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Market on Edge; Markets Look to Rebound; Mixed Message on Syria; Mueller Investigation of Manafort; New Immigration Push; Trump Called Pruitt; Teachers Demand Higher Pay. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired April 3, 2018 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: There we hear it. The bell beginning to ring.

Alison, what's the talk on the floor there this morning specifically involving Amazon?

ALISON KOSIK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in particular about Amazon, traders are saying, President Trump, stop attacking Amazon on Twitter because you're causing the stock price to plummet. We did see shares of Amazon yesterday plummet another 5 percent. So since the president since last week has been attacking Amazon on Twitter, we've seen Amazon lose a market value upwards of $60 billion.

Today we are seeing a bounce back in the broader market. The Dow up 106 points. But the question is, will this bounce back last because all of the things plaguing the market yesterday haven't been resolved.

Take China trade. The worries about its impending trade war. Will President Trump go ahead and unleash that second phase of tariffs on China, that $50 billion worth of tariffs on Chinese goods. The worry is that if that happens, China could retaliate against the U.S. in a big way.

And, of course, the issues about Amazon haven't been resolved as well. The president is still quick on the trigger on Twitter to make those attacks against Amazon.

And then the worry from the investor's standpoint is, will President Trump go ahead and follow with regulation.

You know, you look at the impact that the president has had on the market. It's been positive and it's been negative. Since he was elected back in 2016, we saw the Dow spike 8,000 points, all the way up until the end of January. Well, guess what, since then the Dow has plummeted 3,000 points.

So we've seen President Trump take credit for the good in the market. Let's see if he will take credit for the bad.


HILL: Erin, as we look at all of this -- and as Alison sets us up there -- there's not just the question of Amazon. There's also the question of these trade wars. And, Erin, I know that you've said part of the problem is, you can't just call all of this out without a prescription. Tell us more what you mean by that.

ERIN BROWNE, HEAD OF ASSET ALLOCATION, UBS ASSET MANAGEMENT: Right. So I think historically when you've seen either industries or sectors come under pressure, it's traditionally been with some type of prescription for what you would expect that company to do. What you're seeing from Trump is he's calling out companies, like Amazon, he didn't earlier this week on Twitter, and he didn't offer what he wants Amazon specifically to do. So I think what we're seeing now is a great level of uncertainty that's being priced into markets.

And for investors it's very hard for -- to appropriately price what that risk is going to be. And I think that's why you're seeing this, you know, uncertainty really overhanging markets and having such a disproportionate impact.

HILL: And disconcerting too for the average investor at home or somebody who's even just looking at their retirement accounts and going, I can't make heads or tails of this, where is it all going? And there's no answer.

BROWNE: Right. So we're -- setting against the backdrop where growth is actually above trend. It's good here in the U.S. We've seen growth improve globally as well. But what you're seeing as we started the beginning of this year is a lot of uncertainty being priced into the market. Uncertainty that the market isn't historically used to.

HILL: Brian, when we look at all of this, too, we can't ignore the facts that in some of the president's tweets in attacking Amazon, he also doesn't seem to be entirely clear on the relationship between Jeff Bezos, "The Washington Post" and Amazon. So Jeff Bezos owns both. He does not have any, according to editor Marty Baron, any influence whatsoever in terms of the editorial direction of "The Washington Post," and yet we'll see him call it out as the Amazon "Washington Post."

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, to a lot of people this looks like a misuse of presidential power. The president, because he doesn't like what he reads in "The Washington Post," is taking it out on Amazon. He isn't proposing specific policy prescriptions to change Amazon's tax structure. Certainly the tax legislation that was recently put into law did not do so. So what you see on Twitter is the president kind of venting, complaining, attacking Amazon. And that's why there's this widespread sense that it's really about "The Washington Post," and is really complaining about the newspaper.

Bezos owns "The Post" and then separately runs Amazon. But in President Trump's mind, the two are very related. He has frequently called it the Amazon "Washington Post" as a way to jab at Bezos. So I think it's really interesting, Erica, Bezos has staying quiet about this. He hasn't commented. The stock dropped 5 percent yesterday. It is up a bit in the first minutes of trading this morning, maybe coming off the low yesterday.

But when you look at this, you have to wonder about the misuse of presidential power here if the president is taking out his frustration on Amazon.

HILL: And that's one of the things we'll continue to watch for.

Erin, Brian, Alison, appreciate it. Thank you all.

The president, we know, wants to pull troops out of Syria. His top military advisers want to send more in. Confused?


[09:38:34] HILL: President Trump is expected to meet with his National Security Council today. One big topic on the table, what to do with U.S. troops in Syria. The president says he may withdraw them very soon. Defense officials, however, tell CNN they've been working on plans to send dozens of additional U.S. troops to northern Syria.

Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Gregory Meeks of New York. He's a member of the Foreign Affairs and Financial Services Committee.

Sir, good to have you with us.

When we hear that mixed messaging here, this also, of course, is happening and it's the backdrop of -- we now have the identification of the U.S. soldier who was killed by that IED last week in Syria. Does the president have a point in some ways? Is it perhaps time to pull out?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D), NEW YORK: Does the president have a point? Hey, I don't know what the president's point is because depending upon what he says -- I mean at a rally he says one thing, whether he listens to anyone that's around him is another thing. There is no policy behind -- or strategy behind what he said at that rally. So you have no idea or no clue what the president is thinking or doing or moving, nor do our allies, which I think is a huge danger to all of us.

We know that Syria is a huge crisis that we've got to focus on. We've got to be working with our allies.

I just came back from Europe. They haven't a clue with what the president said what's going on. And we can't do anything by ourselves. If we move out of Syria without a plan, without a strategy, without working with our allies, then you could cause more trouble than ever before. So what is the president thinking of doing, I don't think his folks know, and clearly our allies don't.

[09:40:07] HILL: You mentioned you were just in Europe. You just had meetings in Europe. What else is the messaging that you were hearing? Is there concern that the U.S. pulling out is not only an issue with allies but could be an issue in terms of the power that it gives to Iran and Russia?

MEEKS: Well, absolutely. You mentioned Russia. That's a big issue. They don't know what side the president is on. You know, the president -- people say one thing, and then the president says another. And they ask who or what should we believe. And it's getting to the point where as they're saying, well, we can't listen to anybody that's part of the president's administration because then the president comes out and contradicts what they say. And so they are really confused when you talk to a number of our European allies.

HILL: What about behind the scenes, though? What are you hearing from behind the scenes when you're there in Washington? The president, yes, we hear -- we've heard contrary information from the president in the past on different topics. But is it the same messaging behind the scenes? And is that, in some ways, becoming more united and can that be brought to the president?

MEEKS: Well, we have to see because behind the scenes two weeks ago you had a whole different crew of people that were there. But now they're gone. And so now you've got -- now you've got the hawks that are in but McMaster is gone and Tillerson is gone. So that's who was talking behind the scenes before. And you had tried to build up some confidence that -- what they were talking about behind the scenes because some of it might have made some sense.

Now that team is gone. So behind the scenes now you have individuals who we know from what they've done in the past are pure hawks. Now, are they behind the scenes trying to determine who or where we go to take war? Are they behind the scenes saying that we should go into talks with North Korea and if it fails we should attack? You know, I don't know anymore. We've got to see because it's a whole new crew that just came in within a week.

HILL: Well, have to wait and see where they go with that one.

I do also want to get your take, just in terms of what we're seeing today, the reporting that we have here today, learning that the deputy AG, Rod Rosenstein, who, of course, is overseeing the special counsel, had said over a year ago to Robert Mueller, you can be investigating Paul Manafort for possible ties to collusion. In some ways that's not surprising. And yet, at the same time, when we see this memo as part of this filing, it does give us a sense of the scope and the significance of the investigation. Does that change anything for you? Are there new questions in your mind?

MEEKS: There's a lot of questions that I have. But what I still am where I was in the beginning, as well as many Republicans, that I trust Robert Mueller, that Robert Mueller is a professional prosecutor, he knows what he's doing, he's fair. And I want to make sure that he continues his investigation in the manner that he has. And then we will find out what the end results are when he concludes (INAUDIBLE).

Clearly from all of that -- what we're hearing, there is a lot of things that are going on. The fact that you've had a number of individuals indicted, some who have pled guilty, tells you that there are many things that are happening within this investigation. I, being a former prosecutor, know that there's talks that's going on now. And I think that Mr. Mueller's doing his job and we will find out at the end what has happened.

HILL: In terms of being a former prosecutor, you also know that certain things are revealed for certain reasons. Obviously there are filings where certain things need to be put out there. But then there's also the question of, what are these more perhaps settle messages that are being put out. Do you see much of that happening?

MEEKS: Well, I see subtle messages definitely being put out. But I also see the president panicking. I see the president, you know, trying to use distractions. I think that's what he does with some of his tweeting. When he sees that there's something that's really serious because, you know, some of the other stuff that you're talking about, you know, when you get into his affairs, et cetera, you know, he's quiet about that, but he's not as concerned about that as he is when you look at individuals within -- that was within his campaign are being indicted and some are pleading guilty and what they're saying and his attorneys are quitting. I think he's really nervous about that. And that shows that there's something that's really brewing behind the scenes.

HILL: Real quickly, before I let you go, in terms of tweeting. The president tweeting -- continuing to tweet about immigration. As you know, he has had some choice words for Democrats when it comes to immigration. But we also know the way the president negotiates, the way the president does business. And oftentimes he will throw something out there to try to reel people back in and come back to the table. Is that an option for you?

MEEKS: Well, listen, the members of the House have never left the table. It was the president, remember, in his TV information where he had members of Congress from both the House and the Senate there, he said, just bring me something and I'll sign it. You've got three or four bills, bipartisan bills, that we said, OK, we can move on this. And then the president went away from that. So this president just has proven to me to be erratic, not only to his -- to Democrats, but even to his allies.

HILL: But you believe that you and your colleagues across the aisle are still open to something?

MEEKS: Yes, we want to make sure that we protect those kids.

HILL: All right, representative, appreciate your time. Thank you.

MEEKS: My pleasure.

HILL: This just in now to CNN. As speculation mounts about another administration exit, EPA Chief Scott Pruitt, there is new reporting out of the White House. Not so fast is the word there.

[09:45:08] Abby Phillip standing by.

Abby, what are you learning?


We are learning the question going into this day was what would happen with Scott Pruitt, will he survive? And now we have heard from a senior -- an administration official who says that the president called Scott Pruitt last night to offer him words of encouragement. The president said to Pruitt, according to this source, keep your head up, keep fighting. We've got your back.

Now, this message was then reiterated this morning, Tuesday morning, by the chief of staff, John Kelly. A clear signal being sent to Pruitt at least that for the time being the White House has not totally abandoned them.

The question, of course, as we started this day was, would these scandals be enough to make the president frustrated enough that Pruitt could be fired as a result of all of these ethics questions around him and all of the questions surrounding his use of taxpayer dollars for various issues. But the president here is also happy with the way that Pruitt has run the EPA. And right now he's keeping him, at least for now.


HILL: Abby Phillip with the latest for us there.

Thank you.

Still to come, one day after thousands of teachers in Oklahoma walked out, they are doing it again today, taking their demands to the state capitol. We're live in Oklahoma city.


[09:50:54] HILL: In Oklahoma, thousands of teachers walking off the job right now for the second straight day as schools across Oklahoma City and Tulsa are shut down again this morning. The rally at the state capitol starts in minutes. Teachers vowing to keep up the pressure on state lawmakers to raise their pay and to provide millions more in funding for their students.

CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Oklahoma City.



We are expecting hundreds of teachers to show up inside the state capitol, where I'm at right now, to continue to lobby the senators and representatives. One of them here, probably one of the most important voices in all of this, Alicia Priest, the president of the Oklahoma Education Association.

Thank you so much for joining us.


VALENCIA: When you hear legislators say that teachers should be in the classroom and not walking out, that you guys should be teaching students not trying to, you know, create problems, what do you say to that?

PRIEST: I say if they would fund education, we would gladly stay in our classroom. I don't know a teacher that would prefer to be here talking to them and hearing that kind of lip service as opposed to meeting the needs of our students. But they failed our students.

VALENCIA: You saw the Oklahoma governor high five senate (ph) pro tem (ph), call this a historic legislative bill. First time in nearly three decades they've increased taxes here. They're saying why is this not enough?

PRIEST: Education funding shouldn't be historic, it should be normal. And the fact that we've had 28 percent cuts over the last ten years is why we're in this horrible hole.

VALENCIA: And we're hearing reports this morning of a smaller school district, those superintendents telling their teachers that if they walk out, if they're not the designated delegates that show up here today, that they're going to have to pay out of pocket for their substitute teachers. Some say they're at risk of losing their jobs if they show up here today.

PRIEST: We will support our members and their right to speak out for their students within the law. So they need to make sure that they're taking appropriate leave and then they can show up here and talk. There are other activities they can do back home as well.

VALENCIA: There seems to be an incredible amount of teacher activism right now across the country, West Virginia, Kentucky, Arizona, here in Oklahoma. Do you guys have the stamina, the resolve to keep going?

PRIEST: Absolutely.

VALENCIA: Can you afford to keep going?

PRIEST: Well, you know, we are the lowest paid teachers in the country right now. But, absolutely. Our teachers will be here. Our support professionals will be here. Our community is behind us. We've got to get this done for the sake of our kids.

VALENCIA: And I only have a few seconds, Alicia, but what are some of the worst things that you've heard here in the classrooms and from the teachers?

PRIEST: Textbooks that are so old they don't even mention 9/11, broken chairs, broken promises, 50 kids in a classroom. It's not OK.

VALENCIA: Alicia Priest, thank you so much for taking the time this morning with CNN.

PRIEST: Thank you. My pleasure.

VALENCIA: Best of luck to you, and all the teachers here in the state of Oklahoma.

And, Erica, if that's not all enough, there's also an incredible shortage here in teachers, where last year about 25 percent of the educators left the profession. They simply don't see a financial, viable future here in the state as a teacher.


HILL: Nick Valencia with the latest for us this morning. Nick, thank you.

The designer of the water slide that killed a 10-year-old boy in Kansas City is arrested. Seventy-two-year-old John Schooley is facing several charges, including second degree murder, aggravated battery and endangering a child. In 2016, 10-year-old Caleb Schwab was killed when the raft he was riding on went airborne. A recent indictment shows park officials knew about the issues with the ride and were aware other riders had been injured.

New developments in the Stormy Daniels hush money case. Attorneys for President Trump's long time lawyer Michael Cohen filing suit to force the dispute into private arbitration. Daniels' attorney had previously filed a motion to depose President Trump and Cohen for two hours each, requesting a jury trial. They also argue arbitration would hide proceedings from the public. A judge denied that request. Another court date set for April 30th.

A 13-year-old Los Angeles boy is lucky to be alive and safe with his family this morning. Jesse Hernandez was playing in Griffith Park on Easter Sunday when he fell into a dense maze of sewer pipes where he was stuck for 12 agonizing hours. Listen to him describe what happened.


JESSE HERNANDEZ, RESCUED FROM SEWER PIPE: I was playing and I didn't see a little piece of wood and I stepped on it and I just fell down, and I -- the current took me. Well, I stopped myself because the tunnel starting getting smaller. So I just stood up fast. And there was this big circle thing, and I just went up (ph).


[09:55:07] HILL: About 100 firefighters and sanitation workers searched for him through the night. They plucked him out early yesterday morning. He's a little bruised and scratched, but otherwise OK.

Moments from now, the first sentencing in the Mueller investigation, and we are live at the courthouse.


HILL: Good morning. I'm Erica Hill.

[09:59:55] Any minute now a Dutch attorney will stand before a judge in Washington and learn his punishment for lying to the FBI. This is Alex van der Zwaan arriving to court moments ago. This is a milestone, not only, of course, for van der Zwaan, the defendant, but for Robert Mueller, the special counsel, who charged van der Zwaan and persuaded him to flip and will no doubt use him to help investigate others.