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Testing The White House's Claims On The Economy; Celebrity Chef Walks Back Claims Against Ivanka Trump; Trump Faces Deadline Today To Impose Russian Sanctions; Rep. Federica Wilson To Boycott Trump's State Of The Union Address. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 29, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:00] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Take a look at the facts. Twenty fourteen, three millions jobs; 2015, 2.7 million jobs; 2016, 2.2 million jobs. You notice how they're going down? That was expected.

Why? Because you were coming off of a boosted recovery and when you have long-term change like that it is going to taper. So you certainly can't sell 2017's performance as anything earth-shattering.

All right, next point.

GDP growth, three percent. This is just not true. How do we know? The Bureau of Economic Analysis.

The actual GDP, 2.3 percent. How does that line up, average. Places 2017 11th in GDP growth out of the last 20 years.

All right, next point. Three point one million Americans have either received a pay increase or a bonus and it's all thanks to Trump's tax cut.

This is more complex. Let's look at it this way.

Some of the companies that boosted pay -- let's look at Walmart. They did -- they also laid off 8,000 workers right around the same time, according to Reuters.

Comcast, another big company that was making headlines, granted $1,000 bonuses to 100,000 employees, but it did fire 500 of its managers across multiple states.

AT&T, same thing-- $1,000 bonuses to 200,000 employees, but 4,000 layoffs at the same time.

And in one case, Wells Fargo breathlessly thanked Trump for his tax cut and for its wage hike but then it flip-flopped, on whether it was because of the tax cut or part of a preexisting plan.

What we need to know there is what percentage of the tax savings that these companies are getting are they then passing on to labor as opposed to shareholders. That'll be an important stat. When I get it, you'll get it.

Unemployment, 17-year low -- true, 4.1 percent -- but remember this. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The phony unemployment rate. The unemployment rate is probably 20 percent.

They say 5.3 percent unemployment. The number's probably 32 percent.

When you hear 4.9 and five percent unemployment, the number's probably 28-29, a high as 35.


CUOMO: You know what? I agree with the president. Every economist would.

Why? Because he's referring to what is a little bit of a deception when it comes to unemployment, all right -- and Christine Romans is so good on this. If you do a Google search she lays it out so well.

He's really talking about the U6, underemployment. Temp workers who don't -- who, yes, they're working but they have less hours, less money. The work market has shifted so if you just look at this one unemployment factor it is often misleading, all right?

So he was right about that but now he's owning it. It's so interesting. Every White House, for as long as we can remember, says we're responsible for everything that we get.

But when Obama did that, Trump said the numbers were phony. Now, he's using the same numbers and making the same face. I thought he was supposed to be different.

Economists say this level of unemployment -- OK -- what we see with this level of unemployment versus the wage growth, which is 2.5 percent, it's not where it should be. Wages should be going up more. That's what we focus on. Not just Wall Street, Main Street.

Those are the facts -- Pop.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Appreciate them, as ever, Chris. Thank you.

So also this, this morning. A fitness tracking app may pose a security risk for forces around the world -- for security forces around the world.

Get this. In November, this app called Strava released a global heat map. So what it shows is the location and movement of its users.

A conflict analyst noted on Twitter the update makes U.S. bases clearly identifiable and mappable. A Pentagon spokeswoman taking it seriously, saying they're looking into this situation.

CUOMO: All right. Celebrity chef Jose Andres is an outspoken critic, former legal foe of President Trump, but he's a hell of a lot more than that. He spent a lot of time in Puerto Rico feeding people, including first responders.

Now, there are these claims that Ivanka Trump snubbed him. Andres was first slamming the first daughter on Twitter late Saturday, saying she had him thrown out of an elite party at a D.C. restaurant. Ivanka telling CNN she had nothing to do with him getting the boot. Now, it turns out the restaurant said Andres wasn't on the guest list.

On Sunday, Andres said Ivanka reached out to him personally -- class move. He then tweeted he believed that she had nothing to do with the incident.

I'll tell you what. I know this guy. I met him in connection with what he was doing in Puerto Rico.

HARLOW: Amazing.

CUOMO: He is a stand-up guy. If something happened -- and now, it's odd that he wouldn't be on a guest list like this. He's such as boldfaced name --

HARLOW: Right.

CUOMO: -- in that community.

But he did the right thing. Ivanka reached out to him. He is taking the high road. That's exactly the kind of guy he is. And, good for her for doing that.

[07:35:00] HARLOW: Absolutely.

All right. So, the northeast and the mid-Atlantic bracing for a one- two punch. Two separate systems bringing a potential of snow.

Our meteorologist Chad Myers has your forecast. Good morning, my friend.


Hey, you know what? The good news is that the punches now are lighter because we're not in such a cold period here. Temperatures will be in the 30s but, OK, we'll take that.

Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is bringing you this weather today. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters is packed with goodness.

Here is what we have for you. The storm goes by. It brings a little bit of light snow to the mountains of West Virginia and maybe even into New England, but the skiers will take that. That's kind of that one-two thing. I mean, let's get some snow back on these mountains because it really has been a rough season for many of these guys.

Here comes the colder air. Now, it is going to be cold in Minnesota for the Super Bowl. The high is going to be eight on Super Bowl Sunday.

So, yes, the cold air is here but it's not so much in the northeast. Even New York, on Wednesday, the coldest day of the week is 35 -- Chris.

CUOMO: And let's not forget, the game is played in the Dome.


CUOMO: So it's going to stink getting there but once you get there it will be fine.

Appreciate the information, my friend.

All right. New sanctions against Russia for election interference. In fact, they're not new. They were passed 98 to two by Congress a while ago. They're supposed to go into effect today.

Is the White House dragging its feet and why would they do that?

We're going to ask a senator who wants the same answer from the White House, next.


[07:40:35] CUOMO: All right, today matters. Today is the deadline to implements sanctions that were passed 98 to two against Russia for its election interference, all right? That's called unanimous, basically, all right? So that happened last summer.

Why is the Trump White House dragging its feet, and is that a fair characterization?

Joining us now is Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware.

Is that a fair characterization? Has the White House been dragging its feet?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), MEMBER, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE, APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE; SMALL BUSINESS & ENTREPRENEUSHIP COMMITTEE, SELECT COMMITTEE ON ETHICS: Well, Chris, it's really striking that on an action that was taken so broadly by the senate, like that 98 to two vote last summer, that the president, the White House, the administration hasn't taken up these new sanctioning authorities and used them aggressively.

It raises the question what possible reason the administration has for not imposing real cost on the Russians for their interference in our last election.

CUOMO: And when you ask the White House where is the direction, who are you going to target, when is this going to take effect, what do you get?

COONS: So far, they have used sanctioning authorities against other countries that were also part of the same bill. Against North Korea, against, Iran, although they were slow to act in both of those cases.

There hasn't been, in my mind, any satisfactory explanation. It continues to be puzzling. All the way back to the campaign, candidate Trump made repeated, unprecedented statements that were positive -- glowing about Vladimir Putin and Russia, and were negative or even attacking our western European allies. And as President Trump, he has continued a puzzling practice of not taking decisive action against Russia.

So this will be an important moment for the national security leadership in the Trump administration to press the president to take stronger action against Russia.

CUOMO: All right, so we'll see what they do on that today.

Second item of business, the memo that the Republicans are touting, specifically Devin Nunes and his staffers, that the American people need to see this and the Democrats don't want people to see it.

Are you OK with his memo being released and do you believe it has anything of importance to the American people?

COONS: Well, Chris, I don't know anything about the contents of the memo. I haven't seen it. It has been shared, apparently, with members of the House -- beyond the House Intelligence Committee. The Senate Intelligence Committee members, I believe, still haven't seen it.

And, President Trump's own Department of Justice -- the U.S. Department of Justice has been strenuously objecting to a public release of it.

I trust Congressman Adam Schiff, the ranking Democratic on House Intelligence who says that it is a thinly-veiled attack piece designed to undermine the credibility of the FBI and the investigation of Robert Mueller.

And I think before releasing something like this it should be carefully and thoroughly reviewed and the DOJ given an opportunity to respond in a classified setting.

CUOMO: But don't you think in this -- obviously, you have to do it with safeguards. You don't want sources out there. You don't want any methods that you don't want to detail to people to be out there.

But you do that on a regular basis. Things are qualified in their declassification.

Don't you think it would be better to just let the American people and the media see what's in it, chew on it, debate it because mystery is so powerful in this environment right now?

The unknown, like we saw with the secret organization within the FBI because of the missing texts, you know. The unknown is salacious and powerful. Often the truth, not so much.

COONS: Salacious, and powerful, and distracting, and intentionally so. Chris, what I'm concerned about is a steady drumbeat of efforts by

Republicans, particularly in the House, to undermine the credibility of federal law enforcement, the FBI, and in particular special counsel Robert Mueller.

The bombshell revelation by "The New York Times" on Thursday night that President Trump attempted to fire special counsel Mueller last June reinforces the urgency of our passing legislation in the Senate that would protect the special counsel from an unwarranted or abrupt firing. I think the consequences of that happening would be significant.

And I do think, to get back to your question, that if there's a thorough review of this memo and there's not much to it that could harm sources or methods, it should be released. I just don't know enough about what it contains or why it's considered to be so damaging by the DOJ in their opposition to its being released.

CUOMO: Well, what they're saying is they haven't seen it. It's about review and disclosure, not its content, so we'll see.

[07:45:00] But on the protecting the special counsel. The Republicans -- we just had Congressman Scott Taylor, but he's voicing something that's somewhat of a consensus within its own party.

He didn't fire Mueller. It's been a long time since June. He says he won't fire Mueller.

Why waste the time with the legislation that's not necessary?

COONS: Because we see now a president who has no clear sense of his boundaries and of the rule of law. On occasion, he consults his lawyers and follows their advice and the outcome has been positive. On occasion, he doesn't consult his lawyers and he's done and said things that have really threatened the rule of law, from firing Comey to a number of the other abrupt actions that he's taken.

Let me just get to the point. This is a small legislative matter that would take current regulations and make them law, that say if the special counsel were abruptly removed without cause. Now, the counsel could find his way to be reinstated through a three-judge panel. It is a small preventive measure.

When I ask my colleagues, Republicans and Democrats alike, would it be a big deal if the president abruptly fired Robert Mueller, they all say absolutely. It would be a constitutional crisis.

When I say to them what would you do, they don't have a clear answer. We don't know what our next steps would be as a body.

And so, if we could put this speed bump in place that would just prevent the president from taking a rash and an unwarranted act, I think it would strengthen our constitutional order and protect our country from an unnecessary moment should the president go off the rails on this issue again. CUOMO: It doesn't seem likely that you'd get a majority vote but we'll see if you guys are able to get it to the floor and what happens with that.

Let me ask you about immigration but I want to flip the dialogue as I've been listening to it this weekend. The dialogue in standard is all right, well, here's what the president is offering. Let's see if the Republicans will swallow this.

Let's flip it the other way. Are any members of your party saying wow, we're giving up a lot just to get the Dreamers helped here?

We're giving him this wall that we all say we don't need. We're allowing them to stem the tide of legal immigration into this country -- somewhat redefine the parameters of who we are. You know, totally throw the lottery under the bus, totally throw family reunification under the bus under the name of what they're calling, you know, these family anti-migration policies.

Are any of you stepping up and saying why are we giving up so much to get something that they all say they want to do on the Republican side as a matter of morality?

COONS: Well, Chris, there are vigorous debates in the Democratic Caucus on exactly those grounds. There is very strong opposition to the idea of ending the diversity lottery because the Democratic Party broadly views diversity as a strength of our country, not as a challenge or a problem to be dealt with or minimized.

We also view immigration to reunify families as one of the great positives of our immigration policy of the past, not as a great challenge or weakness and we'd like to find an appropriate balance between skill-based or merit-based immigration and family reunification immigration. And some of the proposals that have been put out by the White House are really extreme in terms of attacking both family-based migration and diversity as one of the goals of migration.

There's an overall difference in our views. I think there is a shared compassion by the American people for the Dreamers who were brought here through no fault of their own by their parents. But our broader view of immigration as a Democratic Party is that it's part of the strength of America. It brings the energy, and the talent, and the skills of people from around the world from different cultures to help strengthen America going forward.

There's clearly folks on the other side of this debate from us who have an exactly opposite view. And I think this should be looked at not as a zero sum game where we make concessions to our core values, but where we find -- I think where we should be proceeding is to start with the smallest, narrowest possible deal on border security and Dreamers and see if we can build out from there in a way that doesn't compromise our core values as Democrats.

CUOMO: Well --

COONS: That may be very difficult to do but we'll get to it this week.

CUOMO: Let's see. This week, huh? Well, I guess you don't have much of a choice but we'll see. We'll be watching it.

Thank you very much, Senator, appreciate it.

COONS: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: All right, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right.

So, several members of Congress will not be at the State of the Union tomorrow night. They're boycotting the president's first big address. I'll talk to one of them, next.


[07:53:30] HARLOW: President Trump will deliver his first State of the Union address tomorrow night. Several Democrats in Congress are planning to boycott the big speech. They're not going to be there. What message are they hoping to send by not attending?

Let's ask one of them, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson of Florida. It's nice to have you. Thanks for joining us this morning.

FREDERICA WILSON (D), FLORIDA, BOYCOTTING PRESIDENT TRUMP'S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS: Thank you. Thank you so much. It's a pleasure. Good morning.

HARLOW: Good morning.

So you're not going tomorrow night. Why?

WILSON: Well, I'm not going because to go would be to honor the president and I don't think he deserves to be honored at this time after being so hateful towards black people and then black countries -- Haiti and the whole continent of Africa. It hurts. It hurts and he has brought the White House to the lowest and I don't think he needs to be honored with my presence.

HARLOW: So, Congresswoman, what about those who argue OK, that's your perspective but he is the President of the United States of America. This is a speech, we're told by the White House, will be a unifying speech. We'll see what we get, but that you are placing politics over unifying this country. That perhaps even in your disagreement with the president on so many levels, show respect for the office by being there.

What do you say to those critics?

[07:55:00] WILSON: Well, it hurts. It hurts me. My father was a civil rights icon and I cannot find it in my heart to sit through this.

I -- Africa is my ancestral home and I feel a real closeness to Haiti where thousands of my constituents emanated from.

So, I would rather skip this than listen to the rhetoric coming from a White House that has done away with decency.

And I will be watching the State of the Union with my local constituents. With my local Muslims, and Dreamers, and local Mexicans, and local Haitians, and victims of sexual abuse, and local Gold Star families, and local Africans who are Nigerians and South Africans. So we will be watching the State of the Union but I will not enter the chamber.

HARLOW: OK. On immigration, you have said recently the president, in your words, is holding Dreamers hostage. Now, he pinned it on you guys over the weekend in a tweet we'll get to in a moment on Democrats.

But you know this White House proposal that officially comes out today does create a path for citizenship to 1.8 million -- not only Dreamers but would-be Dreamers who just didn't apply to the program promptly enough.

Are you encouraged to see that from this White House?

WILSON: Well, I have seen this president waffle back and forth on every promise he's made regarding Dreamers.

HARLOW: So you don't buy it?

WILSON: I am a huge --

HARLOW: You don't buy it?

WILSON: -- Dreamer supporter -- huge Dreamer supporter and I don't believe anything he says --

HARLOW: All right.

WILSON: -- or proposes.

HARLOW: OK, so we'll see what happens with this. But you're saying even though this is in there --

WILSON: We'll see what happens.

HARLOW: -- officially -- official, you know, release -- I'm not sure this is what's going to happen.

Let's turn to the Niger investigation. Of course, in October, Sgt. La David Johnson was killed along with four of his Green Beret comrades in this ambush attack in Niger. You represent -- the Johnson family is constituents of yours, close family friends. You were a mentor to La David Johnson.

Has the family received any updates because the Pentagon has not concluded its investigation yet?

WILSON: No, not that I know of and today is the due date of the new baby in the Johnson family, so we're all on pins and needles.

But we're still concerned about what happened to Sgt. La David Johnson and we hear leaks and we see leaks and every day there's a new reporter who has a body camera that they saw. I mean, videos are showing up on YouTube. And we're real concerned because it's not a good time for the family to hear all of this with the new baby coming.

HARLOW: Of course, Myeshia Johnson, his widow, pregnant. His child, of course. Please keep us posted on all of that.

On this investigation you called for a congressional investigation, not just the Pentagon but you said Congress needs to investigate this. I understand that has not started yet.

Why is that?

WILSON: I'm not sure but I think the Senate plans to investigate and the House of Representatives -- the Foreign Affairs Committee. And the Congressional Black Caucus, under the leadership of Mr. Cedric Richmond, has asked for an investigation by the Pentagon and we feel that they are investigating.


WILSON: That we've gotten lots of intel that they are investigating. Now, when that investigation will be completed I'm not sure, but I'm waiting because I have my own intelligence.

HARLOW: OK. So you do hope there is a congressional investigation, it sounds like, on top of what the Pentagon is investigating at this point. Please keep us posted on any movement on that front.

While I have you, I want you to weigh in on how Hillary Clinton chose to act during the 2008 presidential campaign.

We've now learned because of "The New York Times" breaking the story that her faith adviser during the 2008 campaign sexually harassed a young woman on the team and she was reassigned -- the victim in this -- but he was docked a few weeks' pay, told to go to counseling, which apparently he didn't go to. They changed his title.

At the time, two of her top advisers, the "Times" reports, told her you've got to let this guy go. She saw it differently. She didn't fast-forward five years.

He goes on to run, correct the record, in support of Hillary Clinton. Does something similar, allegedly, to another young female staffer, then gets fired.

Was her response in 2008 appropriate? Do you believe she should have said OK, advisers, I trust you, this guy is out of my team?

WILSON: Well, that's a lot.