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Dow Opens Down After Cohn's Resignation; Mueller Explores UAE Ties; Russian Cyber Meddling; Trump Denies Chaos; Kushner in Mexico City. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 7, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Things worse because he was seen as the level-headed guy in the White House in the middle of all that chaos. And now the concern is that Trump could go ahead and put in somebody who's right-winged or who carries protectionist policies.

So we are seeing the Dow falling 100 -- 200 points right now at the open. You're seeing the market really send a message about the chaos that they are seeing in the White House. But an even bigger message than that because this really all falls on those proposed tariffs and the concerns about a possible trade war.

You look at the European Union, 28 countries in the EU produce 10 percent of the world's steel. So you see the EU stands a lot to lose. And you're seeing the trade commissioner in the EU saying, look, we could retaliate and go ahead and put tariffs on U.S. products, like peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice.

So as we heard the opening bell ring just about 30 seconds ago, we see the market falling even more. The Dow down about 300 points.

John, back to you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Again, Christine Romans here with me. We were down 300 a moment ago. Now 288.

You know, I called this, you know, the Gary Cohn moan from Wall Street.


BERMAN: Yes, you groaned. You mocked me. But it was true. The minute that that announcement was made yesterday --


BERMAN: You saw all these financial indicators react.


BERMAN: He is their guy -- was their guy in the White House. ROMANS: So, look, he's a globalist. And if you are -- if you are a

Trump -- a Trump person, you say that's a bad word, globalist. But to stock market investors, globalism is a good thing because it's allowed the United States and a lot of other countries to grow and prosper for many, many decades now.

Gary Cohn is someone who many thought helped the president stay away from tariffs like that were announced last week until now. He ushered in -- helped usher in those tax cuts, which Wall Street loves. He wanted to work on that big infrastructure plan, which is not really going anywhere at the moment.

You see other members of his economic team this morning, John, out there trying to soothe nerves before the opening bell. Steve Mnuchin, the Treasury secretary, was on TV talking about Canadian steel and that two-way street with Canadians -- two-way trade with Canadian steel. And he said assuming we get a new NAFTA deal, a different trade negotiation, they'll be exempted from some of these tariffs.

You also saw Wilbur Ross, the Commerce secretary, saying that, you know, (INAUDIBLE) economy could use a little bit of inflation. If you see these tariffs spark a little bit of inflation, that could be a good thing. Maybe it will generate some new steel mills. And he's downplaying the overall impact.

The most important thing here is retaliation. How other countries respond to these America first nationalist moves by the Trump administration. Without Gary Cohn there, you could see more America first and less let's work on this together.

BERMAN: Again, the market down about 240 points right now.

Christine Romans, one of the things you always say to me is that, you know, Wall Street is not America, or all of America, but that doesn't mean that investors don't have, you know, genuine economic -- American economic interest at heart right now. And what concerns them -- and you were talking to Charlie Dent, a congressman from Pennsylvania, yesterday, you go to Hershey, you know, they wrap every Hershey's kiss in aluminum.


BERMAN: And if the prices goes up, that's a problem.

ROMANS: It will. And, you know, Wilbur Ross was saying that he doesn't thinks all of those costs are going to be passed on to the end user. He thinks some of that's going to be absorbed.

I don't know if I agree because if producers can pass on the price to the consumers, they will. If it's just one little slice of the economy, just aluminum, just steel, will that help steel producers and aluminum producers? Yes. But you're absolutely right, it will hurt all of those people who use -- use those products. And that's assuming there's not retaliation. Again, trade wars don't come from one tariff. They come when someone smacks you back for a tariff and then you smack them back for that tariff. And then suddenly everyone's paying higher prices and consumers get hit.

BERMAN: You know, bourbon, U.S. jeans, Harley-Davidsons, they could cost more in Europe, which could cost U.S. jobs.

ROMANS: Soybeans, the Midwest. You've got to be -- you've got to be concerned in the Midwest about agriculture too.

BERMAN: Christine Romans, great to have you with us. Thanks very, very much.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

BERMAN: Alison Kosik, down at the exchange, our thanks to you as well.

He has been called a man of mystery. How a low-profile diplomat with ties to the Trump team is now involved with the special counsel's Russia probe.

And major questions regarding the president's personal attorney this morning. One of which is, how did he get secret information only meant for the House Intelligence Committee?


[09:38:33] BERMAN: A new figure emerging in the Russia investigation. And it may be an important figure. The special counsel now getting cooperation from a diplomat with ties to the United Arab Emirates after stopping him at Dulles Airport outside Washington in January.

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz in Washington has this story.

Lay this out for us, Shimon.


So, you know, this -- this George Nader is this guy who basically has connections to political circles here. He's been doing some work for the UAE. He's done some other political work sort of as a foreign policy adviser with ties to Washington, D.C. He has an apartment here in Washington, D.C. But he's been this mystery figure that sort of fell off -- fell off the face of the planet. No one knew that he was even involved in any of this.

And then, just in January, he was stopped at Dulles Airport by the FBI, where he was questioned for several hours, handed a search warrant for his electronic devices, and then he was given a grand jury subpoena to appear before this grand jury that's been investigating the Trump campaign and Russian influence. And we've learned that he's been cooperating with the special counsel investigation, providing information to the grand jury on his ties to the UAE and two meetings that investigators have long had questions about that occurred during the Trump transition.

Now, one of them occurred in New York City in December 2016 and involved key Trump aides, Steve Bannon, Jared Kushner and Michael Flynn and the crowned prince, who flew in secretly without notifying U.S. officials.

[09:40:08] And then there was a second meeting that investigators have also been looking at, which occurred in the Seychelles, where Nader again was with the crowned prince, Trump supporter Eric Prince and a Russian with ties to Vladimir Putin. Now, the nature of these meetings have long been a concern to the FBI and intelligence officials. And Nader's cooperation certainly a significant step in this investigation, especially with the fact that he's providing information to the grand jury as Mueller continues to investigate foreign influence on the Trump transition and campaign, John.

BERMAN: Again, this investigation doesn't appear to be getting smaller or it doesn't appear to be getting any closer to finish, at least as we can see right now.

Shimon Prokupecz, thanks so much for being with us. I appreciate it.

New this morning, a senior White House official tells CNN that sanctions against Russia for cyber meddling could come as early as next week. This after President Trump claimed yesterday that Russian meddling had no impact on the vote in the last election.

Joining me now is Republican Congressman Tom Marino of Pennsylvania.

Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.


BERMAN: YOU know, CNN reporting -- CNN reporting that the White House could ask for these new sanctions as soon as next week. What's the rush? I mean it's been, what, it's been nearly two years now since we first got news that Russia meddled in the election. Should they speed this up?

MARINO: Well, we certainly need sanctions against Russia, China, North Korea, Iran. And I don't think that we should wait any longer for these.

As far as what's being reported, you know, I take it with a pound of salt what's being reported as far as sources. I'm a former prosecutor and there's been a lot of talk about what Mueller is doing, what he's not doing, and sanctions. Listen, Mueller is not letting anyone know what he knows, and that's the way it should be, and we should enforce these sanctions. And with -- and tougher sanctions as well.

BERMAN: Tougher sanctions on Russia for election meddling, independent of what Robert Mueller is doing, except, I guess, suppose he indicted 13 Russians, you know, for Russian election meddling last year.

Just specifically on the Mueller investigation, because it's interesting, you say as a former federal prosecutor it's good we don't know exactly what he's doing. If -- and you're not going to mind this hypothetical because I'm not asking you to comment on the hypothetical itself. But if he is asking about the United Arab Emirates, if he is asking questions, you know, about maybe Jared Kushner's business meetings, if he's asking questions about the president's business meetings, does that go beyond where you are comfortable with the Russia investigation?

MARINO: Again, as a former prosecutor, the public does not know, the media does not know the plan that Special Counsel Mueller has going. You turn over one rock and it leads you to a couple of other rocks. So, as I did, I did the same thing in investigations, linking the one issue.

BERMAN: So -- yes.

MARINO: And it may be good. It may not be good.

BERMAN: Yes, the only reason I was asking is because there are people, Republicans, who say that if two or three or four more rocks are turned over, that is going too far. They just want to see the one rock.

But I'm not going to press more on that because I do want to ask you about what's been going on in the White House. The Gary Cohn departure, the week after Hope Hicks announced she was leaving. You know, there's questions about General Kelly and how he's run the security clearance operation inside the White House. The president said yesterday there's no chaos inside the White House. Is that how you see it?

MARINO: Look, I trust General Kelly implicitly. He knows what he's doing. He's getting control the way it should be. Everyone should not have access to the president unless they go through the chief of staff.

I do not -- I did not want to see Cohn go. But as my father always told me, there's always some just as good to replace you. Cohn's done a great job on the tax issue. And the president is -- is a smart businessman. That's why I supported him in the beginning.


MARINO: The one thing that's smart about the president, he leads out with his toughest punch like he did talking about NAFTA, and then now you have people saying, well, let's negotiate this a little bit better instead of eliminating completely, and the president has everyone right where he wants them.

BERMAN: Let me -- let me go back to Gary Cohn, and then we'll come back to trade and tariffs in a second. What will you miss? Why do you think Gary Cohn will be missed? What does his loss represent to you?

MARINO: He's just one of the most brilliant economic advisers that I've seen in a long time. It doesn't mean that we will not have another. I'm sure we will have another brilliant adviser. But I think Mr. Cohn will be around for advice if the president wants it. But we will get someone that's (INAUDIBLE) --

BERMAN: His advice --

MARINO: Cohn's attitude.

BERMAN: His advice was to not issue these tariffs on steel and aluminum. Do you think the president should listen to that advice?

[09:45:04] MARINO: Well, the president is a pretty sharp businessman. And you know something, from the beginning people, first of all, said he wasn't going to be elected, and he was. But look what --

BERMAN: I'm asking what you think, though, congressman. I'm asking what you think about this, congressman. Do you think that the president should issue tariffs on steel and aluminum?

MARINO: I think -- I think he should issue tariffs on specific countries and for specific issues. Look, we're -- we've an $800 billion deficit coming up and it's not changing. So what is wrong with trying to resolve this through tariffs on countries like China and Russia that do not care about the deficit that we have. We need to be put on a lower -- excuse me -- on a playing field, a level playing field. I have union members coming to me all the time saying, you've got to do something about NAFTA because we're losing our jobs.

BERMAN: Yes. And I hear that, too. You just said specific countries, though, and you noted China and Russia.


BERMAN: Well, what about Canada, which is the largest exporter of steel to the United States? What about the EU, which, I think, exports more steel to the United States than China does?

MARINO: There's where the president and his team need to negotiate a revision of the NAFTA agreement to make sure that we are not at the deficit end of things.

He -- again, he leads out with his hardest punch and now people are talking about saying, let's renegotiate this.

BERMAN: But, again -- but, again, I'm asking you -- I'm just -- I'm just asking, do you think that Canada should be punished on steel and aluminum?

MARINO: No, I'm not saying they should be punished. I said we should go back to the table and make it a level playing field.

BERMAN: And on -- when you bring up NAFTA, the clause that the president wants to use to issue these tariffs is Article 232 of a trade legislation, you know, written in the 1960s, which said it's a matter of national security. NAFTA's a separate issue here. You've got to choose one or the other.

MARINO: I -- no, I don't think you have to choose. As you said, look how long ago that was written. Look what NAFTA has done to manufacturing in the United States. Look what it's done to our deficit. You know, we can, and the administration does, they should --

BERMAN: Trade deficit.

MARINO: The trade deficit. And we should be able to multitask on these issues. BERMAN: Congressman Tom Marino of Pennsylvania, always great to have

you with us. Thanks so much for the discussion, sir.

MARINO: My pleasure. You bet.

BERMAN: All right, one week after White House Adviser Jared Kushner had his security clearance downgraded, he is set to meet with the president of Mexico today. What they plan to talk about, next.


[09:51:59] BERMAN: This morning, one police officer is dead, two others recovering from injuries after responding to a domestic incident in Missouri. The officers were responding to a 911 call overnight. When they got there, several shots fired inside this home -- from inside that home, hitting all three officers. The shooter was found dead inside, but it's unclear how he died.

An unprecedented move by the Justice Department. This morning the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, will announce a lawsuit against the state of California over its immigration policies. The Justice Department is working to undo what it calls sanctuary state laws that it claims benefit immigrants. The move likely to kick off a heated battle over the boundaries of immigration authority. Trump administration officials have repeatedly attacked so-called sanctuary states for allegedly called harboring dangerous criminals.

This morning, more than 50 million people from Philadelphia to Boston now facing a new winter storm threat. That means more rain and snow, wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour, even as thousands are still without power from last weekend's storm.

New this morning, Jared Kushner on the ground in Mexico. The White House is not letting a downgraded security clearance get in the way of his meeting with the Mexican president. It will happen as negotiations continue over NAFTA. And there are lingering questions over the president's trade proposal. And there was a meeting canceled between the Mexican leader and the president.

CNN White House reporter Jeremy Diamond live in Washington with the latest.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: John, Jared Kushner touched down in Mexico City this morning and he's expected to meet with the Mexican president, Enrique Pena Nieto. They're expected to discuss a range of issues, security, trade, immigration, economics. But, of course, trade will be a big focus here today.

Of course, this comes in the wake of the president's announcement that he plans to level these steeped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. That will affect Mexico and it has angered Mexican officials. They are also in the midst of these renegotiations concerning the NAFTA free trade agreement, which, of course, the president has repeatedly railed against. And, of course, this comes a week and a half after Jared Kushner's

security clearance was downgraded from top secret down to secret. And so this trip will be a way for Jared Kushner to show that he can still handle his portfolio. Part of which is the United States relationship with Mexico.

But it is interesting because while Jared Kushner is in Mexico City right now meeting with the Mexican president, it was actually supposed to be the Mexican president coming to Washington this month to meet with President Trump. That visit was actually scrapped after another very tense phone call between Enrique Pena Nieto and President Trump last month again over this issue -- this lingering issue of the border wall and whether or not Mexico will pay for it. I guess we'll have to wait and see whether Jared Kushner can help ease some of those tensions.


BERMAN: Ease them with a very low security clearance all at the same time.

Jeremy Diamond, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

[09:54:57] The president being sued by a porn star, his chief economic adviser quit, another person with ties to his inner circle cooperating with the Russia investigation, and it's not even 10:00 in the East. We're on top of all of it. Stick around.


BERMAN: Good morning, everyone. I'm John Berman.

Conflict is good says the president. And there's plenty of it to go around. Chaos is fake, says the president, though there is plenty of that too. And Gary Cohn, well, there's not nearly as much of him going forward at least. Gary Cohn's resignation as White House chief economic adviser, a reason that stocks are on the skids today. You can see, down 188 points. That's in the U.S. They've been down around the world as well.

[10:00:05] As for chaos, well, how's the fact that an adult film actress filed a lawsuit against the president?