions, we're getting a window into how I think he's going to operate. That may produce some gains. It may produce losses. But it seems like it's going to be a lot of interference. And it's going to be on a hair trigger. And I think that kind of unpredictability is going to have -- get a lot of people very worried to say nothing of the idea of the kind of principle of the president of the United States getting involved in company decisions about where they go, how they create jobs, how they do their business and then reaching down into another level in taking on union bosses.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Right. And there's another level of this example, of Carrier, that deserves attention. One is, picking winners and losers, as you say.


CUOMO: But also how you pick them. He paid this company to save a fraction of the jobs --


CUOMO: That it could have saved. And by inflating the number, what Jones, the union rep, was upset about was that there were people in that audience who thought their jobs were going to be saved because of that 1,100 number and they wound up losing their job and it added to their heartbreak. So there's a question about political deception and a practicality of bribing a company to stay.

GREGORY: And there's the politics of the unions as well, which is they're trying to protect jobs, protect their workers. They're going to be at odds with company decisions about how the company ultimately grows and projects jobs over time. So this is the rub and this is the tension. And now the other party in all of this is the incoming president of the United States, who does not know the ins and outs of Carrier or the parent company, but uses that government leverage against them when is he getting short-term political gain for long- term ruling, you know, of a company, or of an industry. But I think we're going to see this play out more -- more than just in this instance.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about his pick for the EPA. Scott Pruitt is a force critic of the EPA and he will now be heading the EPA. So I guess that meeting with Al Gore wore off.

GREGORY: Well, I think this is part of the, again, the unpredictability of the president-elect. We don't know exactly where he's going to come down. He is, I think he's on kind of a continuum here about climate change, for example. He may meet with Al Gore. Ivanka Trump may meet with him. He may have an open mind as he told "The New York Times." But this is what becomes important. Who do you put in there? What are your selections for your cabinet to actually affect policy? And we're going to have to wait and see. And there will be a real concern about that, I think, among Democrats who don't want to start from zero on climate change. As to whether this is still in dispute, they want policies that will back them up. As Tom Friedman has pointed out in "The New York Times," even President Bush had folks within the administration who were really open-minded about climate change and actually did work toward some positive policy for those who want to combat climate change.

CUOMO: Well, plenty of GOP Congress members believe in the science of --


CUOMO: Of human impact on global warming. So that will be controversial. And yet the bottom line, David Gregory, can anybody not get pushed through by the GOP, whether it's Pruitt, or even if it were a Petraeus, do you think that there's anybody that Trump is considering putting up that could turn GOP senators and not give a majority?

GREGORY: I think it's hard to see that at this point. I think the president's going to get his due. He's going to get his team, unless there's something that, you know, you can't get past. I mean, obviously, Petraeus, classified information, handling of that, the -- his personal affair, the circumstances of why he had to leave the CIA, yes, that's going to be an issue. But to your point, I don't see Republicans in sufficient numbers turning.

[08:35:01] CAMEROTA: David Gregory, thank you.

GREGORY: All right.

CUOMO: "The Bottom Line."

CAMEROTA: With David Gregory.

CUOMO: President-elect Donald Trump threatening huge tariffs on U.S. companies that move jobs to other countries. OK, this deserves examination. People keep throwing it around, and a lot of us don't understand it. But you will, next.


CUOMO: All right, it's time to make better sense of what we are being told. President-elect Donald Trump renewing his threat to impose a 35 percent tariff on American companies that move jobs overseas. What are the pros and cons of such a proposal? Easier said than done to be sure.

Joining us now is the executive editor of Bloomberg View and author of "Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald," Timothy O'Brien.

It's good to see you. Good morning, my friend.


CUOMO: Now, there are legal obstacles. We're not here to discuss those today. But if you don't have a general tariff, the president probably has an authority to do a targeted tariff like this.

O'BRIEN: Right.

CUOMO: Congress has never passed something like this specifically. So that's the legal side. Let's just talk business. Here's his tweet setting the table. The president-elect in flagrant disregard of 140 characters on this issue.

O'BRIEN: Right.

CUOMO: So -- but there's a whole string of tweets. You know, if you -- and what they say in general is, "if you think you're going to leave and make your products, cars, ac units, et cetera and then sell them back across the border, it's not going to happen. This tax will make leaving financially difficult but these companies are able to move between all 50 states with no tax or tariff being charged. Please be forewarned prior to making a very expensive mistake. The United States is open for business."

[08:40:02] All right, so let's talk about the tariff on a business side.

O'BRIEN: Right.

CUOMO: As an incentive Intent to keep companies stateside these would be the potential pros. Make you think twice, encourage you going to another state instead of another country and using this as a negotiating tool. This is where his supporters and surrogates lean heaviest.

O'BRIEN: Right.

CUOMO: That it's a starter.

O'BRIEN: Right.

CUOMO: How do you see the pros?

O'BRIEN: You know, the problem with all of this is, there -- it's a series of one-off and it doesn't really encourage long-term job growth or long-term economic growth. It's essentially policy through penalties. And if you look at --

CUOMO: Why is that wrong, though? Like if -- if I'm the Carrier -- if I'm Carrier, I don't want to pay 35 percent and more, assuming it's legal and it can happen, you know, because that changes my margins. Maybe I'm better off staying.

O'BRIEN: But the problem is, particularly with industrial companies now, we're in an era now where we've shredded 4.5 million manufacturing jobs over the last 20 years. It's unlikely those job are going to come back. And most of them were lost because of technological innovation. They weren't lost due to global trade. So what's essentially being done here is you're trying to cure something that's not the source of the problem.

CUOMO: All right, so let's look at the cons. It's something Tim just said is worth your thinking about in researching yourself. The Carrier deal, the company just pledged to put $12 million into its own company now. That sounds good except they're doing it to automate the manufacturing process, which will shed jobs.

O'BRIEN: Correct.

CUOMO: And the idea that the reason we're losing jobs is because everybody's running to cheap labor isn't exactly true. It's not even really 50 percent true. Automation has done more. That's why people talk about retraining.

So here are the cons. You tax the company, they pass it on in the price.

O'BRIEN: Right. CUOMO: There's no guarantee that jobs already lost will come back. U.S. companies could elect to move offshore to avoid the tariffs, meaning they take all their business abroad. Affected countries retaliate with more tariffs, creating a trade war. Let's leave this one to the side. Discuss these first.

O'BRIEN: Well, you know, the easiest case study here is China. The ideas that we're going to tariff China out of business, or make China noncompetitive by imposing drastic tariffs on what they sell to the United States is very backwards thinking. China really isn't a nation of assembly line workers only producing cheap clothing to the United States now. They want to be world leaders themselves. They're trying to back technologically progressive, competitive companies. And they'll sell to the rest of Asia if the United States isn't there. We kill trade agreements, which it looks like we're going to, the TPP, and impose a very drastic tariff regime, it's going to be anti- competitive to the United States ultimately.

CUOMO: Now, the president-elect has suggested that China taxes our stuff but we don't tax any of theirs. Now, is that true, or are there layers of tariff that imports --

O'BRIEN: There's a -- China does a lot of anti-competitive stuff itself, so Trump is not off base in saying that China itself deploys some of these same tools. But it hasn't risen to the kind of full- scale nuclear trade war that a 35 percent, to 45 percent tariffs would entail.

CUOMO: All right, why, because here it is. This is the last point. Would this kind of policy create trade problems? We use "war," that may be a little dramatic, because countries impose trade barriers around each other as a result. It could raise the cost on American manufacturers abroad. Negative historical precedent. Worse than the Great Depression. How would him putting a tariff on American companies that go abroad who want to sell products back home --

O'BRIEN: Or vice versa.

CUOMO: Create any of this?

O'BRIEN: Well, because I think we know historically that free trade does promote growth. There's just empirical proof of this. But along the way, it also shreds jobs. There's a lot of pain involved in that. So the real -- the real thing that I think people need to do is focused on the pluses and cure the real minuses.

CUOMO: That's why part of my education on this issue is reading Tim's pieces in Bloomberg and elsewhere about why retraining and investing in that and investing in those types of markets that create labor demand is the better move, but it's more expensive and not as politically validating.

O'BRIEN: And tricky.

CUOMO: Tim O'Brien, thank you very much. As always. As always.

O'BRIEN: Good to be here, Chris. Thank you.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, the conspiracy theory known as "pizzagate" resulted in a North Carolina man firing a gun inside a D.C. pizzeria. Four other businesses in the area say they have been targeted, too, including a famous bookstore. So we will speak with its owners about what's going on there, next.

But first, did you know that fresh fruit has a so-called dirty dozen? Nutritionist Lisa Drayer shows us which organic produce might not be completely pesticide free. That's in today's "Food as Fuel."


LISA DRAYER, NUTRITIONIST: Different kinds of fruit contain differing amounts of pesticide residue, even after being washed. The Environmental Working Group put out its dirty dozen list of the most contaminated produce. Strawberries top the 2016 rankings, followed by apples, nectarines, peaches, grapes, and cherries.

[08:45:00] Now if this list is tricky to remember, just think thin when it comes to skin as pesticides easily penetrate thin skinned fruit. And if you do buy organic, just remember, it may not be higher in vitamins or minerals than the conventionally grown version.



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: So, earlier this week, an armed man from North Carolina travelled to a Washington, D.C. pizzeria. Police say he went there to, quote, "self-investigate" a false Internet conspiracy about a child sex trafficking ring that he believed was somehow connected to Hillary Clinton's campaign. The other businesses in that neighborhood are still reeling from the fallout of this.

Lissa Muscatine and Bradley Graham are the owners of Politics and Prose. That is a bookstore that is an institution of D.C. It is on the same block as the pizzeria. We should note that Alissa was once a speech writer for Hillary Clinton.

Guys, thanks so much for being here.

[08:50:02] I don't even know where to begin because this is all so fantastical and weird, but why don't you just tell us what the scene was like on Sunday when all of this was unfolding at the pizzeria near you.

BRADLEY GRAHAM, OWNER, POLITICS AND PROSE BOOKSTORE: Alisyn, first, thanks for having us. And thanks for focusing attention on this issue.

Lissa and I were in the store on Sunday afternoon. We had an event going on. Mark Schreiber (ph) was there talking about his new biography of the pope. And all of a sudden we saw and heard police converging on the block, closing off the block, motioning everybody to get off the sidewalks and inside. So we had to lock down the store.

CAMEROTA: And so, Lissa, before all of that hell broke loose on Sunday, were you aware of this conspiracy theory that was somehow implicating the pizzeria and the businesses around it?

LISSA MUSCATINE, OWNER, POLITICS AND PROSE BOOKSTORE: Yes, we had become aware of it in the weeks before then, in kind of fits and starts, really. And we flew from the owner of -- of Comet that he had been receiving weird things on his social media. And then we ended up consulting with other businesses on the block and it turned out we all over the weeks of November started to receive phone calls, things on social media, complete fantastical assertions about all of our businesses that attempted to connect all of our businesses again (ph), totally preposterous way.

CAMEROTA: And were you nervous? I mean when you started -- I don't know what sorts of things you saw on social media. Maybe you can share those. But were they threatening and sort of dark enough that you started to worry about what might happen?

GRAHAM: Most definitely. They were quite, quite threatening, including a threats of death and these were -- these were reported to the authorities and we were bracing for -- for something like that what ultimately happened on Sunday.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh. So what did police tell you? I mean how do they stamp out an Internet conspiracy theory?

MUSCATINE: Well, you know, it happens on so many levels and in so many ways and, of course, these things go viral and the Internet is not as regulated as maybe it could be or should be. But basically what we have to focus on, as a business on our block with all the other businesses, is what we do. And we're continuing to do what we do. And, interestingly, what we do is so sort of contrary to all of this. We're there to provide a sense of community, to be inclusive and tolerant, to provide diverse opinions and a place where people can exchange ideas and have rigorous conversations and even debate in a respectful and civil way. And one of the reasons our block is such a strong block commercially in terms of a sense of community is because all of the businesses subscribe to that belief of community and so do the people who patronize our businesses and the entire surrounding neighborhood.

So it's been an incredible thing to see moving forward the resilience, not just the resilience really of the community, but it just renewed strength and commitment to being what we are and continuing to be what we are. And, you know, law enforcement will say that that's really your best -- your best strategy.

CAMEROTA: Lissa, that's such a great point. I mean the irony of this, of you all being targeted when you're all about sort of openness and discussion as opposed to, you know, these -- the dark corners of the Internet where these weird conspiracies live. But now that you both have been the target of this weirdness, what's the answer? I mean how do you -- how do we all stamp out these fake stories?

GRAHAM: Look, on one level we get it. Some of this is reflective of an eroding confidence in the conventional sources of information that people have turned to. And so in the -- in the -- as a result people are looking for other sources, and they're fastening on some of these really outlandish tales. But I think one answer is for people to -- I mean exercise good judgment and common sense about what they -- about what they believe.



MUSCATINE: Yes, no, I think that's right. I also think it's really important. We have a very, very close working relationship in our neighborhood with our local law enforcement and our neighborhood and city government officials and now with federal officials as well. And it's important to have those relationships. It's important to stand strong as a community. You know, it's important to shop local. It's important to support your local businesses for all of these reasons. And the returns are great because you get such a strong sense of community. And that's what we can do at our level.

You know, it's going to be up to politicians. It's going to be up to people in office and in public spaces, whether they're famous or not, to try to help regulate this and bring some civility back to the public square. The public square is now in part the Internet. And so hopefully over time people will recognize the consequences of these sorts of things, and be able to move us in a more positive direction.

CAMEROTA: Well, thanks so much for having this discussion with us here on NEW DAY. It is good to talk about it. And, just stay safe. Thanks to both of you.

MUSCATINE: Thanks for having us, Alisyn.

GRAHAM: Thank you, Alisyn.

MUSCATINE: We really appreciate it.

CAMEROTA: "The Good Stuff," that's next.


[08:55:04] CUOMO: All right, you ready for a good "Good Stuff"?

CAMEROTA: Yes, I am. A good "Good Stuff."

CUOMO: She's got a big heart, this Camerota, and we may see some tears. All right.

CAMEROTA: Oh, no. Get the tissues.

CUOMO: We are going to go to Santa's house in the North Pole, for real. A flight of 34 kids undergoing cancer treatments along with their families actually boarded a festive flight from O'Hare International in Chicago, flew all the way to the North Pole.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm pretty excited about this because, you know, I've heard that Santa has been sighted today and we're going to be flying up there. So we're going to go up there and just fly around and see if we can't see him in the air.


CUOMO: Operation North Pole. Along with Cal's Angels, United Airlines, a group of volunteer pilots and flight attendants all teamed up to make an unforgettable trip for these children and their families. As they landed --


CUOMO: Santa greeted the kids. Lots of activities, gifts, comfort dogs, all to make a merry Christmas.

CAMEROTA: Oh, thank goodness Santa was there! I was worried how this was going to end.

CUOMO: They booked him in advance.

CAMEROTA: Yes, that -- because he's busy this time of year.

[09:00:03] CUOMO: Have the kids sent their list?

CAMEROTA: Ah, yes. Oh, yes. They do that in May.


CAMEROTA: Yes, they're on it. My kids are on it.

CUOMO: Impressive.

CAMEROTA: They are on it.

Time now for "NEWSROOM" with Carol Costello. Good morning, Carol.