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Teachers Walk Out Demanding Better Pay And More School Funding; AT&T Trial Goes Deep On Carrier Negotiations; Amazon Stock Plummets Since Trump Twitter Attacks; New York Magazine: Corruption Is Trump's Greatest Political Threat. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 3, 2018 - 07:30   ET


[07:31:17] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Teachers in several states walking off the job, demanding better pay and more funding for their students.

In Oklahoma, many schools will be closed again today as teachers take their case directly to state lawmakers.

CNN's Nick Valencia is live in Oklahoma City with more. Really, kind of something of a growing movement here, Nick.

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It is a growing movement Jim, and we expect another rally to take place later this morning.

We're here inside Oklahoma's State Capitol. We expect hundreds of the thousands that are anticipated to show up to continue lobbying their lawmakers -- those senators and representatives -- to try to get more education funding.

Teachers we've spoken to say it's not just about pay raises, but it's also about getting more money for their classrooms.


TEACHERS: Do your job! Do your job!

VALENCIA (voice-over): Thousands of teachers walking out of their classrooms and storming State Capitols, demanding higher wages and more education funding for their students.

JESSICA JERNEGAN, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER, OKLAHOMA: I would much rather be with my students but the truth is is that I need to be here fighting for them.

VALENCIA: In Oklahoma, teachers' salaries are among the lowest in the country with many teachers working two or three jobs to pay the bills. But low wages are only part of the problem. The teachers union says school funding has been cut by nearly 30 percent over the last decade, meaning that underpaid teachers often bear the burden of buying supplies.

JENNIFER THORNTON, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TEACHER, OKLAHOMA: We don't have adequate furniture, textbooks, curriculum. Those things are all stretched as thin as they can be and held together with as much duct tape as we can pay for out of our paychecks.

VALENCIA: Last week, Oklahoma's governor signed a bill raising salaries and increasing funding but many say it's not enough.

REGAN KILLACKEY, HIGH SCHOOL TEACHER, OKLAHOMA: It's very difficult to trust your state-elected officials if they continue to turn their backs on education, and they cannot do this any longer.

VALENCIA: These students holding a mock class at the protest to send a message to legislators about conditions in their schools.

GABRIELLE DAVIS, HIGH SCHOOL SENIOR, OKLAHOMA: We need more than our teachers having raises. We need teacher attention, and we need up-to- date classrooms, and we need to feel like a priority in our state, and we don't.

VALENCIA: These walkouts part of a growing movement among teachers in largely-Republican states.

TEACHERS: Fund our schools, fund our schools.

VALENCIA: In Kentucky, teachers denouncing changes to their pension benefits after state lawmakers tucked reforms into a sewage bill.

And in Arizona, educators threatening to strike, calling for a 20 percent raise and increased school funding.

These protesters galvanized by the success of a 9-day strike in West Virginia.

DALE LEE, PRESIDENT, WEST VIRGINIA EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: I think it gave people the belief that they can do the things that need to do for public education. It's stronger than the hope.


VALENCIA: And educators here in Oklahoma say those in West Virginia gave them the inspiration to keep going.

And one quick note this morning, guys. We're hearing from the smaller school districts in the state that they're only going to send one teacher delegate today to the State Capitol with others being told that if they do show up they're going to have to pay out of their own pocket to pay for the substitutes that will replace them -- Alisyn.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, Nick. It will be very interesting to see what happens today. Thank you so much for the reporting.

So, teachers in Kentucky are expected back in the classroom after that walkout on Monday. They are protesting, as you heard, after changes to their pension plan.

So joining us now to talk about it is Stephanie Winkler. She's the president of the Kentucky Education Association, the state's largest teachers union. Ms. Winkler, thank you so much for taking time to talk to us. So what is your beef? What do teachers in Kentucky want?

STEPHANIE WINKLER, PRESIDENT, KENTUCKY EDUCATION ASSOCIATION: Well, our educators have wanted the same things across the country -- is just an investment in public education. Public education is, by our Kentucky constitution, a requirement and our state legislature has been not funding public education for a long time to the levels that we feel like we need to be able to provide a 21st-century education while using 20th-century instructional materials.

[07:35:08] CAMEROTA: But just so I understand, they want their salaries increased, they want their pensions increased, or they want their classroom supplies increased?

WINKLER: So, in Kentucky, our fight started with our pensions and the threat of our governor taking away our defined benefit pensions last fall.

And our organization spent almost the entire fall meeting with legislators, having pension forums, trying to educate themselves and the public about the details of our eight public pension systems in Kentucky which are grossly underfunded mainly due to a lack of dedicated funding by our legislature for many years.

It's not a partisan issue in our state. It's not the fault of any one party. It's just been a simple lack of funding by many legislatures to fund what they should have been funding in order to keep our pension systems at the level that they need to be to be sustained.

CAMEROTA: So it's primarily about pensions?

WINKLER: It is about pensions. And then also, because we're -- our legislative session this time is a budget session and so we had to advocate not just for funding for public schools as we do every budget session, but also to make sure that the governor was going to keep his promise and his commitment as they did in the last session to fully fund our pension systems.

CAMEROTA: And so what's the plan today? So will there be walkouts of classrooms? Will there be sick-outs, as they say? Teachers calling in sick?

WINKLER: I have heard of some districts but the majority of our districts -- I would say close to 75 percent of our 173 schools districts are on spring break this week so they're already out of school. And so, the ones that are in schools -- we had solidarity of all 173 districts that were not in school yesterday.

We had a phenomenal turnout. The estimates are around 12,000 community members, educators, parents, students that came out to our State Capitol yesterday to make sure that we communicated to our state legislature that we were going to be watching and that we were going to demand that our government fund public education and fund our pensions, and continue to keep the promises made to our public employees.

CAMEROTA: And very quickly, do you think that lawmakers got the message? Are they listening? Is something going to change?

WINKLER: We're hopeful by the budget that was passed yesterday. We haven't gone through the details because, once again, we had lots of things passed and the bills were not open or given out to the public -- not even to the minority party -- other than a few hours before they had to vote on it.

So we're still digging into the details but overall, we feel like this budget does keep the promise to fully fund our pensions and we are just hopeful that the governor signs this budget and keeps his promise.

CAMEROTA: OK. Stephanie Winkler, thank you very much for giving us all the information.

WINKLER: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: So that's the rub right there, that they think that they were victims of a bait and switch. That the bills were not transparent so that didn't know that these changes were being made to their pension.

SCIUTTO: Yes. You know, it's a tough one because I'm sure a lot of families are sympathetic with teachers. I mean, there's a pay issue. We had a great -- some great reporting yesterday on that.

But as kids are out of school for days and days, you know, how does -- I've got three kids, right? I mean, if the kids are out of school for a long time --


SCIUTTO: -- you're going to start to wonder how long that support lasts.


JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF AND MANAGING DIRECTOR, "THE DAILY BEAST": Yes. And what I think is fascinating too is we're seeing this sort of red state rebellion of teachers. West Virginia, Oklahoma as we saw yesterday -- massive protests, Kentucky.

And one of the flow-throughs -- you know, pensions are important but I think it's really about dollars that get to the classrooms. Have those been cut assiduously?

Yesterday, we saw that Oklahoma teachers are surviving on $1,200 a month --


AVLON: -- and that's not a living wage. We're having to work a second --

SCIUTTO: Yes. AVLON: -- a third job. So that really does motivate I think a lot of folks to say where are our priorities?

CAMEROTA: Yes. All right. We'll be watching today to see what happens.

AVLON: All right.

We've got a long day of testimony in the AT&T-Time Warner merger trial. Why both sides are claiming small victories, next.


[07:42:57] SCIUTTO: Lawyers will be back in court today as the Justice Department looks to block AT&T's proposed merger with Time Warner, which owns CNN.

Let's bring in CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES," Brian Stelter. And, "CNN POLITICS" media and business reporter Hadas Gold.

Brian, if I could start with you. Can you see in these early decisions and statements from the judge any indication as to where his decision is likely to fall or is it too early?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT, HOST, CNN "RELIABLE SOURCES": He is certainly trying to maintain order and speed up this trial. He has sometimes been frustrated with the pace of how this is going. But no, I don't think there's a lot we can read in the tea leaves about what -- how the judge is reacting so far.

What we do know is that back on the stand today are Turner executives talking about how these distribution deals are done -- how they are orchestrated. How the company tries to gain more -- higher subscriber fees in these negotiations.

And one of the questions of this case is whether that -- whether AT&T owns Time Warner, if the deal is allowed to go through -- whether AT&T would have too much power in the marketplace to do that.

CAMEROTA: Hadas, give us the courtroom drama that unfolded yesterday.

HADAS GOLD, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER, "CNN POLITICS": So yesterday was spent all going deep into those negotiations that Brian was talking about with Turner executives. Pretty much how they negotiate with your local cable provider to get CNN, HLN, TNT, TBS on the air.

And what the government was trying to prove was that Turner was willing to go dark, which means to completely cut off access in order to get those higher fees. In order to get the types of terms that they wanted in order to air on those distributors.

But, Turner executives, on the other hand, said well yes, these are hard-charging negotiations for both sides. The door swings both ways is how Turner executive Coleman Breland described it. And he said listen, when we go dark it's not something we want because

we lose tens of millions of dollars when we go dark. He said that during a DISH satellite T.V. blackout that they had a few years ago they lost something like $30 million in ad revenue.

So he was trying to push back on the government's assertion that Turner wants to go dark -- that this is part of -- a good strategy that they have because he said look, we lose a lot of money when we do this.

It's going to be honestly up to the judge to decide whether this is such a useful tactic and whether it's a tactic that they will use in future negotiations, or whether it will be even more powerful under the AT&T umbrella because then you risk sort of this balance of who gets this valuable content.

[07:45:20] STELTER: Yes, the key word being the future, right -- in the future. What is the media marketplace going to look like five, 10 years down the road?

That's partly why I think this is so interesting and so challenging for the judge in this case. I have no idea how we're going to be watching T.V. in 10 years.


STELTER: I have some guesses, I have some dreams about how it should work, but I don't think anybody knows exactly. And yet, this kind of case will help determine how the marketplace evolves and how people pay for cable and pay for television in the future.

AVLON: One of the fascinating things about this case is you have a very pro-business president --


AVLON: -- proudly from the business community. Are advocating less regulations, news economic adviser, free-market advocates for all around with the exception of some companies that are perceived as critics.


AVLON: And I want to talk about Amazon and the president's full-court press against Amazon because their stock's down almost, I think, seven-eight percent over the last several days.


AVLON: I mean, it's really stunning directly in reaction to the president's tweets against the company.

How do you read this?

STELTER: You look at this and you have to think that the president's personal animus, his personal frustration with "The Washington Post" is playing in his decision to attack Amazon. That is what's clear in the reporting here and it's clear through his own tweets because he likes to link Amazon and "The Washington Post" on Twitter in these tweets in the past.

It is -- it's uncharted territory, isn't it, John? We haven't seen this before --

SCIUTTO: Well, you can't --

STELTER: -- from an American president.

SCIUTTO: You can't underestimate how disturbing that is, right? I mean, this is president -- we talk about how tweets are policy here, right? I mean, the president, via Twitter, solely is imposing an enormous economic cost on a critic, Jeff Bezos, who owns a newspaper whose coverage the president doesn't like. It's as simple as that.

STELTER: And Bezos just staying out of it, right? He's not saying anything. Amazon's not commenting. It's trying to weather the storm.

But it all comes back to facts and whether the president has the facts or not. Whether it's about his complaints against CNN or Amazon or other companies.

You know, he's on Twitter this morning saying that it's a fact that CNN only hires people if they're anti-Trump. Now we all around this table --


STELTER: -- know there's no litmus test.


STELTER: There's no -- there's no test like that. That's crazy talk.

CAMEROTA: That's not true.

STELTER: It's crazy talk but the president called it a fact. He called it a fact.

GOLD: And one thing -- and we can --

STELTER: It makes me want to go back to bed, guys.

CAMEROTA: No, you can't.

STELTER: Pay for this.

CAMEROTA: We need you.

Go ahead, Hadas.

GOLD: And we -- and what we're -- exactly what Brian is talking about. We're not hearing him criticize other things like the Sinclair attempt to own those Tribune stations -- AVLON: Yes.

GOLD: -- and really increase their reach.

We don't hear him criticize the 21st Century Fox-Disney deal.

And another thing I want to point out in terms of a Republican sort of pro-business president. If you look at net neutrality -- that rule about whether the Internet should be open where companies can charge more money to go faster over their pipes, we're going in completely opposite directions.

The administration, on net neutrality, is saying that companies should be able to have more power of it. But then when it comes to the AT&T- Time Warner merger they're saying no, no, we need to get more involved, and those are completely views.

CAMEROTA: OK. Brian, Hadas, thank you very much for the conversation.

So, does this new cover story in "New York" magazine that says President Trump, it's actually not collusion, it's not incompetence that President Trump and voters should be worried about. It's something bigger going on in the White House. That's next.


[07:52:08] SCIUTTO: A new memo from deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein shows he explicitly authorized the special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate whether Paul Manafort colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election.

But, a "New York" magazine cover story argues that collusion is not the biggest political threat to the Trump administration -- check out that cover there -- it is corruption.

Joining us now to discuss, John Avlon and CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover, who I think know each other.


SCIUTTO: But they're familiar with each other's work. So --

CAMEROTA: That's work. Thank God the "Hoovalon" reunited. We love it.

SCIUTTO: This is a family program.

The cover -- I mean, beyond -- the cover is just -- the president's not going to like the cover. But the argument here in the words of "New York" magazine, not collusion, not incompetence, not cruelty. "It's the corruption, stupid."

Do you buy that? HOOVER: As a political analyst, I'm going to have a different answer for you than anybody who is making the case that this administration has brought in a huge amount of people that don't have the discretion or really, the respect for the office that we demand in our -- in our transparent government full of public service, right?

The idea that people have gotten into power to line their pockets and not serve the public in the most altruistic way will really strike many citizens negatively.

What I will tell you though, as a political analyst who has family in red flyover state country that voted for Donald Trump, here is the problem. I'm going to be the naysayer at the table.

All of these folks -- the Republicans -- the 80 percent of Republicans who voted for Trump even though they didn't like him -- they plugged their nose and they did it, they did it because they said well, what was -- what was going to happen if Hillary Clinton was there, all right?

And as soon as you bring up corruption, immediately every Trump supporter and every Republican says you know what, the Clinton Foundation was corrupt. She had her e-mail scandal. She --

So even though that may seem like a false choice, as a political tactic you're not going to get the Trump folks by mentioning corruption.

If your goal is to win over the reasonable edge of the opposition -- I know, I know, he's dying to go at me. But the point is you're going to have more success if you made the case that the entire group of people, right -- it's the lesser people. The Jared Kushner who got the meeting with Citibank, who then got the loan from Citibank --


HOOVER: -- who then -- and that -- and that's the case.

Don't go after Trump but go after the entire group of people that was supposed to be -- have the swamp drained. Then you can have probably more political salience and traction.

SCIUTTO: But does that -- I just want -- that last -- wow, and I want you to get in there. That last wow, the economy's doing pretty well, right? People --


SCIUTTO: -- and the stock markets relatively up -- 401(k)s good. People are -- you know, unemployment rate is down, wages are finally rising so folks feel like they're getting a fair deal. They're doing well economically.

If that changes though and then folks look and see --

HOOVER: That's right. SCIUTTO: -- the president and his pals, would that change the dynamic?

HOOVER: That -- yes, that will change it and -- but the -- well, that's a -- that's a hypothetical, right?


HOOVER: That's a hypothetical and at the moment it's true. It is Bill Clinton's the economy, stupid.

All right, go nuts.

AVLON: Well look, I mean, here's what's so frustrating is that you see Republicans -- good people who voted for Trump -- and they say yes, sure, maybe he's problematic, maybe there's some corruption, maybe the swamp hasn't been drained, but they engage in whataboutism.

[07:55:12] They say but the Clintons would have been worse. The Clinton Foundation was worse.

Well, Trump is the president now and we see a -- just a really troubling pattern from almost day one. Doubling the fees for Mar-a- Lago to all the questions around the Kushner building deals and the Trump corporation.

CAMEROTA: But I want to ask about the Trump corporation --

AVLON: Sure.

CAMEROTA: -- because what are the facts? When the president was running he said if I become president I could not care less about my company. So is he lining his --

AVLON: Not true.

CAMEROTA: -- pockets still from -- is he benefiting financially from being --

HOOVER: It's --

CAMEROTA: -- president with his own organization?


HOOVER: He is benefiting financially. I mean, that is true.

I mean, I'm a Republican. I'm not happy about that. I think it is an anathema to the idea of public service and it really does offend my sensibilities as an American citizen.

And -- but what he says and what he does are two different things. And so many times you get Trump supporters who say forget the tweets, just look at what he does, OK? Well, what he's done on the financial disclosure reforms in on page 161 of 166 say I can take money out whenever I want, right? You know -- so -- AVLON: So you're saying that's a problem?

HOOVER: But -- so he has still invested and is still benefiting --


HOOVER: -- from the decisions he's making as president and so is his family, and that's the truth.

SCIUTTO: Well, look a Trump Hotel in D.C. I mean, there's a reason why foreign -- many foreign governments that come to D.C., they hold events, they stay in Trump Hotel and that is a -- that's a direct financial benefit to the president.

AVLON: Yes. These are rules that are recognizable but we haven't seen them in the American tradition. But to a lot of international businessmen, they're sort of the way things happen in other countries. It just hasn't happened here.

CAMEROTA: Here's what the president said on January 28th, 2016 about his own proclivities.

AVLON: Greatest hit.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My whole life I've been greedy, greedy, greedy. I've grabbed all the money I could get. I'm so greedy. But now, I want to be greedy for the United States. I want to grab all that money.


CAMEROTA: John, how's that gone?

AVLON: Well, I think this gets to the point actually that the president is being buoyed by a strong economy to date and that, you know, he can point to that and that creates a lot of good feelings. And that's why -- you know, the president's poll numbers have risen in the last month. There have been a lot of scandals but it hasn't slipped. He is the Teflon Don.

And I think part of the question for Republicans --

HOOVER: He's going to love that.

AVLON: Well, you know, it applies to him as well as the formerly Teflon Don.

But here's the question. Margaret, Republicans have stuck with Trump. They still love him in overwhelming numbers. Around 15 percent just said is his fate entirely attached to the economy or do Republicans love him unconditionally?

HOOVER: I -- it is Bill Clinton. Republicans hate citing Bill Clinton but it is the economy, stupid. I mean, it truly is. And the economy is doing well.

This is to Jim's point before. None of these cleavage points, none of these fault lines will matter unless ordinary Americans aren't doing well. And that's -- he's brought in the promise of bringing back manufacturing -- for all these things that have -- that have frankly -- as long as everybody's making money people are happy.

CAMEROTA: Well, we're happy to see the Hoovalon reunited.


CAMEROTA: It's been wonderful. Margaret, John --

HOOVER: You guys have had fun the last two morning --

CAMEROTA: Yes, we have.

HOOVER: -- with laughs on the sidelines.

CAMEROTA: We have an hour left of fun so keep watching. All right.

Great to see you, Margaret.

HOOVER: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: OK, we're following a lot of news. Let's get to it.


ROD ROSENSTEIN, U.S. DEPUTY ATTORNEY GENERAL: Bob Mueller understands and I understand the specific scope of the investigation.

CAMEROTA: New evidence that the special counsel is investigating collusion allegations against the president's former campaign chairman.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ANCHOR AND CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "ABC NEWS": Are there any ties between Mr. Trump, you or your campaign, and Putin and his regime?


TRUMP: The Democrats have really let them down and now people are taking advantage of DACA.

AVLON: President Trump lashing out on Twitter criticizing U.S. immigration policy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This president is completely clueless when it comes to immigration laws, period.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Embattled EPA chief Scott Pruitt's job may be in jeopardy.

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), FORMER GOVERNOR OF NEW JERSEY: I don't know how you survive this one.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard to see how we have smooth management of the country when you've got all of these melodramas.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.

CAMEROTA: Good morning, everyone, and welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Tuesday, April third, 8:00 in the east.

Chris is off. Jim Sciutto and John Avlon join me. It's great to have both of you here on set.

SCIUTTO: Good to be here.

CAMEROTA: We've been having a great couple of hours --


CAMEROTA: -- and we have more news to report.

So, there's this newly-released classified memo that details the scope of Robert Mueller's investigative mandate. Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein explicitly authorized Robert Mueller to investigate whether Paul Manafort colluded with the Russians in the 2016 election and to probe any crimes related to payments that Manafort received from the Ukrainian government.

SCIUTTO: President Trump's focus this morning continues to be on curtailing illegal immigration. The president tweeting again about caravans of immigrants taking advantage of what he calls our nation's weak border laws. It is his 10th tweet in just 48 hours about immigration and it comes as the White House is making a new legislative push aimed at strengthening border security.

Let's begin our coverage with CNN's Shimon Prokupecz. He is live in Washington with our top story.

Shimon, the collusion question, at least as far as the special counsel's investigation is concerned, not closed.