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EARLY START

Trump's Tariffs Spark Trade War Fears; Trump And Pence Huddle With NRA Executive; Doubt Over Putin's Missile Claim; Nor'easter: Heavy Rain, Wind, Cooler Temps. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired March 2, 2018 - 05:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:30:55] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A crazy week at the White House ending with a thud around the globe. What policy announcement is "The Wall Street Journal" declaring the biggest policy blunder of the Trump presidency?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: A day after appearing to back gun reform favored by Democrats the president has a surprise intimate sit- down with the NRA. The group now says after that meeting now the president does not want gun control.

BRIGGS: Get ready for a messy day in the northeast. Evacuations in Massachusetts and federal offices closed in D.C. We have the full and messy forecast for you, one the National Weather Service is calling a life --

ROMANS: That's right.

BRIGGS: -- and death situation along the east coast.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. Thirty-one minutes past the hour this Friday morning, but will it be a happy Friday on Wall Street? Probably not here.

President Trump slapping tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, a controversial move sparking fears about a trade war. The plan to impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum to help those struggling industries.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When it comes to a time when our country can't make aluminum and steel -- and somebody said it before and I will tell you, you almost don't have much of a country.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Trump gave no further details about the plan or when it would roll out. In fact, he said the policy is being written.

And while this decision makes good on his campaign promise to get tough on trade, it was made against the -- against the wishes of top advisers. It could bring a host of negative consequences. Conventional wisdom is that tariffs are bad for the U.S. economy. History has shown this to be true time and again.

"The Wall Street Journal" editorial board slams this as Trump's biggest policy blunder that will "punish American workers, invite retaliation that will harm U.S. exports, divide his political coalition at home, anger allies abroad, and undermine his tax and regulatory reforms."

If you can drive a car, fly in a plane, drink beer, prices could go up. Anything made with steel or aluminum would become more expensive, forcing companies to raise prices or cut jobs. A beer industry group predicts this will cost them 20,000 jobs.

It's not clear if these tariffs will exempt key U.S. allies like Canada -- huge steel trade relationship with Canada.

So experts think this could spark retaliation, especially from China. Farmers, in particular, are worried China could slap tariffs on soy. It is the top client for U.S. soy. That damage is still just theoretical.

Global stocks are already feeling all of this. Asian and European markets are falling overnight. Trump's announcement sent the Dow 420 points lower. The Nasdaq and the S&P fell 1.3 percent.

Shares of plane and carmakers were hit especially hard. They use a lot of these products, right? Their input costs just went up -- Boeing, GM, and Ford.

Stocks don't like uncertainty, by the way, and Trump provided few details.

BRIGGS: Very few details.

The president's tariff talk drawing condemnation from U.S. trading partners around the world. Moments ago, the German foreign minister called the tariffs incomprehensible and warned the European Union would respond decisively.

In just that last few hours, China weighing in. Let's go live there. Matt Rivers in Beijing.

How are they reacting, Matt?

MATT RIVERS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're not happy about this, Dave. That's one thing that the European Union and Chinese government officials have in common right now.

A spokesperson with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs basically said that this would do a lot to harm what she called a slow global recovery thus far. But it's more about how China might respond down the road in the weeks and months ahead than more -- than compared to what they're saying right now. You heard Christine talk about soy, for example. The Chinese have a lot of tools in their toolkit to hurt U.S. businesses and their workers back in the United States and they certainly could target soy. One of the reasons we know that, I talked to a representative from the U.S. Soybean Export Council here in China just a couple of months ago and he said that Chinese officials have already told him that they could be number one on a retaliation list if, in fact, they chose to do so.

We're not sure exactly how the Chinese are going to retaliate but they could very well restrict market access for soybeans, for things like airplanes. Big companies like Boeing rely on market access here in China to make sure their profits stay good and that could potentially lead to workers in the United States feeling the brunt of that.

[05:35:15] The Chinese have a lot of things they could do. We're just not sure exactly how they're going to respond yet.

BRIGGS: All right. Matt Rivers live for us in Beijing. Thank you, sir.

The NRA, meanwhile, claims it has the president on its side after huddling at the White House last night with the president and vice president. The head of the NRA's lobbying arm, Chris Cox, tweeting a blunt message afterward insisting both men oppose gun control.

The president himself called the meeting great but asked if the White House agrees with Cox's assessment, a senior official would only say the president quote "believes in the Second Amendment."

ROMANS: The meeting with the NRA came after Mr. Trump's freewheeling meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers to discuss gun reforms where the president advocated for some really interesting and decisive reforms in that meeting.

A lawmaker there, Florida Congressman and Army vet Brian Mast -- he still believes the president will take action.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. BRIAN MAST (R), FLORIDA: Well, he said very clearly that if we get him a bill that addresses bump stocks, background checks, and buying age that he's going to sign it.

ANDERSON COOPER, HOST, CNN "AC 360": The NRA met tonight with the president and the vice president. Do you think the president may tack back to his original positions which were more in line with the NRA positions?

MAST: I certainly hope not. You know, he's had a great deal of strength in this issue, telling all the other lawmakers look, you've got to be strong in this, you can't be afraid. You've got to go with your gut and do what you think is right. You can't say that and then walk away from that.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: Many of the president's suggestions at that meeting were more in line with Democratic positions. In fact, to the left of many.

Now, with officials scrambling, sources say the rollout of new measures to curb gun violence will not be released today as planned. In fact, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says the Senate will take up a banking bill next week dashing hopes of quick action on guns in the wake of the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

ROMANS: All right. A lot to talk about this Friday morning.

Joining us again this morning, CNN political analyst Julian Zelizer, historian and professor at Princeton University and author of the brand new book "The Presidency of Barack Obama: A First Historical Assessment."

BRIGGS: Congratulations.

JULIAN ZELIZER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, HISTORIAN AND PROFESSOR, PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, AUTHOR, "THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW" AND "THE PRESIDENCY OF BARACK OBAMA: A FIRST HISTORICAL ASSESSMENT: Thank you.

ROMANS: Congratulations -- it was good. It was edited by you. It looks fantastic.

Now, let's start with the big story of the morning, tariffs. And you -- this is about Obama so I think this is a good time to bring this in. You know, Barack Obama imposed some kind of duties and tariffs on Chinese steel, and Chinese steel exports to the U.S. just plunged in 2016.

ZELIZER: Yes.

ROMANS: And, George Bush also -- George W. Bush also --

ZELIZER: Yes.

ROMANS: -- imposed some duties.

Are we hyperventilating here about Trump and this tariff thing?

ZELIZER: Well, I think that's what President Trump might be banking on. He might have actually looked at the history and saw that two presidents did it. There was a price -- it didn't work but they survived politically, both reelected to two terms.

So I do think there's a little historical backdrop here --

ROMANS: Yes.

ZELIZER: -- that's relevant to some of the immediate coverage.

BRIGGS: You're not suggesting President Trump wants to do something Barack Obama did?

ZELIZER: No, but he might be calculating he can task the risk. ROMANS: Right.

BRIGGS: Yes, OK.

ZELIZER: Look, he's giving corporate America --

BRIGGS: Sorry.

ZELIZER: -- a lot of what they want. Next week, in fact, there will be a debate about financial deregulation.

ROMANS: Yes.

ZELIZER: So the bet could be he could withstand the backlash --

ROMANS: Right.

ZELIZER: -- but give voters in those key Rust Belt states something they wanted.

ROMANS: What they want.

BRIGGS: The market reaction is one thing. His own party, not so happy.

ZELIZER: Yes.

BRIGGS: Senator Roberts is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Agriculture. He said "Every time you do this you get a retaliation. I think this is terribly counterproductive for the Ag economy and I'm not very happy."

Then there's Ben Sasse, senator from Nebraska, speaking to Bret Baier yesterday.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BEN SASSE (R), NEBRASKA: No trade war has ever worked. We don't want to make America 1930 again and the forgotten men and women of America don't want to be drafted into a trade war. It doesn't work.

Trade creates jobs and all the data shows that, and trade lowers prices for American families. Trade wars do the opposite.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRIGGS: It's been a choppy week for the president and his own party.

ZELIZER: Choppy week but normal week. This is the kind of environment that President Trump is comfortable in and this is the kind of government we've had almost from day one, with a few exceptions, and I think this is what we should expect in the year going forward.

And the key question is always --

BRIGGS: But he had his own party starting to line up behind him --

ZELIZER: With the tax cut.

BRIGGS: -- especially with the tax cuts.

ZELIZER: The tax cut. And next week, I'm sure they'll line up with the Dodd-Frank bill.

And so, the real question is does he ever hit the point where Republicans in Congress aren't just upset or angry, but they're actually moving against the president? Thus far, no.

ROMANS: I can't wait to hear what the Canadians say. The Canadians are the biggest source of steel imports right now --

ZELIZER: Yes.

ROMANS: -- and aluminum imports in the United States. And, the president has said he's going to scrap NAFTA and start all over, so the trade negotiations must be like a bowl of spaghetti at this point for the United States.

ZELIZER: Yes, and I see other leaders are getting used to this and they're adjusting to the unpredictability, and they're watching to see what he actually does. This was a statement.

These were words and we've seen he doesn't always follow through, so I think that's the second part of what everyone's looking for. What does he actually do?

[05:40:05] BRIGGS: What does he actually do on guns? That's another big question today because you had that freewheeling meeting we talked about there -- reality television.

The president saying due process can come second after taking the guns. That they'd increase the minimum wage for buying rifles. And then last night, another meeting with the NRA which he said was a great meeting and Chris Cox saying that there's going to be no gun control.

Where are we headed on guns and what happened in these 24 hours?

ZELIZER: Look, if you have a bias it should be that not much is going to happen. We have a long history now where there's just a few exceptions where there's movement on gun control.

The NRA is ready to mobilize. They're going to wait out the outrage from Parkland. That's what they always do.

And the fact that the Senate isn't planning to deal with this, but financial regulation, says a lot. And the president meeting with the NRA after his famous statement of --

ROMANS: Yes.

ZELIZER: -- be scared of the NRA, he might have answered his own question.

ROMANS: How significant do you think is this conscience capitalism that's happening? Some of these big gun -- these big retailers who are raising -- there's 60,000 authorized gun dealers in the United States, by the way, but these are three very big -- very big retailers now who are doing it themselves.

ZELIZER: It could have an impact. Corporate America does have the ability to move issues if they really stick with this, and so do the students. That's ultimately the biggest story.

Do the students continue to mobilize? Do they turn this into a movement? There will be a march on Washington in a few weeks and that should be taken seriously.

I think in many ways, that combined with a corporate pushback against guns could have an effect and maybe it would have an effect on Congress. That versus the NRA? I don't know which one wins.

BRIGGS: It's been a tumultuous week in the nation's capital, to say the least.

ROMANS: And get used to it, says Julian Zelizer. Get used to it.

BRIGGS: And just the nor'easter that's hitting D.C. today was in the White House all week.

ZELIZER: Right. We had a political nor'easter.

ROMANS: Thank you so much. Nice to see you again.

U.S. officials say they are skeptical about Vladimir Putin's claim that he has a missile so powerful it can penetrate NATO defenses and even Mar-a-Lago. We're live in Moscow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[05:46:45] ROMANS: U.S. intelligence experts are skeptical about Vladimir Putin's claims of a resurgent Russian military might. One U.S. official calling Putin's announcement cheesy, insisting U.S. defense and military capabilities remain second to none.

BRIGGS: The Russian leader claiming his country has developed an invincible nuclear weapon system with unlimited range. Mr. Putin's address featuring video clips of nuclear warheads hitting Florida. In case you forgot, the site of President Trump's Mar-a-Lago estate.

Top U.S. officials unamused and unconvinced.

Let's go live to Moscow and bring in Matthew Chance. Matthew, no horse here, shirt is on. Similar subject matter?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it seems to be.

Look, I think what we have to remember is that Putin was speaking first and foremost, we think, to his domestic audience. He was addressing the Russian Parliament.

He's got just 16 days now before he faces reelection. Yes, he's certainly going to win that election hands down -- no one's suggesting otherwise -- and he doesn't really have to campaign for votes because he's got it in the bag.

But he loves -- he loves to take every opportunity he can to stress this idea -- to present himself as a strong leader, as somebody who is mindful of the affairs of the Russian military and who has national security on his mind, much in the same way that President Trump, over there, likes to present himself as well.

So, yes, it was primarily aimed at a domestic audience but clearly sending very worrying messages to the United States, specifically in the western general (ph) as well.

BRIGGS: Matthew Chance live for us. Thank you, sir.

Elsewhere, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu being questioned for an eighth time in ongoing corruption probes. Investigators arriving at his resident in Jerusalem this morning.

Oren Liebermann live for us in Jerusalem with the latest. Good morning, Oren.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Dave.

And the interrogators are still at the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem. That interrogation now going on into its third hour or so as the prime minister's wife, Sara Netanyahu, is questioned at the same time in a different location.

But this is also a new phase for the investigation. The first seven times he was questioned were in what's known as case 1,000 and 2,000 -- cases in which he has already been named a suspect.

Now, he's being questioned in two newer cases and what we want to know -- what we'll find out perhaps in a police statement afterwards -- is has he been named a suspect in any of these newer cases. That would be a major blow to the prime minister.

The timing of this interrogation is also very interesting. Not only is it a Jewish holiday here, although minor holiday, but Dave, it's worth pointing out that next week Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be in the U.S. where he'll meet with President Donald Trump. These investigations will certainly hang over that.

BRIGGS: Oren Liebermann live for us in Jerusalem. Thank you, sir.

ROMANS: All right, another retailer takes a stand on guns. Kroger, the nation's largest grocery store chain, no longer selling guns to anyone under 21. Details on "CNN Money," next.

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[05:54:06] ROMANS: All right, Twitter Dave, I'm going to let you handle this.

BRIGGS: Yes. Who's up at 5:54 a.m.? Not just you, the President of the United States is up and he is tweeting.

No, not -- his first reaction wasn't a global trade war that he may have started. His first reaction wasn't gun rights -- the United States in a meeting with the NRA.

His first thought this morning was on "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" and its star, Alex Baldwin. You might know him as Alec, though.

The president -- "Alex Baldwin, whose dieing" -- another misspell there -- "mediocre career was saved by his impersonation of me on SNL, now says playing DJT was agony for him.

Alex" -- once again -- "it was agony for those who were forced to watch. You were terrible. Bring back Darrell Hammond, much funnier and a far greater talent!"

A lot of questions come to mind there and most notably, how do you start a trade war and then wake up with thoughts of Alex Baldwin on your mind? But --

ROMANS: Well, it -- he did -- he did talk about a trade war. Then a few --

BRIGGS: Later.

ROMANS: Four minutes ago he tweeted and he said that trade wars are good and easy to win.

[05:55:02] BRIGGS: Are they?

ROMANS: Well, he's the first person I've ever heard say that a trade war is going to be easy to win but apparently, he's going to show us how he's going to win it.

BRIGGS: I'll let you handle the economics of it but if autocorrect forced you to write Alex, not Alec, how do you then write dieing -- D- I-E-I-N-G? That autocorrects to during.

ROMANS: I can't --

BRIGGS: A lot of thoughts. A lot of questions --

ROMANS: I just can't.

BRIGGS: -- at 5:55 eastern time.

ROMANS: And there is actually really, really dangerous situation developing along the east coast of the United States.

BRIGGS: In the nation's capital. In D.C., as well.

ROMANS: That's right.

The National Weather Service in Boston calling today's nor'easter a life and death situation.

Coastal residents in the Massachusetts town of Scituate are urged to evacuate. Fifteen hundred flights already have been canceled. Federal offices in D.C. are closed today.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: A deepening nor'easter continues to strengthen off the east coast and there are several hazards associated with this particular storm system, one of which will be the extremely strong winds through the course of today and tomorrow.

Look out, you've got a windy day ahead of you for Boston, New York, Philly, as well as D.C. Easily expecting wind gusts tropical storm force, if not hurricane force, especially along the coastal areas of Massachusetts and into Long Island, as well as Maryland.

We have this storm coinciding with several high tide events. It's a long duration storm system so the potential for coastal erosion exists. Coastal flood warnings in effect for many of the areas.

And you can also see winter storm warnings for Upstate New York and into parts of Pennsylvania where over a foot of snow will fall by the time this system departs on Saturday. Look at the snowfall totals just west of Albany. We're expecting 12 to 15 inches of snow.

Forty-six degrees for the nation's capital today, 42 for Detroit, 42 in New York City.

Back to you.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ROMANS: All right. Thank you, Derek.

Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this Friday morning.

Now, the president slapping tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum but Wall Street is worried about a trade war.

Trump's announcement sent the Dow 420 points lower. The Nasdaq and the S&P 500 both down 1.3 percent. Global stocks -- then they followed suit. Asian and European markets falling overnight.

Shares of big steel importers -- big users like plane and carmakers hit especially hard. Boeing, GM, and Ford all went down. They make stuff with steel and aluminum.

Stocks also don't like uncertainty and this presidential announcement had very few details, like if these tariffs will exempt key U.S. allies. Canada, a big supplier of U.S. steel. Experts worry it could spark retaliation, maybe against American farmers.

It's been six months now since Equifax's huge data breach now. Guess what, it was worse -- worse than expected. Millions more originally -- than originally reported.

Previously, Equifax said it leaks the info to -- of 145 million Americans, including names, addresses, social security numbers. Now, it identified another 2.4 million and says it will contact them directly.

The credit bureau still does not know who was behind that hack but the investigation's ongoing.

Another retailer taking a stand on guns. Kroger will no longer sell guns to anyone under 21. The nation's largest grocery store chain sells weapons at 46 Fred Meyer stores.

It raised the age of sell in response to the Parkland shooting. Walmart and Dick's made similar announcements.

Meanwhile, retailer REI is pausing its relationship with Vista Outdoor. Vista owns 50 brands, including a brand that makes guns. It did not issue a public statement after the Parkland shooting so RNI -- REI says it will stop selling some of Vista's outdoor apparel until it makes a public statement.

BRIGGS: The corporate world leading the way.

All right, we're about out of time and our producer, Veronica, is out of time. She is leaving us.

ROMANS: Oh, I love you.

BRIGGS: Your final day before you go --

VERONICA BAUTISTA, PRODUCER, CNN "NEW DAY" AND "EARLY START": Thanks, guys.

BRIGGS: -- to D.C. You will not miss Dave Briggs and Christine Romans.

BAUTISTA: Of course, I will.

BRIGGS: What's the best thing to get away from? The early wake-up calls?

BAUTISTA: Of course, yes. I'll finally be able to sleep.

BRIGGS: OK, and the high-maintenance anchors that you have to deal with.

ROMANS: She's our Hope Hicks. We can't live without you.

BRIGGS: Your Hope Hicks. You can't top that. Yes, we got you some delicious treats.

ROMANS: She's our news whisperer.

BAUTISTA: Thank you.

BRIGGS: Thank you.

ROMANS: Thank you. Veronica Bautista, have a great time in D.C.

BRIGGS: You've made us better.

BAUTISTA: OK, you too.

BRIGGS: We much appreciate you.

ROMANS: Thanks for joining us.

BRIGGS: We'll miss you dearly.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

"NEW DAY" has a lot of material. We'll see you next week.

BAUTISTA: Goodbye.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SASSE: And if you look what the president ran on a bunch of this, but this trade policy will be disastrous.

TRUMP: And what's been allowed to go on for decades is disgraceful.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One thing we've learned from this administration is if you hold your breath it may change their mind on a policy issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a shotgun-approach. This hits the whole world.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: General McMaster could leave his position in the White House as soon as the end of this month.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you're running people in and out like an NBA basketball game, it's not going to work.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does the president want to get rid of his attorney general?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Not that I know of.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE).

SANDERS: No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In terms of the administration, is it in chaos?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.

SARA MURRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Ivanka Trump could be being impacted by her own business deals. She could be being impacted by her husband.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It raises profound ethics concerns.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is your new day. It's Friday, March second, 6:00 here in New York.