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Dow Plunges as Trump Escalates Trade Threats on China; FOX News Backs Up Trump on Separating Immigrant Families; Stone Says Russian Meeting was FBI Setup; Religious Leaders Condemn Separating Children from Parents at Border; Paul Ryan Says He Hasn't "Paid Attention" to Scott Pruitt Issues; Don Jr Cancels on Bush Fundraiser over Family's Criticism. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 19, 2018 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Joining us is Stephen Moore. He's a senior economic analyst for CNN, former economic adviser to Donald Trump.

Stephen, thanks for coming in.

I know you don't like a trade, war whether it China or Mexico or Canada, but that's clearly where the U.S. is heading.

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: You're getting this tit for tat situation. We don't like to use the term trade war, but it certainly seems to be heading in that direction. Trump ran for president saying he was going to get tough on China, so this shouldn't be a great surprise that he's fulfilling that promise. By the way, I think it was a popular issue with Americans. They do worry about losing factories jobs to China.

BLITZER: But they like what they pay at Walmart, when they go to supermarkets, when they buy cars. This is like a hidden tax. If it's going to be $250 billion on tariffs of Chinese products coming into the United States. People will be going back to supermarkets and stores over the summer to buy books for their kids --


BLITZER: -- clothes for their kids. This is a hidden tax on the middle class and poor Americans, right?

MOORE: Tariffs are taxes, no question about it. I think Trump is using this as a negotiating tactic to try to bring down --


BLITZER: But the midterm is going to end up costing the American public a lot more money for products they can't get here in the United States.

MOORE: Fair enough. But China can't live with $200 billion of tariffs on their goods and services. China needs access to the American market. If we get into this trade situation where we're raising tariffs, it will hurt China a lot more. You're right, if Americans go to Walmart, they might have to pay more for toothpaste and other things. China needs to be able to sell things to the United States.

BLITZER: Why is the Dow plummeting so much today?

MOORE: Wall Street likes free trade. They don't want this confrontation. The question I would ask people to think about -- because I'm still formulating my own opinion about this -- we can't live the status quo with China anymore. It is true, they are cheating, they are stealing, they are taking our technologies and our patents and software, not paying for it. And Trump is the first president -- Bush didn't do anything about this, Clinton didn't do anything about it, Obama didn't do anything about it --


BLITZER: But very quickly, because we're running out of time. Do you think the president understands that he's raising taxes on American families?

MOORE: I believe he understands --


BLITZER: That he's hurting American farmers, agriculture is going to go down? Does he understand what he's doing to the American public?

MOORE: I think Donald Trump believes what he's doing, and I think, in the end, he might be vindicated --


BLITZER: I know he believes what he's doing.


BLITZER: The question is, does he understand. You studied economics in graduate school. You appreciate the ramifications of the potential of what's going on with a full-scale trade war.

MOORE: I understand that, but I also understand the ramifications if this works, which, in the end, I think it will work. I think China will back down. They will end the tariffs. That will be more jobs for Americans. That's the endgame here. Trump does care about those Americans. You talk about middle-class people maybe having to pay more at Walmart, but what about middle class people who are losing their jobs because of imported products from China?

BLITZER: Right now, the employment rate is at 3.8 percent.

MOORE: That's true. It's a booming economy.

BLITZER: The American economy needs people to fill jobs.


MOORE: You go to those places in the Midwest, Eerie, Pennsylvania and Rockford, Illinois, and places like Michigan.

BLITZER: I grew up in Buffalo, New York.

MOORE: So you know what I'm talking about.

BLITZER: Unfortunately, those steel plants probably aren't coming back any time.

MOORE: Well, we'll see.


BLITZER: They may, on a moderate level, but they're not going to be able to compete on costs in various other countries.

MOORE: If American workers are productive -- we've created --

BLITZER: This is a long-term thing.

MOORE: We've created 600,000 manufacturing jobs since Trump was elected, so manufacturing is coming back in America.

BLITZER: Let's hope it does. Let's hope --


MOORE: Look, it's a dangerous game, no question about it, but I'm going to hope for the best here.

BLITZER: We'll all hope for the best.

MOORE: Good.

BLITZER: Stephen Moore, thank you very much.

MOORE: Thanks.

BLITZER: Coming up, a FOX News host comparing the detention of some undocumented kids in cages as, quote, "summer camp," and accusing policy critics of caring more about foreigners than Americans. Now some big names on that FOX network, they are firing right back. We have details.


[13:38:14] BLITZER: The president is facing a great deal of backlash for separating families at the border, but he does have a staunch defender, FOX News.

Let's bring in CNN politics reporter and editor-at-large, Chris Cillizza.

Walk us through how this is being spun.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-AT-LARGE: First, I want to show rather than tell because I think that's the most important thing. Let's go through a clip of how some prominent voices on FOX are talking about it.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: This is one of those moments that tells you everything about a ruling class. They care far more about foreigners than about their own people.

LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX NEWS HOST: Since more illegal immigrants are rushing the border, more kids are being separated from their parents and temporarily housed in what are essentially summer camps.


CILLIZZA: Summer camps. No. I think what's important here, Wolf, you have to remember that for the conservative audience, for Donald Trump voters, it's FOX News and that's it. So that's the story they are hearing. The reality is this. This was a policy change. We know that. Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, announced it. He said, we are going to a zero-tolerance policy. They knew given the fact they then did not ramp up the amount of Homeland Security Analysts tasked with this, there would be more family separations. This is not terribly surprising, nor is it simply the law as it was written. This is simply a policy change.

Now, there are voices affiliated in the broad-box world that are speaking out. Seth McFarland, who many people know as the guy who created "Family Guy," the cartoon, did a lot of voices on that. He's also created other shows. He essentially said, if you're only listening to FOX News, he urged his viewers not to believe anything anyone else other than him and his network said. Tucker Carlson said, if you are doing that, you are willfully blinding yourself. You are being an irresponsible citizen. So FOX probably not speaking as one voice.

But this gets to something we have talked about many times, the danger of only listening to a single version of reality that candidly is not fact-based.

[13:40:27] BLITZER: He's with FOX Entertainment, not FOX News.

CILLIZZA: Correct, not FOX News.

BLITZER: So there's a difference there. And there are anchors at FOX News that are certainly much more objective than many of the prime- time opinion hosts that we're talking about.

CILLIZZA: Correct. And I think it's important, just quickly, to remember, truth is not a partisan position. The facts are not a partisan position. It is not partisan to say what Donald Trump is arguing as it relates to, this is a Democratic law and only Congress can change it. That is factually inaccurate. That is not a partisan statement, that is a fact.

BLITZER: Chris Cillizza, thank you very much.

Coming up, new details on that previously talked about meeting with Roger Stone and a Russian offering dirt on Clinton. Now Roger Stone is scathingly saying he was set up.


BLITZER: When Roger Stone, the long-time unofficial adviser to President Trump, said he met with the Russians during the presidential campaign, he became the 14th associate of the president known to have contact with the Russians, either during the campaign or during the transition. He said Michael Caputo, the former member of the Trump campaign communications team, says he set that meeting up. Both of them now maintain the Russian they met with was an FBI informant and was part of a scheme to set up the Trump campaign.

In a statement released just a little while ago, Stone said, in part, and I'm quoting now, "The special counsel seems determined to frame me for some bogus offense, both to silence me as a critic of their investigation and for political motives, and to induce me to testify against the president in some way. This I will not do," closed quote.

James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, told me he's having trouble buying the president's story that he didn't know anything about these meetings.


JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: With each subsequent revelation of yet another meeting between someone from the Trump camp and Russians, it gets harder and harder to believe that he didn't know about at least some of them.


[13:45:14] BLITZER: Michael Zeldin is joining us now. He's a former special assistant to Robert Mueller and is a CNN legal analyst.

Do you believe what Clapper believes, that it's hard to believe the president didn't know about these meeting?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It seems hard to believe, but we don't know. And there's one easy way for us to find out, which is for the president to sit down with Mueller and answer his questions about it. The president during this time period has no executive privilege. It's pre-his inauguration. If he wants to settle this ultimately as a legal matter, sit down, talk to Mueller, tell him what you knew and didn't know, and then we can get a report.

BLITZER: If you were his lawyer, would you let him do that?

ZELDIN: I don't think, as his lawyer, I would have a choice at this point in time. There may not be a basis to inquire of him on obstruction, but on this, I don't think he has the opportunity to avoid it, so the question is how you mitigate the damage an interview could cause.

BLITZER: In his lengthy statement, Stone alleged, and Caputo alleged, they were both set up by this FBI informant, an individual, this Russian, who apparently had been working years earlier with the FBI, and they think they were set up as some part of a deep-state motive to get the president.

ZELDIN: Right. We saw this with earlier Spygate allegations. In fact, what these people are individuals who periodically make statements to the FBI as informants. But they're not being sent in as an undercover informant agent to elicit information. That was a made- up accusation by Stone. This was made up the first time in Spygate. It's made up again.

BLITZER: Michael Zeldin, thank you for coming in.

ZELDIN: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Coming up, a strong reaction to the Trump administration, quoting the Bible to defend its immigration policies. One Jesuit priest is comparing those comments to Nazis defending their actions in the Second World War. He's standing by to joins us.

Plus, family feud. Why Donald Trump Jr just pulled out of a fundraiser for a member of the Bush family.


[13:50:48] BLITZER: Religious leaders are condemning the immigration practice of separating children from parents at the border. President Trump remains defiant as the outcry grows louder and louder Some, including former CIA and FBI Director Michael Hayden -- former CIA Director, I should say, Michael Hayden, and Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein, have made comparisons to Nazis. Attorney General Jeff Sessions rejects those comparisons.


JEFF SESSIONS, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: It's a real exaggeration. Of course, in Nazi Germany, they were keeping the Jews from leaving the country. But this is a serious matter. We need to think it through, be rational and thoughtful about it.


BLITZER: Strange answer, indeed.

Father James Martin is catholic priest and editor-at-large of "America" magazine. He joins us from New York.

Father, thank you so much for joining us.

You also drew comparisons to the Nazis and how they defended their atrocities during World War II. What's your reaction to what we just heard from the attorney general?

FATHER JAMES MARTIN, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, AMERCIA MAGAZINE & JESUIT PRIEST: I think it's nonsensical. It's clearly related to, or you could say it seems like what the Nazis would do, creating unjust laws and accusing the Jews of breaking them. The other thing that smacks of Nazism is the idea people are just following orders, right, the people on the border are just following orders, which was the defense used by the Nazis at Nuremberg. I think the comparisons are very apt.

BLITZER: You tweeted this about family separations. Let me quote, "Like many, I resist using this word, but it's time. The deliberate separation of children from their parents is pure evil. It does not come from God or from any genuinely moral impulse. It is wantonly cruel and targets the most vulnerable."

So you see this as, quote, "pure evil," is that right?

MARTIN: Yes. I don't see how you can draw any other conclusion. It's causing incredible misery. It's unnecessary. This executive order is unnecessary. It's tearing kids from their parents. And it's just cruel. I don't see how you can come to any other conclusion than this is an evil and it is causing great misery.

BLITZER: As you know, the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, he also, at one point, said he's upholding this part of the law as the Bible commands. And the press secretary, Sarah Sanders, echoed that. What would you say to that?

MARTIN: They're quoting Romans 13, which says Christians should follow civic authorities. The problem is that God's laws, and St. Paul would agree with this, supersedes unjust laws. Jesus himself, a greater authority than Paul, says, if you don't welcome the stranger, you don't welcome me. So using the Bible to justify sin and cruelty and what Amnesty International says is torture of children, is really obscene.

BLITZER: Evangelical Christians have been among the president's strongest supporters, as you know? Do you believe, Father, this policy could erode his support among evangelicals?

MARTIN: I would certainly hope evangelicals with a conscience will see pictures like this and rethink their support. To me, it's a question of, what are we doing morally and immorally and, how do we prevent ourselves from going down this dark path we've taken.

BLITZER: Father James Martin, thank you so much for joining us.

MARTIN: My pleasure.

BLITZER: Father James Martin, editor-at-large of "America" magazine.

When the House Speaker Paul Ryan was asked if he thought the EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, should step aside over ethics concerns, here's what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you confident given all the ethics violations --

REP. PAUL RYAN, (R-WI), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Frankly, I haven't paid that much attention to it. I would refer you to the authorizing committee that oversees EPA. I'm glad with kind of the regulatory position they've taken. I don't know enough about what Pruitt has or has not done to give you a good comment.


BLITZER: "Washington Post" columnist, Dana Milbank, argues this is a pattern by Ryan and other Republicans, acting ignorant to save face and in some cases, maybe even their seat in Congress.

Dana is joining us right now.

I want you to elaborate to this charge that you're delivering directly against the retiring speaker of the House.

[13:55:10] DANA MILBANK, COLUMNIST, WASHINGTON POST: Well, you look at when he says something about that, like he's not really aware what's going on with Scott Pruitt. You don't have to be second in line to the presidency to have some awareness of this major scandal. Just tune in to CNN for a couple of minutes a day and you'll get a pretty good fill on what's been going on with Scott Pruitt. I went back -- and they transcribed his press briefings -- went back to the beginning of the Trump era and there were 99 instances of the speaker of the House saying, I'm just not informed, I don't know. Whether this is about the "Access Hollywood" videos, access of the Trump's tax cuts, the conflicts of interest.

In fairness, the speaker is in a bit of a box here. He can come out and criticize Trump and say he's wrong and he's going to get hammered and perhaps lose his gavel before he gives it away or he can come out there and attempt to defend Trump and look like he's being dishonest or unprincipled.

BLITZER: Do you think this is one of the reasons he decided to retire as speaker and not seek reelection? Because he was uncomfortable, supposedly, working with this president?

MILBANK: It's certainly difficult working with the president and with this caucus. The president has made it so Paul Ryan is in a lot of trouble with the conservative base, not a lot of love loss there. Very hard to hold things together, with immigration and the agriculture bill. It's a thankless job and this is one of the reasons.

BLITZER: You've seen a similar situation with other Republicans, pretending they're not paying attention.

MILBANK: I have. I did a search with Mitch McConnell in the Senate. He's a little more-deft about it and uses other phrases. It is something you see to a large extent. It's a common tactic, saying, well, I'm just not informed enough to comment on it and, indeed, can you get away with that if it's some fast-breaking news story. But if you're doing it every week, that's another story.

BLITZER: I want to get your reaction. We learned that the president's son, Donald Trump Jr, was supposed to be at a fundraiser in New York for George P. Bush who is running in Texas. All of a sudden, given what the first lady said yesterday, the discomfort between the Bush family and Trump family, Donald Trump Jr is no longer going to participate.

We're going back to the original Trump versus Bush war. Apparently, if your last name is Bush now because of the former first lady's criticism and Jeb Bush's criticism, you're out of luck.

I want you to listen to Congressman Elijah Cummings on the whole border separation-of-families issue. He was very passionate. Listen to this.


REP. ELIJAH CUMMINGS, (D), MARYLAND: We all should be able to agree that in the United States of America we will not intentionally separate children from their parents. We will not do that. We are better than that! We are so much better! We should be able to agree that we will not keep kids in child internment camps indefinitely and hidden away from public view. What country is that!


BLITZER: Wow. Where does this end?

MILBANK: I was there in the room. It was quite powerful. You had Jerry Nadler, another Democrat, basically do a little bit of a filibuster on this. You had women with infants standing up and protesting.

This is coloring everything in our politics right now. It did look particularly absurd to be having another hearing about Hillary Clinton's e-mails and the inspector general report while the country is going wild with this situation on the border. You don't see the Trump side backing down and you see the other side, a significant amount of the country just absolutely up in arms.

BLITZER: We just saw the president, in his speech a little while ago, we had it live on CNN, doubling and tripling down on this change in policy in April when the attorney general announced there would be zero tolerance.

MILBANK: Right. He's going back to an old play book, which worked before with DACA, with the DREAMers, and saying essentially we'll have this group that will be held hostage, and we'll say the Democrats have to do something. I think it not really working and that's because you see the images, you hear the voices of those children, the photos are getting out, people are taking tours of those places. It's very vivid for people. As your previous guest demonstrated, there's a real backlash from people who might otherwise be supportive of Trump.

BLITZER: We'll see where this is heading. There are new developments unfolding.

Thanks very much, Dana, for that.

MILBANK: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: That's it for me. I'll be back 5:00 eastern in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

For our international viewers, "AMANPOUR" is coming up next.

For our viewers in North America, "NEWSROOM" with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.

[14:00:14] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. You're watching CNN.