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Russian Passenger Jet Crashes in Egypt; RNC Suspends Plans for NBC Debate; School Resource Officers Face Tough Role. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired October 31, 2015 - 08:00   ET


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Crashed in a mountainous area in the Sinai area there in Egypt. The Russian embassy says that bodies are being recovered but no reports of survivors.

ALISON KOSIK, CNN GUEST ANCHOR: All right, let's get you caught up on what we know so far. Metro Jet Flight 9268, it took off just before 6:00 a.m. local time. It was headed from the popular resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt to St. Petersburg, Russia. But it lost contact 23 minutes into the flight.

BLACKWELL: Russian officials say they are sending five rescue planes. Those planes scheduled to take off about an hour from now. We've got coverage from around the world on this, this morning. Ian Lee live in Cairo.

We're beginning with aviation correspondent, Richard Quest, in London and the latest report coming Reuters that there are reports from different authorities say that the black box has been found. And this is still within hours of this crash.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, it's entirely possible that the black box has been found but hard to say. I'm treating a lot of this stuff that we're hearing from the scene with an enormous amount of caution. This accident only happened a few hours ago less than three or four hours ago.

We're talking about a smoldering wreck still on the ground let alone time to be sifting through wreckage finding black boxes. This plane came out of the sky from 31,000 -- 33,000 feet, that's a very severe rate of decent.

So the debris field, although it may be compact, it's going to be deep. There's going to be lots of pieces. The black boxes as you know are red or bright orange so they will be relatively easy to see.

I certainly expect them to be perfectly readable and usable. We've seen far worse situations than this. But I would -- I would put a very strong red flag out against many of the reports that we are hearing.

Particularly about recovery of bodies, question of survivors, and locating the black boxes. The experts, if you like, the aviation experts, haven't even got there yet.

KOSIK: What about reports, Richard, that the pilot radioed to request a landing at a nearby airport before the aircraft was disappeared off the radar?

QUEST: Yes, we've heard this one that apparently he said there were some technical difficulties. But again, I'm going to put that with a red flag. Pilots don't usually just say we're having some technical difficulties.

We need to land an emergency. They're usually a little bit more precise than that and tell the air traffic controller, you know, exactly what it is they need or what has gone wrong, and maybe, maybe not.

Depends on how overwhelmed they were in what they were doing. Every accident I've ever covered has always had this sort of pilot said this. And when you finally get to what they actually said, it's usually something completely different.

So, certainly, we don't know if there was any may day. We don't know what if anything those technical difficulties were. But we do know, we do know from independent verification from flight radar 24, which has the data of the flight profile.

That this flight I think looking at the numbers, this plane gets to about 33,000 feet before it comes out of the sky. And the rate of descent is quite dramatic, going up to as much as 6,000 feet per minute.

KOSIK: OK, you made it clear. It is early in the investigation right now taking a lot of these reports with a lot of caution. Richard, thanks very much. Let's go on to Ian Lee, live in Cairo for us. Ian, what do you have?

IAN LEE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Just to reiterate what Richard said, a lot of caution. We have been sifting through a lot of different rumors that have been coming out here in local media and from other sources.

The picture from what we're hearing from government officials here is that about 20 minutes into this flight, when the plane was a little over 150 miles north of Sharm el-Sheikh, the departure, where the plane departed that is when the plane encountered some difficulties.

And what that is, we do not know. We're hoping to learn more once they do recover those black boxes. We do know Egyptian emergency personnel are on the site of the crash. This is the northern-central part of Sinai Peninsula.

This is a mountainous terrain so that could provide difficulty for emergency crews trying to recover bodies as well as wreckage. We heard that this wreckage was initially spotted by Egyptian fighter jets and they reported to the Egyptian authorities.

[08:05:05] Where then they sent out about 50 ambulances so a lot of ambulances heading to that scene. But that's really, as far as we have it, all that the Egyptian government has been saying. Now there have been other rumors of voices being heard at the scene of the wreckage.

And about that, we just cannot confirm. So, we need to dispel that right away. There also have been reports that people has saw the plane coming down. We just don't know any of that information right now.

But these are some of the rumors, that if people are looking online, these are some of the things that they might be seeing. So, right now, we're waiting for the news to come out from that black box, from this investigation, exactly what happened.

BLACKWELL: Ian, thank you so much. And you can only imagine that there are families that are waiting for some clarity here after the reports that this plane crashed. And we are getting some of the images of many of these families that are getting this news.

And it's important that as Ian stressed, and Richard stressed as well, that the reports that we're getting from even many of the news organizations, from state media, that we get some clarity, that this soon after a crash, we have to be careful.

KOSIK: Heartbreaking pictures here. You know, a lot of these families go from Russia quite often to Sharm el-Sheikh. This is a resort area in Sinai. Everybody goes to dive and enjoy the beautiful coast there. A lot of families often go on these flights to enjoy a holiday, heartbreaking to see these pictures here.

All right, let's go ahead and move on to CNN aviation analyst, Les Abend. I know you've been listening to our reports so far. What are you thinking? We're hearing that the weather was clear at the time that this plane may have gone down.

LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST (via telephone): Yes, good morning, Alison. I'm getting reports as you have. I echo Richard Quest, you know, it's very early stuff. We're only eight hours -- a little over eight hours into this accident. That's not a lot of time.

And what you said about the weather is absolutely true. I was looking at the international weather site, I realized when I got mine, there only was one system and it looks like it moved far off to the east.

I don't even think they were affected by it, and even if there was a weather area, you know, this is a situation that we encounter all the time. So, what disturbs me, you know, the airplane was up to cruise altitude.

We don't have a lot of accidents up at cruise altitude, at least, you know, in the past, we've -- we have reported on some of them. Let me just say what we do know, it's a-321, part of the a-320 familiar. It's a reliable aircraft, a stretch version.

It carried a lot of people according to the Russian reports if correct, 224 which include crew members on board. That says to me that it's a coach airplane. That's a lot of seats in that airplane.

In any case, it's a highly computerized airplane. But once again, let me say it's a very reliable airplane. In that area of the world, a lot of radar, so there should be targets out there that would have, at least, looked at the trajectory of the airplane.

Would have, you know, seen possibly the altitudes that this airplane went to, if it was having what we're calling right now, technical difficulties. I agree with Richard, we would have been a little bit more specific on reporting what exactly we had.

However, they may not have known what they had. They may have had information on their screens that indicated some sort of problem that they were trouble shooting through a check list. And at this point, you know, it's hard to say.

But like I said, it disturbs me that something happened at cruise altitude. There's plenty of time to divert and get the airplane on the ground. Something may very rapidly have occurred on board that airplane that went from bad to worse very quickly.

KOSIK: Explain a little bit more about cruise altitude and why it surprises you that something may have gone wrong at that altitude?

ABEND: Well, cruise altitude is a very stable portion of the flight. The autopilot is on -- it's a very -- the altitude, the atmosphere is very sensitive up there. So any pilot input makes it -- makes it very -- the airplane is very sensitive to fly.

So autopilot is generally on. Pilots are generally monitoring systems. So it's a very low-stress environment in the cockpit because, you know, takeoff is higher stress.

[08:10:07] Landing is higher stress. But at cruise, it's a matter of making sure the airplane is working fine. So, if a problem occurs in that low-stress environment, you've got plenty of time to establish what your problem is.

Go through the appropriate checklist whatever has come up as a problem, and then if you realize, it's a problem that requires diversion to an airport, you've got plenty of altitude, even if both of those engines quit.

I'm not implying that is what happened, but you've got a lot of altitude to alternate airports. In that area of the world, there are plenty of alternate airports. All of this thinking would have gone through the crew's head.

So cruise altitude, you know, there's just plenty of time. So, what I'm saying, something happened that was immediate and these folks in the cockpit, were unable to handle it, quickly enough. Because, like I said, cruise is a time that you should be able to get to checklists and establish where you're going to go.

BLACKWELL: All right. Les Abend, aviation analyst on for us. Les, thank you so much. Stand by. We'll likely reach out to you sometime within this hour. KOSIK: All right, still ahead, U.S. Special Forces get closer than ever to the front lines in the fight against ISIS in Syria.

Plus, you've seen the video that cost the police officer his job. Just what's the role of school resource officers? We're going to talk to a training expert later in the hour.


KOSIK: New this morning, the war on ISIS is intensifying. A video purportedly from the terrorist group has surfaced online and it shows the beheading of four Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.

[08:15:06] At the end of the video, a masked man addresses President Obama before he executes one the prisoners. He tells the president that these actions are in retaliation for a daring rescue in Northern Iraq.

This comes after the White House announces that U.S. troops will be deployed on the ground in Syria. The deployment of more than 50 special ops forces is the most significant escalation of the American campaign against ISIS to date.

CNN's Chris Frates is live for us from Washington with the latest. Chris, what's the significance of this video which is clearly very disturbing?

CHRIS FRATES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the significance of the video that we're going to see about two dozen special operations forces heading to Syria. And that brings U.S. troops that much closer to the front lines.


FRATES (voice-over): President Obama secretly told Defense Secretary Ash Carter, a few months ago, he wanted faster progress in the war against ISIS in both Syria and Iraq, and to come up with a plan, a U.S. official says.

Now, the president has ordered a small number of special operations soldiers into northern Syria to help local forces to fight ISIS.

JOSH EARNEST, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president does expect that they can have an impact in intensifying our strategy for building the capacity of local forces inside of Syria, to taking the fight on the ground to ISIL.

FRATES: The teams, no more than 50 troops total could include member of the Army's elite Delta Force and Green Berets, as well as Navy SEALs. Their mission is to provide ammunition, communications, intelligence, and supplies to local Arab and Kurdish forces on the ground.

Until now, the president had long said he would not put troops in had combat, especially in Syria. And the White House insists that's still true.

EARNEST: These forces do not have a combat mission. This is not in any way an attempt to diminish the risk that they will face or the bravery that they will need to summon to carry out these operations.

FRATES: Secretary Carter did not discuss the ground troops while meeting service members in Alaska Friday night, but he did say ISIS is one of the biggest threats.

ASH CARTER, DEFENSE SECRETARY: We've got to beat ISIL. We're going to beat ISIL. These guy, evil and they are -- and you know, we as, as I said, the noble, and they are the evil, and we are the many. And they are the few. And fundamentally, we're the strong. So, we will beat them and we're -- we are doing that now, and figuring out how to get better at them.


FRATES: The special operations forces are expected to be sent from Iraq across the border into Northern Syria. The U.S. will use F-15 and A-10 jets launched from an air base in Southern Turkey, all part of an effort to help anti-ISIS forces eventually take back ISIS' self- proclaimed capital city of Raqqa.

But make no mistake here, Alison, Obama wanted to avoid putting troops on the ground where they are likely to end up in combat situations.

KOSIK: All right, Chris Frates, thanks so much for that report.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's talk more about this in the historical context with CNN presidential historian, Douglas Brinkley. Good to have you, Douglas.

I want to start with the president's repeated promise that U.S. ground forces would not be engaged in combat against ISIS, would not be there in Syria. Listen.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I do not foresee a scenario in which boots on the ground in Syria, American boots on the ground in Syria, would not only be good for America, but also would be good for Syria.

I will not put American boots on the ground in Syria. I will not pursue an open-ended action like Iraq or Afghanistan.

The resolution we've submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria.


BLACKWELL: Now, there are arguments that the president was discussing combat troops and this is not a combat rule. And he was discussing in the fight against Assad and this is the fight against ISIS. But this is the candidate who ran in 2008 on ending the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. And who has spoken many times that the U.S. should not be engaged in endless war.

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, that's right. I think the White House made it keenly clear yesterday is that they are not considering this a combat mission. It's a bit of a semantic game. Are any boots on the ground?

The White House says no, that we're simply really going to train in logistics and perhaps have a few special ops go on missions. But mainly, we're there to help. We're there to help locals do the fighting against ISIS. But as you just heard Secretary of Defense Carter say, ISIS is evil.

[08:20:05] You don't often hear that word "evil" being repeated out of the Pentagon. They're determined to snuff out ISIS and the president has made a decision that we need some special ops forces on the ground to do that job.

BLACKWELL: Let's but that graphic back up. I think it's quite telling, the numbers of troops in Iraq and the escalation over more than a year, now more than 3,500 there, so 5500 troops in Afghanistan and will be there until the end of the president's term, and fifty, fewer than 50 going now to Syria. What does this escalation in these countries mean for the president's legacy?

BRINKLEY: We're still mired in the Middle East. I think you were right in your initial question. President Obama came in really wanting to get us out of Iraq, get out of Afghanistan, close down Guantanamo and we'd be heading to a new era in U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

That has not happened there. We're still mired there. Although troops are coming home, we're down to 10,000, and you can feel the withdrawal at some moments. But then yesterday, you're feeling, you know, getting into Syria in a very real way with special ops.

And that term "mission creep" keeps coming up, are we now going to start escalating over there. There's some confusion about what our objectives are in the Middle East and that's because it's a very confusing part of the world.

BLACKWELL: Now, there are more than a few GOP candidates for president who have talked about how -- they've now criticized this decision. Many of them have launched their campaign on economic domestic issues. Obamacare, jobs we just knew that the economy grew 1.5 percent in the last quarter.

Lindsey Graham is not one of them. He's running on national security bonafides, his military record. Listen to what he said about this new strategy.


LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What we've learned today is that Obama has given Syria to Russia and Iran. They will dictate the future of Syria. At a minimum have a veto of what happens to Syria, which means this war never ended.

This is why this is a half-fast strategy. It's not a force to allow them to destroy a force within Syria. If you're not willing to put military pressure on Assad, he stays in power. You can't negotiate a settlement for the Syrian people in the region. We've effectively given Russia and Iran Syria.


BLACKWELL: Douglas, put into context, how this race has now shifted, the race for the White House, from economic issues to those of national security?

BRINKLEY: Well, Senator Lindsey Graham is the hawk's hawk and he's wanted to do everything under the sun in the Syria crisis. The president's looking for a more moderate course whether this is enough of sending in Special Forces, we'll have to see probably not.

It's a very dense and ugly situation over there and Senator Graham's correct in the sense that Russia and Iran are now at the peace-negotiating table. They're looking out for their own interest until Syria.

But maybe some kind of diplomatic peace, maybe the keeping of Assad in Syria, after all of this, might be the end result. You know, the United States is trying not to send ground troop en masse.

We are trying to learn the lessons of Iraq and not make another mistake, but it's like a magnet, Syria. The birth of ISIS keeps drawing us back for the reasons you showed at the top of the show, these beheadings that are going on here.

The heinous crimes against humanity and the feeling is that the United States has to do something. We're doing it from the air, and now we're doing it with special ops, we'll have to see whether that's enough to get the job done.

BLACKWELL: Indeed, some criticism coming in from Senator John McCain saying that this is not enough. Douglas Brinkley, thank you very much.

BRINKLEY: Thank you.

KOSIK: All right, we continue to follow the breaking news, a Russian passenger airline crashes in Egypt, 224 people on board. We're learning from the Russian Embassy on Cairo on its Twitter account that the bodies of plane crash victims are being recovered from the plane crash site.

Russian Leader Vladimir Putin has now declared Sunday a day of mourning for the victims. We're going to have live team coverage coming up.


BLACKWELL: A severe flooding has claimed at least two lives in Texas. Look at this. Two others are missing after being swept away by the water. Six inches of rain fell in Austin in just an hour. Shut down the airport for a period of time. Officials report that nearly a dozen people had to be rescued from that high water.

KOSIK: A 10-year-old shark attack survivor was reunited with the people who helped save his life. Affiliate KITV captured the boy's emotional return to the beach to meet the hero lifeguards and minister. Brandon Sinesi suffered severe wounds to his leg but plans to back at school next week.

BLACKWELL: Happy Halloween from outer space. Look closely. NASA says this skull-shaped asteroid will buzz past earth in a few hours. According to NASA, it's the biggest known object to pass so close to earth until 2027.

KOSIK: The Washington Redskins player is suing FanDuel. The wide receiver claims that Fantasy sports site used his image without consent. The lawsuit comes after the federal government launched an investigation into FanDuel and rival fantasy gaming site, Draft Kings earlier this month over concerns employees were using insider information to manipulate games.

BLACKWELL: And in just a moment, we're going to get more on the breaking news. A Russian passenger airliner crashes in Egypt, 224 people on board. There are reports that bodies are being recovered there from the site. Live coverage in a moment.


[08:32:59] BLACKWELL: We've been following the breaking news out of Egypt this morning. A Russian passenger plane carrying 224 people has crashed in the Sinai region of Egypt. There are no reports of survivors.

KOSIK: And we are getting our first images of St. Petersburg, here at the airport, that it's where the flight was scheduled to land. These are presumably family and friends coming to see what happened. The jet was believed to be carrying mostly Russians. It had taken off from the popular resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh.

BLACKWELL: We've got for us Richard Quest, live in London. Ian Lee there in Cairo, live for us this morning. Ian, what's the latest that you're hearing there from the Egyptian officials?

IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're hearing, just right now, just came in from the Russian embassy, they just tweeted out that everyone on board the plane has been killed -- that coming from Russian officials.

Now, we know from the Egyptians that their emergency crews are on the scene of the accident. We are hearing that the prime minister and other government officials are on their way there to oversee this investigation, this recovery, as it takes place.

The crash took place a little over 20 minutes into the flight, coming out of Sharm el-Sheikh, about 150 miles north of that city. It disappeared and hit in this area, that is very mountainous. So that will make it difficult in this recovery effort.

We've heard a lot of rumors this morning, but we're waiting to get these black boxes, to get a definitive answer on what happened in these final moments of this plane before it hit the ground. It was traveling at an altitude of over 30,000 feet when it disappeared from radar.

The Egyptian government has dispatched dozens of ambulances to the scene. But as we heard right now, everyone on board, according to the Russians, all 224 have been killed.

[08:35:08] BLACKWELL: Ian, I wonder if the prime minister's office -- and very likely they have not -- said when they will be stepping in front of cameras to give an update. We know that the prime minister has been meeting with ministers and security officials and has said that there will be some update. Do you know when that will happen?

LEE: We are expecting, hopefully, something later today. But they haven't given a specific time yet. We have been in contact with people who are showing on this trip and right now, what they're saying that they really aren't giving much information. They don't want to give information. They don't want to give anything that is inaccurate.

And this morning, we've been sifting through a lot of details that have come out from this crash. A lot of them have been inaccurate. So we've been very careful on what we're reporting because of all of these rumors that are swirling around. And that's what we're hearing from Egyptian officials now, that they're going to wait.

But this plane was on its way from Sharm el-Sheikh to St. Petersburg, Russia. This is a flight -- we see a lot of these sorts of flights going in to Sharm el-Sheikh -- people escaping the cold, a lot of family members. There were 17 children on board this flight.

And so this is something that we do see a lot. Also it does make it tragic, that you have so many people, these families who were returning home from their holiday vacation. But we are waiting to see exactly what is the cause of this accident.

BLACKWELL: Indeed. Hopefully, we get more information soon. Ian Lee for us in Cairo -- thank you so much.

Before Alison gets to Richard Quest, we just got some tape in of Secretary of State John Kerry speaking about this tragedy, this crash in Egypt. Let's watch.


JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We learned today about the loss of an airliner flying, Russian plane flying from Egypt, Sharm el- Sheikh to St. Petersburg, I think 224 people on board. And we simply want to extend our condolences to Russia and to all of the families.

We don't know any details about it. But obviously, the initial reports represent tremendous tragedy and loss. And we extend our sympathies to the families and all those concerned.


KOSIK: So, condolences coming from the U.S.; also coming from France as this tragedy continues to unfold. Let's discuss this more with CNN aviation correspondent Richard Quest who is in our London bureau. What are you learning about the airline, its safety record? What is this airline's reputation in the industry?

RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Ok. So this is Metrojet is the brand under which it was flying at the moment. Kolavia was its previous brand, it changed names in 2012. If you look back -- excuse me -- into the databases of both Metrojet and its predecessor, you see just two previous incidents in 2010 and 2011, relatively, I say relatively, minor accidents. Nothing -- one on the ground, a fire on the ground, and another, a bad landing.

But nothing -- you know, it doesn't sort of have a catalog of incidents related to it. But it did change its name in 2012 from Kolavia to Metrojet. It has five A-321s, or did have five A-321s. And the profile of the airline is basically a charter carrier. If you look at its last ten, 15 flights, it is shuttling backwards and forwards between Russia and Egypt and other sunshine destinations. So it's very much a charter -- this aircraft has very much done that route backwards and forwards.

The profile of this particular flight is particularly interesting. Forgive me -- I'm going to look down to read the notes so I can just get this right. According to Flight Radar 24, you had the plane getting up to 33,500 feet, roughly 25 minutes into the flight. And then you have a very sharp descent or the rate of descent becomes quite dramatic. Then it goes, the rate of descent goes back up again.

The plane never climbs but it is clearly sort of progressing (ph) on its way down. And the speed drops off dramatically. It drops off all the way down at its maximum speed of some 400 knots down to 184 and then further and further down.

[08:40:00] So, what it's starting to tell us is that whatever happened caused -- there's some form of aerodynamic stall. And that's when -- and then the plane literally can no longer stay in the air.

KOSIK: Yes, we talked with one aviation analyst a short time ago who said it's not very often that you have a plane at that altitude, have an issue at this cruise altitude. Do you agree with that?

QUEST: Absolutely. I mean I said at the top of the hour, 10 percent, according to Boeing's study and the IATA safety report, less than -- about 10 percent of incidents happen in the cruise.

Now, this was, you know, 20 minutes in so it had done its initial climb, it was in its initial cruising altitude. It had just basically reached 31,000 -- 32,000 feet when this happened. It is very rare for incidents to happen.

And when they do happen in the cruise, you look -- my first instinct is always explosion. Was there some form of terrorist activity? Was there some sort of bomb, MH-17 type? And that's not just being dramatic or alarmist. Experience has shown that's tends to be what happens in the cruise.

But we're now seeing a raft of incidents starting with Air France 447, going through Air Asia of which this may be one of them, where you have an incident in the cruise, and it depends on how the plane is being flown. Although this aircraft was 18, 19 years old, it's still a highly sophisticated piece of aeronautical machinery.

And how the pilots would have responded to a technical incident, or a technical failure -- that is going to be crucial at the investigation. They first need to find the black boxes. Once you have the data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, my feeling is this becomes quite a clear cut case.

BLACKWELL: All right. Richard Quest in London for us. Richard -- thank you so much.

Coming up next on NEW DAY, we're going to turn to policy, the infighting, the uproar among Republicans after Wednesday's GOP debate. The Republican National Committee suspending its next debate with NBC? And the meeting between representatives of some of these campaigns trying to get control of the next debates -- hear why.


BLACKWELL: On Sunday, advisers from several Republican presidential candidates are going to meet in Washington on the agenda plotting to wrestle more control over the debate process from their own party.

The Republican National Committee, the committee that sanctioned Wednesday's debate on CNBC has not been invited to Sunday's meeting. Candidates and campaign staff were not happy with the tone and timing of that debate.

RNC chairman Reince Priebus announced Friday that the party is suspending its partnership with NBC, CNBC's parent company for a debate planned for February.

Here now to discuss this infighting, the uproar over the debates: CNN political commentators Ben Ferguson, Jeffrey Lord. Good to have both of you.



BLACKWELL: So we saw CNBC cave to Carson and Trump's demands this past -- on this past debate about the opening statement, although John Harwood said it was always going to be two hours. Next GOP debate coming up soon November 10th. What kind of demands, do you expect -- I'm going to start with you, Ben -- that we're going to hear from this group of Republican candidates?

FERGUSON: I think a little bit more class from the moderators to make sure that the CNBC debate never happens again. There was really no order to this debate. There wasn't even continuity of questions. One after the other were so -- from one end of the spectrum to the other -- there was not even a theme that you could latch on to.

So I think they kind of want to know where are we starting? Where are we going in the middle? What's going to happen at the end, to make sure that this debate which was really nothing more than an attack on the GOP candidates as a whole is not going to happen again. Because it's not good for the voters either and I think that CNBC deserved to get called out for what they did and NBC for that matter.

BLACKWELL: Jeffrey, we have this response from NBC, Let's put it up. "This is a disappointing development. However, along with our debate broadcast partners at Telemundo we will work in good faith to resolve this matter with the Republican Party" -- that, in response to the suspension of the February debate.

Jeffrey, any indication or any chance that this can be resolved and that debate will go on as scheduled?

LORD: Well, you know, one of the things that I think is interesting, this February 26 debate with NBC is coming after the Iowa caucuses, the New Hampshire and South Carolina primary and the Nevada caucus. So number one, I have to believe that by the time we get to February 26, the sphere of the candidates will be a whole lot smaller than it is right now.


LORD: I'm not sure there are going to be people within the Republican Party that are much in the mood for compromise on something like this. As a matter of fact, Senator Cruz has started to push the suggestion of having, or perhaps replacing this with a talk radio debate hosted by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Mark Levin. And I noticed that yesterday Sean Hannity said he's all in and he would be happy to do it. So there may be a move on here not only to dump them but to replace -- dump NBC but replace them with a talk radio debate.

BLACKWELL: Ben we talked about some of these demands that will likely come from this group. And not all GOP candidates are part of this. We know Chris Christie's camp is not.

But what's the potential for some high profile boycotts if they don't get what they want?

FERGUSON: I think there's a very good possibility of that. I also think this tells you a lot about what the candidates think about the Republican National Committee and just how out of touch they are with other candidates and their campaigns and conservatives. The Republican National Committee right now -- this is a crisis moment for them. They're completely out of touch with what the average conservative Republican voter wants. And they showed that by the way that they handled this with CNBC.

[08:50:00] The reason why they had to threaten to cancel is because you had so many people that were literally saying I'm done with you. I have no desire to ever be connected with the Republican National Committee again. You guys aren't listening to us. You don't understand us.

And I think this is two parts. One, it's about the candidate's concern. But two, it's also a way of saying to voters I'm not the Republican National Committee. I'm not the old school GOP. I'm not the old school candidate. And we hear you, and we're not going to let the, run the show.

BLACKWELL: And quite noticeably, the RNC not invited to this meeting on Sunday.

We have to wrap it there -- we have so much breaking news. Jeffrey Lord, Ben Ferguson --

LORD: Now, there's a message.

BLACKWELL: Indeed, there is the message. Thank you so much.


LORD: Thanks -- Victor.

KOSIK: And we continue to follow the breaking news out of Egypt: A Russian passenger jet carrying 224 people, crashing into a mountainous region in the Sinai Peninsula. The Russian embassy has tweeted there are no survivors.

The latest just ahead.


[08:52:33] BLACKWELL: Students at the South Carolina high school where a deputy violently yanked a girl from her desk staged a brief walkout. It happened yesterday. It was not to protest the officer's shocking actions. The students were upset that Deputy Ben Fields was fired after that incident. They want him back in the school.

The entire episode has put a spotlight on the tens of thousands of police officers who now patrol the nation's schools -- the school resource officers.

Our Jason Carroll has more for us.


JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Since these disturbing images went viral, the spotlight focused not only on the now-fired sheriff's deputy and his actions, but also on the role of school resource officers in the nation's schools.

SHERIFF LEON LOTT, RICHLAND COUNTY, SOUTH CAROLINA: Should he have ever been called there? That's something we're going to talk to the school district about. Maybe that should have been something handled by the teacher and that school administrator without ever calling the deputy.

CARROLL: Former deputy Ben Fields was called to the classroom after the 16-year-old student refused repeated requests to leave by both her teacher and a school administrator. Resource officers are used as a law enforcement tool in some schools.

Just this week in Sacramento, a resource officer called to help break up a fight involving about a dozen students. This school's principal tossed during fight, police ended up arresting three teenagers. Breaking up school fights, trying to manage a defiant student are part of a resource officer's duties but it is not all of that officer's responsibilities.

MO CANADY, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL RESOURCE OFFICERS: We want them involved in informal counseling within the context of their job, really getting to know students and buildings a relationship with them.

CARROLL: Part counselor, part enforcer, according to the National Association of School Resource Officers their numbers grew in the late 80s under the DARE program developed to help children stay away from drugs and violence.

Growing more following the shooting in Columbine, Colorado in 1999 after schools felt they needed to have access to armed officers. Now some 82,000 SROs are working full or part time at 43 percent of public schools. And with more officers, more cameras, comes more scrutiny.

The school resource officer in Kentucky faces federal charges for handcuffing two misbehaving children with disabilities. In this video, a third grade boy struggles with the cuffs.

[08:55:08] And now in South Carolina, an officer fired from his job and under a federal investigation that could result in even more punishment.

Jason Carroll, CNN, New York.


KOSIK: All right. Let's dig a little deeper on the issues confronting students and the resource officers at their campuses. I want to first bring in HLN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson, along with Harvard Law Fellow and police training expert Laura McNeal who joins me today here in Atlanta. Thanks for joining us.

What should have happened here? You know, you look at drawing the line between keeping students safe and trying to enforce discipline -- what's the answer? LAURA MCNEAL, POLICE TRAINING EXPERT: It's really simple. Especially

what we've seen with the influx of school resource officers in schools is that the teachers are relying on them for normal adolescent behavior. The officer should not have been called to the classroom for a non-violent offense.

KOSIK: So how should she have handled it? I mean the student was not going to move apparently?

MCNEAL: Well, really, you pick out the timing. So that particular student was not posing any immediate violent threat to anyone in the classroom nor herself. She could have handled that as a lunch break. There are obviously consequences in terms of -- PBIS has strategies for detention.

This particular student, apparently, based on reports, need some type of counseling. But this is something that could have been handled after class. She was not posing an immediate threat to anyone.

KOSIK: So she should have just left her there, let her do what she wants even if it was disrupting everybody's class time?

MCNEAL: Based on -- well, the problem is most teachers are not trained properly on classroom management skills. And so she could have or what she should have done is try to de-escalate that student's behavior, pulled her to the side or quietly talk to her, not make an example out of her in front of the other students to de-escalate and try to negotiate with that student to get her phone.

KOSIK: Ok, but you say the officer should never have been called.

Joey, let me turn to you, the young student in that viral video isn't committing a crime but she's breaking a classroom policy. How much does that create a problem from the start?

JOEY JACKSON, HLN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Alison, that's an open question in terms of whether she was committing a crime. And here's why I say that. I looked at the statute and the statute is very broad. It talks about anybody who willfully interferes with the performances of a classroom. And so you can take the argument she's in willful interference, in this jurisdiction that's a misdemeanor it's by $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail.

So you can make the argument that it is a criminal offense interestingly enough. And you know, when a criminal offense or perceived one occurs the resource officer is there but just a couple of points to make.

You know, the Police Executive Research Forum, they actually did a study of august 2015, and it found 59 hours police in general receive on firearms training. They have 48 hours that applies to actual defensive tactic training. And only eight hours, Alison, that applies and deals with interpersonal skills and de-escalation. That, to me, is incredible.

You know, my dad always used to say, you know, bless his soul, may he rest in peace, that all the weapons he ever had -- he was a police officer -- all the weapons he ever had, the most important thing he had was his mouth. Talk to people, reason with people, be objective with people, respect people.

And so the issue as to whether this occurred is really just so unfortunate, it shouldn't have happened. It did happen. And now the student faces charges. The officer is fired -- so unnecessary.

KOSIK: Joey, if you were representing the officer here, how would you argue this? Would you say he used reasonable force?

JACKSON: Well, I couldn't -- I mean that's what his attorney apparently is saying. I think that certainly -- I mean look, we watched the tape. And every analysis is the same as it relates to police doing what they're doing in terms of bringing the matter under control, was the force necessary?

We all see the tape, you make that decision. Was the force that he used really proportionate to any threat posed there? Again, you make the decision. And were his actions reasonable. So I certainly think it comes down to and I couldn't make those arguments with a straight face, sure, he was reasonable. I'm defending him, he did nothing wrong here. He followed protocol. He followed all procedure.

I think that's in bad faith. I think what we need to do is say is, listen there was an overreaction on the part of the officer, apparently. It appears that way. Did he really deserve to lose his job? Many people will scream, of course, he did. But if you're representing him, you're going to look at the totality of these circumstances, what he's trained to do and what he did in this instance. Perhaps some discipline is appropriate but not a firing. That's what I'd argue.

KOSIK: All right. Joey Jackson, Laura McNeal we've got to go. We've got so much breaking news. Thanks to you both you.

JACKSON: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: And of course, we'll see you in the 10:00 hour of "NEWSROOM". We'll bring you the very latest on this morning's deadly aviation disaster -- a Russian passenger jet crashing in Egypt. A team of correspondents and experts around the world are digging for new information.

"SMERCONISH" starts right now.

MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN HOST: I'm Michael Smerconish. The GOP is at war against the media. And why not?