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Trump Hosts Macron for State Visit; Search for Motive in Toronto Van Attack; President George H.W. Bush in Hospital; What Will Royal Baby Be Named? Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired April 24, 2018 - 04:00   ET


[04:00:14] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump hosting a state dinner for France's President Macron with policy differences first up on today's menu.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's just hitting people one by one going down hard, man. It's a nightmare, man.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The man who killed ten people with a rented van in Toronto. Why did he do it?

BRIGGS: And President George H.W. Bush fighting a life threatening infection in the hospital just days after burying his beloved wife.

ROMANS: Britain waits with baited breath. What will the brand new royal baby be named?

BRIGGS: Do you have theories, royal watcher Romans?

ROMANS: I don't know. I think it will be traditional. Not Trey for the third kid. I don't think that's what's going to be.

Good morning and welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. I'm told it was the little wave from Princess Charlotte that really stole the hearts.

ROMANS: Melted the world.

BRIGGS: Obviously the watchers.

It is Tuesday, April 24th, 4:00 a.m. in the East, 10:00 a.m. in Paris, 9:00 a.m. in London. We'll check in there shortly.

We start, though, with this state visit. It's day two of French President Emmanuel Macron's visit to Washington. This morning, President Trump hosting a formal state dinner begins with an arrival ceremony, will see him often after that. A series of meetings where the two leaders are expected to tackle pressing foreign policy issues, including the Iran nuclear deal, counterterrorism and the North Korean aggression. For more on the day's agenda, let's check in with Kate Bennett at the

White House.


KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Good morning, Dave and Christine.

That's right. French President Macron from France is in town and he meets today with President Trump. We'll expect to hear from the two leaders later this morning at the joint news conference where I'm sure they will be asked questions. The two leaders should be discussing everything from the Iran nuclear deal to the situation in Syria. And, of course, also, the stage is set for the first state dinner for France.

Sneak peek last night show the first lady has had her hand in everything, from the menu, to the seat cushions. She's planned this all by herself, without an event planner, just using her social secretary and White House staff. The dinner will be for about 130 people. And we can expect the menu to feature American food influenced by French cuisine, even a performance by the Washington National Opera.

So far so good for the Trump administration's first state dinner.

Back to you, guys.


ROMANS: All right. Kate Bennett, thank you so much for that.

President Macron and his wife arrived in Washington yesterday afternoon but managed to pack a lot into the shortened day, including an arrival ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, then a quick ride in Marine One to the White House, where they toured the Oval Office, helped the President and Mrs. Trump plant a French oak sapling on the South Lawn, then another short hop in Marine One to Mount Vernon, George Washington's Virginia state.

The White House says they dined on Dover sole with chocolate souffle and cherry vanilla ice cream for dessert.

BRIGGS: Delicious.


BRIGGS: Now you got my attention.

Well, if you look beyond the pomp and circumstance at micron state visit there are deep policy differences between the U.S. and France. Macron hoping to convince President Trump not to pull out of Syria or the Iran nuclear deal, just to mention a few.

Let's go live to Paris and check in with Melissa Bell.

Melissa, good morning to you.

It's often said that McConnell is this Trump whisperer, but are the people there in France looking for some deliverable on that label?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh absolutely, Dave. I mean, this is crunch time for what has been Emmanuel Macron's strategy of keeping that conversation open with the American president. And there was day this really interesting moment when you mentioned Emmanuel Macron landing at St. Andrews Air Force Base there when he spoke first of all in English, repeating precisely the same speech in French, but adding this crucial line that he hadn't spoken in English where he said we the United States and France are guarantor of multilateralism.

What he's hoping to do is work with this avowed embodiment really of unilateralism that is Donald Trump and get him to budge on a number of substantial issues, thus proving that his approach of trying to reach out Donald Trump and charm him was the right one, and that he can be convinced to function in a multilateral way on so many of these issues that divide them so profoundly. You mentioned them, Iran, Syria, trade, Emmanuel Macron cannot go home entirely empty-handed, or his strategy will have been shown to be a failure -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. It is a pivotal couple of days.

Melissa Bell live in Paris, thank you.

ROMANS: Another issue for Macron is trade. The E.U. has one week to avoid a trade fight with the U.S. So, this week, the French president will likely try to convince President Trump to temper his America- first policies. The U.S. slapped tariffs on steel and aluminum imports in March but gave several countries temporary exemptions, including the E.U.

However, that exemption expires May 1. That is unless French President Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel can persuade President Trump during their visits this week.

[04:05:05] Merkel heads to Washington Friday. The E.U. wants unconditional, permanent exemptions. If not, the E.U. threatens tariffs on $7.9 billion worth of U.S. exports, is targeting hundreds of products including denim, peanut butter, bourbon and motorcycles.

In response, Trump has threatened duties on European cars. A tit for tat trade battle with Europe would be the second for the U.S. America is currently in a trade spat with China, each side is threatening the other with billions of dollars in tariffs.

President Trump's nominee for veterans affairs secretary was scheduled to have his Senate confirmation hearing tomorrow, but sources tell CNN now that's likely to be postponed in light of some new allegations against the White House physician, Rear Admiral Ronny Jackson. The sources say committee members have been told about claims of improper conduct at various stages of Jackson's career, but none of the senators would publicly reveal specifics.

A White House official tells CNN there is no plan to withdraw Jackson's nomination.

ROMANS: More than a hundred former military officials are publicly challenging the president's pick to lead the CIA. They just signed an open letter calling for the declassification of Deputy Director Gina Haskell's records at the agency. The letter outlines serious concerns about Haspel's history of supporting interrogation measures that are now widely regarded as torture, as well as the destruction of interrogation tapes. The confirmation hearing is scheduled for May 9th.

A last-minute flip-flop by Senator Rand Paul paved the way for Mike Pompeo to advance out of committee with a favorable recommendation in his bid to become secretary of state. Without Senator Paul's support, the CIA director could have become the first nominee in history not to get a favorable vote.

Senator Paul explaining his change of heart.


SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I have changed my mind. I have decided to go ahead and vote for Director Pompeo because he's assured me that he's learned the lesson. I hope that they'll let Trump be Trump and that Pompeo will be a constructive influence and not a destructive one. But from what I've been told and listened to with the director. I think that he is open and understands that his job is that the president is his boss and will listen.


BRIGGS: The full Senate expected to vote on Pompeo's nomination later this week does have appearing enough Democratic support to get him over the top.

ROMANS: White House support for Scott Pruitt appears to be softening amid a steady drip of media reports alleging ethical lapses by the EPA administrator. In just the last few days, multiple outlets reported Pruitt met with a lobbyist whose wife rented him the Capitol Hill bedroom for $50 a night. That's not the market rate. That's on top of his first-class travel, spending at the EPA, raises for top aides all coming into question.

Now, after weeks of resounding White House endorsements for Pruitt, this was the tone yesterday.


SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Again, we're reviewing some of those allegations. However, Administrator Pruitt has done a good job of implementing the president's policies, particularly on deregulation, making the United States less energy dependent and becoming more energy independent. Those are good things.

However, the other things certainly are something that we're monitoring and looking at and I'll keep you posted. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: "Bloomberg" reports White House officials have been discouraging conservative lawmakers and allies from defending Pruitt too strongly.

BRIGGS: President Trump directing the Department of Homeland Security to refuse large caravans of people entry to the United States. The Central American caravan made up of about 500 migrants is expected to reach the southern border today. In a statement, Homeland Security Secretary Kirsten Nielsen warning asylum seekers will be detained while their cases are processed and those who the U.S. determines to not have legitimate claim will promptly be removed.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions putting out his own statement, vowing anyone who enters illegally will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

ROMANS: According to multiple sources, the president -- President Trump -- is relying more and more on his personal cell phone to speak to outside advisors, another sign of Chief of Staff John Kelly's diminishing influence. The president used to make most of his calls to the White House switchboard, that allowed Kelly to receive a printout of who the president was calling. It's not the case with the president's personal cell phone.

We are also told President Trump is using his cell phone to step up his direct outreach to GOP lawmakers who support him.

And two points here. One, Kelly not having control of what the president is talking to. Number two what is the security of using a private cell phone.

BRIGGS: That to me is the bigger of the questions. The first is highly political.

ROMANS: Whose ears are listening? And is that necessarily good?

BRIGGS: Right, how encrypted are those particular messages.

All right. Former President George H.W. Bush hospitalized this morning in intensive care. He was admitted to Methodist Hospital in Houston Sunday, just hours after the funeral for his wife of 73 years, Barbara Bush.

[04:10:03] A family spokesman says Bush 41 is being treated for a blood infection. He's responding to treatment, appears to be recovering.

First Lady Melania Trump, who attended Saturday's funeral and was photographed, along with the other former presidents and first ladies tweeted last night: Sending healing thoughts of strength along with prayers for President George H.W. Bush.

He always was a fighter after Pearl Harbor. Keep in mind, he enlisted in the military and became a naval aviator at 18. So, he is a fighter at his core.

ROMANS: All right. Ten minutes past the hour.

The man behind that dead leave an attack in Toronto due in court just hours from now. What police know so far about any possible motive, next.


ROMANS: The suspect in a deadly Toronto van attack will make his first court appearance this morning. Police say he plowed into a crowd of pedestrians, but his motive is still not known. Investigators believe the suspect in a Facebook post earlier Monday praised a gunman who killed six people in a drive-by shooting and ramming attack in California back in 2014.

[04:15:10] Right now, Canadian authorities are not calling the van attack terrorism. They say there is no threat to national security.

We get more from CNN's Alex Marquardt in Toronto.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christine and Dave.

Well, federal and local authorities have provided a better picture of both how the attack unfolded and the alleged attacker himself. They say he is a 25-year-old male from Richmond Hill, about half an hour from where I'm standing here in Toronto. They identify him as Alek Minassian. And contrary to some earlier reporting, they say this is not a name that was in their files, not someone who is necessarily known to them.

For now, they are not calling this a terror attack. They're not saying that this was a threat to national security, that there any other attacks in the works and they are not raising the terror threat level as for how this attack unfolded. It lasted some 26 minutes, starting at 1:26 p.m. The attacker in that white Ryder rental van hopping up onto the sidewalk and plowing southbound down that sidewalk hitting people as he went.

Witnesses saying it was a nightmare, calling it pandemonium, saying he was driving around 40 or 50 miles an hour. At 1:52 p.m., the police managed to stop him, to corner him. There was a dramatic standoff with the police.

The attacker pointing something at the police officers, claiming that he had a gun. The police showing remarkable restraint, did not fire their weapons, and managed to get the alleged attacker on the ground, handcuffing him without incident.

Take a look.


MARQUARDT: Now, of course, the big question is, what is the motive? That the investigators are still looking into. As I mentioned, there is no indication for now that it is terror. There has been no claim of responsibility.

But, of course, when you see a horrific attack like this, it dredges up all the memories of similar attacks that were terror in places like Berlin, Barcelona, Nice, and, of course, in New York last year on Halloween -- Dave, Christine.


BRIGGS: Indeed the new weapon of choice. Alex, thanks.

The gunman accused of killing four people at a waffle house near Nashville set to appear in court tomorrow morning. Travis Reinking faces four counts of criminal homicide. A tip from the community led to his arrest in a wooded area near his apartment Monday afternoon. Police say Reinking surrendered without a struggle and immediately requested a lawyer.

The shooting is raising questions about whether the suspect's father should face charges for giving his son guns but he was barred from possessing them.


REPORTER: Is it possible that his father could be subject to gun laws? Could his father violate gun laws by getting his son the weapons?

MARCUS WATSON, ATF SPECIAL AGENT: It is possible, if you transfer weapons knowingly to a person that is prohibited, that's potentially be a violation of federal law.


BRIGGS: You're looking at police dashcam video of Nashville police chasing Reinking just last week. They say he stole a car from a BMW dealership. The chase had to be abandoned because of heavy traffic.

ROMANS: All right. Closing argument scheduled to begin this morning in Bill Cosby's sexual assault retrial. The defense rested its case Monday after calling nearly a dozen witnesses. As was the case in the first trial, Cosby chose not to take the stand in his own defense. That trial ended with a deadlocked jury and a mistrial.

The 80-year-old comedian is accused of drugging and molesting Andrea Constand at his home back in 2004. Jurors who've been sequestered since the trial began could begin deliberating later today.

BRIGGS: All right. A name fit for a new prince. What will the royal family choose? We go live to London, next.


[04:23:16] BRIGGS: All right. Today's vote in Arizona's eighth congressional district, north west of Phoenix, likely to be the end of Democrat string of special election victories. Republican Debbie Lesko favored to win over Democrat Hiral Tipimeni in a district that voted for the president by a point margin. Lesko is a Trump supporter who strongly backs his proposed border wall. Tipimeni, a former ER doc, says a wall would do nothing to make Arizonians safer.

They are running for the Senate seat vacated by Trent Franks who as you might remember resigned under a cloud of sexual harassment allegations.

ROMANS: A long court fight over a monkey selfie has finally been decided. You heard me right.

BRIGGS: That's right.

ROMANS: This is the photo at the center of the legal battle. This was taken in 2011 by a seven-year-old crested -- Macaque mean what --

BRIGGS: Macaque named Naruto.

ROMANS: Naruto is his name. Is it a him or her? I don't even know.

Naruto actually took photographer David Slater's camera from him, snapped the selfie after watching humans do it. Monkey see monkey do.

Slater published the photo in a book three years later and was sued by the animal rights group PETA which claimed Naruto owned the rights to the selfie since Naruto, he snapped it. I guess it's a him.

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals coming down in favor of Slater, ruling, quote, the monkey lacked statutory standing because the Copyright Act does not expressly authorize animals to file copyright infringement suits.


BRIGGS: All right. More on this later. We need to uncover more truth.

All right. What's in a name? Right now, the most popular sport in Britain is betting on what the duke and duchess of Cambridge will name their newborn son. William and Kate showed off the new prince as they left the London hospital Monday.

[04:25:01] ROMANS: Like only a few hours after she gave the baby -- had the baby she was standing up there.

BRIGGS: And looking stunning as usual.

This is the couple's third child and his arrival shakes up the royal family tree, the prince to be named later is now fifth in line to the British throne.

CNN's Max Foster live in London with the latest.

Max, we know you have the inside scoop. What's the name of the new baby? MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We are utterly, Dave, here in the realms of speculation, but all the betting companies are getting involved with it, as are the British public, so let's join them. So, I get an email probably every hour from a different betting company. The latest one I had it was some Betfair, Arthur at number one, James, Philip, Albert, Spencer.

And I actually think they might be onto something here because amongst us here, amongst the royal correspondence here in London, we're all speculating together. We're all in the bunker together. And we've done some analysis.

So, we've looked at Charles and Williams middle names and they share two common names, which haven't been used so far in the generations after them. So, they share Philip and Arthur as middle names.

So, we think it could well be Arthur, followed by Philip. Bear with me here, Princess Charlotte also took Elizabeth as a middle name, so she took her great-grandmother's middle name. It would be appropriate to take great-grandfather's middle name this time around as well.

So, we're saying Arthur Philip Windsor, but we have no idea.

BRIGGS: So, you don't just bet on the first name. You get all these middle name. This really complicates things for all of us.

Max Foster, live --

FOSTER: The betting companies will win this one.

BRIGGS: Indeed they were. Thank you, sir.

ROMANS: I actually, I really like Arthur. I'm hoping for Arthur, and I like Philip.

BRIGGS: I bet Spencer, but you like Arthur.

ROMANS: Nobody's saying Edward. Queen Elizabeth's father was Edward, right?


ROMANS: So -- all right. President Trump and France's President Macron will stand together and take questions from reporters just a few hours from now. More next.