Return to Transcripts main page


President Trump Orders Troops to Mexico Border; Trump: "We Are Not in a Trade War"; CNN: Mueller Questioning Russian Oligarchs. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired April 5, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:02] RENE MARSH, CNN ANCHOR: It's unclear when the troops might actually show up at the border. A senior administration official says details are still being worked out between DHS, and the Department of Defense and border states.

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: (AUDIO GAP) the military from involvement in immigration enforcement. In the past, when Presidents Obama and George W. Bush deployed guards to the border, they worked in support roles like training, construction and intelligence.

For more on this, we turn to CNN's Jeff Zeleny at the White House.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Rene, the Department of Homeland Security and the White House making steps to send National Guard troops down to the U.S.-Mexican border, part of President Trump's directive to increase the strength of border patrols.

Now, this coming as a rather fast announcement this week. The president is saying the laws are not strong enough. He's saying Congress has not acted.

But the question of why this is so urgent came up in a White House briefing on Wednesday when I asked the Homeland Security secretary why now?

Why is this such an urgent priority right now for the president to sign?

KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: April traditionally is a month in which we see more folks crossing the border without a legal right to do so. We are seeing more and more advertising, very unfortunately by the traffickers and smugglers to our south, specific to how to get around our system and enter our country and stay.

Why today, not yesterday, tomorrow? Today is the day. Today is the day we want to start this process. The threat is real, as I mentioned.

ZELENY: Now, Secretary Nielsen and other administration officials deny that there was any rush to this but the reality here is based on our reporting the president was not pleased at the amount of funding for that border wall. We do know that he signed that omnibus spending bill a couple of weeks ago that only had $1.5 billion dedicated to the wall. He had asked for some $25 billion.

He was attacked in conservative media on Fox News and other places saying he was not focused enough on this, so this new immigration policy is certainly coming out of that.

Now, the president is flying to West Virginia for a quick stop this afternoon talking about the economy and other programs. He'll be back in Washington this evening.

Certainly, this immigration plan now front and center this week. The president going to West Virginia later today with an eye on immigration -- Dave and Rene.


BRIGGS: Thanks, Jeff.

His staff hopes he focuses on the tax cuts today in West Virginia.

The Trump administration's though tit-for-tat with Beijing is driving wild swings on Wall Street. The Dow erasing a 510-point loss to close up 1 percent after White House officials tried to calm fears of a trade war. First, the U.S. detailed tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods. Hours later, China retaliated with the proposed tariffs, targeting American soybeans, chemicals, planes and cars that sent stocks tumbling, led by declines in companies like Boeing, GM and Ford.

The president insisting in a tweet this is not a trade war. Neither tariffs package goes into effect yet, economic adviser Larry Kudlow calls this a strategy.


LARRY KUDLOW, WHITE HOUSE CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER: There's no trade war here. What you've got is the early stages of a process to of tariffs and comments on the tariffs and ultimate decisions and negotiations. There is already backchannel talks going on.

So, look, I understand the stock market's anxiety. I get that. On the other hand, don't overreact.


BRIGGS: That assurance may have worked. Stocks later rebounded. But as trade tensions escalate, investors are still concerned. A trade war would be devastating for both U.S. consumers and businesses.

Companies like Apple, Boeing, Starbucks and Intel rely on China for a huge portion of their sales and China's tariffs are strategic, striking at many agricultural exports, those produced in farm belt states that voted for Trump in 2016. MARSH: Well, we are joined by political economist Greg Valliere,

chief strategist for Horizon Investments live in Washington this morning.

Good morning.


MARSH: Hi. So, I know you've been following all of this. You just heard sound there from Kudlow who essentially is downplaying these fears that people feel. But I want to take you to a tweet from the president a few days ago where he essentially said, and we can get that up on the screen, when you are already $500 billion down, you can't lose.

That just really sums up how he looks at this issue. Do you think that approach is almost as if he is brushing off concerns about a trade war? What do you think about his take on this and how he is approaching this? And do you think it will be ultimately effective here? This negotiating strategy they are engaging with China?

VALLIERE: Well, I think it's typical Donald Trump bluster. He talks really tough about an issue like this. And, by the way, it is $350 billion. Not $500 billion. But who is quibbling?

[05:05:00] But I think, ultimately, there will be a deal. I agree with Larry Kudlow.

As Dave knows, as I have been saying for a while, this is a trade dispute. It is not a trade war. I think the key thing that Kudlow said it back door negotiations are under way behind the scenes. I do think we'll get a deal.

BRIGGS: So, you do think we get some sort of win here. Per the tweet, when the president says you are down $500 billion, you can't lose. Is that right?

VALLIERE: No. His economics on this don't make sense.


VALLIERE: I think even Kudlow in private would agree.

But, Dave, two of the most important constituency for Donald Trump is the farm community and Wall Street would be aghast if we had a trade war. I think those two alone will preclude a trade war.

MARSH: When you talk about even Wall Street, I mean, we saw just recently a group of 46 U.S. industry and trade associations, they wrote a letter to the president. They said don't do this. This is really bad for business.

I just wonder -- I mean, many people say this will hurt business or also hurt potentially his base. Do you think he will listen? I mean, we've heard Wall Street tell him don't do something before with the climate accord deal and he still did it anyway. Do you think he'll listen?

VALLIERE: He will. Larry Kudlow will. People will tell him to cool it. At the same time, there is widespread agreement in the city in both parties that the Chinese have not played fair. They have not played fair on intellectual property. Their tariffs on U.S. autos are outrageous. So, I think even the Chinese probably in private, they're going to have to make some concessions.

BRIGGS: All right. I want to talk about the plan to send National Guard troops to the border. A lot of questions about why now, why the sudden focus on sending troops to the border?

Let's go back to Sunday morning when a Fox News, Brandon Judd, a former border patrol and head of the labor union for the agents said this about immigration.


BRANDON JUDD, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL (via telephone): Our legislators have to stand up. And we control -- the Republicans control the House and Senate. They do not need the Democrats support to pass any laws they want. They can go the nuclear option just like what they did on the confirmation. They need to pass laws to end the catch and release program that will allow us to hold them for a long time.


BRIGGS: That was 9:12 on Sunday morning. The president at Mar-a- Lago. At 9:56, the president tweets border patrol agents not allowed to do their job because of ridiculous liberal laws like catch and release. Republicans must go to the nuclear option. No more DACA deal.

Greg, why now did he react to one segment on Fox News? Nine tweets follow. That now action from the National Guard.

VALLIERE: I have a hunch that was part of it. I also have a hunch that people who are at Mar-a-Lago that weekend expressed real disappointment that the president hasn't been tough enough, that we don't have a wall, that we didn't get any money, and I think Trump needs to show them some testosterone.

When you got Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter and the right wing saying that the president is looking weak on this, you know he's going to react.

BRIGGS: Yes. You know, all of this national guard deployments to the border have happened with midterm elections, Bush, Obama and now Trump, politics right at the core.

I want to ask you about the president talking Amazon in about 30 minutes. Thanks, Greg.

VALLIERE: You bet.

MARSH: Thank you.

A withdrawal of the troops from Syria was a sore spot with President Trump with leaders and national security aides. The president has repeatedly said it is time to withdraw troops from Syria. Sources tell CNN the president grew irritated at the Tuesday meeting when his national security team argued the battle against ISIS is not yet complete and immediate withdrawal would be a mistake.

The sources say Trump backed down and said he is willing to keep American forces in Syria in the short-term, but the president said he wants Arab allies to take over and pay more of the costs of stabilizing Syria.

BRIGGS: In the unusual move, special counsel Robert Mueller's team has started questioning Russian oligarchs who travel to the U.S. CNN reporting exclusively this morning that Mueller's investigators stopped at least one ultra wealthy Russian when his private jet landed in the New York area, interviewing him and searching his electronic devices. At least one other oligarch was stopped in a third who has not recently visited the U.S. was asked to voluntary interview. Sources say investigators want to know if wealthy Russians illegally funneled money into Trump campaigns or inauguration.

MARSH: Embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt says he was unaware two of his top aides were getting raises and he put a stop to it. A source says the White House had rejected the two staffers' raises which totaled more than $80,000.

[05:10:03] "The Atlantic" reports the increases were then put through anyway using a loophole in federal salary rules.

Fox News Ed Henry, yesterday, pressed Pruitt on an explanation.



ED HENRY, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, FOX NEWS: If you're committed to the Trump agenda, why did you go around the president and the White House and give pay raises to two staffers?

SCOTT PRUITT, ADMINISTRATOR, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: I did not, my staff did, and I found out about that yesterday and I changed it.

HENRY: So --

PRUITT: The PPO process should have been respected and I issued a statement yesterday walking back those pay raises that should not have been --

HENRY: Should somebody be fired for that?

PRUITT: That should not have been done. And it --

HENRY: So who did it -- PRUITT: It may be -- there will be some accountability.

HENRY: -- a career person or a political person?

PRUITT: I'll have to -- I don't know. I don't know who --

HENRY: You don't know? You run the agency. You don't who did this?

PRUITT: I found out about this yesterday and I corrected the action.

HENRY: So --

PRUITT: We are in the process of finding out how it took place and correcting it.


MARSH: Pruitt still on the hot seat. He pushed back against criticism over his lease of a room on Capitol Hill for below market rate from energy lobbyist whose firm lobbies the EPA. Take a listen.


HENRY: President Trump said he would drain the swamp.

PRUITT: I don't think --

HENRY: Is draining the swamp renting an apartment from the wife of a Washington lobbyist?

PRUITT: I don't think that that's even remotely fair to ask that question.


MARSH: Well, the EPA's top ethics watchdog now says he did not have all the facts when he cleared Pruitt's room rental. In a memo obtained by CNN, the ethics office assumed Pruitt was complying with the lease agreement as written, but he says there are new allegations that was not the case.

BRIGGS: One thing we know the president both hires and fires based on Fox News performance. If that is the case, I would not feel comfortable if I were Scott Pruitt. Ed Henry let him have it.

MARSH: I noticed, I mean, it was a very important question about what is that draining the swamp. He did not answer.

BRIGGS: And the $56,000 raise for a key aide. How you did not know about that is hard to believe.

Just hours before she opened fire, the woman who shot three people at YouTube headquarters talked to police. You will hear from the chief next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [05:16:24] MARSH: Well, the woman who opened fire on YouTube headquarters talked to police just hours before she opened fire inside the company's headquarters. Well, the Mountain View police chief said 11 hours before the deadly shooting, police found Nasim Aghdam sleeping in her car in a parking lot about 30 miles southeast of the YouTube headquarters in California.

During her 20-minute chat with police, she never mentioned anything about YouTube or indicated she was ready to commit an act of violence.


CHIEF MAX BOSEL, MOUNTAIN VIEW POLICE DEPT.: There was nothing by her body language or conversation or her demeanor or the information that we received from the family that suggested that we should handle this in any other manner in which the officers handled it.


MARSH: Well, the shooter opened fire at the YouTube's headquarters on Tuesday, injuring four people. One remains in the hospital in serious condition this morning. Police say it appears she committed suicide.

BRIGGS: A day below normal temperatures in the Northeast today, even some light snow showers in New England. Meteorologist Derek van Dam with the forecast.


DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Dave and Rene.

Still appears to be a push and pull between the seasons here. Winter and spring not figuring itself out. You see along the East Coast, we have a departing cold front that's left very cold air in its wake.

But we do on the other hand have sunshine in the forecast today, which is great news from Boston to New York. Be aware, we have a strong northwest breeze that comes through in the afternoon as well.

We do have a rain/snow mix in the forecast later today for Chicago. So, expect around an inch of snowfall on the ground by this evening.

There is the departing cold front. Storm system across the Rockies brings snowfall to the higher elevations. We head into the first part of the weekend on Saturday morning, we do have snow in the forecast for upstate New York through Vermont, as well as New Hampshire, and into Maine, with a few rain showers expected along the east coast.

Temperatures today, 42 for Chicago, 66 for Atlanta, 46 degrees for New York City. Look at how the cold air hangs on, unfortunately, through the Great Lakes, all the way to the East Coast as we head to the next five days. At least in New York City, we have one mild day, that being Friday.

Back to you.


BRIGGS: One day of spring. That's great.

We are about three hours away from the start of the Masters, folks. And legend Jack Nicklaus has six green jackets, but nothing comparing to what he witnessed at Augusta yesterday. The details in the "Bleacher Report."


[05:23:30] BRIGGS: Three hours away to the Masters. And of all traditions at the Masters, few compare with the par 3 contest.

MARSH: Yes, Coy Wire has more for us in this morning's "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Coy.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to you, Rene and Dave.

One of the most highly anticipated Masters in year with the honorary start by former champions Gary player and Jack Nicklaus. Jack playing with his grandson as his caddie, proving perhaps the great moment we'll see out of the Masters this year. Jack asked his grandson if he wanted to tee off and accepted. His grandpa told him he would hit a hole in one. He did.

Nicklaus brought to tears, calling this the most memorable moment ever for him at Augusta National. It was his grand son's first ever hole in one.

Tony Finau ranked number 32 in the world. The toughest athlete on the planet. He hits a hole in one on the par 3. Then a great moment turns scary, freaky, and unbelievable.

Here is a warning. Turn your head if you get queasy. Graphic material. Finau sprints down the fairway and celebrating. He turns backwards and rolls and dislocates his ankle. He pops it back in place. Limps toward his family and waves to the crowd.

[05:25:03] Who is this guy?

X-rays show no bone damage. He is reportedly expected to tee off in the first ever Masters today at 12:43 Eastern.

All right. Watch this, the wildest three foot putt you'll ever see. Bubba Watson using the heel of the wedge. Hits past the hole, up the slope, hands his club to someone, takes his hat off. Shakes his hands, puts his hat on.

And wait for it, Bubba realizes the ball is going in, celebration for a stellar trick putt that took 19 seconds to drop.

To cap it all off with the par 3 contest with the best moments in any recent memory at Augusta national. Tom Watson won it all. 68 years old. He is now the oldest player to ever win it. This means that the tradition that no par 3 winner has ever won the Masters in the same year continues, because Tom Watson is not playing today.

Some fun bets, Dave and Rene. You can bet -- head wear? Will the winner cry on 18th green, yes or no? And who will the winner hug first. That is a good one.

We will tweet those out for you @coywire. We'll share that for you.

BRIGGS: Tiger Woods tees off at 10:42 a.m. That is the big question for the day. Will he win?

Finau, wow, popping that ankle back in place.

MARSH: Jeez.

WIRE: Beast.

BRIGGS: That is tough to top.

MARSH: He continues to walk.

BRIGGS: There is the still frame. Oh, my gosh.

MARSH: Twisted ankle.

WIRE: I had dislocated joints as an athlete. I cannot fathom to continue to play. Let alone something you don't have to play. That will balloon up with swelling today.

So, you know, watch him tee off today. No, he is gritting through pain and discomfort. His first ever Masters. I'm sure he doesn't want to miss it.

BRIGGS: We'll see what the MRI shows. Coy Wire, thank you my friend. Good stuff.

MARSH: Thanks, Coy.

Will President Trump orders troops to the U.S./Mexico border. The question is, what will they do when they are there? That's next.