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French President Addresses Joint Meeting of Congress; Arizona House Seat Stays in GOP Hands; Over 100 Migrants Arriving at U.S.- Mexico Border; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 25, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: We know that the State Department has had a lot of buy-in into these meetings with the Europeans, but there's still this question because you never know in the end which way Trump will go.

Another big factor is that his new National Security adviser John Bolton has been telling people around town that he sees the Iran deal as unfixable. So ultimately, who will have the greater influence on Trump when he makes that decision, and by the way, the deadline is May 12th, whether to stay in or out.

A few U.S. allies I've spoken to have said at this point, as of just a couple of days ago, they have no idea which way this is going to go -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Michelle Kosinski at the State Department. Michelle, thank you very much.

I want to bring in David Rohde, CNN global affairs analyst, online news director for "The New Yorker."

Michelle says, David, nobody knows where this is going to go. President Trump sort of made that point yesterday looking at Emmanuel Macron saying, though, you have an idea, and he got a wink back from Macron on that subject.

Is it possible they've worked out some kind of arrangement here?

DAVID ROHDE, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: There is a comprehensive European plan to sort of update the Iran deal to meet some of the objects that Trump has raised with it. But we won't know, frankly, until May 12th when the president speaks which way he'll go. He has, as Michelle said, he has changed his mind in the past when it comes to different policies.

BERMAN: Who needs to agree to this comprehensive European plan? Because it's not all the parties that agreed to the original nuclear deal. Correct?

ROHDE: Yes. It's just basically for the four European countries that are involved. It would not involved Russia and China. Would Iran even accept this kind of separate agreement among, you know, the West essentially? And so it's really -- what happens on May 12th prophecies whether the U.S. will pull out of the deal and Macron is trying to stop him from doing that.

BERMAN: Right. By any means necessary. Any way he can. I guess what I'm getting at here is that he may come to -- President Trump can say, look, I've got an agreement with these other European leaders that if Iran does anything funny after the expiration of this deal we'll all act, but that isn't a new deal with the weight of the original Iran nuclear deal.

ROHDE: It isn't, but what Macron is asking for and I think what he'll talk about this morning is a joint approach in Syria to combat the Islamic State and this sort of joint Western effort to share some of the burden that Trump has asked for. So this is the kind of multilateralism Trump has rejected and -- you know, it's a good offer from Macron.

BERMAN: So saying Emmanuel Macron, despite all the handholding and the allowing the dandruff brushing and the hugging and the kissing, say he fails and the United States does pull out of the Iran deal on May 12th, what happens on May 13th?

ROHDE: The Iranians have said they will start enriching uranium rapidly at that point and, you know, Trump has talked about pulling out of Syria so this is this basic decision. Do we pull out of all these agreements and let it all go haywire or expect others to take care of it, or do we work with France, you know, with us? Look, Macron deserves credit. There is a way to talk to Donald Trump and, you know, people give the president a hard time. Macron has found a way to do that and maybe this will last.

BERMAN: Well, maybe Kim Jong-un is watching --

ROHDE: That's --

BERMAN: -- Emmanuel Macron because President Trump said something fascinating yesterday talking about the North Korean leader in this pending meeting that he hopes to have in the end of May or early June. Let's listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.


BERMAN: Very honorable, referring to Kim Jong-un as very honorable. Now sometimes the president is loose with his language, but I have to believe a lot of leaders around the world heard that.

ROHDE: It's an extraordinary, you know, shift from when they were sort of mocking each other publicly. So Trump does this sort of extreme good cop and extreme bad cop routine. It's a mixed message to North Korea.

BERMAN: He's both cops.

ROHDE: Correct.


ROHDE: He's the president. But is it effective? That's the question. And, you know, this is all mixed together. He's trying to set a precedent with Iran that will I think increase the leverage with North Korea.

BERMAN: Yes. He just called someone honorable who, you know, allegedly has killed his own brother.

ROHDE: Three Americans are in prison today in North Korea. You know, many people say that should be -- I think it should be a precondition for the talks. There are things to demand before the talks begin instead of just platitudes.

BERMAN: David Rohde, thanks so much for being with us. Appreciate it.

ROHDE: Thank you.

BERMAN: All right. Still ahead we have a winner in the special election to fill an Arizona House seat so why are the losers celebrating? And just a reminder, be sure to watch the James Comey town hall moderated by Anderson Cooper 8:00 p.m. tonight only on CNN.


[10:38:44] BERMAN: All right. You're looking at live pictures from the House of Representatives. The vice president of the United States Mike Pence there, welcoming the president of France, Emmanuel Macron, who will address a joint meeting of Congress. He will walk in any minute now.

This is the third day of this three-day trip that President Macron has made to the United States. It involved a dinner at Mount Vernon then, of course, the special arrival, the state arrival at the White House, and then the state dinner overnight.

President Macron and President Trump obviously with a deep, personal relationship. Macron will now try to extend that relationship to other lawmakers. We will keep our eye on that throughout the morning.

You are seeing right now the delegation leading Macron into the chamber.

In the meantime, a special election overnight, but more special for Republicans or Democrats? That's the question. In Arizona, a Republican did hold on to an open congressional seat. This morning the president wrote, "Congratulations to Republican Debbie Lesko on her big win in this special election for Arizona House seat. Debbie will do a great job. Press is so silent," the president says.

So we do like taking viewers' suggestions. We're going to talk about Arizona right now. Not so sure the president is going to like what he hears.

CNN's Harry Enten joins me right now.

[10:40:02] The Republican did win this House seat. They retained this seat. However --


BERMAN: There are signs here for Democrats.

ENTEN: A huge sign. This was a seat that Donald Trump won by 21 points in 2016. If you look at the past two presidential elections you'd expect in a neutral environment that the Republican would win by 25, did 20 points worse than that. Twenty points worse. And that is something that we have seen throughout the nine special elections on the congressional level so far this year. We have seen the Democrats outperforming the partisan baseline in every single one of them and by an average of 17 percentage points.

John, let me just tell you that is something that I haven't seen in the numbers dating all the way back to 1994 in the special elections leading up to a midterm and when we see big shifts like this, that portends to a wave in November.

BERMAN: It's an interesting thing about this House district, not only have Republicans won big margins there and President Trump, you know, Mitt Romney did, as well, but unlike the Pennsylvania 18D, this is a Republican district. It has Republican registered voters there.

ENTEN: Correct. And Pennsylvania was sort of what you would call an ancestrally Democratic district, right? Walter Mondale won in '84. The registration numbers favored Democrats by a few points. Here the registration numbers favored Republicans overwhelmingly by nearly 20 points. And so there were just -- there are just Democratic voters traditionally in this district.

The only way that you win in this district or come close to winning if you're a Democrat is by converting Republicans to being over to the Democratic side and, you know, looking at these numbers that's what you have to assume what happened.

BERMAN: And Republicans had everything here. They had a good candidate. They had a candidate they were perfectly happy with.


BERMAN: They had money, they started spending early and often. They had a Democratic candidate who didn't really have any national support.

ENTEN: Correct. All the excuses that we've heard from Republicans about why they were underperforming. In Alabama Senate, bad candidate. In Pennsylvania 18, the guy didn't raise any money. Here, none of those were true and we saw a tremendous shift in an ancestrally Republican land and when you put all the numbers together, it's just not good for them. BERMAN: And again, putting all the numbers together, we've had, what,

nine special elections?

ENTEN: Nine.

BERMAN: Nine special elections so far and they tell a pretty consistent story.


BERMAN: Look at the special elections, you know, try to reconcile it with some of these congressional ballot tests which show Republicans doing a little bit better because they're not quite on the same level.

ENTEN: They're not. And we have seen Republicans close nationwide, Democrats still up by five to eight percentage points depending on which polls exactly you look at. But remember, polls go up and down, and despite the polls going up and down the special elections signal has been consistent and you know what? Based off the past couple of years maybe we should start looking at election results that are telling a very clear story instead of trying to pick apart these little polls with this small difference.

BERMAN: Very quickly, any signs about the Senate? There is one Senate race coming up in Arizona.

ENTEN: At least one coming up in Arizona and I would be very, very worried if I was a Republican running in Arizona right now because this is a district that's far to the right of this state at large and I think Kyrsten Sinema is favored in the fall.

BERMAN: Harry Enten, great to have you with us. Uncovering -- discovering the numbers always a pleasure.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BERMAN: And we had a live picture a second ago. Emmanuel Macron in the House of Representatives. He is arriving. We have our eye on that all morning. You can see members of the Cabinet actually arriving right now first. Pretty soon we'll see the French leader. In the meantime, a showdown brewing at the U.S.-Mexico border as more than 100 Central American migrants have started arriving, seeking asylum. The president has warned that they will not be accepted. So what's next? We have a live report from the border.


[10:47:49] BERMAN: All right. Live pictures right now. Somewhere in the middle of that group of people is the French President Emmanuel Macron. There, I'm getting a first glimpse right now, next to Kevin McCarthy, the House majority leader, shaking hands as we know he is one to do with many members of Congress and the leaders of this nation.

He will address a Joint Meeting of Congress after these handshakes and when he takes the podium. We will keep our eye on that. In the meantime more than a hundred Central American migrants arriving

at the U.S.-Mexico border in busloads with more on the way. Many are planning to turn themselves into U.S. authorities and asked for asylum but President Trump has already directed the Department of Homeland Security not to allow large caravans of people as he puts it into the United States.

Our Leyla Santiago in Tijuana with the details. Leyla, what are you seeing?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, you can see right behind me there are a lot of tents that have been set up in this shelter. We've counted them. It's about 60 of them and each of them one have someone inside, a family, women and children in many cases. You know, most of these people planned to go to the U.S.-Mexico border, turned themselves in, seek asylum which is legal.

Some of them are deciding to stay in Mexico, but inside every single one of these tents there are people who are saying we fled because of violence, we fled because of poverty.

I want you to -- I want to introduce you, rather, to Elena.

Elena, (speaking in foreign language)

So she's 24 years old, she's from Honduras. She's from Honduras. I'm going to learn more about her story because this is actually the first time that we talk in detail about this.

She's saying that she left Honduras because there's too much violence. I'm asking her when she's violence what does she mean by that? She says there have been threats to kill her and that's why she's fleeing.

I'm going to ask her now, President Trump as you mentioned has been very strong in his stance on this. I'm going to ask her about his latest tweet in which he says he does not want the caravan to come in.

[10:50:18] So she's saying -- and she's pointing out what I pointed out earlier, and that what they are doing she believes is legal. And it is legal to go to a port of entry and seek asylum. So she said that's something that President Trump will just have to accept. And so now I'm going to ask her what happens at the border if they are not allowed to go in.

So she says if they don't take them in at the border that she will have to go -- she'll have to wait because she says she can't go back to her country because she -- her life has been threatened there. I should mention she is with a child. She's with a 3-year-old little girl that she's traveling with.

Elena, muchas gracias.

So this is one of the many stories that we have heard. Very similar stories, a lot of families and children here. 130 people are here right now, I'm told. As you mentioned that there are more busses that will arrive today. Again, some of them staying in Mexico, but many just days away from turning themselves in at the border of the United States -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Leyla Santiago in Tijuana. Such difficult decisions to be made. We appreciate it.

The French Emmanuel Macron addressing a Joint Meeting of Congress right now. We will take you there. Stay with us.


[10:56:22] BERMAN: All right. Moments ago, we heard from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders answering questions about embattled VA secretary nominee Dr. Ronny Jackson. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: To deny the allegations to President Trump?

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I'm not going to go line by line on every outrageous thing out there right now, but they certainly discussed --


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Has the president spoken to Jackson today?

SANDERS: I'm not sure if they've spoken this morning. I know they met yesterday.


SANDERS: Guys, we're looking at all of the options and we'll keep you posted when there's an update or an announcement.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What about his lack of experience which he cited yesterday during the press conference?

SANDERS: Look, I don't think -- I saw Senator Rand earlier this morning. There's probably not a person around that has managed a department of over 300,000 and certainly he's a very highly qualified, highly respected person in the military and in the medical community and that's something that we strongly feel that veterans need in the VA.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: What does the president want to hear from Tim Cook today? They're talking trade.

SANDERS: Again I know they expect trade to be a big part of that discussion and we'll keep you posted if we have anything --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sarah, yesterday --

(CROSSTALK) SANDERS: Sorry, guys. I'll see you this afternoon. I've got to --

BERMAN: All right. You're listening to Sarah Sanders there calling the charges against Dr. Ronny Jackson outrageous saying the president continues to stand behind him, although noting or refusing to say that Dr. Jackson line by line denied the allegations that have been (INAUDIBLE) over the last few days so pay attention very closely to that in the coming hours.

Other news, another federal judge has overruled the Trump administration's effort to end DACA. This time saying the government must accept new applications from the so-called Dreamers. The ruling will not take immediate effect. The judge delayed the ruling for 90 days to allow the administration to make its case. Similar other rulings the judge found the Department of Homeland Security failed to, quote, "adequately explained its conclusion that the program was unlawful."

We have new details this morning about the suspected Waffle House shooter. According to CNN affiliate WSMV, the shooter erased his laptop's hard drive weeks before the shooting. He took his laptop to a Nashville repair shop last month and asked the staff to swipe, to clean essentially all the information. The owner of the repair shop said, quote, "There was nothing unusual about the transaction." The shooter is -- alleged shooter is charged with four counts of criminal homicide, four counts of attempted murder and one count of unlawful gun possession in connection with that shooting which happened early Sunday morning.

All right. Deliberations set to begin this morning in the Bill Cosby assault trial. During the closing arguments, defense attorneys slammed Cosby's accusers while prosecutors painted Cosby as, quote, "a con man." The former actor is charged with three counts of aggravated indecent assault and faces up to 10 years in prison. This is the second trial for Cosby on these charges until after a jury failed to reach a verdict nearly one year ago.

Again we are watching a lot of news today. The White House standing by Ronny Jackson, the nominee to be the Veteran Affairs secretary, although not saying that Dr. Jackson has denied all the charges against him. The French leader Emmanuel Macron addressing a joint meeting of Congress at this moment. Thanks so much for joining me today. I'm John Berman.

"AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan starts now.