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President Team Has Back And Sounds Off On Everything; President Trump Says He Is Considering A Full Pardon For Boxes Legend Jack Johnson Some 71 Years After His Death; Melania Trump Is Keeping Her Head High And Her Focus On Classic First Lady Duties; Massive Multi- Agency Search For A Killer Near Nashville; Aired 7-8p ET

Aired April 22, 2018 - 19:00   ET



[19:00:24] ANA CABRERA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Thanks for being with us on this Sunday.

Our breaking news, police are warning residents in the Nashville area lock your doors, stay alert, keep your eyes open, a gunman is on the loose after murdering four people at a waffle house. Just a short time ago, a stunning detail emerged that the suspect, 29-year-old Travis Reinking, was arrested by the secret service last year for crossing a security barrier near the White House. He apparently wanted to set up a meeting with President Trump. Now, nine months later police say he went on a rampage at this restaurant armed with an AR-15 and wearing a jacket but nothing else.


DON AARON, NASHVILLE POLICE DEPARTMENT: Reinking entered the restaurant and got out of the truck new except for a green jacket. A block away from the waffle house, or not even a block, he shed the green jacket and continued southbound on Murphy's Borough pike on foot. When we recovered that green jacket, there were two magazines containing AR-15 ammunition. He clearly came armed with a lot of fire power intending to devastate the south Nashville area.


CABRERA: The carnage only stopped because of the heroics of a customer who disarmed him with his bare hands.


JAMES SHAW JR., WRESTLED AR-15 FROM GUNMAN: The gun was kind of jammed up and he was pushed down so we were scuffling. And I imagined to get him with one hand on the gun. And then I grabbed it from him and threw it over the counter top. And then after that, I was trying to get out the door. And think he was pretty much in the entranceway, so I just took him out with me.


CABRERA: I want to bring in CNN's Dianne Gallagher. Dianne, the suspect is still out there. The fear is he may have more

weapons on him. What can you tell us?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. That's right, Ana. He has been added to Tennessee's top ten most wanted at this point. People who live in this immediate area are really on alert right now because they are not sure where he is. And part of that is because at one point in his life, the state of Illinois, they confiscated four weapons of his.

One of the weapons was used in this crime, that AR-15 at the waffle house behind me. They say another was found in his apartment when they went to look for him. The other two are unaccounted for at this point. So they do not know if he has those weapons on him. Again, they were taken away from him according to authorities in Illinois. His father gave them back to him, even though his authorization to have weapons in Illinois had been revoked.

Now this comes after we are just learning, Ana, that back in 2016, he had interactions with police. Different sort of issues that he was having, dilutions that the pop star Taylor Swift was stalking him. That she was accessing his Netflix account. That they were supposed to be meeting in places. He believed that his parents, the FBI were involved in watching him. And he was talking about killing himself, shooting himself at the time.

So authorities in Illinois have had interactions with him before dealing with mental health issues. Police here say that, look, as far as they are concerned when he came to this parking lot, he seemed to have just have one thing he was going to do.


AARON: At 3:19 a.m., Travis Reinking arrived in the parking lot of the waffle house in his pickup truck. Reinking sat inside the pickup truck for three-and-a-half to four minutes just looking at people inside the restaurant. After about four minutes, Reinking got out of his truck armed with an AR-15 rifle and started shooting. There were two persons standing outside the restaurant. They were the first ones who were hit both fatally. Reinking then entered the restaurant and began shooting.


GALLAGHER: And I spoke to some of the witnesses, Ana, here, people who were in that restaurant. They say that at no point did he ever really say anything. He was just - he was shooting.

CABRERA: Chilling details there. Dianne, tell us more about the man being hailed a hero.

GALLAGHER: Yes, this is a man that everybody wants to speak to at this time. They love him. He is somebody who everybody just adores, James Shaw Jr. He doesn't feel like he did anything special. She says, look, I was just trying not to get myself killed in this. And it is him or it was me. And I was going to make sure that it was going to be hard for him to make it me.


[19:05:01] SHAW: I was just really waiting for a moment, like, just a moment that he was going to give me. And he gave me that moment. He gave me that moment when he put the barrel, the barrel of the gun was aimed down. And then I just decided to kind of go for it and went for it and ran for the door. And it worked out for me. So, it worked out for me.


GALLAGHER: Very humble hero there. Does not want to be called a hero. And again, four people killed. Their family is dealing with that tonight. Two women who remain in the hospital with gunshot wounds.

CABRERA: Thank you for the reporting, Dianne Gallagher. We appreciate it.

Let's discuss now with two CNN law enforcement analysts Art Roderick is a former assistant director for the U.S. Marshall's office and Jonathan Wackrow, former U.S. secret service agent.

Jonathan, welcome. We have spoken with Art the last couple of hours. He has been walking us through this manhunt. But I want to get your take on now what we have learned about the circumstances of this shooting. What do you think happened here?

JONATHAN WACKROW, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, listen. Obviously, we are dealing with somebody that, you know, on the continual behavior, he falls within, you know, concerns that has mental health issues. So this is a really dangerous situation art has talked about before. But this is a really dangerous situation for law enforcement as they go out to, you know, conduct this manhunt. You have somebody that is potentially mentally unstable, now fearing that, you know, the pressure is closing in on him. There's physiological and psychological, you know, factors that are now making this, you know, individual really volatile, you know, to potential attack against law enforcement, the general public. So this is a real situation.

CABRERA: It has been more than 14 hours, Art, since the initial shooting. This manhunt is still going to. We know, there are federal and local agencies involved. And the sun is scheduled to launch in Nashville in less than 30 minutes. So it is getting dark fast.

Walk us through the search right now.

ART RODERICK, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. You just, right there, encapsulated the issues that law enforcements is going to have it. Also, looks like it is raining there. So you have got some weather condition that are going to weigh in to the search.

But you know, having to look at that Taylor Swift report from 2016, you know, we are dealing with, as Jonathan mentioned, mental health issues. But I also see in that report that he was suicidal and threatened to kill himself with a firearm. So I keep going back to this possible suicide scenario, but I also

look at the fact that now we have confirmed in a report that the family, specifically the father knew back then, and I'm sure even prior to that, that his son had some paranoid issues or some type of real major mental health issues which culminated with the arrest by the secret service in 2017. Why he actually gave them those weapons back, I have no idea. And it has got to be looked at from the criminal perspective.

CABRERA: And you are talking about that 2016 police report that WBDM got ahold of a mental health worker saying Reinking was suicidal. Believed he was being stalked by singer Taylor Swift. And I quote Travis believed everyone including his family and police were involved. So that is a new clue.

We have also learned, Jonathan, that this suspect went in to - well, ran into the secret service essentially at the White House. He was near the White House. Wanted to speak to the President. Demanded to speak to the President. They warned him. He wouldn't back off. They arrested him. He eventually was charged with a misdemeanor which was later dismissed after he followed up on some community service.

WACKROW: Absolutely. So when he was arrested for, you know, accessing a restricted area of the White House complex, beyond just the trespass charge. What -- his statement that he wanted to see the President, that shows unusual interest to a U.S. secret service protectee. That is going to initiate a protective intelligence investigation where special agents to the U.S. secret service are going to sit down with this individual and ascertain his means opportunity and intent to cause harm towards our protectees,

What that does is it really allows the federal government to look at this individual from many different optics. Financial issues that he may have. You know, known associates, social media, what they will do is whey probably would have tried to get access to mental health records at the time.

Again, when we talk about protective intelligence for the secret service, they dive into this. And this is one of the things they take the most serious to see if this individual is a threat to one of our protectees. So today during this manhunt, law enforcement has a little bit of an advantage. They may already know some of his associates. They may already know where he may be going based upon the investigation that was done at the time of his arrest.

CABRERA: So it kind of gives him a head start. Would they have continued to track him?

WACKROW: Yes. Based upon their assessment, whether or not they thought he was a bona fide threat to the public, the secret service does track individuals after an arrest or after they have been committed from, you know, for a certain period of time, yes.

[19:10:06] CABRERA: Art, national police believe the suspect's father, Jeffrey Reinking, returned the guns to Travis Reinking after they were initially seized by the (INAUDIBLE) county sheriff's office. Could the father be charge now?

RODERICK: Yes. That is going to have to be a question for the district attorney in that particular county or possibly maybe the ATF, I don't know. They will have to look at that specific statute and determine if because his license or his permit to own a firearm in Illinois was revoked because obviously, he is not supposed to be in possession of any firearms. And there could be some charges here especially in the fact that he took that particular fire arm that was returned to him and committed this heinous crime. Basically aiding and abetting in the committing of a homicide. So there could be charges here. It is going to take a little while to sort this out. But obviously, the father has come out to readily admit that he turned those weapons back over to his son.

CABRERA: Jonathan, I can't get this image of my head of this hero wrestling the gun out of the hands of the shooter. The bravery that it must have taken. What is your reaction when you hear this story?

WACKROW: So this is amazing. So how many times have myself and Art and other law enforcement analyst been sitting in this seat talking about active shooter situations. We always preach, run, hide, fight. And if you can't run from the threat, you can't hide from the threat, you fight. Mr. Shaw chose that and he committed to it. And his, you know, heroic act saved lives. He committed to the fight, and he stopped the chain of violence at that moment of time and the suspect fled. I mean, he is an absolute here. You know, he doesn't call himself a hero, but he is.

CABRERA: He said, I was thinking selfishly at that moment. I was protecting myself.

WACKROW: In those instances, it is about self-preparation. And that is why DHS has tried to distilled down actions -- run, hide, fight for the individual to make sure that everyone has the ability to survive a horrible situation.

CABRERA: We all learned a lot from him today.

Thank you so much Jonathan Wackrow and Art Roderick. We appreciate it.

Coming up, the President's plan to Russia probe as a complete witch- hunt even as his aides insists he has no intention of firing the special counsel.

And later, Trump considers a pardon for boxing's first black heavy weight champion, Jack Johnson. How Sylvester Stallone of Rocky Fame played a role in getting the idea before the President.


[19:16:34] CABRERA: Tonight, loyalty and lies. The Trump team has back and sounds off on everything from whether the President's fixer will flip on him to the Probability he fires the special counsel.

First, here's counsellor to the President, Kellyanne Conway weighing in on Trump's defense of Michael Cohen, the personal attorney now under criminal investigation.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: I'm telling you that the President's concern has been for Michael Cohen and the way he has been treated. And he has said that again and again in tweets and again and again with the cameras rolling with the media in the cabinet room and elsewhere. And why is that? Because I see people go on TV constantly who don't know President Trump at all and say, he is loyal to no one but himself. That is completely not true. He stands up for people in his inner circle and people he knows when he thinks they are being treated unfairly.


CABRERA: Cohen is hardly the only one at the center of speculation. Today, the White House faced questions yet again about Trump's plans for the special counsel and the man overseeing the Russian probe, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.


MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS DIRECTOR: When is he going to fire Rosenstein? When is he going to fire Mueller? We have the same conversation. As far as I know, the President has no intention of firing these individuals.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right. But it is always as far as you know and the President. He never says definitively, why not?

SHORT: He has no intention.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitively, it is not going to happen. This investigation is going to run its course, period. End of story, period.

SHORT: Because you don't know how far the investigation is going to veer. Right now, he has no intention of firing them.


CABRERA: CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez joins us from West Palm Beach, near the President's Mar-a-Lago estate.

Boris, I'm sure the White House would rather be taking questions about the upcoming visit from the French President, but the President's tweets this weekend, at least, have really steered the conversation elsewhere.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: As they often do, Ana. Another weekend, another tweet storm from the President. This weekend, he went after a number of opponents, both political and in his eyes in the media as well. The President tweeting about former FBI director James Comey, about Democrats, about "The New York Times" and also, sort of making a sarcastic remark about his own justice department and the potential for them to open investigations into not only James Comey but his former 2016 campaign opponent, Hillary Clinton, as well.

The President clearly views the justice department as an extension of his power. And he's several times voiced frustration that they are not carrying out his wishes, whether it be Jeff Sessions recusing himself from the Russia investigation or the continued investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

In one tweet, he sent out earlier today, sort of kept it short and sweet. He simply writes quote "a complete witch-hunt."

And another tweet that he sent out, sort of comical, amusing but nonetheless serious, the President going after some reporting in "the Washington Post" about the way that he references his attorney general and his deputy. Here's that tweet. He writes quote "the Washington Post" said I refer to Jeff Sessions as Mr. Magoo and Rod Rosenstein as Mr. Peepers."

This is according to people with whom the President has spoken. There are no such people and don't know these characters. Just more fake and disgusting news to create ill-will. So the President denying he knows who Mr. Magoo or Mr. Peepers are.

We should note, this reporting has been long out there for months. So it is not clear why the President chose this weekend to bring this up and to try to clarify that he is not called his attorney general or his deputy by those cartoon monikers. The reporters behind these stories, by the way, are standing by their reporting - Ana.

[19:20:06] CABRERA: Boris Sanchez in West Palm beach, Florida, thank you.

Coming up, how a call from Sylvester Stallone led the President to consider a full pardon, a (INAUDIBLE) pardon for a famous and controversial African-American Boxer.

Stay right there.


[19:24:47] CABRERA: President Trump says he is considering a full pardon for boxes legend Jack Johnson some 71 years after his death. Johnson, the son of former slaves, made history in the early 20th century as the first black man to earn the title of heavyweight champion of the world. He became champion in 1908 at a time when boxing was mostly segregated sport.

Now a few years later, he was convicted by an all-white jury of taking his white girlfriend across state lines for quote "immoral purposes." Supporters say the law he was convicted under was racist and they sought a pardon for him for years. While the President now tweeting that it was none other than actor Sylvester Stallone of "Rocky" fame who encouraged him to look at this case.

He wrote of Johnson, his trials and tribulations were great. His life complex and controversial. Others have looked at this over the years. Most thought it would be done, but yes, I'm considering a full pardon. I want to bring in my panel now. CNN political commentator and "New

York Times" op-ed columnist, Charles Blow and CNN contributor and former NFL wide receiver Donte Stallworth.

So guys, this is a president who is taken a strong stands against black activism in sport. He famously said this about NFL players who kneel during the anthem.


[19:26:05] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see one of the NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag. He said get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He is fired. He is fired.


CABRERA: He has also attacked other black athletes for their politics like NBA champion Steph Curry who had his invitation to the White House rescinded, even though he said he wasn't going to go.

But Charles, all that consider, why do you think he is now interested in writing this 100-year-old wrong involving a controversial also legendary black athlete?

CHARLES BLOW, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: First of all, I would like to say if he does pardon him, I think that's a good thing. The problem is that his motivation he gives away in the tweet itself, which is that others have looked at it.

No, not a lot of people say, they really start the petition in 2004, that's Bush. And they really petitioned Barack Obama, they think he would do it and he declined to do it. So the pattern for Trump's entire presidency and in fact his candidacy was, I will undo everything that Barack Obama has done. And I will do everything that he did not do.

CABRERA: So you think that's the motivation.

BLOW: Well, that's what he says. He says, others have looked at it. Only two people have seriously been petitioned to do this, Bush and Obama. And we thought it would have been done and they didn't. And now I can't do it. So, I mean, think that is part of it. And there's no other way to get around it.

CABRERA: Dante, the effort to pardon Johnson, as Charles mentioned, has failed before. Most recently in 2016 when this bipartisan group lobbied the Presidential administration. President Obama, of course, himself an African-American trailblazer as a sports fan, why do you think Obama pardoned Johnson?

DONTE STALLWORTH, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: That's a good question. I think one of the things from what I have heard earlier is that they have choose to like most presidents do choose to pardon living people that could actually kind of benefit from being pardoned. But I think if the President was really serious about trying to right

wrongs, I think he would engage in a conversation about and around criminal justice reform in this country in general. He has failed to do that. He has not delivered or even suggested any type of plan, a comprehensive plan, to the kind, you know, of reform some of the wrongs or try to right the wrongs that have happened over the last few decades. And so, if he was serious about that, then he would have to very least come out and apologize to the central park five, who he still says is guilty of that crime, even though they were exonerated through DNA evidence and later the guy who actually committed those murders while serving time came out and said that it was him and DNA corroborated his story.

So he is not serious about criminal justice reform. If he was, then I think he would also be engaged in, which is probably one of the biggest bipartisan issues on the Hill. Both sides of the aisle have wanted to engage in criminal justice reform. And for some reason, we just haven't gotten it done.

CABRERA: Would it be surprising then for President Trump to do this? To move forward with the pardon?

STALLWORTH: I think it will be interesting. And you know, I try not to be disrespectful to the family of Jack Johnson, and particular Ms. Linda Hayward who has been out there to forefront fighting for her great uncle to be pardoned. I'm not sure if it was President Bush, but definitely she asked President Obama and he declined. So it would be like, you know, like Charles said, it would be a good thing, but his political motives behind it, I'm not too convinced that he is doing it to right wrongs.

CABRERA: Charles, you are critical of the motivation, but there are a lot of people who may not even have known who Jack Johnson was. Should the President get credit for raising this issue up?

BLOW: Well, we invoked Obama before. There is contexts as needed here. Obama uses executive clemency for almost 2,000 people, most of those were coming from cases of sentences. Almost all of them were for these racist drug laws that snared a lot of minorities. So I don't think we should ever invoke this potential pardon that has not happened yet as some way to say that Obama did not do enough. Because he did more than his six predecessors combined in terms of executive clemencies.

[19:30:31] CABRERA: And I wasn't --.


BLOW: But I just want the readers - the viewers, to get the context of saying, there's this one, but there's 2,000, no other President other than FDR used exact clemency more than Obama did. And he was doing it to alleviate the penalties of racist policies on black people primarily.

CABRERA: Do you think it is important to note that the justice department policies has processing pastimes (ph) pardon petitions has grand in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on the part and commutation request of living person. That very well could have played a role.

BLOW: And even the idea of pardoning dead people is very recent and very rare.

CABRERA: Bill Clinton and George Bush both did.

BLOW: Right. Those are the only two Presidents who have ever done it, right. And only -- I think there's only one case in each of the presidencies, so it is very rare and recent. So I think we have to say that to say, please do this, President Obama. And, at the same time, there's no absolution for your racist behavior so far. No absolution on your entire history on race in this country. And particular the issue of race while you have been President in this country. Those will be operated separately in our minds.

CABRERA: Donte, do you think there is political calculation to Trump supporting this?

STALLWORTH: Again, you know, you look at some of the things that he has done throughout his presidency and even while he was on campaign. I'm not convinced that he's doing it out of the kindness of his heart. There has to be some type of political motivation, you know, just like what he did with Scooter Libby when he pardoned him I believe it last week. Obviously, those were all politically motivated. So I'm not sure - I like to believe, you know, I tried to see the good in anybody, but his history and his past actions would prove me wrong on this one as well.

CABRERA: Charles, what do you think actually got the President's attention on this? Do you think it was the Sylvester Stallone reaching out, somebody famous?

BLOW: Sure. I don't think he probably knew who Jack Johnson was either.

CABRERA: Although he is a boxing fan.

BLOW: Yes. He is not a history fan. And he is not a fan of books.

CABRERA: That is a fact.

BLOW: Exactly.


BLOW: And also, it doesn't fit in pattern, right. So he is granted three pardons so far, right. So the first was Arpaio. They are about bucking the system. Sorry about that. Bucking the system. One is Arpaio was in, you know, criminal contempt of court. There is another was a guy in the Navy that took pictures they shouldn't have taken of a submarine. And when he was interviewed by the FBI, he kind of destroyed the camera, destroyed the computer, charged with other things, obstruction of justice. And then he has pardoned Scooter Libby, who is charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. CABRERA: And lying to the FBI.

BLOW: Right. And perjury and obstruction, yes. So there's a pattern to what he has been doing. So this doesn't fit the pattern. So yes, maybe there is some another reason. And I think it is the Obama factor. He found out that Obama was asked to do this. It is a good thing to do. Obama, for whatever reasons, did not do it. And he is saying, I can do it.

CABRERA: Charles Blow, Donte Stallworth, thank you both. Great to have you in that interesting conversation. I really appreciate it.

Coming up, they have come from a long way from that infamous handshake. President Trump prepares to host French President Emmanuel Macron for his first state visit. The white-knuckle handshake. We will take a look at the pop and politics, next.


[19:38:21] CABRERA: It is shaping up to be one of the most consequential weeks for President Trump since he took the office when it comes to national security, not only will he host the President of France this week for talks with North Korea, Syria and Iran. His CIA director Mike Pompeo is on track for a negative recommendation from the senate committee considering his nomination as secretary of states.

Pompeo, you may recall is fresh off a visit to North Korea where he was helping to negotiate this historic summit upcoming between President Trump and Kim Jong-un.

Today, Trump sounded optimistic about those talks as he boarded air force one in West Palm beach, Florida.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you have a message for North Korea, sir?

TRUMP: Very good, very good.


CABRERA: We have the subtitles there. But in case you are listening and not watching, he said, very good, very good, when asked about his thoughts on North Korea.

And this brings us to the weekend Presidential brief. A segment we bring you every Sunday night highlighting the most pressing national security information the President will need when he wakes up tomorrow. And here to bring it to you, CNN national security Analyst and former national security council adviser, Sam Vinograd. She spent two years helping prep for the President's daily brief in the Obama administration.

So Sam, what do you think Pompeo may have discussed on this North Korea visit? SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think Pompeo

probably talked to Kim about what Kim wants out of this negotiation. President Trump has said that we have not given the North Koreans anything yet. But if North Korea is going to give up its crown jewels, Kim is going to want something. And so, I think he has a summit shopping list.

First and foremost, Kim cares about Kim. He is going to want some kind of security assurance for his own safety and so that he can stay in power. I think he is deeply aware that people like John Bolton and Mike Pompeo have talked about regime change in the past.

Second, he cares a lot about international recognition. He wants to be part of this old elite club of countries that can say that they built nuclear weapons successfully. So before he gives them up, I think he is going to want the President to say on the global stage, North Korea was able to do it.

Third, Kim needs money. Sanctions are biting and Kim have lavished spending habits on things like his military, his ski resort, celebrity visits and name your pet projects. He also warrants foreign investment in his economy, so he will want sanctions lifted in some way or even direct economic assistance.

And finally, Kim wants to be viewed as a unifier on the peninsula, unifier and chief, if you will. And so, I think he wants the President to give him the opportunity to sign some kind of document to saying that North Korea ended the war and reunited the north and South Korean families.

[19:41:00] CABRERA: Fascinating that you just laid out four different items. Mark these words. We will see what comes as these negotiations move forward. I'm sure when Macron arrives in town, he is going to want to talk a little bit about North Korea as well. What else do you think might be on that agenda with the President and Macron?

VINOGRAD: I think Macron has a lot on his plate. He has been seducing President Trump for over a year now. But the politics have gotten much more complicated for Macron. His approval rating has fallen to about 40 percent in France. And President Trump gets a 14 percent approval rating in France. So Macron is going to want to go back home and say, he scored some wins.

I think he will probably start with Russia. Macron has not been a wilting flower on Russia. He was standing next to Vladimir Putin last year and accused Russia of meddling in the French election, for example. So I think he will want some sort of joint statement about Russian election interference. And Trump could uses this as a chance to ask the French, for example, to sanction oligarchs like the administration did a few weeks ago.

On Syria, I think Macron is going to be looking for a U.S. commitment to keep U.S. troops in Syria. He actually said publicly that he is the one that convinced President Trump to keep his troops there. So I think he will want to revisit that. And President Trump could, in turn, push Macron to commit more resources, for example, to the fight against ISIS in Syria.

Iran is probably going to be the most complex issue that Macron will address. He knows that the President is looking to decertify the Iran deal on May 12th. So I think he's coming and going to use all the leverage that he can to try to convince Trump to stay in the deal. And may even say that Europe will put more sanctions on Iran in place of any changes to the deal, if only the United States will stay.

And finally, Ana, trade, we have been talking a lot about trade wars recently. And the EU got exemption from the recent steel and aluminum tariffs, but that exemption is going to expire. So I think Macron wants to go back to Paris, go back Brussels and say that he convinced President Trump not to start more trade wars.

CABRERA: We will see. Sam Vinograd, always good to have you. Thank you.

VINOGRAD: Thank you.

CABRERA: Coming up, the first lady in (INAUDIBLE). How Melania Trump may have become President's secret weapon amid a lingering scandal.


[19:47:35] CABRERA: She stays above the fray and is praised by people on both sides of the aisle. Melania Trump has been called her husband's secret weapon. And this week, the once reluctant first lady will be front and center.

Here's Dana Bash.


DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former first lady Barbara Bush was referred to as her husband's not-so-secret secret weapon.


BASH: Now President Trump may have found a not-so-secret weapon of his own.

TRUMP: I just want to thank first lady Melania Trump.

BASH: Melania Trump solo Saturday representing her husband at consoler in-chief at Barbara Bush's funeral, an event President Trump chose not to attend out of respect for the Bush family.

BUSH: I don't know how women can vote for someone who said what he said about Megyn Kelly. It was terrible.

BASH: As her husband's controversies hit closer and closer to home --

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I remember thinking, how can your wife think there's a one percent chance you were with prostitutes teeing on each other in Moscow?

BASH: Melania Trump is keeping her head high and her focus on classic first lady duties. Behind the scenes, Melania Trump is overseeing details of their first state dinner hosting French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife Bridget next week.

TRUMP: There's truly no better ambassador for our country than our beautiful first lady, Melania.

BASH: The first lady taking the lead might be a good thing for President Trump, given his view of state dinners as a candidate.

TRUMP: I say, why are you doing state dinners for them? Just take them to McDonald's and go back to the negotiating table, seriously?

BASH: Now, of course, he is President and wants to reciprocate after the French rolled out the red carpet for the Trump's last year.

TRUMP: I was your guest at the (INAUDIBLE). And one of the greatest parades I have ever seen.

BASH: It's a high pressure role for any first lady, especially for one who even her husband admits is taking a lot incoming.

TRUMP: Great. Great first lady. You think her life is so easy, folks? Not so easy.


CABRERA: That was Dana Bash reporting.

Joining me us now is Kate Andersen Broward, author of "First Women: the Grace and Power of America's modern first ladies."

Kate, thank you for being here.

The White House just released a photo of Melania Trump with the former president and first ladies who attended Barbara Bush's funeral yesterday. You think of what her husband as publicly said about some of them that Bill Clinton was abusive to women. That Hillary Clinton is crooked. That Obama wiretapped him and so on and so on. What have we learned about Melania's ability to maintain her poise through every scandal?

[19:50:13] KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, AUTHOR, FIRST WOMEN: I think she's very confident and self-assured. And I think she sees her role separately from him. I mean, she on twitter came out offering condolences separately from her husband when Barbara Bush passed. They seem to be operating in two separate spheres in a way that's a bit unusual. We didn't see that with President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama when they were in the White House. And Melania Trump in many ways has been ahead of her husband on twitter and has been, as you say, kind of the consoler in-chief in a way that he is not been able to.

CABRERA: Let's turn to the preparation for the upcoming state dinner for President Macron from France. We have learned that Melania did not hire an event planner. How unusual is that?

BROWER: Well, it is not that unusual. She has a social secretary who worked at a firm called design cuisine here in Washington and is very experienced with catering and big, high-pressure events. So really it's the first lady working with the social secretary on every detail.

I was really interested that they are going to be doing a private dinner with the French president and his wife the night before at Mt. Vernon and that of course is where the Jackie Kennedys and President Kennedy in 1961 hosted the President of Pakistan. And it is the only state dinner outside of Washington ever be held. So I think in a way Melania is trying to pay a bit of respect to Jackie Kennedy and the glamour of that White House. But it's not the state dinner. It is going to be a private dinner the night before. But I think it is fascinating.

CABRERA: How much pressure is on the first lady for a state visit?

BROWER: A lot. I think that there is a lot riding on it. It is their first state visit really interesting thing happened in the late '90s when Hillary Clinton had a state dinner for the President of Argentina. And it was a '99 right around the time of the impeachment hearings and she danced the tango with her husband who is under siege at the time. And I think it was a sign that the two of them were united and a united front so I think as Melania can in some way make it look like she is standing beside her husband while he's really, you know, his character is being called into question, I think that will be very powerful.

CABRERA: You mentioned this special dinner that they're having. That's aside from the actual state dinner at Mt. Vernon. Who can forget the elaborate meal that they had with the Macrons and the Eiffel Tower? And so, of course, this would be returning the favor, right?

BROWER: Yes. It would be. I mean, Mt. Vernon is gorgeous, right on the banks of the Potomac. It is a really smart idea. And I think people belittle state dinner as in belittle this side of the White House, the kind of east wing side of the White House. But it's incredibly important.

If you look back at history and 1939 the Roosevelts invited the king of England right on the brink of World War II to kind of get Americans support of going into the war if London was bombed. I mean, it is something that can be used for a lot of diplomatic reasons. The social secretary at the White House, you know, Desire Rogers, was the Obama social secretary and had a Harvard MBA. It is not a job that it easy and where you sit - see people is very political. A lot of favors is being re-paid. And it is a very political job. So it's an important night, absolutely.

CABRERA: We were told that President Trump himself wasn't involved in planning for this state dinner. Is that unusual?

BROWER: You know, what is unusual is that it was reported by the AP that he is not -- that no journalists were invited and no Democratic members of Congress were invited. And that is unusual. Usually, there's an olive branch extended to the other side of the aisle and to journalists who maybe have ties to the country. And maybe you would pick a journalist who is, you know, has relatives from France or who's French. I mean, it is just unusual to not invite any journalists or any Democrats to the dinner. So that's certainly a statement, if true and the AP is reporting that.

CABRERA: We will continue to watch. Obviously. We will see who ends up showing up.

Kate Andersen Brower, always good to talk with you. Thank you for being here.

BROWER: Thanks, Ana.

CABRERA: Coming up, the urgent manhunt that is happening in Tennessee right now. A semi-naked gunman apparently was wielding a rifle, open fired inside a waffle house killing four people. We will tell you about the hero who helped wrestle this gun away from the shooter before he got away.


[19:59:22] CABRERA: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York. Hello on this Sunday.

We are following breaking news right now. A massive multi-agency search for a killer. Police say that the FBI, the ATF, all are hunting for a man who opened fire on a waffle house. This was near Nashville this morning. The gunman who witnesses say was naked except for a jacket, shot four people dead. Two outside, two inside. Before a customer jumped on him, grabbed his rifle and put a stop to the killing.

And this is the man police are desperately searching for right now. Travis Reinking, 29 years old. He has been on the run or hiding since before dawn today. And just a start time ago, a stunning detail emerged that the suspect was arrested by the secret service last year for crossing a security barrier near the White House. He apparently wanted to set up a meeting with President Trump.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher is in Nashville for us.