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Memoir Reflects Covering Hillary Clinton; China Welcomes Trade Talks; AT&T Trial Wrapping Up Arguments; DNC Defends Lawsuit. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired April 23, 2018 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:30:00] AMY CHOZICK, AUTHOR, "CHASING HILLARY": First woman president.

But, you know, I write in the book how much I struggled to get into journalism. This was not an easy path for me. I spent years in New York trying to get my foot in the door, literally dropping off my clips of publications where the security would like lead me out of the buildings.

So when I got the job covering the woman who looked like she could become the first woman president for "The New York Times," you know, I didn't want to put that off to have a baby. But at the same time, tick tock, as you know. So, yes, when -- it was around 2014 I went to see a doctor and I said, you know, I'm covering this campaign, how can, you know, well, how much does it cost to freeze me eggs. I mean it was too -- it was prohibitively expensive. But instead of thinking -- instead of having a conversation about our ministration cycles, it was about the election cycle.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, my God.

CHOZICK: That was my life.

CAMEROTA: Wow.

CHOZICK: That was my life.

CAMEROTA: And so then -- then --

CHOZICK: Too much information, sorry.

CAMEROTA: No, hey, man, we're -- all women can relate to this.

And so then you get the plum assignment and you get to cover Hillary Clinton and everything was wine and roses after that. Actually what you write is that, you know, that came with its own set of challenges, obviously.

CHOZICK: Right.

CAMEROTA: And you faced sexism on the campaign trail. And that was, at times, I guess, disconcerting because here was this campaign that was all about breaking the glass ceiling.

CHOZICK: Right. I mean I wanted to be really honest about what it was like to cover Hillary Clinton. And, in fairness, I think the torture of reporters was equal opportunity. I think if I was a man they would still try to control the coverage and getting her ahead.

So -- but I wanted to be honest about it. In some ways it was really historic. You know, her press corps was predominantly female. There could be -- out of 20 reporters on the bus, 18 of us were women. So -- and, you know, and her -- and seeing Hillary on the debate stage, the first woman on a general election debate stage and really owning those debates, there were so many moments that were historic, but at the same time there was a lot that was the same old, you know, casualties of reporting while female.

CAMEROTA: But meaning the men on her campaign did say sexist things to you and treat you in a sexist way. Not all, but some.

CHOZICK: Right, some. And that was actually -- I will just clarify, it was the pre-campaign period. Sort of when she was out of the State Department and she had, you know, her long time aides kind of protecting coverage very tightly.

But, yes, absolutely there were things that could be construed as sexist and they really tried to get in my head, you know, saying they don't take me -- no one takes you seriously. It can, you know, it could make you not want to get out of bed in the morning.

CAMEROTA: For sure.

You write I think pretty candidly about the regrets that you have about some of your coverage. You write this. The Bernie bros, meaning Bernie Sanders and his supporters, and Mr. Trump's Twitter tolls had called me a donkey-faced whore and a Hillary shill, but nothing hurt worse than my own colleagues calling me a defacto instrument of Russian intelligence. The worst part was they were right.

You're -- you -- do you regret now reporting on the hacked John Podesta DNC e-mails?

CHOZICK: I think this is something that really is a complicated journalistic ethical question that should be debated. Certainly after the election, when I read that article and what the Russian plan was and that we were part of the plan and we played into that plan as journalists, that really did keep me up at night.

And so I don't know that the answer is not to have uncovered them at all, but I think that this is a debate that should be had in newsrooms because we expect Russian interference in future elections and then what do you do about these hacked documents that are intentionally designed to disturb our democracy.

CAMEROTA: I mean and then you felt that you had become a pawn, I mean, basically in the Russian intelligence effort to disseminate these.

CHOZICK: Absolutely. We all did. I mean every member of the media who discussed or covered them did what the Russians wanted us to do.

CAMEROTA: And so, I mean, in hindsight, do you think that -- why do you think Hillary Clinton lost the election?

CHOZICK: I think there's a thousand reasons. You know, death by a thousand cuts. And I think, you know, certainly the reasons that she's pointed to, Jim Comey releasing that letter 11 days before the election, Russian interference, you know, the e-mail -- her -- the separate story about her private e-mail server sort of consuming everything. Those were certainly factors. But I think there were a lot of other factors.

I mean certainly misogyny plays a part. Her campaign strategy played a big part. And I think Hillary, you know, I covered her in 2008 as well, I've covered her for so long, that I think in 2008 she was a senator. She was very in touch with her upstate constituents. She was a very popular senator and she seemed very in touch.

You know, the white working class overwhelmingly went for Hillary in 2008. Flash forward to 2016 and I think that she -- and she has written about this in fairness to her -- that she was a little bit detached from the anger happening. And I think she could never really get a grasp of the anger stirring in the country. And in fairness, you know, the media missed that anger as well. But I think there was something about her being a little bit out of touch with the mood of the country.

CAMEROTA: And knowing her as well as you do --

CHOZICK: Yes.

CAMEROTA: Or covering for her for as long as you have, do you think that there's another chapter for Hillary Clinton, no pun intended?

CHOZICK: I mean I think Hillary, you know, has earned the right to do whatever the hell she wants to do. My personal view is, I sort of expected her to go run UNICEF or the Children's Defense Fund. You know, Al Gore went and won a Nobel Prize for his work on climate change. Hillary's always talked about women and girls. You know, I sort of thought she was going to, you know, disappear, go win a Nobel Prize for women and girls. So maybe she'll still do that.

CAMEROTA: She went to Barbara Bush's funeral this weekend, as did many of the living presidents. Only Jimmy Carter not there. What do you see when you look at this picture behind you of the positioning and whose arm is around whom and how everybody is standing. What do you see in this picture?

[08:35:14] CHOZICK: There's a lot to read into the picture. I saw someone tweet, smile if you voted for Hillary. Of course they're all smiling.

You know, look, she's -- she's positioned next to the presidents, obviously. I think someone else pointed out, who in this picture has won the popular vote? But, you know, I think Hillary with -- George Bush with his arm around

Hillary I think says a lot about her. I mean a lot of Republicans liked her. They liked working with her when she was secretary of state. She reached across the aisle when she was senator. John McCain really likes her. And she has that chummy relationship with a lot of Republicans. And, frankly, we're not really seeing that kind of bipartisan love fest lately.

CAMEROTA: Really?

CHOZICK: It's surprising. Shocking.

CAMEROTA: Wow.

CHOZICK: You're right, that is breaking news.

CAMEROTA: Amy Chozick, the book is great. It's "Chasing Hillary." It comes out tomorrow. It has all sorts of really great insights and juicy tidbits.

Thanks.

CHOZICK: Thank you so much for having me.

CAMEROTA: Thanks so much for being here.

Chris.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so the politics of trade has become a big deal, the U.S. and China. Is there any chance of doing better after the tariffs? We're going to be talking about what may be a little bit of a case for optimism, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:40:35] CUOMO: It is time for "CNN Money Now."

Trade tensions continue between the U.S. and China, but could there be a bright spot?

With that question, chief business correspondent Christine Romans is in our Money Center with more.

What's the answer?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Good Monday morning.

Well, the answer is, Chris, they are talking. The Treasury secretary, Steven Mnuchin, telling reporters a trip to China for trade talks is under consideration. And China's commerce ministry welcomes bilateral talks. Each side, of course, threatening the other with billions of dollars in tariffs with the Trump administration targeting $150 billion in Chinese goods.

Now, we don't know every item on the list, but U.S. consumers could pay. To reach that much in tariffs, a Reuters analysis found the administration would have to slap tariffs on popular consumer goods. Think cell phones, computers, toys, clothing. That could mean higher prices for you.

And there's precedence here. The White House slapped tariffs on imported washing machines back in January. South Korea's LG immediately raised prices by about $50 per machine.

Alisyn and Chris.

CAMEROTA: OK, Christine, thank you very much for that report.

So after battling for more than a month in court, both sides in the AT&T Time Warner court battle are preparing to wrap up their arguments in this landmark merger case. Today the Justice Department gets a chance at rebuttal.

So joining us now to break it all down, we have CNN politics, media and business reporter Hadas Gold, and CNN's senior media correspondent Brian Stelter.

Great to have both of you.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.

CAMEROTA: So, Hadas, how do we expect the Justice Department to rebut Time Warner's case?

HADAS GOLD, CNN POLITICS, MEDIA AND BUSINESS REPORTER: Alisyn, we've already actually seen the first of the rebuttal witnesses last week right after AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson took the stand. And this was a CPA, an expert in what they called synergies, because AT&T and Time Warner are claiming that by merging together they will be able to bring some cost savings actually to their customers and could potentially, they say, decrease prices across the industry because they say if they decrease their prices, their rivals will have to do so as well.

So what the Justice Department is trying to do is bring up expert witnesses now who will try to say that's not true. They're going to bring up a lot of economists, CPAs, other types of accountants who will say this is not how this will actually work in the real world. Then we'll see AT&T bring a few others. And then, hopefully, within a week, we'll have this case actually wrapped.

CAMEROTA: Brian, I forgot to disclose that Time Warner, of course, is CNN's parent company.

You've seen mergers like this before. How do you think this case is going?

STELTER: (INAUDIBLE) Hillary Clinton said last night at Pen America -- you were just talking about Clinton. In her speech at Pen America she said very casually that President Trump wants to block the sale of CNN to AT&T because he doesn't like CNN's coverage. That has been a subplot of this case for the past several months. It's mostly unspoken in court. But it is spoken about outside court. And Clinton bringing it up, another reminder that many people, especially liberals, but a lot of conservatives as well, wonder if President Trump is somehow trying to manipulate this case, somehow has quietly, behind the scenes, caused this to go to trial in the first place by directing the DOJ to do so. There's not evidence of that necessarily, but there's a lot of speculation about that.

And I think as we head into the final stages of this trial and Judge Richard Leon has to make a decision in the coming weeks, that is the -- that is the cloud that hangs over this case, as much as it's about market place competition and whether there are anticompetitive issues, there's also this issue of whether the president, through his tweets or through private conversations, is directing the DOJ in certain directions.

CAMEROTA: Hadas, it feels like this has gone on for a long time. Do you have a sense of what the timeline looks like now?

GOLD: So, as it stands now, we could be seeing closing arguments as soon as next Monday. And then it will take a few weeks for Judge Leon to actually give his opinion.

Now, to be clear, Judge Leon can go beyond just a straight yes or a straight no. He does have some power to say to AT&T and Time Warner, I would be inclined to say yes if you adjust some things in this deal, such as a different arbitration offer, if you maybe do some divestitures. Now, the question is whether AT&T and Time Warner would agree to that.

But, to be clear, he does have some latitude. But we are expecting his opinion to take weeks because he said this is going to be more than 200 pages long. He understands the gravity of this case because, as Brian said, not only are these sort of political overtures here, but also because this is the antitrust case of a generation. And people will be studying this for years to come. In fact, Judge Leon has even reserved seats in the courtroom for students to come and watch because this is history being made in the courtroom.

[08:45:02] CAMEROTA: There you go. It's quite the lessen for everyone as we follow all of these actions.

Hadas, Brian, thank you both very much.

STELTER: Thanks.

CAMEROTA: Chris.

CUOMO: All right, so the Democratic National Committee is defending its lawsuit against Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks over the 2016 election. But just because you sue doesn't mean you have a case. We're going to have the chairman of the DNC on next.

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CUOMO: The head of the DNC is defending a lawsuit filed against the Trump campaign, the Russia government, WikiLeaks. The suit alleges a wide-reaching conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Joining us now is Tom Perez, chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Good to see you, sir.

TOM PEREZ, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Good morning, Chris. Good to see you.

CUOMO: You get the criticism. You're on with "Meet the Press" and all the other ones. You could be talking about your efforts to organize work -- working families back into the fold, how you're going to recognize the strength or your party and the weaknesses of your party. And, instead, you're talking about a lawsuit and who knows if it ever goes anywhere. Why the distraction?

[08:50:00] PEREZ: Chris, we know how to walk and chew gum in the Democratic Party. We have been fighting for good jobs, we're fighting for health care for all. We're winning elections. We're side by side with school teachers in West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and elsewhere. And, you know what, everywhere I go, I hear people say, and we have to protect our democracy.

We have a real wind at our back. It's hard to win elections if you continue to have interference. And there's been no deterrents from the inaction of this administration. General McMaster said quite some time ago, we failed to impose sufficient costs on Russia for their meddling in the election. That is true. And the reason for that is equally clear because this administration is compromised.

And so we have to work to build good jobs, build good education systems, build a workforce that can compete in the 21st century --

CUOMO: Right.

PEREZ: And we have to make sure we build our democracy. This is a case about preserving our democracy.

CUOMO: You know, I hear you. Look, I mean we can talk differently about the sufficiency of the case, but it plays like a political tactic. That's why you have even some in your own fold coming out against it. David Axelrod, you know, full disclosure, obviously a big shot here at CNN, he says this is a distraction. You know, you saw his tweet, all these side shows, Comey's rollout of his book, the DNC lawsuit, ill-timed and a bet the POTUS strategy of portraying a sober and essential probe is a partisan vendetta.

Fair point?

PEREZ: No, it's not. And, you know, Chris, when the Watergate lawsuit was brought by Larry O'Brien, you look at what John Mitchell and all the other folks said. And, you know, it has a similar era to what the Trump folks are saying.

I have great respect for David Axelrod and others who have concerns. But, again, we can walk and chew gum. And, you know, I've been out on the -- I've been out on the stump.

I've been traveling the country. And people want good jobs. They want good education. They want to make sure they have a bright future for their children. And they want to make sure they have a bright future for our democracy. Our -- this was an attack, not just on the DNC, this was an attack on our democracy. And there has been no consequences. Why would you not do it again when you were able to do it with impunity before? We have elections coming up in less than 200 days.

CUOMO: They say -- they say they're still doing it --

PEREZ: We've got to protest those elections.

CUOMO: They say they're still doing it right now. Mike Pompeo says -- Mike Pompeo, in his role at the CIA, says it's going on right now, that the interference is ongoing by Russia and others. So we get the problem. It's just a question about how we attack it and how we get at the solution.

While I have you, make the case to the audience. You do have critics of the Democratic Party on the macro level of, you guys used to be about the blue collar. Now you're about the white collar and you're about the big cities and you're about the growing diversity of this country, but you're not about those white, working families that you used to be about when the unions were the big stronghold in our democratic process. How do you answer that criticism?

PEREZ: Oh, I categorically disagree. There's this false choice that people put out there that says you have to either work on behalf of white working class voters or on behalf of the diverse quilt of our Democratic Party. I categorically reject that.

We've been working everywhere. We -- we're organizing in every zip code. We were fighting for Conor Lamb and we were fighting for Keisha Lance Bottoms in Atlanta. We're fight for Doug Jones in Alabama. We're fighting with African-American voters there who were -- are our rock- solid base there. And we were also talking to voters in every zip code of that country -- of that state. We're organizing everywhere.

And the reason we're winning everywhere, whether it's Oklahoma, where we won four seats in special elections last year, is because the issues that we're fighting for, good jobs, schools that can educate our children for the future, making sure we have pension security, making sure we have health care for all, making sure we have an economy that works for everyone, not just a few at the top, those issues resonate everywhere. That's why Conor Lamb was able to win in a district that Donald Trump won by over 20 points.

CUOMO: What --

PEREZ: That's why we're competitive right now, Chris, in an election that's going to occur tomorrow in Arizona. We're the underdog. But the notion that the Republicans are pouring in hundreds of thousands of dollars into that race, that's where Joe Arpaio lives. That's what we're doing. We're competing everywhere. And we're speaking to everyone.

We are organizing in every zip code. You look at the election for supreme court in Wisconsin. We not only won that election in Milwaukee and in Madison --

CUOMO: Right.

PEREZ: We won that election in Green Bay. We won that election in Ron Kind's district --

CUOMO: I get the pocket argument.

PEREZ: Which is a rural district. So we're organizing everywhere and talking to everyone everywhere.

CUOMO: I get the pocket argument. I get -- I get the pocket argument. What I'm saying is that on the macro level, Trump will make the case that, look, Obama didn't give you tax cuts. I gave you tax cuts. I put it in your pocket. The Democrats, Nancy Pelosi, are going to tell you they're mere crumbs. But I don't think of you that way. I'm putting money in your pocket. You're going to be happy about it. And you do have people responding exactly that way in these exact demographics that you say you want to win back. How do you beat that case?

[08:55:06] PEREZ: Look at Pennsylvania 18. They had two weeks' worth of interviews about the -- two weeks' worth of ads, Chris, about the tax cut and how -- what a great thing it was and they pulled it because the American people are smart. They understand that reckless tax cut is mortgaging their future. Talk to people in Wisconsin. Kimberly-Clark got $700 million in tax relief. What did they do? Stock buybacks for their board people and then they lay off over 5,000 workers, including 600 workers in Wisconsin.

CUOMO: People are giving bonuses still. Corporations, though -- to be fair, Tom, corporations are giving money back to labor. They say they're going to invest. Now, you can make the argument, well, they're doing that because it makes them look good for getting their tax break, but, you know, they are doing some right things.

PEREZ: Talk to the 600 workers at Kimberly-Clark in Wisconsin --

CUOMO: Right.

PEREZ: Who just lost their job in the aftermath of this tax cut. Chris, we're -- I mean talk to the people in Conor Lamb's district. They didn't buy that because Conor Lamb was fighting for health care, he was fighting for pension security, and he was fighting for the right to organize.

CUOMO: OK.

PEREZ: And this president has put a Supreme Court justice on the bench who is about to make it very hard for public sector labor unions to organize. So we're out there talking about the facts --

CUOMO: OK. PEREZ: And we're organizing everywhere. And I think that's why we're winning.

CUOMO: Tom Perez, thank you for making the case to the people. You're always welcome. Appreciate it.

PEREZ: Always good to be with you.

CUOMO: Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK, Chris, CNN "NEWSROOM" with John Berman is going to pick up after this quick break. We'll see you tomorrow.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)