Return to Transcripts main page

AT THIS HOUR

Trump Irks Allies with Tariffs, Stuns World with North Korea; New Documents, Audio Raises Questions on Police Response to School Shooting; Stronger Than Expected Jobs Report, Dow Gains as Trump Moves on Tariffs; CNN's "The Kennedys" Debuts Sunday. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired March 9, 2018 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:00] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND CNN EDITOR-AT- LARGE: And, Fred, one thing to add to Nia, unorthodoxy is not necessarily bad. Doing something that not everyone expects you to do is not a bad thing in life or in government. The issue is most of the unorthodox things Trump has done in his first year-plus in office have turned out not so well, promises he doesn't make, his relationship with the truth.

But unorthodoxy, look, he's got this meeting, whether you think it is a trick, whether you think it is the best thing that happened to U.S. foreign policy, he's got a meeting with Kim Jong-Un that is going to happen and in that, presents, yes, an opportunity, his unorthodoxy is creating an opportunity. Now, what he makes of that opportunity, if it is a real opportunity for just looks like one, we don't know. But it is not always a bad thing to do things differently. It is just most of the things Trump has done differently to date, things like Charlottesville, I would argue are deeply un-presidential and problematic.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And so, Nia, could this be an example of an evolution? It was the president who told his secretary of state, you know, don't waste your time, forget the whole pursuit of diplomacy or even talk, and now, suddenly, he has this moment where he sees that there is some light that may come with diplomacy.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think it is classic Trump. It is unpredictability. It is ripping up the script. It is made for television. Can you imagine the television moment that we all might see if this meeting happens? It is also Trump looking at other presidents and seeing what they weren't able to do and saying he is the one that is going to do this thing, which is to meet with a North Korea leader, something that no president has done before.

So I think he's thinking about that. And the buildup, right? There is going to be constant teasing, when is this meeting going to happen, where is it going to happen, what comes of it, what do the two men look like in terms of shaking hands and those kinds of things. That's what we'll see.

WHITFIELD: Right. Right.

HENDERSON: Yes.

WHITFIELD: All of that. It is also fascinating.

Thanks a lot, Chris, I can't get the image of Bart Simpson out of my head.

(LAUGHTER)

CILLIZZA: Sorry, I mean, I could have done -- I could have been course.

WHITFIELD: It was good. It was good.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: All right. Thank you so much.

Up next, as the Florida school shooter was minutes into his bloody rampage, a deputy told other officers to stay back. The new details raising new questions about how police responded to the deadly shooting.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:36:41] WHITFIELD: Newly released documents and audio recordings detail the timeline and the chaotic response of law enforcement moments after arriving on the scene of a deadly mass shooting inside Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, last month. The dispatch audio confirms previous reports that school resource officer, Scot Peterson, waited outside the building while the shooting happened. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCOT PETERSON, FORMER OFFICER, BROWARD COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT (voice-over): Be advised we have possible -- I think we got shots fired, possible shots fired, 1200 building. We also heard it is over by inside the 1200 building. We're locking down the school right now.

Make sure I have a unit over in front of the school. Make sure nobody comes inside the school. Broward, do not approach the 1200 and 1300 buildings. Stay at least 500 feet away at this point.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: CNN's Athena Jones joining me now live from Tallahassee, Florida, with more on this -- Athena?

ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Fred. It was a chaotic response, indeed. You heard that dispatch recording of Scot Peterson, giving instructions to other officers not to enter the building. We learned it took officers 11 minutes to enter the building. There was a lot of confusion about the direction that the shots were coming from initially.

We're also learning that the radio system for the Broward sheriff's office was not connected or could not connect with the radio system for the Coral Springs Police Department. So the two agencies were not able to communicate quickly about what the shooter looked like, what the shooter was wearing. That added to the chaos.

And we're also learning that the shooter left the building five minutes before police and deputies entered the building. So, of course, they completely missed any opportunity to stop the carnage.

I should mention that the public integrity office at the House of Representatives here in Tallahassee is investigating all of this. They're investigating law enforcement's response to that incident. They have subpoenaed documents from the relevant agencies. And that investigation is going to go on, even when the session comes to an end, which is expected to do very, very soon here -- Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right, Athena Jones, thanks so much, from Tallahassee.

Still ahead, a stronger-than-expected jobs report sparking big gains on Wall Street this morning. We'll go through some of the numbers.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:43:30] WHITFIELD: Strong numbers out on the economy this morning. And 313,000 jobs added in February. And a live look at the market, the Dow up nearly 300 points there.

This comes a day after President Trump's announcement to move forward with steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, a move that has little to no support among congressional Republicans.

Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse being one of them. He says, the president's plan will kill American jobs.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. BEN SASSE, (R), NEBRASKA: Most senior people in the White House know that this is a really dumb policy. And the American people, the forgotten workers, even the Rustbelt states, they don't want to be drafted and be casualties in a stupid trade war.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Joining me right now to discuss, Jon Selib, former chief of staff to Senator Max Baucus, and Scott Jennings, CNN political commentator and former special assistant to President George W. Bush.

Good to see you both.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hello.

WHITFIELD: Scott, you first.

He's not mincing words, Sasse, not at all. Is that hyperbole or the truth, that is potentially going to kill jobs?

JENNINGS: I agree it is a bad policy. I'm a free-market conservative. I didn't agree with it when President Bush did it in 2002, even those were narrower tariffs. I don't agree with it now, especially in light of the jobs numbers you mentioned. The thing about the Trump presidency so far, it has been a study in free-market conservatism, cutting regulations, cutting taxes, we see job numbers that are good, we've had some growth in the stock market. People, generally, I think, believe that the economy has been energized by being a free-market conservative. This is not that kind of a policy. So I'm nervous for the president that this is ultimately --

(CROSSTALK)

[11:45:07] WHITFIELD: What's the explanation? Why do this?

JENNINGS: I think it was a pillar of his campaign. He ran an anti- free trade protectionist kind of campaign. And for, you know, the last 30 years, a lot of blue-collar voters in the Midwest were convinced by Democratic television campaigns that free-trade agreements pushed by Republicans were killing jobs. They baked the cake, and Donald Trump came along and ate it. And it is a big reason he's the president. He's fulfilling a campaign pillar.

WHITFIELD: Jon, is this the real deal? Is it a real policy? Already exemptions, Canada, Mexico. And now South Korea also says put us on the list. Does it potentially have real teeth?

JON SELIB, PARTNER, HOLDINGHAM GROUP & FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO SEN. MAX BAUCUS: I think we just don't know. I think what we do know is that it is a pretty stupid policy and it is stupid because it alienates some of our strongest allies in the world. Particularly, some of the strongest potential allies when it comes to the Chinese flooding the market with cheap steel. So the Europeans should be our natural allies on this.

They're also suffering the consequences of the Chinese dumping steel on the global market. Why aren't we reaching out to them to have them help us solve the problem with a case in front of the WTO, instead of slapping sanctions on them, and inviting them to retaliate against our job creators here in the U.S.? It is an incredibly stupid policy. I guess we just don't know, given that it is still in flux, what the total impact will be on the economy, because we also don't know how other countries are going to retaliate against us.

WHITFIELD: And, Scott, yes, it was a campaign promise, but now you are so many within the Republican Party who are using the same words, calling it stupid, a dumb policy, et cetera. You got Mitch McConnell, you've got House Speaker Ryan. Is this the president just delivering on he's going it alone, he made a couple of decisions this week, going it alone and this exemplifies that?

JENNINGS: This president, I think, doesn't think of himself as more to any one party platform or the other. It is not altogether unusual for a presidency to sometimes get outside the bounds of their party. In the Bush years, Medicare Part D, the tariffs that Bush did, Social Security reform, immigration, some trade deals, we had to fight our own party on some of those too. That's not historically abnormal. In this particular case, what I think Republicans are nervous about is, hey, we have this economy super charged. Let's not throw a wet blanket on it. SELIB: What is abnormal is the process around the creation of a

policy like this. Because I may disagree with a lot of things that the Bush administration did, and I did, but I always knew that there was a credible process going on --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Adviser?

SELIB: Yes, advisers. It was thought through. This was just thrown together at the last minute because, on a whim, the president decided he wanted to slap tariffs on everybody.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: And we know one adviser did weigh in and said, don't do this.

SELIB: Don't do this or do it in a different way.

(CROSSTALK)

SELIB: It is more responsible. This is just indicative of how this White House operates. And it is dangerous for the economy. It is dangerous for the country.

JENNINGS: If they're willing to give exemptions to some of our allies, as you pointed out, and bigger trading partners that will help mitigate the damage this could do to the American --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Why not start off that way? It seems like that was the response to the response. Oh, OK. Now we'll go ahead and give exemptions to Mexico and Canada and I don't know if they're considering South Korea's request.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: They have to help the South Koreans. Look, the South Koreans --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: It is a leading supplier.

JENNINGS: We're working together to deal with the North Korea issue. That's a key example of where economic policy is national security. And so helping your allies through a tariff situation by giving them an exemption makes a lot of sense.

WHITFIELD: This goes back to your point, Jon, that all of that should be considered before you actually make the announcement.

SELIB: Look, all of us remember when Republicans used to say over and over again that certainty was important for businesses in America to succeed. All this does is create tremendous uncertainty for businesses across the country that use steel and aluminum. Because they don't know where their steel will be coming from or what the prices are going to be.

(CROSSTALK)

SELIB: Exactly. And because there is no process, because this hasn't been thought through, because they're doing this on the fly, it is building uncertainty into an economy that is otherwise growing.

WHITFIELD: Do you also worry this was all a distraction? This is, you know, another tactic of some of the news that the president was getting, particularly on the whole Stormy Daniels -- that's not what he wants. So instead, let's try to upstage it with something else, kneejerk, boom.

JENNINGS: I don't think was designed for that. It is the one policy issue the president has been really consistent about for a long time. He's been talking about protectionism.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: OK.

JENNINGS: For most of his adult life he's been a protectionist and wanting to do tariffs and trade wars. He's been real consistent on that. He was consistent on it during the campaign. I'm not surprised he followed through on it. That doesn't make it a good policy, but I'm not surprised he's fulfilling a promise.

WHITFIELD: Jon?

[11:49:54] SELIB: I would like to avoid talking about Stormy Daniels if I can.

(LAUGHTER)

But who knows why this administration does anything. I think, you know, you saw some reporters out there who have been trying to follow this tariffs policy through their contacts in the White House. Nobody seemed to know what was going to happen on one day or the next. It could be because of Stormy Daniels. It could be because the president was watching something on FOX News and decided he wanted to slap China around. That is one of the fundamental problems with this White House is that it is just not a professional operation.

I think one of the things that we really need to be worried about, with Gary Cohn leaving, is, you know, like him or don't like him, he was a professional. He came from a professional organization and he brought professionalism to the group around him. With him leaving, you have people who are really amateurs in this White House dealing with things like economic policy.

WHITFIELD: They still have a lot of vacancies --

(CROSSTALK) SELIB: Who can't stand up to the president.

JENNINGS: The tariff aside, the Trump White House, though, you have to admit, it has had a lot of economic success. The jobs numbers are really good. I would like to see a little more upward pressure on all sectors on --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: But that's not a direct correlation. Job numbers --

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: No, no. I'm saying, heretofore, they've had really good success with the economy.

(CROSSTALK)

JENNINGS: The tax cuts and the regulatory regime have really helped.

WHITFIELD: Thanks so much, gentlemen. Good to see you. Appreciate it, Jon, Scott.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: Quick programing not. Next week, we reveal our first "CNN Hero" of 2018. Before we do, an update on last year's hero of the year. Amy Wright was honored for opening a coffee shop that employs people with disabilities. And now she has expanded her mission.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY RIPA, CNN HEROS CO-HOST: The 2017 CNN Hero of the year is Amy Wright!

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST & CNN HEROS CO-HOST: Amy Wright.

(CHEERING)

(APPLAUSE)

AMY WRIGHT, CNN HERO: Oh, my gosh. I cannot believe this is happening.

ANDERSON (voice-over): An incredible night. But two months later, Amy has opened a second shop, this one in Charleston, South Carolina.

(CHEERING)

ANDERSON: For most of these 17 new employees, this is their first job.

WRIGHT: People with intellectual disabilities aren't valued, and so this coffee shop has created a place where people see their value.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: And you can watch the full update or nominate someone you think should be a "CNN Hero" right now at CNNheroes.com.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:56:33] WHITFIELD: The new CNN original film "The Kennedys" takes a look at one of America's most-famous dynasties. The documentary spans the life of the great patriarch, Joe Kennedy, and his children, from the 1920s until the death of Ted Kennedy in 2009. Here's a quick look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANNOUNCER: You know their name. You don't know their whole story and vision.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was the bear of Wall Street.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You're never running against one Kennedy. It's a full family affair.

ANNOUNCER: Wealth.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Kennedys always find a way to make their dreams come true.

ANNOUNCER: Power.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This compound is the center of the world.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: Joining us right now is a presidential historian who appears in the series, Alexis Coe.

Good to see you.

ALEXIS COE, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Thank you for having me.

WHITFIELD: Everyone is always so fascinated with the Kennedy family, and this one really does exemplify what you observe, that they are the real exemption story, starting with Ted, and how the family evolved into wealth and power. What is it about that part of their story? Or is that really quintessential to the family story?

COE: I think that's what this documentary really achieves, is it brings the immigrant story to the forefront. We understand that the Kennedys were not born into wealth. They have the typical Irish- American story. They came on the heels of the potato farmers. They started at the bottom. They were rejected by Boston Brahman society. Catholics are outsiders. Irish were outsiders. So they had to find their own people.

Joe Sr. made a lot of really good stock picks, then a bunch of really bad political picks. But he very much made it clear that he made the money, and every generation that followed should devote themselves to service, that money was not a concern. Wealth, legacy building would come from giving back to America.

WHITFIELD: That's really consistent with their family through many generations, the commitment to service, and you see it in so many different ways. How is it the family was able to maintain that tradition?

COE: When we talk about service, we're not just talking about running for office, which a lot of people associate the Kennedys with, which is holding power, and that's certainly true. But both Joe Jr, Joe's oldest son, and JFK served in the military. In fact, JFK won because he was charismatic in his first election and, in fact, all elections past that in the House of Representatives and first candidacy for president.

He was definitely charismatic. But PT-109, the ship that had crashed in the Pacific Ocean, that a Japanese boat pretty much demolished and he was stranded on an island for days, he rescued various people that were on the boat, that was his legacy. So his service was very much as a hero.

WHITFIELD: And it carries on. We're seeing, you know, a new generation of the Kennedys in the end of service of politics. I mean, we saw Joe Kennedy, Robert Kennedy's grandson, who gave this year's Democratic response. I think a lot of folks thinking, again, oh, my gosh, those Kennedys again, and how powerful and what a statement, and how his statement really was about humanity.

COE: Yes.

WHITFIELD: And that, too, is a constant threat in the Kennedy family.

COE: Absolutely. The Kennedys were liberals, but what you hear is what you sort of hear a lot from the pope, like the Catholicism that was working against JFK. So certainly, in "The New York Times" on the eve of the elections that that will be the wild card.