tv Anderson Cooper 360 CNN April 24, 2018 9:00pm-10:00pm PDT
come from your business number. them, not so much. we let you keep an eye on your business from anywhere. the others? nope! get internet on our gig-speed network and add voice and tv for $34.90 more per month. call or go on line today. good evening, we begin with breaking news on the president's pick to run the veterans affair. if the president only hires the best people why aren't they still on the job? why have so many left the administration? why are some facing so much difficulty getting confirmed? rear admiral ronny jackson met the president late today. the white house physician is facing allegations from whistle blowers of excessive drinking and improperly dispensing prescription drugs and a toxic
work environment, all being investigated by the republican controlled senate committee handling his nomination, which suspended hearings on it. and that's on top of long standing bipartisan concerns that rear admiral jackson has no experience running large organizations which the va certainly is. more than 300,000 employees working there. with all that, sources tell us he's not bowing out, not tonight at least, and the white house is defending him, releasing testimonials from president obama and george w. bush. we'll ask an administrator from the veterans affair, how does a president who champions extreme vetting on foreigners not even do basic vetting of people responsible for multibillion dollar agencies or the country's national security. how does what we've seen again and again over the last year and a half square with the prom the president made again and again during the campaign. >> we're going to make america great again. we're going to use our best people. i'm going to get the best people. we're going to deliver. we're going to get the best people in the world.
we don't want people who are b-level, c-level, d-level. we have to get our absolute best. we're going to use the smartest and best. it's a sophisticated chess match. but i have the best people lined up. you need people that are truly, truly capable. we have to get the best people. >> we have to get the best people. statements don't come more plain than that. yet this president has failed to live up to the pledge. in fact, when you look back on the last year and a half, a pattern emerges of the president making personal -- bad personnel choices and paying the price for it. and by bad we're not talking about policy or even political choices. that's what elections are for. by bad we mean undisclosed conflicts of interests bad. tom price, for example, the best people. alleged corruption bad. scott pruitt. poor judgment bad. secretary treasury steve
mnuchin, bragging about debt soouner brands ms. mnuchin was wearing. the best people. accused spousal abuse bad. fired white house secretary rob porter. critics say the administration has taken most of it on himself. take dr. jackson. the president all but showed h imthe door. >> what does he need it for? to be abused by a bunch of politicians that aren't thinking nicely about our country? i really don't think personally he should do it but it's totally his decision. >> the president said he wasn't aware of the allegations. the question is why? how did he get the job? the president was impressed by his press conference, the one where he talked about just how incredibly healthy the president
is. >> he has a lot of energy, a lot of stamina, hands down. he's in the excellent range from a cardiac standpoint. his overall health is exexcellent. his heart exam, like i said, was in the excellent category for his age and sex. i think he will remain fit for duty for the remainder of this term and even the remainder of another term if he's elected. >> how does a guy who eat mcdonald's and all those diet cokes and never exercises is in as good a shape as you say he's in. >> it's called genetics. i don't know. some people have just great genes. the answer to you question is he's got great genes. it's the way that god made him. >> dr. sanya gupta said he described symptoms of heart disease while calling him excellent from a cardiac stand point. so he said medically questionable things. he certainly said flattering things and looked good on tv which counts a lot for the president.
the president chose scott pruitt who has been making headlines for corruption. some of which dates back to before his appointment. the supposedly best people have been hired and fired at a brutal clip. rarely has the phrase serving as the pleasure of the president been taken quite so literally. and rarely or never have hiring decisions come with so seemingly little preparation. dr. jackson met on the hill with bipartisan slate of senators. joining us now is one of them. senator, thanks so much for being with us. >> great to be with you. thank you. >> there are a number of allegations and a lot of information that i know you're able to share with us for the first time. i understand there are three major allegations. i want to go through them one by one. first of all, the allegation that he improperly dispensed description drugs. do you know what drugs were dispensed?
>> they're drugs that are meant to put people to sleep and wake them back up. they're controlled substances. the word is he would go down the aisle way of the airplane and say who wants to go to sleep. >> like an am bbien? >> exactly right. and them wake them up again. >> the wake-up drug, it's fushlly for narc lolepsy and wos on dopamine. >> yes. that's what we got from the 20 some people who called us. this doctor has a problem. he hands out prescriptions like candy. in fact, in the white house they call him the candyman. >> ambien is one of the drugs? >> it's a drug, it's a prescription drug and i can get you the name. >> your staff told us. >> those are the ones.
>> and i understand he had a nickname in the white house? >> yeah. it was the candyman because he handed out prescription drugs like they were candy. >> the white house doctor is nicknamed among some people in the white house as candyman? >> that's correct. is that's what we were told. >> that's not a nickname you want in a doctor. >> oif you consider the prescription drugs we have a problem with in this country right now, it's not the example we need to have set. >> the second allegation is that dr. jackson was repeatedly drunk on duty while overseas with the president . >> it was the previous administration. the obama administration. and the truth is that the -- admiral jackson was the primary health care provider for the president. and if you're drunk and something happens with the president, it's very difficult to g in and treat the president on what needs to be done. this is totally unacceptable fwh th -- under this environment. that's what multiple people told
us was the case. >> was it social occasions? >> i believe they were social. there were comments about him being in the hotel room and couldn't respond because he had been drinking so much. >> he couldn't actually respond to requests being made of him. >> that's right. >> someone else had to fill in? >> that's correct. >> was the secret service aware of this? >> i believe the secret service was aware of it, but we haven't talked to any secret service agents. >> and just to be clear -- >> the folks we talked to, by the way, are active military and retired military. completely. they were not civilians off the street that were working in the white house. these were military folks that worked in the white house medical field. >> so these are people actually who worked in the office -- >> active duty and retired. >> in the medical office in the white house. and you talked to as many as 20 people? >> that's correct. >> so these allegations come from, i assume not 20, but multiple -- >> multiple sources, that's correct.
>> the other allegation -- the third allegation, creating a toxic work environment, also allegations of harassment. what is being alleged there? >> and this was people who were below him, not people above him. we were told time and time again, the people above him he treated like gold. people below him, he belittled, skreeled at them. created a toxic environment to the point where the people who worked around him felt like they had to walk on egg shells because of -- because of his lack of respect for their job. >> allegations of sexual harassment, correct? >> none that i know of. >> do you know what sort of -- the allegations of harassment, do you know what that entails? >> a toxic work environment that included screaming, belittling, talking down to employees. and quite frankly, as the secretary of the va, you're the
top of the food chain. the second largest of the government. if you start treating your people -- we've got a problem with morale right now in the va. if you start treating the management around you bad, it's going to compound the problem. the veterans of the country deserve better than that. our vetting is not through yet. we still have more information to gather. if this turns out to be solidly facemask yut you'll, then kwo we' got a big, big problem with admiral request jackson. >> do you have doubts it's solidly factual? >> not yet. people are telling the same story from different views. >> you're saying -- from what your sources were saying, there are times he was not able to function in his job. >> that's correct. and there were other times that he was inebriated and wasn't called upon to do his job because there was nothing wrong with the president. >> were there times where he was inebriated and doing his job?
>> not that i'm aware of. >> i understand you got a call from chief of staff john kelly about these allegations? >> we had a good conversation yesterday. chief kelly thought that these allegations could be made up and the truth is that he was concerned about them not going through the chain of demand. i believe these people did go through the chain of command and quite frankly didn't get the results. and when the nomination came up, they came to us. we're following the chains out there to see if we can get to the bottom of what transpired over the career of admiral jackson. and like i said, why is this is important is because this is the secretary of the second largest agency in the federal government. this job is to take care of our veterans. it's a very, very important job. and the va, by everybody's assessment, needs some work. and if you have a person in that position that has issues that you're talking about in your opening, plus the additional
issues about his management style, with eeve got some huge problems. >> if you have trouble managing a office as small as the medical office in the white house, exponentially larger in the v.a., hundreds of thousands of people. >> it becomes a huge problem. we have to get the best person we possibly can in the va to take care of our veterans. it's an obligation that we make to the people who sign up and serve in this military. and so that's why getting to the bottom of these accusations is critically important. and there should be no -- there should be no stone unturned. >> so was he vetted by the white house before the president made this decision? >> that is a really good question, anderson. it doesn't appear that he was. >> it's one thing to be vetted as the medical officer. it's another to be vetted to take on this management responsibility. >> you're exactly right. secretaries have a higher level of perfection. >> will the committee reschedule jackson's hearing?
>> it's up to the chairman. i visited with johnnie this morning and we decided to postpone the hearing that was supposed to be tomorrow. it is up to the chairman to reschedule that hearing. what i anticipate johnnie is going to do is over the next week and we're out, we're back in the states over this next week, it will allow us and our staffs to do some more additional bipartisan work in getting to the bottom of this. and then if it looks like it's possible to reschedule it, it will happen. if it doesn't, it won't. >> some of the people still currently work in the white house medical unit. do they fear retribution? >> yes. absolutely nap's one of the big, big problems. that's one ofrt problems we have coming out. if admiral jackson does not get confirmed and goes back to his old job and some of these people work with him, they're afraid if their name comes out, there will be retribution against them. >> he would be able to stay in his current job even with these allegations? >> that is a call i believe the president would have to make. but we went a setter off today
to the white house on a number of issue, reports that are out there, e-mails out there to try to be able to get to the bottom of this. inspector general reports to get to the bottom and find out what has transpired over the last several years. >> and just to be clear, you talked about these allegations being in the obama administration in the terms of the drunkenness. do some of these allegations go as far back as the george w. bushed a m ed administration? >> i don't believe so. >> is any of this in the fast year? >> not that we've reported. >> i guess after reviewing all of this, do you think dr. jackson should withdraw? >> well look, i think that -- my is goal here is to give folks a fair shake. and when we get reports of wrongdoing, it's our jobs as senators to make sure we get to the bottom of it. and that's what we're doing right now. i can tell you the information we've got on admiral jackson is
not good. i told chief of staff kelly yesterday that if we had that hearing tomorrow on wednesday that there would be questions asked that would be very, very uncomfortable and that he would be under oath. and so i think it would be wise for the admiral to do some self-assessment and ask himself if this is out there, if this stuff is true, it's certainly not going to happen for him. >> going back tot medication, him going down the aisle of the plane dispensing it, i mean, ambien is obviously widely used. from my research on this, basically, you really need a doctor to know who you are to know what your history is, to know what other medication you're taking to know why you actually -- do you actually need this. traditionally, i think it was for night shift workers. but you're supposed to go through rigorous examination with a physician before being
prescribed something like this. >> i'm not an md, but they're called prescription drugs and controlled substances for a reason. you need to have somebody prescribe them to you and you don't just give them out because you say hey, i think that's a good idea. i would like to have one of those. consequently, if that happened, i think it's a very, very serious offense for a medical doctor. >> we're told that the white house is sort of martialing testimonials from george w. bush and president obama. if president obama comes forward and says look, he was a good medical doctor as far as i knew, does that weaken the allegations in your mind that you have heard? >> i think once we get through the vetting process and talk to the folks that are out there. we're getting new calls every day. >> not only me, both sides of the aisle. then we'll have a pretty good idea. the truth of the matter is that i don't think president obama was aware of this stuff or he wouldn't have tolerated it if it's true.
>> i appreciate your time. we're waiting to hear from president trump and french president macron at the white house. we'll bring them to you live. also the michael cohen question -- will the question pardon his personal attorney? we should point out he's yet to be charged with anything. and later, keeping them honest. shattering the president's claim he never spent the night in the moscow. the steeles dossier said so. if he did, why did he lie about it to james comey? which is why you didn't grab just any cheese. you picked up kraft mozzarella with a touch of philadelphia for lasanyeah! kraft. family greatly. feel the clarity of non-drowsy claritin, with powerful 24-hour relief from symptoms triggered by over 200 different allergens.
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♪i'm gonna follow the sun transitions™ light under control™ the president and first lady are hosting the french first family at an earlier event with president macron, president trump snapped at a reporter when asked about his person attorney michael cohen. >> thank you very much. >> are you considering a pardon for michael cohen? >> stupid question. >> the president lashed out a reporter who wrote that michael cohen could flip. he woet new york times and a third-rate reporter named maggie haberman that i don't talk to and have nothing to do with say michael cohen is going to flip.
>> the way the president reresponded to jonathan carl, to you is it a sign that this has really zsh i mean, that this is still really bothering him. yes. and i think it's one of many signs this is bothering him. however many tweets it was, tweet storm over the weekend was part of it. he frustrated by questions like this. in fairness to him it's a hard question to answer, considering michael cohen has not been charged with anything yet. but i do think he hates these questions and this topic. i think it gets to a danger spot for him that he doesn't want to touch. >> he clearly hated the article that you wrote as well. i know you don't like being part of the story, but he obviously, you know, subjected you to his criticism saying basically he doesn't know you or never spends time with you, which is obviously not the case. but the -- do you think his reaction to that article is because -- i mean, as i read that artle kl, i thought the details were pretty devastating of the account based on multiple
sources of how he has treated michael cohen, both in public and in private for years and years and years. >> i think one of the things we know about this president is nothing is ever his fault. so for instance, you know, when he make answer appointment of somebody for a cabinet position and that person hasn't been vetted, it everybody else's fault for looking at them, it's not his fault with being impulsi impulsive. it's not the president's fault he has treated somebody pretty abusive and could end up -- again, may not, was could be -- a factor in a decision going forward if there's pressure from prosecutors to cooperate. i think that anything related to the michael cohen issue in general touches a nerve for him. and i think that it was very hard for him to read that it is possible that michael cohen could flip and that it is possible that he could have helped do something to make that happen. anticipate to be clear, people don't flip unless there is something to flip on. this isn't just being pressured by prosecutors. does he not know how he has
treated michael cohen? or is he not aware of how he treats people? >> i think it's more the latter. i don't think it's -- i mean, michael cohen i think has come in for pretty specific abuse in the sense of what michael cohen has always sought is sort of an atta boy from the boss. one person i spoke to said to me, when i said the president has been abusive to michael cohen over many years, the person said he's abusive to everybody. and there is some truth to that. it's not in equal parts or equal measure to everyone, but almost everybody comes in for something at some point. >> in to your reporting, did you get any sense of why michael cohen continues to seek the approval and the -- i don't know if it's the love or respect of somebody who has clearly dmon straably treated him poorly over years and years? >> i think donald trump has a history of getting piano em to seek his approval. i don't think michael cohen is the only person who's again this that role before. i also think they had a pretty
symbiotic relationship. i do think the president does have -- and we said this in the story we wrote. he does have genuine affection for michael cohen. my understanding is that he went to michael cohen's children's bar and bat mitzvahs. i think he's good at getting people to crave his approval and meting it out in small doses. >> what do you make of what the president said about you, about your lack of access. i mean -- -- >> first of all, it comes back to -- it's strange, we don't need permission to cover the president. but in his mind, he thinks that's how it works. so he thinks he's conveying something to his supporters. you read my stories, you've read whether they come true or don't
come true and i think that have sneaks for itself. >> maggie haberman, thanks. >> thank you. tomorrow, james comey town hall. the fbi director answering questions from me and the audience tomorrow 58le p.m. eastern right here on cnn. there's even more breaking news tonight. as we said, the besieged epa administrator scott pruitt is hanging on to his job by what may be a slender thread. imagine traveling hassle-free with your golf clubs.
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>> what have you learned about ronny jackson? >> i think it's interesting to note this. we're definitely geing a defiant tone out of this white house this evening when it comes to ronny jackson, president trump's embattled pick for the va. we're hearing at that at this point, his hearing was postponed as we were talk about with senator tester a moments ago. but a white house official told us a short while ago the white house does does plan to request that his hearing be rescheduled. that's an indication as dr. jackson hag saying earlier today that he plans to fight on. he plans to fight against these allegations, clear his name, and get confirmed. of course, wie'll see if that happens. >> you have new information from your sources about the epa hearing later this week?
>> that's right. keep in mind, the ethical questions swirling around scott pruitt i think for a lot of americans they rise to a different level than the allegations facing dr. jackson, at least what we know of at this point. one thing i can tell you is that scott pruitt has hearings coming up on thursday in the house. he's expected to be hosted on a whole grill of ethical questions, staying in the lobbiest condo, travel expenses and so on. i spoke to an official who said they offered to assist scott pruitt to prepare for these hearing and he declined. he refused any assistance from the white house. so the white house feels he's ready to answer policy questions but not ethical questions. >> does the president still have confidence in pruitt? >> at this point he does have confidence in pruitt, according to our sources. but that basically hinges on pruitt's ability to advance the
president's agenda on these ideological issues that they care about here at the white house. they like that scott pruitt has taken an ax to environmental policies all over the country. they want to see that continue. but at the same time, these ethical clouds hanging over the epa administrator, they are becoming a major distraction in the view of a lot of people over here at the white house. some people inside the white house will concerned that the president is sticking with pruitt too long. and according to this senior official i spoke to earlier this evening, there's going to be a lot of people over at the white house watching how pruitt performs at the end of this week. we're all talking about dr. ronny jackson all day long today. what is looming over this white house and the epa is whether or not scott pruitt can survive. and there are serious questions over here at the white house. perhaps not the president, but people working just under him as whether he can.
>> friends that scott pruitt brought with him frdon't have stellar records. >> this man is a former baker, having been banned from the fdic from banking for life. but that didn't stop scott pruitt from putting him in charge of the task force reforming the epa superfund's clean-up program, which is supposed to address the most toxic and harmful sites across the country. >> at spirit bank we're proud of 95er yaos of service to our customers. >> reporter: back in 2003, kelically was the owner of spirit bank in oklahoma, financing pruitt's multiple homes and part ownership of a minor league baseball team. at the time, pruitt was making just over $38,000 a year as a state lawmaker. but kelly approved him for a $2 million loan to buy a percentage of the team, baffling many. another senior epa adviser ken wagner is one of the pruitt's buddies from law school. and they've been intertwined in
business for decades. wagner hired pruitt to work in his law firm in the early 2000 pz anticipa. wagner worked closely with albert kelly, buying his own share of the baseball team. the epa tells cnn that the finances of the team were approved by major league baseball and met banking standards. they are dedicated employees who have earned the admiration of epa career employees across the country. but questions about pruitt's past are drawing criticism, even from republicans on the hill, i colluding his mentor from oklahoma senator jim inhofe. >> there's a the lot of serious allegations against him that i would want to check out. >> and the support inside the white house seems to wane, too. >> we're continuing to review a
number of the reports you mentioned. >> meanwhile, two more top advisers who came with pruitt in oklahoma are embroiled in one of pruitt's latest controversies. they received a combined $84,000 in raises through a loophole in the epa clean water act. pruitt says he later rescinded them. >> in terms of ethical or legal wrongdoing, where do things stan with pruitt. >> to be clear, when you're talking about hiring friends and former business partners, that's not necessarily uncommon in politics. except that in this case, it comes after weeks of allegations after ethical lapses and they're just piling up on scott pruitt. so there's an added scrutiny on past business dealings and on his relationships. that said, we did see today at least two public letters to the epa inspector general calling for an investigation into the hirings of those two men, kelly and wagner.
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soured on pruitt and doesn't appear to. ehe's carrying out the president's agenda, obviously. ambassador, beyond scott pruitt's -- beyond -- i'm sure your criticism of his environmental policy, do you think he can still serve as the head of the epa with all the other stuff? >> i think he's been fatally bounded by the ethics scandal, the $43,000 isolation booth that the gao has found violated law. the luxury lobbiest family condo for $50 a night. but you only had to pay for the nights he used it. the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent without need on luxury travel. first class travel, military air, and on the security details, which epa memos say are unpounded. and worst of all, anderson,
retaliation against whistle blowers. five whistleblowers have alleged retaliation. and these are not deep state liberals. some of them are trump campaign people who wept to epa. they make senator santorum look like bernie sanders. these are on conservatives who obje objected. no, i do not think he can survive this mess. >> he is obviously executing the president's agenda temperature do you think he can survive. >> he's been one of the best cabinet secretaries that the president has in following through on what the president promised in his election. if you look at this as being compared to pom price because of the similarity in travel, but the difference between tom price and scott pruitt is tom price wasn't able to carry out and deliver on health care and the things of the president. scott pruitt is doing a great job and doing it -- the left doesn't like what he's doing. but he's doing it in a very
effective way and very measured way. he's not an anti-environmentalist. he's doing more to clean up superfund sites. he's not just getting rid of a lot of the bad obama policies. but he's actually moving forward and improving the environment. >> does -- these ethical questions, does that cast a shadow over -- >> well, obviously it does. when you have members like jim inhofe and jim langford from his home state saying we've got to look at this. i don't think the characterization is that people are questioning him. but what they're basically saying is we need to look at this. you're hitting us with all this stuff. we have to give him his day in court to be able to answer these questions, as well as for us to be able to do our research. i don't think that's people backing away from him. i think any rational politician is not going to run and say we don't care what anybody says about him. they're going to look at the accusations, they're going to find out the truth and we'll see. if it is as heinous as norm suggests and these are outlandish and outrageous things
that he's done. i can tell you, at least some of them don't sound outrageous to me. every elected official has a travel budget. and, you know, the travel budget of the secretary of epa pales in comparison to a weekend at mar-a-lago. the entire year budget pales in comparison to the president taking a trip to mar-a-lago. the idea that a few thousand dollars here and there are going to be the end of the secretary of the epa, i don't think it. >> it's more than a few thousand dollars. >> hundreds of thousands of dollars. and there's no need for him to take first-class travel or military air. he's being invested by the inspector general. and the worst part is the retaliation, alleged, against these people. i think that the allegations piling up. and now we're hearing about similar allegations, they're
just allegations from back in oklahoma. and when you have a senator inhofe, he's a good and honorable man. as it happens, he was a big supporter of mine when i was going through confirmation. but when you have senator inhofe saying there are serious questions that need to be looked at, senator langford. the white house is investigating him. there are ten investigations into the man. he's turned the epa into an ethics superfund site. >> on the travel budget, let's just be very clear. he has a budget. is he over his budget? no. he's pend issing money within his budget. you may say i don't like the way he's spending his money, but he's not overbudget. he's not wasting taxpayer dollars. you can say, well, he has these extra security details. this guy is getting more threats than probably any official in the administration, maybe other than the president and probably has some legitimate security concerns. >> but people inside the epa, rick, say that this travel
spending is not necessary. it's under ig investigation, and there are memos inside the epa that say the threats don't merit the extra security. gao found that he broke the law. why does he need a $43,000 isolation phone booth in his office, anderson? no prior epa administrator has had anything like this. but the worst part, and i know you would haven't stood for it when you were a senator, the alleged retaliation against these five whistleblowers including trump campaign aides who tried to say don't do this. >> senator, what do you make of the -- there's news that pruitt refused white house assistance to prepare for hearings in the white house this week. does that trouble you? a white house official has said the president appears to support pruitt, but that the performance by pruitt this week during the hearings could change that. >> that's a calculation on his part. i suspect he feels like the team he has around him will sufficiently prepare him for the
questions. i don't think he's going in there not anticipating he's going to be asked every single question we've talked about and more at these hearings. and i suspect he feels like he has a good team to prepare him for it. >> he sat down for a fox news interview that did not go so well. >> i suspect if that happens again, that's not going to go well for him staying in that position. >> ahead, we'll take you to the white house 'as we wait to hear from president trump and his guest the president of france. t? is it to carry cargo... or to carry on a legacy? its show of strength... or its sign of intelligence? in crossing harsh terrain... or breaking new ground? this is the mercedes-benz suv family. greatness comes in many forms. lease the gla250 for $349 a month at your local mercedes-benz dealer. mercedes-benz. the best or nothing. ♪ ♪
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even migraines. if we can use patients' genes to predict heart disease in their families, imagine what we can do for the conditions that affect us all. imagine what we can do for you. we are expecting to hear shortly from president trump and french president emmanuel macron. they are sharing a state dinner at the white house. jeff and kate have the toughest job on television tonight. they join us from the white house, jeff does. kate, what do we know about the guest list? >> so the guest list is much smaller than it has been for recent state dinners. we didn't see a lot of democrats on this list and didn't see a lot of french on this list and didn't see a lot of the president's cabinet on the list. we saw secretaries that are
cabinet members that are in trump's good graces. zinke, pruitt, ben carson, they were not in attendance. certainly not a lot of democrats if any and most of the folks there were trump supporters with a lot of new york crowds. tim cook of apple was there. the head of louis vuitton was there. all in all, a much smaller crowd than past state dinners. actually, jeff, both presidents talked a lot about foreign policy earlier today. it's interesting to see former secretary of state henry kissinger in attendance. >> that was interesting. he was walking in and was certainly one of the more experienced members of the crowd. certainly probably has been to more state dinners than anyone else here in attendance this evening. certainly it was a day of handshakes. we've seen this relationship between the two presidents really unfold before our eyes here. in their previous meeting, i was
president macron, brigitte, melania and i are profoundly honored to host you and your entire french delegation for our first official state dinner. [ speaking in french ] >> and to america's absolutely incredible first lady, thank you for making this an evening to always cherish and remember. thank you, melania. [ applause ] [ speaking in french ] >> tonight we celebrate nearly two and a half centuries of friendship between the united
states and france. yesterday we had a wonderful visit to mt. vernon, a place that is truly special in the history of this very remarkable friendship. [ speaking in french ] >> it was there that general george washington met with general roshembach to finalize plans for victory at yorktown. many, many victories. it was there that he returned to visit his adoptive father, george washington. lafayette named his only son after washington as a tribute to respect and love for his dear friend. [ speaking in french ]
>> and there at mt. vernon, hanging on the wall for all to see is the key to the bastille, a gift from lafayette to washington. this tool of imprisonment had become a symbol of liberty, the desire for freedom that burns brightly in the heart of every french and american patriot. [ speaking in french ] >> this is the divine flame which victor hugo wrote, that
evil can never wholly extinguish. [ speaking in french ] >> this is the flame that spurred american soldiers to join the french on the battlefields of world war i. this is the flame of french resistance of which charles de gaulle rallied his country in 1940. more than a million frenchmen took up arms to defeat fascism in world war ii, and this is the conviction that unites the french and americans all as we work together every day to build a future that is more just, prosperous and free. [ speaking in french ]
>> the veins that link our nations are forged in battle, strengthened through trial and defined by the timeless principles that make us who and what we are. respect for life, love for our neighbors, pride in our traditions, defense of our heritage and reverence for the rights bestowed on us through grace and the glory of god. [ speaking in french ]
>> so tonight i ask that we raise our glasses as i offer this toast to president macron and brigitte, to the french delegation, and to every proud citizen of france. may our friendship grow even deeper, may our kinship grow even stronger, and may our sacred liberty never die. god bless you, god bless france, god bless our alliance, and god bless america. thank you. [ speaking in french ]
>> mr. president, donald, madame first lady, dear melania, and dear friends. it is an honor for brigitte and myself to be here with our friends you were so kind to invite. >> we'll go back to jeff zeleny and kate bennett. jeff, this is -- why is this the first state dinner? is it traditional that it's taken so long to have one? >> it's not, anderson. actually, this is a little longer than most state dinners. they're so -- it's no question, though, that the reason that france was picked for this was indeed because the trumps were invited last year to paris, to the bastille day parade, and they were treated to quite a show in paris. i remember it well. that's why the president decided to have france be the first state dinner here. and, anderson, i am struck so much by watching the president