Return to Transcripts main page


Steel and Aluminum Tariffs to be Announced This Week; Mueller Explores Ties Between Trump Aides and UAE; New Details About Florida School Shooter's Jail Behavior; Jeff Sessions to Speak About California's Immigration Policies; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 7, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:10] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Breaking news, we are getting word from the White House on when the president plans to announce these tariffs he's been talking so much about on aluminum and steel.

Abby Phillip at the White House with that. So when are we talking about, Abby?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sarah Sanders just spoke to CNN and some other reporters on the White House lawn moments ago and she said the president is still expected to be on track for an announcement at the end of this week for those tariffs.

What this means is that essentially this process is not going to be slowed down, even though we are hearing that there is still consideration of potential carve-outs to be made for perhaps certain countries like Canada and Mexico that have already raised their hand and said that they think these tariffs could be detrimental to the U.S. trade relationship.

At the end of this week, that's a very fast turnaround. Sarah Sanders also saying they're still trying to finalize the legalities, the behind-the-scenes details of this proposal that was announced last week by the president. 25 percent tariff on steel, 10 percent on aluminum. These tariffs are coming and they're coming without a whole lot of delay from this White House -- John.

BERMAN: Yes. So we know when they will announce it this week but they don't know yet what they will announce because these carve-outs or exceptions, they're a giant deal, especially if you're Canada or the EU or some other countries.

All right, Abby Phillip, thanks so much, appreciate it.

A figure described by one Middle East expert as a man of mystery has now found a place in the Mueller investigation. Who is George Nader and what does the special counsel want from him?

CNN's Shimon Prokupecz in Washington with that -- Shimon.

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Hey, John. Certainly a man of mystery, kind of fell off the radar and according to some people we talked to indications that he's been working for the UAE on foreign policy issues here in the U.S. He didn't really pop up back on the radar until he was stopped by the FBI at Dulles Airport in January where he was questioned for several hours, handed a search warrant for his electronic devices and then he was given a grand jury subpoena.

And we've learned that he's been cooperating with the special counsel investigation. In fact, providing information to a grand jury on his ties to the UAE. And then there are these two meetings that investigators have long had questions about that occurred during the Trump transition.

Now one of them occurring in New York City in December of 2016 involved key Trump aides Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner and the former National Security adviser, Michael Flynn. Also at that meeting was the crown prince who flew in secretly without notifying U.S. officials. The Obama administration usually customary when foreign dignitaries visit that they notify U.S. officials.

For some reason that was not done in this case and now there was a second meeting which is even more peculiar for investigators that occurred in the Seychelles. That was in January of 2017 where Nader was also again present with the crown prince and at that meeting was also Erik Prince, who is a longtime Trump supporter and campaign donator and he also was there with a Russian with ties to Vladimir Putin.

Now the nature of these meetings have long been a concern to the FBI and intelligence officials and certainly Nader's cooperation here is a significant step in this investigation. Especially with the fact that he's providing information to the grand jury where Mueller as we know has been investigating foreign influence on the Trump transition and campaign.

BERMAN: All right, Shimon Prokupecz, thanks so much.

Let's try to get more understanding of this. I'm joined again by CNN legal analysts Jeffrey Toobin and Paul Callan.

You know, Jeffrey, you've been talking about this since last night and it's hard to grasp, right? Because we do not know exactly what Robert Mueller is doing and why. But when you look at these two meetings that we do know that George Nader was at, one during the transition with UAE officials and then one in the Seychelles with Erik Prince, you know, and a Russian, what are the questions that might arise? Why would they be problematic, those meetings?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I mean, you know, on their face, frankly I don't see them as problematic. I mean, you know, it is one thing if the -- if Mueller's office is investigating foreign influence in the campaign. You know, did the Russians help Trump get elected president? Did the UAE help Trump get elected president? That's unlawful. I mean, there's no question that is a worthy subject of investigation.

These are meetings that took place after Trump was elected. So I don't really get what the legal significance is. That may simply be because I don't know enough facts about the surrounding circumstances but I just think to be fair, I don't see anything inappropriate about these meetings.

BERMAN: Right. I mean, look, a transition is supposed to tell the sitting administration when they are holding a meeting with foreign leaders. That didn't happen here but that in and of itself --

TOOBIN: That's not a criminal matter.

BERMAN: I would agree. I was saying in and of itself that doesn't seem to be something the special counsel will be focused on but there is something in these meetings with this individual that he wants answers about.

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I think it's interesting because I suspect maybe the money laundering trail is involved here and this is kind of a tribute to how secretive and proper Mueller's investigation has been, that we're saying what could this possibly be about. But we do know that he's been looking carefully at money laundering and contributions, not just by the Russians but by other entities illegally, maybe to the campaign, maybe the officials involved in the campaign. But this remains entirely speculative.

BERMAN: And it's not a casual interest either, right? They met this guy at the airport with a search warrant then they took imprints of his cell phone at the time which shows it's serious.

And, Jeffrey, again, the one thing we do know is that it is happening and it just again shows the scope of what the special counsel is investigating here. More and more new figures keep being, you know, connected and dragged in for a guy like George Nader to be added to this investigation in January says to me that it's not close to done.

TOOBIN: Well, that's for sure. And you know, the definition of a search warrant is a judge or magistrate found there was probable cause to believe that there was evidence of a crime in his cell phone. So, you know, the magistrate and the judge was presented with some evidence. All I'm saying is that on the face of this story.

BERMAN: Right.

TOOBIN: And I have a great deal of sympathy for our fellow reporters and like me who are trying to figure this out, but just in terms of what is publicly known here, I don't see what the crime is and I don't see who the perpetrators might be.

BERMAN: Curiouser and curiouser. Jeffrey Toobin and Paul Callan, thanks very much.

New this morning, we have details on what the Florida shooter, what his behavior has been like behind bars.


[10:41:00] BERMAN: Happening now, students at the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, attending their first full day of classes since the mass shooting there several weeks ago. 17 class -- 17 students and teachers were killed there.

We are getting new details this morning about the shooter and his behavior behind bars.

Joining me now Rosa Flores. Rosa, what are you learning?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: John, good morning. We are learning more from in-jail observation reports. Now these are documents that are filled out by deputies who observe Cruz day in and day out. And here's what we've learned. We've learned that he started off in the infirmary. He was moved to a jail cell on February 23rd. And then we learned some of the basic details from these reports, like he ate his full meal. He was calm. He was well groomed.

And then we also learned some of the details that I've learned from neighbors, the fact that he sometimes stares with a blank stare, that he looks down a lot of the time. And then some of the things that are just weird and odd is, for example, on February 23rd, this report mentions that he was visited by a professional and then he burst out in laughter and that he was out giggling. And then on February 24th, he mentions that Cruz asked for a bible, that he wanted to read a bible.

Now his defense attorney warns that we shouldn't read too much into all of this, saying in a statement, quote, "They are snippet observations from corrections officers and are not clinical impressions made by his treating psychologist or psychiatrist at the jail. They don't show a complete picture. They are generated because Mr. Cruz has a high profile case and is on suicide watch."

From these documents, John, we also learned of course he's been visited by attorneys and medical staff, psychiatrists and psychologists, and also by an unidentified family member. We don't know who that family member is -- John.

BERMAN: None of this will be any comfort at all to the victims or the families of those who were killed at that high school several weeks ago.

Rosa, you're also getting new details also which will be of no comfort to these families from the acting deputy director of the FBI who said they missed still more signals about the killer.

FLORES: Yes, the acting deputy director as you mentioned, he briefed Congress and so we've learned a few more details, John, because you know that we already knew of that tip that fell through the cracks, that call that came in on January 5th.

We're just learning a few more details, the fact that this caller mentioned that Cruz had a spread of weapons on his bed. We know that the caller called the FBI and the employee that took that call saw the report, the prior tipster, the report regarding the tip to YouTube and that exchange. We don't know exactly if this employee took that portion to his or her supervisor but we know that the employee took this particular tip, the one in January, to his or her supervisor and that the supervisor deemed it not a national security risk. And John, we know what happens after that. We know that that tip fell

through the cracks and we know that the FBI is investigating, and they say that that tip should have gone to the Miami field office.

BERMAN: Rosa Flores for us in Florida. Rosa, thanks very much.

The Trump administration taking legal action against the state of California over immigration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, he will speak about this case any moment.


[10:49:01] BERMAN: In just a few minutes, the Attorney General Jeff Sessions is expected to speak about the administration's new lawsuit against California over its immigration policies.

Our justice reporter Laura Jarrett joins us now with the details. You're looking at live pictures right there.

Laura, what are you learning?

LAURA JARRETT, CNN JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, John, this latest lawsuit is perhaps the most aggressive step yet in this ongoing fierce battle between the Trump administration and so-called sanctuary cities like California. And what the Justice Department is asking for here is a federal judge to block a set of three different bills passed last year, that essentially try to restrict the information sharing that goes on between local law enforcement and federal agents to try to stem the tide of deportations if you will.

But the Justice Department is saying here that those state laws conflict with federal law and therefore federal law trumps in this case. But the officials in California are firing back in statements late last night, Governor Jerry Brown saying, "At a time of unprecedented political turmoil Jeff Sessions has come to California to further divide and polarize America.

[10:45:09] "Jeff, these political stunts may be the norm in Washington but they don't work here. Sad."

And the attorney general of California, Xavier Becerra, also insisting that his state already complies with the Constitution and he tweeted out last night, John, "No matter what happens in Washington, California will stay the course and enforce our laws and protect our people. That's how we keep our communities safe." And he goes on, "Like all the men and women who wear the badge in California, I took an oath to uphold the law. That means all of the laws."

Now the attorney general is going to get to make his case shortly there in Sacramento and plans to have some sharp words for California officials as well -- John.

BERMAN: Yes. No doubt. Governor Jerry Brown trolling the administration with the all-caps sad, three exclamation points. Noted.

Laura Jarrett in Washington, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

JARRETT: Thanks.

BERMAN: NBA star Kevin Love wants to talk about something few athletes really -- you know, something few professionals ever talk about. This is really, really interesting.

"Bleacher Report" is next.


[10:55:47] BERMAN: Cavaliers star Kevin Love opening up about a panic attack he had in a game earlier this season. He says it changed his perspective on mental health.

Andy Scholes has more in today's "Bleacher Report."

Andy, I read every word of what Kevin Love wrote here. It's fascinating.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's powerful, John. You know, Kevin Love hopes his story can help others with mental health issues.

This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by the new 2018 Ford F-150.

And the first-person essay for the "Player's Tribune" Love details a panic attack that he suffered during a game against the Hawks in November. And Love said that that episode has forever changed his outlook on mental health adding, "I thought about mental health as someone else's problem, I realized I need to change that." And Love wrote that he has started seeing a therapist and is confronting pent- up grief about the death of his grandmother.

And Love said he was inspired to open up about his issues after Raptors star DeMar DeRozan told the "Toronto Star" late last month that he also deals with depression and anxiety. And LeBron tweeting after reading Love's essay, saying, "You're even more powerful now than ever before, Kevin Love. Salute and respect, brother."

All right. The red hot Rockets continuing their incredible run last night in Oklahoma City. Chris Paul and James Harden leading the way in a 122-112 win, the 16th straight win for the Rockets tieing the Celtics for the longest streak this season. In case you're wondering the all-time best winning streak in the NBA is 33 by the 1972 Los Angeles Lakers. But get this, when Harden, Paul and center Clint Capela played together this season, the Rockets are an astounding 33- 1.

We've seen Bill Murray cheering on his beloved Chicago Cubs and Xavier who his son coaches for. But last night he was in Charleston where he lives cheering on the Cougars and Charleston storming back to beat Northeastern in overtime and as you see Murray loving every second of it. The students would rush the court and the Cougars going dancing for the first time since 1999. (INAUDIBLE) State also punching their ticket to the tournament last

night beating Cleveland State to win the Horizon League. A really cool moment after the game. The team celebrating around their teammate Ryan Custer. Custer suffered a spinal cord injury during an off-campus party last summer now has partial paralysis.

The Wright State basketball team saying all year long that he has been their inspiration this season. Their team back in the big dance for first time since 2007.

Finally Los Angeles Charges defensive lineman and Miami native Corey Liuget visiting with the Stoneman Douglas High School football team yesterday. Liuget announcing that he is starting a college scholarship fund to honor Coach Aaron Feis who lost his life in the school shooting.


COREY LIUGET, CHARGES DEFENSIVE LINEMAN: I am doing this whole deal for Feis, because Feis just more so we just remembering him, you know, so his legacy can also going to people and don't forget about him and the sacrifice that he made on that day.


SCHOLES: Now Liuget donated $10,000 to the fund and John, the scholarships are going to go to a graduating member of the football team who exhibits qualities of Coach Feis and some of those qualities were, you know, having a big heart and of course putting others before himself.

BERMAN: It's been interesting watching the sports community with the outpouring of emotion, you know, for Parkland. We saw the Florida Panthers yesterday, we saw Anthony Rizzo, you know, (INAUDIBLE), baseball player who went --

SCHOLES: Dwayne Wade. Yes.

BERMAN: Who went there. Dwyane Wade, so it's really nice to see people rally behind them.

Andy Scholes, thanks so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

BERMAN: All right. Happening now, more than 50 million people from Philadelphia to Boston are now facing a new winter storm threat. We're talking about more rain, more snow, wind gusts up to 50 miles per hour. The wind not so much the problem as it was last time. This time it is the snow. More than a foot of snow expected in some places, although it's not so bad yet in New York City.

More than 2,000 flights have been canceled. The real problem particularly in some parts of New York, West Chester County, thousands of people are still without power from last weekend's storm. They didn't get the power back and now today they could face a foot of snow.

All right. Thanks so much for joining me today, I'm John Berman. "AT THIS HOUR" starts now.