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Fashion Designer Kate Spade Found Dead; Sen. Mazie Hirono Interviewed; Rift Between Pompeo & Bolton Ahead of North Koran Nuclear Summit; Blue Wave on Verge of Collapse in Primaries; Melania Trump Makes 1st Appearance After Hospital Stay. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired June 5, 2018 - 13:30   ET



[13:32:34] WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Sad breaking news. Police say the fashion icon, Kate Spade, was found dead in her New York City home and in an apparent suicide. The designer famously launched the Kate Spade handbags, which later became a full-scale clothing and jewelry line.

CNN's Jean Casarez is in the New York working the story. CNN White House reporter, Kate Bennett, is with us as well.

Jean, what can you tell us?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, New York Police Department sources tell CNN the call came in at 10:30 this morning. What was found was that this fashion designer allegedly hanged herself with a scarf on a doorknob. They are telling us that the housekeeper is who found her. This was about 10:30 this morning.

This, of course, is an internationally known fashion designer in so many areas. Tributes are starting to come in. Kenneth Cole, American fashion designer, saying in tribute to Kate, "I believe that I could, so I did." And the Council of Fashion Designers of America said they are devastated to hear of the loss. Former editor of "Glamour" Cindy Levy, "Grieving for the family of Kate Spade."

This information is still coming in. We found out that she left a note. Kate Spade left a note. But at 10:30 this morning, New York Police Department got the call, according to a source, and they found Kate Spade hanged herself, allegedly, with a scarf on the doorknob in a New York City apartment -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Very sad, indeed.

Kate Bennett, you have covered fashion for a long time. Tell a little bit about her legacy.

KATE BENNETT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, everyone remembers their first Kate Spade. If you remember the '90s. Her line launched in 1993. Prior to that she was an accessories editor. I think she was one of the accessible timeless labels that everyone had to have. And her rise was similar with her name. She also did her line with her husband, Andy Spade. He had a line Jack Spade. Chelsea Clinton tweeted today about her first Kate Spade, "My grandmother gave me my first Kate Spade bag in college. I still have it." And Ivanka Trump tweeted something. Really thoughtful to do. She tweeted, "Kate Spade's tragic passing is a reminder we never truly know a person's pain or burden they carry. If you are struggling with depression and contemplating suicide, please seek help." She retweeted the suicide hotline.

Kate Spade sold her line in 2006. She hadn't been involved in the day-to-day business for 10 years as it expanded. She and her husband launched a new line in 2016, called Kate Valentine. She changed her name to Valentine. So trying to launch that and build something as big as Kate Spade was. Might be a difficult in the fashion industry. A huge loss. A very creative and quirky lovely woman. Big loss for the fashion industry.

[13:35:51] BLITZER: Terrific, terrific talent, a huge loss, 55 years old.

We'll be right back.


BLITZER: This coming in to CNN. U.S. Senate will work overtime. The Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is cancelling the scheduled August recess. He is in the process blaming Democrats. In a statement, McConnell says, quote, "Due to the historic obstruction by Senate Democrats of the president's nominees and the goal of passing appropriations bills prior to the end of the fiscal year, the August recess has been canceled. Senators should expect to remain in session in August to pass legislation, including appropriations bills and to make additional progress on the president's nominees."

That is the statement from Mitch McConnell. No recess in August for the U.S. Senate.

Other news we are following, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is hosting a working lunch with the foreign minister of Singapore as preparations for the U.S. and North Korea move full speed ahead. John Bolton may be side lined from the process. CNN has learned that tension with Pompeo and Bolton have reached a boiling point, we're told. We are told that there was a heated exchange with the two men following Bolton's Libya model comments which angered North Korea and Kim Jong- Un. Bolton was not invited to Friday's meeting where North Korean top official delivered a letter from Kim Jong-Un to President Trump over at the White House.

You see the picture. Both men smiling there. That was Friday in the Oval Office.

Joining us from Capitol Hill is the Hawaii Senator, Mazie Hirono, a democrat. A key member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Judiciary Committee.

Senator, what do you think of the behind-the-scene drama, the tension with the national security adviser and secretary of state over North Korea? [13:40:17] SEN. MAZIE HIRONO, (D), HAWAII: This does not set a

reassuring stage for any diplomatic resolution and agreement with North Korea. This is the kind of diplomacy that takes months to set up and you have two key people at odds with each other which is typical for this administration. Not to mention that you have a president who is about to engage in negotiations ill prepared and who changes his mind every other day and you have on the other side Kim Jong-Un who already is known to not keep his promises. This is not a great setting of the stage for fruitful negotiations.

BLITZER: Do the tensions between Pompeo and Bolton, who keep players in the national security realm in Washington, will it impact the potential for progress in the talks a week from today in Singapore?

HIRONO: I would think so. You would want to have the national security adviser engaged and involved and on the same page. To the extent of conflict with Pompeo and Bolton, two key players in the administration, that has got to not bode well for the president's thinking on this strategy and most of us have serious concerns about the president's ability to concentrate and to be focused on what we really need to do with regard to North Korea. We have received very little by the way in terms of how he will approach the negotiations. Heaven forbid he thinks he can go in and have a chat with Kim Jong-Un and use his powers of persuasion. Are you kidding me? This is not reassuring at all.

BLITZER: What would you like to see emerge from the meeting with the president and North Korean leader?

HIRONO: There has to be a complete and verifiable denuclearization of the nuclear program and domestic missile and chemical weapons programs. It has to be verifiable at all times. If North Korea doesn't live up to the agreement, sanctions should come back. Those agreements we should have. Not to mention that I would say South Korea and Japan are interested in particularly Japan with the ICBM missile program. If North Korea denuclearizes, they need to be aware. We need to keep our allies in the loop. Russia is getting into the situation as well as China. This is a complicated circumstance and environment. Yes, we would all like peace in the Korean peninsula. As I said, we have a president who is likely to change his mind at any moment and we have Kim Jong-Un who cannot be relied upon to keep his side of the promise. You know, you need to have some level of assurance that these two leaders will negotiate in good faith and come out with something that can be verifiable and leads us to a peaceful North Korea. We are not reassured that is what's going to happen.

BLITZER: Let me get your thoughts on a couple of issues. Senator, the president keeps attacking the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, including once gai again today, including the Russia probe again. What is your reaction?

HIRONO: It shows the president is desperate as to what his concerns regarding the Mueller investigation. For him to come out and say that he could pardon himself and some of the other outrageous statements he is making. He should put a crown on his head because he is acting like a king and that is not our country. He thinks he is a dictator and king. He says all of these outrageous things. It shows he is really afraid what the Mueller investigation will show with regard to his own actions and particularly, of course, with his efforts to side track the investigation. His continued attacks on Jeff Sessions is just another example of fear that he is expressing.

BLITZER: Very quickly. Finally, the announcement made by Mitch McConnell to keep your Senate in session in August. He is blaming the Democrats. You guys, he says, are not doing what you are supposed to be doing.

[13:45:01] HIRONO: That is ridiculous coming from the person who stopped the hearings from going on and kept open the Supreme Court seat open for a year. Mitch McConnell will do anything to keep all of us from going back to the constituents and touching base with them. This is a politically motivated action on his part. It is totally not true that we have not been voting on the president's nomination. If anything, there have been more confirmations fast tracked by Mitch McConnell to lifetime appointments to the judiciary. Appointments of people by people who fit the ideological conservative right-wing Federalist Society perspective that Trump wants on the judiciary for lifetime appointments. That is where Mitch McConnell is coming from today.

BLITZER: Senator Hirono, thank you so much for joining us. Please convey our best wishes for the Hawaiians who have been is suffering on the big island in Hawaii.

Thank you so much. Good luck to all your fellow Hawaiians.

HIRONO: I'm very much in touch with our people there. Thank you.

BLITZER: I know you are.

Senator Hirono of Hawaii.

Right now, voters in eight states are headed to the polls in the biggest day of the primary season so far. Many tight races. Most of the attention on California, the state that's crucial for Democrats trying to win control of Congress in November. Today's consequential primaries will give us a better sense of the pulse of the country.

Let's go to politics reporter, Chris Cillizza. He'll break it all down for us.

Chris, what is the big picture of what's on the line?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Happy primary day, Wolf. I love these days. Voters are voting democracy in action.

Yes, let's start broad. You are looking at the House. 218 needed for control. Democrats need 23 seats. 23 seats net in the fall in order to win control. I'll explain why California matters to that in a minute. Let's look at the Senate. The Senate is closer. Democrats are down one seat. Republicans have a one-seat m majority. Close in both cases. House is better for Democrats than the Senate. Let's talk about California. You mentioned it, Wolf. The big one

from the primaries today. It has something called a jungle primary. It is strange. Here is what it means. It means the top two vote getters, regardless of party, in the primaries today advance. It could be two Democrats. A democrat and Republican. Could be two Republicans. It was done in order to try to prevent polarization. A lot of people in the middle get left out. But Democrats have a huge number of candidates running all over the place in the seats. From the Senate to the governor on down to the House. What that means is you have lots and lots of vote splitting.

Here is what is important. The races unless you live there, don't worry about the individual races. Look at this. These are CNN ratings. Six races rated as possible switches. You go out a little further in vulnerability. You are talking eight to ten races that Democrats need to net which is a big deal.

Last one. Let's go to Donald Trump. He weighed in a bit here. Vote for Devin Nunes. 21st district. He will be fine today. Vote for Kevin McCarthy. Second ranking House Republican. He will be fine. Roger Wicker, we thought he may have a primary. He will be fine. This is vote for my friends. Obviously, Devin Nunes and the House Intelligence Committee, he and Donald Trump have been allies relating to the deep state. Kevin McCarthy and he are close. McCarthy rumored to be a chief of staff replacement at one point. And Roger Wicker is somebody he gets involved with. He is involved, but not the wing, contested races. He endorsed John Cox for governor. If the Republican can be in the top two slots for governor in California, it is a surprise, Wolf, given the Democratic nature of that state.

Big day and a huge day for Democrats chances of winning back the House come November.

Back to you -- Wolf?

[13:49:35] BLITZER: We will have extensive live coverage as they come in later tonight.

Chris Cillizza, thank you.

Still to come, Melania Trump made an official appearance at the White House last night to honor Gold Star families. It was her first event in weeks after the week-long hospital stay. She also makes her first public appearance tomorrow. That, and more when we come back.


BLITZER: The first lady of the United States, Melania Trump, is set to make her second public appearance in almost a month. She'll be alongside the president at a FEMA hurricane briefing tomorrow. The first lady has been absent from the public eye largely since undergoing a kidney procedure back on May 14th.

Joining us once again, our White House reporter, Kate Bennett. She has been doing lot of reporting on this.

She was at a public event yesterday. We saw a picture. There was no pool cameras or media invited yesterday. Tomorrow will be different.

[13:54:52] BENNETT: Exactly. Yesterday's even was for Gold Star families and they had a closed gathering for respect out of the families and their loved ones. The first lady did tweet three images and posted them on her Instagram. You can see her sitting there in the front row next to the president, clearly there and certainly present. The president made a couple of jokes about her disappearance while she was at the podium at that event.

Tomorrow, however, cameras will be with her. She's going to the FEMA headquarters to hear about hurricane preparedness for this upcoming hurricane season. This is a topic she talked about a lot last year. She was with the president in Florida, Texas and Puerto Rico. She returned to Texas on her own to advise eight schools and to unveil a FEMA trailer for a family who had lost her home. That was visit was overshadowed by her stop at Whataburger with the second lady, Pence, on her way back. But this is something she cares about. She did make that PSA, her only PSA last year --

BLITZER: Public announcement.

BENNETT: -- was about hurricane preparedness.

BLITZER: It's interesting. In about an hour, there will be an event at the White House honoring the national anthem, honoring America. There was supposed to be a celebration of the Philadelphia Eagles, the football Super Bowl champions. That's been cancelled. I take it she's not going to be at this event later today.

BENNETT: Correct. She's not expected to attend the event this afternoon celebrating America on the South Lawn. The first time we'll see her in what will be 26 days, by my count, since May 10th, on camera will be this event tomorrow at this FEMA briefing of the president.

BLITZER: We look forward to that. We want her to have a complete recovery from that kidney procedure she had a couple weeks ago.

Kate, thanks very much. Double duty for Kate Bennett with us today.

That's it for me. Thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer. I'll be back 5 p.m. Eastern in "THE SITUATION ROOM."

Take a look at this. There are live pictures coming in from the briefing room. There will be a briefing coming up very shortly. We'll have live coverage of that. Stay with us.

In the meantime, the news continues right after a quick break.