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Rick Perry Campaign on the Ropes; Trump Says Iran Nuclear Deal a Bad Deal; EPA Accident Dumps Contaminants into River; FAA Study: Air Traffic Controllers Dangerously Tired. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired August 11, 2015 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:01] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: The campaign acknowledges now they have tough money decisions to make, but what does that mean for his organization and his chances in places like South Carolina?

BRUCE HAYNES, SOUTH CAROLINA REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & PRESIDENT, PURPLE STRATEGY GROUP: Well, looking ahead, it's not good. You know, Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, these are food, water and shelter if you're running for president. They're the three early states where you have to punch through, you have to demonstrate that you have the chops to run a long campaign, that you can be as Donald Trump likes to say, a winner.

And South Carolina is particularly critical for Rick Perry, he was actually poised to win the state when he ran in 2012 and his campaign hit some bad spots, and he said some difficult things in some debates, and dropped out right before the South Carolina primary. So it would have been a likely target to see Rick Perry mount a breakthrough again, and so for him to drop all of his funding and staff in the early states is a real problem and as I said, not a good sign.

BOLDUAN: But does that mean he's down and out for sure? I mean a lot of folks remembering that John McCain, he faced similar staffing problems in the summer of '07, Newt Gingrich faced problems, and John McCain, he bounced back to become the GOP nominee. Can Perry turn this around at this point?

HAYNES: It's possible. He is going to have to find a way to do it through the strength of his own personality, having a moment somewhere in one of these debates, and of course you want to break through into that top ten. You want to get into the big debate. How's he going to do that now when he doesn't have money to help himself move his poll numbers? This is where the super PACs that we talk a lot about could come in. Maybe it's going to be time for Perry's super PAC to go ahead and push out with some television advertising, some paid media, some of those kinds of things to try to temporarily give his campaign a lift right now when he can't carry the ball with his own, you know, actually Rick Perry campaign.

BOLDUAN: What's the source of the problem do you think for Rick Perry? I'm sure it's not just one thing. Is it just fundraising, he's not getting out there? Donors are so many candidates that donors are split amongst the candidates? Or does his problems have anything to do with the fact that so much attention right now is being focused on the man at the top of the polls, Donald Trump? HAYNES: I thought you might say that. I think that's a piece of it.

I think you look back, again, Perry was actually poised to do really well in South Carolina, could have evolved into the top of the heap last night. What's changed? Certainly Donald Trump is sucking up all of the oxygen. You only have to watch the segment before this to see that that's what everyone is talking about. Also Rick Perry was able to raise a lot of money into his campaign, not his super PAC, but his own campaign last time. He was the sitting governor. It's harder to turn down a sitting governor. He was the only candidate from Texas. Ted Cruz is competing for the same dollars that might be Rick Perry dollars.

So it's a little bit, and then the crowded field as you said, it's a tougher, tougher road for Rick Perry, but I think a lot of candidates are struggling to raise money, you know, $2,700 at the same time now for their own campaigns. So a lot of the strategy is going to shift to what do these super PACs that we hear about that are able to raise unlimited amounts of money. When do they step in? How do they support their candidates and are they effective? That'll be how candidates like Perry and others may be struggling to raise money early are going to see if they can make it into January.

BOLDUAN: Bruce, real quick, what's your gut feeling on this. You know South Carolina well, what's your gut feeling? Do you think South Carolina troubles there, do you think it spells the end for Rick Perry's campaign?

HAYNES: I think when you look at a candidate like Rick Perry, you know, southern, he has -- he sounds a little bit like people from South Carolina like to hear. Ideologically, he aligns pretty well with South Carolina. If he can't do well in South Carolina, Iowa's going to be really tough, New Hampshire's far away, it would seem to be the state that we might call his fire wall. Instead, we see at a time Marco Rubio has ton of good staff. So if South Carolina could be his last stand if he can't succeed there.

BOLDUAN: That means we have to watch it closely, that's for sure.

Bruce, great to see you. Thank you.

HAYNES: Thanks.

BOLDUAN: Of course.

Coming up for us, Donald Trump says it's a horrible deal that could destroy the world. But just how much money will Iran actually get in sanctions relief from the Iran nuclear deal? We're going to fact check Donald Trump's claims next.

And toxic waste, river full of pollutants, including arsenic and lead. Is the drinking water there safe? Or is it now in danger as well?


[11:38:21] BOLDUAN: Is it impossible to fact check Mr. Donald Trump? Maybe. But that said, that doesn't mean that we won't try and that we shouldn't try. For half hour today, he touched on everything from taxes to Planned Parenthood, even talking about whining in his CNN interview earlier this morning.

But one of the issues that did also stand out was his take on the Iran nuclear deal. Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE & CEO, TRUMP ORGANIZATION (voice-over): Even if the deal isn't approved, if the deal isn't approved, they still get the money, which is what I heard the other day. They're going to be so rich, so powerful, so mean, they're going to be so angry --


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR, NEW DAY: That's not exactly how it works.


TRUMP: -- it's going to go down as one of the dumb deals as of all time. And one of the most dangerous deals of all time.

CUOMO: There is a snapback provision, though, if they don't do what they're supposed to do, then the sanctions get back in. I mean --


TRUMP: No, no, no. But I'm talking about the $150 billion, and all the other money they're going to be getting, then, Chris, they're getting a fortune.


BOLDUAN: They are getting a fortune. Even if it's not approved, they still get the money. Is that true?

Let's bring in CNN's chief national security correspondent, Jim Sciutto, for more on this.

Yes, Jim, the Iran nuclear deal is complex. Lawmakers acknowledge that, but under the deal, with everything you know, is Iran getting $150 billion in sanctions released?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, that figure is based on estimates of impounded funds, basically, frozen assets of Iran around the world held in banks in China, South Korea, India. The truth is no one knows exactly how much money has been frozen. The estimates range from $30 billion up to $150 billion, as Donald Trump says. The Treasury Department puts it in the middle, $125 billion. A lot of money, no question.

But they also make the point that when those funds are unfrozen, Iran still has a lot of commitments. They have creditors that they're already obligated to pay. And it's the administration's estimate that about half of that money, another 50 billion would be paid to the creditors leaving Iran with about $50 billion of those frozen assets.

Keep in mind, Kate, that's just the frozen assets. It doesn't quantify other financial gains that Iran will get, for instance, its ability to sell more oil overseas.

[11:40:35] BOLDUAN: Right.

SCIUTTO: So the fact is they will get billions of dollars. He's giving the high end of the range of just the frozen assets.

BOLDUAN: And that does play into a lot of what the critics are saying. There is a lot of unknown in terms of what they're set to gain from if the sanctions are lifted.

So the other part about this, is Iran set to gain any money though in sanctions relief if this deal is rejected by the U.S. Congress?

SCIUTTO: Well, it seems to the point Donald Trump was making is this, and there is some truth to this that, you know, if the deal is rejected, even the administration argues this, the sanctions regime will be watered down. The countries like Russia and China maybe even European countries will no longer abide by these sanctions. You know, they'll have an excuse in effect, listen, we tried diplomacy and the U.S. Congress rejected it, so that in effect they get sanctions relief, not by the agreement, but just by the fact that other countries will start doing business with them, start releasing the frozen assets, that kind of thing.

Interestingly enough, it's actually a point that Trump and the administration both make. In effect, if there is no deal that the sanctions relief will begin to fall apart because the administration uses that as an argument to support the deal. This is the best now and we're going to lose the power of the sanctions regardless of what we do.

BOLDUAN: And Trump takes a very different tact on the administration saying at least we want to get something if the sanctions are going to be lifted anyway, Trump says that's the reason why this is such a bad deal. Fascinating nonetheless, Jim.

SCIUTTO: One thing I would say, Kate, is this, it is clear, in this deal, that Iran stands to gain tens of billions of dollars. And not just from those unfrozen assets, but from doing business. You know, I've been to Iran a lot of times, European companies, Asian companies, they are chomping at the bit to get into Iran and do business. So, there's no question they will have a wind fall from there this, and that's a fact.

BOLDUAN: And that is a fact.

Jim Sciutto. Thanks, Jim. Cutting through it. I love it. Great to see you.

Coming up for us, state of emergency after toxic sludge turns a river orange. What are the health risks now that it's posing? And is the drinking water even safe at this point? We'll have details ahead. Plus, dangerously sleepy. Not something you want to hear about the

nation's air traffic controllers. The stunning and, until now, secret report that says more than half of them have fallen asleep on the job.


[11:46:38] BOLDUAN: New this morning, the governor of New Mexico declaring a state of emergency after millions of gallons of toxins were dumped into a Colorado river. The state is now concerned the waste is spreading from the Animas River, you can see it right there, into both New Mexico and Utah. There's already been a disaster declaration made in Colorado.

Now we to want show you a comparison, you could easily see the affect that the pollution is having on the water there. It's now an orange- yellow compared to what it should look like on the other, on the other half of the screen.

Dan Simon is there looking into how this happened.

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, well, the EPA is usually in the business of responding to emergencies, not causing them. But that is exactly what happened in this situation. You can see signs like this along the shore saying the river is closed. And let me show you why. Much of the river looks OK, the color has gone back to normal, but you can still see some of the toxic sludge here, and this is nasty stuff. We collected some of it in a bottle. There is arsenic in here. There's lead in this. It all happened when the EPA was trying to clean up an abandoned mine, and it backfired. Three million gallons of this toxic waste go into the Animas River, and the river shut down indefinitely, as you can imagine. Local residents are concerned. Businesses are concerned. We talked to the owner of a local rafting company.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They should have safeguards in place before they started poking around up there.

SIMON: How is this going to impact your bottom line?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drastically. This is our lifeline. We're a rafting business that's been established for over 32 years. This will negatively impact our bottom line.


SIMON: We're still waiting for the EPA to tell us what is in the water and how dangerous it might be. But there's concern not only that it will impact business, but this water is also used to irrigate crops, people come out on the river and fish. There's also concern that it could impact other communities. But at this point, again, we're still waiting for the EPA to give us clarity. At this point, however, there's no evidence that it has impacted drinking water -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: So how dangerous could this spill be to everyone living along that river?

Let's bring in CNN's senior medical correspondent, Dr. Elizabeth Cohen. She's joining us now.

Dan Simon was touching on it, Elizabeth. How at risk is the drinking water?

DR. ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, it depends on so many different things. It depends on the level of these heavy metals in the water, which we knew last week were very high. It depends whether, when they went downstream to where the water is taken in for drinking water, whether those water systems were given enough warning, and we're told, hey, shut off your pumps, don't take in this water, there's been a spill.

But let's get to the levels of the metals in the water. They were very, very high last week. In fact, when the EPA went out there, they were hundreds of times higher, in some cases, thousands of times higher than the EPA acceptable levels. Now we're hearing that the levels have gone down. I think the toxicologists I've been speaking to say, look, you want to be leery when we hear that the levels have gone down. It may mean that the metals aren't in the water so much, but that they settled into the sediment, the dirt on the bottom. Of course, that can be kicked up quite easily. They emphasized over and over again, Kate, the concern is heavy metals, lead, mercury, and those don't die off. They'll be in the water, in the sediment.

[11:50:08] BOLDUAN: That's fascinating and troubling. The risk doesn't go away when they can get the orange sludge whatever it's doing to the water out of the water. And let it be repeated once again this is not just a river only used for recreation. What does it mean?

COHEN: The river is used for drinking water, some municipalities and wells. It's also used to irrigate crops. We don't know when the spill happened last week were these farms given warning and told, hey, shut off your irrigation, you don't want to irrigate your crops with this water. If crops were irrigated with the water, these plants, that I soak up many of these heavy metals. For example, cadmium, I'm told, one toxicologist said cadmium soaks -- plants soak up cadmium like crazy. Where did that food go? Was it irrigated with this water? Was it out if market. There's so many questions. And when I reached out to the Environmental Protection Agency yesterday, I sent e-mails, I did not get responses from them.

BOLDUAN: Sounds like they may not know at this point. Those questions are still being investigated as we speak.

Elizabeth, thank you.

Coming up for us, a report so alarming some accuse the government of keeping its secret for years. Ahead, what it says about the safety of the flying skies.

Plus, just in, we're learning the results of the investigation into the deadly limo accident involving the comedian, Tracy Morgan. Hear how long the truck driver had been awake and also what he was doing just moments before that crash happened.


[11:55:31] BOLDUAN: Happening now, we're learning new details about the crash that injured comedian, Tracy Morgan, and killed fellow comedian, James McNair, last year. Federal officials have learned, at the time of the crash, the Walmart truck driver, Kevin Roeper, had been awake for 28 hours and was driving 20 miles an hour over the speed limit. The deadly accident happened when Roeper slammed into the back of a limo van last June. He's been charged with death by auto and four counts of assault by an automobile.

AT THIS HOUR, we're learning alarming new information about the safety of your air travel. The FAA is releasing a startling study showing many air traffic controllers suffer or suffered from dangerous fatigue. The study came after several air traffic controllers fell asleep on the job. Calling it an extreme safety risk. Like this one in 2011 when a pilot was forced to land a plane on his own without the help from the control tower. Listen.


CONTROLLER: American 1900, so you're aware, the tower is apparently not manned. I made a few phone calls, nobody's answering. A few airplanes went in, in the past 15 minutes, so you can expect to go in as an uncontrolled airport.


BOLDUAN: The FAA says controllers can now declare if they're too tired to work.

Let's discuss this because the report was just released. Joining me, former director of the FAA Office of Accident Investigation and a commercial pilot, Steven Wallace.

Steven, thank you so much for your time.


BOLDUAN: You see some of these statistics, it raises your eyebrows. The FAA released this study showing that America's air traffic controllers are all dangerously tired. They suffer from extreme fatigue. Are you surprised by this?

WALLACE: If you take that data at face value. They have taken a lot of steps. You just cited the incident at Reagan years ago and, immediately after that, Secretary LaHood directed there would be no solo midnight shifts. The issue here is it's boring at midnight down at Reagan Airport so the FAA asked NASA to do that study and they -- at the same time, they have implemented a pretty comprehensive set of change changes in the area of fatigue management.

BOLDUAN: How dangerous -- it goes without saying everyone would probably understand that falling asleep on the job when you have such a high stress job would be dangerous but how dangerous if they're fatigued or if they would fall asleep?

WALLACE: Well, I would look at the unbelievably good safety record of the system in recent years is. That said, fatigue is probably the most intractable problem across all modes of transport.

You cited the accident involving comedian, Tracy Morgan. Truck drivers, pilots, air traffic controllers, even you driving your own person car. What makes it particularly challenging is there isn't a technical solution. The individuals involved have to be responsible to use their provided by rest periods to make sure they are not fatigued.

As you noted, the FAA allows controllers to declare, as many airlines do, I'm too tired to work.

BOLDUAN: So we've listed out the changes that have been made. Do you think this is an ongoing problem or --

WALLACE: I lost the audio.

BOLDUAN: Can you hear me, Steven?

Looks like we may have lost Steven Wallace, unfortunately.


BOLDUAN: OK, now I have you back.

One quick question. We've listed the issues that this report brings up but the fixes also that have been put into place. Do you think it is all fixed now that this is no longer an ongoing problem or do you think there still needs to be attention paid to this alarming report?

WALLACE: I think that a lot of attention needs to be paid not so much to this report but just as the issue of fatigue in all modes of transportation. I don't think it will ever go away. It's so dependent on the individual's responsibility. But people say, you know, how safe is the system? Am I a one in a million chance of getting hurt? No. More like one in a billion at the current rate. A U.S. airliner has not been in a collision since 1978.