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Global Backlash Erupts to Trump's Trade War Threat; Dow Falls Over Trump's Trade War Threats; Trump Whirlwind of Staff Drama, Trade Wars, Russia Probe; Police Officer Teaches Boxing to At Risk Youth. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 2, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right let's talk about all of this, joining me now is Stephen Moore, former Trump economic advisor, now CNN's senior economic analyst. And financial analyst Alexis Goldstein. I want to take a look at how Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is defending the new steel and aluminum tariff plan. Let's watch.


WILBUR ROSS, COMMERCE SECRETARY: In the can of Campbell's Soup there is about 2.6 cents, 2.6 pennies were of steel. So, if that goes up by 25 percent that is about six tenths of one cent on the price on a can of Campbell's soup. Who in the world is going to be too bothered by six tenths of a cent?

KEILAR: Alexis, you first. What's your reaction to the commerce secretary's defense there?

ALEXIS GOLDSTEIN, FINANCIAL ANALYST: I think it is probably always a bad idea to send a billionaire, as Wilbur Ross is, how to talk about, hey, it's not a big deal if prices go up. That's just not great PR. But I do think that look, the United States is within its rights to enforce existing trade rules. I think Trump is trying to say he is pro American worker. But what confuses me about this is too often Trump says one thing and then the Republican Congress does another, right.

Ostensibly this is about helping American workers and for too long there has been this glut of aluminum and steel because of things like illegal subsidies. But does Trump know that next week Mitch McConnell is going to bring up a bill to the Senate floor that is going to deregulate large foreign banks. It seems like is talking tough on trade and he is talking about making you know strides for the American workers, but at the same time Mitch McConnell was about to roll back rules on banks like Deutsche Bank and UBS. So, the whole thing is very confusing to me.

KEILAR: What do you think, Steve?

STEPHEN MOORE, CNN SENIOR ECONOMIC ANALYST: I don't like steel and aluminum tariffs, and you know I've told President Trump that, he knows I disagree with him on this. It's one thing in my opinion to put a tariff on let's say a dishwasher or solar panels, that might make dishwashers and solar paneling a little bit more expensive. But if you put a tariff on steel and aluminum contained in so many products including a can of tomato soup from Campbell's.

Why would you want to make that more expensive but more importantly if your goal here is to save jobs for Americans. Why would you want to put a tariff on steel when all of you manufactured products that we produce in states like Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Iowa and West Virginia, states that Trump won, those will be now more expensive. It's actually going to hurt our auto industry, our manufacturing industry, our metals industries and so on.

Much better if you want to save jobs, what I always told Donald Trump was go aggressively forward with obviously these tax cut, which has been tremendously pro jobs. Alexis mentioned the deregulation effort which has had a huge impact on reducing the cost of businesses here. We don't need steel and aluminum tariffs. We just need to get the government off the back of our businesses.

KEILAR: Steven, you don't agree with this. No one agrees with this, it seems. Almost no one, I should say, who's in Donald Trump's corner thinks this is the move that he should be making. So why on earth is he doing it?

MOORE: To be fair there was a very heated and spirited --

GOLDSTEIN: He campaigned on it.

MOORE. Look, number one, he did campaign on it. This shouldn't come as a surprise to people. He told people that you if she was elected he was going to put tariffs on various items that are imported that he thought are either a threat to American security or job security. So, years keeping a campaign promise here, but look, I think ultimately it is much better to pursue some of these other ideas that he had. There were a number of voices, by the way, in his own economic cabinet that were opposed to these ideas. But Wilbur Ross and some of the others, Peter Navarro, was very much in favor of. So, it was a spirited debate, he came out I think on the wrong side. You see what's happened with the stock market, it's down a 1,000 points.

GOLDSTEIN: It's not down that much. There are people who think this is a good deal. Steelworkers think this is a good idea, the AFL-CIO thinks it's a good idea and a lot of people like Sherrod Brown have been talking about the ways China for example has done news illegal subsidies, the has caused this glut in the aluminum and steel markets. Where I have a bone to pick and where Stephen will probably disagree with me, I don't think the tax cuts are the way to be pro American worker.

The tariffs could be a piece of it. But there are so many anti-worker things that the Trump administration is doing like proposing regulations to let bosses of restaurants steal tips from the servers or rolling back this thing called the overtime rule which helps Americans who make overtime ensure they get that money. Tariffs could be a piece of this. Of course, Wall Street doesn't like this because they want free flow of capital without rules and conditions. For too long, America has been at a disadvantage in a lot of ways. [15:35:00] This could be a step forward, but it has to happen in

concert with other pro-worker policies and Trump does not have a good track record of doing that.

MOORE: What are you talking about? We've got the lowest unemployment rate in 20 years, we've got the lowest black unemployment rate, we got job creation through the roof. This has been a very pro-worker president. There is no doubt about that.

GOLDSTEIN: I mean all Donald Trump has been doing is talking about the stock market and now it's tanking. Like you can't tie your fate to the stock market. Half of the Americans aren't even in the stock market.

MOORE: Wait a minute. I want every single American to be in the stock market. Because that's a great way to make some money. But look when it comes to the AFL-CIO, even I think they're making a mistake here. Because look, think of all the workers in auto manufacturing and all sorts of other kinds of manufacturing in the computer industry and so on that are negatively affected by this. I don't even think, Alexis, this will create jobs for Americans. On balance we may end up losing jobs. Because now steel will be 20 percent more expensive in the United States than it will be in China, and Mexico, and Germany and the other countries that we compete with. I don't even see the kind of economic logic of the aluminum and steel tariffs. And I think in the end I hope that Trump draws back on it.

KEILAR: We'll have to leave it there. Alexis Goldstein, thank you so much, Stephen Moore, thank you to you as well.

And next, President Trump at odds with his attorney general, his national security adviser, and his top economic adviser, not to mention his communications director resigning, and that was all just this week. I'll discuss it all with President Obama's senior advisor, former adviser David Axelrod.


KEILAR: Welcome back. White house chaos reaching unprecedented levels this week and it's not over yet. Moments ago, the president's chief of staff defending his handling of the domestic abuse scandal involving Senior White House Aide Rob Porter who eventually resigned. It comes in the same week the president sent shock waves by announcing steep metal tariffs, he gave conflicting stances on gun control, had more departures from senior staffers at the White House.

The situation so turbulent, President Trump's allies are worried about him. They say he's becoming increasingly isolated and angry. Joining me now to discuss this is a man who knows all about life inside the White House.

David Axlerod is a former adviser to President Obama. David you look at -- Gloria Borger had an excellent column today where she's talking to people who want Donald account rump really to succeed. They support him. They support his agenda. Yet they look at just, as she put it, the velocity of all the chaos and they're worried about his stability. Should they be concerned?


KEILAR: Should we be concerned?

AXELROD: No. They should be concerned. I'm familiar with White Houses, you say, I'm familiar with White Houses. No one is familiar with this kind of White House this is unchartered waters. The concern is that the more pressure the president comes under, and even in a normal presidency, pressure is a daily thing. The more pressure he comes under, the more ad hoc his actions become.

So, we've seen this bizarre week in which he had this gun event. And you get the feeling he views all as television shows. He had this gun event at the White House with representatives of both sides, then met quietly with the NRA, and jerks back and forth between positions. Obviously, the trade decision, which apparently was done without -- against the advice of most of his economic and national security advisers. These are serious things.

People says he loves chaos and that's how he managed his business. This isn't the Trump organization. This is the United States government. This is the most powerful office on the planet. When you behave in an ad hoc way and when you behave in an erratic way, it can have dramatic consequences, as we've seen in the last few days.

KEILAR: I want to ask you because, actually, some of the -- we've had a lot of news over the last couple weeks but some of the most important national security news we've seen, you have Robert Mueller indicting Russians for attacks on the U.S., then American intel chiefs say the president hasn't given them an order to stop the attacks currently ongoing. Now you have Vladimir Putin trolling the United States with nuclear threats. And then you look at where the president is on all of this. He's silent. He hasn't condemned Russians, despite these indictments. He hasn't condemned Vladimir Putin. What's your takeaway from that?

AXELROD: I don't know what to take away from it. But it's really, really baffling. I mean members of his own administration have said the acts of Putin and Russia and their incursions on our democracy amount to acts of war.

And yet he has not convened his national security cabinet, he is not instructive them to repel these efforts. It is inexplicable. And it adds to the suspicion that something is not right here. But I have other national security concerns, Brianna, you know we learned this week that they've been doing tabletop exercises to model what a war with North Korea would look like. I don't want to minimize the threat of North Korea.

North Korea has been a thorn in the side of many administrations and no one has solved that problem yet and it's getting worse. We know that. But when you see how casually the president slid into a potential trade war yesterday, you worry about on what basis he might enter an actual shooting war that could have catastrophic consequences. This why his allies are concerned. [15:45:00] I suspect one of the reasons that so many details of this

North Korea planning were leaked was because there were people around his own national security apparatus who want people to know this is actively being pursued because they're worried about the President making a precipitous decision.

KEILAR: This week on "The Axe Files" you are going to sit down with retiring Republican Senator Jeff Flake. You asked him his concerns about democratic institutions if the Russia investigation finds damning evidence against the president. Here is what he said.


SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R), ARIZONA: I'm really concerned. What will happen with regard to this president if Bob Mueller comes back with something damning?

AXELROD: Do you think this Congress would do anything?

FLAKE: That's the concern I have. I do think that enough of my colleagues will stand up when they need to. But right now, it is concerning to see so many simply say let's go shirts and skins on this.


KEILAR: What did you think about that? He is retiring. He is one to break with Republicans on this. He may be certainly right in his assessment of what he thinks his party will do. What's your reaction to it?

AXELROD: Well, I mean, let's note the fact that he's not retiring with -- voluntarily so much as that he's concluded that he can't win a Republican primary and be critical of this president. That is what his colleagues have seen. In some ways Jeff Flake is a negative example for his colleagues who, after all, are most concerned about retaining their seats and power and live in fear of turning up in a Donald Trump tweet.

So, the question becomes if there is -- I'm not saying there will be, but if Mr. Mueller comes forward with -- as the senator says damning information, information that really does rise to the level of an impeachable offense, what will the Congress do? They haven't exactly shown gumption to stand up to him or risk their own political hearts by doing it, so I think he raises legitimate concerns.

KEILAR: David Axelrod, thank you so much as always for being with us. You can catch David's full interview with Senator Flake. That will be on "The Axe Files" this is Saturday 7:00 p.m. eastern only on CNN.

Right now, 80 million people are in the path of a bomb cyclone slamming the northeast. Thousands of flights canceled. Amtrak has stopped service from New York to Boston. We are live along the east coast ahead.

[15:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) KEILAR: A Massachusetts police officer is putting his passion to good use by teaching free boxing classes to hundreds of at risk youth. CNN's Brynn Gingras shows us how he's changing lives and going beyond the call of duty.


JJ JONES, MASSACHUSETTS POLICE OFFICER: My name is JJ Jones. I'm not in uniform here. It's a police program. I'm a police officer. In here I just want to be JJ.

By yourself to the bell just work on your form!

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Tucked away in the basement of the Cambridge, Massachusetts YMCA, the boxing ring that stands for more than just a sport. For Alphonso Hidalgo the ring was an escape.

ALFONSO HIDALGO, TRAINED BY JONES: I was going through a lot of difficult times before I came here. I was homeless.

JONES: When he came in here, it was obvious that he need some guidance.

GINGRAS: The relationship between JJ and Alfonso took several rounds.

HIDALGO: Four weeks or a month maybe, I'll never forget. I don't know why. It was just that time and I opened up to him. I said this is what I'm going through. Basically, help me. It became that place for me. For those two or three hours that I was here, I was actually happy.

GINGRAS: That's a feeling Alfonso didn't expect.

HIDALGO: You know growing up in my community you know, if you're a cop, you run. Sometimes and I don't even know why. He was probably the first person that made me see beyond the uniform. Beyond the blue.

JONES: Are you tight?

HIDALGO: No, I'm in shape.

JONES: I know, I see you look good. The hope is if they can connect with me, maybe that builds a trust with other officers in patrol.

GINGRAS: To date, JJ has trained nearly 750 kids and teenagers over eight years.

JONES: Good job!

GINGRAS: He's never missed a Tuesday or Thursday class. Not even for vacation. A commitment that is not only changing lives but saving them. Elissa Gold's mother said her daughter was self-harming before she found this program. ELISSA GOLD, TRAINS WITH JONES: Over the week, because of school I

get a lot of stress. Coming here, I can get that off because it helps.

JONES: Exhale every punch. Every punch.

These kids aren't used to anybody giving them individual attention.

GOLD: They also let me rant sometimes.

HIDALGO: It was never about just the fighting or winning. It was about growth. Boxing brought me here, but JJ made me stay.

JONES: He's not anything close to the person he was when he first came here. He's a star as far as I'm concerned.

GINGRAS: Why do you think kids keep coming back?

JONES: I don't know. But I'm glad they do.

[15:55:00] GINGRAS: Brynn Gingras, CNN, Cambridge.


KEILAR: A Republican senator calling people who support Obamacare the quote, stupidest and dumb ass people. Now as backlash erupts. We just got a response from Orrin Hatch. But first we need your help as we begin a new season of "CNN Heroes."

Today you going to meet a woman who successfully nominated her personal hero to be a CNN Hero. Thanks to her, Sister Teresa Fitzgerald was honored for offering thousands of incarcerated women a fresh start.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I met Sister Teresa at the county correctional facility. It was through her love and her support that really helped me regain my life.

Sister Teresa Fitzgerald, CNN HERO: I am happily a CNN Hero thanks to Julianna's brave recommendation of my credentials.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was like, oh, my goodness. For everything that she's done for me, I did something for her that no one else did. So, it felt really good.


KEILAR: And you can nominate someone to be a CNN Hero right now. Just to go CNN


KEILAR: Just in, Senator Orrin Hatch now apologizing for this comment that he made about those who support Obamacare. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. ORRIN HATCH, (R) UTAH: That was the stupidest dumb ass bill that I've ever seen. Now some of you may have loved it. If you do, you are one of the stupidest dumb ass people I've ever met.


KEILAR: The Republican says in part that he made a poorly worded joke and it was not reflective of his actual feelings. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.