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Dow Plunges After China Retaliates on U.S. Tariffs; Trump Wants National Guard at the U.S.-Mexico Border; Honoring Martin Luther King Jr. on the Anniversary of His Death. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 4, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:01] ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: And I think there's a very big constitutional question whether the president could even be indicted. It's against DOJ policy as it currently stands. So it's unlikely that they would designate him as such.

Having said that, the obstruction case centers around the president's intent when he fired James Comey. The question is whether he acted with corrupt intent. And so what the president has to say about it, in addition to whatever circumstantial evidence Mueller has gathered, is really critical to that. So the president's own answers to Mueller's questions can have significant legal consequences for that case.

I mean, he's effectively made this case against himself from the beginning, starting with firing Comey so he does need to proceed cautiously.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: And in talking about, to your point, that the thinking of this, quote, "Russia thing" when thinking about firing James Comey. I want to pick up on that because, you know, as Kaitlan pointed out, what we learned, too, was that Mueller's team indicated to the president's lawyers, according to the "Washington Post," that the report will come out in stages but the first one would be the one involving this obstruction of justice.

In terms of the timing, in terms of the way that you would be releasing a report, does it make sense to you that that would come first?

RANGAPPA: Well, the obstruction case is sort of separate from the bigger Russia investigation. Again, this began the moment that he fired James Comey. And I think that to the extent that that avenue can be summarized and resolved and given in a report -- remember that this won't be a public report. This will be a report that Mueller gives to Rosenstein laying out what he's found and either saying I believe charges should be brought or I believe charges shouldn't be brought.

Rosenstein at that point can choose to make it public but it will be in his discretion. So I do think it makes sense it then allows Mueller to proceed with the bigger case of links and coordination between members of the Trump campaign and Russia, which is kind of a separate issue all together. HILL: I want to get your take real quickly, Paul Manafort, as we

mentioned, is in court this morning, there as we speak. So this is all part of the civil suit which is aimed at throwing out the charges as we know brought by Mueller's team stemming from his lobbying work with Ukraine. In terms of a strategy, is this something that could be effective?

RANGAPPA: It looks like it is not effective. It was a flimsy strategy to start with, Erica, because what he was essentially saying, was that Mueller can't prosecute these crimes because it's outside of his mandate.

Remember that Mueller is essentially stepping in for the attorney general for purposes of the Russia investigation. So even if he couldn't investigate it, if there's a crime that's been committed, somebody will, it would have gone to the Department of Justice. But what we now know is that Rosenstein last August actually delineated a whole list of crimes that Mueller was explicitly authorized to investigate and which means that those crimes are connected to the bigger question of whether there were links and coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia.

So in some ways he's kind of hurt -- he hasn't made a great legal case but he's also hurt in some ways the public case in the court of public opinion.

HILL: Asha Rangappa, always appreciate your insight. Thank you.

Stocks down triple digits as you can see there as fears grow over a trade war.


[10:37:42] HILL: Right now the Dow plunging over fears of a trade war after China hit the United States with tariffs on $3 billion worth of exports.

To discuss CNN political analyst Jackie Kucinich, CNN political commentators Andre Bauer and Paul Begala.

You know, there's a lot to unpack here including the conflicting messages that we're hearing even as recently as this morning. The president tweeting that we're not in a trade war and then we're hearing from the Commerce secretary but that hey, even trade wars end in negotiations.

Jackie, is this all just part of a ploy to get China to the bargaining table?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't know that there's a lot of strategy behind this right now because you also have Larry Kudlow, I guess, just a few minutes ago in the driveway of the White House saying that tariffs might not happen or they might not go into effect for a couple of months. He seems like it's his first week on the job and it's already cleanup in aisle seven. So it doesn't -- really you're seeing a lot of pushback from

economists saying, and from, you know, other Republicans saying that this is going to -- is it going to hurt, you know, the country and specifically where the president has done well, Iowa, Ohio, Missouri, Kansas, places where there are a lot of agriculture. This could really hurt Republicans -- the country and Republicans in the midterms.

HILL: And Andre, we've seen some of that pushback from those very important states, even just a couple of weeks ago as there were proposals of different tariffs going back and forth. And we do need to point out that all of these tariffs from the U.S., from China are all proposals at this point. That being said China also saying this morning, though, that it is taking its complaints directly to the WTO, and talking about how this has been a flagrant violation by the United States in terms of World Trade Organization rules.

Andre, how much does that hit home at the White House?

ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think they have a definite problem in selling that when they've stolen intellectual property. They haven't continued to work within the rules for many, many years. And so the White House has shown leadership here.

Look, President Trump prides himself on how well the stock market is doing and he is willing to forego some of that credit that he truly deserves to make a point, to do what so many presidents have turned the other cheek and not done.

I'm all about fair trade. I am a fair trade guy but we don't have fair trade with China. In fact we have a very misguided system where China has manipulated to their benefit and to the detriment of so many companies in the U.S.

[10:40:08] And so this is a policy that needs to be addressed. I hate it's being addressed during a time when so many Republicans in Congress are up for re-election, but let me tell you, it won't take China long before they have to come to the table because how are they going to feed their people? All those states you mentioned provide a tremendous amount of food to China.

What other country are they going to go to, to find these resources? They are not. They are going to have to come to the table, much like South Korea came to the table over the steel and aluminum tariffs.

HILL: Paul, is it going to be resolved that quickly?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, trade wars are good and easy to win, our president said so. I will say I rarely defend Donald Trump, he campaigned on this. This is what he said. He said he would go to war, we would have trade wars especially against China, and so all those good farmers in the Midwest who voted for Donald Trump and now were getting hammered, sorry.

I'm serious, he did not lie to you, farmers in the Midwest. He did not lie to you, corporate executives who were watching the stocks plummet. He said, if you elect me, I will go to war, on trade war, with China and Mexico and Canada. They're our three largest trading partners. Our three best customers, are China, Mexico and Canada. He promised that in the campaign. So in that sense, I'll defend him.

He made a promise, he's keeping a promise. It is hammering his constituents and corporate America and agricultural America. I think it's a shame, I hate seeing anybody suffer, but then again, they voted to get hammered and they are getting hammered.

HILL: We will see how this all plays out whether or not we do end up in negotiations.

I do want to turn to another campaign promise, which was border security, and Jackie, we're hearing more from the president about this not only proposing troops yesterday along the border which of course has been done by presidents in the past, President Obama, President Bush, but also saying today that there will be action today, talking about how loose the border is.

Is this fulfilling a campaign promise for border security because the wall can't get done? Turning to troops?

KUCINICH: It is fulfilling a campaign promise and it's also sort of covering his right flank. The president received a lot of criticism after signing that omnibus appropriations bill that didn't have the amount of wall funding that he asked for and he heard a lot about it from immigration hard liners, one of the most local being Ann Coulter, and let's not forget, he spent Easter weekend, Stephen Miller was with him, one of his most hawkish immigration aides. So the president was hearing it from all sides and this is a way he's trying to course correct.

HILL: As he's working on that course correct, Andre, is this something that you think will make its way through Congress, though? Because of course to put troops there, there will need to be congressional approval. We don't have full details yet on what the president's plan is, even in terms of numbers.

BAUER: Look, I think, again, you see if a president says no matter how when, why or what I'm going to do what I told you I was going to do. He hasn't got what I think should have been appropriate funding for the border wall and so many Americans won't know and need that they should have a border wall.

Look, I'm building a fence in my backyard right now. Fences make good neighbors. We would have a better neighbor right now had we had a fence there 10, 20, 30 years ago. Donald Trump has talked about this for decades, he is honoring again what he ran off. And if he can't do it one way, he's going to find another way to do it. But we need to stop the influx of illegal folks coming to this country with illegal drugs.

I am all for legal immigration, my great grandfather came here as a legal immigrant and did it the right way. And I commend people for wanting to come here and better themselves. But I think they need to do it just like the people that have done it for decades before and we need to stop this unbelievable sachet of people just walking across our borders with no legal right to.


KUCINICH: Well, Andre, we should say that --

HILL: Does it matter --

KUCINICH: -- the border crossings are down at this point. So perhaps --

BAUER: Of course they are.

KUCINICH: Well, right, but again --

BAUER: They're down because Donald Trump has made it an issue. They're not done just because it just happenstance. They're down because we had a president that laid down the law and has done everything possible to address this issue, call attention to this issue, and he's getting results.

HILL: But to Jackie's point then, because, Jackie, you know you were right there with me because I was thinking the same thing. We do know that border crossings are down. So to that point, are troops really what is needed there or should the president perhaps continue what he's doing?

BAUER: Absolutely.

HILL: Because you're saying what he's doing is working.

BAUER: Just because they are down, that makes -- that doesn't make good reason to say, well, they're done so we will just stop what we're doing. The reason they're down is because of actions he's taken. And we want them stopped. We don't want them just down. The American people that voted for Donald Trump didn't say well, we want to reduce border crossings. No, we want them stopped, we want them absolutely stopped.

We don't want anybody coming over illegally. That's why we have immigration officers. That's why we have officers where you come through. That's why they check my passport when I come in and out of the country. Because we have a legal way in this country. You're supposed to do it. So just because they are down doesn't mean you say well, then let's forget about it. No, press forward and make it to where there's zero illegal crossings.

HILL: We are almost out of time, Paul. I'll let you have last word. Go ahead.

BEGALA: They're not just down for a decade, Andre. Long before Donald Trump, when he was still a Democrat and hiring illegal workers at his buildings, they were down.

[10:45:05] They've been going down for a decade in part because the Mexican economy, because of tougher border security that Barack Obama put in and now President Trump is continuing. But here's the deal. This is all just optics. He wants to use our National Guards now when there is no crisis, there has been in the past. He wants to use them for his political optics and that's using our troops for his political end.

The truth is, in 31 states, Andre, 31, there are more Chinese immigrants than there are Mexicans. The net flow of Mexicans across the border is to Mexico. It's not only stopped, it's reversed. They're leaving. His border wall will only slow down their departure. It's just --


HILL: Paul Begala, Andre Bauer, Jackie Kucinich, we're going to have to leave it there. I thank you all.

Honoring the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. CNN spoke with two men who were with him when he was killed. How they remember their friend 50 years later.


[10:50:25] HILL: At this hour people across the country are honoring Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on the 50th anniversary of his assassination. Thousands expected outside the National Civil Rights museum in Memphis. Of course formerly the Lorraine Motel where Dr. King was killed.

CNN spoke to Reverend Jesse Jackson and Ambassador Andrew Young, two men who were with Dr. King when he was killed. CNN anchor and correspondent Victor Blackwell has more.

You sat down for that exclusive interview with them. And you're in Memphis this morning there. Who -- I want to talk about the interview but first give us a sense, set the scene there in Memphis. Who is gathered there? Who's been coming by?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, it's a blend of people from the Memphis area and really from across the country. And the mood here is a blend as well of reverence because of course this is a sacred place, this is where Dr. King was shot and killed 50 years ago. What you see behind me is the facade of the old Lorraine Motel now connected to what is the National Civil Rights Museum but also celebration.

I mean, I spoke with the son of Dr. King, Martin Luther King III, who said that this is a day that we should use to remember his life, to celebrate his accomplishments. So we'll see in the programs today that just started a few minutes ago a blend of the solemnity and the celebration for the death and the life and accomplishments of Dr. King. And that really sums up the conversation I had with Reverend Jackson and Ambassador Young.

This was a historic meeting. For the first time since April 4th, 1968 those two men, the only surviving members of his entourage that day, came back here to the Lorraine Motel, the spot on the balcony where Dr. King was killed. Now Reverend Jackson says for him it's still a raw wound but for Ambassador Young, he says that he really doesn't feel anything here because for him that day was not an ending, it was a beginning of the work that he and the other lieutenants as he called them of Dr. King, going out into the world and doing their work.

Here's part of our conversation where Ambassador Young tells us his first thoughts after learning that that shot to his chin was fatal.


BLACKWELL: Do you think he heard the shot?

ANDREW YOUNG, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I don't think he heard the shot or felt it. I think it was a beautiful death. My first reaction was to be mad and second reaction was to say, well, if anybody is entitled to a reward, you have sure earned it. And you know, take your flight to heaven --


BLACKWELL: Now at 6:01 p.m. local, 7:01 Eastern today, there will be a tolling of a bell here, the exact moment Dr. King was killed. There will also be a bell tolled at cities across the country and the world -- Erica.

HILL: So many being encouraged to ring bells as we saw not just in houses of worship but everywhere. What a powerful moment there to hear from Ambassador Young.

Victor, thank you.

And we'll be right back.


[10:57:53] HILL: The Masters tees off tomorrow. All eyes on Tiger Woods. Of course the big question, can he actually win?

Coy Wire has more now on the "Bleacher Report."

Coy, I have a source who was at practice yesterday watching Tiger and said to me he believes he could take it all.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: We shall see. So soon, Erica, would be exciting for the sport.

Tiger hasn't played in the Masters since 2015, hasn't even won a major in nearly a decade, but he's still the 10-1 favorite to win it all alongside Jordan Spieth. Tigers' 42 years old now facing his fifth green jacket.

And CNN's Don Ridell told me this morning there were huge crowds following him during that practice round he had with Phil Mickelson yesterday. And while there've been about 50 journalists on average attending pressers this week, Tiger had seen numbers three times that and standing room only. It's a reminder of his ability to move the needle in this sport.

All right, also adding to the excitement of this year's Masters, 30- year-old amateur golfer, Matt Parziale, a firefighter from Brockton, Massachusetts, working 24-hour shifts, he's literally saved people's lives. He's often had to enter tournaments on little to no sleep, now he probably feels like he's dreaming. Having won the U.S. mid-amateur championship in Atlanta six months ago, Matt qualified for the Masters and tomorrow he'll be teeing off in Augusta alongside greatest golfers on the planet like Tiger Woods, like Jordan Spieth, and Rory McIlroy.

Matt told CNN's Don Ridell all about this dream come true.


MATT PARZIALE, AMATEUR GOLFER TO PLAY IN THE MASTERS: You hype something up in your mind and usually that doesn't meet expectations. This exceeded them, when I got here and it's only gotten better since.

DON RIDELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What does fighting fires and playing golf have in common?

PARZIALE: Nothing. So --

RIDELL: Nothing at all?

PARZIALE: No, I don't think so. You've got a team out there when you're fighting a fire. All guys trying to do the same thing and fires are uncontrollable. We never fight fires with two of them the same. Golf you can prepare for, you're by yourself, more controlled. Sometimes it's out of control but more controlled environment.


WIRE: Eric, Matt won't have a big team following him but he will have his dad, who's also a firefighter and his caddie.

HILL: He may be my new favorite. Coy, thank you.

And thanks to all of you for joining us today. I'm Erica Hill. "AT THIS HOUR" starts now.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN Breaking News.