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U.S. Might Expand Electronics Ban; Downplay Kushner Report; New Arrests in the Concert Bombing Investigation; Trump decides Paris Climate Deal. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired May 29, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: And in Diyala, so many family, so many stories here. And, once again, we see everyone from grandparents to very small children come here and pay their respects on this Memorial Day 2017.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The ultimate gift so that all of us can continue to live free.

Barbara Starr, thank you for being there for us this morning.

On this Memorial Day, also millions of you are traveling by air on some of those flights heading to the United States. Already you have a lot of laptops, e-readers, iPads that are banned from the cabin of the plane. This as the Department of Homeland Security secretary says he might now expand that ban to all international flights in and out of the United States.

Our aviation correspondent Rene Marsh has more on that.

So this is something, Rene, they've been discussing for a while, but Secretary Kelly came out and spoke much more explicitly about really expanding that ban possibly this weekend. Do we know why?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: You know, it all points back to the intelligence, Poppy, and that is the line that we keep on hearing from the Department of Homeland Security. It's worth pointing out, CNN first reported this on Friday. Homeland Security secretary telling us that the restrictions on these large electronics that's currently in place at ten airports in eight Muslim majority countries, both in the Middle East and northern Africa, could also eventually be implemented right here in the United States. That would mean that any electronics larger than a cell phone would not be allowed in the cabin of the plane. It would have to be checked into your luggage. That means no laptops, no e-readers, no iPads in the main cabin.

Now, Kelly repeated this possibility over the weekend and he also discussed the threat that's been driving the ban. Take a listen.


JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: There's a real threat. There's numerous threats against aviation. That's -- that's really the -- the thing that they're obsessed with, the terrorists, the idea of knocking down an airplane in flight, particularly if it's a U.S. carrier, particularly if it's full of mostly U.S. folks -- people. It's real.


MARSH: Well, this is the most extreme measure taken to protect aviation from terror attacks since September 11th. But, Poppy, it is important to point out that Kelly still hasn't made the final decision just yet, but we hear, obviously, from that rhetoric there that we are headed in this direction. In his words, possibly this ban goes worldwide.

HARLOW: Wow. Rene Marsh, thank you for the reporting in Washington this morning.

Secretary Kelly also, you just heard from him there, but he also weighed in on the big story dominating the headline this weekend certainly, and that is the Russia investigation and all those questions surrounding the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, also one of his top advisers. Both Secretary Kelly and National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster say they don't really see any issue with the back channel with Russia. Listen.


GEN. H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER (voice-over): We have back-channel communications with -- in a number -- with a number of countries. So -- so generally speaking about back-channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner so it doesn't pre-dispose you toward any sort of content of that conversation or anything. So, no, I would not be concerned about it.

JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I don't see any big issue here.

Any line of communication to a country, particularly a country like Russia, is a good thing.


HARLOW: OK, no big issue, that's the line from the administration.

Let's get to Cedric Leighton and get his response. He's a CNN military analyst and retired Air Force colonel, as well as a former member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Nice to have you here.

Do you see it the way that H.R. McMaster sees it and that Secretary Kelly sees it, or do you see it the way that former CIA Director Michael Hayden sees it when he says this is off the map?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I see it the way, Poppy, that General Hayden sees it. And it is absolutely off the map. He's 100 percent right about that.

The big issue here is the fact that they wanted to use -- the reported fact that they wanted to use the Russian communications system to have that communications link to Moscow. That is unprecedented. There is absolutely no doubt that back channel communications have been used many times in the past. They've been used to great effect in some cases historically as, you know, as you've mentioned. But there are so many issues using a foreign communications system, especially one related to an adversary of the United States and, of course, that would be Russia.

HARLOW: So you have personally handled some of these back-channel communications during your time in the military. Can you just speak to their utility, but also their danger?

LEIGHTON: Well, yes. Usually what will happen is somebody in a high position will ask that a message go to a particular country or to another element of the Department of Defense, or to the White House. And, you know, if you are in a position where you handle communications links, like I did in part of my military career, you can actually be in a position where you handle messages that, let's say, one other element of the government is not supposed to see.

[09:35:05] So those are the kinds of communications that I handled. I'm also aware of communications that were handled between us and foreign governments. These communications can be used in a way that would allow for there to be a limited number of people who see the messages, and then they would only be acted on by those who are in the know and, of course, who are trusted to handle that particular piece of information. The risk, of course, is very high that there would be leaks.

HARLOW: Right.

LEIGHTON: And that's why they keep it to a minimum.

HARLOW: Senator Lindsey Graham -- Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, colonel, throwing some cold water, a lot of it, on all of this over the weekend. Here's what he told Dana Bash on "State of the Union."


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: I don't trust this story as far as I can throw it. I think it makes no sense that the Russian ambassador would report back to Moscow on a channel that he most likely knows we're monitoring.


HARLOW: And, look, "The Washington Post" reporting team, Adam Entous and his team, do note in their report this could just be disinformation. This could be purposefully put in there false information to see if the U.S. is listening to that line.

LEIGHTON: Absolutely. The Russians are masters of the art of disinformation and they want to make sure that when we do intercept their communications, that they actually spoof those communications and make them look differently than what the actual facts on the ground are.

HARLOW: Right.

LEIGHTON: This one is a little bit different, though, in my mind, because there's some details, there is this expression of surprise from Ambassador Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. It seems to me that it is at least plausible that this could have happened. So, of course, that's not evidence.

HARLOW: Right.

LEIGHTON: But what it does mean is that there are certain elements of a story that are beginning to come together, and it is not quite the way Senator Graham sees it, in my view. What it is, is a possibility that something either very sinister was afoot or that there was a degree of misunderstanding of how this system actually works or can work, and the fact that the administration wasn't willing to trust anybody in the U.S. government with that particular type of communication is, I think, very, very troubling.

HARLOW: Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you for being with us, from Washington this morning.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Poppy. Absolutely.

HARLOW: All right, there are new raids underway this morning in the U.K. Another arrest in the Manchester terror investigation. We'll take you there and get the latest right after this.


[09:41:36] HARLOW: So a new arrest this morning in connection with the terror attack in Manchester. Right now we know that 14 people remain in custody as authorities are carrying out fresh raids, searching for members of the concert bombers' network that may still be at large. Remember last week they said they are trying to contain this network.

Now the British security services under intense scrutiny for possibly missing signs that they say could have prevented this attack.

Let's go to Phil Black, live in Manchester, for more on that.

I mean any details on what it is reported they may have missed in all of this and how much progress authorities think they're making at this point.

PHIL BLACK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Poppy, what we're talking about, first of all, is a review that will be conducted by Britain's intelligence and security services, domestic intelligence and security service, MI-5. According to the government, they will simply be looking at whether or not something should have been done that could have avoided this. It's essentially a lessons learned exercise to see if something else that was perhaps done or a step missed or these sorts of things that could have perhaps prevented, well, all of this that you see here behind me. This is the huge memorial that I'm standing at to the victims of last week's attack.

In addition to that, the police are still continuing their investigation. And it is, by all means, still very active as we understand. You touched on the fact that there have been more raids and further arrests. This has been going on through the weekend as well. In total now 14 people are in police custody. The police are not yet revealing what roles they suspect these people of having played in the attack, but you're right, they've been talking about getting to the bottom of the network. Getting their hands around a network. And they've been talking about making significant progress in doing so, building a real understanding about just who did this and how they were able to do it as well.

And in a further sign of that progress, we learned over the weekend, in a decision made by British intelligence, that the national threat level would be lowered. Remember, in the wake of the attack it was raised to its highest classification, that is critical. The lowering of it to the second highest level means that authorities here no longer fear that the same group could strike again imminently.


HARLOW: As they work to contain this network.

Phil Black, thank you very much for the reporting live from Manchester.

So the president, throughout the campaign and since he became president, has promised, promised to bring many, many coal jobs back to this country. But do the people who run those mines actually think that's going to happen? We're going to debate it with Stephen Moore, next.


[09:48:32] HARLOW: Is he in or is he out? President Trump tweeting that he will decide this week whether or not the U.S. will stay in, or pull out, of the Paris Climate Accord. That agreement cracks down on carbon emissions from coal and other fossil fuels. But from the very start one thing has been very clear, President Trump loves coal.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to stop the regulations that threaten the future and livelihood of our great coal miners.

My administration is putting an end to the war on coal.

Twenty-seven thousand new mining jobs. Who are the miners here? The miners -- finally, we're taking care of our miners.


HARLOW: Quick fact check on that 27,000 mining jobs claim. It's actually 21,000 mining jobs have been added so far under President Trump, not 27,000 as he said. Any job added is a good job, but we're going to get into the future of these jobs, because one of the president's most senior economic aides is questioning whether the future of coal really is the future of America, and so are some big coal company executives.

Joining us now is Stephen Moore, our senior economics analyst and former senior economic adviser to the Trump campaign.

Thank you for being here, especially on a holiday.


I drove by Arlington Cemetery to get here and thousands and thousands of cars. It was very moving. Everybody's going in there to pay homage to our soldiers.

HARLOW: It's a beautiful sight.


HARLOW: And we're going to hear from the president there in just about an hour. You'll see it live here.

[09:50:00] So, Stephen, let's jump into your Breitbart piece. Here is the headline, "Liberals Were Wrong, Coal is Back." And you end the piece by saying, "king coal is on its way back, just as Trump promised it would be." But we dug into the numbers. Take a look at them.


HARLOW: You know these numbers. U.S. coal jobs, this year, 70,000, 2011, 130,000, the 1920s, 800,000.


HARLOW: Those jobs have been cut in half just in the last five, six years.


HARLOW: You argue coal plants are reopening. Which ones?

MOORE: So, by the way, the reason we lost all those coal jobs was -- the main reason was because of regulations that were put in place under Obama that tried to strangle the coal industry and they did a pretty good job of it.

HARLOW: It's largely also because, as you know, natural gas prices --

MOORE: Sure.

HARLOW: Have just tanked and it made coal less competitive.

MOORE: It was -- Poppy, it was a combination of both. No question that low natural gas prices have killed the solar industry, the nuclear industry, has hurt the wind industry and it's hurt -- it hurt the coal industry. But there's no question when you talk to coal executives, they say the knife in their back was some of these regulations that were put in place.

We've created -- since Election Day we've created 43,000 mining jobs in this country. That's a -- that's a pretty good number. We have 500 years' worth of coal in this country, Poppy, so we are the Saudi Arabia of coal. I think that no matter what happens in the future, coal is going to have to be part of our energy future because either --

HARLOW: So here --

MOORE: Let me just make one other point. It --

HARLOW: Well, just help me --

MOORE: Just one quick point, if I could.

HARLOW: I want -- OK. Yes.

MOORE: If -- if you, you know, if you -- if you're in to solar or wind power, you need coal to back up wind and solar because, as you know, wind and solar are very intermittent forms of power, so you need a more reliable source to back it up. And coal, look, this country was built on coal. The whole industrial revolution was really created by the advent of the coal industry.

HARLOW: So let me -- let me get in here and get your response then to what --


HARLOW: What Gary Cohn is saying, right, because he's one of the president's top guys.

MOORE: Yes. Yes.

HARLOW: He's the director of the White House National Economic Council.

MOORE: Uh-huh.

HARLOW: Here's what he said on Air Force One within the week. He said, "coal doesn't even make that much sense anymore as a feedstock," meaning what is used in the raw materials that's converted into fuel.

MOORE: Yes. Sure.

HARLOW: He went on to say, natural gas is, quote, "such a cleaner fuel." And he said, if you think about how solar and how much wind power we have in the United States, we can be a manufacturing powerhouse and still be environmentally friendly." That is in stark contrast to what the president himself is saying. So what gives?

MOORE: Yes. Look, I believe in a kind of all of the above. I think whatever is the most efficient should be used. There's no question. I mean think about this, Poppy, ten years ago natural gas was like $10 per million cubic feet. Now it's like three. So it's been reduced so much in cost because of fracking. By the way, fracking reduces global warming because you get all of this, you know, this natural gas, which is a very clean, reliable and abundant source of energy.

But, look, I just don't think coal is going away unless we put -- put in force --

HARLOW: I'm just saying, Gary Cohn certainly sounds like he thinks it is and he's one of the president's top guys.

MOORE: Yes, no. Well, here's -- OK, let me make one other point. Nobody knows. If I were sitting in this chair ten years ago, Poppy, and we were talking about the future of energy and I told you that we were going to have the biggest oil and gas boom in this country's history, nobody would have believed that. Nobody saw it happening. But because of shale oil and gas, it happened. My point there is that nobody knows what the future holds. Maybe it will be solar. Maybe it will be natural gas. Maybe it will be nuclear, as making a comeback.

HARLOW: Look, it's a fair point. It's -- look at what has happened in North Dakota and the huge boon that we've seen to those economies because of it. However, there was a fascinating piece, I'm sure you read it, in "The Times" over the weekend that talked about these big coal companies in Appalachia turning away from coal. Appalachian Power, the leading utility in West Virginia, shifting more and more to natural gas and renewables. American Electric Power's president, this is a West Virginia company as well, president recalling a conversation with the Democratic governor of West Virginia, saying -- in January this conversation -- the governor said to him, look, I'd like to see you guys build another coal plant. The president of this coal company says, our answer was, we're not going to build another coal plant. Duke Energy, the CEO, Lynn Good --


HARLOW: In this interview with "The Wall Street Journal" said --


HARLOW: She does foresee a future when zero percent of electricity comes from coal plants going the way they are now. Is it disingenuous to keep promising coal jobs to the American people from this president when even the coal companies are saying that's not really our future?

MOORE: Well, wait a minute, I mean I don't think it's disingenuous because we've created 40,000 coal jobs just since the Trump election. So that's a pretty good -- and we've -- we recovered almost a third of the jobs that were lost under Obama in -- in less than four or five months.

But what you're (INAUDIBLE) not building new coal plants. That's happening in every other alternative fuel right now. Natural gas is so cheap, it's crowding out everything. So the people who were -- who say, oh, we should use the solar and wind power, those -- those aren't being built very much now either, unless they're highly subsidized. So my point would be, get rid of the subsidies, let the market work, let's see if solar -- look, wind is a stupid way to get electricity. Solar probably has some future. And I would envision a future where we use solar, some nuclear, some natural gas and --

[09:55:09] HARLOW: So, Stephen Moore --


HARLOW: Stephen, is this in-depth Columbia University study, that I know you read, that just came out, is it wrong then when it concludes, quote, "Trump's efforts to roll back environmental regulations will not materially improve economic conditions in America's coal communities," are they just wrong?

MOORE: That's false. That's false. I mean, look, where did the 40,000 jobs come from? Just -- it just --

HARLOW: They're not all coal -- they're not all coal jobs.

MOORE: Well, but they're mining jobs. The war against mining.

HARLOW: Right.

MOORE: And, look, I don't think we -- any of us know the future. But one -- one last parting comment. We still get today, Poppy, almost 35 percent of our electricity from coal. So it's still the second -- number two player in energy production in this country behind natural gas.

HARLOW: Yes, it is way down. But I love having you on to debate these things and I'm getting the wrap in the control room. We've got to go. You'll be back, Stephen Moore.

MOORE: Have a great weekend.

HARLOW: Thank you.

MOORE: Yes, take care.

HARLOW: America remembering it's fallen heroes today on this Memorial Day, the men and the women who have given their life in service to this nation. The president is headed to Arlington National Cemetery this morning. We will bring you his remarks live.