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GOP Ready To Go "Nuclear" In Supreme Court Fight; U.S. Commander Says "Fair Chance" Airstrike Killed Civilians; Is Trump Living Up To His Job Creation Claims? Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired March 29, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:32:30] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: A nuclear showdown sounds so dramatic but could be a very real thing in the Senate in the coming week or so. Democrats are now more confident that they can filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. And Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is setting a confirmation vote for next Friday and he says they could invoke the nuclear option to get Gorsuch approved.

Let's discuss. Let's bring in Jack Kingston, CNN political commentator and former senior adviser to the Trump campaign. And, Jennifer Psaki, CNN political commentator --


CUOMO: -- and former White House communications director under President Obama. Jen, you said good morning first, so you win. I will start with you.

PSAKI: All right.

CUOMO: How does the process of the filibuster work? What do the Democrats need and then what happens?

PSAKI: Well, the Democrats need to keep the caucus together. You've seen Sen. Schumer convey very strongly and clearly he has every plan to try to do that. A lot of senators have come out and said they will filibuster. This is a moment where I think Democrats are sending the message to people in the country that they're going to continue to fight for them. They're here in Washington and they're going to continue to represent the interests of the people across the country. So I fully expect that they will hold most of the caucus together and that there will be a filibuster.

CUOMO: All right. So now, the X-factor is -- and we put up that graph. Let's put it up there for a second again. You see that you have 27 will filibuster, 21 unknown. OK, so that's the space you're looking at, Kingston, because if they can get to the 60 votes -- the Republicans -- which would need some of those 21 unknowns, then this whole issue goes away and they get an up or down vote on Gorsuch. Do you think that happens and, if not, do you endorse McConnell going nuclear?

JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think the Democrats are going to drive right up to the edge of the cliff and then they're going to decide do we really want to filibuster? There's only been three filibusters of Supreme Court justices in the last 50 years. The last one was Alito and President Obama participated in that and later regretted the vote and said that publicly.

So I think the Democrats are going to drive the car right up to the edge of the cliff and at the last minute probably say OK, we proved our point. But if they don't, I think it's a different time. I think what Mitch McConnell has to do is take a page right out of Harry Reid and the Democrats' book and say you know what, we're going to have the nuclear option. We're tired of this and we're going to get this Supreme Court nominee confirmed.

CUOMO: But Jen, Reid carved out Supreme Court nominees when he breached protocol and went with the nuclear option-- I guess it was nuclear-lite, he did -- and the case for the Democrats seems to be you did it to us with Merrick Garland. It's not supposed to be Gorsuch. It should have been Garland who got this hearing so we're going to do to you what you did to us.

[07:35:16] PSAKI: Part of it is that, Chris, and I think that's not a very effective message that is going to resonate with people across the country. You know, I was there in the Obama administration when we dealt with weeks and months of our Supreme Court nominee not getting a hearing -- incredibly frustrating. I think the public was frustrated by that.

But I think Democrats have come out and they've made substantive arguments as to why they're not comfortable with this nominee moving forward. I think it's true, as Jack said, we don't know if Sen. Schumer is bluffing on the numbers he has here but it's clear that he's going to keep fighting for it and we'll see what happens. And ultimately, maybe they will go with the nuclear option in this -- in this case and then I think people in the country will have to make a judgment as to whether they're comfortable with that.

CUOMO: You know, a lot of this goes to the decorum right now between left and right. I want to play you something that's been called out as an extreme example of lack of decency in our political dialogue right now. Jack, give me your take on this. Let's play this.


REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: -- fighting for the democracy. We're fighting for America. We're saying to those who say they're patriotic, but they turned a blind eye to the destruction that he's about to cause this country, you are not nearly as patriotic as we are.

BRIAN KILMEADE, FOX NEWS HOST: So what does that mean, Bill? We've been listening all morning. We can't --

BILL O'REILLY, FOX NEWS HOST: I didn't hear a word she said. I was looking at the James Brown wig. If we have a picture of James -- it's the same one.

KILMEADE: It's the same one, right.

AINSLEY EARHARDT, FOX NEWS HOST: No. OK, I've got to defend her on that.


O'REILLY: You're are all wrong about this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have to defend her on that. She's a -- you can't go after a woman. Look, I think she's very attractive.

O'REILLY: I didn't say she wasn't attractive. I love James Brown.


CUOMO: All right. Let's put to the side our brothers and sisters on "FOX" mocking Maxine Waters and saying that this is about her looks. It wasn't about her looks, it was a targeted comment about the hair. O'Reilly apologized. He said I didn't mean it that way. I think he called it dumb or silly. He invited her on the show. But what do you make of that kind of comment? Does it have a place in our political dialogue?

KINGSTON: Well, I think yes and no. I think you have to be careful when you have the stature of somebody like Bill O'Reilly. But, you know, I think there is a little degree of humor and silliness that we politicians and we in Washington have earned. People make fun of Donald Trump all the time. They call him "carrot top." They say his whole skin is orange. They accuse him of all kinds of things. A comedian -- a female comedienne just made all kinds of snide remarks about Melania, and Melania can't buy a break in the press at all.

So the measure, I think, of what we do to both parties -- there are these ad hominem attacks on the person and we make fun of the way people look. I do think it gets too far sometimes, though.

CUOMO: Jen Psaki, do you think that this was just kind of that ad hominem spirit of play or do you think that this was something worse?

PSAKI: I think it's really dangerous to call it an ad hominem spirit of play. Look, sexism is alive and well -- so is racism. We saw that last year in some places around the country. We've certainly seen it exist today and I think we all need to be aware of that.

Hillary Clinton made some interesting comments yesterday where she pointed out the fact that people shouldn't think this can't happen to them because it can. I've experienced it. I don't think you could find a woman in Washington or many women who are working in businesses and at high levels around the country who haven't experienced it. So I think it's pretty dangerous and irresponsible to talk about this as just a sense of humor. It's not funny to joke about women of color or to joke about gender.


PSAKI: Nobody finds it funny. They shouldn't find it funny.

KINGSTON: But Jen, you're a tough person. Of any race, any sex, you are very tough. What I don't like is the left always runs and clutches oh, I'm a woman, don't say anything bad about me, or I'm a -- you know, belong to a certain race. It seems like it's always that card that's played, but it's OK to call the President of the United States orange and redhead and all kinds of derogatory things and make fun of his wife, right and left.

It just always seems to me that there's a double standard when somebody from the right is being criticized. Oh, it's funny. Make fun of them all day long at "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE." Run the clips over and over again on every channel. But, you know, when it comes to somebody on the left we all say oh, I can't believe he or she said that about them. Why, they are some of finest people in the world. So, you know, to me --

PSAKI: You know, Jack, I don't think sexism is a -- is a partisan thing. In fact, I have many friends who are Republicans. I have many women who are Republican operatives who have been incredibly kind and supportive to me over the years, so I don't think this is a partisan thing. I don't think anyone thinks what happened to Melania is acceptable, but I also don't think that making fun of Donald Trump's hair is the same as making fun of women -- a woman of color and her hair. It's different. It's just different in our society and I think we have to treat it that way.

[07:40:10] CUOMO: You get that, Jack? You get that there's a difference? You say there isn't.

KINGSTON: You know, I just have to say the difference if one's conservative, one's liberal, and when a conservative is attacked it's fun, it's humorous, let's run the clips over and over again.

CUOMO: So you don't think there's a difference between "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" making fun of the president and a political commentator making fun of a black woman?

KINGSTON: Well, Bill O'Reilly says a lot of sarcastic things to Republicans and Democrats. I mean, he's a humorous guy. He brings on Dennis Miller and he says all kinds of things.

CUOMO: Then why did he apologize?

KINGSTON: I think he wanted to be on the safe side of being cautious, and I think he's --

CUOMO: Since when does Bill O'Reilly want to be on the safe side of being cautious? He invites controversy. Why did he apologize for this if it was so safe?

KINGSTON: You know, I would say in politics and in public discourse we all throw elbows from time to time and, you know, if we're going to get upset about it we have that right as well. But I will say this. It always seems like it's OK to make fun of a conservative, but liberals are off -- you can't touch them. They're off limits and so --

But to me, you know, making fun of Maxine Waters' hair and making fun of Donald Trump's hair, I don't know what the difference is except for one's a conservative and one's a liberal. But it was a hair comment, it wasn't anything else. It had nothing to do with sex, it had nothing to do with race. I mean, when people say oh, Donald Trump or Ronald Reagan, they die their hair, I never thought oh, they're being made fun of because they're a man.

CUOMO: Well --

KINGSTON: Why is it when you say something about a woman's hair you're a sexist?

CUOMO: Because you're objectifying them in a way that doesn't really happen to men, but that's a discussion for a different day. Let's agree on one thing. O'Reilly did something that he thought was wrong, other people thought was wrong, and he apologized, and that is rare in today's political dialogue.


CUOMO: Jack, Jen, thank you very much, appreciate it -- Alisyn.

PSAKI: Thanks, Chris.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Chris. I have a lot to say about the hair debate but I'll move on. President Trump says things are going very well in Iraq but no mention of a U.S. airstrike that went horribly wrong, killing scores of civilians. We have a live report from the ground in Iraq, next.


[07:45:40] CAMEROTA: President Trump says the U.S. military is doing very well in Iraq and that soldiers are "fighting like never before." It comes as the top U.S. commander in Iraq speaks out about that U.S. airstrike in Mosul that left scores of civilians dead. CNN's Arwa Damon has seen the devastation in Mosul firsthand. She joins us now from Erbil, Iraq -- Arwa.

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And that particular area where the strike took place still very difficult to access but we did manage to get into a neighborhood that was nearby and even there, you're really struck by how much more significant the destruction in western Mosul is when you compare it to the east.

Now, that's for a number of reasons, perhaps at the top of which is the reality that ISIS was really entrenched in western Mosul. The streets are very narrow. You have alleyways that the troops had to navigate on foot. And then, of course, you have a civilian population that is stuck there, and a lot of firepower that is being rained down on western Mosul, along with the various different suicide car bombs, truck bombs that ISIS is detonating.

All of this, of course, quite devastating for the civilian population. There are a number of incidences that are under investigation, both by the U.S. and the Iraqi side at this stage, but the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights put out a statement saying that in a five-day time span from the 17th to the 22nd of March, at least 300 people were killed. So that gives you a little bit of an idea what it means to try to launch this kind of warfare against an enemy like ISIS in this kind of an environment.

And it has to be said, this is unlike any battle U.S. troops ever faced during their occupation of Iraq. And when it comes to how America is doing here and the president's comments, it's all about perspective and this is a very complicated battlefield. To say that it's going well may, perhaps, be an oversimplification. The American role here is mostly from the air and from the rear. It's a very different kind of battle than the one the U.S. faced when it actually had hundreds of thousands of its own boots on the ground.

CUOMO: And we'll see what the future holds in terms of more American boots on the ground and there's a whole political conversation to go with that. There's a little bit of a question right now I want you to take on, Arwa, about whether or not we know for sure that those civilian bodies that are being picked out of the rubble in Mosul were the result of a U.S. coalition-led airstrike. On the ground, with the officials there, do they have a question as to whether or not how those people died?

DAMON: Yes, of course, they do, and they're trying to look into it because at the end of the day, when it comes to the Iraqi side, at least, they need to be able to justify these deaths to their own population. They're very aware that the higher the civilian death toll is the more likely it is that the population of Mosul is going to turn against them.

We did hear from the top U.S. commander on the ground who said there is a fair chance that these deaths were caused by a U.S. airstrike. Were they a direct result of the strike? Were they a result of the secondary explosion that was caused? Were they because either one strike or another strike or the impact of a strike caused a truck bomb to detonate as well? That is one thing that we heard from an Iraqi commander on the ground. All of these are very real possibilities. But the bottom line is people are dying in Mosul every single day.

CAMEROTA: Arwa, we are grateful to have you on the ground and your reporting to tell us exactly what's happening there. Thank you.

Well, he promised to be the job-creating president. Has he delivered on that promise? We fact-check the president's claims with our economic experts, and what's going on with the stock market? That's next.


[07:53:20] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is what this is all about, bringing back our jobs, bringing back our dreams, and making Americawealthy again.


CAMEROTA: All right, that was President Trump after he signed an executive order rolling back U.S. climate change commitments, saying for him it's all about jobs. Is the president, thus far, living up his job creation claims? Let's discuss with Stephen Moore, CNN senior economics analyst and former senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign. And, Dr. Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics.

OK, Steve, let me start with you. In terms of President Trump's claims let's look at some of the things he's claimed versus some reality checks. So, one of the things he's claimed at that since being president he has -- let me see --

OK, sorry, I'll start with coal. "Perhaps no single regulation threatens our miners, energy workers, and companies more than this crushing attack on American industry." That's his claim about coal jobs. Here's the reality check. Coal mining jobs have been declining since the 1980s. Obviously, he's facing a bit of an uphill battle there with creating coal jobs because there's a lot of factors going into -- such as automation, et cetera -- why those are going away. So what do you -- how do you rate that claim of his?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Well, I don't think there's any question that the entire purpose of the Clean Power Plan bill was to destroy the coal industry. I mean, in fact, groups like the Sierra Club and so on have made that point that they want to destroy every coal job in America.

And, Alisyn, I've got to tell you, I traveled with Donald Trump. I went to a lot of these coal towns and what's happened has been devastating. Now, it is absolutely true that coal has been on a decline in large part because -- not because of renewable energy but because we've had so much -- such a huge increase in natural gas, which is a fantastic thing. But look, this country was built on coal, Alisyn. We have 500 years' worth of coal. The idea of the left that we're going to just destroy our coal industry, no. We need to rely on --

[07:55:13] CAMEROTA: Right, but what about his idea, Steve, that he's going to bring it back?

MOORE: He will. I mean, look, the coal -- coal can be very competitive. There's two things about coal. The cost of production -- and Mark knows this -- the cost of production of coal in this country is falling, just as it is for oil and gas. And the other thing that I think is important to realize because I know people are obviously concerned about the environmental consequences, the amount of emissions from coal plants has been reduced 50, 60, 70, 80 percent over the last 30 years so we have clean coal in this country.

CUOMO: Right, and part of the reason that you have better factory put-out is because of regulation, part of it's because of innovation.

MOORE: Sure.

CUOMO: But this overall idea, Mr. Zandi, that that's going to be the key to getting jobs back in America is revitalizing coal, a lot of people just doubt the authenticity of that. What's your take? MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: No, that's not the solution. I mean, just to give you a number, there's 50,000 coal miners across the country -- 50,000. There are over 100,000 people who work at GM, General Motors, in the United States. There's over 300,000 UPS workers that work in the United States. Walmart employs over one million people in the United States. There's 150 million jobs across the United States. So the thought that we're going to create a lot of coal jobs and that's going to help in terms of overall job creation, I think, is just folly. It's not going to happen.

CAMEROTA: All right, let's talk about --

MOORE: Well, just one quick thing on that, Mark.

CAMEROTA: Yes, go ahead.

MOORE: You're right about those -- the number of coal jobs. And, by the way, there used to be 100,000 when Obama came in, now they're down to about 60,000. But here's the big thing. I mean, the left as it were, and not just coal, but all fossil fuels and there is an industry -- there's 10 million people, Mark -- 10 million people in the oil and gas industry and the left wants to destroy that industry as well.

CAMEROTA: Do you want to respond, Mark?

ZANDI: Steve, you make a good point. Yes, the point, Steve that you made earlier is a good one. The problem that the coal industry faces is the natural gas industry and the problem that fossil fuel, in general, has is low global prices for oil, natural gas, coal, and all other energy. So, you know, you can change the Clean Power Plan, you can get rid of all environmental regulation. It's not going to make a difference because prices are determined globally and they're so low and they're not going rise and, as a result, we're just not going to get jobs here.

So I -- you know, I'm not saying -- it's a good idea to be energy independent. That's a great thing and the fact that we're producing all this energy is wonderful at these low prices. But if we're looking to the energy sector and fossil fuels to create jobs, that's just a mistake. It's just not going to happen.

CAMEROTA: Hey, gentlemen, let's look --

MOORE: It's also true, though, that because natural gas is so cheap, you're right about that. But the industry that's being destroyed by low natural gas prices is the wind and solar industries. I mean, why in the world would we dump all this money into an industry when we have cheap and abundant natural gas that's, you know, three or four times cheaper than wind and solar power? That's the mistake that we're making, is flooding these subsidies to two industries, wind and solar, that have virtually no future.

CAMEROTA: Mark, I'm interested in your answer to that. What is it?

ZANDI: Well, and there are subsidies and that's true. Steve is right. But it's also true that the cost of producing wind -- solar power is rapidly declining. And if you just look at trend lines it's pretty clear that they're going to very competitive sources of energy, and they're already about 10 percent of the total base to electric utilities at this point. So it's quite significant and rising very quickly, and the technology's changing very rapidly. So I wouldn't count renewables out. They're -- you know, I think they're very viable and, of course, they're clean, and that's what we want.

CUOMO: Right. I mean, that's what --

MOORE: They're only viable --

CUOMO: -- is ignored in this, though, Stephen, is --

MOORE: They're only viable because we massively subsidize them. If you -- I mean, the wind industry has said this. If you take away our government subsidies --

CUOMO: Right.

MOORE: -- there is no wind industry.

CUOMO: Right. There's no question that it's an infantindustry. The reason that it's trying to get a foothold is because it's cleaner. It's better for the environment.

MOORE: Wait, wait, wait, wait, I've got to --

CUOMO: It used to be a consideration.

MOORE: I've got to challenge you on that. You just said wind industry is an infant industry? I mean, we've had windmills since the middle ages. I mean, that's crazy.

CUOMO: Well, you know that wind farms are relatively new. That's why the need the subsidies.

MOORE: No, they're not. No, we've used --

CUOMO: They're trying to still build out the infrastructure. They still don't have the power grid to support the energy that they --

MOORE: -- wind energy for 500 years. It's just not true.

CUOMO: No, but the windmill -- Mr. Zandi, you can respond to this. The idea of saying a windmill is the same as what's trying to get going today and what we're trying to do to have the infrastructure to support it --

ZANDI: Yes, no.

CUOMO: -- is misleading.

ZANDI: No, that doesn't work, no. And there are -- there has been subsidies to get the --

MOORE: Huge, massive. ZANDI: -- solar and the wind going but they're declining and they're going to go away in a few years. And at that point, the technology is going to be there and these renewables are going to be priced competitive. And so, to walk away from these renewable sources of energy at this point would be a grave error.

But again, going back to jobs, this isn't where the jobs are going to be, you know. And, in fact, the other policies the Trump administration are putting forward are going to hurt jobs in the same places that he wants to create them. Think manufacturing --