Return to Transcripts main page


Interview with Senator Mazie Hirono; Stock Selloff Deepens After Trump Announces Tariffs; Powerful Nor'easter Intensifying as It Slams New England; Who Will Replace Hope Hicks?; Me Too and Time's Up to Take Center Stage at the Oscars; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired March 2, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: If that's the result of chaos, then so be it.

SEN. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII, ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE: Well, she's also not talking about chaos in the world and Wall Street, chaos with regard to North -- with North Korea, I should say. And whether or not we're going to get any kind of gun legislation that's reasonable and rationale, we don't know because I personally have experienced what we call the Tuesday Trump, where he says certain things, and then we get the Thursday Trump.

So with regard to guns, he said he had a great meeting with the NRA so I guess the NRA is yelling in his ear after they saw what he said on what we call the metaphoric Tuesday Trump.

BERMAN: Were you encouraged -- I think it was Wednesday, right, actually in this case --

HIRONO: Yes, I know.

BERMAN: I know. I understand what you're saying.

HIRONO: It becomes a new description, Tuesday Trump or the Thursday Trump.

BERMAN: In this case, the Tuesday Trump on Wednesday held a meeting with Democratic senators.


BERMAN: Where he seemed to come out in support. In fact, it wasn't seemed. He did come out in support of some gun control measures. Were you encouraged when you heard that on Wednesday?

HIRONO: But you always have to wait for the Thursday Trump where in this case maybe the Friday Trump where he says he had a great meeting with the NRA. So as with so many other important issues, we don't know where the president stands and that's why the Congress, House and the Senate, should act like the independent branch of government that it is and do what we need to do.

And as far as I'm concerned, really it is not asking too much what the students are saying that we need to have good background checks, we need to raise the age, all of those things are rational. I'd like to get rid of assault weapons.

BERMAN: So are you saying, though, that when the president says these things in these meetings, you simply don't believe him?

HIRONO: Pretty much. He has set a pattern of behavior. It is not as though we don't give him an opportunity to say what he means and does it, but more often than not on these issues he says one thing then a day or two later, maybe not even a day, he does a completely different thing. So the unpredictableness of this president is well known. But the bottom line is, in my view, it's all about himself, all the time, every time, and when he's under attack, he goes through his base and he says those things that he thinks will speak to his base and that will protect him and get us distracted from whatever is going on.

And there is a lot going on with regard to his own White House and people leaving, the Russia investigation that absolutely has to continue and more revelations coming out on a regular basis. The Mueller investigation is one of the most critical things we can do.

BERMAN: Senator, he also, yesterday, announced tariffs on aluminum and steel imports.


BERMAN: Some Democrats have supported this. Sherrod Brown of Ohio came out and said that this will help protect the steel workers in his state. Where do you stand on this?

HIRONO: It is one of those issues that before he makes the big announcement, he should be talking with different people, groups and advisers as to what the ramifications will be. Certainly our own steel and aluminum manufacturers like it. But what's going to happen to those companies and manufacturing entities that use steel and aluminum, and what ultimately is going to be the result for consumers who will probably pay higher prices for the goods that they buy?

BERMAN: Senator Mazie Hirono of Hawaii, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate your time.

HIRONO: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thousands of flights canceled in this nor'easter only expected to get worse as the day goes on. We're tracking this potential bomb cyclone next.


[10:37:40] BERMAN: An update on the breaking news out of Michigan. State police tell CNN that a shooting has occurred on the campus of Central Michigan University. And the Michigan State Police sending resources to assist the campus police.

Again, the shooting happened at Campbell Hall, we are told, which is a dormitory. The suspect is still at large. More information on that expected soon. We're also getting breaking news from Wall Street. The markets

reacting badly to say the least to the president's plan for steep new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

Our Richard Quest at the New York Stock Exchange.

Richard, what are you hearing?

RICHARD QUEST, HOST, CNN'S QUEST MEANS BUSINESS: Well, we were down very heavily at the open. And at the worst point, John, we were off nearly 400 points. We pulled back just a tad if you can see. The Dow is now up about 290 points. But the mood has been set. It is one of concern that was amplified when the president tweeted that trade wars are good, and that the U.S. could win it, it would be an easy win for the United States. And now everybody is working out the ramifications.

There will be no exemptions for most countries. There will be tit- for-tat on ramifications as others retaliate, and we are now I think effectively, if, if next week these tariffs come in, as the president said yesterday at the White House, we have effectively seen the first salvo in a trade war and the market has given its reaction accordingly.

BERMAN: Yes. They may not be done reacting either if that actually happens next week. Richard Quest down on Wall Street.

Richard, thank you so much.

All right. Happening now, a powerful nor'easter is hitting New England. Cities along the coast bracing for hurricane-like impacts. This storm is close to a bomb cyclone. Not sure that matters to the people being affected right now. They just know it's bad. Thousands of flights have been canceled.

Jennifer Gray joins us now with the very latest on the forecast -- Jennifer.

JENNIFER GRAY, AMS METEOROLOGIST: John, you're exactly right. When you're the middle of it, it doesn't matter what it is called. It is just bad. We have seen a lot of rain and even some snow for upstate New York.

There are a lot of different components to this storm, you have the rain and snow, but most importantly you have the wind and you have the coastal flooding threat that is going to be huge over the next 24 hours. Little bit of a changeover to snow in places like New York, Boston, you are all rain and you are extremely windy.

[10:40:03] We could see wind gusts of 70 miles per hour over the next 12 to 24 hours. This storm is sort of lingering along the East Coast. It is going to get out by tomorrow. But in the meantime, coastal flood threat is going to be a huge player in this storm, especially around the Boston area where we could hit near record levels.

As far as the tides go, during the high tides, it's going to happen later this morning. Tonight and then tomorrow. We could be in this for three tide cycles and that's significant. So we're going to see a lot of coastal flooding right along Boston, the Cape as well. And this could rival the storm that we had in January where we saw a lot of flooding there. So the coastal flood threat is a big deal.

Now this is going to slowly start to pull away by the time we get into this evening. We will still have snow across portions of eastern Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York will have a couple of showers and lingering snow showers by Saturday morning. It will pull away. But the wind is going to stick around for much of the day tomorrow. Those wind gusts, like I said, up to 70 miles per hour in some locations throughout the day today.

So, John, this is a big one and it's not going to get out of here until tomorrow.

BERMAN: Yes. So get used to it. All right. Jennifer Gray, thanks so much.

Let's go to a man in the middle of it all right now. Ryan Young in Scituate, Massachusetts, on the sell shore.

Ryan, uncomfortable there right now, yes?

RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And the wind gusts have really changed here. It's picked up in the last half hour or so.

John, we've had to move twice since the last time we did a live shot with you. Remember that water that was pushing on to the area where we were, well, the police department asked us to move. And of course we did. Now we're in this area where we can show you the water and the changing conditions here.

If you look up the street here, I want to show you this, you can see how they blocked off the road. I want to ask my photographer kind of to point out that direction right there. You can see the cop blocking the road in that direction.

What they're doing with firefighters and police officers is they're making sure people who are watching this weather do not get into their way. They want to make sure if people want to evacuate, they have a way to get out of here. The area that we were parked originally is right in this area. And they're actually worried that the water that you see right here is going to make it over this pier in this direction.

The parking lot that we were in before, that is almost completely flooded at this point as well. Some of these are low-lying areas. We do know firefighters are going to provide assistance to the people in their homes if they want to evacuate. There is also National Guard standing by with the vehicles that are a little higher that can go in and get people out. But they are warning people to leave early so they don't have to deal with the waters on the road.

John, we'll be paying attention to this. High tide coming really soon. And remember, there'll be three of them back-to-back. BERMAN: I hope you're paying attention to it, Ryan, as that water

moves up. It does flood in the streets there in Scituate. Thanks so much for being with us.

Ryan Young in Massachusetts.

All right. White House communications director Hope Hicks on her way out after a chaotic week at the White House. One of the people rumored to be a possible replacement joins me next.


[10:47:32] BERMAN: After a week full of turmoil, infighting and investigations, the president heading to Mar-a-Lago today and he might need a break after this week.

Just a recap of some of the biggies, mixed messages from the president on gun control. Is he standing up to the NRA or not? He announced tariffs on steel, an idea most of his party hates. His son-in-law Jared Kushner has security downgraded by the president's own chief of staff, and the communications director Hope Hicks is on her way out.

Joining me now, Jason Miller, a CNN political commentator, former senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign.

Let's start with the uncomfortable stuff first, shall we, Jason? In almost every list of possible replacements for Hope Hicks, your name is on it. Are you headed back to the White House?

JASON MILLER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I'm in a great spot right now, John, and I very much enjoy what I'm doing. But obviously if the president calls you and wants you to help out, you have to listen to him. But no phone calls as of yet.

BERMAN: No phone calls as of yet. But not ruling it out, hardly Sherman-esque. All right. And this is sort of a job application right now. If the president is watching, he can see how you do. He already knows how you do. You don't need it.

Look, after this week, Jason, a lot of people are looking at this and saying, you know, it was a White House in turmoil. There was chaos right there. Whatever message the White House wanted to send, what message do you think has been received?

MILLER: Well, John, I just got back from Asia. I was there this week, I was in Hong Kong and in Beijing, and I can tell you that as we look over the next 50 years of human history, I think really the driving story is going to be the economic competition between China and the United States. And it shouldn't be lost to any of us who are watching right now, the fact that one of the chief economic advisers to President Xi, Liu He, was in Washington this week talking with the Trump administration about trade negotiations.

And I think it was important that President Trump sent a very strong message that he is not messing around. He is tired of American companies getting screwed in this international space particularly with China.


MILLER: And I think that message has been sent. Now it's important that the White House then follows up and starts pushing forward on some of these negotiations as we talked about getting more goods and services into countries like China, and it's very important for people to know that the president is not messing around here.

BERMAN: You mentioned one of the chief economic advisers to China. You know, I don't think it's lost on anyone that one of the chief economic advisers in the White House has threatened to quit over this. Has threatened to quit over placing these tariffs. Again, National Security adviser H.R. McMaster rumored to be on his way out as soon as this month.

[10:50:06] What signals does that send?

MILLER: Well, you're always going to have people who are going to be entering and exiting any sort of administration. But let's not get caught up in the weeds here. I mean, the most important person is the person the people elected, who is Donald Trump. And he's the one who's setting the tone and he's the one who's driving the message, and anyone that comes into this White House is going to be there to work for the president. Nobody voted for these other people, they voted for Donald Trump.

BERMAN: I mean, he isn't leaving. He is not going anywhere.

MILLER: Yes, you have another seven years with him. So it's -- you know, we may as well start to get used to it.

BERMAN: You're working that application really hard right now, Jason Miller. The open meeting on guns on Wednesday, where the president said things that were supportive of gun control measures. It wasn't an issue of he seemed to be, he flat-out did. He stated support for some measures that Democrats like and Republicans don't.

There are people after that meeting who have been saying, you know what, we're not sure if we believe him, people on both sides saying we're not sure if we believe him because the president on immigration did something similar and then didn't end up fighting for it.

Is that a problem that people leave these meetings, these transparent meetings, it's great to see it, but not believing what the president said?

MILLER: Well, ultimately it's going to be the results that come out of it. But I think the fact that the president took these initial steps, both the way he did with immigration, the way he did with reducing gun violence are very important. You also got to keep in mind, John, that the voters who sent President Trump to Washington, they want him to do something different. They don't want him to be like President Bush, they don't want him to be like President Obama, they want him to just fight --

BERMAN: But Jason -- but, Jason, the question here --

MILLER: Fight through this gridlock and get something done here.

BERMAN: The question wasn't -- the question wasn't on whether the meeting should be transparent or not. That was great. It was great to have the open meeting. But the question is, do they believe what he says when he says he wants to raise the age to buy a gun to 21? Can you put that in the bank and the answer that people have right now is no.

MILLER: Well, anything that we heard directly from the president, I think we should take that as being that's where his position is and that's what he like to see in the legislation. I mean, it's pretty remarkable that we had a president -- a Republican president who's willing to put his foot down and say there are some things we have to do to prevent gun violence in the future.

BERMAN: Is his foot down?

MILLER: While also --

BERMAN: I don't know if his foot is down. We don't know if his foot is down.

MILLER: But that was -- no, he had some -- John, he had some pretty tough comments in that open meeting in saying that we have to go and push this forward.

BERMAN: Right.

MILLER: And now again the next part is, and this is really where it falls to staff and it also falls to leaders on Capitol Hill, they have to now work together to this done.

BERMAN: All right.

MILLER: But the president brought them together.

BERMAN: Jason Miller, great to have you back from China, glad you made it back safely. Keep us posted on what you hear over the next few days and weeks. We appreciate you being with us.

MILLER: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: All right. It is Hollywood's biggest night and a big moment for the Me Too movement. Stay with us.


[10:57:37] BERMAN: The 90th Academy Awards this Sunday in Las Vegas. The Me Too and Times Up movements likely will take center stage.

Our Stephanie Elam takes a look at what to expect on Hollywood's biggest night.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The groundswell has been impossible to ignore.

OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA MOGUL: Now that we've all joined as one voice, it feels like empowerment to those women who never had it.

ELAM: All award season, the #MeToo and Time's Up movements have dominated red carpet conversation as the entertainment industry took a stand against sexual assault and harassment. Allegations against numerous Hollywood heavyweights spurred the action with the social calls to action providing an outlet for victims to speak out against their aggressors.

TARANA BURKE, PUBLISHER #METOO CAMPAIGN: It's humbling but it's also empowering, right? I just think that this is such a bold statement for women who work in Hollywood to meet in solidarity with women across the world.

ELAM: Other celebrities have used award seasons to show their support.

ALISON BROWER, DEPUTY EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER: We still see the Time's Up pins at many events and you still hear people at events and on the carpet referring to this movement, referring to the opening up this happened in Hollywood and how important it is to keep the conversation going.

ELAM: At both the Golden Globes and BAFTA Awards, attendees arrived in all black with some bringing female activists as their guest. The SAG Awards featured only female presenters and guests at the Grammys carried white roses in solidarity.

Now the question is, how will the Academy Awards address the surge in activism?

BROWER: ABC and the Academy have both been made pretty clear statements that they hope that they can find a way to appropriately address it possibly within the program but that it won't dominate the conversation.

ELAM: While the Oscars are meant to be a celebration of film's biggest achievement, backlash is expected at the industry's largest hurdles are not addressed during the broadcast.

BROWER: As much as Hollywood wants to celebrate the films and supports the notion that the Oscar should never be completely politicized, I think there would be a backlash if they don't find one official moment within the show to acknowledge this movement.

ELAM: The effects of a major shakeup in the industry rippling into Hollywood's biggest night.

Stephanie Elam, CNN Hollywood.

(END VIDEOTAPE) BERMAN: That is Sunday night. And this year unlike the past few I actually saw a few of the movies. I'm hoping that "Wonder Woman" wins out.

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

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. I'm Erica Hill, in for Kate Bolduan. Washington whiplash.