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Trump Combining Pardons, Kneeling NFL Players; CNN's Anthony Bourdain Dead at 61; Trump: Melania Went Through "Operation," Can't Fly. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 8, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: But when people start trying to go to witnesses and say, hey, let's get on the same page, I want to shape the story so it's good for me, I think people don't like that. If gives the whole case a little bit of a different tone.

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Appreciate it. Thank you both for popping in on this one.

Boy, never a dull moment.

Thank you both.

It's been a busy day and also a very painful day for many here at CNN and people around the world as we learned about the death of Anthony Bourdain, a chef, a world traveler, an inspiration to millions. Just ahead, we want to talk more about his passion for adventure, his life. All of that is next.


HILL: President Trump talking a lot about his pardon powers, telling reporters this morning many more pardons could be coming.


[14:34:58] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There will be more pardons. I thought Alice yesterday was beautiful. I thought Jack Johnson, which was recommended by Sylvester Stallone, and some great boxers, I thought Jack Johnson was a great one.

I'm thinking about Muhammad Ali. I'm thinking about that very seriously. And some others and some folks that have sentences that aren't fair. But I am thinking about Muhammad Ali.


HILL: Muhammad Ali's attorney responding that, "We appreciate President Trump's sentiment, but a pardon is unnecessary. The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Muhammad Ali in a unanimous decision in 1971. There was no conviction for which a pardon is ne3eded.

Joining me now to discuss, CNN political commentator and host of "THE VAN JONES SHOW," Van Jones. And Kelvin Washington, host of the "Church League Champ" podcast.

President Trump also talked, when he talked about pardons, he also brought in NFL players. Take a listen to this moment.


TRUMP: We have a great country. You should stand for our national anthem. You shouldn't go in a locker room when our national anthem is played. I am going to ask all of those people to recommend to me, because that's what they're protesting, people that they think were unfairly treated by the justice system. And I understand that. And I'm going to ask them to recommend to me people that were unfairly treated, friends of theirs or people that they know about, and I'm going to take a look at those applications. And if I find, and my committee, finds that they're unfairly treated, then we will pardon them or at least let them out.


HILL: Van, what did that do to the conversation?

VAN JONES, CNN HOST, "THE VAN JONES SHOW": Look, I think that's a huge development. On the one hand, you have him shutting down the opportunity for celebration. The Eagles can't come. The Warriors can't come. You know, Cleveland can't come. And that's offensive. At the same time he's opening up a conversation in some ways what they've been saying is we're protesting because there's injustice and for the first time President Trump said let me hear about the injustice. And so now it's a perilous pathway because is he serious, not serious? I've been in conversations with people in the NFL, the NBA and other places. People are saying if this guy is serious, we're going to have to take a look at this and see if there's some way forward here.

HILL: Kelvin, the president has opened the door here to at least some sort of conversation. How important is it to maybe even push that conversation a little further so the president has a better understanding of how this all began in the first place and what these protests are actually about?


Van, hello.

I would maybe even question van look where did this 180 come from? He's been so adamant, doesn't want to hear what the players have to hear, and now all of a sudden, he's interested in pardoning people. I question the sincerity of this. Is it based off the success he's had with releasing Alice Johnson, there's a new possibility of getting some votes ash new base can I preach to. Also when you talk about the players, what does this mean? If I kneel he'll listen to me, if I don't kneel? What about doing it because it's the right thing to do, not based on whether I kneel or not. Let's have the conversations because it's the right thing to do, not based on if player X kneels or not. I would be interested to see how that would pan out. HILL: Let's get to the conversation first. Above anything else, we want to have that conversation.

Van, you just sat down with Kim Kardashian West, who got a lot of attention when she went to meet with the president to talk about Alice Johnson. She talked a little bit about that. I want to play part of your interview.


KIM KARDASHIAN, REALTY TV STAR: He said, well, what are we here for? I said, what I really want to know -- I'm here because I really want to know, why did you kick Chloe off "The Apprentice."


It was a laugh and it was funny. And then we got into business.

I've always had just a very open dialogue with Jared about how I felt and have been even so honest to say, look, Trump is the last person I thought that would have done this, but he did, and he pulled through.


HILL: Van, in speaking with her, but also in your involvement here, what more can you tell us about the administration's strategy moving forward?

JONES: Listen, I think that there's a conflict in the soul of the Republican Party, at the Trump without and possibly Trump himself. On the one hand you have people like Jeff Sessions, they want to have more people in prison. Tom Cotton, Republican Senator, says we have to put more people in prison. You have others like Jared Kushner, we have too many people in prison. But Trump himself seems to be moving in a different direction. I think what happened is he -- Kim Kardashian and Jared Kushner said Alice -- her case is just unbelievable. An African-American grandmother can never get out of prison for one non-violent drug offense 20 years ago? I think when he let her out and sow there was some positive response, I think he's somebody who says, listen, maybe we should do more of this. I don't think any politician does anything for pure reasons. I'm sure he thinks he's going to get some more black votes and get his reputation for being racially insensitive push back a little bit. At the same time, if in fact you can get some people home and if you can expand the conversation to go beyond just this person and this person, but have a bigger conversation with our justice system, I think for whatever reason in this world, the celebrities and athletes have that power to drive conversation, I hope they drive it. I hope they drive it.

[14:41:06] HILL: We will see what happens with that.

We have to leave it there.

Van Jones, Kelvin Washington, I appreciate you both joining us today. Thank you. JONES: Thank you.

WASHINGTON: Thank you.

HILL: Up next, a loss for the CNN family, a beloved member of our family. We remember Anthony Bourdain, a chef, a world traveler, an inspiration to so many.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: He had a very, very unique ability to make the world a bit smaller, a bit more personal.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: He was the walking embodiment of passion.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was a freak of nature, a force of nature, unexplainable and we were lucky to have him.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Every time Anthony -- I was fortunate to have him on set. Every time he'd walk offset, I'd shout at him as he was walking offset, "In my next life, I'm coming back at Anthony Bourdain."



[14:46:24] HILL: It's a pretty painful day for the CNN family. Anthony Bourdain, the host of CNN's "PARTS UNKNOWN" has died. He took his life at a hotel in France where he was shooting the latest episode of his award-winning show. He was an incredibly gifted chef, as you likely know, and a masterful storyteller. A fearless traveler, a restless spirit, he pushed boundaries and he brought an unmistakable soul to CNN.


ANTHONY BOURDAIN, FORMER HOST, "PARTS UNKNOWN": You, know, if I'm not having fun and I'm not interested, I don't see any reason why anybody else should be. If you haven't seen anything like this on CNN ever, that's a good day at the office.

If we hold our breath when we send the rough cut in knowing, wow, that the bondage scene in Tokyo, you know, let's see -- let's wait for the phone call saying, my god, we can't show this, this is way too disturbing and it's off brand. It was off brand. It's deeply satisfying when we don't get that phone call.


HILL: The Smithsonian once called him the Elvis of bad boy chefs. He may have been a bad boy, but Tony was a good man. He pursued authenticity about the world around him. And he was candid about his own struggles with addiction. And perhaps because of his own humble beginnings, hustling for work, washing dishes, Tony was an advocate for marginalized communities. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOURDAIN: I sort of had an overnight success with an overnight success with an over-testosteroned, obnoxious memoir of a not-very- distinguished career in the restaurant business. One day, I was standing next to a deep fryer and, the next, I had this gig where I'm traveling all around the world. Making television any way I want, anywhere I want. Living the dream.


HILL: He dined with dignitaries. Drunkenly got tattooed. And knew how to make us think, how to make us feel, and how to make us laugh.


BOURDAIN (voice-over): A beautiful lake, rustic cabins where a few friends could hunt and forage, and perhaps in between combing wilds in search for the elusive moose, throw together a simple wilderness meal around the camp fire.


BOURDAIN: Nothing fancy. Just the bare essentials.


HILL: Former President Obama tweeting this photo of the two of them together, writing, "Low plastic stool, cheap but delicious noodles, cold Hanoi beer, this is how I'll remember Tony. He taught us about food but more importantly about its ability to brings together, to make us a little less afraid of the unknown. We'll miss him."

President Trump also weighing in this morning before leaving for the G-7.


TRUMP: I think it's very sad. In fact, I want to extend to his family my heart-felt condolences. That was very shocking. When I woke up this morning, Anthony Bourdain is dead. I enjoyed his show. He was quite a character, I will say.


HILL: Tony was 61. His death coming as a complete shock to his family, his friends. He leaves behind his 11-year-old daughter.

I want to bring in Dale Talde, a chef who knew him very well.

You and I were talking during the break. He said, one day, I'm at a fryer, the next day here I am. That memoir had so much to do with you being who you are and where you are right now.

[14:49:56] DALE TALDE, CHEF WHO KNEW ANTHONY BOURDAIN: Absolutely. As a young teen-ager in the cooking profession, searching for belonging, you're in not a lot of experience and you're amongst, you know, pirates and talked about the marginalized. We were them. We only went out at night. Bad boy behavior, that was us. When you're a young kid searching your way through the cooking career, Anthony's book was, hey, I belong somewhere. If this person feels this way, there's more of us out there and it's OK.

HILL: He was -- we pointed out he could be funny, absolutely. He was such a joy to watch and you laughed along. And he would come across as really gruff. I was struck in the few times that I met him in person how kind and almost soft and humble he was and how thankful he was any time he would be on a show. And that was your experience, too, you said.

TALDE: Absolutely. Tony was on "Top Chef" and, as a judge, he really went for it. He told you if the dish was great or bad. There was no in between. He either loved it or hated it. If it was mediocre, it probably was bad because you need to excel. I feel that was this wisdom and this fatherly figure telling you go for it, man and telling you this criticism is just to make you better. Get a thicker skin because the world of cooking and being a chef is about taking criticism and making you better. The criticism will make you better.

HILL: He took the time to make sure you understood that?

TALDE: Absolutely. When I was pitching my cookbook with Tony's imprint, we had a two-hour conversation about just the Asian-American culture and how he deeply understands it. And, you know, it's such an amazing thing for a young chef to hear that he empathizes with the things that we're going through, figuring out who you are as a chef, where you belong in this country as an Asian-American. Do you belong in Asia? You're not Asian enough or you're not American enough. He understood that, and he walked us through where we belong in this food culture.

HILL: He, for a lot of people, even outside of the industry, he really opened them up, not just to trying new foods but to branching out a little bit and to talking to people. And even you, you say he encouraged you to travel.

TALDE: Absolutely. I didn't do much traveling -- I got to New York and I didn't do much traveling. You start to watch his show and Tony gives you these beautiful bullet points. He basically was your personal fixer. He showed you where to eat and where to go and what market to go to. And food TV, the landscape isn't without him and his show and production company, food TV and food media isn't what it is now. Everything is shot the way -- the food world is through this lens. We see it through Tony's lens now. And, you know, we owe a lot to him. I do personally. My personal trip to St. Sebastian was basically everywhere Tony had eaten. Name it. I just built my travels around where he ate.

HILL: This is a tough loss for you. If there's one word that comes to mind when you think of Tony, what is it?

TALDE: Courageous. Very courageous. For, you know, us in the cooking world and chefs and our world, to rise up to kind of the position he's in, it takes a lot of courage to get there.

HILL: And he was more than happy to help you make that journey, too.

TALDE: Absolutely.

HILL: Dale, really appreciate it.

TALDE: Thank you.

HILL: Thanks for sharing your memories.

We will be remembering Tony throughout the day. I want to point you to tonight, a special that we have, "Remembering Anthony Bourdain." That airs tonight at 10 p.m. We'll also continue honoring him throughout the day.

[14:53:55] Also we want to point out, if you or anybody throughout the day is struggling, we'll let you know how to get in touch with the national suicide hotline. You see the number on your screen. It's so important as we continue to talk about struggles and demons.


HILL: New details are emerging about first lady, Melania Trump's, recent medical procedure. President Trump revealing the first lady actually underwent a nearly four-hour operation that is keeping her from flying.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The first lady is great. Right there. She has to, and she wanted to go. Can't fly for one month. The doctors say. She had a big operation. It was close to a four-hour operation. She's doing great. Right there.


HILL: Mrs. Trump checked into the hospital on May 14th for what White House officials called an embolization procedure to treat a benign kidney condition. She was released five days later.

Joining me now, Kate Bennett, CNN White House reporter who covers the first lady.

Kate, this is the first time we've heard the word operation officially. Is this procedure, is there more to it? Was it more serious than it was first described?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: I think the first lady's office released a statement that was accurate. She did have an embolization procedure on a benign kidney condition. I think what the president is revealing is more information. It fills the gap in wondering why she did spend those extra five nights in the hospital when some medical professionals speculated it could have been an outpatient procedure. She is doing well. Certainly, now that we know it was a four-hour operation and she can't travel, that's a lot more information than we'v3e had in the past three and a half weeks or so. But I was just with her this week reporting on her and seemed fine, looked great. And I think her office is saying that she'll be up and running and joining more on the schedule soon.

[15:00:10] HILL: We'll be looking for that.

Kate, always appreciate it. Thank you.

BENNETT: Thank you.