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Deadline to Reunite Families; Economy Grew in Second Quarter; Trump Didn't Know of Meeting; Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired July 27, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With their children. So while the U.S. government is patting itself on the back for a great job, these parents are still trying to figure out how to reunite with their children.

Alisyn. John.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Rosa, I am so glad that you're staying on this and we're staying on this. They have -- hundreds have not been reunited. And we can't just believe the administration when they say problem solved.

Rosa, thank you very much.

OK, there are new numbers just out on the economy. We'll tell you what it means for you when we come right back.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: OK, on a morning of breaking news, it just continues.

The Commerce Department has just released the latest quarterly economic numbers, and they are big, breaking news.

So let's get right to CNN's chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

Christine, tell us about the number here.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: It's 4.1 percent. And this is the strongest economic growth since the fourth quarter of 2014 when we had a 5.2 percent reading. You can see -- I'm putting it there in perspective for you. That is a nice rebound from what was a disappointing first quarter this year of only 2 percent. So that's the recent quarters here.

And, again, four times during the Obama administration or so you saw 4 percent or higher. But this is definitely an improvement over recent quarters.

[08:35:06] Here's what the improvement is from. Personal spending. People spent more money. CAMEROTA: Because they feel more confident?

ROMANS: Because they feel more confident. Exports were up. And the government specifically pointing out soybean exports. Why is that? Because you saw farmers and their customers rushing ahead to secure orders before retaliatory tariffs, before there were going to be a crimp in the -- in the -- in that (INAUDIBLE) because of --

CAMEROTA: So can you say that the president's gambit on tariffs is working at the moment?

ROMANS: His gambit is one of the reasons why you saw this rush head. Now, what happens in the next quarter, well, then that goes away, right? So you could see a bit of a slowdown.

Also their tax cuts were in here. That's an important part of this. The tax cuts are fueling some (INAUDIBLE) into the economy. That could fade later in the year. So a lot of economists are saying, you know, don't think that 4.1 percent maybe is all that sustainable.

But on the soybean part in particular in the second quarter, Morgan Stanley notes that soybean exports were up more than 9,000 percent. And, again, that is stockpiling ahead of what many feared would be a trade war. So you're going to start to see companies and businesses making moves trying to get out from under some of these trade changes here.

But this is a solid number. I want to be really clear here, a solid number.

CAMEROTA: For sure. And, in fact, it's what Donald Trump promised I think during the campaign that we would see 4 percent growth, so it's happening.

ROMANS: On a quarter to quarter --

CAMEROTA: On a quarter.

ROMANS: Now, you want to see -- we would like to see a whole year of 4 percent growth. Wouldn't that be nice. You've be running in the 2s really here. So can you sustain this? Later in the year, a lot of economists are saying maybe it will slow down a little bit from this.

CAMEROTA: OK, Christine, thank you very much for giving us all of that great context.

ROMANS: Great (ph).


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's talk much more about this.

Joining us now, CNN political and economics commentator Catherine Rampell, and CNN's senior economics analyst Stephen Moore, former Trump economic advisor.

Stephen, first to you.

Your take on the number?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: It's a powerful number. I think it's in an indication when you combine that with the numbers on -- that we've gotten on jobs that this is an economy now that is really firing on all cylinders.

You know, I was speaking last week at a major manufacturing conference and the number one complaint of these businesses now is they can't find enough workers. So it is -- it is a very strong economy.

I haven't looked at the final numbers in this report. It just came out three minutes ago.

BERMAN: It just came out.

MOORE: But I have been tracking the numbers. And this growth is really being driven by pretty strong consumer spending and, more importantly, business investment. Businesses are investing again. And that's a very good lead indicator of where the economy is headed in the months ahead.

BERMAN: All right, Catherine, your top line take on this?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think it's good. Of course we want strong growth. But one quarter of growth does not a transformed economy make. As we all know, the numbers bounce around a lot from quarter to quarter. We had relatively weak growth last quarter and so some of this is just, you know, sort of reversion to the mean (ph). And also, of course, as was already pointed out, a large part of this growth was likely because companies are trying to front run the tariffs, right? I mean exactly the kind of thing that makes it look like Trump's policies may be improving the economy may be evidence that it's backfiring and that companies like -- companies -- you know, farmers that grow soybeans had a huge surge in exports, somewhere in, you know, the 3,000 percent, 9,000 percent in annualized increase in soybean exports that probably contributed to growth. And we're going to see that reverse next quarter or at least later this year.

So, again, I wouldn't read too much into this. It's good news, but it's not the end all be all. We had stronger quarters during Obama that were one-off, and then, you know, the overall trend was still lackluster.

BERMAN: Yes, 4 percent is always a good number to see in growth. Again, it only happened four times in the last administration. It has now happened. The question is, will it last.

And, Stephen, what about that interesting notion of stockpiling in advance of the tariffs? I know it's hard to wrap your head around, but the president has instituted tariffs in some ways and soybean farmers and other farmers in the United States are terrified about this. They've been complaining that it has already hurt them and hurt them badly. And soybean production, you know, was up nine -- their sales up 9,000

percent because they wanted to get out in front of those tariffs. What happens next quarter, Stephen?

MOORE: Well, first of all, let me just address this issue of about reversion to the mean. I mean let's not forget that the economy was decelerating when Obama left office. The -- over Obama's last year in office, the economy grew at 1.6 percent. Now we're -- now, for the last year, the economy's growing a little bit over three.

By the way, I was on the campaign. Most liberal economists said it would be impossible for Trump to get to 3 or 4 percent growth. But we're there now. And I just --

RAMPELL: For one quarter.

MOORE: What?

RAMPELL: For one quester we're at -- we're at 4 percent growth.

MOORE: Yes, no. No, I'm talking about for the last four -- four quarters the economy's growing at a little bit over 3 percent. So, look, I mean there's just no question there's been a kind of Trump effect here in terms of his policies.

Now, you asked the question about trade. I mean, look, I think the media is really very beligued (ph) here a little bit about what happened the other day with this E.U. deal. I've been following this, obviously, very closely. I've talked many times to Donald Trump. I think that this was a game changer, what happened on Wednesday where the Europeans blinked and they basically -- they basically said, look, we don't -- we can't live with these tariffs that Trump is proposing, especially the Germans on the auto tariffs and exactly --


MOORE: Hold on, let me just finish my point.


MOORE: And what happened was that the Europeans said, we will reduce our tariffs over time. Ultimately what we hope to get to is a zero tariff policy with Europe, which would be a total game changer. It would banish (ph) the United States. And now that allows us to focus on China.

BERMAN: Right.

[08:40:38] MOORE: So I think that the trade picture has improved a lot.

BERMAN: All right, Catherine, did Europe blink or did the United States blink?

RAMPELL: Look, I don't think Trump gets credit for taking the pin out of the grenade and then temporary putting it back in the grenade. We have had this hugely escalating trade war with Europe, with China, with basically every major trading partner in the world. And the idea that we're move -- that everybody wants to move towards zero tariffs, that's great. But, you know what, that was part of TPP (ph). That was the negotiating that we had under Obama. And Trump paused it and instead decided to pick a trade war with our allies in the E.U.. So I don't think he gets credit for starting a crisis and then saying we're going to pause that crisis when there was no actual deal made. All he said was, we're going to pause the tensions for right now.

BERMAN: Let me jump in and change subject, if I can, to what this all means for you. And by you I mean the American people who want to know, you know, are there lives getting better. "Bloomberg" was the first one to point this out this week. We'll put up a chart. I think it was real wage growths. And they noted that under the Trump administration changes in real wages since 2006, since all of the tax cuts and everything else has gone into place and even with the growth that we're seeing right now, you can see there's not a positive move in real wages. How do you explain that, Catharine?

RAMPELL: It's very difficult to explain right now given that unemployment is relatively low. It's usually low. Employers say that they can't find workers. And yet, as you point out, in inflation adjusted terms, wages are flat. It's unclear what's going on. You know, wages always rise with a lag during a recovery. But we're in like one of the largest recoveries on record. Some of this may be compositional. You know, the younger people coming into the work force maybe earn less than the boomers who are retiring. Some of this may be the fact that employers are relying more on one time bonuses rather than permanent wage increases.

But, yes, I mean if -- if we want to talk about whether Trump-omics (ph) is working, it's certainly still not working for workers, but we don't know why.

BERMAN: Yes. And, Stephen Moore, just one last take on that.

MOORE: Look, yes, wages haven't been rising quite as fast as we'd like. The numbers I've been looking at, they've shown a little bit of a bump up in wages. Catherine raised a good point, that the wage data doesn't reflect bonuses. And there's real evidence that more of the, you know, benefits that workers are getting now are in the form of bonuses rather than wages. Also it points to, we have to bring health care costs down because one of the things that's happened over the last decade is that the higher and higher cost of employers providing health care has eaten into people's normal wage increases.

BERMAN: Stephen Moore, Catherine Rampell, thanks so much for being with us. Again, the breaking news, 4.1 percent economic growth last quarter.

MOORE: Good stuff.

BERMAN: Appreciate it.


CAMEROTA: Well, John, it doesn't look like Michael Cohen will be getting that pardon after all.

BERMAN: Or an invite over to the Trump house for dinner.

CAMEROTA: But anything is possible, as we know, in this world. So today is a new day, as we say. What the former confidant is now saying about his trusted boss, Donald Trump. We get "The Bottom Line," next.

BERMAN: A new day.



[08:47:44] CAMEROTA: OK, so a lots happened already during just our program. President Trump is now slamming his long-time confidant, fixer and personal attorney Michael Cohen. He's just done it this morning. And this is in response to sources telling CNN that Michael Cohen says the president knew about that meeting in Trump Tower with the four Russians. He knew about it in advance and he approved it.

Here's what the president says in response. I did not know of the meeting with my son, Don Junior. Sounds to me like someone is trying to make up stories in order to get himself out of an unrelated jam, taxicabs, maybe. He even retained Bill and crooked Hillary's lawyer. Gee, I wonder if they helped him make the choice.

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN political analyst Carl Bernstein, who broke this story, along with CNN's Jim Sciutto. And we also have standing by CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Who did not break this story.

CAMEROTA: But is offering valuable context.

TOOBIN: I didn't -- I didn't break the story. Carl Bernstein broke this story.

CAMEROTA: Carl Bernstein has broken so many stories.

Carl, tell us the significance of this one today.

CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the significance is that the lawyer to the president of the United States, or the former lawyer to the president, is alleging and has told a fair number of people that the president knew in advance of this meeting to take place at which Russian operatives were to deliver dirt on Hillary Clinton for use in his campaign. It would be a stunning development if indeed the president of the United States, then about to become the nominee of his party, knew of that meeting in advance because the meeting itself that did take place suggests a kind of collusion in the sense that those present expected to receive information from the Russian participants. If the president himself knew of it in advance, it is a very, very damaging piece of information, especially while he and his campaign are under investigation by the special prosecutor.

BERMAN: It is interesting because this morning the president has flat out denied it. Again, he has done it on Twitter. So someone is lying here. Either the president lying on Twitter, or Michael Cohen is lying as he is telling people that he will testify to this -- to the special counsel.

[08:50:06] Now, I will note, Carl, that neither the president, nor Michael Cohen, has said these exact words under oath yet in any way as far as we know.

BERNSTEIN: Well, not only has neither said it under oath, as we have seen the president of the United States, aside from lying, and sometimes he's been truthful about some matters, but he also sometimes finds some wiggle room. Whether any wiggle room is possible here in the two versions, I have no idea. We're talking about two people here, Mr. Cohen and the president of the United States, who have not the most sterling credibility, especially in the kinds of matters that we're discussing here. And, once again, the president has chosen to try to make the issue here Hillary Clinton rather than his own actions. But if indeed this is a real denial, I'm going to presume that the special prosecutor is going to try and find out what version of events is true.

CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, if Michael Cohen, the person who was beside Donald Trump for years, his confidant, his fixer, if he is willing to talk to Robert Mueller, which sources say that he is, is that a game changer?

TOOBIN: Well, you know, I think the key question here is what is Michael Cohen's corroboration? What is his proof that he is telling the truth? I think one of the most interesting things in Carl's story about Michael Cohen's version of these events is Cohen says other people were president when Donald Trump Senior knew -- was informed of this meeting. What do they have to say? Is there any contemporaneous record? Are their tapes? Are their e-mails? Are there texts that discuss Donald Trump Senior's knowledge or lack thereof of this Trump Tower meeting? You know, that is always what these contests come down to when two people tell conflicting versions of a story is --

CAMEROTA: Yes, but I'm even beyond the Trump Tower meeting. I mean Michael Cohen talking to Robert Mueller, isn't that -- isn't he a gold mine?

TOOBIN: You would think. I mean he is the person who has dealt with all of Donald Trump's most embarrassing problems with these women, negotiating these payments to these women. All of that will presumably be spelled out.

You know, we now know -- we found out this week -- I mean the Trump developments happen so fast. Remember way, way back, two days ago, when we first heard the tape of Donald Trump and Michael Cohen.

CAMEROTA: Vaguely, yes.

TOOBIN: That -- you know, does he have other tapes? What do they say? What is the corroboration? I mean all of that needs to be spelled out. And Cohen, if he's willing to cooperate and if they can get around the issues of attorney-client privilege, which are considerable, a very important witness. BERMAN: You know, Carl, it's so interesting, and I heard you talking about this last night, there have been so many questions about why. Why Michael Cohen is coming forward now. How do you explain the change in psyche of someone like Michael Cohen? And you brought up another historical example. Obviously one with which you had deep personal knowledge in history with, and it's John Dean.

BERNSTEIN: Well, let's first say that it's very clear that Mr. Cohen is looking for a get out of jail card from the special prosecutor in exchange for information that he says is truthful. And in the past, of course, there have been witnesses who, in all kinds of criminal cases, who have a record of not being truthful, who turn around and become prosecution witnesses and become truthful. Whether or not this is the case right now, we don't know.

In the case of John Dean 45 years ago in which Mr. Dean and his attorney, before he testified before the Senate Watergate committee, they went around putting out a version of events that said that Mr. Dean would indeed turn on the president of the United States and disclose what he knew about the Watergate cover up. And in that instance, I was in touch with Mr. Dean's lawyers who were indeed telling me that Dean was about to do what we saw him do before the Senate Watergate committee in that historic testimony. And the story that we wrote, Bob Woodward and myself, was, of course, correct in what he was going to say.

We do not know if the facts that Mr. Cohen is alleging here are correct or if the facts, as told by Donald Trump in this latest tweet, except that Hillary Clinton is not the real issue here. The issue is the conduct of Mr. -- of the president of the United States and those around him in the campaign. But we do not know yet whether or not Mr. Cohen is being truthful, what he will elaborate.

[08:55:14] He also, we have to be very clear, in saying he has a trove of other information to disclose. So let's wait and see how the facts develop.


Carl Bernstein, thank you very much for sharing your reporting with us. That is really helpful.

Jeffrey, thank you for all that.

We should also mention that it's just been announced --


CAMEROTA: That President Trump says he will be speaking about the economy in the next hour. We've just got the new economic numbers. They're great. They're going gangbusters for this quarter, 4.1 percent. So that's happening at 9:30 Eastern.

BERMAN: He's making a 9:30 statement on the South Lawn of the White House. We do not know if he will take questions. We also don't know if reporters will shout questions. That's become something of an issue at the White House of late.

CAMEROTA: Indeed it has. I know what you're referring to.

BERMAN: All right, there's been so much breaking news this morning. We're staying all over it at CNN. The special coverage continues with Poppy Harlow and CNN "NEWSROOM" very shortly.

CAMEROTA: Have a great weekend.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, top of the hour, 9:00 a.m. Eastern. Good morning, everyone, I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

And there is a lot to get to.

The breaking news just into CNN.

We have learned that Russian President Vladimir Putin says he is preparing to go to Washington. Speaking today he also extended another invitation to President Trump to meet again, this time it would be a visit to Moscow.