Return to Transcripts main page


Trump To Attend Dinner With Media Despite Rocky Relations; Relentless Chaos And Confusion Rattle White House; GOP Lawmakers Call On Trump To Scrap Tariffs Talk; Secret Service: Man Shoots Himself In Front Of White House; Secret Service: Man Shoots Himself In Front of White House; E.U. Retaliates After Trump Imposes New Steel Tariffs; Deadly Storm Pummels Northeast Leaving 1 Million Without Power. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired March 3, 2018 - 12:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: -- saying point blank Kelly isn't telling the truth. But Kelly says, quote, "I have absolutely nothing to even consider resigning over."

In a few hours, the president will head back to Washington, D.C. to attend the gridiron dinner with many of Washington's top journalists, his favorite people. The event is a long-standing tradition where the president allows himself to be the subject of jokes. We'll see if that happens tonight.

CNN's Boris Sanchez is covering the president for us from West Palm Beach, Florida. So, Boris, given the current turmoil in the west wing and the ongoing friction between the president and the media, the president is still planning to attend the dinner, and will he bring his humor along with it?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It appears that the president is still planning to attend the gridiron dinner. A bit surprising, Fred, considering, as you noted, the turmoil in the White House this week, controversy on top of controversy, and not only that, but is oftentimes tense relationship with the media.

We understand that he's attending with the first lady, Melania Trump. He didn't go last year, instead sending the vice president, Mike Pence, in his place. The gridiron dinner is a long-standing tradition. It dates back many, many decades. Every president since Grover Cleveland has taken part at least once.

Journalists dress up and they sing songs lampooning and mocking politicians, and then the politicians get their turn. So, we'll certainly wait and see what kind of fake news jokes the president has lined up.

The last time we saw him in an event of this nature was back during the campaign in 2016 at the Al Smith Dinner in New York City, where he started off with some good-natured ribbing and then at one point he got booed by the crowd for some jokes that people felt crossed the line about his opponent Hillary Clinton, who was in the audience that night.

So, it should at least be entertaining to see the president in this light for the folks at the gridiron dinner. The event is closed to cameras. Right now, the president is preparing for a victory reception at Mar-a-Lago where he's going to be speaking to some of his Republican colleagues and lawmakers.

That event set to get under way soon. That also, despite our request, will be closed to the press. One final note from my colleague, Dan Merica, on the White House team, we were able to confirm that this was the 100th day the president spent at a Trump golf course, a golf course bearing his name.

He spent the morning at the Trump International Golf Course before returning to Mar-a-Lago a short while ago -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, thanks so much.

Other examples of the White House week in chaos include scrutiny of the president's daughter and son-in-law's business deals. Will these senior advisers stay or go? President Trump publicly fighting with the Attorney General Jeff Sessions again and Trump saying trade wars are good. Alex Baldwin is bad. And gun reform, well, that's still uncertain. Here's CNN's Jim Acosta breaking it all down.


JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When President Trump stepped away from the White House, he left behind an administration that's by many accounts in utter turmoil. His embattled chief of staff, John Kelly, reignited the firestorm over former Staff Secretary Rob Porter, who was ousted last month in response to allegations of domestic abuse.

While Kelly said he is not quitting over the controversy, telling reporters, quote, "I have absolutely nothing to even consider resigning over." He admitted to reporters that glowing statements from the White House praising Porter just as the staff secretary was stepping down were a mistake.

Kelly said, quote, "We didn't cover ourselves in glory in terms of how we handled that on Wednesday morning. It was confusing. Kelly also tried to clean up the time line of the staff saga, insisting he only learned of red flags in Porter's background February 6th.

But sources tell CNN a different story. That Kelly and other White House officials were becoming aware of the allegations last November. Kelley tempted to explain that, saying, quote, "The first accusation had to do with a messy divorce but no mention of physical abuse."

Porter's second wife blasted Kelly's explanation in a statement saying, "That is insulting to anyone suffering in an abusive situation now. Emotional and psychological abuse is abuse. Not to mention punching in windows and dragging someone out of a shower is physical."

The president is also facing growing criticism over his sudden announcement of new tariffs on steel and aluminum coming into the U.S. Moves that are almost certain to spark a trade war. Mr. Trump's response, "Trade wars are good and easy to win. We win big. It's easy."

"The Wall Street Journal" is not buying it. Warning, Donald Trump made the biggest policy blunder of his presidency. When asked about predictions from economist that consumer costs will go up, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pulled out a can of soup.

WILBUR ROSS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: Let's put it in perspective. I just bought a can of Campbell's Soup today at 7-Eleven. It was $1.99 for the can. There's about 3 cents worth of tin plate steel in this can. If it goes up 25 percent, that's a tiny fraction of 1 penny.

ACOSTA: But the president's view on tariffs had been known for decades like his colorful warning to China on trade in 2011.

[12:05:09] Democrats say this is exactly the kind of chaotic presidency both parties warned about.

SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D), MINORITY LEADER: I've served under six administrations. I have never seen such chaos. Who knows what he'll do on trade tomorrow morning.

ACOSTA: Adding to the chaos, sources tell CNN that National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster could leave the White House in the near future.

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: General McMaster is not going anywhere. If this is chaos, I think the American people are glad for it. If they want to call it chaos, fine, but we call it success.

ACOSTA: Not to mention the president's ever-changing position on gun control. After indicating he would back several gun measures, the president met with the NRA and tweeted, "Good, great meeting in the oval office tonight with the NRA." Raising questions about whether the president still supports confiscating guns from the mentally ill without due process as he said earlier in the week.

SANDERS: He is looking for ways that we can improve the mental health system so that we can take guns away from people that shouldn't have them.

ACOSTA: But the president still made time before 6:00 a.m. to take on actor, Alec Baldwin, who recently said he was unhappy playing Mr. Trump on "Saturday Night Live."

ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: He had the nerve to call me a moron, talk about the pot calling the kettle Mexican.

ACOSTA: "Alec Baldwin, whose dying mediocre career was saved by his terrible impersonation of me on SNL now says playing me was agony. Alec, it was agony for those who were forced to watch." There were, however, no tweets from the president on Vladimir Putin who is boasting to NBC that he has new high-tech weapons ready for the battlefield. VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): As a matter of fact, every single weapon system discussed today easily surpasses and avoids an anti-missile defense system.


ACOSTA: As for John Kelly, he did reveal to reporters that his eyes were open in his words last September by the large number of staffers who were still working with interim security clearances here at the White House like Rob Porter. Kelly admitted that was more people than he was comfortable with. Jim Acosta, CNN, the White House.

WHITFIELD: All right, let's discuss all of this with my panel. Joining me right now, CNN political commentator, Ben Ferguson and CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona. Good to see you both.

Ben, you first, you know, the president likes chaos to a degree. Does it seem the chaos or the turmoil, you know, is coming at a faster rate than the previous 13 months?

BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: The answer is no. We've seen this line from the very beginning during the transition when people were saying it's chaotic and everything else. Look, this president doesn't do things in a traditional manner.

For example, you look at the tariffs on steel. This is -- and aluminum, this is a perfect example of this president saying I'm not going to play politics. If we have a bad deal, I'm going to fix it and not wait months and have a bunch of meetings about it. I know a bad deal when I see it. Yes, this shocked people --

WHITFIELD: Why do you think of all people with that, it seems as though so many in the White House said they didn't even see this was coming?

FERGUSON: Again, I think sometimes the president doesn't like to telegraph things because he wants it to have an actual impact and let people know moving forward in trade deals and negotiating that we're not messing around and you're not going to take advantage of the United States of America and we're not going to allow you to sit here and play the long game with us.

If I see a problem, my job as president is to fix it and to fight back quickly and not let this linger for an entire two years or past the midterms and play politics with the issue. There's a lot of people who don't like it when you deal with anything with a tariff.

That's the reason we've had NAFTA and so many other things that lasted forever and people were afraid to touch it. Clearly, this president sent a message to the world, I'm not afraid to touch things when it comes to trade and make things get back where there's at least an equal playing field.

I don't call this chaos. I say this is the leadership that many Americans elected him for. This is exactly what they said they wanted someone to do and he's actually doing it.

WHITFIELD: So, Maria, he did promise this on the campaign trail and --


WHITFIELD: But customarily we have seen or at least watching the pattern we've seen over the last 13 months that when it does appear that there is trouble, the president surprises even his own staff with an announcement or pronouncement like in the case of these tariffs, even though he did kind of allude to it on the campaign trail. So, Sarah Sanders called this success, you know, keeping them guessing. Is it?

CARDONA: Well, according to his supporters, yes, you know, and Sarah Sanders and my friend, Ben, clearly are supporting everything that he's doing. And Ben is right, this should not surprise any of us. This is exactly the -- especially on the trade stuff this is exactly the issue that he talked about on the campaign trail that he was going to be very aggressive on.

The problem is that doesn't mean that it is good governance. That doesn't mean that that is the way that a president of the United States should act. And what we've seen thus far and, you know, I've heard your reporting all morning, Fred, is that everybody around him, including his closest allies, are afraid that right now because there is so much chaos around him and his closest advisers are leaving that he's going to become unglued.

[12:10:13] Well, if up until now, this has been Trump glued, we are in a world of hurt. The problem with what he's doing on tariffs is that he is about to start a trade war with our closest allies.

That is going to mean a 25 percent increase in products here where the workers that he supposedly said he's going to represent, they're the ones who are going to be paying the price.

WHITFIELD: So, Ben, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called all this recent turmoil, you know, from the White House very damaging, not just here at home but, you know, he's underscoring Maria's point, you know, globally around the world. Listen to what he told our Wolf Blitzer.



SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: This is really damaging whether you're a Democrat or a Republican, liberal or conservative, you love the country. You don't want to see a White House that seems to be so chaotic, so incompetent and so filled with contradictory actions and opinions that people around the world and people here in America wonder if there's any leadership at all coming from the president.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: So, Ben, are you hearing in Republican circles that there's real concern about the messages sent globally?

FERGUSON: There's just not. If you're an establishment Republican or Democrat like Schumer for example, let's be clear, Schumer's been saying the same exact lines you just heard there before election day, before he actually beat Hillary Clinton. So, this is meaningless to me coming from Chuck Schumer. This is exactly -- you can just change the date on the screen. It would be what he said before election day a year and a half ago. So, I don't --

WHITFIELD: But there have been expressions of concern.

FERGUSON: Again, this is a president that is not going to be able to be controlled in a traditional political manner, which is why he won the White House. No one should be shocked by him saying I'm going to fix trade deals that are bad. That's why I got elected.

No one should be shocked if he takes on world leaders. That's why he got elected. Nobody's coming unglued here except for people that can't handle the fact that we have a president that does not play the game traditionally so the only thing they have to say is he's coming unglued.

I've been on here multiple times in the last year. Literally with the same comments coming from Democrats that he's becoming unhinged or unglued. At some point, people -- you just have to sit here and go, but he's not. A year ago, we were having this conversation. So, he's obviously --

CARDONA: Except for maybe that's how he's been governing for the past year.

FERGUSON: Guess what, it's a new way of doing things.

CARDONA: But here's the problem, Ben --

FERGUSON: It's just not unglued though.

CARDONA: It's not working.

FERGUSON: -- you are --

CARDONA: But here's the problem, it's not working. The only it's, quote/unquote --

FERGUSON: How so, taxes got lower.

CARDONA: I'll tell you. It's not working globally. It's not working domestically. Yes, the economy --

FERGUSON: The economy disagrees.

CARDONA: Well, what I'm about to say is not going to agree with that. The economy is humming along in spite of him. Not because of him.

FERGUSON: The tax cuts had a huge impact on our economy.

CARDONA: -- and thanks to President Obama and so --

FERGUSON: Maria --

CARDONA: Hang on. The problem moving forward is going into the midterm elections he is still a president with record low approval ratings. The Congressional generic ballot has Democrats up 15 points. He is losing support --

FERGUSON: Maria --

CARDONA: Hang on --

FERGUSON: Good, you're going to win --

CARDONA: -- his own people, and therefore, that's why you have Republicans that are desperately afraid of what they are facing in the midterm elections because majorities of Americans still believe --

FERGUSON: OK, let me jump in here real quick --

CARDONA: -- Trump does not know how to lead --

WHITFIELD: How about these staff shake-ups or what seems to be, you know, relations within the White House that apparently are frayed. Whether it be measured by Hope Hicks who has, you know, offered her resignation or even John Kelly trying to defend, you know, how he's making decision, the sequence of events, et cetera, Ben.

Does any of that potentially rattle the president when you talk about people who he confides in or he counts on but then now there may be at least an absence in one and some instability in what could be, you know, the status of another?

FERGUSON: Again, the answer is no.

WHITFIELD: OK, actually, I'm not going to give you an opportunity to answer. We've got some breaking news. Sorry, Ben, Maria. Let me now go to this breaking news. We understand the White House is on lockdown after reports of shots fired near the north lawn. People on the White House grounds are sheltering in place.

The Secret Service is tweeting a man has shot himself. The president has been briefed. Of course, he is in Mar-a-Lago heading back from Washington. CNN White House producer, Noah Gray is on the phone. Noah, what can you tell us about the shooting, the lockdown?

[12:15:06] NOAH GRAY, CNN WHITE HOUSE PRODUCER (via telephone): So, what we're hearing is a law enforcement source is telling me that someone in front of the north fence line at the White House a little before 12:00 today shot themselves.

Now, Secret Service is now putting out a statement on Twitter saying Secret Service personnel are responding to reports of a person who allegedly suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound along the north fence line of the White House.

And the deputy press secretary tells CNN's Liz Landers that they are aware of the incident, the president has been briefed and they refer to Secret Service for any more information. Now the president is not at the White House right now. The president is down in Florida making his way back to Washington later this afternoon for the gridiron dinner this evening.

At this point, we don't have much more information on whether the person is deceased. It appears there isn't any ongoing threat. But as you reported, the White House is on lockdown still. D.C. Police tell me they're responding to the reports of the shooting in the 1600 block of Pennsylvania Avenue.

But we're hearing from Secret Service at this point that it was from a self-inflicted gunshot wound and they are saying that there were no further injuries in the incident, so we will be monitoring the situation for you and we will get back to you once we know something more.

WHITFIELD: Just for a little clarity, Noah, when you say on the north lawn, are we talking inside the fence, inside White House property north lawn, or just saying on the opposite side of the fence, public space?

GRAY: Obviously, there's a security perimeter to get into the White House. You have to go through Secret Service magnetometers. On the north fence of the White House, there's a normal fence and then there's a bike rack about five, six feet in front of that.

So, lately when we've been hearing about White House fence jumper, a lot of them have not been making it to the actual fence, it's just been the bike rack barricade. It does not sound like this person was inside the White House. It was in front of the line, on the Pennsylvania Avenue side.

The exact positioning is still unclear. From what it sounds like from what law enforcement sources are telling me, it does not sound like there is any breach into the White House. That would obviously be more significant.

At this point it sounds like it was just an isolated incident of one person shooting themselves outside of north fence line. Again, we're still trying to get some more information here.

WHITFIELD: All right, Noah Gray, thank you. Let me bring back Ben and Maria here. You know, Ben, we don't know, and Maria, we don't know a whole heck of a lot, but those details give us something in which to spring off.

And this happening in the same week in which earlier so much dialogue about guns in America, guns in schools, the president, his position on any kind of proposals of gun reform and at the same time his meetings, you know, with the NRA.

So, Ben, do you in any way see any potential connections here in these ongoing conversations with an incident like this, what appears right now to be a self-inflicted wound but in the proximity of the White House like this?

FERGUSON: I don't know. I mean, all I can say is obviously thoughts and prayers are with the family members and even with this person. Hopefully, this individual's still alive. If you've ever known someone who has taken their own life, I have, the amount of damage it does to the community of people around them is just horrific.

So, I hope that this individual will get the help that they need from, you know, their family and friends and professionals. There's no telling why this individual tried to do this or decided to do this. All I know --

WHITFIELD: We don't know if this is intentional or accidental.

FERGUSON: We're not sure. All I can say is -- at this point is I hope that this person is still alive, and I hope that the surgeons and all those that will be helping him will do everything they can to keep this individual alive. Hopefully, there's no connection at all.

CARDONA: Fred, I will say I agree that, you know, hopefully -- our thoughts and prayers are with this person and that he will be able to be maintained alive and we'll figure out what happens. But I do think that this will continue to thrust the gun debate front and center.

And right now, what is front and center is that this president, after a day where, frankly, Democrats and most Americans who are for additional gun safety measures, applauded what the president was saying in his public meeting and even going against his own party on wanting additional legislation for background checks.

And even wanting to increase the age at which people can get guns, now are seeing, again, a replay of this movie where he gets with his biggest supporters including the NRA who gave him $30 million during the campaign and they said to him don't you do this, and now we see he's backing off with the legislation that he promised.

[12:20:14] So again, this is not a president we can count on anything that comes out of his mouth, but hopefully the pressure of these amazing kids coming out of Florida, of the horrific tragedy that they suffered and the voices of 97 percent of the American people will push legislators to do the right thing.

WHITFIELD: All right, Maria, Ben, thank you so much, for people who are just now joining us, we're looking at the White House because we are reporting that there has been a shooting outside of the White House.

Our Noah Gray, producer there, was telling us that what's being investigated is a self-inflicted wound on the north lawn or in front of the north lawn of the White House but not on White House grounds property.

Still unclear whether this was an accident, intentional. One person involved as far as we know right now. We don't know the condition of the person, nor identity, nor really the circumstances leading up to.

We're also joined on the phone by CNN law enforcement analyst and former Secret Service agent, Jonathan Wackrow. Jonathan, give me an idea -- this is one of the most complicated and most important of assignments for Secret Service, you know, there at the White House.

And especially on weekends, you've got a heck of a lot more traffic around the White House with tourists, et cetera. A situation like this that Secret Service, we understand, have had to respond to, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound of at least one individual, give us an idea, a thumb nail sketch, of what kind of response, you know, how Secret Service would be responding to something like this happening.

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST (via telephone): Absolutely. Listen, these incidents are unpredictable and dynamic. The Secret Service trains for shots fired in situations around the White House constantly. So, they're very well prepared, well equipped to mitigate this type of incident.

So, upon notification that shots are fired, they first try to ascertain whether it's first coming from the northbound or southbound. Responding elements including uniform officers, emergency response teams that the White House tactical teams from the uniform division also respond to the threat.

In conjunction to that, what we've seen and has been reported is the White House goes into lockdown procedures. When there's an active shooter or shooting situation in the vicinity of the White House, it's better to lock everybody down, shelter everybody in place.

Even though the president is not there, the White House remains at a very high state of community posture. Want to make sure this isn't a coordinated attack. We don't know if this is something that was, you know, trying to commit suicide, somebody who was trying to come over the fence, somebody who's trying to launch an attack.

Was it a coordinated attack, whatever? Again, there's certain protocols and procedures that the White House as a security condition elevates and there are some protocols that come into play.

WHITFIELD: And then what about widening the perimeter, you know, of security around the White House? Already, there are lots of measures, you know, as Noah was describing, bike racks around the White House and the White House property. When you have an incident like this, does it mean shutting down a number of streets around it to control the crowd?

WACKROW: Exactly. So, what -- again, this is -- the security posture of the White House is based off of concentric rings of protection that go outward from the White House. Again, we don't know what caused this incident. We don't know if this was -- if there's, you know, an attack, a secondary attack, somebody else involved.

So, the Secret Service by protocol will go ahead and, again, for the safety of the public, push the public back. This incident happened on the north ground so they'll push the public back beyond Lafayette Park.

They will start to stop vehicular traffic from coming in and around the White House again as a safety measure to ensure there's, one, the public is safe and, two, mitigate any secondary attacks if it was an attack.

WHITFIELD: Jonathan Wackrow, thank you so much. We understand the president has been briefed. CNN's Boris Sanchez in Florida traveling with the president. We're going to check back with him. Jonathan, we're looking at a live shot. A number of law enforcement. Is this a case in which, you know, Metro Police, Secret Service, park police, everyone ends up working together in a circumstance like this?

[12:25:07] WACKROW: Absolutely. This is -- because of where this is, it's actually a multijurisdictional issue. You have the United States Secret Service there, D.C. Metro Police, Park police. Again, interoperability among law enforcement agencies is critical here and any time that there's a crisis situation.

All of these law enforcement agencies are going to work in conjunction and well-coordinated through the joint command of the White House to ensure all the responsibilities to responding to a crisis are followed. Help set up an on-site incident and command.

Where all of the supervisors and supervisory management of all these different agencies come together. Again, this is something that's practiced. It's well coordinated. And, you know, I think that in this instance, we see the instant action of all of these law enforcement agencies coming together to put down this situation pretty quickly.

WHITFIELD: All right, Jonathan Wackrow, don't go far. Thank you so much. Let me check in with CNN's Boris Sanchez who is traveling with the president. Boris, the president has been briefed. Spending some time there as one of his golf course properties today. What more can you tell us?

SANCHEZ: Hey there, Fred, yes, very limited information right now. The Secret Service confirming a man apparently shot himself just outside of the north lawn of the White House right now. That area is under a lockdown of very intense law enforcement presence there as we noted.

The president not at the White House this weekend. He flew down yesterday to be part of a fund raiser at his estate in Mar-a-Lago. Right now, preparing for a victory reception at the estate. We're told by the deputy press secretary the president has been briefed on the situation there.

No clarity yet from the Secret Service on the state of the person who apparently took a gun to themselves, but from what we understand, there was no real threat to the president or any of the principals that were there or that could have been there. They are here in Mar- a-Lago for the weekend -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right, Boris Sanchez, we'll check back with you. Thank you so much. We'll continue to watch all that's taking place here in the nation's capital at the White House and we'll continue to follow the breaking news and bring it to you. Stay with us.


[12:31:41] WHITFIELD: We're following breaking news now.

The White House is on lock down after reports of shots fired near the north lawn. People on the White House grounds sheltering in place. The Secret Service is tweeting that a man shot himself.

The president has been briefed. He is in Mar-a-Lago. The plan is he'd be returning to Washington later on this evening. But for now, still an active scene there as they investigate what Secret Service says is a self-inflicted wound of a man with a firearm.

All right, joining me right now from Washington D.C. Democratic congressman for Michigan's fifth district Dan Kildee.

Congressman, good to see you. What's your reaction to this ongoing investigation of what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound of a gentleman there at the White House?

REP. DAN KILDEE (D), MICHIGAN: Well, obviously, we don't know a lot right now but it's clearly a very sad situation. Whenever a person inflicts that kind of a wound to themselves. We don't know his condition right now, but obviously it's probably quite serious.

It's a sad moment. And as was said before, you know, right in front of the White House, it is a reminder that we live in a society that can be very dangerous. This was a person who, you know, pointed the gun in the direction of himself. But having a gun that close to the Whites House, a person who's obviously unstable, it's dangerous.

WHITFIELD: And the U.S. Secret Service says it did not have to discharge its weapons. And, again, the shooting taking place, it's being described as the north lawn of the White House but it didn't happen within the perimeter as far as we know of the White House but in front of.

All right, so the issue of guns. I mean, this has been something the president, members of Congress have been tackling, especially talking about it in the last two weeks. And President Trump raising a lot of eyebrows this week with his thoughts on the gun control debate. Just take a listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It doesn't make sense that I have to wait until I'm 21 to get a handgun but I can get this weapon at 18, I don't know. Some of you people are petrified of the NRA. You can't be petrified.

Take the firearms first and then go to court. I like taking the guns early. Like in this crazy man's case that just took place in Florida. He had a lot of crimes, they saw everything. To go to court would have taken a long time. So you can do exactly what you're saying but take the guns first, go through due process, second.


WHITFIELD: So Congressman, are you clear on, you know, where the president stands on, you know, reform, proposals of reform, whether as the NRA has said after, you know, having a dinner with him that he's not for it? What's your understanding?

KILDEE: It's really hard to figure out where the president comes down on any of these questions. Whether it's guns or you name it, you know, he says a lot of things. He tweets a lot of things.

When he said some things the other day about the need for increased gun safety, you know, if somebody asks me about it and I said words are cheap, you know, show me real action, show me a real decisive direction.

Direct Republicans, you know, his own party, to bring some of this legislation to the floor. You know, I wrote a bump stock bill with three other members of Congress. Two Democrats, two Republicans.

The president could ask Paul Ryan to put that on the floor of the House. That's action.

[12:35:06] Words? This president says a lot of words, but it doesn't do much for the people who are potentially the next victims of a terrible incident when all we have from the president is a tweet or a few statements that he might retract.

WHITFIELD: Does this make you more compelled to take the initiative on drafting proposals similar to what you did just do, putting pressure on House Speaker Ryan as opposed to waiting for or hoping the president would give a directive?

KILDEE: Yes. Now normally, I would not even hope that the president would make this sort of initiatives because it's my goal that Congress act and use its constitutional authority without direction from the president. But I have to admit, it is it seems as though Paul Ryan is a full-time employee of Donald Trump. He will not bring anything to the floor. The president has a free veto on the constitutional authority on Congress.

WHITFIELD: Why is that? Do you feel like the House speaker is afraid of something? Or -- I mean, what does your instinct tell you about why he is or isn't speaking up on certain issues?

KILDEE: I just don't understand it. It is -- it's baffling even to some Republicans that the speaker seemed so willing to concede the authority that the House of Representatives vested in him to the president. And I have a good relationship with Paul Ryan. I think he's a decent guy in many ways but --

WHITFIELD: Are you going to ask him that point blank then? KILDEE: I have pressed every opportunity that I've had. And it's been frustrating that he hasn't been willing just to do the work in the House. We have legislation that could address some of these problems.

The president will or will not sign them. But we won't know because of the mixed signals that this president continues to give us on a whole range of issues.

But how will we ever know where he will land on immigration or gun safety unless we send bills to him and put him in a position where he either has to either sign them or veto those. I think that's the only way we can do it.

WHITFIELD: Congressman Dan Kildee, thank you so much for your time.

KILDEE: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: And we'll have more on this breaking news. A shooting outside the White House of a self-inflicted wound by a man. More details right after this.


[12:41:50] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back.

We're following breaking news. The White House is on lock down after reports of shots fired near the north lawn. People on the White House grounds are sheltering in place. The U.S. Secret Service is tweeting that a man shot himself.

Meantime, the European Union is promising to retaliate after President Trump said he will impose new tariffs on steel and aluminum coming into the U.S. The E.U. says it will target Harley-Davidson, Levi Jeans and American bourbon in response to the tariffs which will go into effect next week.

Some investors are worried it could lead to an all out trade war and the news on the steel tariffs sent the DOW plunging more than 400 points on Thursday.

Our Tom Foreman explains how these new tariffs could also reach into everyone's wallets.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The United States imports about a third of all the raw steel is it uses, more than 90 percent of all the aluminum it uses. And these proposed tariffs would push up the cost of that by 25 percent and 10 percent respectively.

That's money that would have to be paid by the foreign companies that wanted to get their products on to U.S. soil. So yes, if it became more expensive for them it could help U.S. producers of steel and aluminum by making them more competitive. Especially since they've complained for years about unfair practices overseas anyway.

But what about all the companies that rely on that raw material to make cars and airplanes and equipment and aluminum cans and appliances? What about those companies? Because now they would face a different supply chain where there may be shortages. There may be higher prices. And that could affect an awful lot of people in other fields.

One estimate has it that more than 80 times as many people work making stuff out of that raw material than in actually producing the raw material. Those people would now potentially face uncertain wages, uncertain hours, maybe more offshoring, not to mention what might happen with consumers out there.

One estimate says some products in some places could go up by 15 percent. I don't think we really know that but we do know that there is uncertainty about the consumer market and what the impact would be.

Here's another question though. Does this actually get at the trade practices of other countries? Does it strike a blow for that? It depends who you're talking about and how this would actually be applied because we don't have the details yet.

This is where the United States gets its foreign steel from Canada, the biggest supplier than Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, and so fort. You know who's not in the top 10 though? China.

The country that the United States -- the president has said so many years is not being a fair trading partner out there. This is the one the president has said he wants to get at.

Would this get at them? It might. But the numbers suggest only after it had a lot of impact on a lot of long-standing trade allies and possibly unleashed a trade war with very uncertain outcomes.

WHITFIELD: All right, Tom Foreman, thank you so much.

I want to bring in now Stephen Moore, he's a CNN senior economics analyst and a former Trump economic adviser. And Gordon Chang, he's a columnist for the Daily Beast and has written extensively on trade and China's economy. Good to see you both.

[12:45:02] All right, so Stephen, you first -- the Wall Street Journal editorial board wrote about these new tariffs, calling them Trump's biggest policy blunder and saying in part now, "This tax increase 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."

That's a lot. How do you see it?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMICS ANALYST: Other than that, it's a good policy.


MOORE: As you know, I worked for the editorial board at the journal for 10 years, so I'm certainly very much in agreement with that editorial. I think it is very problematic policy. I think it is going to end up costing America more jobs than it saves.

Look, I do think Donald Trump's heart is in the right place here, Fredricka. He does care about these steelworkers. He does care about American aluminum workers --

WHITFIELD: But you just said if it's not good, then how is, you know, that good at the heart?

MOORE: Well, look, I mean, this is one of those issues that Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump agree on, which is trade protectionism. I think it's wrong.

I've talked to Donald Trump about it. We respectfully disagree on it. I think this policy will backfire though. And I do think it puts at risk a really strong economy right now.

Where we have actually more jobs in a lot of areas than we have workers to fill them. So now is not the time to move towards protectionism.

WHITFIELD: So it's almost as if that little beep was the sound of a tweet coming from Donald Trump and we just did receive one by the way. And he just tweeted this saying, "The United States has an $800 billion yearly trade deficit because of our very stupid trade deals and policies. Our jobs and wealth are being given to other countries that have taken advantage of us for years. They laugh at our fools, our leaders have been, no more."

So, Gordon, how do you interpret that? Is that, you know, psychology applicable to these tariffs and who it causes damage to?

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, DAILY BEAST: Yes. We have to remember that regardless of the trade implications, this is primarily a national security matter. We need to preserve our industrial base so we can make the weapons for war.

We've got to remember these tariffs are imposed under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. And that is a provision to make sure that we can have this industry.

These tariffs have not been just set out of the blue. They were set at levels to make sure that our industries could be sustainable on an ongoing basis so we could make the weapons of war.

And this is not just a theoretical concern because the U.S. Does not at this point make much of the steel and aluminum that goes into our weapons. So, yes, I think all of these concerns are overblown, like trade war and all the rest of it. But regardless, these tariffs are essential.

WHITFIELD: So in anyway, Stephen, could these tariffs help resuscitate the U.S., you know, steel industry, if that is a goal?

MOORE: Maybe.

WHITFIELD: Or that's what you say as, you know, the heart in the right place.


WHITFIELD: Is that, you know, the intention?

MOORE: It is the intention. And look, I agree with Gordon that --

WHITFIELD: Then is it possible?

MOORE: I want America to regain our industrial might. I do want a vibrant steel industry. I want us to produce aluminum. I want us to produce cars.

And, you know, the manufacturing sector of the American economy is coming back big time. And we've created already a quarter million new manufacturing jobs since Trump was president. So that's good.

Look, I think that American steel producers can compete on a level playing field. It's so interesting. I mean, Ronald Reagan put in steel import tariffs so did George Bush, other presidents have. It's never really worked.

I mean, the way to make our steel industry strong is make them compete. I think they can. And the thing that Trump has done that I think has helped the industry much more than these tariffs is the tax cuts, the deregulation that will help this industry.

WHITFIELD: So Gordon, will this allow or help U.S. steel industries to be able to compete?

CHANG: I think it will be. Because we are putting costs on foreign producers.

You know, I agree with almost everything that Steve says except level playing field. Because those countries that have vibrant steel and aluminum industries have been subsidizing them often in violation of their World Trade Organization obligations.

So, you know, there's not a level playing field here at all. And, you know, if we look at this not as a national security matter which we should but if we look at this as a trade matter, there's a lot that we need to do to go after really some very predatory policies on the part of countries that are able to produce steel and aluminum at really great quantity, not only China but others.

WHITFIELD: All right, we'll leave it there for now. Stephen Moore, Gordon Chang, thank you so much.

All right, meantime, we are following this breaking news out of Washington, D.C. The White House is on lock down after reports of shots fired near the north lawn. People on the White House grounds are sheltering in place.

[12:50:00] The U.S. Secret Service is tweeting that a man shot himself just outside the perimeter of the fencing of the White House property but in proximity to the north lawn of the White House. We'll of course keep close tabs on all of this.

Meantime, we'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: All right, right now, the aftermath of a deadly bomb cyclone, that's what it called, hitting the northeast after brutal winds, relentless rain and surging waves slammed the coast. Massachusetts governor just declaring a state of emergency. The powerful storm has already killed at least five people and left more than one million customers without power.

High winds are delaying repairs and that's the sound of some strong winds right here.


WHITFIELD: Wow, powerful winds averting that landing right there. So many flights have had to be canceled as a result. And you can see that plane made that attempt and that was at Reagan National Airport.

It's being pushed around by the wind there. That plane and that's what so many other flights were experiencing as well. The pilot decided to abort that landing.

All right, many people affected by the storm are saying that they are lucky to be alive today after flooding that led to rescues and evacuations overnight. Here's a look at the National Guard helping out in Quincy, Massachusetts. A woman and her son in the back seat of a car when a tree crashed right on top of it.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The house shook and then (INAUDIBLE). We heard a noise and we don't know what it was. We ran out. My son was still in the car with the tree on top of it.


[12:55:05] WHITFIELD: Wow, some frightening moments there. Our Ryan Young is right there in Quincy, Massachusetts. The surf is still up, lot of water making its way over the barriers there. How does it look overall there, Ryan?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, it looks like the water has dropped in the last half hour. So I can tell you though, this water has been consistent, pounding this area for quite some time.

This obviously is one of the low-lying areas but if you live here, that's not what you want to hear when all those water is pushed back in this direction.

I mean, I'm standing in the middle of the street here and you got to think about it. There were a couple cars that were lost on this street alone. We've seen some tow trucks in this area just pulling some of the cars out of here. Some of the folks actually put signs on the front of their homes that say, we evacuate.

I want to show you some of the damage that was left behind. Look at back here at this garage area and look at the water, how it piled through here with the force. And then add on the fact that winds have been going up to 90 miles per hour in some of these areas consistently for the last few hours.

Talking about those rescues. Almost 100 people were rescued by those National Guard members, the police officers and firefighters who worked throughout the night.

Btu everybody who was worried about that high tide, it looks like for the most part this may be the worst of it that's coming through this area. As we've been driving through this neighborhood and even talking to folks at the gas station, they were telling us, look, some of this is going to pass. What they're worried about is going to the bottom basements and obviously seeing the damage has left behind as people are starting to come back in their neighborhoods and assess the damage for themselves.


WHITFIELD: All right, Ryan Young, thanks so much.

We've got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM and it all starts right after this.


WHITFIELD: All right, hello again, and welcome everyone this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. And we have this breaking news outside of the White House.