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Travel Ban at Supreme Court; First Lady Shines at State Dinner; Meek Mill at Sixers Game; Trump on Iran Nuclear Deal; Trump Praises Kim Jong-un. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 25, 2018 - 06:30   ET


[06:31:41] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Republicans are going to hold onto a congressional seat in Arizona's 8th district. It may also be perceived as somewhat as a win for Democrats. Why? There's only one winner. Well, look at the projections. CNN saying that state -- former state Senator Debbie Lesko is going to defeat her Democratic challenger in a special election in this district. The race, however, was much closer than expected. Romney won this district by big double digits over 20 points. So did Trump. It's a heavily red district by predisposition and by registration. So making it a margin of just five, right, in a race where Democrats often don't enter somebody, two cycles in a row, it may show strength in the Democratic Party.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, meanwhile, another legal setback to the Trump administration's effort to end deportation protections for young, undocumented immigrants.

The federal judge has ruled that the government must accept new applications for the DACA program. The judge giving the White House 90 days to make its case for scrapping that program that protects dreamers, calling the decision to shut down the program virtual unexplained and therefore unlawful.

CUOMO: The Trump administration is facing a Supreme Court battle today. All right. It's going to be the third try to get the travel ban through. And, remember, this ban mostly targets people from Muslim majority countries and that's why it's in legal jeopardy in the first place.

CNN's Laura Jarrett live in Washington with a preview.

So what do we expect in this iteration. How is this different? What are the stakes?


The nine justices are going to get their chance later this morning to weigh in on a centerpiece of President Trump's immigration policy. The big question is, do they hand Trump a victory that he wants or send him back to the drawing board yet again on another version of the travel ban that he's tried to implement since his first week on the job.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) JARRETT (voice over): At first, a campaign promise.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.

JARRETT: Now, a high-stakes legal battle over President Trump's travel ban finally reaching the Supreme Court. The case has been a long time in the making, with the first travel ban sparking chaos at airports.

CROWDS: Let them in. Let them in.

JARRETT: As green card holders were detained.

Then quickly blocked by lower courts last year.

TRUMP: We're going to fight this terrible ruling. We're going to take our case as far as it needs to go, including all the way up to the Supreme Court.

JARRETT: The current version of the ban, now in its third iteration, blocks foreign nationals from Iran, Libya, North Korea, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and a handful of officials from Venezuela from entering the U.S. The Trump administration has tried to defend the narrowed ban on national security grounds.

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president's executive order is an important step to ensuring that we know who is coming into our country.

JARRETT: Even as the president calls it watered down and tweets that it should be tougher.

Lawyers fighting against the ban say it separates families and amounts to an unconstitutional ban on Muslims.

NEAL KATYAL, LAWYER FOR THE STATE OF HAWAII: If you rule for him, you defer to the president in a way that history teaches us is very dangerous. You open the door to so much.

JARRETT: They point to his statements, both as a candidate --

TRUMP: I think Islam hates us. We can't allow people coming into this country who have this hatred.

[06:35:03] JARRETT: And as president.

TRUMP: This is the protection of the nation from foreign terrorists entering into the United States. We all know what that means.

JARRETT: But the Justice Department says the current ban benefits from a lengthy security review and will try to convince the justices to focus on the president's authority and ignore his words.

JEFF WALL, PRINCIPAL DEPUTY SOLICITOR GENERAL: We shouldn't start down the road of psycho analyzing what people meant in the campaign trail. (END VIDEOTAPE)

JARRETT: Now, national security experts, lawmakers and even one of the president's own lawyers have tried to get in on the action in this case, filing friend of the court, known as amicus briefs, hoping to remind the justices could have historic implications even beyond this version of the travel ban.


CAMEROTA: OK, Laura Jarrett, thank you very much for that update.

So, President Trump's first state dinner getting rave reviews. And the first lady is getting all of the credit. Melania's big moment and her fashion sense, next.


[06:40:01] CAMEROTA: First Lady Melania Trump shines as host and planner of the first state dinner of the Trump presidency, but all of the buzz is about the first lady's fashion and, of course, her hat.

Let's discuss with CNN White House reporter Kate Bennett.

Kate, great to see you.

Let's start with the important stuff, the fashion. Tell me about the first lady's dress.

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: So, last night, you know, we -- I thought she would wear a French designer and she actually ended up doing so. She wore Chanel Haute Couture. This is, you know, a dress that maybe from the photographs didn't quite come through as much as it does in person. It's hand beaded. It's hand painted underneath there. The bottom part is sheer with just some beading. There's actually a pocket, like a -- almost like a sweatshirt pouch pocket right there in the middle. It's really -- the details are very, very stunning and I'm sure in person it just sort of sparkled and glittered. But she -- you know, she looked great. She wore -- she paid homage to the iconic French fashion house of Chanel.

CAMEROTA: OK. Let's talk about what was very attention grabbing earlier in the day, her lid, and that is the hat. What do we know? What's the back story of the hat?

BENNETT: So, interestingly, the back story is, it was custom made by her personal stylist, Herve Pierre, who is also a designer. So it must have been in the works for some time if it was designed and then made.

I think the hat looked great, but I think it was more about understanding what the hat did. As she -- as soon as she put it on, I don't -- I don't -- I don't recall what the president said. I don't know what others -- if others did. My phone blew up. And, you know, and the hat, the hat, the hat. And I think it was a very important moment for Melania Trump. And I don't think she was oblivious to knowing this attention grabber would steal the spotlight, let's just put it that way.

CAMEROTA: But when you say it's an important moment for her, meaning what, when you put on the hat, you have magical powers?

BENNETT: No, I mean, I think she knew that wearing a hat like that would mean all eyes would be on her. And I think it was -- you know, she's maybe looking forward to her legacy. She's maybe looking forward to saying, here's a statement.

With Melania Trump, she doesn't often have a chance to speak and she hasn't given a lot of speeches. We don't hear from her. And when she does, her news is sort of swallowed up by the oxygen in the room usually going out to something in the news about the West Wing. So I think wearing this hat and sort of capturing that attention and forcing it on her says a lot about where she is as a first lady, wanting to be seen, wanting to be taken seriously, all of those things. I think, again, her nonverbal cues are sometimes just as compelling and mysterious as her -- as when she speaks.

CAMEROTA: Well, we don't hear her speak that much, I mean, be to be frank. This was a really prominent week for her, from Barbara Bush's funeral, to this state dinner. But we don't hear her speak. So, I mean, her -- I like what you're saying, her nonverbal cues speak volumes because that's basically all we have.

But social media blew up, as you know, about the hat. And they had some comparisons to Beyonce and Olivia Pope in "Scandal." What do you see here? Do you think these were the inspiration?

BENNETT: I mean, listen, I think hats are having a moment. I think part of that is due to Beyonce in "Reformation" and that whole thing. And, you know, if it's an homage to them, I'm not sure. She sort of marches to the beat of her own fashion drum and very much makes her own decisions.

Listen, she also was wearing Michael Kors. Michael Kors was an ardent Hillary Clinton supporter and fundraiser. A designer who shouts out to every celebrity who ever wears his stuff on his Twitter and Instagram and never gives a nod to the first lady when she wears his clothes. So certainly this isn't about, you know, being friendly to a designer or wanting to look like something on the runway. This was purely about Melania Trump's decision to wear what she wants to wear.

CAMEROTA: Last, there was one more comparison, and that was to Jude Law. And I just want to pull up that -- that picture, because it was the -- not Olivia Pope, the young Pope.

BENNETT: The pope.

CAMEROTA: So, there you go. There is your shot of the morning.

Kate Bennett, thank you very much.

BENNETT: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: Chris. CUOMO: All right, hours after being released from prison, rapper Meek Mill gets a special honor and watches his beloved 76ers series clinching win. What do we make of this story? The "Bleacher Report," next.


[06:48:23] CUOMO: All right, did you hear about this? Rapper Meek Mill, who has widespread support from the sports world, spent his first evening out of prison at the 6ers/Heat playoff game.

Lindsay Czarniak has more in the "Bleacher Report."

What's the spin on this?

LINDSAY CZARNIAK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the spin is also that he played a very meaningful role, Chris, in the pregame festivities. Mill, you know, advocated for by several sports execs and players. He was freed from prison after five months behind bars.

This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by Ford, going further so you can.

So Sixers owner Michael Rubin went to pick Mill up and he left his Pennsylvania prison by chopper, you see it here, arriving at the Wells Fargo center in Philly less than two hours later. SO the Sixers, they put Mill to work right away. He wore a Joel Embiid jersey and he rang the ceremonial liberty bell before the game. The moment was not lost on the players. Embiid sharing his thoughts after the game.


JOEL EMBIID: I was just excited that he got to witness this because I know that he's always represented the city and he loves this -- he loves this city so much.


CZARNIAK: All right, but the real headline was the game and what it meant for this city. The Sixers took advantage of the chance to end this series. They beat Miami 104-91, advancing to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time in six years. So next up for them it will be the Celtics or the Bucks.

But this is my favorite moment. How happy was Embiid? Look at him lifting comedian Kevin Hart up in the air. There's about, what, two feet difference between them in height. And, look, it's just like throwing up your little kid, right, Alisyn? It's amazing.

CAMEROTA: That is a great shot. And Kevin Hart looks like he enjoyed it as well. So --

[06:50:01] CZARNIAK: Oh, he was over the moon.

CAMEROTA: Yes, exactly. That's good.

CZARNIAK: Imagine if Trump did that to Macron. Would that have been too much?

CAMEROTA: No, not for where they were headed. No.

CUOMO: Right, it's all good. It's all positive.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it's all positive.

CUOMO: Better than the dandruff brush. I'd rather you pick me up.

CAMEROTA: I agree with you.

CUOMO: Not to self.

CAMEROTA: Meanwhile, there are signs of movement on the Iran deal, but what if the U.S. leaves the deal entirely? We discuss the possibilities, next.


CUOMO: President Trump signaling he could be swayed on the Iran nuclear deal, but the president did issue an ominous warning to Iran that if they threaten the U.S., they will pay for it.

Joining us now is CNN global affairs analyst and former deputy secretary of state Tony Blinken.

Tony, let's start wide and then get more narrow.

This meeting between the French president and the U.S. president, a good thing? These agenda on the table, good matters for discussion?

TONY BLINKEN, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, the -- the agenda was pretty much everything under the sun that's right on the front burner right now, starting with Iran, but also Syria, dealing with Russia, tariffs in China, you name it. So this was good that they got together, good that they had this broad agenda. But the real focus was Iran. That was the number one issue on Macron's file.

[06:55:17] CUOMO: Now, Trump is often good at pointing out obvious problems. As you well know, the fact that Iran is such a malefactor in the region was something that came up during the original negotiation of the nuclear deal. Well, what are you going to do about that? And the, you know, the decision was made that, look, let's deal with the higher priority of their nuclear capabilities and we'll deal with that separately. He's calling that out as a problem now. The question is, can he fix it?

BLINKEN: It is a problem. And it does deserve attention. But the very last thing you'd want to do if you want to deal with that problem is to blow up the nuclear agreement.

Look, Chris, what was interesting yesterday is the president almost made the case for the agreement. He said if Iran restarts its program, then terrible things are going to happen. Well, that's the point. The program has stopped. Why would you do anything that gives Iran an excuse to restart the program. And restarting the program makes every other program that Iran poses that much worse. That's exactly why we did the nuclear deal in the first place.

So, if you're trying to get everyone on your side, to put pressure on Iran, to crack down on its malicious activities in the region, to crack down on its missile program, why would you blow up an agreement that everyone else supports, creating division among your partners? That's the last way to be effective in actually putting pressure on Iran.

CUOMO: Because you gave too much, you got too little, and they have only increased their nefarious activity since the deal. Not nuclear, perhaps, although I don't know how much we can know for sure, but in the region, certainly.

BLINKEN: We've got the most intrusive inspection regime in the history of arms control agreements. We know a lot about what they're doing and about what they're not doing. And the president himself said it, if they restart, which means they stopped, that's exactly what the deal did.

There's an opportunity here. And the opportunity is to get the Europeans to do more on putting pressure on Iran for these activities around the region, to do more in terms of Iran's ballistic missiles, but to stick with the deal. If we pull out of the deal, we play right into the hands of the hardliners in Iran who said, you know, you can't trust the United States. They're not good for the paper this agreement is written on. We prove their case. We give them an excuse to restart the program. It would make things more dangerous.

And, by the way, it would probably put us in the direction of a conflict. We'd be right back where we were before the deal, Iran pushing the accelerator on its nuclear program and we'd have to figure out what to do about it.

CUOMO: What's -- what's the chance and what's your perspective on the play here, which is, I'm going to create, from the Trump perspective, I'm going to create tension. Iran's not going to like that, so they will bend and work with us on these other issues and the deal will stay in place. I'll threaten the deal because they need this deal to be relieved from sanctions and international pressure so they will work with us on the other things?

BLINKEN: Yes, you know, I think that's not the way Iranian politics are working. That's not what's happening internally in Iran. There are -- there's a group of very hard -- hard line hard liners, even -- even worse than the government itself, that has said from the beginning it doesn't want this deal. It's been trying to throw a wrench in the works. If it gets an excuse, the pressure in Iran to get out of it themselves and to push forward will the nuclear program will be intense. And instead of actually calming down their activities around the region, it's likely to exacerbate them. All of that pushes us towards conflict.

So, the only thing we've gotten right in dealing with Iran, in dealing with the threat that it poses, is the nuclear agreement. So why would you tear that up?

CUOMO: All right, now, an ancillary concern here is who's watching this process? North Korea.

BLINKEN: That's right.

CUOMO: If there is an expectation that the Trump administration can go where others have gone before but fail and get some kind of deal with them, how they respect the United States and allies, this Iran deal matters.

Here's what the president said about Kim Jong-un yesterday.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So we're having very good discussions. 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.


CUOMO: All right. Now, obviously, the use of the word "honorable" is getting a lot of pickup. What I don't understand is, we know the president doesn't considering his words that well. Why we spend so much time considering them if he isn't spending a lot of time. So, let's put the language to the side.

The prospects here are seen as very optimistic. Do you believe that's misplaced hope? And, if not, what do you think about these chances of having a summit? We haven't seen this since Albright went there. You know, we've never had a president meet with one of the Kims.

BLINKEN: Chris, these two things, the Iran deal and a potential deal with North Korea are very, very closely linked, which is to say, if we tear up the Iran deal, the president then going into a negotiation with North Korea is going to have a much tougher time. Why would North Korea do a deal with us if our practice is to tear up the deals we've already made? It won't be able to trust what we put on the table. So these two things are tied together.

[07:00:05] They're tied together in another way. The president has trashed the Iran deal repeatedly from the campaign on through today.