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EARLY START

French President Macron's State Visit; Former President George H.W. Bush In Intensive Care; 10 Killed, 15 Injured In Toronto Van Attack; What Will The Royal Baby Be Named? Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired April 24, 2018 - 05:30   ET

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


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[05:31:16] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump hosting a state dinner for France's President Macron with policy difference the first course on today's menu.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hitting people, one-by-one going down. Oh, man, it was like -- it was a nightmare, man.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: The man who killed 10 people with a rented van in Toronto, why did he do it?

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

ROMANS: And, Britain waits with bated breath. What will the brand new royal baby be named? And, Charlotte gets the prize for the cutest yesterday for her royal wave.

Welcome back to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

You agree with me, right? You agree?

BRIGGS: It was awfully cute.

ROMANS: You agree? OK.

BRIGGS: Yes, I have told --

ROMANS: You have a daughter -- you have two daughters so you --

BRIGGS: I'm a sucker for --

ROMANS: Yes, yes, yes, yes.

BRIGGS: -- a cute baby girl and she is adorable.

I'm Dave Briggs. I'm not adorable. Thirty-one minutes after the hour. You would -- you would agree with that. It's day two of French President Emmanuel Macron's 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 where the two leaders are expected to tackle pressing foreign policy issues including, most importantly, on that Iran nuclear deal with a May 13th deadline looming. Counterterrorism, also -- Russian aggression.

For more on the day's agenda let's welcome in Kate Bennett at the White House.

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

That's right. President Emmanuel 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 a 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 tonight's first state dinner for France. A sneak peek last night showed 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 the White House staff.

The dinner will be for about 140 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.

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ROMANS: 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.

They helped President and Mrs. Trump plant a French oak sapling on the south lawn. Very poignant with historical reference there to American marines lost in World War I.

Then another short hop in Marine One to Mt. Vernon, George Washington's Virginia estate where, by the way, a key to the Bastille is on the wall.

The White House says they dined on Dover sole with chocolate souffle and cherry vanilla ice cream for dessert. BRIGGS: But my favorite moment there was Macron reluctantly giving the OK, do I have to do this? I will.

But 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 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. Melissa, good morning.

He is supposed to be the Trump whisperer but can he get any deliverables on that label?

MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is the big question and Paris is looking for real progress on those issues that you outlined.

Emmanuel Macron simply can't afford to go back entirely empty-handed, Dave. He has put so much political capital and his very particular, very unusual approach that he's adopted toward Donald Trump.

As you say, some people going so far as suggesting that he is the Trump whisperer, but will he manage to get his message heard? That is really what we're going to be looking to, especially when we hear the two presidents speak during that press conference.

[05:35:05] And really, what he's trying to show is that by bringing around the American president, by working on that bromance, perhaps he can take this president who prides himself on being a unilateralist and bring him around to a multilateral approach.

And it was really interesting to watch him walk off that plane yesterday. A short speech in English -- precisely the same sort speech in French but with one extra line that he hadn't spoken in Donald Trump's language, saying that we, the United States and France, are guarantors of multilateralism.

A reminder really, David, this is a French president walking something of a tightrope, speaking to the American president but for European interests.

BRIGGS: All right, thumbs up to Melissa Bell. Thank you, live in Paris this morning.

ROMANS: All right.

President Trump's nominee for Veterans Affairs secretary was scheduled to have his Senate confirmation hearing tomorrow but sources tell CNN that is now likely to be postponed in light of new allegations against 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. These are just claims and none of the senators would publicly reveal specifics, but they are looking into it. A White House official tells CNN there is no plan to withdraw Jackson's nomination.

BRIGGS: All right.

A last-minute flip-flop by Sen. 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 Sen. Paul, the CIA director could have become the first nominee for the post in history not to get a favorable vote.

Senator Paul explaining this change of heart.

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SEN. RAND PAUL (R), KENTUCKY: I have changed my mind. I have -- 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: Let Trump be Trump, OK.

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

ROMANS: All right, let's bring in "Washington Examiner" commentary writer Philip Wegmann. Good morning.

We know this -- you know, this is bilateral bonding before business if you will, and -- if I were a headline writer -- and the bonding so far has been picture perfect.

PHILIP WEGMANN, COMMENTARY WRITER, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Yes, absolutely so far. I think that what we're seeing is that this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship between President Trump and President Emmanuel Macron.

And it would not surprise me that at the end of this visit Trump might be something of a Francophile because more than any other world leader it seems that Macron understands and connects with this president. He's an old business guy too, so he's used to dealing with the same sort of people that Trump is.

And by laying that foundation, by actually trying to see eye-to-eye with the president and, you know, talk about cutting deals like businessmen and not necessarily politicians, I think that this personal friendship could lead to very significant policy changes on everything from Syria to trade deals, and also on the Iran deal which is the biggest topic on the table right now. BRIGGS: I'm very skeptical that it can lead to anything. Look at what happened with the Paris climate deal and there's no indication that the president is going to leave our troops in Syria for a long term.

But let's talk about Iran. That's the real issue that Macron hopes to have something -- some sort of progress on with this May 13 deadline looming.

And here's what Macron, directly speaking to the president through Fox News, said on Sunday.

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EMMANUEL MACRON, PRESIDENT OF FRANCE: What is the what-if scenario or your plan B? I don't have a plan B for nuclear against Iran so that's a question we will discuss. That's why I just want to say on nuclear, let's preserve this framework because it's better than a sort of North Korean type of situation.

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BRIGGS: They'll hold a press conference around 11:45. Both will be asked about this Iran deal.

What can Macron get as some sort of progress and if we get out, what is plan B?

WEGMANN: Well, I mean, I think that Macron, very frankly, put forward the fact that there is no plan B on big foreign relations issues like this and the United States leads the way and the E.U. just does not have the staying power that we do on the world stage.

But I think that we are underplaying the actual personal relations here because what we see in President Trump is he is someone who said that he was going to cut deals, right? You know, he talked about cutting the best deals, about going to the negotiation table and here we have someone who is being introduced.

He's a newcomer to a lot of policy issues and we've seen before on lesser issues. Not issues as severe as the Iranian nuclear deal. But we have seen the president move his position a little bit so it wouldn't -- it wouldn't necessarily be out of the realm of possibility for Macron to get some sort of concession from this president because look, if anyone can it's Macron.

[05:40:04] Angela Merkel, from Germany, is just not going to be able to move the needle.

ROMANS: Let's talk a little bit about what's happening, I guess -- the state pomp and circumstance and policy, frankly, will push another story to number two for the next day or so and that is -- that is chaos really within the cabinet. These appointments the president is trying to get through.

And specifically, you know, we talked about Dr. Ronny Jackson in the last half hour.

Let's now talk about Pruitt, who is running the -- running the EPA. One after another of these stories that are getting traction about how he spends money and the decisions he's making.

And then, this different tone from the White House --

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: -- about how people should be talking about him.

Listen to Sarah Huckabee Sanders.

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SARAH 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: Monitoring and looking at. We're talking about a soundproof phone booth -- 43 grand, 24-hour security detail, travel expenses, $50 a night from the wife of a lobbyist which is obviously below market value.

BRIGGS: And reports are he met with that very lobbyist that he said originally he had not had any business before.

ROMANS: So what happens here?

WEGMANN: Well, I think that this is kind of indicative of the Trump fatigue that we're seeing. I mean, we are talking more about, you know, souffles than we are about good government because these stories happen all the time in this administration.

Scott Pruitt -- you know, he might be the most egregious example but he's not the outlier.

And when it comes to this administration they have to weigh two considerations. They have to think on the one hand, Pruitt is good at his job. He's delivering the things that the president promised -- deregulation and a reformed EPA.

On the other hand, Scott Pruitt -- he's looking more and more each day like the sort of swamp monster -- that cliche sort of being, that President Trump said that he was going to get rid of.

BRIGGS: We do get distracted by food. Guilty as charged. That is -- that is my fault. Jambalaya on the menu tonight, I know.

Phil Wegmann, we appreciate you being here. Thank you.

WEGMANN: Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: Thank you, Phil.

Former President George H.W. Bush is hospitalized this morning in intensive care, 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 is responding, we're told, to treatment and appears to be recovering.

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

BRIGGS: We hope he's back in Maine soon with a lobster roll. All right.

The man behind a deadly van attack in Toronto due in court just hours from now. What police know so far about any possible motive.

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[05:47:49] 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.

His motive still not known and 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 attack terrorism and say there is no threat to national security.

For more, let's bring in CNN's Paula Newton.

Just a -- just a tragedy. A terrible story.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wasn't it, though, Christine? And just to listen to those eyewitness accounts, so chilling to see people literally trying to stop traffic on their own so they could attend to people who were in the middle of the road. Body bags strewn all over the sidewalks.

And again, as you point out, a big mystery about the suspect that we'll see in a few hours in court, Alek Minassian. He is a college student.

And that link, Christine -- that link to that Elliot Rodger from 2014. You know, police don't know exactly if he had the posting, what he meant by the posting, but they are trying to piece this together. He has spoken briefly with investigators. They will start to learn

more about that motive. But again, Christine, many in Canada now scratching their heads.

This was an incredibly horrific crime. I mean, in speaking to eyewitnesses down there they saw this van drive erratically for a fairly long distance, perhaps more than a mile, just literally aiming for people as if they were targets.

And when you hear officials saying look, this -- as of right now, we're not ruling out terrorism but at this point, it doesn't have any connection to public security.

So a lot of questions here, Christine, and we, again -- we're viewing that video of how this suspect was taken into custody.

Apparently, he had his phone in his hand and kept pointing it at the officer like it was a gun and said kill me, kill me. The officer showing incredible restraint and just kept saying get down, get down. He eventually did get down and he was arrested.

And police are hoping in the next few weeks to learn a whole lot more about a motive here.

ROMANS: We know -- you know, look, we obviously know that public security, public safety officials in big cities around the country -- around the world, really, are watching this as well because we have seen these other incidents of turning a rented van or a van into a weapon of war.

All right, Paula. Thank you so much for that.

[05:50:01] BRIGGS: All right. 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 raising questions about whether the suspect's father should face charges for giving his son guns when he was barred from possessing them.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it possible that his father could be subject to gun laws -- could his father have violated gun laws by giving his son the weapons?

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

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRIGGS: Meantime, the hero of this story, James Shaw, Jr., the man who wrestled that gun away, talked last night to Anderson Cooper.

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JAMES SHAW, JR., ENDED TENNESSEE WAFFLE HOUSE SHOOTING: Heroes seem kind of like they're not touchable. If I'm looked at as a regular person, if somebody else is in this situation they have that same thing within them that they can -- they can project that also.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMANS: Let's get a check on "CNN Money" this morning at 50 minutes past the hour.

Global stocks higher but the bond market shaking Wall Street here. The Dow fell for the fourth day in a row.

For the first time in four years, the most closely-watched bond yield is near three percent. Investors worry higher rates could eat into corporate profits and signal more inflation.

Meanwhile, aluminum stocks are plunging. Alcoa, alone, lost 13 percent.

The U.S. may relax sanctions against Russian aluminum company Rusal. It is the second-largest aluminum producer in the world.

To the housing market now -- real estate. U.S. home sales are rising but tight supply and higher prices making it hard for many buyers to find a home.

In March, existing home sales ticked up 1.1 percent. But look at that -- that's falling a little bit from a year ago.

There's a limited supply of houses on the market, especially starter homes, and buyers now face higher mortgage rates. The benchmark 30- year fixed rate mortgage is on the rise plus the new tax bill is reducing the incentive for home ownership.

The mortgage interest deduction is now capped. This year, taxpayers will save about $60 billion on their -- on their interest. Next year, it goes down to $25 billion.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon earned $22.8 million last year. That's nearly 1,200 times as much as the company's median worker. In the U.S., Walmart employs about a million and a half people.

A spokesperson says Walmart has made many investments in its workers over the past few years, including raising the minimum wage twice.

Walmart's pay ratio -- it's not all that different from other retailers. Macy's CEO earns 806 times the median employee. Gap's chief executive makes 2,900 times the average worker.

But these are the kinds of things that shareholder activist groups and shareholders like to look at.

BRIGGS: Yes, exciting.

New name fit for a new prince. What will the royal family choose? They're betting big money on this in the U.K.

We'll go live to London, next.

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[05:57:20] 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 moments --

ROMANS: Yes. William and Kate showed off the new prince as they left a London hospital Monday. It is the couple's third child and his arrival shakes up the royal family tree.

The prince -- look, there he is. The prince-to-be, named later, is now four or five in line to the British throne.

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

I still think that little Charlotte stole the show yesterday but, you know, that's just me. And she gets to keep her line of succession.

BRIGGS: That's right -- first time.

ROMANS: Tell us about the baby-naming game.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it is a game really because the only people that know what the likely names are, are firmly hold up in the palace behind me. All the family are there.

We're expecting some family visitors today. It's all about bonding.

But in terms of the speculation, I can give you some of that because according to Ladbrokes, the top 10 names according to bets and money wagered are -- standby -- James, Arthur, Albert, Phillip, Henry, Alexander, Edward, Frederick, Thomas, and Alfred.

Now, this is firmly in the realms of speculation -- they're making lots of money from it -- but we're in those realms as well.

Our thinking is looking back in the family tree, if you look at Charles and you look at William, for example, they share two common middle names and those names are Phillip and Arthur. So based on our speculation we're wondering if the final name might be Arthur Phillip Michael because Michael is Kate's father's name.

So, I don't know. Make your bets.

ROMANS: I love -- love that you say it's just pure speculation. But look, it's -- look, this is -- this is the moment --

BRIGGS: There you go, Christine. ROMANS: -- that stole the world's heart. Look at Charlotte.

Now, she is a barrier-breaker now because those old sexist rules of the boy jumping ahead of the girl in the line of succession are gone. So she's making history, that little darling.

BRIGGS: And that closing wave is a closing wave to Max Foster --

ROMANS: Goodbye.

BRIGGS: -- and to all of you.

ROMANS: Goodbye.

BRIGGS: Such a nice parting moment.

ROMANS: And we leave you with our favorite picture, lovers of liberty.

Joining -- thanks for joining us. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: And I'm Dave Briggs. "NEW DAY" starts right now.

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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was suffering from an infection. It became a crisis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When one person dies, the spouse has a dramatically increased rate of mortality.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The American public sees him as the last of the greatest generation.

MACRON: This is a very important state visit given our current environment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The stage is set for tonight's first state dinner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Macron is one of the few democratic leaders who's figured out how to handle Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I seen a white van. He's just hitting people, one-by-one going down. I couldn't believe what I seen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The police managed to corner the attacker.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This kind of tragic incident is not representative of how we live.