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Trump Announces Tariffs On $50b Of Chinese Goods; Trump On Immigration: I Wont Sign The Moderate Bill; Kremlin Does Not Rule Out Trump-Putin Meeting This Summer; White House Recruits At Jobs Fair Today; Scalise Records First Out At Charity Baseball Game. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired June 15, 2018 - 12:30   ET



[12:31:07] JOHN KING, CNN HOST: I want to bring you some fascinating detail of just what happened inside the federal courtroom today when Judge Amy Berman Jackson decided to send the former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort to jail because of allegations of witness tampering. The judge looking directly at Paul Manafort and telling him, "The harm in this case is harm to the administration of justice and harm to the integrity of the court system. This is not middle school. I can't take away his cell phone. I thought about this long and hard, Mr. Manafort. I have no appetite for this."

Judge Jackson also acknowledging the debate about the whole case, saying this hearing is not about politics, is not about the conduct of the office of the Special Counsel. So that stern warning from the judge as she sent Paul Manafort to jail. We'll keep track of that case.

Some other big news today, President Trump today slapping $50 billion on new tariffs on Chinese imports. China immediately called it a trade and immediately announced it will retaliate. Financial market also react.

When you take a look right there, the market down nearly 220 points as we go through the day. That in reaction to this talk of a trade war, the reality now of a trade war. CNN's Chief Business Correspondent Christine Romans explains the fine print.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: John, the President this morning on his trade agenda saying the U.S. isn't the one who started a trade war.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The trade war was started many years ago by them and the United States lost.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you're saying we're on the losing end of it.

TRUMP: Well, no. There is no trade war, they've taken so much. So last year, $375 billion in trade deficit with China. We had overall $800 billion over a period of years, each year close to $800 billion in losses on trade. Not going to happen anymore. It's not going to happen.


ROMANS: So the China tariffs are back on. The President says trade with China is unfair. The situation, no longer sustainable. And he's targeting technology that China has vowed to dominate. Xi Jinping's made in China 2025 initiative. There will be a 25 percent tariff on 1100 or so product categories, what the U.S. calls industrially significant technologies. Like aerospace equipment, tech, manufacturing, medical supplies.

U.S. companies pay the price. They pay the tariff to the U.S. government when they import these goods. Companies can either absorb the higher cost or pass it along to consumers. Quick reaction from Chinese Commerce Ministry said the U.S. kept changing its mind and is now decide to do launch a trade war.

The tariff tiff has been on and off. They're right there. The White House person build this list in March. Multiple rounds of trade talks in China, a tariff cease fire in May, then that recent summit with North Korea seeing by many is a big win for China, but today $50 billion in tariffs, anyway.

The Chinese vow retaliation, the White House vows more tariffs if China targets farmers or hurts American companies in China. The U.S. move is punishment, we're told, for China stealing trade secrets, for forced technology transfers from American companies, for cyber theft. And it fulfilled Trump's pledge to cut the trade deficit, or at least to try. John?

KING: Christine Romans, thanks for breaking down the numbers. It's a remarkable moment.

On the one hand, this is an issue in which President Trump, candidate Trump, businessman Trump, private citizen Trump has been the most consistent over 25 years or more. He thinks trade practices are unfair against United States and he's promised to do something about it. On the other hand, a lot of Republicans especially in this election you really nervous about this. You say Mr. President, we got below four percent unemployment. The tax cuts are kicking in. Economic growth is good. We have an economic story we can tell in a very tough political climate.

I want you to listen here. This is Gary Cohn, the President's former top economic adviser. He left the White House in part because there's differences with the President on the issue of trade saying, Mr. President, you might regret this.


GARY COHN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE ECONOMIC ADVISER: If you end up with a tariff battle, you will end up with price inflation. You could end up with more consumer debt. Those are all historic ingredients for an economic slowdown.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Could it wipe out the benefits of the tax bill? COHN: Yes, it could.


[12:35:07] KING: And yet the President, he's been told that, and yet he wants to do it, anyway. He believes in this. Why?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: He does believe in this, largely because of the advisers who essentially won the argument, and the adviser is still there. That is a former chief economic adviser. It is, as you said, one of the essential reasons that Gary Cohn is not there anymore.

He's listening to, you know, the protectionist viewpoint here. And the President is basically saying, you know, that I'm friends with President Xi. This will work out but we have to do this. It's unclear if he fully understands the potential implications on this in red states, in Trump states to Trump voters here. You know, the economy is not going to be humming along forever.

Long term forecasts, you know, say that inflation is coming and this could lead to that. So I think it's very -- it's a moment for him, and we're not sure how this will end, and it's not going to be good.

KING: To that point, number one, in map. It's not just China. We have the aluminum tariffs with Canada, Mexico, the European Union, China now take (ph) to a trade war tariff. And I'll call it what you will.

This is a soybean farmer in Illinois to CNBC. "I'm nervous to think about the scenarios of what's going to happen if it does go into effect. In the last three to five years, with the depressed farming economy the way it is, it can certainly hamper us even further. It kind of scares me, to be honest." This is Garry Hartman, listen here, a business owner, who voted for Trump in part because of his economic promises, now nervous.


GARRY HARTMAN, PRESIDENT, CHEETAH CHASSIS: He told us, I'm going to help with that trade issue. And people remember it. People in this factory remember it, you know. If we can't do something, whether it's tariffs or if it's something else to help us have a fair playing field and level field with China, you know, I'm not sure people are going to buy into it for four years.


KING: Taking a risk?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No question. I think the interesting element, probably underappreciated, is how Republican senators some of them up for reelection have been freaking out about this for months behind the scenes. They've had multiple policy lunches about this. They've gone to the White House and raise this. I think the biggest issue more broadly that I hear on Capitol Hill is, they want to know what the strategy is. Is this part of a broader effort right now? Is there some end game here that the White House has mapped out? They have not been told one. They have moments where they think, maybe this is crazy enough to work. But they have more moments where they hear from their constituents. Idealogically, they're opposed to many of these ideas, and they are very uncomfortable where things are. That said, at this point, they're not going to do anything to stop it.

KING: At this point they know he's going to go forward. We'll keep an eye on the markets as well today.

When we come back, lots to talk about more senior officials leaving the White House. The President weighs in on one of them.


[12:42:07] KING: Welcome back. President Trump telling House Republican moderates today they're wasting their time trying to come up with a new election year immigration push.


TRUMP: I'm looking at both of them. I certainly wouldn't have signed --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is the bill?

TRUMP: I need a bill that gives this country tremendous border security. I have to have that. we have to get --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Kind of have the wall? Does that mean the wall?

TRUMP: We have to have the wall. If we don't have the wall, there is no bill.


KING: Two competing versions being worked out in the House. Not sure either one of them can pass the House, let alone the Senate. But the whole issue all along has been why do it at all if the President won't sign it? The President there saying never mind to these moderates. Am I wrong? Wasn't his own staff working with that bill trying to make it a little bit more palatable?

TARINI PARTI, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, BUZZFEED NEWS: It is a Republican-led bill and we've seen the President today and Sarah Sanders yesterday repeatedly blame Democrats for not having a deal of immigration. When here you have Republicans who have been working on this bill along with the administration, and today he just said he is not going to support it. So --

KING: Let me put it up so people at home understand what it is. This is the compromised border wall, one of two bills. $25 billion for border security, including the wall, that's the President wants. Cuts to legal immigration, including family-based visas, the President and supporters want that. Ends to the Diversity Visa program, President wants that. A path to citizenship for DACA recipients, the Dreamers and those eligible and other immigrants like that, an expansion of immigration enforcement powers. What's unacceptable to the President?

MATTINGLY: So here's the interesting piece of this just 24 hours ago, 36 hours ago. Stephen Miller the top trade or top policy guy at the White House and obviously a very key player on trade was telling Republican conservatives a couple days ago the President feel good about where things were going. Speaker Ryan had a conversation with the President behind the scenes for lawmakers. That the President was, quote, excited about this bill. People are completely flustered and perplexed. I just came from the House, I was talking to members.

I've actually had some members say the President didn't know what he was being asked and was confused and thought perhaps he was talking about the discharge petition. That's where we're at right now, that lawmakers were under the impression that the President was going to back this bill. Because as you noted the speaker made clear if it can't get the President's signature, the House shouldn't consider it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made clear.

If the President won't sign it, the Senate won't take anything up. So, if what the President said is what he means about the second bill that they're going to consider next week, it's a kill shot. And so the interesting right now is I've been told they're waiting for a tweet that might clarify things, but they don't know.

KING: To that point, we're 16 months in. The President might not have known what he was being asked. I'm sorry, it's politics 101. If they bring up the word immigration at a sensitive time in negotiations, you're going to say this, no matter what you're asked, make the point you want to make, right?

Casing point, Nancy Pelosi, the Republican immigration bill comes up, she knows exactly what she wants to say.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), MINORITY LEADER: The legislation has been described by our colleagues, and I touched upon, is totally unworthy of America. It's a bad bill to begin with. And so when the President says he's not going to sign it, it just goes to show you how low his standards are.


[12:45:11] KING: It's just -- if the President wants to move this, he says something encouraging. If the President wants to kill this, he says what he says. So I get the idea of the President, it's an election year, the conservatives are going to be mad. I read Breitbart this morning. They're all for Paul Ryan saying he is selling out here to the pro-amnesty crowd. Never mind.

ZELENY: Exactly. And the President has always been frustrated and mad that the funding for his wall still hasn't happened in this GOP- led Congress. He's blamed it on everything else, but that's where his frustration is. But this is just the authorization for that money.

So, the reality here is this is not the President's focus. He wants to talk about immigration for an election year issue, but he's spent very little time actually focusing on getting something accomplished on Capitol Hill on immigration. So, you know, his words this morning, perhaps he was confused. He, you know, it doesn't seem to be at the top of his mind.

KING: If you got to have a communication straight, you're going out to do an interview and you know this immigration issue is at a key point, you got to know what you're going to say no matter the question. You can't be confused, and I'm sorry.

ZELENY: He just went out for a walk this morning.

KING: He just went for a walk. That's just happen now, I'm sorry.

Up next for us here, the President of the United States also talked about Russia this morning. Then his Defense Secretary talked. They work in the same administration. We think.


[12:50:36] KING: Welcome back. Today the President saying why not? The question, would you meet with the Russian President?


TRUMP: It's possible that we'll meet, yes. And I thought -- you know, this all started because somebody -- one of you -- asked should Putin be in the G-7? I said, no, he should be in the G-8. A few years ago, Putin was in what was called the G-8. I think it's better to have Russia in than to have Russia out. Because just like North Korea, just like somebody else, it's much better if we get along with them than if we don't.


KING: That's the President, better in than out, he says of Russia's role in the global states, the President of United States. Here's his Defense Secretary just today speaking at the Naval War College different.


JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Putin seeks to shatter NATO. He aims to diminish the appeal of the western Democratic model and attempts to undermine America's moral authority. His actions are designed not to challenge our arms at this point but to undercut and compromise our belief in our ideals.


KING: Same administration, right?

ZELENY: Same administration and that's certainly is extraordinary. We've heard the President say such friendly things about Vladimir Putin. And we do understand that there is the potential for a meeting, and the President said it this morning as well. It could happen as early as the NATO summit, which is about a month from now. More likely, I'm told, probably in the fall possibly, but the President is eager to have a meeting. It just adds to the list of friends, foes, old allies. Everything seems upside down.

KING: But is it the Defense Secretary's objective to just ignore the President? That's what that sounds like. Just ignore the President, he's going to say what he's going to say. I'm going to pay no attention to the commander in chief. I'm going to call Russia out for what it is.

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. I think that's the objective of a lot of people in the administration on things pertaining to Russia. I think that's what they've said about the intelligence community about Russian meddling even though the President won't back them. Basically you have everybody else and the admin saying, no, this is bad. Russia has done very bad things.

I was saying Jeff during the break that if only Putin had shown to Trump's beauty pageant then maybe he could avoided all of these before. But the meeting itself is actually not the big problem, I don't think. I mean, you have to talk to Russia. You cannot sham (ph). Then they are too big a country. Right, exactly.

And Obama talked to Putin before. That's not that crazy. The crazier stuff is, look, there was a reason that you kicked them out of the G- 8. It was the Crimea invasion.

I was most shocked this week simply by reading Trump's thing that he said about Crimea, which is like, oh, they speak Russian there, so of course they're part of Russia. That is a Kremlin talking point. To protect the rights of Russian speakers is why they could go into eastern Ukraine, Georgia. I mean, it's been brought up for many countries, and to hear the President parodying that is like parodying the Russian talking points. That's the part of that (INAUDIBLE) problematic.

So what is he going to say in that meeting? And that's why a lot of people in the administration like, you know, this can be a lie, this has been nationalized.

KING: Again, if you hear about this issue, go read the Defense Secretary speech that they work out. He says something very different about Putin, Crimea, Georgia. Very different behavior there.

Up next for us here, help wanted? Yes, the White House fears more staff exits? They have a plan to fill those jobs.


[12:57:42] KING: Topping our political radar today, President Trump says he's not getting his due when it comes to North Korea. The President says his new bond with Kim Jong-un will be the key as the negotiations now continue for denuclearization. The President also noticing few things about how people treat the Supreme leader and joked he wouldn't mind similar treatment.


TRUMP: Hey, he's the head of a country, and -- I mean, he's the strong head. Don't let anyone think anything different. He speaks and his people sit up at attention. I want my people to do the same.


KING: The White House now looking to do some hiring. In case in exits, the White House is holding a jobs fair today up on Capitol Hill, hoping to recruit Republican staffers. One job, subject of intense speculation, the White House Press Secretary. The President said today that Sarah Sanders will be leaving, just not soon.


TRUMP: At a certain point, everyone sort of leaves. You have to leave. I'm sort of just staying like a ship, just keep going, bing, bing. But Sarah loves this job, and she's announced -- not with me, I read that same report. Somebody put it out, I think it was CBS, when she said it's a false report, but -- it's fakes news. But at some point, I'm sure she'll leave like everybody leaves and we'll get somebody else. But Sarah has done a fantastic job. No, I don't think she's leaving.


KING: And it didn't take long for the play of the day at the annual baseball charity game between the Congressional Democrats and Republicans. First pitch of the game, hot shot the second base. And look who scooped it up. That's the House Majority Leader Steve Scalise making that play and making a huge comeback, one year after being shot and critically wounded on the practice field.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R), WOUNDED IN SHOOTING LAST YEAR: I still need two crutches to really move around. I started to be able to walk without crutches, but don't quite have the balance to be able to move at a good pace. You know, I could get any ball hit anywhere around me a year ago, and today the mobility is limited, especially laterally, just moving side to side. I mean, that I couldn't do two months ago.


KING: I don't care whether you're a Democrat or a Republican or an Independent, Scalise the big highlight of the 57th annual charity baseball game overshadowing the Republicans 21-5 loss to the Democrats. Republicans don't want to forget that. They'll get it back next year I guess.

Thanks for joining us tonight in INSIDE POLITICS. Have a great weekend. Jim Sciutto is in for Wolf right now.