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EARLY START

French President Macron's State Visit; Search for Motive in Toronto Van Attack; President George H.W. Bush in Hospital; North & South Korea Gear Up For Historic Summit; What Will Royal Baby Be Named? Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired April 24, 2018 - 04:30   ET

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


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[04:31:00] CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump hosting a state dinner for France's President Macron with policy differences first on today's menu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: A man killed 10 people of the rented van in Toronto. Why did he do it?

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

BRIGGS: Britain waits with bated breath. What will the brand new royal baby be named? Arthur is the betting favorite, seven to four odds.

ROMANS: And I think it's a huge royal faux pas when I said Queen Elizabeth's dad was named Edward. I wasn't her dad's name. It was George. Sorry.

BRIGGS: You are a royal watcher.

ROMANS: I know, but I'm a lover of liberty, too. So, you know, I am not a monarchist.

BRIGGS: Welcome back, lover of liberty, to EARLY START.

ROMANS: Thank you.

BRIGGS: I'm just Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: I'm Christine Romans. It is 31 minutes past the hour.

Day two of French President -- speaking of revolutions -- day two of French President Emmanuel Macron visit to Washington. This morning, President Trump's first turn at hosting a formal state visit begins with an arrival ceremony. After that, a series of meetings what the two leaders are expected to tackle some pressing foreign policy issues, including the Iran nuclear deal, counterterrorism and Russian aggression.

For more on the day's agenda, let's bring in CNN's Kate Bennett. She's at the White House.

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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.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Indeed.

President Macron and his wife arrived in Washington yesterday afternoon but managed to pack an awful lot of this shortened day, including an arrival ceremony at Joint Base Andrews, then a quick ride in Marine One to the White House were they toured the Oval Office, helped President Trump and Mrs. Trump plant a French oak sapling on the south lawn, a gift from President Macron. 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.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: Sounds delicious.

ROMANS: If you look beyond the pomp and circumstance of Macron's state visit, there are deep policy differences between the U.S. and France. Macron is hoping to convince President Trump not to pull out of Syria or the Iran nuclear deal.

Let's go live to Paris and bring in CNN's Melissa Bell.

When you look sort of down the list of the menu so to speak for what they have to talk about, what is -- what is Macron need to bring home to call this a successful trip?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, definitely some progress on those substantive issues that divide them so profoundly, Christine. There is, of course, Iran. We have a date coming up, it is the 12th of May, by which time Donald Trump will either choose to waive once again the sanctions on Iran inline with the Iran nuclear deal or indeed decide to bring them back.

And Europeans are extremely keen that he should stick within that deal. So, Emmanuel Macron really has over the coming two days to make some progress on that. The question is, how far he will go in the direction of Donald Trump, bringing his European allies behind him? He hopes what concessions will he make, what commitments will he give to the American president that might convince him to come back, Christine, on what was a campaign pledge to tear this deal up.

[04:35:00] There is, of course, Syria, Emmanuel Macron, who wants very much the United States should keep its military personnel in the country and stay at the course.

And finally, trade, you know, for the time being, the E.U. benefits from this sort of exemption, a temporary one. It only lasts until the 1st of May. Emmanuel Macron is going to hope that that sort of bromance that he's developed for the American president will help convince him that on trade, as he said on American television on Sunday, you can't have only enemies. You do need to have some friends and we France want to be your friend.

ROMANS: Yes, and friends don't have trade disputes basically as a message from the French president. Clearly, the red carpet treatment looks like there's some unified, but we know there's a lot of work to do. Thank you so much, Melissa Bell.

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

And 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 leave the CIA. He signed an open letter calling for the declassification of Deputy Director Gina Haspel's records at CIA. The letter outlines serious concerns about Haspel's history of supporting interrogation measures that are widely regarded as torture as well as the destruction of interrogation tapes. Her confirmation hearing scheduled for May 9th.

BRIGGS: 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 support, the CIA director could have become the first nominee for the post in history not to get a favorable vote. Senator Paul explaining his change of heart.

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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.

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BRIGGS: The full Senate expected to vote on Pompeo's nomination later this week.

ROMANS: White House support for Scott Pruitt appears to be softening amid a drip, drip, drip of reports alleging ethical lapses by the EPA administrator. Just the last few days, multiple news outlets have reported Pruitt met with a lobbyist whose wife rented him a Capitol Hill bedroom for $50 a night. That's below market value. That's on top of that 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.

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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.

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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 entering into 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 Kirstjen Nielsen warning asylum seekers will be detained while their cases are processed and those who the U.S. determines do not have a 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: Wall Street flipped yesterday. The Dow down for the fourth day in a row. The concern here, the most closely watched bond in the U.S. is inching closer to a barrier that could cause trouble for stocks. For the first time in four years, the rate on the 10-year us treasury is near three percent.

And for everyday American, higher rates mean more expensive auto loans and mortgages. For investors, it could eat into corporate profits and signal more inflation. To combat that, the Federal Reserve plans to raise short-term interest rates several times this year, and that is the other worry, as short-term rates rise, the difference between short-term bonds and long-term bonds narrows. It's called a flattening yield curve and everybody in the money world is talking about it.

Why is this a problem? It can lead to an inverted yield curve and that worries the St. Louis Fed president.

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JAMES BULLARD, PRESIDENT, FEDERAL RESERVE BANK OF ST. LOUIS: If the committee pushes ahead here with rate increases and longer rates don't cooperate, we could have an inverted yield curve within six months here.

[04:40:07] The inverted yield curve is a powerful predictor of economic downturns in the U.S. data.

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ROMANS: An inverted yield curve often happens just before a recession just like it did a decade ago. And some economists think America is overdue for another downturn. I'm telling you right now, this is what everyone's talking about, watching that 10-year note yield, watching that yield curve between the twos and the tens and wondering what this portends for the U.S.

BRIGGS: I was recently having a long conversation with your producer asking about this yield curve.

ROMANS: Now you are armed with your cocktail party knowledge. You're going to sound good on this.

BRIGGS: 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. 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. We hope he is soon back in Maine and Kennebunkport with the lobster roll. Everyone praying his speedy recovery. ROMANS: All right. We're counting down to be a historic summit to speak between North and South. A live report from Seoul, next.

BRIGGS: And a man behind a deadly van attack in Toronto due in court just hours from now. What police knows so far on a possible motive? Just ahead.

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[04:46:06] BRIGGS: Defense Secretary James Mattis says he's optimistic about potential talks with North Korea days after Pyongyang said it was suspending nuclear and missile tests and scrapping its nuclear test site.

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JAMES MATTIS, DEFENSE SECRETARY: Right now, I think there's a lot of reasons for optimism that the negotiations will be fruitful and we'll see.

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BRIGGS: Mattis' words come right before a historic summit Friday between North and South Korea, when the leaders from both regions will sit down for the first time face-to-face talks in more than a decade.

CNN's Paula Hancocks live in Seoul.

Paula, good morning to you. What do we expect from this historic meeting?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dave, we do understand that some of it is going to be carried live and so, we're going to see the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un crossing the border into South Korea the first time a North Korean leader has ever done that. So, that will be in historic moment in itself, greeting the South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

There will be a welcoming ceremony, the actual -- the deal that the meeting itself of course won't be broadcast live, but then afterwards, there will be a banquet. What we're trying to find out at this point is whether or not Kim Jong-un's wife will be coming as well, whether there will be first ladies involved, making it almost like a state visit.

But certainly, there are an awful lot of people making sure that this goes very well. They appreciate how important it is. The South Korean President Moon Jae-in has spoken in glowing terms about what the North Korean leader did over the weekend saying he's suspending those nuclear and missile tests.

But certainly on the face of it, it seems as though both sides are trying to make the start at least go well -- Dave.

BRIGGS: All right. Paula Hancocks live for us in Seoul -- thank you. 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 in 2014.

Right now, Canadian authorities are not calling the van attack terrorism and they say there's no threat to national security.

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

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ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL 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.

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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.

[04:50:01] 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. (END VIDEOTAPE)

BRIGGS: Indeed it does. Alex, thanks.

The gunman accused of killing four people at that 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 suspects father should face charges for giving his son guns when he was barred from possessing them.

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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.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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

ROMANS: All right. Fifty-one minutes past the hour.

U.S. home sales are rising, but many buyers are having trouble finding a home. We'll tell you why on CNNMoney, next.

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BRIGGS: 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. It's a couple's third child and his arrival shakes up the royal family tree. That prince be named later is now fifth in line to the British throne.

And Max Foster is live in London with the betting odds on what this baby will be named.

I'm seeing one website likes Arthur but you say what, Max?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, the last half hour has been a massive about-turn, Dave. So, James is now at the top, Arthur's been pushed down to number two, that's according to Ladbrokes at least. Then you've got Albert, Philip, Henry, Alexander, Edward, I could go on and on and on. Our thinking though on the CNN based analysis which is based on pure speculation because no one knows outside that palace what the names are, but we're looking at Philip and we're looking at Arthur if there are two names that Charles and William both share as middle names. And the other ones have already gone. So, one of them is George, for example, obviously gone to the older brother. Louie belongs to George as well, one of his middle name.

So, we're thinking Arthur. Were thinking Philip, and we're hoping we're arrived because today is all about the speculation. Last time with Charlotte, we didn't get the name actually for a couple of days. So, this could go on and on and the betting money is pouring in as you said.

ROMANS: Max, let's be honest. The real star of the show yesterday was Charlotte. That little wave broke the Internet and even melted diehard anti-monarchist here in this country. That little wave -- the little Charlotte wave, do we have that video, guys? Oh my god, this is the most important piece of video we don't have.

Charlotte, her little wave, oh, Max, she's adorable. And the first woman really took -- young woman to really break an important barrier in Britain.

FOSTER: Absolutely. So, the royal family has been around for a thousand years and what happened around Prince George's birth was they changed the succession rules which meant that younger brothers didn't leapfrog their older sisters in the line of succession. So, she was the first one who came into the royal family and had her place in the line of succession assured.

So, she was at number four and she's still at number four despite this younger little brother coming along. So, he's at number five. Prince Harry firmly pushed into number six, I'm not sure what he thinks about that, but I'm sure he's probably fine with it.

BRIGGS: I think he's all good. He's got a wedding to plan. Max, let's just wave bye-bye in the Charlotte sort of way. Thank you, Max. Appreciate it.

ROMANS: All right. Let's go and check CNNMoney this morning. Global stocks higher today with the bond market is shaking Wall Street. The Dow fell for the fourth day in a row. The concern here for the first time in four years, the most closely watched a bond yield in the U.S. is near 3 percent. Investors worry higher rates could eat into corporate profits and signal more inflation.

Meanwhile, aluminum stocks really tanks yesterday. Look at Alcoa. Alcoa alone lost 13 percent. The U.S. may relax sanctions against a Russian aluminum company RUSAL. It is the second largest aluminum producer in the world and that hurt those other aluminum companies.

U.S. home sales are rising, but tight supply and high prices are making it hard for many buyers to actually find a home to buy and March existing home sales ticked up 1.1 percent from the month before but fell compared with a year ago. There's a limited supply of houses on the market, especially starter homes and buyers now face higher borrowing costs. The benchmark 33-year fixed-rate mortgage is rising, plus the new tax bill is reducing the incentive for homeownership.

The mortgage interest deduction is capped this year. Taxpayers will save $60 billion. Next year, the savings for mortgage interest goes down to $25 billion.

All right. Walmart's CEO earns 1,188 times as much as the company's median worker. CEO Doug McMillon earns $22.8 million last year. The average worker earned $19,177. Walmart employs a million the half workers and spokesperson says Walmart has made important investments in workers over the past few years, including raising the minimum wage a couple of times.

But Walmart's pay ratio is not all that different from other retail companies. The Macy's CEO earns eight hundred six times the median employee. At Gap, the chief executive made 2,900 times the average worker.

BRIGGS: All right. EARLY START continues right now.