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777 Catches on Fire at Las Vegas McCarran Airport; Hillary Clinton Apologizes for Using Personal Email Server; Two Texas High School Football Players Suspended for Unnecessary Roughness Toward Referee. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired September 8, 2015 - 20:00   ET


[20:00:00] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening, thanks for joining us.

We begin with breaking news out of Las Vegas where a Boeing 777 taking off for London's Gatwick airport ended up instead in flames. You see the pictures there. The fire is out, the plane evacuated. Airport authorities reporting some injuries. Details are now emerging about what exactly unfolding just a few terrifying moments.

Bradley Hampton took the photo you see. He joins us by phone.

So Bradley, what did you see?

BRADLEY HAMPTON, WITNESS (on the phone): Well, our plane landed. We were coming from Denver to Las Vegas. Right after we pulled off the active runway, a plane came to an abrupt stop and looked out the right-hand side and all we saw was big black flames and a plane on fire really.

COOPER: Had you -- had you heard anything?

HAMPTON: No, we did not hear anything. Most of my attention was drawn by a lot of the passengers gasping at the sight, obviously. So that was the first indicator that something was happening outside the plane.

COOPER: And just to be clear, you were on this plane, right, or did you see another plane on the runway?

HAMPTON: No. I was on the -- another plane that was on the runway and then we saw the plane on fire.

COOPER: OK. About how far away was it and how long did it -- how big was the fire?

HAMPTON: I mean it was roughly probably 200 to 300 yards away. And we could clearly see very large flames, as the picture shows, coming out of the left engine. And it was obviously the black smoke was engulfing the area. And then, it was then when we saw the doors fly open and the inflatable slides come out.

COOPER: And when the inflatable slides came out, were there any emergency responders already on the scene or was the fire still active and people just started to get out?

HAMPTON: No, that was very surprising. Obviously we knew something was wrong. And we weren't sure if the plane was empty or not, you know. It was then when the slides inflated where we knew people were onboard. So after the people started exiting the plane coming down the slide and they were running very fast away from the plane and the emergency responders, and I have to give them credit, they came very quickly into the scene and were spraying fire pretty much before the vehicles -- I'm sorry, spraying water before the vehicles were stopped.

COOPER: And when something like this is happening, what happened to your aircraft? I mean, did it continue to go by or did it stop?

HAMPTON: No, we were completely stopped. And I imagine that's for obvious reasons, to let the emergency vehicles get to the plane in trouble. So all the planes around us were completely at a standstill.

COOPER: How long did the fire seem to go on for?

HAMPTON: From the time we landed until the time the emergency responders put it out was probably I'd say five to ten minutes.

COOPER: And all during that time people were getting off the plane. Was it relatively orderly?

HAMPTON: It was a mass exodus, if you will. There was a lot of people running away from the plane. It seemed like they were -- it was a big spurt of people, and then the -- and then the responders came.

COOPER: Bradley, I appreciate you telling us what you saw. Thank you so much.

HAMPTON: Thank you very much.

COOPER: Bradley Hampton, a witness on another aircraft that landed.

There are more details coming in right now, BA flight 2276, 159 passengers, 13 crew members onboard.

Sara Sidner joins us now. What are you learning, Sara?

SARA SIDNER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We know now that one of the four runways there at McCarran international airport there at Las Vegas has now been closed. So, as you might imagine, Anderson, this is going to create a problem for air traffic at that airport right now. And we should tell people this is the ninth busiest airport in America, so expect some delays and backup.

We should also tell you we are hearing from other witnesses too who had just gotten off that flight who were able to get off and get onto buses and they have been bussed to the terminals now. Two people have minor injuries. Amazing, though, when you see those pictures, I mean, you have people talking about they thought they saw an explosion. They certainly saw the fire that you're looking at now. That fire is out. And now the investigation will go on.

We know that this plane was supposed to be leaving Las Vegas and heading to London Gatwick. It never got off the ground. The crew, the pilot stopping this plane when that fire happened and also from witnesses that it appeared that the fire started in an engine. They saw certainly the engine on fire. Lots of flames coming from that. But a dangerous situation, a lot of people thanking god that they made it safely off of that plane, Anderson.

COOPER: And, Sara, just to be clear, this aircraft did not take off at all. This fire occurred while it was still taxiing on the runway?

SIDNER: That's right. That's what we're hearing from British airways who talked about the fact that the crew aborted their takeoff when they noticed what was going on. Everyone got to safety. Fourteen - 13 crew members and 159 passengers all brought to safety. Two people with minor injuries.

And you'll see from the pictures there, Anderson, I mean, you can see people jumping down that slide, exactly what's supposed to happen when something like this happens inside of a plane where people are evacuated. Then suddenly you see the fire trucks coming up and spraying the area. But a very dangerous situation as you know on a plane with all that smoke and fire can be very confusing and terrifying for people to find their way out. But it looks like the crew did a great job getting people off and people are safe tonight because of that.

[20:05:22] COOPER: Sara, the witness we talked to, Bradley Hampton who was on another aircraft said it looked like it was all coming from one engine. Is that your understanding as well?

SIDNER: That's what I've seen from other people who have witnessed this. And we had a witness call us. It appears that it started with that left engine. But again, these are people who saw it from the outside looking in. It will be really interesting to hear from the passengers on that flight as to what they were experiencing in the plane. But the majority of the fire, and you can see in the picture there, coming from that left engine. It was smoking for quite a long time, but they have got that fire out now.

Again, though, we want to remind people that one of those runways at McCarran international is closed and that could mean some delays for folks.

COOPER: And do we know the exact nature? I mean, that you said two people had some minor injuries. Do you know the nature of those?

SIDNER: We don't. We don't know if it has to do with smoke inhalation or if they actually had burns or they got hurt as they were jumping out of the plane. We're still trying to gather that information.

COOPER: All right, Sara. We'll continue to check in with you.

We're joined now by CNN aviation analyst, Les Abend who fly to 777 for a living. We are going talk to him. We'll also soon be joined by David Soucie, a former FAA accident investigator. David Soucie is joining now.

So Les, when you look at these pictures, what -- at this point, and obviously there is an investigation that needs to be done, but what do you see happening here?

LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes. I mean, as with you, Anderson, it's very preliminary for me looking at those pictures. I'm not so sure it's an engine situation. They aborted the takeoff for some particular reason. And you know, the bottom line is this is a happy ending. This is the way emergencies are supposed to go.

If you abort a takeoff, you abruptly stop the airplane. You bring the throttles back, put it into idle. You bring the engines into reverse situation. Now, why they aborted, we don't know. Was it an engine fire?

COOPER: You know, Les, let me jump in because the FAA has just released a statement as we've been talking saying it was an aborted takeoff due to a left engine fire.

ABEND: OK. Then the crew did a tremendous job. They stopped the airplane. With an engine fire situation, this is textbook stuff. This is what we're trained to do in an aborted situation. So they stopped the airplane, evaluated the situation, probably got an evaluation by the crash fire rescue people and from that point went through the checklist methodically. Flight attendants were probably waiting for a command signal from the cockpit to evacuate the airplane or not.

Obviously we know what happened, they evacuated it. They began the process of opening up the slides, which are done automatically on this airplane. Once those doors open, those slides automatically come out. And the crash fire rescue people right on scene. It sounds to me like everything went according to plan when you have this type of emergency situation.

COOPER: You know, David Soucie, it's not unheard of for engines to fail on takeoff. Usually takeoffs are aborted, they don't necessarily result in a fire. What do you think happened here as a former investigator?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST (via phone): Well, it's very interesting, Anderson, because typically in this type of situation the fire extinguisher bottles which are onboard the aircraft would immediately extinguish that fire automatically. Given automatically doing the way to the pilot to do anything about it. So it's odd to me that this fire would have continued and continued.

COOPER: So this is probably a dumb question. But you're saying by the engines there are fire extinguishing devices that would automatically turn on?

SOUCIE: Yes, that's right. There's fire extinguishing bottles in the engine, the cell areas, so if this fire was in the cell, it would try to put that out. So what that indicates to me is there may have been some kind of a breach in the fuel system somehow to continue to feed that fire. So it's obviously preliminary.


ABEND: Yes, Anderson, let me clarify a little bit what Dave said. You have to -- we have to go through a checklist. We have to physically what we call shoot a bottle. There are bottles that we shoot or halo bottles, excuse me, that we activate in the cockpit that shoots fire retardant into that particular engine. In this particular case there's two on this engine. There's two fire retardant bottles that would shoot directly into the engine itself. But it's not done automatically.

However, the continuation of the fire may very well have been as a result of the brakes heating. We've got on that airplane, there's three -- excuse me, six wheels on each main gear truck, so it could have been -- it seems very black to me. It could have been rubber. Those wheels will get heated very, very quickly in an aborted takeoff situation.

You're dealing with a lot of energy. You're dealing with a 650,000 pound airplane potentially that has to come to a complete stop. So it could -- it possibly could have been related, the fire perpetuating could have been due to the wheels catching on fire.

[20:10:20] COOPER: Les, prior to a takeoff, I mean as a pilot, how much of a checklist do you go through? I mean I assume engines are checked before, you know, the plane -- the passengers even board. Is there a protocol for that?

ABEND: Well, you know, this is a continual maintenance program, Dave will back me up on this, but you know, we don't specifically check things on the engine other than visually when one of the crew members will walk around the airplane. Engines are continuously monitored all the time, you know, by maintenance programs, both electronically and by maintenance folks on the ground.

COOPER: So as a pilot you basically give a once-over, you eyeball the aircraft, you walk around it, but you're depending on the maintenance teams to do their regular maintenance?

ABEND: Yes, and a lot of this stuff in an engine is not visible, especially that size, Anderson.

SOUCIE: You'd have to open up the cells to do that.

COOPER: Go ahead, David, you were saying you'd have to open up the engine itself?

SOUCIE: Yes, you'd have to open the cells to see that. And as Les was saying, you have the fire extinguisher system that's deployed from the front. But if there's an actual fire and flames that are causing damage to the cells, there is some fire extinguishing capabilities within the cell itself. But what Les is talking about is to extinguish a known fire, that's what would have to be done there. But it is odd to me either way which system worked or didn't work. You would think that that fire would have been put out long before it did. It burned for quite some time but fortunately everybody got off safely.

COOPER: Yes. And Les, I mean, I assume you have not been in a situation like this or I don't even know if you simulate this kind of thing in training, but how much smoke in a situation like this would actually get into the main cabin?

ABEND: That's a great question. We do, Anderson, simulate this on every recurrent training cycle that we go through. This is -- this is, like I said, textbook type training for us. And, yes, in answer to your question, it is possible if we have what we call our bleeds, all the ducting into the cabin is on, it is possible. However, the process of the checklist will shut down that going into the cabin. But it is possible to some extent before this checklist is completed to get some of that smoke into the cabin.

COOPER: Scary stuff for passengers certainly. And again, just everybody got out, two minor injuries is the early reporting on this. We'll continue to check on this throughout the hour. We are on for two hours tonight.

Les Abend, David Soucie, thank you. We are going to have more updates throughout these next two hours on this breaking story.

Also tonight, the Kentucky clerk who refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses is free from jail today steps up to a microphone. What she told supporters.

Also more breaking news, Hillary Clinton speaking out on the email scandal admitting it was a mistake to use her private server and she now says she is sorry.


[20:17:05] COOPER: We're continuing to follow the breaking news out of Las Vegas, British airways 777 catching fire right before takeoff. The takeoff was aborted. Then evaluating the 159 passengers and 13 crew members, they were evacuated. They are being evaluated. Two people apparently suffered minor injuries.

Now, our other big story tonight comes from Grayson, Kentucky, just shy of the West Virginia border which finds itself at the crossroads of a changing society, the law and presidential politics.

Just a few months since the Supreme Court ruling affirming marriage equality and a week since a judge jailed county clerk Kim Davis for denying marriage licenses to same-sex couples that judge let her out of jail. So this afternoon with the song "eye of the tiger" playing, a presidential candidate by her side and another nearby, Miss Davis took the national stage. To give you a sense of what had us all transfixed, here's an extended look at how it unfolded.


CROWD: Go, Kim, go. Go, Kim, go. Go, Kim, go. Go, Kim, go. Go, Kim, go.

KIM DAVIS, ROWAN COUNTY, KENTUCKY COUNTY CLERK: Thank you so much. I love you all so very much. I just want to give God the glory. You are a strong people. He is a living God. He knows where each and every one of us is at. Just keep on pressing. Don't let down. Because he is here. I love you guys. Thank you so much.


[20:20:11] COOPER: So that was the moment. More now on how we got here and where things may go next from CNN's Alexander Field.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE REPORTER: Was it worth it? Yes or no?


DAVIS: Thank you all so much. I love you all so very much.

FILED: Freed from jail, cheered by a crowd of supporters.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The bible trumps man's law every day. The bible is the word of god and it is greater than the law.

FILED: A small Kentucky town now at the epicenter for discontent with the Supreme Court's historic ruling, making same-sex marriage legal coast to coast. A county clerk now a cause celeb for the religious far right.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It seems like the minority rules now instead of the majority in this country.

FILED: Her supporters saying her rights are being trampled.

MIKE HUCKABEE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If somebody needs to go to jail, I'm willing to go in her place.

FILED: Two Republican presidential candidates visited Kim Davis before her release, Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee.

HUCKABEE: The courage of her convictions was more important than simply even her own freedom. And she was willing to go to jail for what she believed.

FILED: Davis says she cannot issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because of her religious beliefs. Her repeated refusal led a federal district judge to jail her, ordering her deputy clerks to do the job. They're complying. And because of that, the same judge ordered Davis released from jail, instructing her not to interfere.

What happens at this point if a same-sex couple goes to that office this week, will Kim Davis allow them to pick up a marriage license?

MATT STAVER, KIM DAVIS' ATTORNEY: Kim Davis has never changed her position. She'll do her job and won't violate her conscience. So whatever the consequences of that are, Kim Davis is not going to violate her conscience.

FILED: Davis is waging her fight on three fronts, arguing an accommodation should be made for her religious beliefs by either the courts, the Kentucky state legislature or the governor, Steve Beshear, who instructed all clerks to issue licenses to all couples after the Scotus ruling.

GOV. STEVE BESHEAR, KENTUCKY: I don't see that the religious freedom law has been trampled on. What you had here was a public official who voluntarily ran for election to that office. She decided she could pick out the duties that she would perform and not perform some of the others.

FILED: The clerk says she'll go back to work this week but she won't do the whole job.

Is she prepared to go back to jail for this?

STAVER: Kim Davis has thought a lot and prayed a lot about her decision and she's prepared for the consequences of both doing her job and not stepping down and at the same time not violating her conscience.


COOPER: Alexandra Field joins us now from Grayson.

So what happens now? I didn't quite understand that lawyer's answer, it was sort of a non-answer. Is she going to try to stop her clerks from issuing marriage licenses, do we know?

FILED: Well, look, this is a clerk who makes $80,000 a year to do this job. And her attorneys are only saying definitively that she will return to work this week. But yes, you got that answer where she says she's firm in her convictions. So it certainly doesn't sound to us like Kim Davis would be willing to issue marriage licenses to same- sex couples but we're going to have to wait and see how she interprets the judge's order not to interfere with her deputies, who have been issuing these licenses to same-sex couples.

But in the meantime her legal team is trying to pursue a lot of other avenues here. They put five motions in front of the sixth circuit court of appeals so are looking for a legal resolution to what they see as her conundrum.

They're also asking for the governor to step in, or call for a special session of the general assembly to look at the marriage laws and specifically address the statute that gives the authority to issue marriage licenses to the clerk. The governor said he's not going to do any of those things.

It is possible, however, that the legislature could take a look at that statute when they reconvene in January, but that's months away. For now, all we know definitively is that Kim Davis will be back in the clerk's office - Anderson.

COOPER: All right. Alexandra Field, I appreciate it. Thank you.

More now on the legal battle which continues, even though the Supreme Court has clearly settled the central issue.

Joining us is Jeffrey Toobin and Ryan Anderson, a senior fellow at the heritage foundation and author of "truth overruled, the future of marriage and religious freedom" which is the first response to the Supreme Court's ruling.

Jeff, if she interferes with her deputies who are now issuing marriage licenses, what will happen?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: She's going back to jail. I mean, this is not a complicated legal situation now. The law could not be clearer. The federal judge could not be clearer in saying, look, same-sex couples in this county, like every county in the United States, have the right to get married, and they have the same right as opposite sex couples. And if she interferes in any way, she will be subject to the same contempt ruling.

And I've been listening to her lawyer talk all day and I still don't understand what he's saying about whether she will actually allow her deputy clerks to continue issuing these licenses. If she does, then I think the legal battle is over. But if she interferes, it starts all over again.

[20:25:32] COOPER: Ryan, I mean, Davis doesn't have to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, her deputy clerks, as we said, are doing that. Her name is no longer on the licenses, which was an issue apparently for her. Should that be enough of an accommodation to her convictions, in your opinion?

RYAN ANDERSON, AUTHOR, TRUTH OVERRULED: So I don't know. I don't know what her particular convictions are here, which is why I think the lawyer was given those somewhat evasive answers. Only Miss Davis knows whether or not this is enough. I just wonder, how did we get to this situation in the first place? We should try to do whatever we can ahead of time to balance these competing claims.

You're correct, Jeffrey is correct, that the same-sex couples now are legally entitled to marriage licenses so someone needs to provide them with those licenses. The question is does it need to be Miss Davis and does it need to be through her authority. My understanding is that's the sticking point right now is whether or not this resolution settles her concern that it not be done with her title and through her authority as the county clerk.

COOPER: But she is being paid by taxpayers and some of those taxpayers are gay people. So why should gay people, Ryan, be asked to pay this woman's salary or part of her salary if she doesn't like them or just doesn't want to interact with them or doesn't want her name on their marriage licenses?

ANDERSON: Sure. In the United States we have a long history of accommodating public employees, civil servants who have various conscientious objections. This goes to postal workers who had conscientious objections to delivering draft cards and processing draft cards to IRS officials who had conscientious objections to processing the paperwork for nonprofits that they were morally opposed to. A variety of individuals who have had these situations, and we've always tried to accommodate them. We've accommodated the pacifists, we've accommodated the postal workers, the IRS officials.

COOPER: Right.

ANDERSON: The question is can we reach a common-sense compromise. It's a win-win for both sides.

COOPER: And Jeff, I mean, arguably the idea of her clerks being able to issue this is a compromise.

TOOBIN: It is a compromise. But the important principle is that same-sex couples have exactly the same rights. Now, if in fact you could set up a system where they have exactly the same rights, where a deputy clerk gives the same -- gives a marriage license in the same time period with the same legal authority, that could be a reasonable accommodation. But we also have to ask, you know, how much accommodation should we allow? I mean there are -- there are people in this country, there certainly were and there still are, people who think interracial marriage violates god's law. Should we allow clerks to say, well, you know, I'm just not going to deal with interracial couples.

COOPER: Ryan, what about that? If there was a Muslim clerk in this office who decided that Kim Davis on her second or third or fourth marriage shouldn't get a license because this Muslim clerk doesn't believe in divorce, would that clerk have the right to say I'm not going to issue this marriage license? And would all the people who are supporting her now, would they have supported a Muslim clerk doing this?

ANDERSON: Well, I hope they would because religious liberty and religious accommodations are for people of all faiths. So I hope this isn't a situation in which Kim Davis' supporters are just supporting her because she's Christian. We should support people of all faiths. And what the law requires is a reasonable accommodation that doesn't place undue burdens on the employer.

Another way of phrasing that is it has to be a compelling government interest that's being pursued in the least restrictive way possible. So each and every one of these cases would have to be looked at individually, but I hope we would all want to work together to find a solution that really is a win-win solution where both sides can be accommodated and we can move forward peacefully. Because otherwise we're just going to perpetuate a culture war on this issue. And why do we want to repeat that? Why can't we find a way forward to live side by side even while disagreeing about marriage?

COOPER: And a lot will depend on whether or not she decides to allow her clerks to continue on. As you said, that seems to be an accommodation.

TOOBIN: I mean, this is an interesting case, but it's only one case. And this used to be one of the most controversial issues in the United States. And I think it's remarkable that we have one county in Kentucky, a couple counties in Alabama and everybody else already it seems has gotten used to this.

COOPER: Jeff Toobin, Ryan Anderson, it's great to have you on the program.

ANDERSON: Thank you.

COOPER: We have another eyewitness to that fiery moment at the airport in Las Vegas. Late details on the incident. We'll have that right after a short break.


[20:30:00] COOPER: Go quickly back to our breaking news. The top of the broadcast. A 777 catches fire at Las Vegas' McCarran Airport. Paul Berberian witnessed the fire and evacuation and joins us now. So, Paul, what did you see?

PAUL BERBERIAN, WITNESS: So we just came in from a flight from Denver to Las Vegas and as we were taxiing to our gate, I looked out to the right side of the plane and I saw the left engine of the aircraft kind of engulfed in flames and black smoke kind of just towering up from the aircraft. And we were all just kind of, you know, glued to the side of the plane watching this unfold. And thinking that maybe there was no one in the aircraft because we didn't see any of the evacuation slides. Then after maybe a minute, minute and a half, we saw four evacuation slides come out, two in the rear of the aircraft and then two in the front of the aircraft.

COOPER: And I can see in the video that you shot, you can actually see on the left-hand side of the aircraft people running from the plane. Those are people who have been -- who have come down the slide, correct?

BERBERIAN: That's correct. They're all inside and the flight crew was very skilled in just getting everyone out and apparently I heard everyone is safe.

COOPER: It looks as if there are a number of vehicles, small vehicles, like vans kind of in the area of the aircraft. How long did it take for rescue personnel or fire trucks to actually get to the aircraft, do you know?


BERBERIAN: So, I think it was about -- from the moment we landed and noticed it, we were probably sitting there probably 90 seconds and then we saw some small vehicles coming and then around two minutes into it we saw the large fire trucks. I think there was three large fire trucks and they were just dousing that side of the aircraft with water to put out the fire.

COOPER: And we can add just for our viewers, you can actually see that to the right of where the smoke is coming from. You see streams. Now actually in Paul's video you see streams coming from multiple different angles on it. So it looks like they got there relatively quickly, Paul, and kind of attacked it from all different sides?

BERBERIAN: Yes. Certainly, it was very quick. I mean the whole thing kind of played out in the course of just a few minutes.

COOPER: Where did -- the people who ran off the plane, where did they go?

BERBERIAN: So, it looked like half of the passengers went, you know, forward, away from the aircraft, off the right-hand side and then out the rear of the aircraft they went out the left-hand side and back onto the tarmac.

COOPER: There are reports, Paul, I'm just letting our viewers know, two people with minor injuries. We don't exactly know what form those injuries took. But all the people you saw seemed to be ambulatory, they were all able to leave of their own power?

BERBERIAN: Yeah, from the angle that we were there it seemed like all the passengers were able to walk or run and get away from the plane.

COOPER: I know you weren't sitting there with a stop watch, but do you have a sense of how long the evacuations took?

BERBERIAN: Oh, gosh, it was like seconds. It was incredibly, you know, efficient. As soon as those slides popped, like five seconds later people were just flying down those slides and running away. And I said, well, there must be more of it, apparently everyone got off. Just, I mean, it must have been just seconds. It was very, very quick.

COOPER: Well, it's incredible they were able to get everybody off more than I think 150 people onboard that plane. Paul, listen, I appreciate you - quite a dramatic - I appreciate you talking to us about what you saw. Thank you.

Just ahead, Hillary Clinton says the two words we have not heard her say until now, "I'm sorry."


COOPER: There's breaking news tonight in the 2016 presidential race. Two words from Hillary Clinton, "I'm sorry" she says just a day after saying that no apologies were needed for using a private e-mail server as secretary of state, she sat down with ABC News's David Muir and apologized.


HILLARY CLINTON (D) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: In retrospect, certainly, as I look back at it now, even though it was allowed, I should have used two accounts, one for personal, one for work-related e-mails. That was a mistake. I'm sorry about that. I take responsibility. And I'm trying to be as transparent as I possibly can to not only release 55,000 pages of my e-mails, turn over my server, but I am looking forward finally to testifying before Congress, something I've been asking for for nearly a year.


COOPER: Now, this comes as new polling shows the Democratic frontrunner losing a bit of her edge and new efforts by the campaign to revamp her image in the eyes of voters. A lot to talk about with Republican strategist Alex Castellanos. CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Donna Brazile and Paul Begala, who is a man of many titles, CNN political contributor, chair of a leading pro-Clinton super-PAC and longtime friend of the Clinton family. It's good to see you all. Paul, how significant, how strategic for that matter is the fact that Hillary Clinton now apologizes for the e-mail server which she has declined to do as I said, as recently as yesterday? Are critics going to accept this and move on? Should they?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Critics won't. Democrats are rooting for her. They're pulling for her. Even in that poll you mentioned, which has Hillary's vote down ten points, that's a bad poll for her, even in that poll her favorable rating among Democrats is still 71. Just as high as Joe Biden, who has not been subject to months and months of political attacks. So Democrats are really rooting for her. You know I'm for her and as you mentioned, I'm being paid by a super PAC that supports her. But she's still the person that Democrats want to be their nominee. I suspect she's going to wind up being president. This is not going to stop the haters, it's not. This committee, this permanent committee on harassing Hillary Clinton that the House has set up has been working now for 488 days. That's longer than Congress investigated Iran contra or the Kennedy assassination. This is a fixation that they have. It's not going to work out for Republicans but they can keep trying.

COOPER: But I mean, Donna, for some it's hard to read this whole apology, hard not to read it skeptically. I mean given that in the interviews both yesterday and Friday, she declined to apologize and then on the day, the very day that a strategic makeover from her campaign is reported, suddenly she is apologizing. They talked about her being more humorous and humble. This is certainly one leg of that, isn't it?

DONNA BRAZILE, VICE CHAIR, DNC VOTER PROJECT: You know, you can read it however you like to read it. The way I read it today and the way I've read it on Friday when she spoke to Andrea Mitchell and said I'm sorry that this is confusing. I take full responsibility. Look, I googled the many ways that you can say I'm sorry. You can say it sincerely, you can say it with haste, you could say it, you know, on bended knee. I tend to do it in confession once I make an appointment after Paul leaves the confession booth.


BRAZLE: But the truth is.

COOPER: You guys go to confession together?

BEGALA: It's ...


BEGALA: I think the long time.

BRAZILE: No. We would have to make reservations if we went together.


BRAZILE: But I think she's sincere. I don't think this has anything to do with some calculated strategy to try to win back somebody that has decided to leave her. She's still in a very strong position, as Paul mentioned, to secure the Democratic nomination. And after all, this is about securing the nomination and going before the American people once again to ask for their support.


COOPER: Alex, from a Republican standpoint, is this calculated?

ALEX CASTELLANOS, FOUNDER, NEWREPUBLICAN.ORG: Well, first of all, I'm just glad Donna and Paul are going to confession. That's a good thing.

BRAZILE: We'll drag you too.

CASTELLANOS: Somebody in Hillary's -- I need to go. Somebody in Hillary's campaign did not serve her well. You don't put out that kind of story that we're going to get our candidate to go out there with genuine rehearsed, warm and manufactured humor and authenticity and then go out and apologize like this. Anderson, you were too young in 1965 to remember the zombies. It's too late to say you're sorry. It was a great tune. It's a little late for Hillary now. Her problem is not just with Democrat voters, it's with swing voters. She's collapsing there. And if she collapses with those voters, eventually Democrats will have to ditch her, and that's her big problem. And why Biden is being sucked into the race.

COOPER: Well, you know, Paul, David Axelrod coming out over the weekend saying, look, just be humble and authentic rather than having it be part of a new campaign kind of retooling. And to that point, there's another clip from that ABC interview where Hillary Clinton gets emotional talking about her late mom. I want to play that.


HILLARY CLINTON: As you probably know, my mother had a terrible childhood. She was abandoned by her parents, she was rejected by her grandparents. She was literally working as a housemaid at the age of 14. And she told me every day you've got to get up and fight for what you believe in, no matter how hard it is. And I think about her a lot. I miss her a lot. I wish she were here with me. And I remember that. And I don't want to just fight for me. I don't - I mean I can have a perfectly fine life not being president. I'm going to fight for all the people like my mother, who needs somebody in their corner.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COOPER: You've known Hillary Clinton for a long time. Showing that kind of emotion, letting her guard down, do you want to see more of that? Because I think back to 2008 and I remember on the campaign trail there was a moment where she -- her voice seemed to break, she seemed to tear up and people said that was when she got her -- she found her voice.

BEGALA: Right. And then you know what the campaign did? They went - rushed back, they hid that. And her chief strategist at the time actually said being human is overrated. That's not what this campaign is doing. I suspect Alex is right, I suspect her campaign hated that story about strategy today. They hated it. You just do it, as ax said. When you're trying to woo a lover, you don't say now I'm going to blow in your ear. You just blow in her ear.


BEGALA: It's been a long time. I haven't had a first date since the Reagan administration. That's my deem recollection. Now I'm going to have to go to confession, I suppose. But I knew her mother too. And Hillary, she got - Dorothy Rodham had a Dickensian childhood, just heartbreaking. Hillary had a very good childhood. She lived her middle class dream. But her mom and her mom's story, when Dorothy Rodham passed, it really had an impact on Hillary. I think the two things that happened, was that baby Charlotte entered her life, her granddaughter, and before that Dorothy Rodham passed from her life. And that had a profound effect. Hillary is not a person who's comfortable showing emotion in public. It's not easy for her. But that was - believe me that was very authentic. That's what is driving her. As she said, she's already rich and famous and beloved. She doesn't need to be president.

COOPER: Donna, there's this Monmouth University poll out, Hillary Clinton still leading Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. But she's the only one losing support, down ten points as Paul mentioned earlier on from last month. When you look at those numbers, as Paul said, that's not a good number for her.

BRAZILE: You know, it's not good this week. It may be better next week. We've seen polls, there's been three polls over the last I think 72 hours. She's good in some polls, some polls she's had a rough patch. But I want to go back to what Paul said momentarily ago. I've known her since I was an intern back in the day at the Children's Defense Fund. I'm not going to tell my age since they've already told Anderson's age, he's young. But the truth is, is that she's full of compassion. She's a woman who has strong convictions. But personally what she deeply cares about, she cares about children and family and making sure all of our children have a head start and healthy start. And I hope she talks more about that. She doesn't need to be scripted. This is a woman who I believe understands what ordinary Americans are feeling every day and will go out there and fight for them. That's what I believe.

COOPER: Donna Brazile, I appreciate it. Paul Begala and Alex Castellanos, we'll leave on your chuckling. Just ahead, thank you all, appreciate it. Two high school football players are suspended after they hit a game

official. One knocks him down, the other then dived on him. Take a look. Whether there are going to be criminal charges, police are investigating. We'll have a live update next.




COOPER: Two high school football players in Texas have been suspended for what amounts to unnecessary roughness against a referee. The incident was caught on video and police are now investigating. Ed Lavandera reports.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Under the Friday night lights of Texas, this game ends with a stunning shot. One player from San Antonio's John Jay High School spears a game referee in the back and then a second player strikes. The video clips have been watched online millions of times in just a few days.

DR. BRIAN T. WOODS, SUPERINTENDENT HORTHSIDE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: The incident is shameful to us and is deeply troubling to all of us who for many years have been associated with athletics and with extracurricular activities in our school district.

LAVANDERA: The video was so shocking that the local prosecutor in Marble Falls, Texas, where the game was played is considering filing assault charges against the two players. Both have been suspended from school. But the jarring video doesn't appear to tell the whole story. School district officials said some players were not happy about the officiating throughout the game, and they say it's possible that one of the school's assistant coaches, Mack Breed, might have influenced the players' behavior by telling some players that the, quote, refs should pay for cheating us. Breed has been put on administrative leave.

STAN LANG, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NISD ATHLETIC DEPARTMENT: Maybe the emotions got the best of him, based on, you know, his opinion on officiating and the alleged comments. You know, and that's what's very difficult for us to be able because that's not what we're all about.

LAVANDERA: According to school district officials, the two players, a sophomore and a senior, also allege that the game's ref directed two different racial slurs at the Jay football players during the game.


LAVANDERA: The game umpire has been identified as Robert Watts. He reportedly told "I'd like to keep my officiating quiet. Libel and slander have been committed against me. I will be contacting the appropriate people soon, and any statement from me will come at a later date." Despite the allegations, school district officials remain critical of the players targeting a defenseless referee.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Out in the spirit of competition, the ultimate authority and respect needs to be given to those officials, regardless of what may have been said or assumed said.


COOPER: Ed Lavandera joins me now. It's so disturbing. What's the latest on these two students?

LAVANDERA: Well, school district officials are trying to figure out what to do next. There's an emergency hearing scheduled for tomorrow with the University Interscholastic League, which is the governing body of high school athletics here in Texas, to continue the investigation. The students could be suspended, they could be expelled, and they could also face those criminal charges. So exactly what happens next to these two players and this coach is still in the process of being worked out, Anderson.

COOPER: So it's up to the local prosecutor to determine whether or not criminal charges I guess are actually filed.

LAVANDERA: Right, right. John Jay High School is in San Antonio. The game was played up the road in a small town called Marble Falls, Texas, and it is that jurisdiction that will take a closer look at whether or not any criminal charges will be filed. The prosecutor, as we mentioned, is looking into that. So that would probably take longer than the disciplinary action that the school district takes, but all of that is going through the process now.

COOPER: All right, Ed, appreciate the update, thanks.

In the next hour of "360" more on our breaking news, the burning airliner and the evacuation in Las Vegas. We now have a correspondent at the scene and we'll check in with him shortly.