Return to Transcripts main page

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Amtrak Derailment; Defense Minister Killed In Public; Desperate Search Continues In Nepal Mountains; New Jersey Governor Opens Up About Possible Presidential Run. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired May 13, 2015 - 16:30   ET

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


[16:30:06]

JOHNS: Amtrak's Northeast Corridor is the busiest in the country, carrying passengers between Washington, D.C., and Boston.

Today, trains between Philadelphia and Manhattan are suspended. A delay on this line is a major disruption for the region. The Northeast Corridor hosts 11.6 million riders a year, 750,000 trips a day and more than 2,000 total, including freight.

Today, that's all come to a halt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really annoying, because I wish they told me last night, because I could have dealt with it.

JOHNS: Passengers scrambled to board buses quickly selling out, not a single ticket left on the Bolt bus traveling from D.C. to New York, lines for Megabus and Greyhound buses stretched long, as the companies announced they would honor Amtrak tickets.

CHARLES WORMLEY, GREYHOUND UNION STATION: We're running as many buses as we possibly can put together.

JOHNS: Commercial airlines also tried to pick up some of the slack. At Washington's Reagan National Airport, Delta Air Lines reported an increase in bookings.

American Airlines added two round-trip flights between D.C. and New York in order to handle the increased demand. Even with all this, the delays and difficult travel pale in comparison to what the victims suffered on the train that crashed.

PATRICIA STYLES, TRAVELER: You know, people died. And we're inconvenienced a little bit. It's OK.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

JOHNS: And for travelers, it's just not clear how long it's going to be before things get back to normal. It is clear from Amtrak that they don't know what the schedule will be for Thursday. They do anticipate more delays as the investigation continues, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Joe Johns outside Union Station in Washington, D.C., thank you. Here in New York City, at Penn Station, as all the confusion was

going on inside over this Amtrak disaster, outside Penn Station, well, a horrible scene. There is new video now of a wild and alarming situation that played out, as police say they shot a man who swung the claw end of a hammer at a female police officer. That unidentified suspect had been wanted in at least four hammer attacks in the city.

Our Susan Candiotti joins us now on set.

Susan, what does this new video show us?

SUSAN CANDIOTTI, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's pretty scary, and all of this unfolding, as you said, just after rush hour in Midtown Manhattan right near Penn Station.

You see this guy. And the police had been on routine patrol. They had just finished investigating an incident when they see this guy. They approach him. And they said, unprovoked, he whips around and starts going after one of the two police officers, the female. She kind of falls. She loses her balance and her partner immediately picks up the gun and shoots this guy down, firing four shots. Two of them strike the suspect.

And scary when you think about it because, as you said, they happened to notice that he matched the description of someone that they had been on the lookout for who had attacked four people on Monday of this week with a hammer. So this is someone who was shot. He's in critical, but stable condition right now. The two officers, thankfully, are OK.

TAPPER: All right, Susan Candiotti, thank you so much.

The stories from survivors are harrowing, people flung against windows, cracked ribs, collapsed lungs, and immeasurable trauma that the victims will live with for the rest of their lives. But we're also learning some new details today about those who did not escape the wreck alive, a Naval midshipman, a software engineer for the Associated Press.

What we know about those whom we lost, that's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:37:37]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.

We're back with more breaking details from Philadelphia. Right now, a rush to find any passengers who are still missing after last night's Amtrak crash. That process is even harder because crews do not know exactly how many people they may be looking for. The train car tipped over shortly -- train cars tipped over shortly after Train 188 left the nearby 30th Street station in Philadelphia and possibly before all passenger tickets had been collected.

Let's go to CNN's Kate Bolduan live near the crash site in Philadelphia.

Kate, any updates yet on any efforts to identify those who went to the hospital and those who may still be trapped inside a train car, God forbid?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: God forbid is right, Jake.

I mean, this has become a huge task. Obviously, really, number one priority for all of the officials on the ground here is to try to figure out who and how many are unaccounted for and missing. The latest we have heard from the mayor is that they're not handing out a number. They don't want to get into the numbers of how many people they think are still unaccounted for.

But it is a tedious task, it is a huge task. To put it in perspective of what a big issue this really is, in fact, that these manifests, how many -- who was on the plane (sic) matching up with -- on the train -- pardon me -- who was on the train matching up with who's in the hospital and who maybe they don't know is missing, the fact that it's such a huge task, because an official at the press conference, the most recent press conference, Jake, said that they now estimate the total number of people that they believed to be on board that train at 243.

They're not even necessarily 100 percent confident that is their total number. Of that estimated total number, we are hearing about just two people that are told to us that are missing at this point. We want to make sure we tell their stories as well.

One of the people that is said to be missing, her name is Rachel Jacobs. She's a CEO of a small technology company, ApprenNet. It's a company that provides video-based services, video-based learning for teachers. She -- the last time she was seen or heard from, according to those she worked with, was when she had left a meeting to jump a train to get home to New York. She has a 2-year-old daughter.

Another person who is missing, we are told now, is Robert Gildersleeve. He is missing since he was dropped off by his wife at the train station in Baltimore. He was heading to New York for work. This is all coming from his sister-in-law. They haven't heard from him since.

[16:40:01]

Of course, these families waiting for any information -- and, Jake, I think it's important to note for our viewers, Amtrak has handed out an 800 number that they have said, if you walked off the train and you are OK, if you have any other information about those who could have been on the train, they have been handing out that number. And they have been really pushing it.

And I want to make sure -- maybe we can put it on the screen -- but to read it for our viewers, 800-523-9101. That's a really important task and I want to get that information out there still, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Kate Bolduan, thank you so much.

Amtrak's Northeast Corridor connects major cities, such as Washington, D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, Boston. Hundreds of thousands of people take this route every day and then scatter to outlying cities and suburbs. Many passengers on the derailed train were simply trying to get home. Now at least seven people will never arrive at their final destinations.

CNN' Sunlen Serfaty joins me now live from Philadelphia.

Sunlen, we're starting to learn more about the victims in this crash. Tell us more.

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake.

Among those dead was a 20-year-old U.S. midshipman from the U.S. Naval Academy and also a 49-year-old father of two. The doctors tell me when he came into this hospital last night, he was already unconscious. He had a major chest wound and he died after midnight in the wee hours of the morning.

This is just one of six area hospitals that treated the 200 passengers. This hospital alone, Temple University Hospital, they treated 54 people overnight. Half remain here in the hospital, eight in critical condition.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY (voice-over): For the survivors of Amtrak Train 188, it was a moment of chaos and horror.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was thrown against the girl next to me, against the window. And people from the other side of the aisle started falling on top of us. So somebody's leg hit the side of my head. The rest of her body must have been in the luggage rack.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I really thought this might be the end. There's no way to know, like, in the darkness. So, just being able to you taste dirt was lovely, because knew that you were alive and OK.

SERFATY: Among the dead, 20-year-old Justin Zemser, a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy who was on his way home to New York.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was his high school valedictorian and was just finishing up his second year as midshipman at the United States Naval Academy. He was a loving son, nephew and cousin who was very community-minded.

SERFATY: And Jim Gaines, a father of two who worked for the Associated Press.

There are also an untold amount who are still missing. One of them is Rachel Jacobs, CEO of a tech company who was on her way home to her family in New York. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: She definitely was on the train. What's

happening with that, they don't have her on the list, is because she didn't have a reserve ticket. She has a 10 pass. And because of the 10 pass, they didn't have her name on the list. A 10 pass works that you can get on it any time.

SERFATY: Temple University took in the most patients, treating over 50, with injuries ranging from minor to severe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was surprised that there were as few head injuries that we saw. And there were many, many patients that had rib fractures.

SERFATY (on camera): What does that tell you?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lots and lots of rib fractures. That there was a high-energy crash.

SERFATY (voice-over): Some of those treated and released from the hospital eventually made to it New York's Penn Station earlier today on another train, while the search for those still missing continues.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SERFATY: And the family of Jim Gaines came here last night and they told the doctors that their son and their brother was someone that always sat in the quiet car on the train. That is of course near the front of the train, where the most severe injuries were -- Jake.

TAPPER: Sunlen Serfaty in Philadelphia, thank you so much.

We are expecting another update from crash investigators in Philadelphia. That's expected to start in just a few minutes. We will go live to that when that begins.

But, first, executed by anti-aircraft gunfire -- Kim Jong-un apparently not happy with his defense minister, allegedly killing him as hundreds watched. What did the defense minister reportedly do to anger the North Korean leader? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Our World Lead today, North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-Un executes his defense minister with an anti-aircraft gun in front of hundreds at a military school. According to South Korean's intelligence agency, one of his crimes, dozing off during a meeting with the supreme leader.

Let's bring in Peter Brookes, former deputy assistant secretary of defense under President George W. Bush. Peter, thanks so much for joining us. What do we know about the defense minister and his relationship with Kim Jong-Un prior to the execution?

PETER BROOKES, SENIOR FELLOW FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS, HERITAGE FOUNDATION: Well, obviously he was a survivor. He came to prominence during Kim Jong-Un's father's regime. So he survived the transition, the power transition. He continued to move up the ladder, the political and military ladder under Kim Jong-Un. And then recently he was made -- last year actually, he was made the senior military leader in the North Korean regime.

TAPPER: His name was Hyon Yong Chol. Peter, you've visited North Korea before. What do you think we can learn about Kim Jong-Un and the regime from this decision to execute Hyon Yong Chol?

BROOKES: Well, the other reasons besides falling asleep at a meeting, is perhaps, according to South Korea, there may have been some disagreements with Kim Jong-Un. The general had disagreements with him.

There's also another possibility that he was sent on a military mission to Moscow. The general, if he has been executed, was in Moscow last month and some people are saying that besides attending a conference, his mission there was to get military arms.

To get a military arms deal with Russia for North Korea and supposedly he failed in that. What I think we're seeing here is that Kim Jong-Un is sending a very strong message to the military. These are the individuals.

This is the group that could possibly undertake a coup against him. These are the people with that sort of capability. And he's obviously saying he's not taking any nonsense or any disagreements.

He also has credibility issues, Jake, with the military. His grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, the founder of North Korea, he supposedly fought the Japanese during the occupation during World War II.

[16:50:10] So he had real street cred with the military. His father, Kim Jung-Il, spent a long time working with the military before he came as supreme leader.

And now Kim Jong-Un who's probably about 32, he became leader a couple of years ago when he was in his late 20s is much younger than these military generals and also has no military credibility or background.

So he's sending the message to them that, if you're going to push me at all or disobey my orders, this is what could happen to you.

TAPPER: All right, Peter Brookes, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

Let's turn now to Nepal where a desperate search continues for a U.S. military helicopter that went missing in the mountains there on Tuesday. Six Marines and two Nepalese soldiers were on board the chopper delivering much-needed aid to earthquake victims when the helicopter lost contact 45 miles east of the country's capital, Kathmandu.

CNN's Barbara Starr joins us now live from the Pentagon. Barbara, what is the latest on the search?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: A second day of agony for these families of the missing, Jake, now as first light approaches in Nepal in the next coming hours, the air search will resume. Helicopters were up yesterday during daylight hours about 20 hours of searching.

They have found nothing. No sign of the helicopter. No sign of those on board. We now know that the U.S. military has put satellites overhead to look for any sign of the aircraft.

In addition, those rescue helicopters that are flying they have jumpers on board, two per helicopter. These are Air Force personnel that if the helicopter is spotted, they can rope down into the most remote areas and try to recover the crew, if only they could find them.

A second night potentially out in the open. But the bottom- line answer is still no sign of the airplane, no sign of the crew. And the very difficult news, no one knows if it crashed and the fate of those on board -- Jake.

TAPPER: Barbara, quickly, if you could, are there any prevailing theories about what may have caused this helicopter to go missing?

STARR: Well, as you recall, there was radio chatter from another helicopter flying nearby that the Americans had run into some sort of fuel problem. But we don't know if they ran out of fuel, was there a problem with the fuel system?

But whatever did happen, the real challenge right now, this, again, a remote mountainous area, the geography is absolutely terrible in terms of any kind of search and rescue. Where would you put a helicopter down in these remote mountains of Nepal? That's the problem right now -- Jake.

TAPPER: Sad story. Barbara Starr, thank you so much.

When we come back, he's not officially declared he's running and all four of Chris Christie's children have an opinion on whether or not he should. He and his wife tell me what they're all thinking next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:57:16]

TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. Our Politics Lead now, for any White House hopeful, the decision to run for president or to not run is deeply personal.

I spoke with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his wife, Mary Pat, in New Hampshire at an American Legion Hall about his possible presidential bid and the decision making process going forward the apparent lack of enthusiasm for a 2016 Chris Christie ticket, at least as of now.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: I know you haven't announced any decision yet when it comes to whether or not you're going to run for president. But you have said in the past that this is the kind of thing that you are going to sit down with your whole family and have a conversation. How do the kids feel about the possibility of you running?

GOVERNOR CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: It varies. Depending on the kid, right? We've already had a lot of these conversations. Our oldest son, Andrew, is very positive and enthusiastic about it. And it's been encouraging to me.

And our daughter, Sarah, is more like, well, how's this going to affect me? And she's more concerned about how it's going to affect her day-to-day life at Notre Dame.

And our two younger children are really focused on one thing, are we not going to see you and mom? And I think our job and Mary Pat's decision about leaving her full-time job as we consider this is to give a sense of reassurance to the kids to let them know that we are going to be there.

TAPPER: One last question for you. You've been there when there were all these donors in 2011 begging him to run for president. Is it a little bit bumpier since the bridge thing? And I'm wondering if it's tough on you to see people that once were supportive of your husband not being supportive?

MARY PAT CHRISTIE, FIRST LADY OF NEW JERSEY: I mean, it certainly is disappointing when you had throngs of people encouraging you to do this and maybe the enthusiasm isn't as crazy as it was. But what I will tell you because I do make a lot of phone calls is that everyone always says that I know he'd be a great president.

And when you have those conversations, it kind of is -- it's reassuring. You know that deep down they know he could do the job and certainly believe in his ability.

CHRISTIE: And I think part of this is, it's going to be hard no matter what. So I get lots of people who say to us, you should have done it four years ago. And I tell you one thing I know for sure, I wasn't ready to be president four years ago.

So the worst thing wasn't not running, it was if I had run and won and not been ready. It would have been terrible for the country and for my family. So if I run this time, people will know that it's because I think I'm ready.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

TAPPER: Our thanks to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and of course, Mary Pat, Christie's wife. That's it for THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM." Thanks for watching.