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Report: Trump Says Iran Deal A Bad Structure Falling Down; Dow Plunges 500+ Points on Earnings Reports; VA Nominee Joins List of Embattled Cabinet Choices. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 24, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We will continue with the breaking news right now, I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN right now, thanks for being with me. Moments ago, the world witnessed the strength of the president's French connection. Emmanuel Macron leader of France just called for additions to the Iran nuclear deal just one of several major headlines coming out of this joint news conference between the two countries leaders including President Trump discouraging one of his own nominees to join his administration.

Will get back to his pick for Veterans Affairs secretary in just a second. But the French president he supports changes to the current Iran deal stressing that he does not want to, quote, tear up the current agreement, which aims to stop Iran from developing nuclear weapons. President Trump, however, is wholly opposed to this deal and he has threatened to reject an extension of the agreement by that May 12th deadline.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a chance, and nobody knows what I'm going to do on the 12th, although Mr. President, you have a pretty good idea, but we'll see. But we'll see also if I do what some people expect whether or not it will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations because this is a deal with decayed foundations. It's a bad deal. It's a bad structure. It's falling down. It should have never, ever been made. I blame Congress, I blame a lot of people for it. But it should have never been made. We're going to see what happens on the 12th. If Iran threatens us in any way, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid.


BALDWIN: We'll come back to his news there on the Iran deal with our CNN international anchor Cyril Vanier. But first Kaitlan Collins I want to talk to you about Ronny Jackson who is the president's pick for the Veterans Affairs secretary. There are now all these allegations he's facing that could up-end his nomination. We now have been reporting he made the White House aware of prior to Monday but despite all of that the president just moments ago, calling him one of the finest people he's ever met.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We are hearing from the president himself on this here, Brooke. After that hearing for Dr. Ronny Jackson has been delayed indefinitely by those senators but now the president is saying he does not want him to drop out. Listen to what he said when he was asked about the state of Ronny Jackson.


TRUMP: I said to Dr. Jackson, what do you need it for? We'll see what happens. I don't want to put a man through who is not a political person. I don't want to put a man through a process like this. It's too ugly and too disgusting. We'll see what happens. He'll make a decision.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you saying, Mr. President, that you will stand behind him?

TRUMP: Oh, I'll definitely stand behind him. He's a fine man. I'd always stand behind him. I'd let it be his choice. Here's a man who has been an extraordinary person, his family, extraordinary success. Great doctor, great everything and he has to listen to the abuse that has to -- I wouldn't -- if I were him -- in many ways I'd love to be him, but the fact is I wouldn't do it. What does he need it for?

To be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren't thinking nicely about our country. But it's totally his -- I would stand behind him -- totally his decision.


COLLINS: The president himself standing by Ronny Jackson, essentially saying because Pompeo couldn't get blocked to become Secretary of State, they are trying to block Jackson from becoming head of Veterans Affairs. But things are not that black-and-white behind the scenes here in the West Wing. Of course, Brooke, officials are very much not sure what is going to happen going forward with this nomination. Some telling me this morning they thought his nomination should be pulled and his nomination is doomed.

They're still trying to decide what to do going forward here because of course they had so much trouble with Pompeo, even though he had the credentials to take this job and we should note before these allegations were made against Dr. Ronny Jackson, he was facing an uphill battle. A lot of people, including the Republicans do not believe he has the experience of Veterans Affairs and though he does have credentials as a doctor, he does not have the credentials to run something that big.

[14:05:00] It's still a very fluid situation. Right now, the president says he's standing by Dr. Ronnie Johnson and he's going to leave whether he steps aside up to Ronny Jackson.

BALDWIN: Kaitlan, thank you. On that I want to move to the Iran deal. Cyril, I heard the line where you have Trump saying we wish to work on this new deal with Iran. Can you tell me what it is the president of the United States wants and what is it about this deal that Macron would be willing to change?

CYRIL VANIER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Look, all we know is the line you just cited. There's no more detail coming from the White House at this hour and coming from the president himself, Donald Trump, at this hour about what this new deal might be.

What we know is what the French president explained, and he went into great deal more detail. He said essentially don't rip up the current deal until you have something else. And for a moment there is not a plan B. So, keep the deal -- this is the French president laying out his argument.

Keep the deal because it curbs Iran's nuclear activity for the next eight years until 2025, and then when those provisions start to sunset, start to fade out, then we need another deal for the post-2025 era. We also need to address Iran's ballistic missile activity, and we also need to address what he calls Iran's maligned influence in the region. This is what the French president wants, in other words he wants extra deals on top of the existing deals. And extra deals are meant to assuage president Trump's concerns.

One of the concerns he has with the current deal that has been made with Iran. The big question is going into this would Mr. Macron be able to prod, push, nudge Mr. Trump toward keeping the current deal? There isn't a whole lot of indication that's going to happen. A couple of hours ago Mr. Trump was saying that deal is insane, is ridiculous. He said nobody knows what I will do on that day May 12 which is the deadline he self imposed deadline, except you perhaps, Emmanuel. That's what we know so far, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Teasing the world until the next episode on May 12th it is what it sounded like from the president of the United States. Cyril, thank you so much.

I want to start right there and discuss this further with me, CNN national security commentator and former Michigan Congressman, Mike Rogers he used to chair the House Intelligence Committee. And voiced strong opposition to the Iran nuclear deal before the U.S. officially signed into it in 2015. Congressman, nice to see you, sir. Welcome.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Great you see you, Brooke. Thanks for having me.

BALDWIN: What's your take on the Iran deal? Why would Iran even agree to a new deal period?

ROGERS: Well, I don't think they would. It certainly wouldn't be in their interest. And I think China and Russia would be nudging them not to accept the deal. All of the things that the French president presented as could we get another deal on top of it are really ideas that a lot of us opposed to the deal put forward at the time. Meaning is there a way to get after their ballistic missile program, which is turning into a dangerous element across the middle east, all of the cash that was given to Iran at the start of the deal, that $150 billion we're seeing in places Yemen.

I was opposed to this deal. I hope the president doesn't rip it up. But if you could get a side deal, can you build sanctions on Iran around their missile program. That would be a powerful thing for the next few years and still keep our allies together around the nuclear deal that I think all of them admitted was flawed. BALDWIN: Are you saying keep with plan A because there isn't a plan

B, but if you're mentioning the side issues, the deal could be --

ROGERS: I wouldn't wait until 2025. We can start doing that now. They're testing missiles outside of U.N. resolutions already. They're already violating U.N. resolutions just in their missile program.

[14:10:00] Keep the nuclear program and he called them four pillars. If he could get the president there, that would be a great outcome for us and our allies.

BALDWIN: Gloria Borger put it best, maybe between Macron, Merkel and May, this week circling the wagons circling Trump, maybe that's where they're hoping to get him.

I want to move on and talk North Korea. The president earlier today was asked about the language he used in describing this upcoming meeting, maybe in June with Kim Jong on who this morning he referred to as honorable. Here he was.


TRUMP: Kim Jong un was -- he really has been very open, and I think very honorable from everything we're seeing. Now a lot of promises have been made by North Korea over the years, but they've never been in this position.


BALDWIN: And congressman, just watching the president standing there with Macron, he said he hopes to deal -- would you consider Kim Jong un honorable?

ROGERS: Not even close. This is somebody involved in kidnapping South Koreans and Japanese women. His regime was responsible for the slaughter of people who disagreed with him and he thought that might in fact try to take him out. Remember what he did to his half brother he snared chemical agents on their face in a foreign airport to try to create this horrible death and send a signal to people, no, he's not an honorable guy. I hope --

BALDWIN: Do you even think Trump should meet with him?

ROGERS: I do, listen, I have just kind of an odd sense of optimism and just slightly that we may have turned Kim Jong un a little bit. I think the pressure of the U.S. military buildup. I think the fact that China understands that the U.S. was serious about military action in North Korea helped. And so, he does not want to give up his nuclear weapons. There's no doubt about it.

So that's this one point where the president reemphasizes that he understands that that is the line for Kim Jong un. But getting him in a room might get us to the next step. If it doesn't, I'll give Trump credit for this, he has set it up, so he can walk away with no penalty and no foul. I'll just get up and get out of the room. Much like Reagan did in Reykjavik. That's probably the best way to set up a meeting with Kim Jong un, and we forced him to say he is going to give up the testing facility. I know that's not a big deal. I'm not going to have any more tests until after the talks.

Not a big deal but it's a concession. I think getting any concession out of the North Korean leader is probably a good step. Doesn't mean we're close. Doesn't mean it is going to happen. Doesn't mean Kim Jong un is going to try to wiggle his way around where he wants to go but I do think it is something we should look at as a positive sign.

BALDWIN: Speaking of walking out, here's my final question of you, not physically walking out, but the proverbial walking out of a deal. We know that the president wants Dr. Ronny Jackson to be his next Veteran Affairs secretary. We've been reporting on these allegations and apparently according to folks that we've been talking to, the are not isolated incidents. This was emblematic of a pattern of behavior. Apparently, Ronny Jackson told the White House gave them the heads up of the stories that would be coming out ahead of this whole process. In the president just there when he was asked about Dr. Jackson called him one of the finest people I've ever met.

But then he went on and said, I don't think you should do it personally, he will be abused et cetera. Do you think that was the president giving this guy and out, an opportunity to just withdraw?

ROGERS: Clearly to me that's exactly what happened. The president understands that there is pressure building up. I do believe that Senate Democrats thought they were going to get a scalp in Mike Pompeo. And that didn't look like it was going to happen, and I think they focused their guns on this.

You also have Republican opposition from the chairman, that is no small thing. Who is asking additional follow-up questions on what appears to be serious questions. Doesn't mean he's guilty of anything. Do you want to go through a whole other series of fights for your Veterans Affairs secretary or do you want to move on? I think the president said it's going to be tough, I'll stand with you because I nominated you but if you really want out of this, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, this would be the time to do it.

BALDWIN: Congressman Mike Rogers, thank you very much. We do have more on this breaking news. We're learning about the specific allegations against Dr. Ronny Jackson, which include excessive drinking, handling of prescriptions. We'll have that for you. Also, more cabinet drama.

[14:15:00] The White House right now debating whether EPA chief Scott Pruitt will remain in his job. And Melania Trump stealing the show with her sartorial choices today. And we'll discuss and talk about who didn't get an invite in tonight's big state dinner.


BALDWIN: We have also been covering and keeping a close lie on the markets. The Dow has been down for about an hour plus, down 532 points.

[14:20:00] Right now, I've got Richard Quest, our favorite business correspondent who just popped a microphone on. What's going on?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: The interesting thing here is about where we start. We're up at the beginning of the day. When you get those early reports and those early numbers, you're actually up. Then 'roundabout 12:00, the egg comes out of the balloon. You're asking what happens that causes this to fall down? The truth is really nothing.

This is a market that is looking for a reason at the moment to sell off. We had three things, firstly Caterpillar, which had excellent results, but they warned the steel tariffs would mean that profits weren't going to get any better. So, it's a case of what have you done for me lately?

Secondly, you have an overarching report of earnings that are good but not brilliant. And thirdly, bombs. The U.S. treasury bond hit 3 percent, the 10-year bond hit 3 percent for the first time in some years. In other words, as rates have gone up, so bonds have gone up, that takes the wind out of stocks and we start to look for a rotation.

The funny part about this is, Brooke, we knew the bond was going to hit three percent. But knowing it and seeing it happen --

BALDWIN: Two very different things, Richard QUEST, thank you very much. More on her other breaking news here allegations against the president's V.A. nominee and the president essentially giving him an out on that. Also, ahead, the first lady stealing the show alongside the French first family today. We'll talk about this fashion choice. Any guesses of what she might wear tonight to the big state dinner? We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: Now back to this whistleblower bombshell that might derail president Trump's next pick as the Veterans Affairs secretary, Dr. Ronny Jackson. Moments ago, on Capitol Hill and when asked about the allegations against him, here's how he responded.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is there any truth to these allegations?

DR. RONNY JACKSON, VA SECRETARY NOMINEE: I'm looking forward to rescheduling the hearing and getting the process moving. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Any truth to these allegations?

JACKSON: Thanks, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: what makes you qualified for this job?

JACKSON: Thanks, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What makes you qualified for this job? Can you answer the questions adequately in.

JACKSON: I can answer the questions. I'm looking forward to rescheduling the hearing and answering these questions.


BALDWIN: We know these new allegations just brought his confirmation hearing to a standstill. It was supposed to happen tomorrow. It's now been postponed indefinitely. That's go to our senior congressional correspondent. You smoke with leaders, Manu, what is his response?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: They brought up his doling of prescription drugs and a toxic work environment. Two whistleblowers have come and told this information to the senate veterans affairs committee and they include at least one person who is a current associate of Dr. Jackson's and another person who a former associate of Dr. Jackson's. I should caution, the senators are not sure whether or not these allegations are accurate, but they are troubling enough they decided to take the extraordinary move and delay a Wednesday confirmation hearing over his nomination. The leaders made very clear they want more records and they want to look into this further.


SEN. JON TESTER, (D), RANKING MEMBER VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Because, quite frankly, I don't have enough information to say this is true, this isn't true, this is true. We're continuing the vetting process and we'll get to the bottom of everything.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Are you concerned about what you have learned so far?

TESTER: If it turns out to be true.

SEN. JOHNNY ISAKSON, (R) CHAIRMAN VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: Mr. Jackson and myself and everybody in congress needs to take a deep breath, give the man a chance to be heard, let's give as you chance to ask the questions that need to be and as chairman I'm going to see to it this information that comes to my attention that needs to be vetted, that it's vetted in the appropriate way and in the appropriate order.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, (D) VETERANS AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: The White House has been consistently and abysmally careless even derelict in the vetting process, which accounts for some of the problems with their nominees.


RAJU: Some Republicans agree with Senator Blumenthal's assessments of concerns with the vetting process, saying these are things you'd come up with before a nomination is proposed.

[14:30:00] In the meeting that Ronny Jackson just had with the Republican of Kansas, he denied doing anything improper, he said he's looking forward to answering all these questions. He says there is nothing he's done that should disqualify him from this post. It seems like Ronny Jackson is ready to dig in, even as the members investigate these allegations it and could linger until some time.

BALDWIN: Manu, thank you. On the same cabinet trouble beat there's more to report with someone else in the administration. CNN has learned the White House is debating whether it's time for Scott Pruitt to go. He has been a problem and a major distraction from an ethical standpoint. He has denied any wrongdoing and so far, the president has not soured on him. So, our CNN politics reporter and editor at large are with me now. I see three faces already on your screen with perhaps more to go.

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR AT LARGE: Talk about a group you don't necessarily want to join. First of all, let's remember broadly Donald Trump pledged I will bring the best people into my administration. I will bring people that no one else running for president or has ever been president before can bring. Let's start over here. Rex Tillerson, Secretary of State, former head of Exxon Mobil, gone because he and Donald Trump could not get along. Now that is actually somewhat of a success story for Trump because Mike Pompeo the CIA director --