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AT THIS HOUR

Trump Attacks Amazon Again, Affecting Stocks; Day 2 of Oklahoma Teacher Walkouts; Interview with Rep. Eliot Engel; White House Mixed Messages on Syria; Dutch Lawyer Sentenced in Mueller Probe. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired April 3, 2018 - 11:30   ET

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


[11:30:02] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump is back attacking Amazon, continuing a days-long assault on the online retailer. The president tweeting this morning, "I am right about Amazon costing the United States post office massive amounts of money for being their delivery boy. Amazon should pay these costs-plus, and not have them borne by the American taxpayer. Many billions of dollars. P.O. leaders don't have a clue, or do they?"

CNN correspondent, Alison Kosik, is live at the New York Stock Exchange.

Amazon got nailed yesterday. How is it reacting this morning, especially considering, as we should point out, that the president is not correct in his tweet? Amazon pays a bulk rate that a lot of other bulk shippers use as well. We have to do that quick fact check. How is it reacting this morning?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The delivery service that the post office has is actually up 11 percent so there is growth there. And also the U.S. post office has a partnership with Amazon and a mutual agreement where packages can be delivered on Sunday. But I digress with our fact check.

How is Amazon doing? Amazon shares are back higher right now. But that wasn't the case earlier today. We did see Amazon shares up 2 percent. Then you saw the president, you know, unleash that tweet, we saw Amazon shares fall immediately 1 percent. As I said now they're back higher right now. It really shows you the impact that President Trump is having on Amazon as he attacks Amazon on Twitter -- Brianna?

KEILAR: What are traders saying about the president targeting and attacking a single company?

KOSIK: The majority of the traders I've been talking to, they're saying, look, Mr. President, stop tweeting, stop attacking one company. But they know deep down that President Trump just isn't going to stop tweeting. So the next best thing is traders and investors saying let's not be so sensitive to what the president is tweeting. There is the reality with the president apparently having this vendetta against Amazon, the big worry in the investment community is that President Trump could lash out with some sort of regulations, or some sort of antitrust enforcement, or look to change some tax rules. There is true worry from the investment community as they see the president literally change this stock price of Amazon on a daily basis -- Brianna?

KEILAR: And could it happen to another company? I'm sure there are many corporations who are worried about that.

Give us a look, Alison, at the bigger picture. Stocks have had a rocky year. The Dow lost much of the gains after the tax cuts went into effect. What have you seen?

KOSIK: If you look at the broader picture, you look at when President Trump was elected into office and look so from November 2016 all the way through the end of January this year, the Dow had a spike of 8,000 points. But then since the end of January, the Dow has tumbled 3,000 points. Now, it jumped on the hopes that this was a pro-business president, that this was a president putting in tax cuts, but now you're seeing a lot of restlessness, a lot of doubt, a lot of uncertainty move into the market as we watch the president attack a singular company, Amazon, and make these moves on trade. That's a huge issue for this community as well, you don't want to see global trade get hit, that could wind up hurting the U.S. economy as well -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Alison Kosik, always great to see you.

Coming up, after saying that we'll be out of Syria very soon, President Trump meets with his National Security Council today to talk America's future in the country. But this comes as we are learning that more U.S. troops could be deployed.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:38:00] KEILAR: For the second day in a row, public schools in Oklahoma City are shut down as teachers continue their state-wide walkout. They're demanding better pay and more funding for students. Parents, teachers and students have taken to social media to show broken furniture, tattered textbooks that are sometimes older than the students themselves, and it is all part of a growing movement in education uprising of sorts in largely Republican states.

CNN's Nick Valencia is in Oklahoma City.

And, Nick, these teachers, they aren't backing down. How is the state legislature responding?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're saying that, essentially warning these teachers to temper their expectations, that they got what they are going to get to this point. The governor coming out this morning trying to tell educators it doesn't seem like they can go any further. We're seeing a vibrant scene inside the state house, Brianna. About 100 feet or so behind me is the entrance to the House of Representatives chambers. Educators have stood out there chanting we're not leaving, we want funding.

I'm joined by one of those educators now, Jason Lightle.

You're an English teacher, Special Ed education. Why did you show up today? JASON LIGHTLE, TEACHER: I showed up yesterday. The narrative are the

teachers are not showing up to increase their own pay, the teachers are showing up because the other two prongs of the original OEA were ignored and insulting.

VALENCIA: We're hearing tactics of intimidation from some of the smaller superintendents from the districts in the state, in Western Heights Oklahoma. Talk to us about that.

LIGHTLE: We knew that was going on last week. We were waiting for a spearhead to rise out of the muck and I believe that Western Heights is that spearhead. Western Heights is a school district, it is a suburb of Oklahoma City, I have documents on my Facebook page, Jason Lightle, you can probably find me, me name is underneath --

VALENCIA: We're hearing they're potentially going to be fired if they show up here today, if not fined at the very least.

LIGHTLE: The cell phone infrastructure is crumbling here too. We can't get stuff out. That's what I've been told by numerous teachers. I think that it is going to be better tomorrow.

[11:40:08] VALENCIA: We'll let you get back, continue on with your demonstration.

There are clearly more and more people showing up here today. And we're hearing reports that they are potentially detaining educators here, not allowing any more people inside. I'll step out of the way so you can see the crowd here. They're not going anywhere, Brianna. They promise to continue their fight at the State House for as long as it takes.

KEILAR: So tell us, Nick, a little bit about what people are -- what people there are doing? Who they're trying to be heard by. I mean, it is really an incredible scene we're seeing behind you.

VALENCIA: They're trying to be heard at the very least by their representatives, by the Senators. I spoke earlier to educators who told me they went to the office of Senator Bice (ph) who tell them they're not getting more than what they have already gotten. That's not enough for them, Brianna. They're asking for a $10,000 raise. They're asking for more funding for the classrooms. Yesterday, we spoke to a little girl, 9, who goes to school locally here in Oklahoma City, part of her ceiling is collapsing. She says she has asthma, leaves school every day sick because of the mold in the classroom. We're hearing teachers talk to us about their -- what they're calling dumb pads, not smart pads, the kids are issued iPad but there is no Wi-Fi in the classroom. Another case is they've gone to a four-day workweek, a four-day workweek in the districts here because they can't afford to keep the lights on an extra day. In other cases, educators are trying to get second or third jobs just to meet the bills -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Four-day workweeks, four days a week, instead of five for kids in school, pretty astounding.

Nick Valencia, thank you so much.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:46:09] KEILAR: Mixed messages from the White House are clouding the U.S. response in war-torn Syria. CNN is learning that Pentagon officials have been working on plans to send dozens more troops into the country. Those plans in development well before President Trump said this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're knocking the hell out of ISIS. We'll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon. Let the other people take care of it now.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: The National Security Council is meeting today to talk about the administration's plans to fight ISIS in Syria.

Let's talk to CNN Pentagon correspondent, Barbara Starr, about this.

So, Barbara, the president just -- you heard him there, it was an off- hand remark, he said the U.S. is going to be out of Syria and soon. But how do you square that with what seems to be a plan for the military to actually send more troops to the area?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, there's a couple of different things going on here. The military actually had been working on this plan for several weeks. They wanted to put -- they want to put more troops into northern Syria for communications, support of the troops that are already up there, a very dangerous part of Syria in this area. And sadly, we saw both the U.S. and British soldier there killed at the end of last week, which perhaps underscores the need for additional troops. That was all set to go. And then the president says he wants out of Syria. So it is on a bit of a hold at the moment until the White House gives the Pentagon more direction about what the president is actually talking about here.

Long-term getting out of Syria is the fight against ISIS over? So far, we cannot find a top commander willing to say so on the record. In fact, we're seeing top diplomats, Pentagon officials, saying exactly the opposite, that the fight against ISIS is not over, that it is still a national security problem and that U.S. troops need to stay there for some time. Eventually come home, yes, but the consensus now appears to be the time is not yet right. We'll see what the White House has to say about it later today -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Barbara Starr, at the Pentagon, thank you very much.

We have breaking news, I want to bring in Evan Perez, outside of the U.S. district court.

Where, Evan, the first sentence in the special counsel's probe has been brought down. Tell us about this. A Dutch lawyer, Alex van der Zwaan.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna, 30 days in jail is what the judge just sentenced Alexander van der Zwaan. He'll pay a $20,000 fine. The federal judge said that van der Zwaan took steps to ingratiate himself with Paul Manafort and Rick Gates. Paul Manafort, the former campaign chairman, for the Trump campaign. And that he hid his lies from the law firm and that's why he lied. According to the judge, according to prosecutors, van der Zwaan concealed some very key information that the prosecutors were interested in, including the fact that Rick Gates was in frequent contact with someone who the FBI says is a Russian intelligence agent. This man by the name of Konstantin Kolimnik. And this occurred during the 2016 campaign, in the middle of the 2016 campaign. We know have that van der Zwaan will serve 30 days in jail. He could have faced up to six months. But we always knew that it was going to be on the lower end of the scale. This means that he's likely going to be able to get back home to London where his wife is expected to give birth in August. That's something that was very key for his defense team. They argued, they said that he deserved no jail time. Prosecutors in court today, Brianna, said that what he did and his -- giving him a sentence today basically serves as an example for what happens when you lie to investigators -- Brianna?

KEILAR: And that's really the thing, right, is this message of, if you're not fully honest with the special counsel's probe, with these investigators, then you're going to pay a price. That's sort of -- that is just what he's putting out there, because obviously none of the folks who are talking to Robert Mueller want to go to jail for 30 days, want to spend $20,000 in a fine.

[11:50:19] PEREZ: Right, exactly. And I think that's obviously one of the things that I think everybody who goes before Mueller -- and if you listen to people who are close to the president -- I think this is one of the warnings that you hear from people who are close to the president, is that before you agree to do an interview with Robert Mueller and his investigators, you got to make sure you have your ducks in a row, make sure you have your stories straight. And most importantly, you have to make sure you don't lie because this is exactly what happens. Now, again, this is the first person to be sentenced in what is almost a year-long investigation by the special counsel, so this is an important milestone in this investigation -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Evan Perez, in Washington, thank you so much.

I am joined now by the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, the top Democrat in that committee, Democratic Congressman Eliot Engel, of New York.

Can you react to this sentencing for us? We're just hearing this. This Dutch Lawyer Alex van der Zwaan is the first person sentenced in the Russian probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He's getting a fine of $20,000, going to be in jail for 30 days. What's your thoughts on this?

REP. ELIOT ENGEL, (D), NEW YORK: Well, it shows this special counsel is moving forward and he's not going to take anything from anybody, including lying, of course. I think we need to let him do his job and continue and see what happens. Clearly, you cannot lie and think that you can get away with something like this.

KEILAR: I want to turn to the original purpose for why we had you on the show, just to talk about what is going on in Syria. You just heard Barbara Starr's report. Right now, the U.S. has 2,000 troops in the area. Do you put any stock in the president's comments? They were offhand, where he said that the U.S. will be coming out of Syria soon?

ENGEL: This is what I call the president flying by the seat of his pants once again when it comes to foreign policy. He just tweets or he shoots his mouth off. It runs counter to what has been done, what has been planned, and throws everything into a frenzy.

Look, we are tired of Syria, but we have a responsibility. We don't want to undo -- ISIS has been defeated for all intents and purposes. We don't want to make it easy for them to come back, and therefore, there is going to have to be some kind of American presence there. We don't want another American ground war. We don't want an American presence that way. But for the president to just tweet something out is, again, foreign policy by flying by the seat of your pants. Obviously, he wasn't briefed, or he was briefed and ignored it, but something just doesn't pass the smell test. I think it's the president, again, shooting off his mouth and not actually being realistic in terms of what we're trying to do.

KEILAR: This plan that Barbara Starr just reported on, which as she said, has been in the works for some time, military leaders talking about sending dozens of additional troops into Syria, is that something that you agree with?

ENGEL: No, I don't. But I do think that Congress has to play a role, and once again Congress is abrogating its responsibility. We have a 2001 AUMF, which is authority for force, and all the administrations, not only this one, has used that as a blank check, and that's not something we can tolerate. So I think we have to have a meeting -- gathering of Congress. We've passed two bills. One is my seizure bill, which slaps sanctions on both Iran and Russian in Syria, and then another bill in foreign affairs, which talks again about sanctions and making sure when we have reconstruction moneys it doesn't go to any Assad-held places.

One thing, what Assad is doing now to a civilian population in Ghouta is just criminal. They are murdering innocent men, women and children. They are trying to get people out of -- where they've been hiding, and the minute they come out, they bomb and kill them. It's not just a fight in ISIS and Syria, it's a fight -- the future of Syria. I my opinion, Assad can have no role in the future of Syria. He's a butcher, and he's murdered more than half a million, almost a million of his own people, and it should not be allowed to stand. I'm sorry that our foreign policy has not been one to not only go after ISIS, but we really cannot allow Assad to continue. But, of course, Russia is Assad -- Putin is an Assad patron, and this administration's president has been hesitant to go after Russia in any way, shape or form. And --

(CROSSTALK)

[11:55:13] KEILAR: Congressman, I want to ask you, as we run out of time here, your colleague, Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty, says she's not seeking reelection, as it was revealed she kept a former staff aide on the payroll even after there were allegations he had abused one of the employees. Is that good enough? Should she fulfill her term or leave immediately?

ENGEL: I think leaving immediately or leaving after her term is really a recognition that she didn't handle it properly. I'm comfortable with her not running again. This is a very personal decision. Obviously, she didn't show good judgment, but I think by saying she's not going to run again, she's taken herself out of the picture and she's paid a price for her misjudgment.

KEILAR: Congressman Engel, thank you so much for being with us.

ENGEL: Thank you. My pleasure.

KEILAR: And John King is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)