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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Chelsea Clinton Announces Pregnancy; Bluefin-21 Has Made Four Dives; Soaring Cost In Search For Flight 370; Running Out Of Leads In Search?; At Least 25 Dead From Capsized Ferry

Aired April 17, 2014 - 16:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Some big political news now, guess who is having a baby. Let's go straight to CNN senior political correspondent, Brianna Keilar. Brianna, someone is expecting. Who is it?

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It is Chelsea Clinton. We just learned that she was at an event with her mother, with the Clinton Foundation, they were talking about girls' issues and I'll tell you it got to the end of it, after a lot of girls were asking questions, kind of pertinent to glass ceilings, no ceilings was the theme of this. And she just said that she and her husband are expecting a baby this year. You know, Jake, she had said that this year was going to be the year of the baby, but we weren't sure if it was really happening and I think there were some speculation obviously about when, but confirmed now.

TAPPER: We have the sound. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CHELSEA CLINTON: I also want to thank all of you for being such an inspiration to us and to me in particular. Mark and I are very excited that we have our first child arriving later this year. And I certainly feel all the better, whether it's a girl or a boy, that he or she will grow up in a world of so many strong, young female leaders. Thank you for inspiring me and thank you for inspiring future generations, including the one that will be lucky enough to welcome into our family later this year.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: That's quite a pregnancy announcement.

KEILAR: Yes. So a quiet an announced and also that it was kept. I think as we said, a lot of speculation, but there were certainly, no, I think, rumors that were very clear that she was pregnant. So this is something that she did keep under wraps. She had sort of set up the expectation, but I also think it was something that came very much as a surprise. As you know, Jake, one of the big questions about Hillary Clinton, is she running for president in 2016, one of the reasons we heard she might not, maybe she wants to spend more time as a grandmother if she is a grandmother at this point. We know she will be come 2016 but also talking to a lot of sources. They think this might actually be all the more reason to run. They don't think this is something that would stop her from throwing her hat in the ring.

TAPPER: All right, big news, Chelsea Clinton and her husband, Mark Misvinski --

KEILAR: Congrats to them. Big deal.

TAPPER: Congratulations to them. A baby sometime this year. Brianna Keilar, thank you so much.

Coming up next, all the latest developments on the search for Flight 370, did the Navy's underwater drone turn up anything today? And are Malaysian authorities offering families more false hope?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. In other world news, the Bluefin-21, the underwater drone that has been scouring the sea floor for wreckage has now made four dives. Has it brought any clues to the surface? CNN's justice correspondent, Pamela Brown joins me now with the latest. Pam, four dives? What has the Bluefin found, if anything?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, it has searched 46 square miles, Jake, and so far really nothing has turned up. As you mentioned, it's dived 15,000 feet down for this Bluefin and right now, experts are studying the sonar images and so far finding nothing, no signs of any plane debris at all. Search crews are already talking about the need to regroup and reconsider where to search next if they don't find anything in the next few days.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN (voice-over): Four days of searching under water and new sonar images of the ocean floor are crystal clear, but don't show any wreckage. The underwater robot, Bluefin-21, has been searching the area where the "Ocean Shield" detected pings believed to be from the black boxes. Officials now say if nothing turns up in the next few days, it may be time to switch gears. That's now under discussion among investigators.

HISHAMMUDDIN HUSSEIN, MALAYSIAN ACTING TRANSPORT MINISTER: If we don't find the wreckage, then we will regroup and reconsider. That has been our case from the start.

BROWN: Despite finding nothing so far, Malaysian officials say they are making some progress.

HUSSEIN: The visuals that we've managed to get from the Bluefin-21 that were very clear. Not in finding what we were looking for, but what the seabed looks like. That gives us a bit of relief. In the next few days, we're going to intensify the deep-water search. BROWN: Another potential lead has now fallen apart. The suspected oil slick the "Ocean Shield" found Sunday, test not show it is not from the missing plane.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think anger is my main motivator right now.

BROWN: Many families of the missing passengers now increasingly worried they are in for yet another heart breaking let-down.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They are only looking in one place and they are putting all of their eggs in one basket. They have laid everything they have on this one thing hoping that they hit a home run and what if they don't? How much time have we lost?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BROWN: So if investigators do not find any aircraft wreckage in the area that they are searching, it's a major setback, of course, but they are not back to square one. The next phase could be moving down by the arcs created by those satellite handshakes. The problem, of course, the larger the underwater search area, the longer it will take. So really just agonizing for those families, Jake.

TAPPER: It's horrible. Pamela Brown, thank you so much.

Turning now to our "Money Lead," today's search for Flight 370 involved up to 12 aircraft and 11 ships and not to mention the Bluefin-21 vehicle, that towed ping locator that wasn't used for than a week and the countless men and women involved, none of those things come for free. Today we're finally getting an idea of the price tag.

Our senior international correspondent, Nic Robertson joins us now from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Nick, this search has been going on for more than a month. How much do experts think it is going to cost?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A whopping quarter of a billion dollars if this search continues, if the aircraft isn't found in this sort of current search limited area. Tracking back down that satellite arc could be an area about 370 miles long by 30 miles wide. That to be done at essentially the walking speed of Bluefin-21. And some of the equipment is being used, subcontract and equipment. So you are not really asking militaries to do this for free. So this is the estimate by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. It could be approximately a quarter of a billion dollars if this search continues over the next few months.

TAPPER: OK. So we have that estimate of how much, $250 million, a quarter of a billion. Who is paying for it?

ROBERTSON: At the moment, that's the last thing on mind of the transport minister here. That's what he told journalists at a press conference today. He said that he doesn't have to worry about that. He's got a lot of things on his mind. Twenty six contributing nations he said at the early stages of the investigation and the search, and he says there are plenty more that have gotten money and are willing to put into the pot, if you will. This is what he said. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HUSSEIN: There are many countries out there and friends out there that have come to me quietly that said we cannot give you assets or information, we don't have the planes. We do have funds that may help us and help the people to search for it.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ROBERTSON: So while he appears confident that he will get the money, he's also recognized many times that this could be a search that takes a long time and keeps making references to that Air France search that took four years before the debris was finally brought from the ocean floor. So he is, at the moment, predicting that he can pay for it. Malaysia's pockets though alone would be very limited on this -- Jake.

TAPPER: Nic Robertson in Kuala Lumpur, thanks.

When we come back, with the U.S. Navy's underwater drone almost over, what is the next step? Is there one? Our expert panel will weigh the options coming up.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. More now on our "World Lead," with no sign of wreckage for Flight 370, the Australian prime minister telling the "Wall Street Journal" that this phase of the search may be over in a week. Are the searchers reaching the end of their leads?

Let's bring in our panel, David Soucie is a CNN safety analyst and author of "Why Planes Crash." Rob McCallum is a CNN analyst, an ocean search specialist. David, I want to start with you. We have more information on the Bluefin, that underwater drone. It had four dives, search to depths as deep as 4,700 meters about 15,000 feet. Bad news, they found nothing.

But there is some good news in that the search area for the Bluefin has been narrowed because of acoustic analysis from the four pings. I have to confess. I don't know whether to be discouraged by today's news or encourage at this point. What do you think?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, you know, it is discouraging that they didn't just go down and find the airplane, of course, you know, that's not the way these things work. There's a lot of search area. There is a lot yet to go and to give up on this idea, the strategy at this point is really not an option for anybody. But remember, this isn't the only information that they have. This is the strategy and the path that they've chosen to take and you finish out your strategy before you give up and go anywhere else. I'm encouraged with their stick-tuitiveness and staying with it.

TAPPER: Rob, the Australian prime minister said, quote, "We believe that search will be completed within a week or so and then he said they will need to regroup afterwards with one possibility being a search along a wide arc of sea that came from the partial digital handshake. It's 370 miles long, 30 miles wide. How long would a search of that area take?

ROB MCCALLUM, CNN ANALYST: It depends on what tools that you use, Jake. If it was done with the deep towed array, maybe you deploy two assets at the same time, it would take around 85 days and cost perhaps 10 percent of the figure that was mentioned before.

TAPPER: David, the Chinese families of the relatives have 26 -- of the victims, they have 26 questions that they want answered about the flights logbook and the recording and aircraft control. More than 40 days into this, should they be getting this kind of information at this point or is that information usually held off in an ongoing investigation?

SOUCIE: Well, it's not normally held off. At least in a U.S. investigation, we have the Family Assistance Act, which requires that briefings and updates are provided to the families. So a lot of that information should be available. It's not -- there's no International Civil Aviation Organization rule or law that says that it has to be. So it's still appears to me to be a very closed investigation. I don't know if that's because it's still criminal in nature or not, which under those they usually do withhold information for a long time.

TAPPER: Rob, I guess there is a question about whether or not the governments can keep heading up the search or whether it should be handed off to a private industry, which can maybe do it cheaper or maybe do it quicker. Oceanographer, David Gallo, has said that two of his organizations Remus 6000 that's what helped find the Air France wreckage could be flown to Perth. Do you there is going to come a point where the governments have to hand over the search to commercial or private groups?

MCCALLUM: I think it's always going to be a joint effort, to be honest. The people that are running the search, the most important thing about that is that it's a central entity, a central repository for any information that's coming in that can be verified, fact checked and then, you know, operational decisions made on top of that. In terms of assets in the field, I think it's inevitable that it will go out to civilian contractors because that's the cheapest and most efficient way to do it.

TAPPER: Rob, let me stay with you for a second. What about the cost of the search overall. We just heard from Nic Robertson in Malaysia tell us that it's estimated to be nearly $250 million. Does that figure sound about right to you?

MCCALLUM: No, I honestly can't fathom that at all. You know, I was involved with the Air France search. I know the total budget was around 50 million. This search is so far smaller than that in terms of operational deployments. We are not in that ballpark and as I said before, you know, to do a detailed sonar search across the area that's being discussed would cost less than 10 percent of the figure that was mentioned by the minister.

TAPPER: David, Inmarsat, which is that satellite communications company that helped track the plane earlier in the story, an executive from there told the "Wall Street Journal" that they planned to offer free basic tracking services to airlines. I guess, this is some good news. Could that solve another Flight 370 from happening the way that this story has played out?

SOUCIE: Well, it's important with any piece of the puzzle, the entire air traffic system is interdependent on each other. So a separate system that does that, I think that could be very valuable, but it's really important that they integrate that with the "Next Gen" system and the new air traffic systems that will be in place within the next 15 to 20 years. So we've really got to think about how it gets implemented, not just that the tool is available to make it really valuable.

TAPPER: David Soucie, Rob McCallum, thank you so much.

In more world news, cold, terrified and running out of air, that's the cool reality for possible survivors of a capsized South Korean ferry nearly 300 passengers are still missing. Many of them high school students on a field trip when their ship rolled over in the cold waters. About 12 miles off the coast of Jindo, South Korea.

We've just learned that the coast guard found five more bodies in the water raising the number of confirmed dead to 25. Now they are hopeful some of the passengers survived by finding air pockets beneath the ferry. Among the missing this little boy seen here with his 5- year-old sister. Let's show that picture. The girl was rescued, but there has been no sign of the boy or their parents who were also on board.

The coast guard is also investigating whether the ship's captain, who made the initial order for everyone to stay put, whether he may have been among the first to abandon ship. CNN correspondent, Kyung Lah joins us now by phone from Jindo. Kyung, thanks for joining us. Where does the rescue operation stand at this point?

KYUNG LAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, as you were indicating. It is very much a rescue operation still. The rescuers here who we can see here staging right here at the dock, they are still operating under the assumption that there are survivors on this capsized ship. They have not stopped. There has been horrific weather, high swells, at times the tide has been too dangerous for the divers for a few minutes there were divers lost. They were eventually recovered but -- and found safe, but it certainly has been very, very difficult today trying to get to the actual boat itself.

They did hope to try to pump some air into the capsized boat but even that that had to be called off because of the bad weather. The search area is about 12 miles from where I'm standing and it's just a heart breaking scene. You can see parents wrapping themselves in blankets, they are huddled under tents. They are standing here looking out at the ocean hoping and praying that there is going to be some sort of news. But Jake, I can tell you with every single passing moment you can feel the growing dread among these family members.

TAPPER: Have we learned anything more, Kyung, about what may have caused this accident? LAH: Well, what the maritime police here are telling us is that there is a high possibility that the ferry deviated from its route and that's what may have caused it to capsize. They are looking into whether there are possible defects with the ship. But they are also saying that it doesn't appear that it hit any sort of rock in the water. So it's quite a mystery because a lot of the rescued survivors, they are telling us that they heard some sort of loud noise before the announcement came on saying that there was trouble with the ship. But the police at this point saying it's something to do with the deviation of the route. That's what they are looking at right now.

TAPPER: Kyung, what about the ferry's captain? Is there chance he could face criminal charges for abandoning ship?

LAH: Yes, there is, actually. Under South Korean maritime law, the captain is supposed to stay with the ship. It's unclear how firm that law is that is what they expected and the fact that he was able to get off and all of these passengers were stuck aboard, there is this growing rage among not just the families but also this entire country.

TAPPER: Kyung Lah in Jindo, South Korea, thank you so much. It's difficult covering that story I know.

The "Pop Culture" lead now, some breaking news on a literally legend. CNN has learned that Nobel Prize-winning author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez has died. He was the most celebrated Latin-American writer of the 20th century and the best known practitioner of magical realism seamlessly blending fantasy and reality in his novels and short stories, widely successful love in the time of cholera was turned into a featured film back in 2007.

Gabriel Garcia Marquez was born in Colombia, his hometown inspired the fictional setting for his 1967 novel, "100 Years of Solitude." He won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1982. When he accepted that Nobel Prize, Garcia Marquez described Latin-America as a quote, "source of insatiable creativity full of sorrow and beauty of which this roving and nostalgic Colombian is but one cipher more singled out by fortune." Gabriel Garcia Marquez was 87 years old.

Make sure to follow me on Twitter @jaketapper and also @theleadcnn and check out our show page at cnn.com/thelead for video blogs and extras. You can also subscribe to our magazine on Flipboard. That's it for THE LEAD today. I'm Jake Tapper. I now turn you over to Wolf Blitzer. He's in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching -- Wolf.