Return to Transcripts main page


Macron & Trump's Day of Pomp & Policy; Trump Hints at Iran Deal Compromise; Trump on Jackson's V.A. Fight; Meek Mill Free on Bail; Supreme Court Set to Hear Travel Ban Arguments; Amazon Will Deliver to Car Trunks. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired April 25, 2018 - 04:30   ET


[04:30:55] DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: Pomp and policy as President Trump toasts the French president at the Trump's first state dinner.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There is a chance, and nobody knows what I'm going to do.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: President Trump hinting that President Macron may have convinced him to compromise on the Iran nuclear deal.


TRUMP: I really don't think personally he should do it, but it's totally his. I would stand behind him. Totally his decision.


BRIGGS: President Trump leaves the door for his embattled V.A. nominee Ronny Jackson to back out amid mounting questions about his past.

ROMANS: Rapper Meek Mill goes from a prison cell to a helicopter, free on bail in a case that sparked outrage from activists of criminal justice reform.

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

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs.

After a touchy-feely 24 hours between --

ROMANS: You look perfect now, Mr. Briggs.

BRIGGS: I am far from perfect no matter how many cookie crumbles you brush off my shoulders.

Thirty-one minutes after the hour.

The third and final day of President Macron's visit to Washington begins with an address to both houses of Congress. This follows a day of pomp and policy that included a hint from President Trump that he might consider extending the Iran nuclear deal. A deal he spent more than two years criticizing.


TRUMP: I think we will have a great shot at doing a much bigger maybe deal, maybe not deal. We're going to find out soon.


BRIGGS: The day ended, of course, with the Trump administration's first official state dinner.

For more on that, let's go to Kate Bennett at the White House.


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

That's right. Last night was the state dinner, a culmination of a long day of diplomacy, pomp and circumstance. Of course, the president has forged a bond with French President Emmanuel Macron. The two were particularly friendly yesterday, exchanging plenty of handshakes and hugs, sometimes awkward.

TRUMP: We have a very special relationship. In fact, I'll get that piece of dandruff off -- we have to make him perfect. He is perfect.

BENNETT: The first lady, as well, had a long day. This was her moment to shine, and she did so last night wearing a beautiful Chanel gown. This was a dinner that she planned for months ahead of time.

The guest list included many notables from the Republican Party. Others including Rupert Murdoch and his wife, Jerry Hall, Tim Cook of Apple, and a few other folks who happened to join the Trumps and the Macrons as they celebrated diplomacy and this historic visit.

Today, President Macron will be on Capitol Hill where he will deliver an address to Congress. And then the French will take off and head back to France.

Back to you guys.


BRIGGS: Merci, Kate Bennett.

ROMANS: It was really an intimate gathering, too. Instead of the big tent outside with the seated dinner, they chose 150 people, inside, round tables, sweet peas and lilacs. People who are there said it smelled beautiful in the room. The china was from the Clintons. It was the Clinton china, which is interesting.

And this white hat was the moment. BRIGGS: The hat, the star.

ROMANS: It's a New York made hat. It's a Michael Kors white suit. A lot of people saying, is it Olivia Pope, is she the fixer? But that really was the star of the show.

And we know that Brigitte Macron wore Louis Vuitton for most of the weekend actually. She wore -- most of the trip, she's wearing Louis Vuitton. It was an unofficial ode to French designers because the first lady wore Chanel.

BRIGGS: Kate spotlighted how Melania rocked it. Look, there is another side to this, no Democrats from Congress in the room.

ROMANS: That's right.

BRIGGS: No members of the media.

ROMANS: Historically, you do make a bipartisan appeal when you have a state dinner like this.

BRIGGS: Something Republican Senator Kennedy was critical of yesterday with Chris Cuomo.

ROMANS: We know that Emmanuel Macron will speak to a joint session of Congress. So, at 10:30 we will hear from him, in about six hours.

All right. As we mentioned, President Trump is signaling a potential breakthrough that could keep the U.S. from backing out of the Iran nuclear deal. During his visit with Macron, Mr. Trump confirmed the U.S. and European negotiators are nearing an agreement to fix the deal.

[04:35:01] The president playing it coy when asked if he might reconsider his opposition.


TRUMP: There is a chance, and nobody knows what I'm going to do on the 12th. Although, Mr. President, you have a pretty good idea. We'll see. But we'll see also if I do what some people expect, whether or not it will be possible to do a new deal with solid foundations because this is a deal with decayed foundations.


ROMANS: The president was not so coy when he was asked what would happen if Iran restarts its nuclear program.


TRUMP: I will say if Iran threatens us in any way, they will pay a price like few countries have ever paid.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ROMANS: According to a source familiar with the talks, U.S. and European negotiators have agreed on a plan that would allow international experts to inspect all of Iran's nuclear sites, as well as measures targeting Tehran's long-range missile program.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani taking a jab at President Trump's qualifications. In a speech just a short time ago. He said this, quote: how can a businessman, a real estate developer, decide on global issues?

BRIGGS: Also, the president also softening his stance on Syria after discussions with Macron. Mr. Trump has been consistent in his call to withdraw U.S. troops as soon as possible. Now, he seems to be embracing the French president's position.


TRUMP: As far as Syria's concerned, I would love to get out. I'd love to bring our incredible warriors back home. With that being said, Emmanuel and myself have discussed the fact that we don't want to give Iran open season to the Mediterranean, especially since we really control it to a large extent.

I do want to come home, but I want to come home also with having accomplished what we have to accomplish. So, we are discussing Syria as part of an overall deal.


BRIGGS: The president says it's important to leave a strong and lasting footprint in Syria after our troops come home.

ROMANS: President Trump is showing some respect for a leader he once mocked as little rocket man. With the administration gearing up for a summit between the president and Kim Jong-un, Mr. Trump is giving some praise to North Korea's supreme leader. Listen.


TRUMP: Kim Jong-un was -- he really has been very open, and I think very honorable from everything we're seeing.


ROMANS: When pressed, the president refused to explain why he considers Kim Jong-un honorable now. He did say good discussions are ongoing with the North Koreans and claims Kim is pushing for a meeting, quote, "as soon as possible."

Let's go live to Seoul and bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks.

And certainly the families of people who have been imprisoned in that country do not think that he is an honorable man, Kim Jong-un. And certainly, you know, the human rights violations of starving your own people and the oppressive nature of the regime doesn't necessarily fit with honorable.

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Exactly, Christine. I mean, that was a remarkable choice of words.

Take Otto Warmbier's parents, for example. They're not going to agree with the president that Kim Jong-un is honorable. The U.S. student who was incarcerated in North Korea, then taken home to the U.S. in a vegetative state and died several days later. The parents say he was tortured, they believe.

And, of course, there are many defectors who have fled political prison camps within North Korea who talk of atrocities. The United Nations has had many reports talking of beatings, starvations, public executions.

So, certainly, this is not a word that many would equate with Kim Jong-un. But it shows that the U.S. president is trying to placate the situation ahead of these summits. Of course, we're only two days away from the summit between President Moon Jae-in and Kim Jong-un.

There have been rehearsals today at the DMZ between North and South Korean officials to make sure it's picture perfect park the camera angles, the lighting. They don't want anything to go wrong -- Christine.

ROMANS: Indeed. All right. Paula, thank you very much.

Thirty-nine minutes past the hour.

Back here, explosive allegations threatening to upend the nomination of Dr. Ronny Jackson to become secretary of veterans affairs. Jackson's confirmation hearing was scheduled to begin today. It has been postponed indefinitely.

Senators now looking into accusations that Jackson drank repeatedly on the job, created a hostile work environment, and improperly prescribed medications.

Listen to what Senator Jon Tester told Anderson Cooper about the man who was currently the White House physician.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I understand he had a nickname in the White House among some of the staff?

SEN. JON TESTER (D), MONTANA: And it was the candy man because he handed out prescription drugs like they were candy.

COOPER: The White House doctor is nicknamed among some in the White House as the candy man?

TESTER: That's correct. That's correct.

[04:40:00] That's what we were told.


ROMANS: Senator Tester says the allegations against Dr. Jackson came from 20 active duty and former military members. President Trump offering his nominee a graceful way out. Jackson, though, when approached by reporter yesterday, seems like he wants to fight.


REPORTER: Can you answer the questions?

RONNY JACKSON, DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS NOMINEE: I can answer the questions, absolutely. I'm looking forward to rescheduling the hearing and answering everyone's questions.

TRUMP: I haven't heard of the particular allegations, but I will tell you he's one of the finest people that I have met. But the fact is, I wouldn't do it. I wouldn't do it. What does he need it for? To be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren't thinking nicely about our country?

I really don't think personally he should do it. But it's totally his. I would stand behind him. Totally his decision.


ROMANS: The senators from both parties publicly voicing frustration with the White House for failing to properly vet nominees and leaving lawmakers to clean up the mess.

BRIGGS: Embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt appears before two House committees tomorrow. Officially, he'll be on Capitol Hill to talk about the EPA budget. He's likely to be grilled by both Democrats and Republicans about a series of alleged ethical lapses. But a White House official says Pruitt has refused repeated White House offers of assistance to prepare for these hearings, baffling some Trump aides.

Overall, though, support for Pruitt in the West Wing cooling. One source tells us some aides question whether Pruitt has the ethics necessary for government service. Support for the EPA chief is eroding among Republican lawmakers.


SEN. JIM INHOFE (R), OKLAHOMA: A lot of serious allegations against him that I want to check out, and I'm doing it.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R), WYOMING: Absolutely have concerns, a lot of questions that stil need to be answered.

SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: You can't just go around acting like a big shot, and you can't go around seeing how close you can come to the line, and you can't go around disrespecting taxpayer dollars. Can't do it. Shouldn't do it. Shouldn't be tolerated. That's part of the swamp that we're trying to clean up.


BRIGGS: Pruitt also facing backlash for proposing a controversial rule that he says will make the EPA more transparent. The proposal unveiled Tuesday allows the use of studies that make all data publicly available for anyone to analyze. Several environmental groups say the rule would permanently weaken the agency's ability to protect public health, especially its regulation of carbon emissions and air pollution since much of the research relies on confidential health data.

ROMANS: President Trump is sending some of his top economic advisers to China to talk trade. This from a press conference yesterday.


TRUMP: If you look at what's happening with trade in China, it hasn't been fair for many, many years to the United States. We're going to solve that problem. In fact, we're having Secretary Mnuchin and a couple of other folks heading over -- Bob Lighthizer -- heading over to China.


ROMANS: He's referring to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer. And Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin now officials, they haven't yet provided any further details. But Mnuchin said Saturday a trip to China was under consideration, he was cautiously optimistic the two can broken a trade deal.

Trade tensions simmering between the United States and China. Trump says there's a good chance of a deal. If not, the U.S. will press ahead with tariffs on 150 billion worth of Chinese goods. Beijing threatens retaliation, targeting exports -- U.S. exports like soybeans, cars, and aircraft.

BRIGGS: OK. Ahead, a whirlwind 24 hours for rapper Meek Mill freed from prison after his controversial sentencing nearly five months ago. The extraordinary story, next.


[04:48:19] BRIGGS: All right, 4:48 Eastern Time.

The Supreme Court set to hear oral arguments today on the fate of President Trump's travel ban. It's Trump versus Hawaii.

Critics say the seven-nation ban does little to enhance national security. They argue the government has failed to show how keeping 150 million people out of the country makes the U.S. more secure when not a single person from a banned nation has caused a terror-related death here.

More now from CNN's Supreme Court reporter, Ariane de Vogue.


ARIANE DE VOGUE, CNN SUPREME COURT REPORTER: Good morning, Dave and Christine.

It's more than a year after Donald Trump stunned the world and caused chaos in the airports, and the Supreme Court is finally taking up the legality of the travel ban. It concerns the third version of the ban. It was signed in September and it bans travel to various degrees from seven countries.

In December, the Supreme Court allowed the entire ban to take effect pending this appeal. The challengers argue that it violates immigration law and the constitution. They say the president exceeded his authority, and it has no national security justification.

They say the president demonstrated animus to Muslims in the tweets he sent out in his campaign statements. The government says the ban is necessary to protect national security and says it's neutral toward religion. It's worth noting this is the first major Trump administration policy the court's going to hear, and it comes on the last day of arguments of the term -- Christine, Dave.


ROMANS: Ariane, thank you so much for that.

CNN projecting Republicans will hold on to the House seat in a special election in Arizona's eighth district. Former State Senator Debbie Lesko winning a close race over Democrat and first time candidate Hiral Tipirneni.

[04:50:00] Lesko's single-digit victory though far closer than expected in a heavily Republican district.

Some context here, President Trump won there by 21 points in 2016. The election was to fill the seat of former GOP Congressman Trent Franks. Trent Franks resigned, remember, back in December facing allegations of sexual harassment.

BRIGGS: Rapper Meek Mill is out of prison after Pennsylvania's highest court ordered his release. The 30-year-old was sentenced last year to two to four years, two to four years for violating parole in a decade-old gun and drug case. The violation, doing wheelies on a dirt bike at work. Philadelphia prosecutors calling for mill's convictions to be overturned in light of new evidence. Mill out of prison after Pennsylvania's highest court ordered his release. The 30-year-old was sentenced to two to four years, as we mentioned.

Here now some tweets from Meek Mill. Last one in the meantime, I plan to work closely with my legal team to overturn this unwarranted conviction and look forward to reuniting with my family and resuming my music career. After leaving prison Tuesday, mill was flown by helicopter to the 76ers' playoff game where he had the honor of ringing the ceremonial liberty bell before tip-off.

Turns out Mill brought the team good luck, as well. The Sixers eliminated the Miami Heat. Their first playoff series win since 2012. This gained national attention for good reason. Michael Rubin, Patriots' owner Robert Kraft, Jay-Z, high-profile people helped him. What if you don't have that high-profile help --

ROMANS: I think that's his point. His point is that most people don't. And that the unfairness that happened, what he sees as unfairness that happened to somebody who, you know, who's a working rapper, traveling the country working, having parole violations. Some that it looks like they're overturned, simply unfair.

All right. Is it the -- it is the storm system that won't quit, and it's moving into the Northeast. Let's bring in meteorologist Pedram Javaheri.


PEDRAM JAVAHERI, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Dave and Christine, seeing showers already this morning. Some isolated, strong thunderstorms. But that's predominantly off shore. Just light to moderate bands of wet weather across parts of Washington, Philly, and New York. And expect this to pick up in intensity a little as we go in toward the late morning hours, into the early afternoon hours. A front tries to sneak in here.

There's some cooler temperatures accompany this, as well. We'll talk for -- shoot for the upper 50s around places such as New York, 57 degrees. Chicago at 52. Remember those two cities.

Working toward Texas, into the 80s we go. Speaking of Texas, farther to the south there. Strong thunderstorms possible. That's the lone spot of concern when it comes to severe weather today. The best bet here for severe weather being large hail across south Texas.

All right. Taking you to Chicago, we talked about the lower 50s. Say good-bye to that. Notice what happens -- we see kind of a seesaw battle in the initial -- seesaw battle in the initial days of the forecast.

For early next week, looks like spring with a vengeance in Chicago, upper 70s, close to 80 a possibility. In New York City, we get a couple of days again of up and down trends and showers possible, but as we approach early next week, also getting up into the 70s a possibility across parts of the northeast -- guys.


ROMANS: All right. Thank you so much, Pedram.

All right. Amazon has a new delivery spot, Dave, and it's the trunk of your car. That's right. Amazon will now deliver packages right to your vehicle.

More on CNNMoney, next.


[04:58:04] ROMANS: All right. It's that time of morning. Let's check CNNMoney this morning. Global stocks are down overnight, rising interest rates and red flags

from corporate America shaking Wall Street now. The Dow fell more than 400 points, fifth day down in a row.

Investors are ignoring strong company earnings. They're focusing instead on threats to the 9-year-old bull market like Caterpillar, a bellwether for industrial America. It said its profits have peaked due to rising costs like steel. Steel prices up since the Trump administration slapped tariffs on imports last month. Cat shares tumbled 6 percent, a big move for one day.

The most widely watched bond rate hit 3 percent. Higher rates could eat into corporate profits and signal more inflation. That bond move got a lot of attention yesterday about what it means about the strength of the U.S. economy and what the fed will have to do to cool it down.

Home prices are on the rise, jumping 6 percent in February, eclipsing their 2006 peak by nearly 7 percent. That's great for sellers, terrible for buyers. Higher prices, rising mortgage rates, and a tight inventory of existing homes making it harder to buy. One reason new home sales are also growing, newly built homes rose 4 percent in March.

Global wine production hitting a 60-year low. That means cheap wine is about to get more expensive. Bad weather in 2017 especially in Europe caused a weak harvest.

It's wholesale wine prices are rising. Now analysts say producers will absorb some of the price hike, but not all consumers will likely pay more, especially for cheaper bottles just in time for rose season.

Amazon has a new delivery spot. It's the trunk of your car. Amazon will now deliver packages inside your car in 37 U.S. cities.

You have to be a prime member. You have to own a newer car with an active connected car service like OnStar. All customers have -- all you have to do is download an app, and link to that service.

Trunk delivery an extension of Amazon Key which uses cameras and smart locks to allow Amazon deliveries in your home. Amazon's latest plan to leave packages where they cannot be stolen.