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Walmart Announces Jobs; Chinese President on Trade War; Putin Talks about Undermining Trump; Putin on Compromising Material; Trump's HHS Pick Under Fire; Controversy over Education Secretary Pick; Pulse Shooter's Widow Arrested; Obama Travel Plans Post-Presidency; Undermining Trump's Win. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired January 17, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: But what this really illustrates is -- is this new trend in corporate America, growing jobs in America. And though Walmart didn't make any mention of Donald Trump in its announcement, companies have really been under a lot of pressure to commit to U.S. jobs. We saw similar happen to automakers like Ford, aerospace companies like Lockheed Martin, which announced its adding jobs to its F-35 fighter program. So we've seen a lot of companies go in this direction, Walmart no different.

CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Alison Kosik, thank you so much.

KOSIK: You got it.

COSTELLO: China's president -- China's president is fiercely defending globalization, saying there are no winners in a trade war. He spoke at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, today. It's the first time the Chinese president has attended the forum.

Joining us live from Hong Kong, CNN's senior international correspondent Ivan Watson to tell us more.



This was such a strange situation. So topsy turvy, this world we're in now, to have the leader of China's communist party making at this elite gathering in Switzerland and making the case for free trade and globalization. With the Chinese President Xi Jinping saying no to protectionism and saying that globalization, while it has some problems, you can't blame all of the word's problems on this trend and this phenomenon.

Now, this is, of course, is a response to what was the elephant in the room at Davos, at this World Economic Forum, and that is the incoming Trump administration with Donald Trump campaigning hard with themes are protectionism, of threatening to impose tariffs if trade isn't improved, arguing that the U.S. can't afford to continue underwriting a global free trade.

Here's what one of his spokesmen had to say at Davos.


ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, TRUMP TRANSITION TEAM: I think the Chinese and the Americans have a common cause and we have to have a very strong bilateral relationship. I also believe that the United States and the new administration does not want to have a trade war. What we would like to have is a process of free and fair trade. President Trump could be one of the last great hopes for globalism because he's focused on something that we have to fix internally in the United States in order to create a more burgeoning market.


WATSON: Now, Carol, it's important to note that the Chinese president, while he vowed to leave the door open to trade with the rest of the world, at the same time there's some contradictions because China does have a number of restrictions on investment into China. That's something that Trump has complained about. For instance, according to the ministry of commerce, all foreign investment into news agencies, book publishing, film making, tobacco, legal affairs consulting, they're all banned and Chinese partners have to have majority stakes on any investments into auto manufacturing, education, health care, railways, aviation. That said, the Chinese have been promoting a number of international investment organizations and free trade blocs. So they've got somewhat a contradictory position there when it comes to free trade and globalization as well.


COSTELLO: Ivan Watson reporting live from Hong Kong this morning. Thank you.

All right, more on our breaking news. Russian President Vladimir Putin saying America is in an acute political struggle to undermine Trump's win. And he says any compromising material against Trump is absolutely fake.

I want to bring back in Jill Dougherty. She's the global fellow with the Woodrow Wilson center and former CNN Moscow chief to tell us more.

Hi, Jill.


Well, you know, we'd been hearing some things like this from other Russian officials, but to hear it from President Putin and to hear it in extended comments that went on for several minutes, and then also as really strong as it was, was really quite amazing. And the president was at a news conference. He was asked about this by a reporter. And then he went on, and he said, there's an acute political battle in the United States ongoing to undermine the legitimacy of the Trump victory, that they are trying to tie the hands and feet of incoming President Trump to prevent him from doing what he wants to do. Mr. Putin said, this is hurting the United States. And then he went on to say that that compromising material that's out there is obviously fake. He was very scornful of that.

Then he said, I don't know Mr. Trump. I don't -- I never met him. I don't know what he's going to do internationally. And I have no basis to attack him, criticize him or basically praise him. But then he went on and was asked specifically a pretty sensitive question about this compromising material, which has been denied, about prostitutes, et cetera, and there you had at a Kremlin news conference President Putin going on, talking about prostitution. And he said, Mr. Trump is a man who organized beauty pageants, was around the most beautiful women in the world. So it's hard to imagine that he would have to socialize with our girls of, as Mr. Putin put it, low social responsibility. And then he added, although they are the best of the world. And that drew quite a -- a bit of laughter in the room.

[09:35:34] And then finally some very cutting words. He said, people who fabricate false information and use it for political purposes are worse than prostitutes. So it was a very different type of news conference, very personal, and you can see that President Putin is laying into the Obama administration, essentially saying, we can't wait until they are gone, and we can deal with the new president.


COSTELLO: All right. You'll have much more in the next hour of NEWSROOM. Jill Dougherty, many thanks.

Still to come in the NEWSROOM, stock shock. Another cabinet pick raising major ethic concerns one day before he sits on the hot seat of Capitol Hill.


COSTELLO: New confirmation hearings and new controversy. This week, eight cabinet level nominees will be in the hot seat. Up today, the interior secretary pick Ryan Zinke and education secretary pick Betsy DeVos. But it's the man Donald Trump tapped to get rid of Obamacare that's raising some serious concerns.

CNN's Manu Raju live on Capitol Hill with more.

Good morning.


Yes, Congressman Tom Price of Georgia, picked to lead the Health and Human Services Department, has been under scrutiny since last month after reports revealed that he traded roughly $300,000 worth of shares in health-related companies at the same time as pursing health care legislation.

[09:40:03] Now, in our recent report last night, we learned that Mr. Price purchased up to $15,000 worth of stock in a medical device company, Zimmer Biomet, at the same time as pursuing legislation, offering a bill that would actually delay a Medicare rule that would have hurt Zimmer Biomet. This came right after -- right before the company's PAC actually donated to Mr. Price's re-election campaign. Now, the Trump campaign is dismissing any questions about this report,

saying this is sort of much ado about nothing. That it wasn't a whole lot of money. That he was not influenced by the campaign contribution. And they're saying that it was actually purchased through a broker.

Now, even after Mr. Price learned in April of 2016 about this stock that was purchased through a broker, he continued to hold on to that share, and only recently, Carol, announcing last week that if confirmed as HHS secretary he would divest from Zimmer Biomet, along with other health care companies in order to avoid any appearance of conflicts of interest.

Now, he is also tapped to lead the effort on Capitol Hill to repeal Obamacare. This comes as Donald Trump telling "The Washington Post" earlier this week that his plan would ensure that everybody would have access to health care.

Now, I've talked to several top Republicans who were unaware of any plan that Donald Trump is pursuing on health care. And there's also some frustration on Capitol Hill that Donald Trump is talking about expanding coverage rather than, in their view, the more important issue, lowering costs. So a lot of confusion about exactly what Donald Trump is pursuing because Republicans on Capitol Hill are looking at replacing Obamacare piece by piece, not any sort of comprehensive plan. So we'll see what Donald Trump actually has in mind.


COSTELLO: All right, Manu Raju reporting live from Capitol Hill, thank you.

I want to focus now on Betsy DeVos. Soon she is expected to be grilled by Senate Democrats like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders. Why? They say she has absolutely no experience with the public school system, something she would be in charge of if she is confirmed. Supporters, though, say DeVos says that does not disqualify her.


ANDREW CAMPANELLA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL SCHOOL CHOICE WEEK: Just because someone doesn't necessarily work inside a system, but instead works on the outside, works full time to try to improve education for children by putting kids first, giving parents more choices for their children's education, doesn't mean they're unqualified in any way, shape or form. I wish that folks who are involved in education would be optimistic. I'm optimistic about education in America. I'm optimistic that more American parents than ever before are actively choosing the right schools for their kids.


COSTELLO: All right, with me now is Randi Weingarten. She's the president of the American Federation of Teachers.



COSTELLO: Randy, you are not a fan of Ms. DeVos. Why?

WEINGARTEN: So, look, I've spent almost a full year last year in Detroit having a front row seat as we were trying to not save that school system, but save opportunities for children. And I saw what she did firsthand in terms of buying off the legislature and rewarding her friends and punishing her enemies. So at the end of the day --

COSTELLO: So, but what about the school system?

WEINGARTEN: So this is what we saw. If you look at her whole record, and she has been an active lobbyist for 30 years in education. The man is absolutely right, she actively has been actively trying to defund and destabilize education -- public education throughout the country. In fact, she's the most anti-public education nominee in -- who have ever been nominated for that position.

This is what happened in Michigan. She has both worked to drain the public schools of funding. Things that she supported drained the public schools of millions and millions of dollars so that you had very little that helped kids in terms of Detroit in the public schools. And, at the same time, the stuff she was supporting, for- profit charters, did just as bad, if not worse. The for-profit charters in Detroit, 80 percent of the kids in Detroit for-profit charters don't do well in English, 84 percent don't do well in math, and last -- and last, Michigan schools, since she's been such an activist, have gone from 25 and 26 in terms of ratings around the country, to 41 and 42 on fourth grade reading and math scores. So it hasn't worked.

COSTELLO: She -- but her -- some of her ideas do work in other states, like Florida for example. They love Betty DeVos there. They say that she's done wonderful thing (INAUDIBLE).

WEINGARTEN: No, Jeb Bush loves Betsy DeVos there, but listen to parents in Florida. Listen to what has happened to her in terms of the test (INAUDIBLE) in Florida. Just this week the legislatures --

[09:45:01] COSTELLO: But aren't there other factors at play?

WEINGARTEN: Yes, there are totally -- but that's the point, Carol, there are lots of other factors at play and there are lots of things we can do to make sure that public schools are a viable choice. I'm not saying that parents -- they want different choices.

COSTELLO: Well, Betsy DeVos would say, you know what, parents do need more choices because there is something wrong in our public schools and our education system is adrift and you can't deny that there are problems there.

WEINGARTEN: Of course.

COSTELLO: So why not give parents more choices, as in vouchers, so they can send their children where they want to? WEINGARTEN: So what happens is, if you're going to use the public

dollar, you better make sure that the choice is a good choice for parents. And what has happened is in Michigan, the use of the public dollar has created boatloads of profit for the people in those schools. This is not my words. This is Tom Watkins (ph), the former superintendent of Michigan's public -- of Michigan schools. But it hasn't helped kids.

So there are ways in which you can do charter schools and create these kind of options, but what Betsy wants to do -- what Ms. DeVos wants to do -- and it's totally true she has no connection to public schools -- what she wants to do is actually just drain the public system of the dollars it desperately needs when half our kids are poor. If you actually --

COSTELLO: Well, let me -- let me -- let me say this.


COSTELLO: Betsy DeVos's supporters would say that you're self- interested. In fact, they put this ad out. It's something called Center for Union Facts (ph). I don't know if Betsy DeVos has anything to do with this, but clearly it's an anti-union organization that put this out. But they call you in particular arrogant, conceded, you have an air of superiority, they say, and they say you put your interests before the children to save your union job and to make sure teachers are protected.

WEINGARTEN: So, I would challenge anybody who actually put that ad out to come see the classes that I taught at Clara Barton High School (ph). My kids, who became doctors and lawyers and are flourishing because they had a public education system that helped them. I challenge anybody who put that ad out to come see the charter school that I started in South Bronx that has 100 percent graduation rate for kids. Yes, I am interested in making sure that every kid in America has a great and a viable public education system. She wants to do other kinds of things.

COSTELLO: So what if -- what if Ms. DeVos is confirmed? Could teachers and yourself work with her to shake things up?

WEINGARTEN: Look, last Monday I actually -- first off, we actually shook things up last year. We passed with the Congress the ESSA law to creates that fresh start. What she's saying is that fresh start we created last year means nothing. But in a speech I did last week where I said, every parent should have a viable neighborhood public school and let's make sure we focus on children's well-being, powerful learning, the -- building the capacity of the teaching force and cultures of collaboration, I invited her to come see the schools that work. As opposed to destabilizing and defunding public schools, come see the schools that work with us because every child should have that kind of option.

COSTELLO: Randi Weingarten, thanks for stopping by. Should be an interesting confirmation hearing. Later this morning, hear from New York charter school leader Eva

Moskowitz on why she is supporting Betsy DeVos as education secretary. That's at 11:00 Eastern right here on CNN.

I'll be right back.


[09:51:50] COSTELLO: Just a few hours from now, Noor Salman, the widow of the Pulse Nightclub shooter, will appear in an Oakland, California, courtroom. She'll face federal charges for her role in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. After a seven-month investigation, the FBI says Salman knowingly blocked an investigation and aided her husband as he supported ISIS.

CNN legal analyst and senior counsel Paul Callan is here.

So my first question is, is why did it take them seven months?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It really is kind of astonishing that it would take them that long. And from what I've seen of the evidence that they're using against her, it was available very, very early on. She scouted the club with her husband. Now your husband says, let's go to a local nightclub and check it out, I -- with your child in the car -- I think that would be a little suspicious given their background.

The second thing that I found to be suspicious was, he was accumulating large amounts of ammunition. And, according to sources, had she revealed to the FBI that he told her he was planning some kind of a jihadist attack. Now those factors add up to really culpable criminal conduct early on.

COSTELLO: So what makes that different from the Boston bomber's wife, because she's not been charged?

CALLAN: Well, it's the degree of knowledge before the attack occurs. And, also, there was a claim here that there was a deliberate obstruction of justice. You know, a lot of times people get in trouble for not cooperating or lying to the FBI more than anything else. So --

COSTELLO: Yes, but this woman gave an interview to "The New York Times."

CALLAN: Well --

COSTELLO: She's not -- she wasn't hiding and she did answer the police's question.

CALLAN: Well, that's very true. But the devil is in the details here and we don't know precisely what the FBI has and what local law enforcement authorities gathered. And I'm betting there's more detailed information than we know about.

COSTELLO: I know because I'm dying to know.

The other factor here is, she claims that her husband was abusive. CALLAN: Yes.

COSTELLO: Domestic violence came into play and she was afraid of him. So what -- how might that play into an upcoming trial?

CALLAN: Well, in a jury trial, that would obviously very, very much be assistance to her. A jury might feel sympathetic to her. The defense offers another interesting piece of evidence. They say that she had prepared a Father's Day card for him on the day of the shooting and she hadn't given him the card. She was going to give it to him later on in the day. Now that would suggest she had no idea what he was up to.

COSTELLO: Exactly. So what do you suppose might happen? Will she -- would it -- would it be more in her best interest to plead out or to go through this trial?

CALLAN: I'm betting that they're going to go forward with this full scale because, you know, he's dead and they want to punish somebody. They have a little bit of a case against her and I think they're going to put this in the hands of a jury. Maybe they offer her a deal and she takes a plea, but this is not going to go away.

COSTELLO: Paul Callan, thanks so much.

CALLAN: OK, thank you.

COSTELLO: Still to come in the NEWSROOM, it is a tall task, uniting the nation. Can Donald Trump do it? I'll talk to the chair of his inaugural committee in the next hour of NEWSROOM.


[09:58:07] COSTELLO: On Friday, Donald Trump's sworn in and President Obama is getting out of town. CNN's Athena Jones live outside the White House with where he's going.

Good morning.


That's right, they're packing up here. There are moving boxes and trucks seen outside of the house they're moving to -- the Obama family is moving to not far from the White House. But the mystery about where he's going to go after Friday has now been solved. They're going to be flying to Palm Springs, California. This is a place that the president has often traveled to for golf outings. And so while we don't know yet where he's staying or what's on the agenda, we can suspect that golf might be part of it.

The president has been talking for weeks, months even, about how he's looking forward to taking his wife, Michelle, on a long vacation. He told "60 Minutes," we have some catching up to do. And he also said he's looking forward to not setting an alarm after Friday. So in these last days, we're now getting a little more information about what comes next for the Obamas. Carol.

COSTELLO: All right, Athena Jones reporting live for us this morning, thank you.

The next hour of CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

COSTELLO: And good morning. I'm Carol Costello. Thank you so much for joining me.

We do start with breaking news this morning out of Russia, where Vladimir Putin is defending Donald Trump against what Putin calls an attempt to undermine his election as president of the United States. Putin slamming allegations that Russia has compromising material against Trump as, quote, "complete rubbish."

Let's get right to CNN's senior international correspondent Matthew Chance. He's in Moscow.

Hi, Matthew.


That's right, Donald Trump saying that the allegations against -- sorry, Vladimir Putin saying that the allegations against Donald Trump are an attempt to delegitimize or undermine the president-elect. Putin was speaking at the end of a quite dull press conference, as a matter of fact, with the prime minister of Moldova. He also said that there was an internal political fight underway in the United States, even after the presidential election there is over.