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Trump Administration to Supreme Court, not a Muslim Ban; NFL Owners Criticized Trump Over Kneeling Controversy; Macron Targets Trump Policies in Address to Congress. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 25, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: No, he's up on Capitol Hill and didn't want to create news. The fact that he didn't say anything suggests that reporting is correct that he would actually resign. He didn't say, no, I'll stay in my job, he could do whatever -- the president can do whatever we wants. Right?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Right in saying nothing is saying something.

LIZZA: He remembered -- remember he's had a couple of cues so far that he would actually care about this. One is the famous dinner. Remember he had dinner with Rosenstein and the solicitor general. So, the top three people at the Justice Department, in a very public place in Washington, D.C. Kind of knew that he was going to be spotted. And that was seen as a sort of a show of force, the three-top people at Justice saying, we're sticking together. And that was in the middle of a lot of the speculation about whether Trump would do anything like fire Rosenstein or and or Mueller. And then at CNN recently reported, he said -- he said this. He's communicated to the White House --

BALDWIN: "Washington Post."

LIZZA: Excuse me, it was "The Washington Post." I just figure all the good reporters.

BALDWIN: And I appreciate that. And the "New Yorker" posted as well.

LIZZA: And that he -- I think he's laid down a marker that you shouldn't do this. Let's be honest, the two things that are preventing Trump from getting rid of these guys is Justice Department pushing back and Congress pushing back saying this is a red line, don't cross it, Mr. President. I mean, a Republican meet recently said it would lead to impeachment.

BALDWIN: Yes. Jennifer, last word from you on this.

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: You know, it's very interesting. I was glad to see that reporting last week that suggest that he is willing to stand up to his deputy. I think it's vitally important that that our lead law enforcement person be willing to stand up for his institution. So, I was glad to see that. I agree, he's not saying anything about it today. Doesn't mean all that much. But let's just hope that he stays strong in the case where they're actually faced with that.

BALDWIN: Jennifer, Bob and Ryan thank you all so much.

And to this, protesters outside the Supreme Court as lawyers on both sides have been arguing over President Trump's -- we'll call it travel ban 3.0. Will take you there and hear what these justices wanted to know. Hear their voices. Here these questions they had, hypotheticals.

Also, he once gave President Trump a Super Bowl ring. But the owner of the New England Patriots also called his actions divisive and horrible in a new audio that's been leaked from what was supposed to be the secret meeting back in October among these NFL owners and players and coaches. What we're learning about Bob Kraft's take on the president calling out those football players who kneeled during the national anthem.


BALDWIN: Immigration activists have waited a long time for this day, for the U.S. Supreme Court to hear argument over President Trump's travel ban. It appears all of the more conservative justices and swing vote Justice Anthony Kennedy may be siding with the President. Let me play some sound for you. This is Justice Samuel Alito on whether a reasonable observer would consider the policy a, quote unquote, Muslim ban.


SAMUEL ALITO, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: I think there are 50 predominantly Muslim countries in the world, five countries, five predominantly Muslim countries are on this list. The population of the predominantly Muslim countries on this list make up about 8 percent of the world's Muslim population. If you looked at the ten countries with the most Muslims, exactly one, Iran would be on that list of the top 10. So, would a reasonable observer think this was --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If it was a Muslim ban.


BALDWIN: With me now CNN Supreme Court reporter, Ariane de Vogue Ariana, also a central question today, whether the president's campaign rhetoric about Muslims entering the country could factor in the legality of this whole thing. What did the justices say about this today?

ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Well, that bite you just played for us right there with Justice Alito -- conservative justice -- he seemed to show no concern about the campaign statement. That he didn't think it was a Muslim ban. But of course, the key vote will be Justice Anthony Kennedy. And at times he did seem like he was ready to side with the President for two main reasons. First of all, he said, look, the travel ban is reviewed every 180 days. Any also said, is it really the role in these situations for the courts to second- guess the President. But Brooke, I will say this, there was a time in the beginning that he, too, seemed to be concerned about those campaign statements. And he was concerned about animus. See if you can hear it in this bite.


ANTHONY KENNEDY, SUPREME COURT JUSTICE: Supposed you have a local mayor and as a candidate he makes vituperative, hateful statement. He's elected and on day two he takes acts that are consistent with those hateful statements. Whatever he said in the campaign is irrelevant?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your honor, if he takes the same oath --

KENNEDY: Whatever he said on the campaign is irrelevant. I would say two things, and that was this one. In the second thing was is the point I was about to turn to. I would say yes. Because we do think that oath marks a fundamental transformation. But I would also say here it doesn't matter. Because here the statements that they principally rely on don't actually address the meaning of the proclamation itself. This is not a so-called Muslim ban. If it were, it would be the most ineffective Muslim ban that one could possibly imagine. Since not only does it exclude the vast majority of the Muslim world, it also omits three Muslim majority countries that were covered by past orders including Iraq, Chad and Sudan.


DE VOGUE: Right, so Kennedy there, he is worried about the animus. But Kennedy is sort of like that. He asks questions on one side and he asks on the other side. And most court watchers coming out of there said he really seemed to think that all in all the President did have the authority here. But we're not going to know probably until the end of June and that's when we'll get this decision -- Brooke.

[15:40:00] BALDWIN: End of June, got it. Ariane, thank you so much. Appreciate it. It is yet another sign it is 2018. The President of the United States just responded on Twitter to Kanye West. I'll explain next.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners when somebody disrespects our flag, to say get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out. He's fired. He's fired!


BALDWIN: Remember that? That was September of last year. We are now getting new details today about what NFL owners and players and coaches really thought about those inflammatory comments from President Trump. The "New York Times" has obtained audio from a secret meeting they held just weeks later about the national anthem protests. Among the headlines Patriots owner, Robert Kraft, who has been a

friend of Trump's for 25 years is heard privately slamming him.

[15:45:00] We should point out Bob Kraft, by the way, condemned those comments from the President in Alabama after it happened. But this in a secret meeting in October, this is what Bob Kraft said.

Quoting him, the problem we have, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don't feel is in the best interests of America. It's divisive and it's horrible.

So, let's discuss. Retired NFL player, Ephraim Salaam and Mike Wise, senior writer and columnist with ESPN, "The Undefeated." Gentlemen, welcome. And Mike first to you. You know, I was reading back on the relationship between Bob Kraft and Trump, before we chat. It's my understanding, you know, Kraft said that his loyalty to Trump really stems from when Trump called him every week for a year to check on his wife who passed away in 2011. And now we learn that Bob Kraft privately called Trump's mission divisive. How much does that surprise you?

MIKE WISE, SENIOR WRITER/COLUMNISTS, ESPN'S THE UNDEFEATED: Because he took issue with the statement in September, Brooke, I would say I don't think as much of it. And I think it also says more about the President than Bob Kraft. He's an equal opportunity alienator. It doesn't matter if you're a friend of his or not, he's going to alienate you. Annie's one of seven -- Bob Kraft is one of seven owners who gave a million dollars to the inauguration ball. So, I think it's a bottom line thing for these owners. And I do think any time you're taking, you know, NFL players and making them a proxy for patriotism and essentially making the public not buy their message about protesting police brutality, you've got a problem if you're an NFL owner.

BALDWIN: Ephraim, hat did you think?

EPHRAIM SALAAM, RETIRED NFL PLAYER: Well, it falls into the category of -- you know, growing up you had those friends, that maybe a teacher or a coach said to you, hey, I know you guys are great friends but if you have keep hanging around him, you know -- I had a coach pull me aside personally, I had a great friend, he was one of my closest friends. But he just didn't do things the way you would, you know, you would do in the real world. And my coach said, hey look, I know you like him but if you keep hanging around him you're going to either end up in jail or dead. Right? And that's severe what Donald Trump is one of those friends. Yes, he'll be there to support you but any chance he gets to snap at you or help his agenda, then he'll turn on you. That's the case we're dealing with right now.

BALDWIN: Also, part of this meeting -- and it's my understanding how extraordinary early rare it is to get all these guys around a table and you know, to keep these things under wraps. "The New York Times" also reports that the players, you know, wanted to talk about why Colin Kaepernick, the quarterback who started the anthem protests to begin with, why he was being black balled. But they got very different responses from the different owners. You had the Eagles owner, who seemed to be behind the players and this

is what he said. We've got to be careful not to be baited by Trump or whomever else. We have to find a way to not be divided and not get baited.

But the Houston Texans owner basically asked the players to stop kneeling in protest of social injustice. He said, you fellas need to ask your compadres, fellas, stop that other business, let's go out and do something that really produces positive results and we'll help you.

Ephraim, are you surprised to hear such varying messages from, you know, two NFL owners sitting in the same meetings?

SALAAM: No, I'm not. They're both billionaires. They both own teams but they're not the same type of people. The eagles are in Philadelphia, it's brotherly love, the land of the people. You've got to remember, Philadelphia -- the Eagles are in Philadelphia. It's brotherly love. It's a land of the people. The Houston Texans are in Texas. Most Texans consider themselves their own country. All right, and I played in Houston. I played under Bob Kraft. And this is not the first time he said some off-putting comments. I remember when President Obama got elected, he called a team meeting. Owners don't call team meetings. He wanted to let us know, hey, the election didn't go our way. Some of us are angry. But I didn't want it to divide the team. But having that meeting for no reason was a divisive way to separate your team. Which made no sense. So, having Bob Kraft -- I mean, having the Texas owner, Bob McNair, make those comments, it's not surprising to me. He's a good ol' boy in Texas.

BALDWIN: Go ahead, mike.

WISE: No, I was going to say that the NFL owners, bless their heart, Brooke, they're the most out of touch group --

BALDWIN: So much southernism though. I got you. Go ahead.

WISE: They're the most out of touch owners in the history of sports. These people -- Eric Reid, who kneeled with Colin Kaepernick went to an interview recently in Cincinnati and Mike Brown, the owner of the Bengals had said, we want players.

[15:50:00] We don't political activists. So, Marvin Lewis, the coach, of the same ilk, said to Eric Reid, do you want to clarify your stance about kneeling or not kneeling before we leave this interview. And Eric Reid says, no. And the Bengals, after a great work out and everything, don't sign Eric Reid. These owners are -- these owners are -- they want it both ways. They want to give these guys the ability to affect their communities, but god forbid if you exercise your constitutional right during a football game. I mean, I've got real problems with it.

All right, Ephraim and Mike, thank you so much. No love lost for Texas is my takeaway. Thank you so much.

Just a reminder to you, really incredible night here at CNN, we're hours away from the live town hall with James Comey. This comes as his book hits a new sales milestone. We'll take you live to Williamsburg, Virginia, his alma mater of William and Mary for a preview.


BALDWIN: French President Emmanuel Macron just became the first foreign head of state to address a joint meeting of Congress during the Donald Trump presidency. Despite all the affection we have witnessed between these two men, the French President did not hold back, delivering a stunning repudiation of some of Trump's policies.


EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENT: It is true to say that this agreement may not address all concerns and very important concerns. This is true. But we should not abandon it without having something substantial and more substantial instead.

[15:55:00] One day the United States will come back and join the Paris agreement.

Personally, if you ask me, I do not share the fascination for new, strong powers, the abandonment of freedom and the illusion of nationalism.


BALDWIN: Max Boot is with me, CNN global affairs analyst, and a senior fellow at the Council of Foreign Relations. Nice to have you on. Here in President Trump's backyard, this repudiation. Do you think it was more than repudiation, what was your takeaway of Iran, Paris, et cetera?

MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: My immediate reaction, Brooke, was I wish I could vote for Macron for president of the United States because this is the message that we should hear from the president. This defense of the international world order that the United States built up since 1945. And unfortunately, we have a president who doesn't believe in that world order and Macron was reminding him of how important it is to maintain.

[15:55:00] And I thought his -- this line in particular, we can choose isolationism, withdraw or nationalism but closing the door to the world will not stop the evolution of the world. That said it all right there. That's everything that Donald Trump does not understanding.

BALDWIN: We know that he said specifically on the Iran deal, we can't get rid of the Iran nuke deal, we've talked about, you know, how -- why would Iran ever agree to that. We know Merkel is coming with a similar stance on Friday. What happens when Macron leaves Washington now?

BOOT: Well, that's a great question. Because we don't know exactly what was said at the White House between Macron and Trump. But it sounded like from the press conference that Trump gave Macron the kind of impression they were more or less on the same wave length. But as you know with Trump he could say one thing on one day, say something else the next day and then do a third thing the third day. So, who knows where he's going to be without Macron here. Because he often does and says whatever the last person he talked to was said, and that was Macron yesterday. But who knows who will talk to him tomorrow.

BALDWIN: Well on Friday he'll have the German chancellor and we'll have a conversation about that when she arrives. Max Boot, thank you very much.

Let's go now to senior political analyst, Mark Preston, who is live in Williamsburg, Virginia. There on the campus of the college of William and Mary and we'll get to, of course, the main event this evening and the big CNN town hall with James Comey. But I have to ask you about Trump. And just tweeting Kanye West a second ago. What is going on?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, re-tweeting Kanye West, and look, he has friends in high places. You can say that about the president. And Kanye West put out a tweet as we saw today, Brooke, where he was being very supportive and defensive of President Trump. And of court President Trump re-tweeted that. What we didn't see from the president though is that Kanye West a short time after he put out the tweet where he praised Donald Trump, he noted that his wife told him that he need to put out another tweet and note that he doesn't agree with everything Donald Trump agrees with.

Now if you look at Kanye West Twitter line right now, you will see that, in fact, that he is all over the place. But he's now back on the Donald Trump band-wagon because now he has another picture out of "make America great" hat signed by Donald Trump. So, it looks like Kanye West is getting political, very quick again -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: He's back on Twitter. Maybe it is just Kanye being Kanye.

Moving off of that and talking about James Comey, you know, you're at our CNN town hall site ahead of the big night with the former FBI director. He's going to be answering questions. Of course, this comes as his book "A Higher Loyalty" is raking in monstrous sales, 600,000 books in the first week. Better than Hillary Clinton's "What Happened" or Michael Wolff's salacious "Fire and Fury." Give me a preview of this evening.

PRESTON: So, a couple of things. One, is the book is selling gang buster right now. They're now going go for a printing of over a million right now. But the place we're at right now, William and Mary couldn't really think of a better place to sit down with James Comey for a couple of reasons. One, this is where he went to school. This is where his wife went to school. But more importantly we saw four presidents have come from this school, including George Washington who took classes. And it was place that had the first honor code instituted in academics.

When you talk about James Comey and this book tour he's on, he's talking about loyalty. He's talking about honesty. Couldn't think of a better place than here. What's going to make this much more interesting than I think any of the other interviews we've seen with James Comey, we're going to hear from students. The next generation of leaders and they could ask a question in a different way that might illicit a different response. So, I do think while we've heard a lot from James Comey in the last two weeks, we haven't heard him take questions directly from young people, our next generation of leaders. We'll see that here tonight.

BALDWIN: So, will listen for that. I've got you for another 60 second, Mark. We know that this week Comey added a high-profile attorney to his legal team. A man by the name of Patrick Fitzgerald. Tell me about him and why that is garnering so much attention.

PRESTON: And so, a couple of things. Patrick Fitzgerald, he is a former U.S. attorney in Illinois. What's important about this is that Patrick Fitzgerald was hired or appointed by James Comey back in 2003 to look into the Valerie Plame unmasking of her being a CIA agent. It led to, anyway a Scooter Libby being charged, and of course, we've seen in the past month or so, Scooter Libby who was an aide to Dick Cheney was pardoned by Donald Trump. So, he is using now -- Comey is using his former colleague to help him get through any problems that he may run into given this investigation as it moves forward -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: All right Mark Preston, thank you so much. And Williamsburg, again just remind everyone, please tune in. It's a special evening here on CNN. You just heard Mark go through the fact young people will be able to ask James Comey, the fired FBI director, questions directly. Tune in. It begins at 8:00 here on CNN hosted by Anderson Cooper.

That's it for me. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in New York. Thanks for tuning in. Keep it right here, "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper right now.