Return to Transcripts main page


World Reacts to Death of Anthony Bourdain; Trump Praises Arrest of Leaker Amid Controversial Evidence Gathering; Trump Called on NFL Players He Criticized to Offer Names for Pardons; Trump Says Whichever Team Wins NBA Champion Gets No White House Invite. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 9, 2018 - 17:00   ET



ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello. You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. Great to have you with me. I'm Ana Cabrera in New York.

President Trump right now is in the middle between two very different groups, literally and philosophically. I'm talking about where he is in the world right now, in the air, on the way to Singapore. That's where he's scheduled to meet the leader of North Korea, something never even attempted by any other American president.

But it's what he's leaving behind that has long-time allies of the U.S. scratching their heads, the G7 Summit, still winding down in Canada without President Trump. He left the summit early to get in place for this meeting with Kim Jong-un.

And the things he said at the summit about trade, about Russia, about relationships, all about that in a moment, but listen to what the president said about his meeting with Kim and how long he needs to figure out whether the North Korean leader is serious.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I think within the first minute, I'll know. Just -- my touch, my feel. That's what I do. How long will it take to figure out whether or not they're serious? I said, maybe in the first minute. You know, the way they say that you know if you're going to like somebody in the first five seconds, you ever hear that one? Well, I think that very quickly, I'll know whether or not something good is going to happen.


CABRERA: With us now, CNN's Ryan Nobles in Washington, CNN's Paula Newton in Quebec, and senior international correspondent, Ivan Watson in Singapore. Ryan, let me start with you. President Trump dropped a few bombshells before he left for Singapore, throwing out this idea of dropping all trade barriers, free trade, changing his tune about his friendship with the other leaders. How are those other leaders responding?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's actually a bit of news on that front, Ana, because just in the last hour or so, we've learned that the United States has signed on to this joint communique with all of the countries that participated in the G7, and there was some concern that the United States and President Trump specifically would not sign on to that deal.

Now we haven't seen the official readout of that statement, but many of the world leaders have already started to talk about it, and they say that trade and tariffs are included in that statement, so the fact that the United States decided to sign on shows that there was at least some level of agreement with this very contentious meeting.

That being said, though, many of these world leaders are stopping short of necessarily declaring a kumbaya moment. This was the statement -- this was what Emmanuel Macron, the president of France, had to say during a press conference earlier today.

He said, "This agreement, which everyone has signed on to, is good news and it makes a collective desire to stabilize things. Nevertheless, I do not consider that with a declaration all is obtained, and it is obvious that we will have in the coming weeks and the next months to continue to work.

So, there's obviously still a big divide, so the question is, just how well did President Trump get along with these leaders and he told reporters today, their relationships are all great. Take a listen.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: The relationship that I have had with the people, the leaders of these countries has been, I would really rate it on a scale of zero to ten, I would rate it a ten. That doesn't mean I agree with what they're doing, and they know very well that I don't.

So, we're negotiating very hard tariffs and barriers. As an example, the European union is brutal to the United States. They don't take -- and they understand that. They know it.

When I'm telling them, they're smiling at me, you know, it's like the gig is up. It's like the gig is up. They're not trying to -- there's nothing they can say. They can't believe they got away with it.


NOBLES: And so, Ana, the point to be made here is that the positive sign after this G7 Summit is that all the sides are still talking. What hasn't been revealed, though, is whether or not they've agreed on anything because it seems as though for now, they're all -- they all seem to be sticking to their guns in terms of these very important positions that they hold on some of these very big issues that divide them.

CABRERA: So, let's get the Canadian response. Paula Newton, you are there in Quebec where this summit has been taking place, the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau just spoke. How did he wrap up this very unusual summit? [17:05:07] PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, he basically wrapped it up, Ana, by saying that the president did not hijack it and they came to significant agreement, but as Ryan was saying, on trade, while the United States did sign up to that communique and of course, that is a victory of sorts, a lot of it is only in words.

Everyone is waiting to see the deeds that are done, and no one is quite sure if there was really any progress at hand. I want you to listen to Justin Trudeau giving as good as he gets from the president.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: It would be with regret, but it would be with absolute certainty and firmness that we move forward with retaliatory measures on July 1st, applying equivalent tariffs to the ones that the Americans have unjustly applied to us.

I have made it very clear to the president that it is not something we relish doing, but it is something that we absolutely will do, because Canadians, we're polite, we're reasonable, but we also will not be pushed around.


NEWTON: And not being pushed around, Ana, also includes something that is incredibly contentious for the president and that includes a sunset clause in NAFTA. Now the president has made it clear not only does he want individual agreements, one with Mexico, one with Canada.

But he also wants it to end after five years, the prime minister again underscoring the fact that it's absolutely nonnegotiable. He will not sign a deal that has a sunset clause. We don't really have a heck of a lot of progress there.

Having said that, behind the scenes, officials tell me that in having the discussion with President Trump, they are trying to get him to a point where he doesn't blow up the World Trade Organization, all the multilateralism that they have fought so hard for.

And you have to say, Ana, that they are now focused on trade. You will be seeing these trade negotiations go on in the next few weeks and months at max speed, something that the Trump administration wanted so that is a victory of sorts.

CABRERA: All right. And as we have been speaking, the president has been tweeting. Let me read a couple of his tweets to you all, "I am on my way to Singapore where we have a chance to achieve a truly wonderful result for North Korea and the world.

It will certainly be an exciting day and I know that Kim Jong-un will work very hard to do something that has rarely been done before, create peace and great prosperity for his land. I look forward to meeting him and have a feeling that this one-time opportunity will not be wasted."

Let me go to Singapore now where the president is headed, and our Ivan Watson is there. So, Ivan, as we have been discussing where he is coming from, there is so much at stake here in this upcoming meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un.

This is a meeting that has already been cancelled once. It is currently back on, but still two days away. What are the expectations there as this historic moment gets nearer?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, as President Trump has described it, it's a mission of peace. If it does, in fact, go forward on the 12th of June, as has been planned, it would be a dramatic first, the first-ever meeting of a U.S. president and the North Korean leader.

President Trump has always made it clear that this is a one-shot deal. There is one chance, he says, for North Korea to come forward to kind of break out and join the international community of nations.

But he also mentioned, in comment, before leaving Canada on his way here to Singapore, he also seemed to change expectations for this upcoming meeting or lower expectations, rather. Take a listen to this excerpt of his press conference.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: Well, I think the minimum would be relationship. You'd start at least a dialogue, because, you know, as a deal person, I've done very well with deals. What you want to do is start that. Now, I'd like to accomplish more than that, but at a minimum, I do believe at least we'll have met each other. We will have seen each other. Hopefully, we will have liked each other, and we'll start that process.


WATSON: So, this is really interesting, Ana, because the Trump administration's position so far has been to demand the complete, irreversible, verifiable denuclearization of North Korea's nuclear arsenal. One of the weapons of which was tested as recently as autumn of last year.

And here, President Trump is suggesting, hey, if they just start talking and develop a personal relationship, well, at a minimum, that might be OK. That's a pretty strong signal he's sending. Of course, he wants more.

Now, Secretary of State Pompeo has suggested that the U.S. side has to offer North Korea something in exchange, security guarantees, and a pathway for economic prosperity going on to suggest that if the meeting works out here in Singapore, that possibly China, Japan, South Korea, other countries would want to be a part of whatever economic development could come towards North Korea in the future.

[17:10:12] But we're a long way away from that right now. We're just trying to see the dynamics of this first potentially historic face-to- face meeting.

CABRERA: Does give us a hint, though, at the vision of what could be. Thank you, Ivan Watson, Paula Newton, Ryan Nobles. I appreciate it.

Again, President Trump on his way to Singapore, in the air right now, gearing up for Tuesday's historic summit with North Korea's Kim Jong- un. The two men will finally meet face-to-face and the president today casting the summit as a once in a lifetime opportunity for Kim. Watch.


PRESIDENT TRUMP: He's got an opportunity the likes of which I think almost, if you look into history, very few people have ever had. He can take that nation with those great people and truly make it great, so it's a one-time -- it's a one-time shot.


CABRERA: Let's talk it over with Democratic Congressman John Garamendi, a member of the House Armed Services Committee and former lieutenant governor of California. Congressman, good to have you with us. This is an important discussion. The president says he is feeling confident about this summit. Do you feel confident?

REPRESENTATIVE JOHN GARAMENDI (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, given the expectation that he now has set out, he should be confident. I guess he just wants to look across the table and have a good feeling that, well, we know each other, and I guess we feel OK about each other.

That seems to be the total hurdle of this current meeting. Obviously, there's so much more that has to be done beyond that, but that seems to be where the president is and if that is what his hurdle is for this meeting, he ought to be confident.

CABRERA: You have led two congressional delegations to the Korean peninsula recently. Coming out of this summit, what do you think would make it a success?

GARAMENDI: Well, certainly a nice warm feeling would be good, but there also has to be clarity of a path forward. What is it that we demand, and what is the time frame in which those demands would be met, and what are the quid pro quos?

Those things are almost certain not to come from the summit but at least the path that would lead to those particular and critically important issues. Denuclearization. What does it mean? How fast could it be achieved? What are the things that must go first, for example?

You must get rid of your bombs and your intercontinental missiles. Those must go first and then move on to the other things. And what is the quid pro quo? Which of the sanctions would go? Those things are almost, I think, at this point, not likely to be laid out in any kind of clarity.

It seems as though the president simply wants to have a nice warm feeling at the meeting and quite probably a beautiful photo op. Now, that is a tremendous victory for Kim Jong-un. He and his father and his grandfather have been demanding that for the better part of 60 years and now the president is providing it.

What will the United States get in return? Will there be a reduction in the tension on the border? Will the two armies back down? We don't know. We could be hopeful.

CABRERA: Trump versus Kim, they both talk in very bombastic ways. I'm still remembering the fire and fury, locked and loaded, "Little Rocketman" tweets that came out not all that long ago. I'm curious what you think about how the dynamics face-to-face may play out.

GARAMENDI: Well, obviously, the president is quite confident that his charming personality will overwhelm Kim Jong-un and they'll go off buddy-buddy. I think the president better be very, very careful not to underestimate the cunning and the -- I guess the diabolical way in which Kim Jong-un actually operates.

Keep in mind that this is a person that doesn't mind having his people starve to death, doesn't mind killing off his brother -- his step brother and his uncle, using a -- an artillery weapon to accomplish that latter task. So, the president better be very, very careful here.

I'm quite sure that Kim Jong-un will do his very best to feed the president's ego, which seems to be insatiable. Given that situation, the question then arises, so, what is the next step? After all these good feelings are accomplished. That's the critically important thing, and we'll see what happens on that score.

One thing we must keep in mind, and that is that of the three paths that are available going forward, the path of war, the path of simply accepting that North Korea has nuclear weapons that can range and can hit the United States and the third path is negotiations.

[17:15:05] So, yes, let's hope that they're nice, warm cuddly feelings coming out of this and some clarity as to a path that would move forward to a denuclearized and to bring about a peace treaty between the North and the south and an accommodation on the critical issues of what has been a 68-year-old war that has not ended. There's an armistice, a cease fire.

CABRERA: The president has said he plans to bring up human rights with Kim Jong-un, so maybe it's not all going to be warm and friendly. How significant is that?

GARAMENDI: Well, it's certainly important. Going forward, if Kim Kong-un really wants to join the normal nations of the world, of which there seems to be fewer and fewer every day, if he wants to really join those nations that have a civilized, open government, he's got to deal with civil rights issues in his country as well as the economic issues. So those are all things that are going to be out in the future. I seriously doubt that the president will even mention civil rights.

CABRERA: Today at the G7, I want to get your take on the comment the president made about his relationship with the U.S. allies that are there. He says that relationship is at a ten on a scale of one to ten and this, of course, after the Twitter jabs ahead of the summit. Is that reassuring? Do you feel better about where things stand with our allies this weekend?

GARAMENDI: The president is a spin master. He is exceptionally good at spinning the story, and I must say, the press is exceptionally good at letting those spins go on. There is certainly no zero to ten and a ten on that scale that came out of this.

The fact of the matter is the president has imposed tariffs on Canada, Mexico, and the other members of the six nations. The result of that is they are going, and in the process of putting their own tariffs on American goods.

Now, all the while, he's going after our allies. He is using the national security clause in the trade laws to attack our allies, somehow saying that they are harming our national security. I mean, that is a real leap, and in my view, absolutely not the case.

These are our allies and our security, depends upon the tight and good relationship with these allies. Yes, there are economic issues, but certainly these allies do not create a security problem for the United States.

CABRERA: Is free trade the answer?

GARAMENDI: I'm sorry, I didn't hear that question.

CABRERA: Is free trade the answer?

GARAMENDI: Well, certainly fair trade is the answer. Free has never been the case, but fair trade in which we recognize our own circumstances and how we can better our own situation and recognize that our partners on the other side, in this case Canada and the European countries, and Japan, have their own interests and somewhere, we find the common ground in which we can then call it fair trade.

One thing we need to be very, very aware of here is that while the president is literally disrespecting and threatening in a very serious way our closest allies, he has reached out with a warm, cuddly bear hug to Putin. This is the man that has hacked into both the Democratic campaign, into the systems of the United States.

His government has hacked into our vital energy networks, threatened our power plants, and where the question of collusion is still open, clearly engaged in disrupting the 2016 election.

And why the president would, in this circumstance, with his allies -- holding his allies at bay with one hand and disrespecting and trashing them on the trade issues, reach out and give Putin a big bear hug and say, why don't you come to the table and join us, that is outrageous action.

CABRERA: Congressman John Garamendi, thank you very much for joining us.

GARAMENDI: Thank you. CABRERA: Coming up, remembering the legacy of culinary legend, storyteller, and our CNN friend, Anthony Bourdain. Reaction to his death pouring in from around the world. Up next, you'll hear from a fellow chef who knew him well. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



CABRERA: When word spread that we lost Anthony Bourdain, it's not hyperbole to say the world gasps. Bourdain's travels took him places we can only dream about and everywhere he went, he left a mark. People who knew him talk about his lack of pretense, but he was still larger than life.

Earlier, I had a chance to speak with Chef Edward Lee who told me Bourdain changed his life. Here's just a bit of our conversation.


EDWARD LEE, CHEF, 610 MAGNOLIA, MILKWOOD, SUCCOLASH: You know, we weren't close friends. But we saw each other here and there and every time he saw me, he always had time for me in a way that I never thought someone of his stature should. Like I'm a nobody compared to him, but he always had the time for me, and I'll never forget that.

He'd ask me to do the mind of a chef series and I was very nervous, because I had never done that kind of thing before, and we had a meeting and I had, like, 400 questions printed out on a piece of paper that I was going to ask him, and you know, I'm very nervous.

It was the shortest meeting I've ever had, and I started in this whole, like, what should I do, how should I approach this, and he goes, stop. Of course, in his manner. He just interrupted me and said, stop, stop. You're not going to do all that. You're just going to be you.

[17:25:06] You have your own vision. Don't let anyone dictate how you're going tell your story, and don't worry about the audience. Just tell your story and the rest of the time we bonded over our love for Jim Harrison, which is a famous writer, novelist, who also wrote beautifully about food.

And no one's bidding on this scholarship to help this young kid, and he's just cursing and getting angrier and angrier and he's vibrating and getting so pissed and calling people cheapskates. No one can hear him because I'm the only one standing next to him.

He got so mad, he rushed on stage and just basically yelled at everyone and said, this kid from Kentucky who makes no money just bought this auction item and you guys have to open your wallets, and they did. People wanted to say thank you all the time and just to -- just to kind of want -- just a sliver of him.

He had -- he had that much to give people, and he never -- he always had -- he always would stop and take a picture and say a few words, and I, you know, like my book is really -- I could not have written my book without him, without his vision and his guidance, and his, you know, the body of work that he's done that's allowed me to have a sliver of a career that's kind of modeled after him.


CABRERA: You know, the thing that really sticks out as we remember Tony Bourdain is how he helped all of us bridge the cultural divides and he did it by using something everyone needs and shares, the food we eat. Along the way, he made a lot of friends.

CNN correspondent, Polo Sandoval, is looking at the tributes that are pouring in from all corners of the world.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Few people know Anthony Bourdain the way Eric Ripert did. The French chef often appeared on CNN's "PARTS UNKNOWN" alongside Bourdain. He shared his grief on Friday writing, "Anthony was my best friend, an exceptional human being, so inspiring and generous. One of the great storytellers what connected with so many. I pray he is at peace from the bottom of my heart." Ripert is among many chefs worldwide shaken by the loss of this culinary legend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wanted to be you since the first time that I saw you. When I grow up, I want to be just like my friend, Tony --

SANDOVAL: Fellow chef and traveler, Andrew Zimmerman wrote, "A piece of my heart is truly broken. Tony was a symphony. I wish everyone could have seen all of him. A true friend."

Then there's this poignant bond with French chef (inaudible) showing this spoon tattoo he shares with Bourdain. "I am forever indebted to this passionate, great man," writes (inaudible) of his late mentor. Bourdain inspired others through the art of cooking said Chef Marc Murphy.

MARC MURPHY, CHEF: I think if all the leaders of the world could sit and eat and drink together, this world would be a better place. I think Anthony Bourdain sort of showed that, that there is no -- there was no barrier, no boundaries. Food was the universal language.

SANDOVAL: Bourdain's unique style of storytelling was unmatched, admired by fans around the world including former President Barack Obama --

Obama recalled his (inaudible) noodle dinner with Bourdain writing, "This is how I remember Tony, he taught us about food but more importantly about its ability to bring us together to make us a little less afraid of the unknown."

Bourdain's reach stretched beyond the culinary world, far beyond. Astronaut Scott Kelly said he often watched Bourdain's show from space, "It made me feel more connected to the planet, its people, and cultures, and made my time there more palatable. He inspired me to see the world up close."

Among the tributes, messages of prevention, celebrity chef, Gordon Ramsey, says, "Stunned and saddened by the loss of Anthony Bourdain. Remember that help is a phone call away."


CABRERA: Polo Sandoval is joining us live now. And Polo, reactions are still pouring in.

SANDOVAL: You know, Ana, this is someone who you didn't have to personally know to feel inspired by him. As we saw, allowing you, the general public, an opportunity to share some of these words on how you were touched by Tony Bourdain.

I want to read you at least a couple of the many responses that we've had. One of them from Cole Smith. He says that he attended the Air Force Academy back in 2008. He could barely leave the campus so when he watched his show, it gave him an opportunity to leave his dorm.

He wrote, "Because of this man, no matter how small or isolated my world could get, I always felt like I could escape with a friend to some remote culture and breathe for at least an hour or two.

And then finally another one of the responses coming from Karen Bell from Gilbert, Arizona. She wrote, "he shared important life lessons and expanded our world views without being judgmental or critical of others."

Bourdain's love of other countries and his willingness to embrace other cultures used by Kate to essentially teach some of her children. She described him as the cultural barometer of the household.


So this tells you a lot here. There are those that Tony taught in the kitchen, a lucky few, but for many more, there are those that he touched through his stories.

CABRERA: No doubt about it. And that comment she mad3e was so interesting about how he didn't judge, he didn't criticize. He had an opinion about everything, but yet, he seemed so open to hearing others' point of view which is what made him really special.

SANDOVAL: We keep hearing what we all have in common is our love for food, regardless of where we live.

CABRERA: So true. So True.

Polo Sandoval, thank you --

SANDOVAL: Thank, Ana.

CABRERA: -- for bringing those sentiments to us.

There was nobody like Anthony Bourdain. There was no show like "PARTS UNKNOWN." CNN pays tribute to Tony Bourdain with a special showing of his favorite episodes. It begins tonight at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.


[17:35:29] CABRERA: A long-time Senate staffer has been arrested for allegedly lying to federal agents about contacting reporters and giving them some nonpublic information, in other words, being a source, or as President Trump would say, a leaker. Well, the Senate staffer is James Wolfe. And one of the ways agents built their case against him is pretty controversial. They did it by seizing years' worth of "New York Times" Reporter Ali Watkins' phone and e-mail records, a sign that the Trump administration plans to continue controversial actions that began under President Obama.

President Trump praised the arrest.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's very interesting that they caught a leaker in a very important -- it's a very important leaker. It could be a terrific thing. I know I believe strongly in freedom of the press. I'm a big, big believer in freedom of the press, but I'm also a believer in classified information. Has to remain classified.


CABRERA: Let's discuss the implications of this.

And, first, we should say there's no, at this point, evidence that classified information was given to a reporter and, of course, we'll wait and see how this case plays out.

But, Brian, seizing a reporter's phone and e-mail records, I mean, how unusual is that?

BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT & CNN HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES": This is the first case we know of in the Trump administration where a reporter's data was seized. There may be other cases that have not been disclosed, but this is the first case we know about and that's because the reporter received a letter informing her of what had happened. The Obama administration was very aggressive in these kinds of leak investigations, and there was so much criticism of Obama that the rules were adjusted and there was more communication between the government and news organizations when something like this would happen. Now what we see is the Trump administration going back to what Obama used to do, back to the Obama-era DOJ rules. What's notable in this case is there was no subpoena. The Obama administration was about subpoena power to go after a journalist's sources. In this case, a reporter didn't know about her information being taken until well after the fact.

CABRERA: Is that an important distinction?

STELTER: I think it is important to note because it raises this question of how many other cases like this are there. If the government is going to, say, Google or other companies and saying, give us all of her texts, give us all of her not actual -- we should be clear, not the records, not the messages that were sent but who was sent and when, you know, basically the phone logs, if the government is going to different companies, saying, give us the phone logs or e- mail logs of reporters and we don't know that for years after the fact, that's worrisome because it could mean that dozens of other reporters have been caught up in this.

CABRERA: The president, at other times, has called the press his enemy. And today, at this impromptu news conference that he held in Canada at the G-7 summit, he defended his attacks against the media. Let's listen.


TRUMP: The U.S. press is very dishonest, much of it. Not all of it. I have some folks in your profession that are with the U.S., in the U.S., citizens, proud citizens there, reporters. These are some of the most outstanding people I know. But there are many people in the press that are unbelievably dishonest. They don't cover stories the way they're supposed to be. They don't even report them, in many cases, if they're positive.


CABRERA: Brian, your reaction?

STELTER: Well, to see a U.S. president attacking the news media when he's out of the country, that's even stranger than to see it happening when he's in the country.


CABRERA: And it was a foreign reporter who asked him, why are you doing that on -- even when you're traveling abroad.

STELTER: It breaks a lot of norms. You know, going back to this issue of the leak investigations, there could be many others under way. The president was saying we caught a leaker. This man has been charged with lying about his contacts with reporters. It's a weird case, because he was in a romantic relationship with this reporter, so I think it's worth noting that that muddies this conversation a bit. However, there's no evidence that her stories were wrong, so we have to separate the idea from whether he was leaking and whether he was in a romantic relationship, two separate issues. And that's why the "New York Times," other free press groups have come out saying this is a problem that her records were seized. But of course, the president has wanted this. He has said many times he wants leaks to be investigated and plugged. He's said that over and over again.

And he was in a chatty mood today. It was interesting to see him two days in a row hold these I impromptu press conferences. They're not formal full-blown press conferences, but he is taking questions. I think he's trying to set the agenda and frame the story going into the Singapore summit. CABRERA: Brian Stelter, thank you.

STELTER: Thanks.

[17:39:59] CABRERA: As always, don't forget to catch Brian tomorrow morning on his show, "RELIABLE SOURCES," at 11:00 a.m. Eastern here on CNN.

President Trump and pardons. This week, the commander-in-chief calls on NFL football players, who he has criticized for kneeling during the national anthem, to give him names of people they think deserve a presidential pardon. We'll talk about that next, live in the CNN NEWSROOM.


[17:44:57] CABRERA: Well, the Golden State Warriors are celebrating another NBA championship, but they won't be heading to the White House in the coming months. Before their sweep of the Cleveland Cavaliers last night, President Trump told reporters that no matter which team won this title, neither would get a White House invite after star players, Lebron James and Steph Curry, said they wouldn't go anyway.

Here's what the president said.


TRUMP: I didn't invite them. I didn't invite Lebron James and I didn't invite Steph Curry. We're not going to invite either team. But we have other teams that are coming.


TRUMP: You know, if we look, we had Alabama, national champion. We had Clemson, national champion. We had the New England Patriots. We have the Pittsburgh Penguins last year.


TRUMP: I think we'll have the Cavs. I mean, we'll see. You know my attitude. If they want to be here, it's the greatest place on earth. I'm here. If they don't want to be here, I don't want them.


CABRERA: Joining us now is CNN political commentator, Marc Lamont Hill, and also with us retired NFL player, Ephraim Salaam.

Ephraim, let me start with you and ask you about this other comment that the president made earlier on that same day about trying to reach out to NFL players who maybe are kneeling for the national anthem and asking them who they think he should pardon, who's been treated unfairly in the justice system. How do you view that comment?

EPHRAIM SALAAM, FORMER NFL PLAYER: First of all, I think it's ridiculous. The fact that you're going to reach out to these NFL players that you verbally assaulted for over a year now to ask them who they think should be pardoned in the prison system, like that was what they were protesting anyway. They were protesting the fact that the police officers were using force in our neighborhoods and they weren't being prosecuted. Right? It's all about shooting unarmed minorities and nothing happening to the people who were sworn to protect us. That's what the protest was about. It wasn't about prison reform, which we do need to have, but those two things don't even go together, so the fact that he's found some success by pardoning someone who dearly need to be pardoned, on behalf of Kim Kardashian, no less, he's going to use that one good thing in the eyes of the public to now reach out to the NFL players and say, hey, do you guys have any friends in prison? Who do you want me to set free so we can all come together? It makes no sense. When I heard it, I couldn't even believe he said it.

CABRERA: Marc, could it be an olive branch?

MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. Because the premise of his olive branch is, one, a misrepresentation of what the players are asking for, as my brother just said. He's saying these guys are complaining about people wrongfully convicted or mistreated in the criminal justice system, well, let's fix it. That's not what they said. As he said, they were talking about state violence and wrongful death and police-involved shooting and something that's extra judicial so we don't get to go to court. The police officer becomes the judge, jury, and executioner, that's what they're protesting. That's what they want structural change for. The second piece of this is he's trying to antagonize them, hit them with the put up or shut up when in fact it's the government, the White House, the Congress that has failed to put up on this issue since the beginning of America and it's a misrepresentation to suggest that we can pardon our way to justice. I'm glad that we had a pardon last week.

I'm glad we had a pardon two weeks ago, and I hope we have a pardon every day, I says free them all. But pardoning is not the same thing as having a system that systemically breaks people's spirits and systemically takes people from their families and that ultimately overrepresents black people, brown people, poor people, trans people in prison. We need a new system.

CABRERA: And there's another part and that's catching a lot of attention, or at least, comments regarding pardons. This idea of a posthumous pardon to Muhammad Ali.


CABRERA: Put aside the fact that Ali's conviction was overturned in 1971 by the Supreme Court so he wouldn't need a pardon anyway. But Ali wasn't just a famous athlete. He was an activist. And I want to read what his ex-wife told TMZ after Trump's comment. Quote, "I think the pardon should go to those who kneel. That's who should get the pardons. That would be putting it in the right perspective, in the right place. If he accepts Muhammad Ali for being right for what he did and wants to give him a pardon, then that pardon should be going out to all those people who kneel."

Ephraim, what do you make of that comment?

[17:49:38] SALAAM: I think, first of all, she was spot on, but the fact that he wants to pardon Muhammad Ali, whose conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court, really lets you know that he really doesn't have a, you know, a touch with reality. Like he just is throwing this pardon thing out because he's getting -- it's a buzz word for him. He capitalizes on buzz words and uses it to change the narrative. If you want to change the narrative, let's sit let's talk about the actual cause of the protest. He's not one time sat down and said, hey, let's address this issue. Hey, look, guys, I know you don't want to be unpatriotic by kneeling, so let's talk about what you really want to talk about. All this would have gone away because an open dialogue into what we actually are trying to get accomplished in our communities would have been had by the president and these players and the owners and the NFL in general. Just going around the issue offering pardons and trying to hit these buzz words and these key topics to make people like you, that's not the answer. That's not the answer. But that's what, you know, that's what Donald Trump specializes in.

CABRERA: Guys, I got to leave it there.


CABRERA: Marc, sorry, I owe you another question.

LAMONT HILL: Real quick.

CABRERA: Go ahead. Really quick.

LAMONT HILL: Sure. No, no, I was just going to say, it's just a silly irony to castigate the players that are doing the very same thing that Muhammad Ali is now being celebrated for. If Muhammad Ali was a freedom fighter, let these NFL players be freedom fighter athletes, too. He doesn't see the contradiction, and that speaks to him as a president.

SALAAM: Absolutely.

CABRERA: Marc Lamont Hill, Ephraim Salaam, thank you both.

We'll be right back.


[17:55:37] CABRERA: Every now and then, we like to show "CNN Heroes" not only helping others but each other. And Kakenya Ntaiya educates girls in rural Kenya. When her village was threatened by a problem that she couldn't solve, she connected with another "CNN Hero," Harmon Parker, to do what he does best.


HARMON PARKER, CNN HERO: Many people do not understand how many people suffer in isolated regions from dangerous rivers. Children drown. Kakenya asked me to build a bridge for her community so that children

can go to school safely.


KAKENYA NTAIYA, CNN HERO: Today, we were officially opening the bridge. The community really came together. They were celebrating knowing that this is bringing a change. It was their way of just saying thank you.


CABRERA: To see how village elders decided to honor Harmon, or to nominate someone you know to be a "CNN Hero," go to