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Stock Fall Ahead of Tariff Announcement; Trump Slams Biden; Daniels Attorney Wants People to Decide; Austin Bomber Left Confession; AT&T-Time Warner Lawsuit Begins. Aired 9:30-10:00a

Aired March 22, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Still be a lot of exemptions for our trading partners for steel and aluminum. This is targeting China and it's targeting, you know, 100 different products or categories in China.

The Chinese foreign ministry has already said, look, there are things that we can do. There are strategic retaliation. The Chinese foreign ministry pointing out specifically soy beans, airplanes, cars and cotton.

And when you look at soy beans in particular, a huge export from the United States to China. Of the ten top soy bean producing states, eight of them were Donald Trump territory in the election. So you can see the strategy there from the Chinese foreign ministry and the Chinese about retaliation.

Now, the United States -- Wilbur Ross and Peter Navarro, two very top influences on the president on trade, they have been on the business television programs saying no, no, no, this will not raise American prices, this will not cause a trade war, don't worry, that is a false narrative that consumers will pay more and this could be a problem for the overall economy. It's time. It's a promise made, a promise kept by this president. The Chinese have been taking advantage of the United States with, you know, intellectual property theft and cyber espionage and unfair agreements between -- operating agreements with American companies and China. And this is finally the United States standing up to China. That's what the markets are a little bit nervous about. They're nervous about what the retaliation could look like.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: They're down 1 percent nervous as we sit here this morning, one minute after the open.

ROMANS: The Dow negative for the year now. Yes.

BERMAN: We'll watch this very closely throughout the morning.

Christine Romans, thank you very much.


BERMAN: Tonight could be the start of a very rough few days for the president's legal team. We'll tell you why, next.


MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: I'm well aware that people are skeptical of me discussing this topic. I have been criticized for many commitment to tackling this issue, and I know that will continue. But it will not stop me from doing what I know is right. I'm here with one goal, helping children and our next generation.


BERMAN: All right, that was the First Lady on Tuesday talking about cyber bullying. Just two days later, her husband called former Vice President Joe Biden weak, both mentally and physically, and said if they fought, Biden would go down fast and hard.

Now, that is unclear whether it meets Melania's standard of helping children and our next generation.

I'm joined now by CNN political analysts Molly Ball, Rachael Blade and Jackie Kucinich.

And I don't really want to dwell on this too much because it's dumb. I don't think there's any other way to look at it than this being something that is not helpful for America right now.

But, Jackie, you know, it is extraordinary to see two 70-plus-year-old men, one of whom is the president of the United States, the other who's a former vice president, in this kind of spat.

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, and I think it's fair to say we're not going to see any kind of septuagenarian fisticuffs come out of this.

BERMAN: Let's hope.

KUCINICH: Let's hope. But you would hope that the discourse would be a little more elevated. But, too, looking ahead politically, Trump obviously sees Biden as a threat. Biden is one of the Democrats' most effective standard-bearers when it comes to Trump vote -- some Trump voters, the blue collar voters. Joe Biden is someone who can speak to them. So, clearly, he feels threatened by Biden. I just -- I don't think it's physically. I think this is childish.

[09:35:05] BERMAN: I know. I think you have a young child who acts more mature than this.

KUCINICH: It is -- it is true.

BERMAN: You know, five months old.

KUCINICH: You know, she can no longer talk -- she can't talk, but maybe that's good.

BERMAN: Maybe that's better if that's going to end up where it's going. You know, Molly Ball, it's interesting, I didn't think of it quite

like this, that Jackie's suggesting that Donald Trump seeing Joe Biden as a particular unique threat here. I'm not so sure you even need to be a particular unique threat to the president at this point to have him lash out in some bizarre way.

MOLLY BALL, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's definitely true. And that's why I wouldn't read too much into this.

Look, the president likes to have a target, likes to have an enemy, and he also likes to play the victim. And, to be clear, Joe Biden did start this. It was Joe Biden who issued the first childish taunt.



BALL: And as Trump always says, he's the counter puncher. People attack him. What is he supposed to do, just sit there and take it? So, you know, this is the kind of thing that Trump always does when confronted with a threat. He doubles down and goes even further. So it is childish.

One thing that my mind went to is, this is men acting like boys. And the story of this election cycle, if not the next one, is women. It is women voters. It is women who are enraged.


BALL: It is women who are driving the potential democratic wave this year. And so I think women voters look at this and think, why can't these guys grow up?


BERMAN: It's a great point.

Rachael, I'm going to shift gears to something else the president wrote this morning and I want to read this because it's of particular note. The president writes, remember when they were saying during the campaign that Donald Trump is giving great speeches and drawing big crowds, but he's spending much less money and not using social media as well as Hillary's large and highly sophisticated staff. Well, not saying that anymore.

Leave aside for the fact the reason people aren't talking about the campaign anymore is because it's been over for a while. Leave that aside.

I found it interesting that he brings up social media today. Interesting use of social media on a day when Cambridge Analytica, the social media firm that his campaign hired, is very much in the spotlight for activities that are questionable, to say the least.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, definitely a topic you would think he would want to be avoiding right now. Look, I think the pair of these tweets, they speak to his mood right

now. He's sulking in private.

But it wasn't just about Joe Biden's attack on him yesterday. He's also ticked off at his own party right now because Republicans are getting ready to pass this ginormous spending bill as soon as today and tomorrow and he is privately angry and stewing that they are not including more money for his wall right now in this spending bill. This is the last chance he sees at getting his wall because they're not going to be passing anything else in the next coming -- in the coming months. Democrats could take the House. He had Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell over to the White House or on the phone yesterday and basically yelled at them because they weren't getting enough of his priorities.

It is interesting to me, though -- and Republicans are probably very -- sighing relief right now that he is tainting his ire right now at Democratic, at Democratic opponents, as opposed to his own party. But privately, he's just as mad at them.

BERMAN: Look, he could be upset about that. He might also be upset about the Mueller investigation because they're sniffing around for things that directly concern him. There's a lot for the president to be concerned about. Maybe that's why he's writing these (INAUDIBLE) notes. I mean he doesn't always have to have a reason here.

There is something else happening tonight. In some way this is the beginning of a new stage for the presidency where this new round of women who have things to say about the president are going the start appearing in a very public way on TV. Tonight it's Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who says she had a relationship with the president, signed a non-disclosure with the owners of "The National Enquirer." She sits down with Anderson Cooper. And then Sunday night Anderson sits down with Stormy Daniels.

Stormy Daniels' lawyer was on "NEW DAY" this morning. Listen to what he said.


MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY: My client wants a platform to speak to the American people to tell her story, to have the American people pass judgment as to the accuracy of that story, and to the extent that the president or Mr. Cohen have separate or different narratives, a different version of those facts, they should come forward, explain those facts to the American people and let the American people decide who's telling the truth and who's not telling the truth.


BERMAN: You know, Jackie, it's been interesting, Michael Avenatti stoking the pre-game here on these interviews. You know, the game starts tonight with Karen McDougal appearing before Anderson.

How will this play out? KUCINICH: I don't know that we know how it will play out. We've seen

these women be intimidated in that, threatened with lawsuits if they do come forward. Stormy Daniels has kind of been very tongue-in-cheek about it on Twitter and has been teasing this out. We'll see what she ends up saying on Sunday.

And Karen McDougal, who has said that she has been intimidated, not only by -- by the people around Trump, by "The National Enquirer," by -- so I don't know how it plays out, though, because we don't know -- the president has been relatively quiet. He hasn't been shy in the past about calling other women who have made accusations. These are both consensual relationships, alleged relationships. But, you know, when women have accused him of non-consensual relationships, he's called them liars. So who knows what's going to happen after -- depending on what they say.

[09:40:08] BERMAN: And, Molly Ball, you brought up women before and how this next election could very much be about women. How will these two interviews -- and, again, I mean it's not like women haven't spoken out before. It happened during the election. But times are different right now, and he is the president.

BALL: Sure. I mean to the extent that there is an anger bubbling out there among women in America, this just feeds it, right? I think there was -- I've gotten such a sense talking to activists, talking to candidates, the record number of women candidates who are running for office at every level, right, from the highest, Congress and governor, all the way down to dog catcher, they're mad and they're mad at Trump, right? They took it personally when he won the election in 2016. And so to the extent that they were already feeling that, I think this just feeds it.

BERMAN: Right.

BALL: It will be interesting, as Jackie said, to see whether and how the president decides to respond to these allegations and then to see what the women say and how it's received.

BERMAN: And, Rachael, very, very quickly, because we're out of time here. I've had plenty of Republican politicians who really get uncomfortable even discussing this. This puts them in a bind.

BADE: Oh, yes, they want to avoid this topic at all costs. Look, right now they're running -- they're trying to keep their majorities. They're going to have a tough election this fall. This is absolutely a distraction from what they want to talk about. It could very much turn off women. And this is something that they can't really take right now. They -- they're trying to keep their message on tax reform, and this totally blows that out of the water.

BERMAN: OK. Rachael Bade, Molly Ball, Jackie Kucinich, thank you all for being with us right now. And no one fought. No fisticuffs at all during this entire segment. Thank you.

Be sure to watch the "Anderson Cooper 360" exclusive interview with Karen McDougal tonight, 8:00, only here on CNN. The Austin serial bomber left a 25-minute confession video. The biggest question remains unanswered, why did he do what he did?


[09:46:04] BERMAN: Investigators in Austin, Texas, say they still do not know why a 23-year-old suspect terrorized the city for weeks by sending package bombs to kill two people. This despite police finding a 25-minute confession on the cell phone that he had with him after he killed himself yesterday morning.

Joining me now from outside Austin, Nick Valencia.

Nick, what have you learned?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're standing just a few feet away from that bomber's home and it's still being treated as an active crime scene as investigators continue to try to pour over what's inside to glean any information about motivation here. And, in fact, in a press conference yesterday, John, they say they may never know. But what they did get was some insight from that 25-minute cell phone video recording that investigators say was recorded the night before he detonated that bomb killing himself because they say he knew that investigators were closing in on him.

Now, in that video recording, police say he doesn't talk anything about terrorism, nothing about targeting people of color or hate. But he did talk extensively about the six explosives that he used, as well as the seventh that he used to detonate as police were cornering him.

We're also hearing a little bit more from his family today -- or yesterday, I should say. His aunt coming out saying that she's saddened by this tragedy.


AUNT SHANEE, FAMILY OF AUSTIN BOMBER: We are devastated and broken at the news that our family member could be involved in such an awful way. We had no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in. Our family is a normal family in every way. We love, we pray and we try to inspire and serve others. Right now our prayers are for the families who lost loved ones, for those impacted in any way and for the sole of our Mark.


VALENCIA: Just a short time ago, the Austin police tweeted to the public to remain vigilant. They just don't know where this bomber was in the last 24 hours of his life. They say there could potentially be other packages, though they're almost certain there isn't.

And just a quick note here. There is still a victim, a 75-year-old, recovering from her injuries. She's still hospitalized. There's also the investigation that's ongoing, including at least one roommate of the bomber who, as far as we know, is still being questioned by police. John.

BERMAN: All right, Nick Valencia for us in Austin. Nick, thank you very much.

New surveillance video obtained by "The New York Times" shows the movement of the Las Vegas gunman before he went on that shooting rampage at the Mandalay Bay. This video shot from inside the hotel and also outside the hotel shows the days and hours leading up to the mass shooting. He's seen moving multiple suitcases into the hotel, gambling at times at the casino, buying food, chatting with hotel staff. Fifty- eight people died in that massacre last October, 800 more were injured.

Meddling in the midterms. Mark Zuckerberg, the FaceBook CEO, says he is sure that someone is trying. We'll have much more of CNN's exclusive interview.

Stay with us.


[09:53:26] BERMAN: This morning, a federal judge will hear opening statements in the Justice Department's lawsuit to block AT&T's purchase of Time Warner, which is CNN's parent company. This trial could have a huge effect on the media industry.

Our Jessica Schneider live in Washington with the latest.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, the interest in this trial is immense and the long lines to get into this courtroom prove it. In fact, members of the public, members of the media, dozens of them, have been standing in line for hours now to get into the trial that starts with opening arguments at 11:30 this morning.

So the question is, why the huge interest in this case? Well, this case will have huge implications for the future of media mergers and really the future of business deals in general when it comes to this Trump administration.

Secondly, this is the first time since the 1970s that the government has sued to block a vertical merger in court. So what exactly is a vertical merger? Well, this is a vertical merger because AT&T and Time Warner do not directly compete. AT&T distributes the content in part through DirecTV. Time Warner creates the content. But the government here is saying that they are concerned that if AT&T acquires Time Warner, which includes Warner Bros. Studios, HBO and Turner Networks, which does include CNN, the government argues that AT&T could potentially withhold Time Warner programming from other cable distributors, and they could also charge higher prices.

But AT&T is arguing and pushing back, saying that in this rapidly evolving media landscape, they need to acquire content in order to compete with the entities that they refer to collectively as FAANG. That would be FaceBook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, Google. They say that those entities have really changed the game here because they not only create the content, but they also distribute it.

[09:55:12] So, obviously, a lot of interest in this case. We will be seeing some key players here at the first day of these opening arguments. We'll see the CEO of AT&T, Randall Stephenson. Also the CEO of Time Warner, Jeff Bewkes. In addition to that, on the government side, we'll see the anti-trust chief. He is expected to be here. He heads up the anti-trust division, Makan Delrahim.

And, interestingly, John, right before Makan Delrahim was brought on to the Justice Department, he actually said in an interview with Canadian Broadcasting that he didn't see any problems with this merger. Well, two months after he was confirmed, that was in November, the Justice Department sued.

So a very interesting case here. A lot of implications for the future of tech and media.


BERMAN: Jessica Schneider for us in Washington, watching that very closely, as apparently are a lot of people waiting to line up and get in.

This morning, the president taking on the former vice president, Joe Biden, after Biden said he would beat the hell out of president if they'd been in high school together.