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'Washington Post': Mueller Told Attorneys Trump Remains Under Investigation; Trump Wants U.S. Military to Secure Border with Mexico; California Police Identify YouTube Shooter; China Strikes Back with Tariffs on $50 Billion in U.S. Goods. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired April 4, 2018 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: The president of the United States is a subject of a criminal investigation. That is an extraordinarily serious thing.
[05:50:18] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There isn't any evidence the president had obstructed justice. I think writing a report will help exonerate him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you going to talk to Mueller?
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm looking forward to it, actually.
TRUMP: We are preparing for the military to secure our border.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We cannot use the active military for law enforcement purposes.
DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: This is more of a political move. The president increasingly sees the military as a play toy.
DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Stunning new details offering insight into the YouTube shooter's possible motivation.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): All of a sudden, we heard two sirens, and we saw people running out of the building.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To think that after we've seen Las Vegas, Parkland, we would see an end to this, but we have not.
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. This is NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, April 4, 6 a.m. here in New York. Chris is off. David Gregory joins me.
Great to see you. DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST/ANCHOR: I am. I was just hanging around. They said, "Come on back."
CAMEROTA: "Get out here."
GREGORY: But I've never come on a slow news day. So --
CAMEROTA: And this is -- won't be one either.
GREGORY: It's good to be here.
CAMEROTA: Here's our starting line. "The Washington Post" reports that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has told President Trump's legal team that the president is a subject but not a target of his Russia investigation. "The Post" also reports that Mueller is preparing a report on the president's actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice.
The White House says that President Trump plans to deploy the National Guard to secure the border with Mexico until his border wall is built. The president's announcement catching many Pentagon officials by surprise. So will Congress authorize using active-duty troops for law enforcement inside the U.S.?
GREGORY: At the same time, you've got fears this morning of a trade war escalating, as China is now firing back at the U.S., opposing tariffs on $50 billion worth of American goods, including soy beans, airplanes, and cars. A lot of this hurts our farmers in this country. It comes after the Trump administration detailed new tariffs on Chinese imports.
And new details emerging about the shooting at YouTube's headquarters in California. Police identifying the woman who opened fire and what we're learning about why she was angry with the company.
Let's begin this morning with our coverage. CNN's Abby Phillip live at the White House with our top story.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, David.
We are learning this morning some new details about exactly what kind of legal jeopardy President Trump might be in when it comes to the special counsel, Robert Mueller. Now, he may not be the subject of a criminal investigation, but it's clear that he is not out of the woods just yet.
PHILLIP (voice-over): During negotiations last month between Special Counsel Robert Mueller and lawyers for President Trump, "The Washington Post" reports that Mueller said he was looking at the president as a subject of his investigation but does not consider him a criminal target at this point. Mueller also relaying to Mr. Trump's team that investigators are
compiling a report about the president's actions and possible obstruction of justice, stressing he needs to interview Mr. Trump, according to "The Post."
Meanwhile, President Trump ramping up his tough talk on immigration, surprising Pentagon officials by announcing he wants to send the military to guard the southern border.
TRUMP: Until we can have a wall and proper security, we're going to be guarding our border with our military. That's a big step. We really haven't done that before, or certainly not very much before.
PHILLIP: The White House later saying that the president had been briefed about a strategy that includes mobilizing the National Guard, a step that both his predecessors took. Details remain unclear, but a source tells CNN that the president has been working on the number of troops he's considering.
President Trump also taking credit for pressuring Mexico to block a group of Honduran asylum seekers from reaching the United States.
TRUMP: I've just heard that the caravan coming up from Honduras is broken up, and Mexico did that. And they did it because, frankly, I said, "You really have to do it."
PHILLIP: Mexico responding that the decision to break up the caravan was made solely by its members and not due to any external or domestic pressure.
President Trump also reiterating his interest in pulling U.S. troops out of Syria.
TRUMP: I want to get out. I want to bring our troops back home. I want to start rebuilding our nation.
PHILLIP: But just yesterday, CNN learned that the military is working on plans to send dozens of additional troops into Syria. And just minutes before Trump's remarks, the special envoy in charge of the mission to defeat ISIS said this.
BRETT MCGURK, SPECIAL PRESIDENTIAL ENVOY TO GLOBAL COALITION TO DEFEAT ISIS: We are in Syria to fight ISIS. That is our mission. Our mission isn't over. And we're going to complete that mission.
PHILLIP: The president's public statement in stark contrast to this earlier criticism.
TRUMP: I don't want to tell the enemy how I am thinking. Does that make sense?
Surprise. Remember, they used to call it the element of surprise?
We must, as a nation, be more unpredictable.
I don't talk about military spots. PHILLIP: Mr. Trump also touting the administration's actions against
TRUMP: Nobody has been tougher on Russia, but getting along with Russia would be a good thing, not a bad thing. And just about everybody agrees to that, except very stupid people.
PHILLIP: The outgoing national security advisor, H.R. McMaster, later contradicting the president's assessment.
H.R. MCMASTER, OUTGOING NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISOR: Russia brazenly and implausibly denies its actions. And we have failed to impose sufficient costs.
PHILLIP: Well, this new reporting about Mueller comes at a time when the first sentence was handed down in this case. A lawyer tied to one of President Trump's former campaign aides was sentenced to serve 30 days in prison and pay a fine, just really highlighting the stakes of this investigation for the people involved.
Meanwhile, President Trump plans to have a pretty quiet day here at the White House before heading to West Virginia for a fund-raising dinner. That's one of the things he's been doing several times in the last few weeks in preparation for the 2020 and 2018 election -- Alisyn and David.
[06:05:14] CAMEROTA: We'll see how quiet a day it is at the White House. Sometimes things change after 6 a.m. Abby Phillip, thank you very much for all that reporting.
Let's bring in CNN political analyst John Avlon and CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Jeffrey, the president is the subject of Mueller's probe, not a target. What's the difference?
TOOBIN: There are three categories of witnesses in federal investigations. There's a witness, who is just someone who has information of value. There's a target, who is almost certainly going to be indicted. Then there's a subject, someone who is being scrutinized, who may be indicted, who may not be indicted. And that's the category that Trump falls in.
But that's a very serious thing. I mean, if you are a subject of a criminal investigation, that means you are -- they are looking at you as someone who may be a criminal.
GREGORY: Play that out a little bit. If you are in an interview with prosecutors from Mueller's team, where they're gathering information, that status can change.
TOOBIN: It can change. But if you are a lawyer and are told, as you have a a right to be told, that your client is a subject, you almost always tell that person to take the Fifth. GREGORY: Yes.
TOOBIN: You don't take chances. Now, when the client is the president of the United States, assuming he gets another lawyer at some point, the -- that calculation is a little different.
TOOBIN: Because, you know, can the president of the United States take the Fifth? Certainly, as a legal matter he can. But politically, it's a dicey question. I actually think the president can take the Fifth and may well wind up doing it.
GREGORY: But the point of this whole question of whether you have criminal exposure you could be indicted for obstruction of justice doesn't include the idea that there is information here. There's a lot of talk that Mueller could write a report detailing presidential behavior, including potential obstruction of justice, that becomes fodder for a political process, should they pursue impeachment proceedings against him. And then it's not a question of the law but it's a question of whether there's high crimes and misdemeanors.
JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: That's right. Impeachment being a nonlegal process but ultimately a political one. And Mueller is indicating that he's looking at two reports, potentially. One focused on obstruction, the other about Russian collusion.
But to Jeff's point, look, Trump could look at this news and his lawyers and feel a degree of vindication. "See, I told you I wasn't a target." The problem is, subjects can become targets.
This is why Dowd really -- his former lawyer, was really focused on him not testifying. The danger of him making a misstatement then could expand the scope.
But now he's really down to Jay Sekulow and Ty Cobb. And Sekulow is not necessarily the A-team. And it's a sign of chaos. Even Ted Olson, who was interviewed for this position and turned it down, there's just chaos inside the president's legal counsel. A serious thing.
CAMEROTA: They thing -- what we've heard is that they think the president doesn't always take their advice. And so that's a frustrating experience. But what does it mean, the fact that Jay Sekulow -- that he's down to Jay Sekulow?
TOOBIN: Well, you know, Jay --
TOOBIN: -- Sekulow is a very smart lawyer. He is a lawyer who specializes in the First Amendment rights of religious organizations, which is important, having almost nothing to do with criminal law. I mean, what the president needs is a lawyer with experience in criminal law. He still doesn't have one. I mean, it is an extraordinary spectacle to see, you know, the president reduced to LegalZoom, I think, to -- to get -- to who is going to represent him. I don't think that's going to be the case. But he's to -- he's got to resolve this question of whether or when he's going to be interviewed.
CAMEROTA: Do you really think that that's because impressive lawyers are turning it down or he just hasn't cast a big enough net?
TOOBIN: I think it's both of those. They're turning it down. And -- and you know, I have no doubt that he will get another lawyer somewhere. But the idea that this extremely prestigious assignment is being turned down because he doesn't listen to lawyers, he doesn't -- he thinks he's smarter than lawyers, he doesn't pay lawyers. I mean, this is a problem for him.
AVLON: The point Jeff is making also is important. Let's take a step back from that. It is extraordinary that a president is the subject of a criminal investigation from a special counsel under -- from the FBI. And also that lawyers who normally would line up for the prestige of representing the president are running the other way.
TOOBIN: And remember James Comey's initial conversations with the president, even before the inauguration. Trump kept pressing him to say, "Well, you're not looking at my behavior. You're not looking at me, are you?" And Comey fenced around that. Now we know they certainly are looking at him.
GREGORY: Well, by the way, all of this is going to go on, whether the president is interviewed or not. Jim Comey has got a book coming out. He's going to go to war publicly with the president. There's going to be all of this back and forth. This is going to be rehashed, which is the very subject of whether the president obstructed justice or not in the course of this investigation and how it's going to play out.
[06:10:00] Let's switch gears and talk about this immigration proposal the president's talking about, militarizing the border. It's striking, John. You and I were talking about this. There are fewer illegal immigrants coming into America, and yet the president wants to put us on a war footing with the south.
AVLON: Yes. We are actually, just reality checking this, at a 46- year low in illegal border crossings. You've got to go back to 1971. This is early Led Zeppelin, people, to put it in cultural context.
So this is not an urgent crisis in terms of the reality of people crossing the border. But it is a political crisis that the president has consciously stoked. And these folks specifically on Central America, which is why the caravans have gotten his attention. Draw a line between that and his concerns about the Honduran gang in the United States right now. So he's calling for military at the border. He's done this before in a political context.
There are two problems with that. First of all, you can't literally put the U.S. military at the border. That's a violation of the Posse Comitatus Law. But you can put the National Guard. It has been done before. Bush did it. Obama did it. And now it looks like Trump's going to do it, as well. CAMEROTA: But this also may be, Jeffrey, trying to curry favor with
the Ann Coulters of the world, who have been so vocal that he hasn't built the wall, he hasn't done enough. So now, in the space of 72 hours, he is, you know, doing all of these things that seemed to be beefing up his immigration.
TOOBIN: And it all started over the weekend when he was with Sean Hannity, when he was -- and Ann Coulter gave a high-profile interview to "The New York Times" saying Trump is a disappointment. I mean, that appears to be driving this initiative far more than any actual situation in the real world. Apparently, you know, Ann Coulter is dictating American immigration policy.
AVLON: Yes. But she is kind of an important voice in -- in the Trump world about a reminder of what promise he made that will stick with his course --
TOOBIN: ISIS and everything else.
AVLON: If your presidential sense of self-esteem is tied up in Ann Coulter's opinion, you've got a deeper problem.
CAMEROTA: Well, no, I mean, she personifies the base.
CAMEROTA: And she speaks vocally and sort of fearlessly about it at any opportunity.
AVLON: Very fearlessly. But she's not been shy about criticizing the president in really vocal terms. And you've got to have a deeper North Star to steer by if you're president of the United States than Ann Coulter's opinion on him.
GREGORY: A lot more on the Mueller probe and immigration as we move forward this morning.
Let's switch gears at the moment. An investigation under way after police say a woman opened fire at YouTube's headquarters in Californjah -- California, rather, injuring four people. The shooter believed to have killed herself.
CNN's Kyung Lah live this morning in San Bruno, California, with the very latest. Good morning.
KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, David.
Investigators here are still trying to figure out what was the motive, what would have led this woman living in San Diego to get in her car, drive 9 to 10 hours all the way up here to YouTube headquarters, turning what was an ordinary, normal lunch hour at this tech campus into an all-too-familiar shooting scene in America.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a report of subject with a gun. This will be from the YouTube building.
LAH (voice-over): New details about the woman police say shot three people at YouTube's headquarters before taking her own life.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She shot that person up really bad. No remorse or nothing. I mean, it was Death Row.
LAH: Authorities identifying the shooter as 39-year-old San Diego resident Nasim Aghdam. "The L.A. Times" reporting that law enforcement is looking at this website, created by Aghdam, as part of their investigation. On the site, Aghdam repeatedly criticizing YouTube, accusing the website of filtering her channels to keep her videos from getting views, something she blames on "new close-minded YouTube employees."
NASIM AGHDAM, YOUTUBE SHOOTER: My new (ph) videos hardly get views. On my old videos, that used to get many views, I stopped getting views.
LAH: Aghdam's brother, who did not want to be on camera, telling CNN affiliate KGTV that his sister used YouTube to advocate against animal cruelty, one of her passions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She was a nice person. Innocent person. She never hurt any -- any creatures.
LAH: "The San Diego Union-Tribune" posting this picture from 2009 of Aghdam protesting with PETA. Aghdam's brother tells KGTV that his family reported her missing this weekend after she stopped answering her phone. They then located her car in a city near YouTube's headquarters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She had a problem with YouTube, so we called the cop again and told him that she went -- there's a reason she went all the way from San Diego to there.
LAH: Local police did not immediately respond to CNN's request for comment.
Authorities say Aghdam opened fire on a group of YouTube employees that she did not know shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (via phone): All of a sudden, we heard two sirens, and then we saw some people quickly running out of the building.
LAH: Two minutes after the first call, police arrived as employees fled the scene before locating Aghdam's body and ushering the injured to safety.
[06:15:08] LAH: The YouTube and Instagram accounts, they are now down. There are three people who were taken to the hospital with gunshot wounds, varying from fair to critical condition. The good news: the hospital tells us they did not have to have surgery. A fourth person had an ankle injury.
And Alisyn, we do have some conflicting information. Two law enforcement sources tell CNN that the shooter knew at least one of the victims. But police here say officially at this time there is no indication she knew anyone -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: So there are still so many questions. Kyung, thank you very much for that reporting.
So as we've been discussing, until a wall goes up, President Trump wants the U.S. military to secure the border with Mexico. Will that happen? We discuss next.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
CAMEROTA: OK. We do have some breaking news at this hour. China striking back, announcing a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of U.S. exports, including soy beans, planes, and cars. The move coming hours after the U.S. published a list of 1,300 Chinese imports that will be hit with new tariffs.
CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Beijing with all the breaking details for us. What have you learned, Ivan?
[06:20:02] IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Alisyn.
China has made it clear, it's willing to go to a trade war with the U.S. if the Trump administration follows through on its proposal to impose this 25 percent tariff on $50 billion worth of Chinese exports to the U.S. So China has responded, saying that it is going to impose tariffs of the same scale and the same magnitude on $50 billion worth of U.S. exports to China. And they've singled out soy beans, for example, which was a $14 billion business for the U.S. in 2016. And airplanes, also a $14 billion business.
As the Chinese embassy in Washington put it, they say it is only polite to reciprocate, as the Chinese saying goes.
Now, the Chinese government has made it clear that this has not yet been imposed. Now is the time to negotiate and to cooperate. They're trying to urge Washington to continue going on with trade as a win- win, mutually beneficial trade of goods.
The Trump administration has justified its threat of tariffs, accusing China of the theft of intellectual property. Well, China's vice minister of commerce was asked about that accusation of property -- intellectual property theft, and Wang Shouwen responded in a press conference today, using a very Trumpian response, calling that allegation "fake news" -- David and Alisyn.
GREGORY: All right. Ivan Watson, thank you very much.
Let's bring back our panel, John Avlon, Jeffrey Toobin here. And John, you know, picking a fight with China, a lot of people don't realize that our farmers are extremely vulnerable. Just mentioning soy beans. There are other products that we're producing that make us vulnerable to Chinese retaliation. And we're starting to see that.
AVLON: No question about it. And this is the other shoe. Earlier in the week, they made a first step towards this. You want to know what a trade war looks like? We're on the precipice of one. This is an absolute commensurate effort to push back on Trump. The impact on American farmers and business could be considerable.
The question is, is this a -- an escalation to get to a resolution, or are we going here? In which case, watch out for the market. Watch out for American manufacturing.
GREGORY: And one more beat on that. You know, the president has wanted, since the beginning, credit for his golden touch in the financial markets. But there is no question that his impulsiveness, as well as some of his decisions, have had a very is real impact on the financial markets giving back all of those gains and get into full -- at least potential correction territory. He's got to own this.
TOOBIN: Well, that's right. And -- and the one thing we know about tariffs and trade wars is that the stock market hates it. Now, the stock market is not the economy. The stock market is part of the economy, but it is an easy-to-measure barometer. And, you know, today will be interesting to see. The market's going to open in a couple hours, and see what -- whether the market thinks we are headed for a trade war or this is just more posturing.
AVLON: There's no way they're going to read this as a sign of confidence. But two things are also, I think, important to highlight.
One, this is all coming as America is preparing for a potential summit with North Korea. China is a major player, obviously, in the region. This ratchets up the tension at an already tense situation and time.
The second thing is the Chinese foreign minister apparently -- or trade minister's use of the word "fake news." That term that Donald Trump has introduced has gone viral globally in not helpful ways. It is absolutely true that the -- that China has been a major proponent of I.P. theft, over a long period of time. It's actually good to see the Trump administration get tough on it in that regard. But that's just more of the escalation we're seeing. It's going to have economic implications and quite possibly geopolitical, national security.
CAMEROTA: About those economic implications, obviously, there could be repercussions for our farmers.
CAMEROTA: The unintended consequence of "America first." "America first" sounds wonderful. You know, obviously, we're protecting America first. We care about our people the most. But then what happens when our farmers, soybean farmers have to take the hit on this? TOOBIN: Trade policy always is going to have winners and losers. If
you have no tariffs, that does hurt certain industries. But if you have tariffs, that hurts others and helps some. So I mean, it is -- it is not like there is some perfect mean out there that everybody wins.
GREGORY: There's two --
TOOBIN: It's a matter of choices.
GREGORY: It's worth a couple of beats in defense of this policy. One, supporters of the president that I've talked to will say, "Look, this is still such a small portion of the economy." This -- this trade deficit, that the tariffs may have an impact. But overall, it will be extremely low.
And that, you know, this may still be the initial element of the president's negotiation on this, that it ends up getting us a better deal on the end. I think we have to hold that possibility out there.
AVLON: It may. And that's the president's intention, if he can keep focus on it and things don't spiral out of control.
The reason for a broader focus on free trade in the post-World War II world is, is that economic interdependence is better than military escalation.
[06:25:09] GREGORY: Well, and that point about being a thorough policy. I mean, Dow futures down over 500 points now, about 2 percent. The Dow came back after dropping the day before. This is in part because you have a president who is popping off from day to day changing policy.
AVLON: No question about it.
CAMEROTA: OK. So let's talk about other policy that might be happening, and that's sending, as we've been talking about, these National Guard troops to the border, primarily, we think, because he's been alarmed by some of the FOX News reports on a caravan of immigrants from Central America.
Other presidents have done this. Other presidents have tried to secure the border with National Guard. Obviously, President Bush and President Obama. So problem?
TOOBIN: Not a big deal in and of itself. But the question is are we having national policy in response to national problems or in response to criticism from FOX News? That's really the issue here.
And, you know, in an environment where illegal immigration, particularly from the southern border is down. Why are we thinking about spending $25 billion on a wall? Why are we thinking about using the military? That's the question. Not, you know, whether it's appropriate to use the National Guard under some circumstances. AVLON: There's another miss apprehension that's been used politically
that I think we need to reality check, as well, which is that immigration is up in the United States, but violent crime is dramatically down. And this is over a period of decades.
And there's been an attempt to associate immigration and illegal immigration with a crime epidemic, a violent crime epidemic. That's just false. So in the same way that there's not an unprecedented number of people crossing the border, in fact, the opposite. It's been receding since at least President Obama's tenure. That association of immigration and even illegal immigration with crime is false.
TOOBIN: Although one of the things that Donald Trump has done very skillfully is take individual crime --
TOOBIN: -- by illegal immigrants to symbolize a larger problem that may or may not exist.
TOOBIN: Even though the crimes themselves do exist.
GREGORY: The question is whether there's, you know, this tough hand at the border will coincide somehow with a deal on DACA or broader immigration deal, which doesn't seem to be in the offing. That's what we've seen in the past. Even Bush back in 2006 when he did this, he was trying to get to other measures.
We're going to leave it there. John, Jeffery, thank you very much.
We are following breaking news here this morning. Four Marines feared dead in a helicopter crash. Details on that coming up in a moment.