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France Vows To Rebuild The Fame Notre Dame Cathedral; Michelle Obama Is Taking A Swipe At President Trump And Also Divorced Dads; Prosecutors Want Actress Felicity Huffman To Serve Behind Bars In That College Admission Scandal. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 16, 2019 - 15:30   ET



[15:30:55] DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: The owners of Gucci, L'Oreal and Louis Vuitton are among dozens of corporate leaders and celebrities pledging massive donations as France vows to rebuild the fame Notre Dame cathedral. So far more than $700 million in all. And Apple CEO Tim Cook says he will also contribute but hasn't said yet how much.

Joining me now is someone who knows the cathedral very well. Neil Malloy has been a tour guide there every summer for ten years.

And Neil, you are in Burgundy right now. Lucky you. But from there watching what was going on in Paris, what did it feel like to see so many things go up in flames?

NEIL MALLOY, TOUR GUIDE AT NOTRE DAME SINCE 2009: It felt tremendously sad. Messages from friends and colleagues yesterday telling me the news and I looked online following that and it was heartbreaking - (INAUDIBLE).

BASH: So as you may know and may have heard and we have been reporting, there were a lot of treasures that were actually saved. I just saw a report from the -- from the -- one of the chaplains saying that he helped to get the crown out because he knew the codes and the keys and how to do that. So that is, obviously, a very good sign.

But there are things as you know, the not the least of which is called the forest, the internal of the cathedral, the wood that is hundreds and hundreds of years old that is irreplaceable. When you think about that and maybe other things that we don't even know about that you might know as a tour guide, what are you going to miss the most?

MALLOY: Well, as you say, the forest of Notre Dame was one of the most extraordinary places in the cathedral. It wasn't open to the general public. Very special place, above the vault of the cathedral and so it was called the forest, nicknamed the forest because of the beams of woods that was often said that each beam of wood was from the trunk of a tree and the forest wooden loft, the timer frame loft was put in place start of the 13th century. And so it was very old, 800 years old and it was put in place.

But when you think of the fact that large trees were involved, those trees had -- were already several hundred years old and so I remember very often walking in the forest and putting my hand on those beams. And in 2020 and 2021 you were touching trees which had started to grow in the ninth century at the time when Char Lemain (ph) was the emperor of Europe and those trees across the centuries, when Louis was on the thrown, when Louis the 14th was on the thrown, during the French revolution, when napoleon was on the throne. And the first and second war and to see that disappear in the space of hours was unthinkable and unfathomably really.

BASH: Well, to put it in that historic perspective really tells it all and gives the perfect context to things that -- that are invaluable and irreplaceable despite the fact that Emmanuel Macron, I'm sure you saw in the last hour, went on national television there in France and promised to rebuild to make it even more beautiful and even more spectacular.

MALLOY: Yes. Indeed.

BASH: What did you think?

MALLOY: Yes, I thought his speech was ambitious to want to have it done in five years' time. I'm not sure how realistic that is. But he is right to say that the people of France are going to become once again the cathedral builders and once Notre Dame began in 1163 with the first stone which was placed at that date, ever since it has been transformed. And so we have a saying in Notre Dame which is that it is a living cathedral. And yes, it is taken a beating over the last two days, but it is still alive and it is still the beating heart of Paris. And the message is from the President and from the mayor, from the archbishop of Paris, but throughout the world, from friends close to the cathedral as well as people who have only once come through the doors, show that beating heart is still alive. It is a real movement of solidarity which we feel carried along, so it is encouraging.

[15:36:07] BASH: Neil Malloy, thank you so much. And that solidarity as you are speaking to me. And we are showing of exactly what you are talking about on the streets of Paris right now about the beating heart of Paris so beautifully put.


BASH: So we are going to take a quick break as we look at these pictures.

And up next, Michelle Obama was getting some pushback for saying living under America -- living in America, rather, under President Trump is like staying with a quote "divorced dad."


[15:41:15] BASH: The former first lady and best-selling author Michelle Obama is taking a swipe at President Trump and also divorced dads. Listen to what she said to Stephen Colbert at an event in London about the current state of America as she sees it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MICHELLE OBAMA, FORMER FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: We come from a broken family, where a teenager - where, you know, where everyone is settled, you know, having good parents you know, it tough, you know. Sometimes you spent a weekend with divorced dad. That feels like it is fun but then you get sick. That is what America is going through. We kind of living with divorced dad right now.


BASH: I want to bring in Kate Bennett now to talk about this.

OK. We were talking about this before. You understand where she is going with this.


BASH: But to make the analogy that divorced dads, for someone like Michelle Obama is remarkably un-woke to use a term that the kids use. Because it is not the 1950s.


BASH: And there are a lot of divorced dads.


BASH: I would venture to say most divorced dads who don't just have the kids on the weekend but have their kids as a major co-parent.


BASH: What is up with this?

BENNETT: I think it was a really big misstep on her part. I think there are a lot of analogies or labels or metaphors one could use to describe the Donald Trump presidency, its effect on America. A lot have effective ways to do that. I think, you know, attacking divorced dads in a way is probably not the way to go.

Fifty percent of marriages in America end in divorce and many of those parents equally co-parent when they have kids. And it is not the olden days really where dads will get the kid on the weekend and give him -- she said give the kid candy and that is fun for a while.

BASH: Right.

BENNETT: It is not really like anymore. And I think it shows a rare moment of being out of touch with the rest of America in terms of culture and society and those things. Michelle Obama usually typically has her finger pretty well on the pulse so that was sort of a strange thing. And it is really caused a ripple today with divorced dads and she hasn't said anything about being wrong about saying it. But I certainly think you are right. It is not very timely of her in this day and age.

BASH: Yes. And you know, I actually read her book cover to cover. And in it she is incredibly open about so much in her personal life with the former President. And one of the things she does talk about is the struggles understandably that any spouse of somebody in politics has with kids and raising the kids and that person being absent.

So I just -- I just find it -- interesting, rather. And you know, I also think about the fact that she has done, like, probably hundreds ever these at this point.


BASH: And she is sitting with the comedian and maybe she says OK -- but having said that, if somebody who was not Michelle Obama said this, what would happen?

BENNETT: It would be -- people would be talking about it all over the place. I mean, this is the start of her European tour. She is in London. These are sellout crowds. This is the memoir that people say is going to be best-selling one of all time. Millions of dollars in book advance. I mean, everyone -- if someone else had done this, I think it would have been a really much larger gaff in terms of comparing Donald Trump divorced dads and putting divorced dads sort of under the bus. She had, you know, and her book, as you know, you just said you read it, she has said that Donald Trump is -- she made her angry, her body bug with fury when he did the "Access Hollywood" tape and she was so upset that she will never forgive him, that's what she said, about pushing the birther movement and putting her family in danger. So certainly, she has viable and very sort of articulate ways of expressing her dislike perhaps of Trump. But this was one that truly felt oddly disconnected.

BASH: I think that is probably the last time we are going to hear her make this analogy. But her anger at President Trump given the fact she was worried about the safety of her children is understandable.

Kate Bennett, good to see you.

[15:45:06] BENNETT: You too.

BASH: Thank you.

And we are live -- watching live, rather, pictures in Paris as you see right there. Huge crowds are gathered to mourn the loss of history, what was lost at Notre Dame.



[15:50:00] BASH: What you are seeing, what you are hearing is absolutely incredible. Pictures and images and you can feel it really through the screen of the emotion of the people gathering in the streets there in Paris.

Nic Robertson is back with me to tell me exactly what's happening there - Nic. NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: You know, Dana,

last night we had a glimpse of it. The shock of people watching the spire burn and fall and people literally dropping that their knees and singing hymns in the streets. It's grown. There's a sense, I'm sure, for people here that the worst that they had imaged had been missed and that this is a chance to give thanks and to come together and to feel that they are together in this. And the beautiful hymns and the solemnity of what you are hearing and seeing right now really reflects for the people of Paris and of France that this could have been much worse.

Remember, it was this time last night that the fire chief was saying that there was possible, the next hour and a half were critical. That the twin towers here could collapse. That calamity didn't happen. And I think what we are seeing tonight is really a sense of people here having something to feel thankful for, despite the tragedy, despite the horror of what they witnessed. There is still something, a lot to be thankful for -- Dana.

BASH: So well put. So many of those precious, irreplaceable artifacts saved. And we can talk more about that later.

Nic Robertson, thank you very much. We are going to take a quick break.

Before we do, just in, a source telling CNN how long prosecutors want actress Felicity Huffman to serve behind bars in that college admission scandal, rather. Stay with us for that.


[15:56:47] BASH: This just into CNN, prosecutors in the college admissions cheating scandal want to send actress Felicity Huffman to prison for four to ten months. A law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation tells CNN the range of the proposed sentence has nothing to do with Huffman's public apology. Huffman pleaded guilty to fraud charges and she paid $15,000 to have a proctor cheat on her daughter's SAT. Her sentencing hearing is May 21st.

I want to bring in legal analyst, Laura Coates.

What do you make of this recommendation, four to ten months?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's in line with what they promised to do. If she pled guilty, they would go to the low end of the guidelines. And because it is a non-violent crime and she has no criminal history score, this is at the lower end of things.

Now, part of her plea agreement, however, I believe was that she could actually argue she would have an even less one from zero to six months. And I'm sure it has been argued back to their point. The reason this is so different than say at Lori Loughlin is because the amount of money that was actually used to the crime $15,000 versus half a million is factored in. The ability to what was actually done to try to facilitate the crime is different. But this is actually asking for jail time. It could include a probationary period. That would be after which the crime -- the sentence is served, or it could meantime over her head.

BASH: And it is up to the judge to determine this.

COATES: Absolutely. You can enter a plea agreement with the government. She can get no jail time or after that, as well. The judge has the prerogative and her discretion. So her fingers should be crossed if they recommend what she said.

BASH: OK. So you mentioned Lori Loughlin. I mean, this is such a tale of two -- a divergent strategy, right. Obviously, very different -- not very different, a bit different, noticeably different, in terms of what they were accused of doing. You mentioned $15,000 for Felicity Huffman. When it comes to Lori Loughlin and her husband, they are accused of shelling out $500,000 to a fake charity to get their daughters into USC as potential crew team members. I should say that neither daughter rode competitively, maybe even at all. The fact that they decided to just go for broke and plead not guilty, what does that tell you?

COATES: Well, remember, Loughlin versus Huffman had very different jail times as a proposition. So I understand why somebody who had a higher jail exposure would hold out for a good plea offer. But it's the government's prerogative to give you a plea offer. And the first one is normally the best one.

BASH: And she rejected that plea.

COATES: She added on charges at this point in time. So, she is kind in a situation now - she is limbo, where they could add more charges against her, they could opt not to give the first plea offer again, and she's at the mercy of the prosecutors if, Dana, they actually have documentary evidence to support their claims. If it's kind of a hearsay scenario, circumstantial, it's a stronger case for her, but they have documents and emails and phone calls, apparently. It's a hard case for her to win with a good plea offer.

BASH: It's interesting that you said that that is a big difference between the two. It's not just that they just have chose different strategies and she chose to fight. It's that she had a lot more to lose in terms of jail time.

COATES: She did. And a lot more money was at stake, half a million, $15,000, it makes a difference in terms of the actual crime.

BASH: Laura Coates, thank you for your expertise, as always.

COATES: Thank you.

BASH: And before we go, just in, CNN is learning that Columbine high school and other schools in the area are on lockdown after a threat. Keep in mind, the 20th anniversary of the Columbine massacre is this coming Saturday. Updates as we get them.