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Pruitt, Ronny Jackson examples of Cabinet Embroiled in Tensions with Trump; The Pressure of Dress a First Lady; Toronto Van Suspect Appears to Have Praised Mass Killer; No Bail for Waffle House Shooter & Father Also Faces Charges; When Asked about Pardoning Cohen, Trump Responded "Stupid Question". Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired April 24, 2018 - 14:30   ET


[14:30:00] CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER & CNN EDITOR-IN- CHIEF STATES: I will bring people that no one else running for president or has ever been president before can bring.

Let's start over here. Rex Tillerson, gone because he and Donald Trump could not get along. That's actually somewhat of a success story for Trump because my Pompeo looks like he might replace Tillerson. And Tom Price, you might have for gotten about him. Gone because liking to fly, high-priced, either first class or private planes. Then here we've got David Shulkin. This is the job that Ronny Jackson is at least nominated to lead Veterans Affairs. Shulkin, big problems with -- wait for it -- using taxpayer money to fund his wife's trip to Europe with him. These are the three that are gone! But this is tensions. Let me remind you, Brooke, there's not 50 members of the cabinet. They're somewhere in the teens. And so we've got three fired. We've got all of these that have tensions. Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, it would take a whole show to go through his problems. Ryan Zinke, Interior, problem with flights again. Ben Carson at HUD. Betsy DeVos, at Education, has done a number of negative things as it relates public relations. And down here, this is the big one, Scott Pruitt. It feels to me like the temperature has changed. We've seen this with some of the other cabinet members Donald Trump has fired. It builds and builds and build and they say, no, no, no, and, all of a sudden, Donald Trump gets sick of the negative press. I think that's where we're headed to.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: It's a group people don't want to join.

As far as where you may want to join is the state dinner tonight. There's so much we could get into. This whole Macron visit to the White House. All the handshakes, the brushing of -- I don't know what that was on Macron's label.


CILLIZZA: Dandruff.


BALDWIN: Where do you want to begin?

CILLIZZA: First of all, Chris Cillizza is stunningly not invited to the state dinner. But I do want to get to this picture --


BALDWIN: Got it.

CILLIZZA: I know, shocking.

I do want to go to this picture. This is the four of them after Macron and Trump both gave speeches. Lots of people talking about Melania Trump's hat. That's the buzz of the picture.

But I want to point this out. I find the political theatrics fascinating. What is going on here and here? Why is Macron doing the hook-'em horns sign?

BALDWIN: Hook-'em horns.

CILLIZZA: It's very - it's either that or the Gene Simmons KISS guitarist things. Either way, it's super weird. Melania Trump grabbing his other two figures. That's a pro move. Donald Trump grabbing just Macron's middle finger, super, super awkward. These are the things I spend my life trying to figure out, Brooke. It's a blessing and a curse.

BALDWIN: Is there any more you want to dissect from this photo? Like smiles or lack thereof? You have the horns and the middle finger.


CILLIZZA: You have --


CILLIZZA: OK, 60 degrees in Washington.

BALDWIN: That's warm.

CILLIZZA: Sixty degrees in Washington when this picture was taken. I sweat a lot at all times. I don't wear an overcoat unless it's 20 or below. One other thing. I'll go from happiest to least happy to be in this picture.


CILLIZZA: Happiest. She's thrilled. I think it's probably the hat. Macron, this is like a devious look because he's doing the hook-'em horn thing. Caught everyone by surprise. Trump, this is his, we've been out here for an hour, I'm ready to go. And then you get to Brigette Macron thing, and she's like, wait, we're doing hand-up thing? No one told me. That's the me. I'm the me in this picture. I didn't get the memo. That's always me. Wait, we were doing a hand- in-pocket move? Anyway, so that's the --


BALDWIN: My biggest takeaway from our entire conversation in the last few minutes is that Macron may be a secret KISS fan. Then, we'll leave it there.

CILLIZZA: Brooke, we'll have to do a whole CNN special on that one.


BALDWIN: I expect that to be your next topic for your next show.

Chris Cillizza, thank you so very much --

CILLIZZA: Thank you.

[14:34:13] BALDWIN: -- for making me laugh today.

Speaking of the first lady, Melania Trump wowing in white, stealing the show for this first state visit. What she wore, how she's planning to impress at the dinner tonight.

We will be right back.


BALDWIN: Melania Trump emerges front and center for the first state visit of the Trump presidency. The first lady effectively running the show. She is managing every detail of this lavish welcome for French President Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigette, including tonight's opulent state dinner. And all eyes will be on what they're wearing.

Joining me, a man who is legendary in the world of fashion. He's dressed everyone from Beyonce to Kate Middleton. He has had the honor of dressing former first lady, Michelle Obama, 20-plus times. He's Naeem Khan.

Naeem, it's nice to see you.

NAEEM KHAN, FASHION DESIGNER: So happy to be here with you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: I want to get into the pressure of dressing a first lady. First, we have to show the photos of Melania Trump today. She's in, in my opinion, stunning white Michael Coors (ph) blazer and hat. And the blazer is stealing the show. Naeem, what do you think?

KHAN: I think it's gorgeous, glamorous, very old Hollywood. She looks great and I love the hat actually.

BALDWIN: I love the hat, too.


BALDWIN: Looking ahead to tonight, and the state dinner, you dressed Michelle Obama a number of times. Was the '09 India dinner the first one for you?

NAEEM: It was.

BALDWIN: When she was wearing your dress? KHAN: Yes. I was in Miami when she wore it because I had no idea

until the last moment that she was going to wear it or not. It was always a big, big surprise.

[14:40:05] BALDWIN: We're playing through all of these -- I think that was the dress from '09. We're going through all of the different dresses she wore of yours. Perfect because it was the India state dinner, you're an Indian designer. What was the process of designing for her?

KHAN: It was never 100 percent you were sure she was going to wear it. You get a call from the White House saying it's the India state dinner, would you design a dress for her? So it was always close to time. You have to pull in all plugs. They were afraid to give me measurements, so I had to actually design from figuring out the dimensions when you do art class, you know that your face is like nine inches. You have to like divide everything up. Cleverly I designed a strapless on a stretch core set with a stretch lining, so I had a few inches to play with just in case it got a little -- to make sure it fit right. But also, I had this -- I wanted a little bit of history in there on the first state dress that I did for her. When I worked for Halston, I worked with Warhol, but the embroidery was Andy Warhol and you take the poppies on and it just looked rich and glamorous.


BALDWIN: Now you go to all this work and you're pulling out all the stops and you don't even know if this is the dress she's going to wear?

KHAN: Yes, which was kind of crazy because I was here for thanksgiving in Miami and when I found out that she wore my dress


KHAN: -- hell broke loose. My poor building was stormed with news and everything else.

BALDWIN: I'm sure it was. And that you didn't even have her measurements and through magic you pulled it off and then some. But ending back to Melania Trump, this is the French state dinner. Any guesses on who she may wear, what she may choose?


KHAN: If I take a wild guess, she will wear American, and it's probably Ralph Lauren. That's my wild guess. And I just feel because it's America, he's so American, so it might be the way to go. But I think she should wear American. That would be the right thing.

BALDWIN: Why? Why do you think? Last question.

KHAN: Because you are part of America. You need to promote American designers. You need to, you know, you're the ambassador for this country. And you are the first lady. You have to be part of, you know, the fashion of America. And you have to pick an American designer. I think it's very, very important.

BALDWIN: Naeem Khan, thank you so much. Always good to see you.

KHAN: Good to see you, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Thank you, thank you.

Coming up on CNN, the man who police say ran over pedestrians in Toronto is now charged with 10 counts of murder as police search for a motive. And we're learning of his praise for a mass killer.

And no bail for the waffle shooter. What he's telling police and why his father may also face charges.


[14:48:07] BALDWIN: The man charged with intentionally mowing down individuals in Toronto is now charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder. Just before that attack, the suspect praised an American mass killer on his Facebook page. After the attack, there was this dramatic scene, which we talked about all through the show yesterday, as this police officer faced off with the suspect, who waved an object back at the officer.


UNIDENTIFIED POLICE OFFICER: Come on, get down! Get down! No, get down! Get down! Get down!


BALDWIN: The officer didn't shoot. Moments later, the suspect was arrested. While police say the attack was deliberate, they do not yet know a motive.

There will be no bond for accused Tennessee Waffle House shooter. Today a judge revoked his $2.5 million bail. His grandmother said he is, quote, "a sick boy." He is expected to appear in court tomorrow. But there could be more charges for his father. He may face legal troubles because he gave his son's guns back to him when he wasn't supposed to.

Meantime, this happened today inside the Tennessee statehouse.




BALDWIN: James Shaw Jr, the hero who tackled the shooter and prevented more death, was honored today by state lawmakers. And the Waffle House says it will offer assistance to the families of the shooting victims.

With me now, former federal prosecutors, Mimi Rocah and Jennifer Rodgers.

Ladies, thanks for being with me.

Mimi, starting with you first on the Waffle House shooter and his father, there had been multiple instances in the past that show he was not all there. He thought Taylor shift was stalking him, tried to trespass at the White House, ends up getting arrested. Authorities do all the right things, take his guns away, prevent him from buying firearms, presumably, give them to his father. His father, presumably, gives them back to his son. Is the father in trouble?

[14:50:27] MIMI ROCAH, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: There's no question the father didn't act in a way that we in society would want a responsible father to act. I think law enforcement specifically got a promise from him that he wouldn't give the guns back to his son. If the father knew in some way that he was planning something like this and gave the guns back, he could be liable for some kind of accessory to murder. But that doesn't sound like the case we're dealing with. What it sounds like is he gave them back, just knowing his son was mentally unstable. Right now as our federal and many of our state firearm laws exist, that's not a crime. And that's what's, you know, the bigger issue here. So under Illinois law as I understand it, he would actually be liable because they do have a stricter law that was enacted after Sandy Hook where you have to have a special license to have a gun, like a permit, and if you -- he would not have been eligible for that anymore. That was revoked. So if the father knew that and gave the guns back, then under Illinois state law, he could face some liability. But under federal law, he, as I understand it, only had a misdemeanor conviction at the time. You can't give a firearm knowing they're what's called a prohibited person under federal law. But having a misdemeanor conviction, unless it's domestic violence, is not a prohibited person.

BALDWIN: Wasn't totally sure. That was a question that came up at the police briefing yesterday when they explained how they caught him. The ATF agent was asked about that and he said maybe, but there was nothing definitive as to whether or not the father violated federal firearms law. And just lastly, red flag laws.

ROCAH: That's the point, I think really here, the broader point about the shooting. One is if there were red flag laws in Illinois, in Tennessee, this was a guy who should not have guns. I mean, I really don't think any reasonable person could disagree with that. And law enforcement knew that and was looking at him. They could have petitioned a court and had the guns taken away from him and from the home. The way they did it was much more informal. They just knew it wasn't right for him to have gun. They gave them to the father. Under red flag laws, they'd go through proper procedures and take the guns and keep them away from the home. You don't want the guns going back to where a dangerous person lives.

BALDWIN: Next, to President Trump, Jennifer. Earlier today, when the president was talking about a lot with reporters, the question was posed with regard to his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, are you thinking of pardoning him? This is the president's response.





TRUMP: Stupid question.

Go ahead. Any other -- anybody else, please?


BALDWIN: So he says, "Stupid question." I would posit that the man is under criminal investigation, it's a valid question. Do you agree with me?

JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECTOR: Well, of course. Lots of reporters have been asking him about this and he's been talking about it. Sounds likes he just didn't want to talk about it in that moment. He doesn't want to talk about this pardon issue. A lot of people are suggesting the Scooter Libby pardon out of nowhere and the call to Cohen right on the heels of the search warrant excuse is signaling he will pardon him.

BALDWIN: Do you think the Scooter Libby thing was a signal or the posthumous pardon of the boxer calling him up a month ago? People were saying, hmm.

RODGERS: I do because of the timing. You have the search warrant excuse on a Monday. On Friday he says, I don't even know Scooter Libby, but I hear he was treated unfairly. At the Department of Justice, it takes months and months and months to go through a pardon request, including asking the prosecutors what they think about the request. He didn't do any of that. It looks to me like he's sending some sort of message there.

[14:54:37] BALDWIN: Jennifer Rodgers and Mimi Rocah, thanks so much on all things legal today.

In case you missed it, in the span of a few minutes, President Trump called North Korea's dictator honorable, briskly shot down questions about his attorney, Michael Cohen, and gave his embattled V.A. nominee an out. Details from a very significant news conference today, next.


BALDWIN: We continue on. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

President Trump has some advice for his embattled V.A. Secretary nominee whose confirmation hearing was just postponed indefinitely. The president today essentially giving him an out to withdraw his name from his nomination. Dr. Ronnie Jackson's nomination is in jeopardy after several whistleblowers came forward alleging, quote, "toxic work environment and excessive drinking while Jackson was working for the White House. President Trump, who at first issued a statement standing by the doctor, now offering his signature comment, "We'll see what happens."


[14:59:59] TRUMP: I said to Dr. Jackson, what do you need it for? So we'll see what happens. I don't want to put a man through, who is not a political person -- I don't want to put a man through a process like this. It's too ugly and too disgusting.