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Report: Trump Silent On 4600 Deaths in Puerto Rico; Trump Hits Allies with Steel and Aluminum Tariffs; Trump Wants to Stop Importing German Cars; Trump Has Trouble Condemning Racism. Airied 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 31, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: The 2018 hurricane season begins tomorrow, eight months after Hurricane Maria devastated the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, so many communities are still in recovery mode. In fact, a Harvard study just revealed the island's estimated death toll from the storm is 70 times higher than the government's official count. There are more than 4,600 death deaths, they say, compared to the official death toll of 64. The study also points out people are not getting key services like electricity, medical attention and critics have really blasted the emergency response claiming the government, both federal and local, are simply not doing enough.

So, with me now actress Rosie Perez, a proud Puerto Rican American, for whom this entire ideal I know has been very personal, so Rosie welcome back.

ROSIE PEREZ, ACTRESS: Thank you and thank you so much for having me back on your show. This is a very important topic. It broke my heart that Roseanne Barr was the topic of social media and not the 4,600 deaths in Puerto Rico. You know, it begs the question who are we as Americans? What are we becoming as Americans, that we do not concentrate on our fellow Americans who are suffering, suffering endlessly in Puerto Rico and, as you stated, tomorrow is hurricane season.

And the island is not prepared. Officials have been warning the residents of Puerto Rico to begin to stockpile on supplies that will last them up to ten days or more, just in case a category five hurricane comes and hits. Now, there was $17.5 billion finally that the federal government has sent down there. $3.8 billion of that was sent to repair the electrical system, the infrastructure, and it's collapsing. And they say that if the hurricane does come, it will 100 percent collapse and the island will be without power once again. And that was the major reason for the death toll. It was not --

BALDWIN: Forgive me. You're the second person I've talked to in the last 24 hours who said Puerto Rico is not prepared. Let me just jump in and ask you, when President Trump some months ago when he was down in Puerto Rico, when he made his way down there after the hurricane, he at the time down played the death toll. Let's remind everyone.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every death is a horror, but if you look at a real catastrophe like Katrina and you look at the tremendous hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of people that died and you look at what happened here with really a storm that was just totally overpowering, nobody's ever seen anything like this and what is your death count as of this moment? 16 people versus in the thousands.


BALDWIN: You talk about how you're upset this hasn't dominated social media? How about with these new numbers, and the fact in the last couple of days is Harvard research group has put the numbers out the president has remained totally silent. To that you say what?

PEREZ: Totally silent. He has remained totally silent yet, but he is still tweeting about Roseanne Barr. We need to wake up, America. These are our fellow citizens. They are American citizens. These are our neighbors. And we're treating them like complete crap. We must take care of them. We have to take care of each other. The moral compass of America is just going down and it's so troubling and people are dying because of it. Only $21,000 of federal aid were sent to residents of Puerto Rico to repair their homes,

OK? That is -- it's -- it's disgusting and it's painful. I just want everyone just to wake up and start caring, you know. And in saying that, there are Americans that do care, you know.

[15:35:00] I have been working along with my friend Ramone Rodriguez, the actor and filmmaker, along with Heart 9/11, we went down there, and we saw the catastrophe. Heart 9/11 has developed an apprentice program, teach a man to fish. We're sending people down there, the carpenters unions are volunteering their time. We're paying for it out of donations of good Americans that are going to the web site and sending their dollars there. We're teaching them to build hurricane resistant roofs, so they don't have to rely on those blue tarps that really only last for 60 days.

So, it's, you know, I really came on your show not to really complain about that man in the White House. I really came on your show, Brooke, to beg Americans to please help your fellow Americans that are down in Puerto Rico. Hurricane season starts tomorrow. We need your help. And I just cannot believe that $3.5 billion spent on infrastructure for the electrical system has not worked. What is it going to take? Do we need to send professionals from our mainland like we're doing with heart 9/11? What needs to happen? It's just mind boggling.

BALDWIN: I appreciate the candor and the emotion, and I hope Americans are listening to you. Rosie Perez, a pleasure as always. Thank you so very much.

PEREZ: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Also, today, look at the Dow. It is down, down, down here as the president has announced new tariffs on our allies. We're going to talk about that, as new reports emerge, they threatened to ban all German cars coming into the U.S., a move that could impact tens of thousands of jobs in this country. And why is it so difficult for the president to condemn racism? We'll go there with Kamal Bell just ahead.


BALDWIN: Moments before the closing bell here, the Dow down more than 200 points. We're watching it because the Trump administration announced major steel and aluminum tariffs today that go into effect on midnight. Canada is already threatening to retaliate. Here is how Prime Minister Justin Trudeau reacted just moments ago.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: Let me be clear. These tariffs are totally unacceptable. Americans remain our partners, our allies and our friends. This is not about the American people. We have to believe that at some point common sense will prevail. But we see no sign of that in this action today by the U.S. administration.


BALDWIN: Catherine Rampell is with me now, she's a CNN political commentator and "Washington Post" opinion columnist. Justin Trudeau, these are the U.S.'s good, good friends, allies, trading partners. We were talking a second ago and you were saying maybe the Canada and the Mexico piece is all part of this NAFTA negotiation.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND "WASHINGTON POST" OPINION COLUMNIST: Right. It's really hard to make heads or tails of what their strategy is because I think they don't really have a strategy. Seems like Trump just has this vague sense if we punish other countries sufficiently, they'll come graveling to us and take whatever trade terms we impose upon them. In the case of Canada and Mexico, we're renegotiating NAFTA, that's with Mexico and Canada. Maybe Trump thinks, hey that, will give us leverage in those negotiations. He's not thinking several steps ahead in terms of what that means to U.S. manufacturing.

If you raise the price of those inputs, it's going to put people out of work potentially in the United States. And you're not thinking forward to how does this affect our military allies, how does this affect our partnerships going forward? With the EU, it's even more confusing because we are not in the middle of any sort of like major, at least on the same level of NAFTA, like a major negotiation of trade, though Trump has said he wants auto tariffs to go down and things like that. Possibly Trump is just obsessed with trade deficits and trade surpluses and we have a big trade deficit. And maybe it's about Germany and he's trying to get back at Germany and it affects all of the countries in the EU. It's so wrong headed on all levels.

BALDWIN: You're trying to say maybe this, then this.

RAMPELL: It's hard to make sense of it. If you look at what's coming out of the president's own trade team, they can't even agree what their objective is. Is it more favorable trade terms, is it fewer barriers to trade? Of course, the rest of us will have trouble divining.

[15:45:00] BALDWIN: On Germany, there have been new reports that President Trump has threatened to ban all German imported cars from the U.S. market. You think about that, that's Mercedes, BMW, Porsche, I mean, Audi, it goes on and on and on. What he may be overlooking is the fact that German automakers employ tens of thousands of Americans. What would the impact look like of that?

RAMPELL: I think it would be very bad for Americans, both consumers and workers. A lot of these companies do manufacture in the U.S. it's not clear if the tariff with include German parts. It presumably means that consumers have fewer options because price is going to go up pup I think this is very bizarre given that Germany is one of our biggest military allies, along with these other members that we're targeting. And on cars, not only reports on German cars, a couple of weeks ago Trump directed the general of commerce to investigate trade inconsistencies.

BALDWIN: Thank you very much. Coming up next President Trump continues his twitter attacks on ABC today. He still has not condemned all the racist tweets sent out by Roseanne. The host of UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA, Kamal Bell, joins me live to discuss.


BALDWIN: Moments ago, Roseanne Barr tweeting again about the racist comments she made. This is what she's written as of late: "Please don't compare me to other people who have said horrible things. I only care for apologizing for the hurt I have unwittingly and stupidly caused. I humbly confess contrition and remorse. I failed to correctly express myself and caused pain to people."

For his part, President Trump has launched new attacks on ABC for what he calls a double standard in treatment of conservative and liberal voices, but remained silent on Roseanne Barr's racist tweet and despite congratulating her show when it debuted, no word now. With me, the host of UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA, it is a treat to talk to you on TV. Before we get to your show, look at this incident with Roseanne. Look back to august of last year, Charlottesville, where the president referred to very fine people, the delay in disavowing David Duke during the presidential campaign. Why do you think it is so hard for the president to speak out against racism?

KAMAL BELL, CNN HOST: Because I think he knows he would be hypercritical if he spoke out against racism. He has, in his life, done racist things. It is clear, he is not a man who has a moral ground to stand on when it comes to racism. You don't have to go to Charlottesville, go to central park five, the justice department in '73, you can go back to birtherism. He has no moral ground to stand on when it comes to calling people out for racism and I think he knows that.

BALDWIN: That doesn't make it OK that he doesn't say anything. It wouldn't explain why he doesn't.

BELL: What would it mean if he did say anything? If he did say something, we would know he was reading it from a teleprompter, not from his soul.

BALDWIN: From his soul. He commented on it, but commenting on the point about the double standard and talking about whatever people on ABC said about him versus the fact that she has been racist on her Twitter feed.

BELL: Well, making things about him when they are not about him is on brand for president Trump. So, I was not in any way surprised. I was impressed with how he got it to turn into something about him. That was next level Trump. This is totally on brand. In the media, we go, when is he going to become the guy we think a president is? He's not that guy. This is him. This is who we got, Yes America. This is him.

BALDWIN: Let's talk about you and your show. This week, you are visiting historically black colleges and universities. Let's look at a glimpse.


BELL: The main talk when it comes up, there's the talking point of, you know, why do we still have HBCs? How come we don't have white college? If I had a white college that would be racist. Can you speak to that?

[15:55:00] MARK LAMONT HILL, BLACK COLLEGE ADVOCATE: The anxiety white people have, there's a place black people can access that you can't. There's something you can do that we can't? White people can go to HBCs. There's white people walking around. White people have access, but they don't want to go to places marked black. It's OK to want those places.

BELL: You wrote an article that HCB was on the decline.

HILL: What it means to choose HCBs now versus 50 years ago. Post civil rights, you have a choice to go somewhere else. The decline is connected not to people believing less in HCBs, but the landscape changed. There's more choices. I believe in black people. There will be HBCs as long as there are black people.

BALDWIN: Mark Lamont Hill. Good man. Why do you think they have an important role in the 21st century?

BELL: Mark is a good man. I'm not going to have him talk on the show because he was hosting it at that point. When we live in a world where black students and ivy league students getting the cops called on her because she was asleep, that makes the argument for HBC. Nobody looks at you as a black person. They are looked at as students in a college. I talked to a lot of students how you feel your individual blackness, not your common blackness with the community. Once you feel it, you are feeling yourself. You get to know what it's like to be an individual in the way you don't get that in American society.

BALDWIN: Sounds like a beautiful thing. Thank you. Do not miss UNITED SHADES OF AMERICA Sunday at 10:00. [16:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: A Louisiana prosperity gospel preacher is asking his followers to help him buy a private jet at a $54 million price tag.


JESSE DUPLANTIS, TELEVANGELIST: It was one of the greatest statements, the Lord, he said, Jesse, you want to come where I'm at? And I said what do you mean. He said that before you ask I will answer Isaiah 65: 24. I said yes, Lord. He said I want you to believe me for a Falcon 7X. So, I said OK.


BALDWIN: This will be the fourth jet his ministry has owned. He said this new plan would be more fuel efficient.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thanks for being with me. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.