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Trump Expected to Withdraw from Climate Deal; Trump Gives Cell Phone Number to World Leaders; Off-Camera White House Press Briefing. Aired 2:30-3p ET
Aired May 31, 2017 - 14:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: And we're now hearing the president is now leaning towards the leaving this agreement. This is a decision to keep a big campaign promise of his, and one the "Make America First" team insists it will create jobs, but also incredibly unpopular, rejects advice from every ally, and even the pope. And more important for President Trump, his own inner circle wants him to stay in, including his daughter and son-in-law.
And so joining me is Don Merica, CNN politics producer; and CNN economic analyst, Stephen Moore, former analyst and Trump economic adviser; and Gina McCarthy, the former EPA administrator under President Obama.
And so welcome all.
And, Dan, first, for the specifics of the reporting what are we hearing about when and how the president will decide on the Paris Accord?
DAN MERICA, CNN POLITICS PRODUCER: Well, we are told that he has already decided and expected to announce that he is leaving the Paris Accord. As you are saying that it makes good on the promise that he made throughout the 2016 campaign where he said that he would roll back President Obama's climate agenda and the Paris agreement, but it has dramatic implications for three groups of politics, the international politics of it. And as you mentioned, the European leaders and the pope and United Nations have weighed in saying it is not a good idea, and they have questioned the role and the leadership of the United States and the world in terms of what President Trump may decide to do. And put the domestic politics in the mind where President Trump is right now. He has failed to deliver on a series of promises, repealing and replacing the Obama health care law, and historic low approval ratings, and this is one thing that he can deliver on with his base, and maybe unpopular with his base at large, but in a number of places that he campaigned on with energy jobs. These are the promises that he can make and keep by doing this. And then you are looking at the internal politics of the White House. And this is something that is a win for Scott Pruitt, EPA director, and Steve Bannon, Trump's nationalist chief political analyst and head of "Breitbart," and both of them have advocated for the departure. But it is a loss for Ivanka Trump, the president's daughter and top advocate, who brought in people like Al Gore to talk about why the Paris agreement matters. So many winners and losers here. But what Trump is doing is to go against the advice of his own family there to do it.
BALDWIN: OK. You threw out a lot, and I want to hone in on one word, jobs.
Because, Stephen, you have advised the president and we know about the economy, and the White House says it is going to be great for jobs. But let me add this nugget, that there are twice as many jobs in solar than coal, and industry that the president has promised. So tell me how this would be good for business.
STEPHEN MOORE, CNN ECONOMIC ANALYST: Well, it is a big win for the jobs. And the only part of that analysis I disagree with is that it is unpopular, because the election was almost a referendum on the radical climate change agenda of the Obama administration. And Trump made it clear, Brooke, what he would do. He would pull us out of the job -killing treaty. And by the way, it would have committed America to give billions more dollars to foreign aid to other countries when we can't balance our own budget. And the estimate is that the climate change deal would cost the American economy about $400,000 over the next 10 years.
And you are right, there are more jobs in solar than coal, but there are almost 10 million Americans that are employed by the oil and gas industry, and those jobs were very much in jeopardy as well as manufacturing jobs and jobs in the transportations and construction industry. So I view it as a win for the economy, and the American worker.
BALDWIN: OK. Listening to you closely, you do say that you take issue with the word unpopular, but looking the public polling, Stephen, the most people are opposed to the U.S. staying with the --
MOORE: Well, hold on.
BALDWIN: And then, Gina, I'll come to you.
MOORE: Well, can I make one quick point?
BALDWIN: Sure, yeah.
MOORE: If you are looking at the polls, they are consistent for the last 10 years, and what is the number one and two issues for the American people is jobs and economy, and number 20 or 21 on the list is climate change. So no question when you pose the jobs versus climate change, people want jobs.
BALDWIN: And a huge reason why that he is on the Oval Office is because of the promises on jobs.
And, Gina, we want to talk to you specifically, because you were instrumental in getting the Obama administration on board with the Paris Accord, and you disagree with Stephen Moore.
[14:34:45] GINA MCCARTHY, FORMER EPA ADMINISTARTOR: Well, if you are interested in the jobs, you need to look at clean energy, the fiscally responsible place. That is what is marketable and where the job growth is. Or listen to hundreds of CEOs of the investors that represent $7 trillion, telling the president, instead of abandoning the issue of climate change, he should double down and lean in, because that is where the economic future lies. We are going to be ceding our ability to actually accrue the benefits of technology development by allowing other countries to provide that leadership.
But for me, as you may guess, this is all about public health. This is about respecting the science. And that is about not making choices between jobs and public health. And recognizing that we need to protect the health and well-being of American families. We can only do that if we want, and if we join an international collaboration where everybody joins in to address this challenge. You can't do it alone. And if the one thing that we showed over the past eight years is the steps that we took to protect and people from climate change by lowering carbon pollution, and each and every one of them actually benefited the economy. Look at the auto sector. The manufacturing of the auto sector actually gained hundreds of thousands of jobs while we are producing the cars that people actually want to drive that are cleaner. The work on the Clean Power Plan was actually driving and following the investments that the companies themselves were making in clean energy. We are not taking jobs away.
BALDWIN: I want to get Stephen to respond to all of that.
Go ahead, Stephen.
MOORE: Well, look, I mean, the United States actually in the last seven years has reduced our carbon emissions more than any country in the world, Brooke, and that is almost entirely attributable to the shale gas revolution, which has led to an increase in the natural gas. Which the commissioner is right, a clean burning fuel. And it is the fuel of the future.
And by a way, to a lot of the environmental groups are against natural gas, too. And so if the former EPA director is saying that we should use more natural gas, and I'm on board with that because it is cheap and abundant and clean burning fuel, but we don't need a climate change agenda that sends billions of American taxpayer dollars to bureaucrats around the world to clean up the environment.
BALDWIN: And so, now, Gina, my next question to you is that, if the president decides to pull out, what are the potential ramifications of the other nations who are in and knowing that perhaps because the U.S. is in?
MCCARTHY: Well, looking at the last year since the Paris agreement was ratified, every country is continuing to invest in the clean energy for the very reason that it is economically solid and it protects the health and well-being, and they are all in. And what it does for us is to limit the ability to take advantage of the economic benefits of that shift to climate change by ceding to other countries like China and India that are making significant investments in climate. And then it is going to signal --
MOORE: As you know it is going to -- you know that the China and India are building hundreds of coal plants and not into the climate change agenda at all. And for every time we shut down a coal plant in the United States, China and India build 10 coal plants. So it is not reducing the climate change when we shut down our coal and it is going to China and India, as you know.
MCCARTHY: Stephen, you need to update the sound bite, because it is not accurate anymore.
MOORE: It is. It is the "Wall Street Journal" --
MCCARTHY: It is creating a cap-and-trade system.
MOORE: No it's not. It isn't.
MCCARTHY: It's lowering the investment in coal, and increasing the significant investment in the industry.
MOORE: The "Wall Street Journal" has reported just the opposite. China is building hundreds of new coal plants, and India as well. So we didn't produce coal, it would still be raised because of China and India --
MCCARTHY: And, Stephen, how does that benefit to us get out of the international agreement, if when we were in that agreement, we could watch what every country was doing, and doing as everybody is promised, that has the flexibility --
MCCARTHY: -- to allow this president to rethink the goals, and why would you pull away from a table that is set where we have provided leadership, and we could provide accountability moving forward. If you are worried about what China is doing, don't walk away, stay at the table.
MOORE: Because, the reason is that the rest of the world wants our money. And that is all about financing a climate change industrial complex around the world, and we're the ones who are going the fund it. And last time I checked, we have a trillion-dollar budget deficit and we don't have the money to send to all of the countries.
MCCARTHY: So you don't have the money to protect the kids and the future, and you don't have the money to protect public health, and the safety of the communities
MCCARTHY: -- and protect national security. That is what climate change threatens.
[14:40:02] BALDWIN: Hearing the two of you -- at such opposite ends of the spectrum, I am sorry, I can't fact-check you on the coal plants on India on the fly. But I have smart people who can get some information, and we will figure it out.
And the last politics, Stephen Moore, on the politics, because the president fulfilling a campaign promise, which would appease the base, but to the politic, the people in the inner circle, i.e., the daughter, and son-in-law, and Gary Cohn, Rex Tillerson and others, who say stay in. Is it not dangerous politically for the president to instead appease folks like that and more established Republicans than becoming more isolationist?
MOORE: It is a smart decision politically. And a lot of the base would be deeply disappointed if he breaks this. And this is a climate change negotiation by Barack Obama. And if we want to have a deal, it should be negotiated by this president, and it should put America First and not last.
BALDWIN: OK. Stephen Moore and Gina McCarthy, thank you for the differing views. I am like hearing it all, and I will get the facts on the coal plants in India.
MOORE: Thank you.
BALDWIN: Thank you. I promise I will.
Coming up next, is President Trump giving his cell phone number to world leaders? And what are the security concerns of the president doing that? We will talk about that.
And more on our breaking news today. The former FBI Director James Comey is expected to testify publicly next week on Capitol Hill on the allegations that President Trump pressured him to end his investigation. What we know, coming up.
[14:45:37] BALDWIN: While the White House seems to be dialing back the communication with the media, the president may be making himself more available to other world leaders. CNN first reported that the president asked to exchange cell phone numbers with Emanuel Macron, the newly elected president of France. And today, the Associated Press is reporting that the president has urged the leaders of Canada and Mexico to call him on the cell phone. This is not only breaking with the diplomatic protocol, but it elevates the ongoing concerns of the president's understanding of the classified or the secret communications.
With me for more on this, and he is back, and James Gagliano, CNN law enforcement analyst and retired supervisory agent for the FBI.
And talking about is it just the president and cell phones, and how do they have -- and I thought that President Obama never, never had a cell phone. And how does he have that to give out the phone number?
JAMES GAGLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, 45 U.S. presidents, and only the last two, President Obama and President Trump, in the cell phone age. President Bush did not use them. And we know that most of them had been deleted or turned off.
The biggest concern of the Secret Service for the president, who uses a personal cell phone, is the GPS location device. Because if somebody can have that number and turns it on and tracks him, and I want to give him the benefit of the doubt. And President Trump is the guy who treasures the collegiality of the office and he meets a world leader, whether it is a friend of his, like Netanyahu, or the person who he has had trouble with Macron or Trudeau. And he says, hey, let's exchange cell phone numbers.
BALDWIN: And it is great to have a direct line of communication, and here is my cell phone number, and let's have that communication. And what security risk is what?
GAGLIANO: Abundant. And going back to the GPS piece of this and the fact that it if it is the personal cell phone, and the I.T. folk, and the cryptologists and the folks who encrypt it, and if it is not part of the security system of the Air Force One, and the Oval Office and the situation room, that is where the presidents conduct most of the communications.
BALDWIN: And one of the issues is that the president was traveling and you can turn on and off some of the location service, and the tweet here, and maybe it is more than that, and I'm not an iPhone genius, but people would know where he is. And how would the Secret Service allow for that?
GAGLIANO: I don't think they would. I think that the Secret Service would no doubt not have allowed that to take place. That is a huge security risk. It is not just the fact that things discussed on there could be used against the United States, whether it is in the realm of, you know, state secrets or what, but it is the where the president is, and the fact that they could pinpoint that location is where the security risk comes in. And that is why I can't not imagine that the Secret Service is tolerating that.
BALDWIN: Jim Gagliano, don't go too far.
We have the audio in now from the press briefing at the White House. You are about to hear the voice of Sean Spicer.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY (voice-over): The Environmental Protection Agency is announcing $56 million in grants for the clean-up of historically contaminated properties, also known as brown fields. Through these grants, the EPA is empowering communities who experience significance economic distress to access and clean up these sights as well as initial steps for redeveloping vacant and underutilized properties, transforming them into productive venues that will benefit the local economy and community. Also today --
BALDWIN: All right. As soon as he takes questions, we will dip back in.
So a quick, quick break. And we are back at the White House in a moment.
[14:50:40] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president has a decision about whether to stay in or drop in Paris Climate Agreement.
SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think the president's comments on this, they'll be making a decision in the next few days, stay on.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will he have a formal cabinet meeting or a formal review before he makes that decision?
SPICER: That will obviously be up to the president to decide.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, Sean. Do you think people should be concerned with the president posted someone of an incoherent tweet last night, and the defense stayed up for hours?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Why did it stay up so long? He is the one watching them?
SPICER: No. I think the president has small group people know exactly what he meant. Like --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is Covfefe?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point with the Brexit, at this point with terrorist, is it fully removed, fully stay-in, or is there a middle ground that the president is willing to negotiate? I think some pieces cut out, some piece remain.
SPICER: Look, when the president has a decision, he'll make that announcement. He'll make it clear what the basis of that is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And, Sean, two quick questions. So to be clear, the president has not made a final decision on the Paris Climate Agreement? SPICER: I obviously don't know the -- weather or not he has made it. But when he's ready to make an announcement, he'll make it clear.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And one quick follow up. Who is he consulting with whether he is making this decision? What factors does he considering?
SPICER: He's listen to a lot of people with here, industry leaders, as I think Director Cohen mentioned last week, he consulted with foreign leaders, that he's talked to industry leaders, he had a lot of input and ultimately he'll make the decision.
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKERS (in unison): Sean.
SPICER: John (ph)?
JOHN (ph): Thank you, Sean. Two questions, first, yesterday you spoke very strong and adamantly about president's commitments with human rights, will he bring up his own strong belief of human rights with the prime minister of Vietnam particularly given the very negative reports on human rights from -- human rights watch in the State Department?
SPICER: I'm not going to get into the private discussions the president had. I think we've talked about this with respect to other foreign leaders that he believes that a lot of the effectiveness of his actions is done behind scenes and we'll have a read out for that meeting when it's done?
JOHN (ph): All right. My other question is this, yesterday you answered my question about the president and President Duterte of the Philippines in his war on drugs. President Duterte has also declared martial law in Mindanao in fighting terrorist and had suggested he might declare a nationwide martial law nothing like that of the Marcos regime for 15 years. Does the president does have any views?
SPICER: I think you should touch base with the State Department on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sean.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sean, the White House still planning on releasing ethics pledge waivers by tomorrow? And if so, will that be administration wide and is there any information get to us on how to access that.
SPICER: Yes, I should have an update for you as some point on that. I'm not ready to discuss it at this time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sean, it's on about the (inaudible) waivers, has the president made a decision, sort of saying he is going to issue it, and that's the president have any update on the time he has a decision (inaudible) with the embassy.
SPICER: I expect something very soon on that.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And so, will the president also give an explanation for why he take -- he's taking whichever act he is taking given that this was a central campaign plot with this?
SPICER: Yes. I think once we have a decision, we'll put it out and we'll have state for (inaudible).
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Sean. A little while ago, Elon Musk tweeted and threat to withdraw from some of the White House CEO councils if the president leaves the Paris for make that decision. Does White House have any reaction to that?
SPICER: I think let's wait and see what the president's decision is. I don't want to get ahead of the president when he makes that decision. We'll let you know and have any further reaction at that time.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Elon Musk level of info, here he said he's going to ...
SPICER: I don't, I can't.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- as long as there's somebody in the White House obviously has invited multiple times to participate on multiple councils here. So does he have a trusted advisor or what?
[14:55:00] SPICER: The president has a lot of people that he gets input from in a lot of issues.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, Sean.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sean?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. Seeing that as reporting with James Comey would testify, if the president pressured him to drop the Michael Flynn investigation. Did the president engaged in obstruction of justice in repeated meetings with James Comey?
SPICER: Our job -- we are focused on the president's agenda and all going forward, all questions on these matters will refer to outside counsel Marc Kasowitz.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Sean. The president met with European leaders last week obviously, did those discussions from the German chancellor and others influence his decision making on Paris Climate Agreement?
SPICER: As I mentioned, the president has taken input from a lot of individuals to help formulate his decision-making and when he's got that decision made, we'll make it clear. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please. There are several ways that the president couldn't withdraw from Paris Climate Agreement, the fastest of which is withdrawing from the U.N. framework on convention on climate change. Is that on the table?
SPICER: Again, I don't want to get ahead of what he may or may not do. When we have an announcement, we'll let you know.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks, Sean. I have a question about this (inaudible) group incident. Obviously, our conduct has been widely (inaudible) and it's not a partisan thing as they talking about violence, that the president is unacceptable. But on that note, I wanted to ask about ask about Ted Nugent who joke multiple times about assassinating President Barack Obama, who said Hillary Clinton should be hanged. He was invited to the White House for dinner by President Trump.
Do you believe that was appropriate and if Trump is offended by this incident, why was he not bothered by all of Mr. Nugent's comments?
SPICER: With respect to Kathy Griffin, I think the president, the first lady and service have all made statements on that, that I left stand.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So Ted Nugent, the discrepancy there, why was it OK for Mr. Nugent to make these comments?
SPICER: I'm not, to be honest with you, I have to look back and see what those statements were and what the reaction was at that time.
I understand that but I am not aware of what the reaction was at that time. I know that the statement with respect to Ms. Griffin was acknowledged by what the first lady, the president and the secret service. Francesca (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But Ted Nugent did that, say that, Sean.
SPICER: Francesca (ph)?
FRANCESCA (ph): Thank you, Sean. That's been (inaudible) course here on the Paris Agreement though, there are several reports today that said, the president is claiming flaws of Paris Agreement. Are you saying that those reports are wrong, that he has not made a decision yet?
SPICER: No. What I'm saying -- well, what I am saying is that when the president has a decision to make, he'll let people know. And I don't think whether it's a personal decision or any other action that we tend to get ahead of the president, he is the ultimate decider and when he has a decision to make, he'll let you know.
I'm sorry for the delay but I know we've got Vietnam waiting (ph) here. Good job you all, thank you guys.
(CROSSTALK) BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: OK. So I think he just grab that, this is all just a little bit bizarre. That was the voice of Sean Spicer answering just a few questions from the White House Press Core about, specifically asked about will the president decide to remain within this Paris Agreement on climate change, or will the U.S. pull out.
The headline from John Spicer is essentially saying he doesn't have any answer yet from the president but our reporting is that, we should know in the coming days. Questions about this is FBI investigation of the (FER), CNN reporting that James Comey will be testifying publicly next week on Capitol Hill, and that he will acknowledge Comey's words that the president did in fact pressure him to drop investigation into his fired National Security Michael Flynn and that was just now referred to outside counsel.
So we're going to have some voices to talk what all of this. James Galliano was still here with me on the set.
James Galliano, just on the question -- we were talking before about the CNN reporting on Comey. And now it seems to me moving forward that any question from the White House, you know, press pool on anything related to the investigation is just going to be John Spicer referring it to outside counsel. No answers on that.
JAMES GALLIANO, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Right. And, Brooke, I think the way this is going to go down next week is all about relationships. The former FBI director is going to show up at the Senate Intelligence Committee with personal counsel. He's also met privately with Robert Mueller, and this is the part that I struggle with because they're both damn decent men. They both have high moral rectitude their characters unimpeachable.
But you've got a special prosecutor that has a personal relationship with a man who's at the center of this. I don't know how that's going to play out. And I also think that people are going to be disappointed next week because I think a lot of the more -- may I choose the term salacious but that the stuff is could be more riveting, is going to be done in executive session. I can imagine --
[15:00:00] BALDWIN: I don't think it's pretty riveting if you have, you know, former FBI director saying the president of United States told him to drop an investigation.
BALDWIN: That significant.
GALLIANO: And if he went on paper with this, as we say in the FBI, anything of note, anything that's going to have any evidentiary consequence, you go on paper. If you went on paper with this and those documents get subpoenaed. Yes, the only thing that I can see preventing that from happening, well, two things.
One, the president somehow interject himself in asking for executive privilege. I don't know how that would play out in the Senate investigation. But the second is, if the FBI director or the special prosecutor insists that those conversations are part and parcel of the Russian collusion investigation and that takes precedence.
BALDWIN: OK, stay with me. Gloria Borger, let me bring you in this and we can comment on the bizarre nature of the briefing here in just a second. But, you know, that to hear Sean Spicer refer any sort of question on, you know, the next week's testimony of Mr. Comey, the investigation referring to outside counsel.
Is this the beginning of the new norm?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. You know, I think it is. And Marc Kasowitz is somebody who has long represented Donald Trump. And I have been told by a source that Kasowitz will provide a supervisory role that there are probably going to the other lawyers hired, and that Kasowitz will be the one who communicates with the president most frequently.
There clearly is a comfort level there and this clearly is a very different world because I think what you're going to find in this White House as you as you found in the Clinton White House is that you have to kind wall people off from this investigation. Sean Spicer doing his job and not answering questions that the president's personal attorney ought to be answering.
BALDWIN: And Eric (ph) (inaudible), you're the one with all this reporting that that was referenced in the question to Sean Spicer. If people are just tuning in, give us your news.
ERIC (ph): Well, what we're hearing is that, that Comey, the fired FBI director and Bob Mueller who was named the special counsel investigations a few weeks ago, have talked to -- have met and worked out an agreement, essentially the parameters for Comey to testify publically which is a big deal. There had been some questions since Mueller's name about whether he would essentially allow that to go forward or not, because of concerns that well could bleed in to the investigation if he had to fire the FBI director.
So what we're hearing is that, Comey will testify. It could be as soon as next week before the Senate intelligence committee, they working that out. It will happen publically and he is willing and even eager to get into his discussions with the president, which are now becoming so notorious about the investigation.
You remember as you reference, the one-on-one conversation where Trump allegedly told him to drop or let go of the Michael Flynn investigation, his former national security advisor. Another one where he allegedly asked Comey if he had his loyalty, if he were to stay on his director, and Comey as we hear has taken meticulous notes about these conversations because they were, you know, awkward to put it mildly, and we expect from what we're hearing today that that he will testify about those conversations but he will not get in to any more detail about the investigation itself. The question of whether or not there was any collusion between the campaign and Russia, that he will leave to Bob Mueller.
BALDWIN: So Eric on that reporting. David Singer, just on the analysis, I was talking on our Political Director David Chalian last hour and he said, "Brooke, grab the popcorn." I mean, he was saying ,you know, the nation hasn't seen a hearing like this since Anita Hill. Where are your expectations on next week?
DAVID SINGER (ph): Well, they made out well be right and as Eric is indicated, I suspect you won't hear much from him on the evidence that he saw until the day that he was fired as FBI director. But think for a minute about what President Trump may have unleashed by firing him.
If you are serving the president, the statement that you always can me and they gets around every question is, I'm terribly sorry I don't speak about the personal conversations I have, or the policy conversations I have with the president. The advice I give in, the instructions I received.
You know, presidential conversations are always considered to be somewhat off-limits so what's happened here? By firing Comey, he has -- President Trump has essentially freed up Mr. Comey to go out and begin discussing at least those conversations. And since it's already appeared in the New York Times and elsewhere that he had taken these notes and that he felt pressured, that that those leaks almost assured he was I get asked about it.