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CNN NEWSROOM

New Tariffs between U.S. and China; Trump Distances from Cohen; Democrat Looks to Break Barriers. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired August 23, 2018 - 09:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[09:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Cincinnati, right?

MICHAEL KORCHMAR, OWNER AND CEO, THE LEATHER SPECIALTY COMPANY: That is correct, in 1917.

HARLOW: Wow. This is a true American -- a true American business and a true American success story.

You're going to go in front of Congress tomorrow and you're going to say, this is OK. Let these tariffs continue. Let this trade tension, trade war if you will, escalate. Why?

KORCHMAR: Well, I believe it's good -- it's good for our business and it's good for the American manufacturing worker. What I'm going to tell them is that we're one of the few remaining companies in our sector, in our industry, that survived the onslaught of Chinese imports that began in earnest in the late 1970s shortly after I started my career. By 1980, most of our designs that had been duplicated in China and sent back to this country cost below anything we could produce. And by 1982, we'd lost over 30 percent of our sales because of China's lack of respect for our intellectual property and because of China's subsidies to their industries with the clear intent of taking over our manufacturing base.

HARLOW: But now they have slapped --

KORCHMAR: So roll the clock forward to 1999 --

HARLOW: I mean now China has slapped 25 percent tariff on leather goods too, your goods. So how does that help you guys?

KORCHMAR: Yes, Poppy, but the thing of it is, you know, there are two sides to it. One, are you -- if you're manufacturing and selling into the U.S. market, obviously additional tariffs on imports from China help level the playing field and allow us to compete, hire more workers and have increased sales in the U.S.

On the other side of it, exporting to China, something we'd very much love to do, and I'll tell you, I wouldn't be in favor of this if Chinese -- if the Chinese market had been open to our goods. The truth is, the duties already in China on our category -- I shouldn't say duties. Duties but other barriers to trade, taxes, et cetera, equal almost three to four times, depending on the product -- the actual product -- of what we're charging them to come into our country. HARLOW: So --

KORCHMAR: So if China wanted to say, look, we'll open our -- our -- look, we'll be fair with you, the same way you are with us --

HARLOW: Yes.

KORCHMAR: I would not be in favor of tariffs.

HARLOW: I -- and I --

KORCHMAR: I'm a free trader. I really don't like tariffs.

HARLOW: And I hear -- I hear your argument.

Here's the thing. These tariffs, right, on China, you say will help our business. Will help you, will help your workers. You've even said in different articles, will help you hire more and expand your business.

But what about critics that would say, look, you're only looking out for your own business. Look at the big picture here. Look at the Federal Reserve warning yesterday that if this escalates it will depress the economy. Look at soybean farmers in the middle of this country who have taken a huge negative blow because of the tariffs and the serious damage that it is caused them. What about those American workers?

KORCHMAR: Well, I sincerely believe that the net-net of this will be good for American workers. You know, when you -- when you implement bad trade policy for almost 40 years and you do business with a partner that doesn't respect your values or your laws, you -- you -- some day there's a reckoning. You have to show them that if they're going to enjoy your market, you -- they have to support certain -- certain values that you have and allow you access to theirs.

The pain will be far less, Poppy; than people say. In our industry, there's been an exodus out of China to other Asian countries for the last ten years because once China bought our market --

HARLOW: How do you know that, Michael? Hold on, how do -- because all of -- all of these --

KORCHMAR: How do I know that?

HARLOW: No, no, no, all of these tariffs have not changed China's behavior yet, right, when it comes to intellectual property, et cetera. How do you know that the pain will be a lot less than what is being predicted?

KORCHMAR: We did -- we have not had restrictive tariffs on China yet. It's kind of like the old Albert Einstein thing. If you keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result. Well, we've done the same thing for 40 years and the result is not good. So if we're ever going to turn this thing around, we have to do it while our economy is strong, while we have some leverage to bargain with China. By the way, something they respect very greatly. And we need to try and turn this thing around.

And I -- Poppy, just the discussion of these duties, it's not that we -- we might be hiring. We are hiring and have been hiring since the news started coming out that there may be duties.

HARLOW: Yes.

KORCHMAR: So there are new American manufacturing jobs being created right now as we speak.

HARLOW: And -- and we all applaud that. And that's good to see. I think the question is, and Congress, you know, this will be a heated debate I'm sure tomorrow, how many industries are feeling that, right? Is the benefit -- does the benefit outweigh the pain across the sectors? It's an important conversation and I'm glad you're here for it. Michael, thank you.

KORCHMAR: Thank you, Poppy.

[09:35:02] HARLOW: All right, so, ahead for us, the president says that Michael Cohen was, quote, not somebody who was with me that much. You see him right there, and there, and there. The president says Cohen -- Cohen, who the man the president -- who has called himself the president's fixer and said he would take a bullet for him, what was their relationship actually? We'll fact check it ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Michael Cohen, tell me about your relationship with him.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he was a lawyer for me for -- one of many. You know, they always say the lawyer and then they like to add the fixer. Well, I don't know if he was a fixer. I don't know where that term came from. But he's been a lawyer for me. He didn't do big deals. Did small deals. Not somebody that was with me that much. You know, they make it sounds like I didn't live without him. I understood Michael Cohen very well. He -- well, it turned out he wasn't a very good lawyer, frankly, but he was somebody that was probably with me for about ten years and I would see him sometimes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[09:40:08] HARLOW: All right, so that was the president this morning distancing himself from his former attorney, Michael Cohen, a man who once said he would take a bullet for the president.

Joining me now again, Kara Scannell, our reporter, with a look at this relationship that either was really close or not close at all. I suppose it depends when you ask the president, right? Because here is how he described Michael Cohen previously.

Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Believe me, Michael Cohen got calls at 3:00 in the morning, Michael and I would be at dinner, the boss would be calling him all the time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sure.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: Michael Cohen's attorney talking about their relationship.

Well, fact check it for us. Were they close or were they not?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, I mean, their relationship goes back to 2001 when Michael Cohen started buying condos in Trump-owned buildings. And they really forged their bond then because there was a condo dispute and Michael Cohen decided he was going to back Trump, the developer. From that point on, Trump hired him and he'd been working with him at the Trump Organization since 2007.

You know, and over that period of time, Michael -- David Schwartz, that same lawyer we just listened to --

HARLOW: That lawyer, right.

SCANNELL: You know, he has described it to Gloria Borger as, you know, a hot and cold relationship, father and son like. But, you know, he was certainly someone that Trump trusted. Michael Cohen was one of the people that was trying to develop branding for the Trump Tower in Moscow, which was a project that Trump himself was interested in. He also was on the road when Trump was considering whether to run for the presidency. You know, Michael Cohen went out to kind of test some of these states. He wouldn't do that if it was someone that, you know, was not someone that he trusted.

HARLOW: Right.

SCANNELL: And, you know, and as we see in what Michael Cohen just pled guilty to, he was someone that Trump turned to when he wanted to keep negative stories out of the press. So Michael Cohen was there for him for that.

HARLOW: As we -- as we know. That's a good point.

Let me read something else. This is from a "Vanity Fair" article talking about their relationship, et cetera. Let me quote this. Cohen became executive vice president of the Trump Organization and special counsel to Trump, setting up shop in Ivanka Trump's old office, making him one of the highest-ranking employees without a shared last name.

And then in a fundraiser for Trump's 2020 re-election, this is a fundraiser held in June of last year, the president said, quote, Michael's a great lawyer, loyal, a wonderful person, talented and loves being on television.

I mean, and a completely different story from the president now. SCANNELL: Right. I mean once the -- I mean even if you remember when

the FBI raid of Cohen's hotel room, apartment --

HARLOW: Yes.

SCANNELL: Trump was out there like a personal attack.

HARLOW: You know it was -- he was in a cabinet meeting and he was talking about it.

SCANNELL: Yes, the personal attack. And he said it was an attack on America. That was Trump's exact quote because he could not believe that the FBI would raid his lawyer's office.

And then since that period, though, you started to see the distancing, both Trump directly saying that Cohen had done, you know, a very, very small amount of legal work for him, that they weren't that close and that is only now, as we see today, you know, become even more of a -- of the effort to distance themselves. They're not that close.

HARLOW: Right. OK. Thank you for the important fact check. We appreciate it, Kara.

Ahead, a crucial choice for Democrats ahead of the midterms. Will running on impeachment help them or hurt their chances? We'll ask a congressional hopeful what she plans to do, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[09:47:48] HARLOW: Just 75 days until the midterms and Democrats are wrestling with whether to run on impeaching President Trump. Listen to what former Trump campaign adviser Michael Caputo told me just last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL CAPUTO, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: With this one charge that Cohen has made apparently at the president, we know that they have enough now to do it.

HARLOW: OK.

CAPUTO: So it's about impeachment in November.

HARLOW: I got to go. A quick yes or no to this. Is the president closer to impeachment today than he was 48 hours ago?

CAPUTO: I believe so. I believe we've got real problems in the House of Representatives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: If Democrats want to move forward with impeachment, they'll need to win back the House. And a new record number of diverse candidates are trying to do just that. Which brings us to congressional hopeful Sharice Davids. She's a former bartender, Sonic drive-in car hop and, there you see it, MMA fighter turned Ivy League law school grad. The first in her family to go to college. Raised by a single mother. And, if elected in November, Sharice Davids would be the first gay Native American in Congress and the first openly gay person to represent Kansas on the federal level. She joins me now.

Good morning.

SHARICE DAVIDS (D), KANSAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Good morning.

HARLOW: A whole lot of potential firsts.

DAVIDS: Great to be here.

HARLOW: Good to have you. And a whole lot of potential first there.

Let me get to this issue of impeachment and then we'll move on to more of your story.

You told "The Kansas City Star" not long ago, look, we've got to hold off, we've got to wait for the results of the Mueller probe before we start talking about impeachment. I wonder if the felony conviction of Paul Manafort, the guilty pleas from Michael Cohen, as it relates to the president and what he said about the president in court, does that change your opinion on impeachment?

DAVIDS: Well, I would say it definitely makes me that much more adamant that we have to protect the special counsel's investigation and make sure that Mueller is able to continue the work that he's doing. So it doesn't -- it doesn't change my thoughts on it. It just makes me that much more adamant that we have to protect the special counsel's investigation.

HARLOW: All right, let's talk about you and the potential firsts if you win in November. You said you started running, you started this campaign because you felt called to use your skills differently. What do you mean?

[09:50:07] So, I had actually been focusing a lot on policy. And I think that had a lot do with my background, you know, as you mentioned, a first generation college student. I started off getting an associate's degree at a community college here in the third district. And I definitely saw that there were a lot of experiences that weren't represented in policy making. And, you know, as I move forward and learn more about how the federal system works, I definitely saw that I could put -- I could put my skills, you know, and want -- need to make change to use by getting into the political sphere here.

HARLOW: I know you have said you have felt discriminated against in your life before, for example, when you were barred from certain housing in South Dakota, I believe that happened to you. Can you talk about your personal experience with discrimination?

DAVIDS: So, it's interesting because I actually -- while I have definitely experienced forms of discrimination, I also recognize that I have been very fortunate in my life. And, actually, the third district has provided me with a lot of opportunity. And, you know, I like to think that I can take the experiences that I've had that have been negative, as well as the ones that have been positive, and use that to help create, you know, new -- open new doors for folks. And there are certainly a lot of people that experience discrimination in a way that I don't fully understand. And I think that's part of why I know that I have to listen to people and hear what they're -- what they're experiencing so that we can take all of that to D.C. to help make, you know, new legislation that's going to be -- provide opportunity for everyone.

HARLOW: So your opponent come November, Kevin Yoder, said of you recently, quote, she isn't from around here. And then he said this. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. KEVIN YODER (R), KANSAS CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: They don't know Kansas. They don't know our values. And neither of them should be our voice in Washington, D.C.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

HARLOW: He's talking about you, saying you don't know the values of the people of Kansas. To that you say?

DAVIDS: It's laughable. I -- you know, I think that -- I think trying to say that I don't understand Kansas values makes me wonder if he's talking about listening to people or if he's talking about wanting to have, you know, a system where people who work hard are able to make their way and have opportunity. That's what I think Kansas values are. And if Kevin Yoder doesn't think those are Kansas values, then maybe he's not the best person to represent us.

HARLOW: So let's talk about your party and specifically leadership, because, as you know, when it comes to Nancy Pelosi, she's getting a lot of attention from the Republican Party and your fellow Democrats right now. She -- there are some of your fellow Democrats who say she does not represent the future of the party, right? She does not represent Democrats. And she shouldn't be leader if Democrats retake the House.

You are not among them. And we do know that she is a phenomenal fundraiser. I mean since -- you know, $83 million is what she has raised in the 2018 election cycle. It is more than double the next Democrat. And I wonder if you think that she is worth more to your party than your fellow Democrats know right now who are opposing her.

DAVIDS: That's an interesting question. You know, I think that the -- actually, the framing of the question makes me think about how often I hear from people that they're concerned about money and politics in general. I think, you know, the value of fundraising right now in politics is probably too focused on, especially as someone who comes from -- I don't come from a family with money. I don't have access to networks. You know, I didn't come into this with access to networks of people who can write large checks. And I think that that is something that has called a lot of us to want to run for office because it shouldn't be about how much money you can raise. It should be about the value that you can bring as a legislator, as a person from the community to serve your community. And so I think it's really interesting for us to frame a person's value by their -- by their fundraising capacity.

HARLOW: Well, do you think that she represents the future of the Democratic Party, or do you think that Democratic leadership, especially in the House right now, is too old and too white?

[09:54:55] DAVIDS: Well, I definitely think, you know, as somebody who is younger and part of this more diverse group of people, I would love to see more diverse leadership at the table for sure. And I think that, you know, with everything, the future is going to include change. It's going to include more diversity.

HARLOW: Is it too old and too white, Sharice?

DAVIDS: I mean all of Congress on both sides is probably -- definitely not diverse enough.

HARLOW: All right, I think I get your point. I appreciate you being with me. Thanks very much.

DAVIDS: Well, thank you. Thank you. Have a good day.

HARLOW: All right, we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[10:00:10] HARLOW: Top of the hour. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. So glad you're with me.