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President Trump Plays Golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe; Joe Biden Announces 2020 Presidential Bid; Joe Biden Criticizes President Trump over Charlottesville Statements; President Trump Congratulates NFL Draft Pick Nick Bosa; Analyst Examine Age as Possible Factor in Presidential Race; Interview with Cellist Who Played at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Wedding. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired April 27, 2019 - 10:00   ET



[10:00:20] CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning to you, happy Saturday, April 27th, 2019. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. You are in the CNN Newsroom.

PAUL: So glad to have you with us here.

President Trump is golfing right now with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

BLACKWELL: The president is trying to build on a relationship with an important ally which will continue with a visit to Japan next month where the two leaders may take in a sumo wrestling match.

PAUL: Off the golf course, still teeing off on -- President Trump, we should say -- Democrat frontrunner Joe Biden. Save the policy disagreements for later, maybe. Right now the two septuagenarians are arguing over who looks and acts older.

BLACKWELL: The energy and age back and forth. With us now is CNN's Jessica Dean. Jessica, the vice president has, we understand, more a fundraisers planned. Tell us about them.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning. That's right. The former vice president has two fundraisers planned on a west coast swing in Los Angeles coming up May 8th. And that was a big question surrounding Joe Biden when he got into this race was would he be able to keep up with Beto O'Rourke and Bernie Sanders the fundraising arena. We got the answer yesterday.


DEAN: The early numbers are in for Joe Biden. The former vice president's campaign saying it raised $6.3 million in first 24 hours since it launched, the highest number yet for a 2020 Democrat.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, "THE VIEW": Please welcome former vice president Joe Biden. DEAN: Biden appeared on "The View" in his first sit-down interview,

and again went directly at President Trump.

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's about being able to look your kid in the eye and say, honey, it's going to be OK, I mean it. Think of how many people don't think they can do that today. And this president has done nothing to help that group of people.

BEHAR: Nothing.

DEAN: The former vice president said he plans to connect with working class voters, hoping to get the support of those who supported Trump in 2016. A clear rivalry developing between Biden and the president, who at 72 is just four years young than Biden's 76.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am a young, vibrant man. I look at Joe, I don't know about him. I don't know.

BIDEN: If he looks young and vibrant compared to me, I should probably go home.


DEAN: Biden's entry into the race has changed its dynamics already. He's drawing attacks from some competitors, including Elizabeth Warren, who criticized Biden for his closeness to the financial industry.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: I got in that fight because they just didn't have anyone. And Joe Biden was on the side of the credit card companies.

DEAN: And Senator Bernie Sanders sent an email to supporters taking aim at Biden's Philadelphia fundraiser held at the home of an Comcast executive. Sanders saying, quote, "not with a fundraiser in the home of a corporate lobbyist." During his interview on "The View," Biden was pressed on his handling Anita Hill's testimony during the 1991 confirmation hearings for Clarence Thomas.

BIDEN: I'm sorry she was treated the way she was treated.

BEHAR: I think what she wants you to say is I'm sorry for the way I treated you, not for the way you were treated. I think that would be closer.

BIDEN: Well, but I'm sorry the way she got treated.

DEAN: Biden then going further.

BIDEN: There are a lot of mistakes made across the board, and for those, I apologize, that we may have been able to do and conduct it better. But I believed Dr. Hill from the beginning, from the beginning. And I said it.

DEAN: Biden was also asked to explain his reaction to the women who have come forward and accused him of unwanted touching. BEHAR: Nancy Pelosi wants you to say I'm sorry that I invaded your


BIDEN: So I invaded your space. And I am. I'm sorry this happened. But I'm not sorry in the sense that I think I did anything that was intentionally designed to do anything wrong or be inappropriate.

DEAN: He also spoke of his son Beau, who died of brain cancer in 2015.

BIDEN: It sounds stupid. When I get up in the morning, I think about, I hope he's proud of me. I hope he's proud.


DEAN: Up next for the former vice president is a rally in Pittsburgh on Monday. There he is expected to talk about growing the middle class and his plans to do that. And you'll notice he's there in Pennsylvania. It was a critical state in 2016. It will no doubt be a critical state in 2020. There's going to be a lot of visits by everybody to Pennsylvania in that general election. So, Victor, expect to have a lot of attention paid to the commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

BLACKWELL: Yes, typical for the cycle. Jessica Dean thank you so much.

[10:05:00] Joining me Catherine Rampell, CNN political commentator and "Washington Post" opinion columnist. Catherine, welcome back.


BLACKWELL: It appeared that the vice president had to be led to every answer about Anita Hill during that appearance on "The View." Does the campaign see that this is a problem for them? What do you make of the vice president's appearance and his discussion about this specifically?

RAMPELL: Look, I think the challenge for Joe Biden, of course, is that he's been in politics for a very long time. And he has a long track record of adopting views, engaging in behaviors, making comments that may have been somewhat more accept only during the time period, may have been more mainstream even if they were criticized, some of the gaffes, including, not a gaffe, but the actual mistreatment of Anita Hill. Obviously, that was criticized at the time.

So he has a longer track record than most candidates in the race to answer for. And the question is, how seriously or thoughtfully is he grappling with those mistakes he's made in the past. And he hasn't really owned up to a lot of them. And I think that's really the challenge here, that voters may be willing to forgive things he's done or said in the past if he takes ownership of them, if he says, look, that's why I did those things. That's why I regret them. Here's how I've evolved, or what have you.

And by not really coming to the table and using passive voice about how Anita Hill was mistreated rather than, I did bad things to her, or I set this conversation about sexual harassment back, or whatever, I think that does not help him and gives ammunition, of course, to the other candidates in the race.

BLACKWELL: So let's talk about the present now. And we're going to talk about the primary in a moment. But first, there is now this back and forth between the president and the former vice president. And the former vice president launched his campaign with this video referencing Charlottesville and President Trump's response. It seems to be a character argument. Does that seem to be the way they're going?

RAMPELL: I think in the case of a character argument, probably Joe Biden would win given the many more blemishes, even in the much shorter political career than our current president has had, of course. So, I don't know that that's really going to be President Trump's strong suit if he makes this about character or even about treatment of women. Like the treatment of Anita Hill was bad, of course. But bragging about grabbing women by the private parts I would argue is a little bit worse. So if they're going down this route, I'm not sure it's going to serve Trump well.

BLACKWELL: As relates to Charlottesville, the president thinks his answer was absolutely perfect, as he said, from the White House lawn. Why do you think that he wants to wade back into that? He could have gone to another question. He could have moved on.

RAMPELL: I think he can't help himself. And to some extent, maybe he's just trying rewrite history, right, that he was asked about the death of an activist as a part of these neo-Nazi marches. He was asked about the neo-Nazis themselves, and he had unequivocally bad comments praising neo-Nazis as being among fine people. And that should have been a layup for him. It's not so hard to condemn neo- Nazis. It's not so hard to condemn people who are marching and saying "Jews will not replace us." That should be an easy thing for him to do. He did not, of course, at the time. Maybe right now he's just trying to rewrite history and pretending that the context of what he said was different from what it was and hoping people will believe him.

But I think to some extent, it's not even that strategic. It's just that he's been baited and he can't help himself. We've seen this with Trump again and again and again. There are much stronger things he could be talking about, much more favorable things he could be talking about like the economy, of course, if he were to try to take more credit for that. But instead, he's very easily baited. So who knows what's going through his head here?

BLACKWELL: Especially on the question of age, because we heard the president yesterday say that he is a young vibrant man at 72, comparing himself to Joe Biden. Is that fruitful for either candidate when you're both good into your 70s?

RAMPELL: Again, I'm not sure this is the strongest point that either of them could be making right now.


RAMPELL: There are certainly more youthful candidates in this race who could be the grandchildren, more or less, or at least children of these of these two front-runners, or the incumbent and arguably the Democratic frontrunner. But it's obviously also something that they can't avoid talking about, that people are going to ask them about, why should we put someone close to 80 in the White House. So it's not like they can ignore the question. The best they can do probably is to make light of it, which is what I think essentially they're both doing.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about the primary. Joe Biden announced $6.3 million raised in the first 24 hours.

[10:10:03] He has, though, as "The New York Times" and others have reported, before making the announcement, his campaign folks have been sending out emails to big party donors asking them to write the big checks, held the fundraiser with the Comcast executive. Is that a vulnerability for him? The number is huge, but the association in this climate, is that problematic for Joe Biden, because his opponents are fundraising on who is holding the fundraisers for Biden?

RAMPELL: Right. And small dollar donations are an important issue in this campaign, not only because of the signaling effect of all of this, of course, but also for who gets into the primary debate, that you need to have, I forget what the number is, something like 65,000 individual donors. So, yes, it does play against what the general priorities expressed by the party are for this debate, for this primary.

But that said, I don't know that most voters are going to make a decision based on that alone, or even have that as being one of their top priorities. I think they're much more likely to be making decisions based on who embraces their values, who has policies that they think will actually improve America, improve their pocketbooks, make this a better country, as well as who can beat Donald Trump. So the fundraising issue, I don't know is going to be the biggest vulnerability for Joe Biden at this point.

PAUL: Catherine Rampell, always good to have you.

RAMPELL: Good to be here. Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Thank you.

PAUL: Fifteen people are dead after a police raid on a potential terrorist hideout in Sri Lanka. What police found in a garage that led them to search that home. And a warning from the State Department to U.S. citizens this morning.

BLACKWELL: Plus, Congressional Democrats in a tug-of-war with the White House over President Trump's tax returns. When we return, we'll speak with Representative Judy Chu who serves on the House Ways and Means Committee.

PAUL: And as the world waits for the announcement of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's baby, we're going to talk to the young cellist who played at their wedding and what that experience was like for him.


BLACKWELL: Ten civilians including children have been killed after explosions ripped through a building in Sri Lanka. This was during a raid. Six suspected terrorists were killed after they engaged in a gunfight with police. At least two more are now on the run.

Now, this morning, the U.S. State Department is warning citizens to reconsider travel to Sri Lanka because of the threat of terrorism. And look at this video. Just turn and look at the screen. Police were led to this hideout, after uncovering this garage. And look at this, full of potential bombmaking items. Officials say they recovered explosives, ball bearings, ISIS flags and uniforms. It's been less than a week since coordinated bombings tore through churches at high end hotels in Sri Lanka. Those attacks killed 253 people on Easter Sunday.

PAUL: There's some tough choices ahead for Congressional Democrats. A new "Washington Post"/ABC News poll really illustrates why that is. According to this poll, 47 percent of Americans say they believe the president did try to interfere in the Russia investigation, and they said he did in a way that amounts to obstructing justice. But in that same poll, a majority also said they do not believe Congress should start impeachment proceedings. Even without impeachment, the investigations continue into different aspects of the Trump world, from the inauguration, the campaign, the foundation, the administration.

I want to talk to one of the lawmakers investigating the president right now, Democratic Congresswoman Judy Chu from California. Congresswoman, thank you so much for being with us. She is also a member of the House Ways and Means Committee. So let's talk about some of these numbers first and foremost. And I want to show this, when asked, should Congress impeach President Trump, here is the breakdown of numbers. Democrats, 62 percent say yes. Republicans, 10 percent say yes. And independents, 36 percent say yes. What do Democrats do with those numbers? When do you shift, say, from investigation to policy?

REP. JUDY CHU, (D) CALIFORNIA: Well, what is interesting is that 58 percent of the people believe that Trump is lying, so they do believe that there is something wrong. But you're right, 37 percent think that we should go for impeachment, which means that we certainly have a job to do to present to the American people what is really going on with the Trump administration.

The American people are not ready for impeachment. And we, the Democrats, believe that it's important to find the facts, to have the hearings, to call the witnesses in front of our different committees, and to present substantive information about what is really going on with this Trump administration. There's too much of a circus out there. What we want to do is to proceed forward with education, with actual facts that the American people can absorb and therefore make a conclusion about what's going on in this country. PAUL: There are a lot of tentacles are that are reaching out in this,

when we look at the investigation that are under way in the Trump administration. You've got the administration itself. You've got the inauguration, the organization, the Trump transition. What other investigations, which of these do you look at, and think that is worth pursuing in lieu of impeachment?

CHU: Oh, I believe that all the hearings are very, very integral. But I certainly do think that the hearing in the House Judiciary Committee of counsel, House Counsel McGahn is very, very important, because he is at the heart of the Mueller report. And his statements certainly will reveal to us much more about what went on in the White House, as well as, of course, Mueller's testimony in front of that committee.

[10:20:00] PAUL: As we head into 2020, I'm wondering if you have any concerns about what I'm going to dub about the public's investigation fatigue. Are you concerned about something like that?

CHU: Well, I believe that if this testimony is provided in a thoughtful way so that there can be substantive information coming out, it can serve to actually clarify what's going on and help the American public really understand the dynamics that are out there. And then, of course, the American public can decide how their vote is going to take place in the 2020 election.

PAUL: I want to ask you about one other thing. We know several large veteran service organizations that are going to be taking on the Hill. They calling it -- they're storming the hill. And this is happening right before Memorial Day. And they're lobbying for military families at the end of the day, because President Trump's tax plan -- there was a consequence that was overlooked in what was going to happen with his plan. They are now heavily taxing their survivor benefits that are paid out to children whose mother or father was killed in service, while they were serving the country. What used to be 12 percent to 15 percent tax rate on their survival benefits jumped to 37 percent. Is the Congress willing to act on that somehow? What can or would you do, if you can?

CHU: Well, this shows why you should not have a tax bill go at lightened speed. The Republicans put it through in 51 days, and there were very, very few hearings. It was really done in the dark of night. And mistakes like this were made, egregious mistakes. So this is a tax plan that should not have been voted on, certainly in this manner, and this is one of those mistakes that should have been overturned in the first place.

PAUL: Is it fixable now?

CHU: It is fixable. In fact, there are actually a number of mistakes that were made in this tax bill that were overlooked because it did go through at lightning speed. So, yes, we are eager to fix these mistakes, and we need to do it in a thoughtful manner.

PAUL: All right, Congresswoman Judy Chu, we appreciate you taking time for us this morning. Thank you, Congresswoman. CHU: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: Former Vice President Joe Biden joining the 2020 presidential race and raises $6.3 million in the first 24 hours after his launch. What this means for the rest of the Democratic field, and should President Trump be worried?


[10:26:39] PAUL: It's 26 minutes past the hour right now. And President Trump is on the golf course at the Trump National Golf Club in Washington. We got a little glimpse of him leaving the White House earlier this morning. He's playing golf with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez is there. Any indication, Boris, what the conversations are on the golf course today?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Christi. We imagine that Shinzo Abe and President Trump have plenty to discuss, including upcoming bilateral trade talks between Japan and the United States. And of course, security a big concern for that part of the world with the ongoing effort by the United States to denuclearize North Korea.

As you said, the president and Shinzo Abe hitting the links this morning. It's unclear if we'll hear from either of them as they make their way to Trump National Golf Course or on the way back. We should point out, though, the president's mind not just on golf field, we should say, this morning. He's also paying attention to football. The president tweeting out to one of his big supporters on the gridiron, Nick Bosa, who was just drafted second overall in the NFL draft by the San Francisco 49ers. Bosa a big supporter of President Trump, somebody who previously got in trouble for some of his social media activity, specifically tweets that were deemed insensitive, tweets critical of Colin Kaepernick who we know the president is no fan of.

Let's pull up that tweet again from President Trump. He writes to Bosa, quote, "Congratulations to Nick Bosa on being picked number two in the NFL draft. You will be a great player for years to come, maybe one of the best, big talent. San Francisco will embrace you. But most importantly, always stay true to yourself, Make America Great Again!"

We have yet to hear a response from Bosa to this tweet. But it's important to note that Bosa actually deleted many of those tweets that he had sent out, apologizing for them, telling reporters that if anyone was offended by what he had to say, he is sorry. And President Trump, we should point out, is headed to Green Bay, Wisconsin, tonight, where he's holding a rally. He's trying to counterprogram White House Correspondents' dinner being held tonight in D.C., Victor and Christi.

PAUL: Good point, Boris Sanchez, thank you so much, good to see you.

BLACKWELL: President Trump is reigniting a conversation around that white nationalist protest in Charlottesville that left one woman dead nearly two years ago. It was a direct reaction to former Vice President Joe Biden's 2020 campaign launch video how he talked about the violence and how the president dealt with it.

The former vice president's campaign brought in $6.3 million in the first 24 hours, smashing day one numbers of all his Democratic rivals. It leads to the question here, should President Trump be worried? Joining me to discuss is former South Regional Director for President Obama in 2012 Tharon Johnson, and former Assistant Chief of Staff for Communications for former Governor Nathan Deal in Georgia, Brian Robinson. Welcome back to both of you. Brian, let me start with you. Why is the president now going back to double down on very fine people? There is a bipartisan consensus, not everybody, but that was one of his lower moments of his presidency. Why double down on that?

BRIAN ROBINSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, he was asked about it. This is being brought up not by him, but by Joe Biden.

TRUMP: But this president knows how to ignore a question.

ROBINSON: He sure does. And I think what he did there was go on offense. He doubles down. That's what he does. He does not go on defense. He does not apologize. He does not go back and over-explain himself too much. He said what I said right and he moves on.

[10:30:00] And I think what he has done is basically allowed himself to move on in Monday when the new week starts and where not talking about this anymore. This is a blip. This is a two-year old story. So he didn't give a lot. I think he handled it appropriately, and politically I think he handled it right.

BLACKWELL: Control room, save this for when the president tweets about this later today or tomorrow, because he likely will do that. But it wasn't even factual. He said that he talked about the people who were coming there to support the statue of Robert E. Lee. Those demonstrators were saying you will not replace the statue of Robert E. Lee. They were saying "Jews will not replace us."

ROBINSON: The original purpose of that rally was -- I'm not getting into what was going on.


ROBINSON: No, he's not. No, he's not. This is not what he wants to be talking about. I think he was deflecting it and he wants to move on. Joe Biden wants this to be what Donald Trump talks about today, and President Trump is not going to take the bait. He said what he said.

And here's the important thing, Victor. This is all politics at this juncture. We are in cycle. Is anybody who is going to vote for Donald Trump or did vote for Donald Trump going to change their vote based on something he said in August of 2017?

BLACKWELL: And that's what I want to bring to you, because is this potent enough for Biden, Vice President Biden, to launch his campaign on Charlottesville of 2017. THARON JOHNSON, FORMER SOUTHERN REGIONAL DIRECTOR, OBAMA 2012:

Absolutely, because what Vice President Biden did, Victor, is he went right into the heart of the divide in this country. If you support Donald Trump and you support, which Brian sort of supported his comments but he's not supporting the Nazi protests, the white supremacists who went to Charlottesville on this campus to basically cause chaos. And so he's one of the people who actually, while Trump supported as president, but he can't support the president's acts. And so for Vice President Biden to actually come out and do this, he is now having a conversation about race, about white supremacy, and really where his president really truly stands. And by and large, Victor, is going on in a key battleground state in Virginia, which is a state that has had its own controversy recently, but is something --

ROBINSON: With Democrats.

JOHNSON: -- that Vice President Biden is not going to be able to not exploit now, but he's going to push this president to really talk about his behavior.

BLACKWELL: Those people who, by and large, do not approve of the president's character didn't approve of it in 2016, and he still won. Let me ask you this question, though.


BLACKWELL: We just learned this week that the first quarter, the economy grew by 3.2 percent, more than most economists expected. Does the character argument work when jobless numbers are down, the economy is growing? What's the economic argument that Democrats will be able to make?

JOHNSON: It's really simple. One of the things that you've got to also do, Victor, is talk about how wage inequality is at an all-time high in this country. If you compare where the economy is right now compared to where it was in the 1990s, you have people out here right now, you have this gap where people can't get better jobs. And so wages are still low.

And more importantly, I think that you can talk about growing the economy with small businesses. As a small business owner, let me tell you, we got hit. Brian won't admit this on national division, but the tax cuts that President Trump has put in place has only benefited a lot of his billionaire and million friends. Small business and people with wage equality issues, that is at an all-time high in this country. I think Democrats are going to able to talk about that.

And lastly --

BLACKWELL: Quickly, because I need Brian to --

JOHNSON: The other thing is let's not forget that President Trump is doing a good job to try to grow the economy which he inherited from President Barack Obama.

BLACKWELL: OK, Brian, go ahead. ROBINSON: Let's clip that.


JOHNSON: -- growing it which he inherited from President Obama because that's the one part --

ROBINSON: Democrats have said that the president's anti-regulation, his regulatory rollbacks, that his tax cuts, that this trade pact renegotiations weren't going to work, and they have. President Obama said we would never see three percent growth again, and we have. Everything that President Trump said he was going to do he has accomplished.

And as far as the re-elect goes, the Democrats want to make it about character. They want to make it about his tweets. They tried to do that in 2016. And the question is going to be, in Wisconsin and Michigan, Pennsylvania, Georgia, North Carolina, and Texas, is life better, are your wages higher than they were in 2016? And the answer is going to, yes. Economists are saying it, everybody but Joe Biden and the other 30,000 Democrats running for people are saying.

BLACKWELL: Character matters, of course, because if it was just on the economy, the president's numbers among African-Americans would be out of single digits, right?

ROBINSON: There's a large partisan skew there. More than 90 percent of African-Americans are Democrats. So of course --

BLACKWELL: So it would be about 10.

ROBINSON: And we have a very partisan, polarized electorate right now.

JOHNSON: Your poll that you just put out shows that the majority of the American people believe that this president lied, he tried to obstruct the Mueller report. So it is going to be about character and it is going to be about his continuous lying.

ROBINSON: And they don't want him impeached.

BLACKWELL: Quick break. We're going to talk about more with Tharon and Brian, and we will be back in just a moment to get their thoughts on the age factor in 2020, and Vice President Biden's electability, and this question of, does the Democratic Party need a white male nominee to beat President Trump? We're back in a moment.


[10:39:34] BLACKWELL: Tharon Johnson, Brian Robinson are still with us. Tharon, let me start with you this block. We heard from some black female activists down in Houston this week and really frustrated with this narrative now that Joe Biden is in the race of the need for a white male to come in, save the party, and only a white male can defeat President Trump. Is that a problem surrounding the narrative around the vice president's candidacy? [10:40:00] JOHNSON: It's not a problem, but it's a conversation that

we've been having in the Democratic Party for a long time. And at a time where we just had President Obama be the last Democratic president of the United States OF America, it's a level of emotion that comes along in the conversation. But I back up this group and these African-American women who are basically making sure that we're holding all of these candidates accountable. Now, at the end of the day, I'm a Democrat, I want the best person who is going to represent the Democratic Party who can defeat Donald Trump. If that person happens to be an African-American, African-American male, a white male or white female, or Asian or Hispanic, it doesn't matter to me. But I do think that African-American female vote is so essentially not only in the primary but also during the general election as well.

BLACKWELL: So, Brian, the president is responding, going tit for tat with Joe Biden. Is he worried? Should he be?

ROBINSON: I think Joe Biden would be one of the stronger candidates in those rust belt states that we mentioned in the last block, Pennsylvania where he was born, Michigan, Wisconsin, because he can make an economic argument. And it's interesting that he came out of the blocks making a cultural identity politics argument, talking about Charlottesville, not talking about his vision for America, not talking about how the stock market doubled during the Barack Obama administration. He wasn't making an economic argument at all.

What he is doing is trying to win a primary. He's not trying to beat Donald Trump right now. But I do think that Trump is focused on him because he sees him as a legitimate competitor. And I think they would much rather have an Elizabeth Warren or a Bernie Sanders or a Kamala Harris. I think they're going to have an easier time drawing a stark contrast there than with Biden. And if Biden is in, Americans will be treated to one of the most hilarious presidential campaigns of all time.

BLACKWELL: Speaking of the laughs, here's the president just yesterday from the south lawn.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I am the youngest person. I am a young, vibrant man. I look at Joe, I don't know about him.


BLACKWELL: Vibrant, very stable genius who knows more about technology than anybody. What is the president doing here?

ROBINSON: Look, Victor, you take him literally all the time. If you take what he's saying as comedic, you would enjoy the presidency much more.

BLACKWELL: But this ain't the Catskills. This is the White House.

JOHNSON: Exactly. As he's boarding Air Force One, the helicopter to Air Force One.

ROBINSON: It was so great when Obama was a stand-up comic at the White House Correspondents' Dinner. That was great.

JOHNSON: He was a young and vibrant man.

ROBINSON: It was fine for him to be funny. Trump is a funny guy, just sit back and enjoy it. That kind of stuff, so much of what I see him attacked for on cable news is him being taken literally when he's saying stuff that his supporters know is utterly hilarious.

BLACKWELL: Let me get Tharon in here. Bernie Sanders would be 79- years-old on Inauguration Day. Joe Biden would be 78. Elizabeth Warren would be 71. They'd all qualify to be the oldest president ever. Too old?

JOHNSON: No, because I think one thing that the election President Donald Trump showed us is that you can be his age or older and be an effective president for the American people to at least elect you. But what this is all about is the ability to lead this country. And I do think that this campaign is going to be about whether or not this president is fit and whether he's competent enough to lead this country. So age doesn't necessarily matter. It's are you prepared on day one to make sure you protect the homeland, protect Americans, to lead this country in the right direction.

BLACKWELL: Brian Robinson, Tharon Johnson, thank you both.

ROBINSON: Have a good morning.

BLACKWELL: All right.

PAUL: Well, he played at Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's wedding. Will he play at the baby Christening? We're going ask one very special cellist.


PAUL: So, 45 minutes past the hour, and oh, my goodness, British tabloids are up in arms that the duke and duchess of Sussex have indicated they will not step outside for a photo-shoot shortly after their baby is born. Royal watchers around the world are waiting for the birth of this baby, which can be really any day at this moment.

I want to introduce you to cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason. Kanneh.


PAUL: Kanneh. I got it.


PAUL: He played at Meghan and Harry's wedding, and when we heard that he was in Atlanta, we just had to say, oh, come in, we want to talk about this. So glad to have you with us. I want to remind people how beautifully you play as well, especially at that moment. Let's look at this performance at the wedding.




PAUL: What a moment that must have been. Did you absorb the gravity of it, I think, when you were in it?

KANNEH-MASON: Well, as I was playing, I was just thinking about what I'm playing. Of course, it's impossible to not be aware of your surroundings, so that added to a level of excitement as well.

PAUL: I understand she called you personally?

KANNEH-MASON: Yes, that's right. And of course I was very honored to be asked to play it.

PAUL: Is it true that somebody called you and said, listen, she's going -- Meghan Markle is going to call you so don't not answer the phone because it was a number that you weren't going to recognize, did that happen or no?

KANNEH-MASON: No, I was expecting the phone call, so yes.

PAUL: You were. Goodness. So I think a lot of people are looking at you and thinking, I know you've played several things for the royals. When is the baby arriving, and will you be playing the Christening?


KANNEH-MASON: I have no idea, no more than anyone. So I won't be playing it --

PAUL: At the Christening, at least not that you know of?

KANNEH-MASON: Not I know of, yes.

PAUL: What is this couple like?

KANNEH-MASON: I was very -- it was such an enjoyable experience, and I felt very welcome performing at their wedding. I met them shortly before to talk about what I would play. And really lovely people. And just really genuine.

PAUL: I would think this is life-changing for you. Is it?

[10:50:00] KANNEH-MASON: Yes, in many ways. And I think one of my biggest aims is to bring music to as many people as I can. And definitely perform at a wedding --

PAUL: You're reaching out to children and trying to make sure they have a musical experience as well. Tell me about that.

KANNEH-MASON: Definitely, because I feel lucky that I had amazing music teaching since I was very, very young. And I was exposed to classical music at a very young age. And I would love for every child to have that experience because I know the benefits of having that.

PAUL: Why don't you play a little bit here before we go to break. Sheku, it's so good to have you here.

KANNEH-MASON: Thank you very much.

PAUL: Absolutely. A little bit of Zen for you on Saturday morning here.


PAUL: Well, our 2014 CNN Hero Dr. Wendy Ross spent years working to make the daily experiencing of people with autism more inclusive. She is expanding her mission now, training fellow physicians and staff at Jefferson Health in Philadelphia and finding these ways to ensure that all patients receive the medical care they need and deserve.



Patients coming in on the spectrum may have a more difficult time communicating. And without doctors that can understand how to interact with them, they're not going to get appropriate health care. Some of the accommodations that our program provides are noise- cancelling headphones, things like fidgets to help reduce their anxiety. We are really providing autism friendly health care.


PAUL: To learn more about Wendy's groundbreaking new program, or nominate a CNN hero, go to right now.

And listen, before we go, we have to say thank you, a huge thank you to one of our directors, Troy Jordan. Troy, we gotcha!


BLACKWELL: Today is Troy's last day with our show. He's been with CNN for 32 years.

PAUL: How old were you 32 years ago?

BLACKWELL: Let's just say I was starting out in the business 30 years ago.


PAUL: That man right there he is so good at what he does. We know that when he's back there, the only people that are going to make us look bad are us.

BLACKWELL: Yes, yes, and we've had plenty of opportunity to do it.


BLACKWELL: Troy, thank you so much, 32 years.

PAUL: We're going to miss you. We're going to miss you, Troy. Take good care.

And all of you, you go make some great memories today.

BLACKWELL: There's much more ahead in the next hours of CNN Newsroom. It starts after a quick break.