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President Defies World; Backlash from Business Leaders; Travel Ban to Supreme Court; Comey Testifies Next Week; GOP Cheers Climate Decision. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 2, 2017 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The prime minister of Canada, saying that they are deeply disappointed there. Angela Merkel of Germany, you see there on your screen as well, saying the position of the United States is very regrettable. But she also said that no one would be able to stop Europe and Germany from holding on to their climate change goals. And then you have the former British prime minister, David Cameron, calling this a backward step. And then as you guys already mentioned, you had Macron there of France, he came out and he said several things. He also said that there would be no plan b because there's no planet b. Of course, pouring cold water on notion that anything could be renegotiated. And then he also said the following. Let's listen in.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: I do respect this decision, but I do think it is an actual mistake, both for the U.S. and for our planet. We all share the same responsibility, make our planet great again.


PLEITGEN: There you go, the French president there switching into English. Quite uncommon, actually, for French leaders to do that. So you do have a lot of international criticism, a lot of - especially coming from Europe. But then, of course, you also have it coming from the Chinese right now as well. The Chinese prime minister is actually in Europe right now. He's meeting with E.U. leaders. And they've made a point to say that they see eye to eye on the global challenges and they put climate change way at the top. So, again, you already have the Chinese, they're trying to fill that void that the U.S. seems to be leaving, especially here in Europe with that decision on the climate agreement, guys.

BERMAN: All right, Frederik Pleitgen for us in London with some of the world reaction. World leaders didn't like it. The markets around the world over the last 24 hours mostly up. Wall Street just opened moments ago flat pretty much from Wall Street today, although probably reacting more to the jobs numbers than anything else.

HARLOW: Investors are not reacting really to some of the biggest named CEOs in the world coming out and slamming the president's decision to pull out of the Paris climate agreement. Disney's chief executive, Bob Iger, SpaceX Elon Musk both quit the president's Economic Advisory Council over this. Jeff Immult, the CEO of one of the world's biggest manufacturers, GE, calls the decision "disappointing." And in a memo, Apple's CEO Tim Cook told employees that Apple will not change how it is operating. "Climate change is real and we all share responsibility to fight it. I want to reassure you that today's developments will have no impact on Apple's efforts to protect the environment. Our mission has always been to leave the world better than we found it. We will never waiver because we know that future generations depend on us."

Let's hear directly from one of the business leaders, Sir Richard Branson of the Virgin Group joins us now.

Thank you for being here.


HARLOW: This president's argument is more American jobs will come because we are pulling out. You're a CEO who employees many people around the world, including in the United States. Is he right?

BRANSON: Sadly, he's completely wrong. Hundreds of thousands of jobs could have been created in the clean energy sector if he had given his support and if he'd implemented policies in America to make that happen. And the industries he's trying to protect, coal, they're dying industries, so those people should be moving into cleaner industries, much more pleasant industries to work in, that can create an energy revolution, that can help save the world. And he sat that back in a - yes, in a pretty morally irreprehensible way yesterday.

BERMAN: Sir Richard, you know, the president says that the United States has entered into a bunch of bad deals over the years. And yesterday he flat out said, we don't want other countries to laugh at us anymore because of these bad deals, as the put it. What do you make of that?

BRANSON: Well, look, I'm afraid the world is laughing - or not laughing. The world is incredibly sad at the way America is behaving at the - way at the moment. It's perhaps the most shameful time that, you know, we've ever seen in my lifetime. And it's just dragging it - dragging America down in the eyes of the rest of the world. One hundred and ninety-three countries supported this. The last time that happened was when the ozone layer was under threat from COC (ph) gases and there was a meeting in Canada and the whole world got together and they sorted that problem out and the ozone layer is now regrowing and people are not suffering from unnecessary cancers.

You know, this was as important an occasion, the Paris - the Paris agreement. And hundreds of American companies went to Paris and argued that this must be implemented. And it was implemented. It was historic. And it just makes so many of us want - literally want to cry when - when for some bizarre reason the president of America decides to make such a catastrophic decision.

[09:35:10] HARLOW: You lead a group called the B Team, and these are businesses, big businesses, including some big manufacturing businesses, big emitters who are committed to reducing the amount of carbon in the atmosphere and emissions. Do you think American and global businesses are actually going to change the way they operate and choose to pollute more because of this or are they going to stick to the Paris agreement anyway?

BRANSON: Look, the B Team has incredible leaders, from Paul Polman, who runs Unilever, right through to Muhammad Yunus. I mean, you know, an enormously interesting group of leaders, with one - with one voice. Most - almost all business leaders in the world know that we have a problem. Know that we have to do something about it. And I'm not just talking about, you know, people like myself that pollute in the airline line business. I'm talking about, you know, oil company leaders, all of us. We know we have a problem. W know we've got to do something about it.

It helps if you can have a government taking leadership, setting the ground rules, though, you know, trying to encourage clean energy by not taxing it. You know, trying to dis-encourage dirty energy by taking off the subsidies on it. And, in that way, we can get to a world that is clean for our grandchildren in 2050, that, you know, that does not pollute, that does not mean that we're going to ruin every single reef in the world, which we would do if our climate change gets out of control, it will not mean that we'll see sea levels rising. I mean there's just - you know, it's a win-win all around if the 193 countries stick together. And it's a horrible loss what happened yesterday. And I think that history will treat Trump incredibly unkindly for, you know, for the message that he sent to the world yesterday. It was a dreadful, dreadful, dreadful day.

BERMAN: Richard Branson - Richard Branson, your view is very clear on this. Thank you so much for being with us. We should note, the president's views also very clear on this yesterday. We will see what progresses over the next years, I suppose. Thanks so much.

The White House, in the meantime, not backing down in the travel ban fight. The administration taking this one to the Supreme Court.


[09:41:34] HARLOW: The battle over the president's controversial travel ban is going to end up, it looks like, in the nation's highest court. The administration officially going to the Supreme Court, asking the justices to hear the case and to reinstate the executive order last night. It would block entry into the United States from six Muslim majority countries.

BERMAN: CNN justice reporter Laura Jarrett has the very latest.

The court, Laura, will they take this up?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, that remains to be seen, guys. But lawyers for the Trump administration filed hundreds of pages with the U.S. Supreme Court late last night, all in the hopes of convincing the justices to allow the president to move forward with his travel ban. And the key question for now is whether the administration can convince five of the nine members of the court that the country actually faces more harm from a national security standpoint by not having the ban in effect.

So far lower courts have kept the travel ban on hold. Many using the president's own words to find that the executive order likely violates the Constitution on this idea that it was allegedly motivated by some sort of intent to disfavor Muslims. But The Justice Department says those courts got the law wrong and you simply can't second-guess the president's motivations on this.

HARLOW: Laura Jarret for us. Thank you very much. We appreciate it.

This morning, police in Portland are looking for this man. Why? Because he allegedly stole from one of the victims of the train stabbing incident last week. There he is, in Portland. He was carrying - he was caught on video, rather, carrying Ricky Best's backpack off the train. Apparently Best's wedding ring was stolen as well. Police are asking him to turn himself in and bring the items back for the family.

BERMAN: All right, was this a shrewd political move to exit the Paris deal? What do people who voted for Donald Trump also think about the fact that James Comey will be testifying in front of the whole nation next Thursday? Stay with us.


[09:47:58] HARLOW: All right, while world leaders are condemning the president's decision to exit the Paris climate deal, top Republicans at home are cheering it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calls the decision another blow to Obama's war on coal. House Speaker Paul Ryan called the Paris Accord a raw deal.

BERMAN: Joining us now, J.D. Vance. He grew up in the rust belt. He's a CNN contributor and author of the book "Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis."

J.D., I want to talk about Paris in just a second but we can just start with Moscow, as it were right now and the issues about Russia and the investigation swirling around this White House. James Comey testifies next week, six days from now. In fact, six days and 12 minutes from now. A lot of people looking at this as a key moment for the White House and this presidency. When I say a lot of people, does that include people in the middle of the country where you are right now in Columbus, Ohio?

J.D. VANCE, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, well, I think the conversation about the Russian investigation and the feelings that people have about that investigation very often overlap with how people feel about the media. And I often find that when folks talk about Russia, they very often also pare it with a distrust of the media, of perhaps a feeling that the media is being unfair to President Trump. And it's really difficult to untangle those two sentiments.

Now, I will say that if we're talking about Trump's base, we really have to keep in mind two separate groups of voters. And so one group of voters is the really passionate core base of Trump voters, probably 20 percent of the electorate. They're not going to really abandon the president no matter what Comey says. But there are a lot of folks who voted for Donald Trump who still give him positive approval ratings, but who opinion polling shows are actually pretty soft in their support. And I see when I talk to folks like that the soft of soft Trump voters that Comey, the investigation, the constant drip, drip, drip, of conversation about Russia and potential collusion does have a softening impact among the soft group of Trump supporters.

HARLOW: J.D., the president promised coal miners, you're going to go back to work. You're born in Kentucky, you grew up in Ohio, you know these towns, you know these people. We've seen it on the ground. Are these people en mass going to go back to work because the president pulled out of the Paris climate agreement?

[09:50:18] VANCE: Well, no, because the Paris climate agreement, of course, was nonbinding. And so a lot of the commitments that the United States made, even if you think that the United States shouldn't have made those commitments, they were effectively voluntary, and so it's really tough to argue that pulling out of that accord is going to bring a lot of people back to work.

What I find so amazing about this conversation is that when you talk to folks who are involved in the coal industry, folks who live in these areas, they're very realistic about the fact that a lot of those jobs are not coming back. And I think that what that shows is that we really have to be asking ourselves, what's the next generation of American jobs? What are people going to be doing 10, 20, 30 years down the road. And it's so interesting to me how much of the national conversation is driven by, can we bring coal miners back to work?


VANCE: And when you talk to folks on the ground, they're actually a lot more realistic about what the economy is going to be looking like in a decade or two.


BERMAN: It's such an interesting conversation because, what, how many coal miners are there, 50,000 to 70,000?

HARLOW: There's 50,000 coal miners in America right now.

BERMAN: And 115,000 people who work for JCPenney alone, J.D. Vance. And if you listen to the president sometimes, you would think that the coal miner caucus, as it were, you know, is the most important, symbolic thing, you know, for the American economy. And it's not that we - you know, we shouldn't try to save every job that we can, and it's not that every job's not important, but it almost seems that he's saying that certain Americans are more important or more American than others.

VANCE: Well, there's obviously a very important symbolic role for coal. And if you talk to folks who work in the coal industry who had grandparents, parents who worked in the coal industry, it is really important. In some ways, it's almost associated with the geography of eastern Kentucky or West Virginia - HARLOW: Yes.

VANCE: In a way that most industries aren't. But even still, even the fact that - even if you accept the fact that coal has this really large, symbolic power, which it does, you know, people on the ground, again, are pretty pessimistic about whether the coal economy is ever going to be able to employ hundreds of thousands of people in these regions. And so what you see when you see the conversation driven so much by whether these coal jobs are going to be coming back, it doesn't necessarily match up with the real cynicism that exists on the ground. And I think that if we really want to help these people - and we should want to help these people.

HARLOW: Right.

VANCE: I mean these are good, hard-working Americans. But we have to be talking about, what's next? What's the economy of the next 10 or 20 years going to be driven by? And how do we prepare people for those jobs and that type of work?

HARLOW: And I think, just from the little bit of time I've spent talking to these folks in Kentucky, Ohio, and elsewhere, it is not just the 50,000 coal miners. It is, J.D., what coal mining represented, as the ability to work a 40, 50-hour workweek and provide for your family. So it touches a lot more people than just those that are directly employed.

That said, when I was in Beattyville not that long ago after the election, a woman named Donna Kumer (ph) came to me and she said, the coal trucks are already out. She felt more hope then than she had felt since Lyndon Johnson declared the war on poverty in Kentucky, right? Is this president being disingenuous with these people, that their livelihood will completely turn around?

VANCE: Yes, well, I don't know if he's being disingenuous, obviously. I don't know what's in the president's mind. But I do think from just a basic economic and, frankly, political fact of life that the White House needs to keep in mind is that these areas do have really high unemployment rates, really low labor force participation rates. They do need good jobs. And, unfortunately, they don't have those jobs right now.

Now, you can talk about the coal industry and, obviously, it does have this symbolic importance, but unless you can actually bring new jobs, better jobs, jobs outside of the coal industry to these areas, they're still going to really, really suffer. And I think, consequently, while the president may not pay a political price tomorrow, if two years from now, if four years from now people are still looking around and saying, where are the jobs, how can I find good work, either in the coal industry or outside of it, then the president and the Republican Party, they're going to pay a political price because of it.

BERMAN: J.D., we have just a few seconds left. Back to Russia for one second. You talk about the need for shared facts in this country. When James Comey testifies under oath and says things out loud, do you think those will be considered facts? VANCE: Well, I think they will for most people, but I do think that

one of the biggest problems that this entire Russia investigation has revealed in our country is that we have really serious problems of institutional mistrust of the press, not from maybe a majority of the country, but certainly from a pretty large minority. And I think we have to deal with that. We have to recognize that a lot of what's coming out of the so-called mainstream media is mistrusted by a large segment of the country. We've got to deal with that problem -

[09:55:06] BERMAN: Sure.

VANCE: Because if we don't, then we are going to have two separate sets of facts that our political conversation operates under, and that's not healthy for anybody.

BERMAN: No. James Comey's not a reporter. He doesn't work for any media organization, just to be clear. So, if he says it, you know, it's not so much of a media thing, but I get your point there.

HARLOW: Right.

VANCE: Sure. Sure.

HARLOW: I found that - I felt that distrust in Beattyville, Kentucky. But I found, J.D., when I went and I spent an hour with some of these folks, you know, and just talked to them, and they didn't feel like they were being talked at by the media, you know, they opened up their doors and their arms to us. So, maybe more conversations ahead.

J.D. Vance, thank you.

VANCE: Absolutely.

HARLOW: Yesterday the president called out directly the people of Youngstown, Ohio. So what do they think about his move on climate? In just minutes, we're going to speak with the mayor of Youngstown right here.