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North Korea Nuclear Site "Primed and Ready" for Test; Trump Backtracks on Calling China "Currency Manipulators"; Trump on Target to Surpass Obama on Travel Costs. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 13, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:32:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Tensions increasing this morning between the U.S. and North Korea. Satellite images picking up a high level of activity at the North Korea nuclear site suggesting that a nuclear test maybe imminent.

CNN's Will Ripley live in Pyongyang, North Korea, including his reporting about a mysterious assignment -- Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi. Alisyn, we got a phone call telling us to dress up in suits, leave our phones behind. And they didn't tell us where we were going, but we were put on buses.

And five hours later, we were standing in the street amongst tens of thousands of North Koreans, including soldiers and civilians and sure enough, the military band played the tune and that sounds when Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, appears. And there he was, he was standing just a short distance from where we were, opening up a high- rise apartment complex, 3,600 apartments that he has built in defiance with U.S. sanctions or in spite of them anyway, trying to prove to the world that North Korea has the means to grow its economy, even if they try to cut this country off economically.

There's also new images coming out just released today of Kim Jong-un at a special operations military exercise where his commanders were jumping out of aircraft. North Korea trying to send a dual message right now that they are growing their economy but that they're also continuing to advance militarily.

And there is some disturbing new reports from think tank 38 North. They've been analyzing satellite data from just yesterday that shows that the North Korean nuclear test site at Punggye-ri is primed and ready for potential sixth nuclear test at any moment.

We have earned that American radiation sniffer planes are being deployed to Okinawa right now, as the Japanese prime minister expresses concerns that North Korea may have the capability not only to launch nuclear weapons, but also potentially sarin-gas tipped warheads. Shinzo Abe is saying that North Korea could use chemical weapons.

But North Korea's response it's just Western propaganda. They say they are only trying to peacefully protect their country from the threat of invasion by the U.S. as the Carl Vinson gets closer to the waters off the Korean Peninsula -- Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: It will be interesting to see this balance of the upcoming major anniversary there for the dynasty and that armada from the U.S. being in the region, which one has the heavier influence.

Will, thank you very much. Stay safe.

So, back here. Economically, we just saw a major move. The U.S. dollar tumbling all because of something President Trump said. Steve Forbes joins us to discuss, next.



[06:38:25] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will direct my secretary of the treasury to label China a currency manipulator.

China, they manipulate their currency better than any country in the history of the world.

In the history of the world, there has never been a better or smarter currency manipulation than that done by China.

We are going to label China a currency manipulator.


CUOMO: Of course, now, he isn't. That is how Donald Trump felt about China on the campaign trail. It sounded good. It's strong.

But present day, he says he's not going to label them as a currency manipulator because it isn't. Just one of many shifting positions this week.

Here to discuss is chairman and editor of chief of Forbes Media, Steve Forbes.

CAMEROTA: Playing injured.

CUOMO: Yes, respect that. Respect -- it's a bruising business these days.


CUOMO: Stay in there, Steve.

FORBES: I couldn't pitch for the Yankees. So, here I am.

CUOMO: Three's always chances. Wait for mid season. That's when they usually collapse.

So, what we just saw with the dollar. Explain to us what the effect was of Donald Trump saying, boy, this dollar's getting pretty strong.

FORBES: What it underscores is, is that the dollar, whether it's weak or strong, is not good. And we've got to find a way to stabilize the thing, because it hurts investment.

CAMEROTA: Let me read what he said -- so we can get our heads around this. He just told, yesterday, "The Wall Street Journal", "I think our dollar is getting too strong and partially that's my fault because people have confidence in me. That's hurting -- that will hurt ultimately.

[06:40:00] It's very, very hard to compete when you have a strong dollar and other countries are devaluing their currency."

FORBES: Well, in one sense, I take that as good news because this so- called border adjustment tax these crazy House Republicans are pushing, 20 percent national sales tax in imports -- crazy. They are counting on a strong dollar to undo the damage of that. Wacky economics.

What it means, what the president is saying he is not going to buy into the border tax because of the whole supposition is it will make the dollar even stronger. So, that's good news.

But on the terms of what it tells the Federal Reserve is, when the dollar weakens or gets too strong, both are disruptive. Both have consequences for the economy. All of these changes you are seeing. The bottom line is people don't care if you deliver a strong economy. How you get there, they don't care. Whether you win, it's like a game, you win it -- good. They're not going to second guess you.

CUOMO: But sometimes, you have a disconnect between what sounds good or what is good for you. For instance, you point out the border tax. Sounds good, you're going to punish those companies. Who pays it? The consumer over here.

FORBES: You bet.

CUOMO: What do you make of the president making a proclamation like this? Not the part about how it's about him, but that the dollar being strong when markets are open?

FORBES: Well, what it means is he realizing that strong dollar what it does is hurts companies and helps companies. So what you want is you want stability. And so, what the Federal Reserve was doing the job it should be doing, you shouldn't see this kind of volatility. It's like changing the number of minutes in an hour each day. It's very disruptive.

So, well, we're going to be interested to see who he appoints to the Fed to get more stability there.

CUOMO: But should he do things that will manipulate the markets? That's the question.

FORBES: Well, it's not manipulating the market. Everyone knows the Treasury Department, under peculiar U.S. law, the Treasury Department sets the dollar policy. Not the Fed.

CAMEROTA: But, so him saying that out loud, does it have a ripple effect?

FORBES: Oh, sure, it does. Every time a treasury secretary of president says anything about a currency, it has an impact. Now, the question is, are they going to do -- I hate to say this as a Republican, one of the huge mistakes from the Bush administration is deliberately weakening the dollar in the early 2000s. That sets up the false commodity boom, the housing bust and everything else.

So, how far are they going to carry it?


FORBES: Just one day, two-day adjustment -- no harm.

CAMEROTA: And Janet Yellen who on the campaign trail, President Trump had talked about being sort of colluding with President Obama and basically suggesting that he was going to get rid of her. Now, he likes Janet Yellen. This is another one of the flip-flops, says that he respects her.

So, is she staying? Is she going? Friend or foe?

FORBES: Well, that depends on the end of the year. If the economy is doing well, he might be in the mood to keep her. One of the things the Federal Reserve has done and gotten little recognition is what it has done with the interest rate policy perversely is hurt lending to small and new businesses, for the job creators and innovators. So, the so-called raising of interest rates is not a tightening. It is allowing the credit markets to come back to life for those who were not getting credit.

It's like the old Soviet Union. They said the health care is free, but you can't get any. But small and new businesses have a very hard time. So, if they let the credit markets come back to life, that would be a good thing.

Again, it is not how you get there, it is how you deliver the results of a strong economy, which is where I think they should have gone, again, leading with tax cuts rather than the swamp of health care.

CUOMO: They say they can't. That they need health care first. Now, politically, you can argue, whether or not they should acknowledge that because it's going to embolden their adversaries, but do you buy in to their rationale? We need health care first because of the scoring that the Fed does in terms of what money in and out is, the base tax base form on that.

FORBES: This is where they got to get away from worshipping the Congressional Budget Office which scores these things which is nonsense. Your daily horoscope gives you a better outlook for the next 10 years than the CBO has done traditionally.

They should just ignore it. They should have gone for just a big tax cut as Reagan did in the early '80s and then gone to health care. The key thing is, people have to feel the economy is getting better.

You saw in Kansas, in that a warning shot across the bow. If the economy looks like it's not getting better, people feel it's getting better. Not just we hope it gets better, but feel that it's actually getting better. Republicans are going to be in big trouble next year.

They should go for a big tax cut now. The heck with the CBO. You've got to deliver.

CAMEROTA: Steve Forbes, thanks so much for being on NEW DAY.

FORBES: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Nice to see you.

CUOMO: All right. So, President Trump is heading back to Mar-a-Lago today. How much does it cost you? How does he compare to past presidents? We have the numbers. Do you care?


[06:48:15] CUOMO: All right. Get this, the Cubs new championship rings not only have 108 diamonds, they've got a goat engraved inside.

Coy Wire has more in the "Bleacher Report."

That's how you conquer the curse my friend.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: No more curse of the Billy Goat. A championship celebration, Chris, after 108 years. You knew the Cubs were going to go big. The World Series champs got their rings last night in front of their home crowd. Their motto, "we never quit" was engraved on the back.

The cool thing is the players received their rings from fans chosen in a contest. Cubs fans aren't going to forget the exact date and time when the Cubs won game seven. That is engraved, November 3rd, 2016 at 12:47 a.m.

The Cubs' logo, check this out, made of ruby, sapphire and diamonds. That's on top of the 108 diamonds for the drought. Everyone gets a ring, too. This is cool. Scoreboard operator., grounds crew and even the people who trim the ivy. Here's the goat.

All right. Some fun for you this morning. Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton sporting King Tut underwear before his team's game against the Braves last night. Why? Well, the highest paid player in the league hasn't had a homer all season, and he was hoping to change his luck, and it must have work. Stanton went home run yard. Not once, but twice in the game.

Check out the fan going all-in. Jumping in the pool to grab Stanton's second home run ball. Marlins lost the game. But Stanton may want to hang on to those undies.

Alisyn, they are 25 bucks online, I saw them. I think Chris will make them look like a million. So, that's going to be his Christmas present.

CAMEROTA: He is a fan of king tut. Born in back Babylonia.

CUOMO: Moved to Arizona.

CAMEROTA: I knew it. I knew you would have it right there.

All right. We'll get a pair. Thank you very much, Coy.

[06:50:01] WIRE: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: Since becoming president, Donald Trump has already spent six weekends at his Florida club Mar-a-Lago. Wait until you see the bill you have been paying for it. That's next.


CAMEROTA: President Trump has been in office 84 days, and his numerous trips to his Florida golf club have already cost taxpayers more than $21 million. The president is on pace to spend more money on vacations in his very first year than former President Barack Obama did in eight years in office.

Let's talk about this. We want to bring in the executive editor from Bloomberg View and author of "Trump Nation: The Art of Being the Donald", Timothy O'Brien and national business reporters for "The Washington Post", Drew Harwell.

Gentlemen, thanks so much. I hope you have your calculators here. We're going to need them.

Let's just pull up this graphic one more time that shows that President Trump in just 84 days has already spent close to -- this is just travel costs, OK? To get to Mar-a-Lago almost $22 million.

[06:55:00] In eight years, President Obama spent $97 million. In other words, President Trump will spend more in his first year, Tim, than President Obama did in eight years. And you'll remember at some right wing media and Republicans were very upset any time that President Obama played golf.

What's going on here with this price tag?

TIMOTHY O'BRIEN, EXECUTIVE EDITOR, BLOOMBERG VIEW: Well, what's going on with this price tag is hypocrisy. I think the issue is whether or not that hypocrisy registers with Trump's core supporters. He is fairly flagrant about it. You know, while he is traveling, he is engaging in that very proletarian activity, golf.

CAMEROTA: At a country club.

O'BRIEN: At a country club that he owns. The taxpayers are paying to protect. And not really showing any desire to cut back on his own budget at a time when he is asking the federal government as a whole to watch its waist line. CAMEROTA: OK. Let's look that the waist line. Here are some of the

things that President Trump is asking taxpayers to sacrifice and where the federal budget should cut. So, as you can see here, the IRS, he wants to cut by $239 million. Essential air service, $175 million. Housing, public house, $35 million. Science, $102 million. Loan guarantees down by $1 million.

His travel in the first year or two will outpace all of these cuts.

So, Drew, how does that map make sense?

DREW HARWELL, NATIONAL BUSINESS REPORTER, WASHINGTON POST: The math makes sense only if you are supporting President Trump on the basis that you don't like belt tightening. I mean, the list goes on. There's medical research costs. There's contributions to Meals on Wheels from the federal budget.

All of this money -- I mean, the federal budget is a big thing, and the spending that goes towards Mar-a-Lago and Trump tower is a drop in the bucket compared to that.

But if you care about where your tax money is going, if you care about government waste, you're going to care about the fact that President Trump is going for the seventh weekend to Mar-a-Lago this weekend. That he has not changed the Trump lifestyle, that the extravagance that you saw with Trump as a businessman has continued into the presidency, even though, as Tim said, there were many weeks when he was criticizing President Obama for doing the same thing.

CAMEROTA: We have that sound. Let's play it to remind people of just how outraged president -- then Donald Trump was about President Obama's leisure activities where, list. Listen to this.


TRUMP: Obama, it was reported today, played 250 rounds of golf. He played more golf last year than Tiger Woods. I love golf. I think it's one of the greats, but I don't have time.

I'm going to be working for you. I'm not going to have time to go play golf.

I wouldn't leave the White House very much because, you know, like little things like these little trips where they get on their -- they cost you a fortune.


CAMEROTA: He won't leave the White House because these little trips cost you a fortune, Tim.

O'BRIEN: He played more golf last year than Tiger Woods. That's a classic line. I think -- you know, Trump at some point may or may not be held accountable for all this. I don't know.

CAMEROTA: By whom? O'BRIEN: Ultimately, it matters by his voters. We've talked about

this before. I think his core supporters want jobs, and they'll always be an issue to what extent jobs trumps everything else in electoral math.

But there's also I think a decency quotient here. If he claims to be a multi-billionaire, if he is a multi-billionaire, then why not just --

CAMEROTA: Cough it up.

O'BRIEN: Cough it up and pay back the public for the use of the jets?

CAMEROTA: True. It's not just President Trump's trips to Mar-a-Lago. Obviously, any president can have some downtime. We want them to. That's their prerogative.

It's also how much it costs to protect the large first family. Melania, the first lady, has, as you know, stayed in New York City. New York City officials say it costs between -- about $140,000 a day to protect Melania and Barron, President Trump's son, because they are not living in the White House.

Furthermore, you know he has these five adult children -- or four adult children, and they travel. All of them have Secret Service. They do international travel. That all costs a lot.

So, who is going to be doing, you know, crunching the numbers here and alerting taxpayers to it?

HARWELL: Yes. I mean, like you said, this is a very big family. President Trump is 70 years old. He has children. He has grandchildren. Even down to the youngest gets Secret Service protection going to daycare.

All of this comes down to choice. I mean, of course, we want the president to have downtime. We want him to be protected. We want the first family to be protected.

But the first lady and President Trump's youngest son have chosen to live in Trump Tower in the middle of New York on Fifth Avenue, getting effectively a presidential fortress. So, you know, it comes down to choice. Is it the choice that we want to pay for, for that level of protection, or, do we want to keep them in the White House and save us some money along the way?