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Notre Dame's Structure Being Assessed; Firefighters Race to Save Relics; Billionaires and Companies Pledge Money for Rebuilding Notre Dame. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired April 16, 2019 - 13:00   ET


[13:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump's done on the economy, but not necessarily this.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Tax season doesn't make anybody happy, does it?

Appreciate both of you coming in today.

Thanks for joining us on "INSIDE POLITICS."

Brianna Keilar starts right now.

Have a great day.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Brianna Keilar, live from CNN's Washington headquarters.

Underway right now, we are getting a look at new images from inside Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris one day after a devastating fire tore through the iconic structure. You can actually see that parts of the charred ceiling there have collapsed. There are gaping holes in the roof. Firefighters say it took more than nine hours to bring the fire under control. French President Emmanuel Macron vows that the magnificent structure will be rebuilt.

We have correspondent Hadas Gold, who is with us now from Paris.

And, Hadas, tell us, what are authorities saying about their assessment of the building?

HADAS GOLD, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So authorities are still taking a look at the building. I don't know if you can see behind me, there is a crane right now hovering over the cathedral as investigators are trying to assess how stable the struck is. Obviously it's stable enough that we have seen several authorities, such as the French interior minister and the mayor of Paris have already gone in. That's where we're seeing some of those really stunning images where you can see water covering the ground. You can see through up to the sky, the roof is open, and there seems to be a bunch of debris out at the altar.

It is really incredible, though, that despite all of those damages, despite the spire being gone, despite most of the roof being gone, the amount that they have been able to save. The organ, although damaged, is still intact. They managed to get a lot of that artwork out. We're hearing reports of heroism of a human chain to get some of that artwork out. It's going to be eventually moved to the Louvre Museum where it will then be refurbished before it can hopefully be brought back at some point to some sort of restored Notre Dame.

We are hearing reports -- we actually -- not reports, we have reported that we have more than $700 million have been pledged to help reconstruct Notre Dame. But there are going to be some difficulties for this because, for example, that really famous roof was made from wood, from special trees, from a primal forest. They don't have trees like that in France anymore. They're going to have to find a different way to try to reconstruct this. But that is something you hear from everybody on the streets of Paris, even everyday people, they all want to donate, they want to help, they want to bring Notre Dame back.


KEILAR: Tell us about this human chain of people who were moving artifacts out of the cathedral.

GOLD: So, when the fire started just before 7:00 p.m., it seemed to have been started somewhere around the roof. So that gave them time, obviously, to evacuate the building, and thankfully there haven't been a ton of injuries reported. We have heard some injuries from a firefighter and possibly from a policeman.

We are seeing some reports about how they were able to save those artifacts and it involved firefighters, it involved people who were part of the church all working together to try to get those really special artifacts out, including things like the thorn crown that they believe Jesus wore during his crucifixion, parts of the cross, and, of course, also that really, really valuable artwork that was -- we have seen some reports that some of it was slightly damaged from smoke and things like that, but it is amazing that not more has been damaged, thinking about even the windows that are still intact. You can see some of those images where the roof has completely caved in, but those amazing stained glass windows are still there.

KEILAR: Yes, it is amazing. Hadas Gold, thank you so much for that report, from Paris.

Donations and messages of support are pouring in as France is vowing to rebuild the famed Notre Dame Cathedral. We have Mathias Sieffert who is with us. He just moved from Paris to teach French at Harvard University. He has given talks on the Notre Dame Cathedral, in fact.

So, Mathias, what went through your mind when you saw these first pictures of the cathedral on fire?

MATHIAS SIEFFERT, FRENCH INSTRUCTOR, HARVARD UNIVERSITY: So I work in Cambridge, and someone called me to ask me to watch TV. So I went home and I started to watch those terrible images, and my first feeling was, how is such a colossal monument can go into ashes within a minute? I think I felt very vulnerable, as many French people, and I think everyone can have this feeling, feeling vulnerable instead in front of this -- such a tragedy to see this big building, this strong building, becoming nothing within two hours.

Yes, that was my first impression, just shock and sorrow.

KEILAR: Vulnerable, I think that's such -- I think it's such an interesting and apt description of how so many people felt as they were watching in disbelief and even still today are in disbelief.

The president of France, Emmanuel Macron, told a crowd last night, quote, Notre Dame is our history, it's our literature, it's our imagery, it's the place where we live our greatest moments.

Give us a sense of what it means as you talk about vulnerability, not just to France, but to people around the world.

[13:05:01] SIEFFERT: Yes. Well, Notre Dame is part of the -- the history of France. It was built during the 12th century and the -- the history of Paris is connected -- connected to the history of Notre Dame. And I'm a medievalist and I know some images and manuscript that show Notre Dame in the background. It was like the Eiffel Tower for medieval and renaissance people. And since then the -- the cathedral of Notre Dame has been there for all the great and worst moments of our history, two wars and the revolution, of course.

And I think this cathedral is -- it's, of course, a catholic building. It's a religious place. But it became also a secular monument, and I think it belongs to everyone. Of course it belongs to Parisians, but I think it also belongs to American people, to people around the world who are actually giving money today to rebuild the cathedral. And I think it's a symbol of Paris, a symbol also of how many people -- how some people can gather and build together one work of art because a cathedral is a collective production. So I feel we're all together to rebuild it, and it's -- it's a good feeling.

KEILAR: And it does -- it does seem that it will be rebuilt, and that's a priority for so many people who are donating money. You point out that it has been renovated, that it has been restored many times in the past. So how daunting is this rebuilding project going to be?

SIEFFERT: So the rebuilding -- so I'm not a specialist of architecture. I think it will be interesting because a lot of specialists of medieval architecture, the history of art will work together with architects to try to rebuild the cathedral. But we know that it's going to be very long and very hard. For example, the cathedral of France (ph) was destroyed during the First World War, and it took almost 20 or 30 years to rebuild it. And I think there's restorations all the time in this cathedral.

So also you mentioned oak trees. So this roof is made out of oaks and there were more than 1,000 oak trees. So I don't know what's going to happen. I'm going to follow the newspaper and the investigation and also the -- the -- the -- what the future of the cathedral. I hope that they will be able to restore it and to make it as beautiful as it was.

KEILAR: I wonder if you had the reaction that I did as I was seeing how much money has been pledged to rebuild, $700 million. The first thing I thought was, that is so much to come in here just in the course of one day after this has happened, but I also wondered, how much is it going to cost to reconstruction the cathedral of Notre Dame. The expectation, and I know you're not an expert, as you said, on architecture, but the -- the overall cost is going to be astronomical I would imagine.

SIEFFERT: I imagine it's going to be billions, but what is interesting is to see that people feel concerned with culture. It's like all of us have been -- we realize that culture worth some money. And I think this is maybe the -- the lesson we can draw from this tragedy is that we have to protect our culture, not only the European culture, but every monument in the world because those monuments looks very strong but they're actually very vulnerable. And I think the culture is very important. We have to put the money to protect our culture.

KEILAR: Mathias, you've written about -- or you've talked about the cathedral. You've talked about -- as you've thought about this over time, were there any concerns that you ever had about fire safety or other concerns as they're looking to rebuild that need to be realized?

SIEFFERT: So I don't know exactly what's going to happen for the reconstruction, and I -- I don't want to say anything because I think there will be an investigation about what happened exactly. And I think this is as specialist issue and debate so I just want to -- I feel -- I trust the people who know how to build a cathedral, and I think that everyone will feel involved somehow in the process.

KEILAR: All right, Mathias Sieffert, thank you so much for being with us.

SIEFFERT: Thank you for invitation.

KEILAR: And just ahead, new details on the race to save relics from the treasure room and also Speaker Nancy Pelosi shares an emotional story about her cathedral experience.

Plus, is Attorney General William Barr purposely timing the release of the Mueller report with a holiday weekend? A member of the Oversight Committee will join us live.

[13:09:41] And just in, lawmakers demanding that Homeland Security officials testify about the president's reported offer of a pardon for breaking the law.


KEILAR: We have more now on that historic fire at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.

And just in, sales of "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" are soaring in the wake of the devastating fire at the famed cathedral. Just really a testament to how this accident, it appears now, is so much in the consciousness of people all over the world.

I want to bring in Michael Holmes. He is live for us from Paris.

We can see the cathedral there over your shoulder. Michael, give us an update on where things stand right now.

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's extraordinary, isn't it? Twenty-four hours ago, Brianna, the -- Notre Dame, behind me, was fully engulfed in flames. I mean what an extraordinary site that was and how heartbreaking for the people of France, indeed the world, and certainly Catholics all around the world.

Yes, you've got to stop and think, they started building this thing in 1160. It is a cultural heartbeat of this country and the importance of it can't really be overstated. They've been -- they've had cranes up behind me in the last couple of hours going up, appear to be sort of doing some inspections of the structure and having a look at what might need to be removed and how badly damages it is.

[13:15:23] The good news in a way is that, you know, the facade, and stonework seems to have survived. The bad news is that the interior is absolutely devastated. And, you know, the roof structure was being held up by trees that -- that hundreds and hundreds of years old. Trees that don't exist -- the forests that they came from doesn't exist anymore. So when they rebuild, they're going to have to either source it from elsewhere if they want to do timber again or they might want to go another route and perhaps use steel. But they're talking about trying to rebuild it in the character that it was in. It's going to be a massive task.

I can tell you that donations, private donations, from some billionaires here in France have now topped $700 million. So they take this pretty seriously here and indeed around the world. The French president, Emmanuel Macron, he's going to be doing a worldwide appeal for help. And they want to start rebuilding this thing as soon as possible, Brianna.

KEILAR: Yes, and we will be watching as they do.

Michael Holmes, thank you so much. We really appreciate the report from Paris.

And now CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour has an extensive interview with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to talk about the imminent Mueller report, the outspoken Democratic freshman lawmakers and the devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral.

Let's listen.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Speaker Pelosi, welcome to the program.

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): My pleasure to be with you.

AMANPOUR: Here you are in Ireland for all sorts of political reasons, but I first want to ask you to weigh in with your thoughts on Notre Dame, the great gothic catholic cathedral that burnt so badly.

PELOSI: So sad. What a tragedy. And just such an historic place. Of course a place of religion, a place of culture, a place of history. I remember going there with my family when I was a girl and taking my own children there, my grandchildren going, and it's just sort of a central place of faith.

AMANPOUR: Let's move on to the nuts and bolts of your visit. You're here in Ireland because you're going to be addressing the parliament here on its 100th anniversary on Wednesday, but you've also been in England, and Brexit is a big focus of your visit.

Do you fear that there may be sort of a nationalist, populist wave in these upcoming elections? What do you think?

PELOSI: That's a possibility. I mean no fear elections. They are the voice of the people -- the voices of the people. But for the Europeans, they have to weigh in, in a way that keeps the European Union strong.

I think it's really important. We, in the U.S., have a strong commitment to transatlantic relationships, whether it's NATO, whether it's working with the European Union, and other transatlantic comings together. So we want to -- the E.U. and the U.K. to come at a whole -- this whole Brexit debate stronger.

AMANPOUR: People will -- people will ask whether -- people will ask whether the president or the administration is as committed as you in a bipartisan form in Congress.


AMANPOUR: And to the institutions that underpin the transatlantic alliance.

PELOSI: Well, I certainly hope so, but don't underestimate the power of the Congress of the United States when it comes to funding, in terms of our involvement there, as well as policy.

And I think that the president has moved a bit from some of his statements that question our commitment to Article V.

AMANPOUR: I just want to move again to the anti-Semitism row (ph) because it's not just happening in the U.K., in the Labour Party. It's happening actually in the United States right now.

Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota has come under fierce criticism, including from within your own party, but certainly from the Republican Party. The president has tweeted against her, suggesting that, you know, there's some sort of linkage with this video he's tweeted about the towers and what she said about 9/11.

Are you concerned for her well-being, first and foremost? You asked for more security around her.

PELOSI: Yes, but I -- I don't think that the congresswoman is anti- Semitic. I wouldn't even put those in the same category. I think the president --

AMANPOUR: But she's been accused of it.

PELOSI: Well, she's being accused of it, but I'm -- I criticized the president for using film of -- video of 9/11 as a political tool. I think he was wrong to do that.

But to enlarge the issue back to the anti-Semitism as the premise of your question, for a long time now I have said to our people that we have sent to these meetings, whether it's the NATO interparliamentary group, this group or that group, there are all kinds of places where parliamentarians come together, whether bilateral or multilaterally. And I've always said, you know, you -- you go there, use your judgment. You know the values of our caucus. But one guidance I give everyone is that I want you to say, when you're there, that we are concerned about anti-Semitism raising its head all over, including in our own country.

[13:20:24] But some of this predates it, raising its head in our country in the recent way. And so -- so this is nothing new for us. So when we met the leader of the opposition, Jeremy Corbyn, we said we have concerns about how the Labour Party is perceived in terms of anti-Semitism

AMANPOUR: For the Democratic Party, are you concerned that your opposition going towards the next election, or however they wish to use it, will use that to call, as the president has done, you know, the Democrats are not the party of friend to the Jews.

PELOSI: Well, no, no. No, I think the president is bankrupt of any ideas. I don't want to talk about the president here because I'm overseas. But come see me in Washington, D.C., and I'll tell you what I think about that, the president.

But, no, I -- because the -- we are not. And we have no taint of that in the Democratic Party. And just because they want to accuse somebody of that doesn't mean that we take that bait.

AMANPOUR: Do you think, as some in your own party have suggested, that you, yourself, weren't swift enough to defend Ilhan Omar?

PELOSI: Well, that -- I haven't had a chance to speak with her. I'm traveling, she's traveling, but we couldn't catch up with her. Until I talk to somebody, I don't even know what was said. But I do know what the president did was not right.

AMANPOUR: Another issue going forward about the elections, and -- and you've heard it and -- and it's going around quite a lot now, this idea of socialists. The Democrats are going to be feeding -- fielding socialist candidates on the point to calls for Medicare for all, Medicaid for all. They point to the green new deal. They point to all sorts of things. And you can see the plan, clearly the political plan, would be to try to say that, you know, we don't want socialists in the White House.

PELOSI: Well, you know, let me just say this. There's a bankruptcy of ideas in the Republican Party. We ran an -- had an election just now for the people, lower healthcare costs by lowering the costs of prescription drugs, bigger paychecks by building infrastructure of American in a green way, cleaner government, HR-1, our bill, to clean up -- take out big money, big darks, special interest money out of politics and the voter suppression. We won a net gain of 40 seats in the most gerrymandered, voter suppressed, political arena you could ever face. We won big because we had a message that addressed the -- who we are, what our values are, and that is to connect with America's working families. That's what unifies us. People may have other exuberances, but what unifies us is our -- is our commitment to America's working families. So I don't -- I think they can say whatever they want.

Actually, they called Medicare a -- that Medicare would lead to a socialist dictatorship. That's what they said.

AMANPOUR: You mean back then when Medicare --

PELOSI: Back then.


PELOSI: They've never really -- not that far back then, even into the '90s they said it should wither on the vine. And, since then, Medicare has no place in a free society.

So, what -- it isn't about how they want to label something, it's what it is, raising the minimum wage, a path to health care for all Americans, addressing the climate crisis, fairness in our economy, and how people are paid and work is rewarded. That's what we're about. They can call it whatever they want. We'll be positive in how we communicate our message to the American people. I feel very certain of that.

And, by the way, we have spectacular new members of Congress, over 60 new members. Our Democratic caucus is over 60 percent women, people of color, LGBTQ, the number is growing. We have 91 women. There are 115 women in Congress -- 116, 15 are Republican, 91 are Democrats. We made a decision to grow our numbers. We want more.

AMANPOUR: So it's really interesting because really the whole world is watching because America is endlessly fascinating and has an endless impact on the world. So everybody wants to know how the next election is going to shape up.

To that point, they say, well, the president is going to have, obviously, the Republican nomination, but who is it going to be for the Democrats? And there are these mega stars that have erupted on to the -- on to the horizon, AOC, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the very more, I don't know, more progressive, more liberal, more left wing of the party, I don't know how you would describe them.

What is your view about that and about what it takes to successfully field a Democrat against the president.

[13:25:08] PELOSI: Well, let me just say I'm very proud of all the Democrats who have put themselves forward. They show why they are running. They know what they're talking about. They know how to communicate with the electorate. And the electorate, the people, will decide who our nominee is. Not anything from on high.

And I do believe, though, that the way we won this last election, which was a message of simplicity, for the people, lower health care costs, bigger paychecks, cleaner government, that's the kind of message we'll have to go bring forward, a unifying message that, again, addresses the financial insecurity of America's working families. And it's going to be pretty exciting. But, as I say, that will be determined by the people.

AMANPOUR: But is it more centrist or is it more to the left of the party? I mean what does your midterms --

PELOSI: Well, it's probably center left. Probably center left. That is to say, you have to -- we want to win in the whole country. First of all, we have to win. There's -- everything is at stake in this election, the Constitution of the United States with the president who's trying to usurp the power of the legislative branch of government, the environment in which we live, a Republican Party that is in denial about the assault on climate and the climate crisis, which is a health issue, a national security issue, an economic and jobs issue, and a moral issue to pass the planet on to next generation in a responsible way. As God's creation, I believe, but if you don't believe that, even the responsibilities we have generationally.

Everything is at stake in terms of who we are as a people. Every president, Ronald Reagan on, in terms of modern times, has been -- recognized that the value of newcomers to America, that we're a nation of immigrants, unless you're blessed to be born as a Native American --

AMANPOUR: Well, on that, as you point out, Ronald Reagan said thanks to each wave of new arrivals to this land of opportunity. We're a nation forever young, forever bursting with energy and new ideas and always on the cutting edge, always leading the world to the next frontier. This quality is vital to our future as a nation. If we ever close to door to new Americans, our leadership in the world would soon be lost.

PELOSI: Beautiful. I quote him all through the campaign.

AMANPOUR: So how did America lose that spirit?

PELOSI: Well, America didn't. I think that the last presidential election, there was some fear mongering going on about it. And I do think that the American people -- well, we're all immigrants and so the spirit of Ronald Reagan, George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, all of those presidents recognized that newcomers bring vitality and courage and optimism and determination to make the future better. Those are American traits. These newcomers make America more American.

This president decided to use it as a campaign tactic and there are some financial insecurities that people have, he blamed it on trade, he blamed it on immigrants, and -- and it found a market. But I don't think that's where the American people are. AMANPOUR: What about this week? It appears that the attorney general

is going to finally send to the Congress the redacted version of Robert Mueller's investigation and his nearly 400-page report. What do you expect to see and from -- you must have been having conversations -- how redacted do you think it will be and do you think you're going to be able to accept it?

PELOSI: Well, first of all, we don't know, and that's why we said, show us the report. For the attorney general, though, to say, I'll use my own judgment about what I redact, that's not necessarily going to be the final product.

The American people deserve the truth. They need to know the truth. There was an assault made on our elections by the Russians, the -- all of our intelligence community in high confidence have said that the Russians tried to disrupt our election. That is the heartbeat of our democracy. We have to find out what happened so it doesn't happen again.

And it isn't up to the attorney general, who has said, basically, that the president is above the law and the rest, so he's there to redact whatever he wants. Well, let's just see what he puts forth before we make -- we can't make a judgment about something that you haven't seen yet. And so we look forward to seeing it. We have very smart people who will be reading it from the standpoint of our committees and the rest, and we'll go to the next step in determining -- it depends on what is in there and what is re -- how redacted it is.


[13:30:01] KEILAR: How redacted it is. So that's going to be the question.

Let's discuss this with CNN chief political analyst Gloria Borger and White House correspondent for the American Urban Radio Networks