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Plane Crash; Trump Lays Out Plan for Reforming VA; Additional $100 Million to Syrian Opposition. Aired 6:30-7:00 ET

Aired November 1, 2015 - 06:30   ET


IAN LEE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Sixty-three bodies out in the desert that have yet to come in. We are expecting those bodies to come in as well. They are looking for any hints that includes that these bodies can really tell about what the cause of this crash is. We know both black boxes are here in Cairo now. Experts are going over the details trying to pick apart all of the audio, all of the data that they can. There is an expert team from Russia that is here, as well as an Airbus team. So they are focusing on that right now. The cause of the crash is still unknown and that is the main focus of this investigation.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Ian Lee for us there outside one of the six morgues in Cairo. Ian, thank you so much.

CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: And we are following this story to St. Petersburg airport. Take a look here. There is a memorial that has formed for the victims of the plane crash. The remains of the tourists as we were just talking about, could begin arriving home as soon as today. And so many of those families have really worked hard themselves. You can understand the difficult process it is to submit their own DNA, to help I.D. these bodies. But it does seem to be a very fluid and very quick process at this point when you think about the fact that this just went down yesterday. Nic Robertson is live at the airport. And Nic, help us understand what's happening there, with this memorial, and anybody that you've talked to and any stories that really stand out to you.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the memorial here continues to grow every few minutes. There's a flood of people arriving here. Sometimes one person and a gentleman arriving here now. I see some children coming in, more people coming in. This is the way that it's been. Just look at all of these people arriving here. It's a day of national mourning. But this tiny pile of flowers has grown. There are toys, there are photographs of some of the victims. And while we have been standing here today, we saw one mother arrive. She told us she just come off the plane from Siberia. Her daughter had been on the plane flying from Egypt. Her daughter, she was in tears about her daughter almost collapsing. A young man with her, possibly her son helped take her away in a taxi to where government officials are collecting all the families in the hotel. There they are giving them psychological counseling. They are helping with the recovery effort and the DNA testing that is going on, DNA testing done with over a hundred of those family members so far to help with the -- to help with the identification process. We talked to another man who turned up here a little while ago. He was leaving flowers. He was in tears. And he told us that his good friend had been saving up for years, had waited to get a passport for the past five years to make a trip to Egypt. He had taken his new wife, he had taken his young 6-month-old child. This was his first trip overseas for this family. They were lost. This friend was shuttered, he was devastated, he said, by this news.

What we are seeing here is just a real outpouring of support and sorrow, and I think perhaps a recognition from so many people here that it could have been them on the plane coming back from Egypt. It is - it is a very sad day here, that's for sure.

PAUL: Nic Robertson, thank you so much for bringing us that perspective and really reminding us what this is all about. We appreciate it.

I want to bring in CNN aviation correspondent Les Abend. Because Les, as we listen to his account there and - I mean this really gets to anybody, who not only has lost somebody, but who takes a moment to absorb the thought that yes, that could have been anybody. We all step on the planes every day. Which brings us to what caused this. What - based on what you know, what would be next in this investigation at the point where we stand now?

LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Christi. Of course, this is a horrible scene. And I'm -Before I get to that, I'm very gratified that it seems that this investigation is going according to IKO, international civil aviation organization protocol, which included what, as Nic reported, a psychologist, so that's - that's an important part of this whole process. We've discussed before on various segments on, you know, cruise altitude is a low stress time what we call phase of flight to - for something not to be handled in an emergency. So some of the things that I've looked at, after looking at the flight radar 24 data, if, indeed, that is accurate data, indicates this airplane just literally fell out of the sky. It slowed down to speed that the airplane isn't possible to maintain lift. It's called an aerodynamic stall. The airplane - the wings no longer supported the airplane.

From that angle, you know, there are things that could cause this.


This airplane may have exceeded its performance limitations. There are a lot of people on this airplane. It was probably configured totally for coach. In the states, there's less than 200 people on an Airbus A-321. So, not that - that there was anything wrong with being loaded, but it was a heavy airplane and it was probably - had a lot of fuel, so it is possible to exceed the limitations of the airplane, just not enough lift at certain altitude and certain temperatures to get the airplane higher. They may have attempt to climb to get out of choppy air. We have no reports of that. This is pure speculation. But if they exceeded the limitations, in addition to the stalker, which is a low speed situation, there is a high speed aspect to it where it will exceed the structural limitations, we call it "coffin corner", where the two speeds get very close to each other. Whether this happened or not, it's hard, really hard to say. We have learned that on other accidents, more generally aviation that hypoxia can play a role, where the loss of oxygen becomes insidious, it's a slow leak and our brain does not function without oxygen very well as it loses pressure.

So, if there was an abnormality that they were attempting to rectify through a checklist, their decision process may have been off and flying the airplane may not have become a priority because they weren't thinking clearly. So these are all speculative possibilities, Christi.

PAUL: Sure. And, of course, mechanical is not ruled out as well.

ABEND: Absolutely.

PAUL: Les Abend, we so appreciate you being here. Thank you, sir.

BLACKWELL: Donald Trump losing ground in some polls in the race for the GOP nomination for president. But the hopeful reveals his plane to revamp the Veterans Affairs administration, but how is the plan going to be paid for?

Plus, U.S. special forces headed to Syria. Could these dozens of special ops commandos be a sign that even more will be joining this fight against ISIS? We will hear from New York Secretary of State John Kerry in a moment.



PAUL: Listen to these words. Corrupt. Incompetent. Unacceptable. That is how Donald Trump is describing the Department of Veteran Affairs this morning. The Republican presidential candidate is now unveiling his new plan to reform the department in Norfolk, Virginia. And that is where our Jeremy Diamond is with the latest.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump laid out in the most expansive details yet his plan for reforming the Veterans Affairs Department, but first, we caught up with him as he was entering the event asking him for his reaction to the decision that President Obama made to send troops into Syria and we also talked to him about super- PAC's.

(on camera): And I just want to ask you a little bit about your reaction to President Obama's decision with regards to Syria putting Special Forces there. What do you think about it?

DONALD TRUMP: Well, I think we have a president that just doesn't know what he is doing. Either you do it, or you don't it. 50 people. He puts 50 people.

DIAMOND: So, you would put more? TRUMP: You either do it or you don't do it.

DIAMOND: What about campaign finance? You've talked a lot about that recently.

TRUMP: Super-PACs should not be allowed. Super-PACs should not be allowed. It is absolutely a disgrace what is happening with super PACs and they should not be allowed. They are disgrace. They are horrible for our country and it should be ended.

DIAMOND: Would you do anything about it if you were president as far as changing the laws?


TRUMP: End super PACs.

DIAMOND (voice over): Donald Trump, of course, has talked about the situation in Syria before saying that Russia should be allowed to intervene their two-fight ISIS, but in Iraq, of course, he would be in favor of putting U.S. troops there to combat the radical Islamist group. But, of course, the focus was on veterans where Donald Trump laid out his plans to reform the Veterans Affairs Department and to make health care for veterans more cost-effective. He talked about allowing veterans to use their Veterans Affairs identification card to be able to go and get private health care services at any health care provider that accepts Medicare.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Norfolk, Virginia.


BLACKWELL: Jeremy, thanks. Let's talk now about the policy and the politics with CNN politics senior reporter Stephen Collinson. Stephen, this is a Trump's fourth policy paper come to the time when he's in a real fight to maintain the top spot there in the rankings.

DIAMOND: Yeah, that's right. And you've seen Donald Trump's polls slump a little bit in Iowa. He still leads most national polls in many other big states. I think, you know, on the politics of this, there are about 200,000 veterans living in Iowa. And if you look at the nature of the caucuses, only around 140,000 people showed up to vote in the last Republican caucus. So, if you could mobilize a sector of that population, it could potentially have a serious political impact. I think in the broader sense, Veterans Day coming up in a week and a half or so. That gives Mr. Trump something to talk about, an issue in the run-up to not just Veterans Day, but the next Republican debate on November the 10th. And also, Hillary Clinton has found herself in a little bit of trouble on veterans issues recently. She said that the problem with the V.A. wasn't widespread and that campaign had to row back a little bit. So, that gives Mr. Trump I think an avenue into launching an attack on Hillary Clinton as well with this plan.

BLACKWELL: All right, let's talk about this plan and let's put up on the screen an excerpt from it. All veterans eligible for V.A. health care can bring their veterans I.D. cards to any doctor or care facility that accepts Medicare to get the care they need immediately. Proposes full time ob-gyns, adds more satellites centers to rural areas and precisely need for mental health care. How does Mr. Trump propose to pay for this?

STEPHEN COLLINSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That is the question. Just that Medicare issue there would seem to add a lot of administration and work for Medicare. It's not clear how that would be paid for. You know, I wouldn't say that this plan is lacking specifics. It's very specific on what it wants to achieve. Now, the proof of a program always comes in the budgeting process and that is when if Mr. Trump were president, we would see how effective this might be. I don't think this plan is any less specific than a number of other plans on other issues that other candidates have unveiled. In fact, it's not any less specific than a lot of aspirational policy plans that I've seen unveiled by various White Houses. So, to say that Mr. Trump, OK, he is not saying how he would pay for this, I think, is a fair criticism, but it would also hold him to a standard that many other politicians haven't met themselves.

BLACKWELL: Fair enough. What is important here, as we said, this is the fourth policy paper from Trump.


BLACKWELL: Staying with that narrative, I mean, initially we saw the policy on immigration reform, and that carried the day for several weeks. But since then, some of these proposals have gotten lost in the back and forth, some of the criticisms on Twitter and face-to-face that Donald Trump has launched.

COLLINSON: That's true. I think if you saw the last Republican debate, the heavily criticized debate on CNBC, you did see a little bit more of a muted Donald Trump. He appeared to be perhaps trying to put more of a presidential persona out there. I think his plan and his other plans are a part of this process. So it's going to be interesting to see how he goes forward with this, and if he adopts a bit more self-restraint on Twitter. But at the end of the day his outspoken outbursts and conversations and comments are the things that's made him popular with I think you can say a fairly solid 22 to 25 percent of the supposed Republican electorate. So it's a balancing act, I think, for his campaign.

BLACKWELL: Stephen Collinson, good to have you.

COLLINSON: Thanks, Victor.

BLACKWELL: And we'll have you back next hour to talk about the Republican candidates and this meeting happening today to try to take control of the debates. Looking forward to that conversation.

PAUL: Let's talk more about Donald Trump addressing the plans to send U.S. Special Forces to Syria. And we of course can't ignore the fact he is not the only presidential candidate expressing concerns about our troops fighting ISIS on the ground. That's coming up. Also, another candidate for the best play ever in college football. If you missed it, the ending to the Duke/Miami game, yeah. Why do we need to highlight stuff? You know who has got the ball. We will show you more coming up.

BLACKWELL: We also want you to meet another one of this year's top ten CNN heroes. For the past 16 years, Rochelle Ripley has dedicated her life to helping members of Lakota Sioux tribe of South Dakota. The scenery is breathtaking, but the 9,000 people who live on the reservation are facing extreme levels of poverty and unemployment.


ROCHELLE RIPLEY: There is really no businesses to speak of. No industry at all. So they are very isolated. It's about 40 to 60 miles to the nearest grocery story. So that creates, if you forget bread, you don't go back and get it.


BLACKWELL: So watch Ripley's story at, and then check out all of this year's top 10 and vote for your favorite to become the CNN hero of the year. You can vote once a day at



PAUL: The State Department says the U.S. will provide an additional $100 million to help the Syrian opposition. This follows President Obama's decision to send fewer than 50 commandos to assist the Kurds in Northern Syria as they battle ISIS. Now, this is getting a lot of attention from the campaign trail. Hillary Clinton, quote, sees merit, she says, in the targeted use of special operations personnel to support our partners in the fight against ISIS, including in Syria, unquote. Other candidates on both sides not quite so enthusiastic.


SEN. TED CRUZ, R-TEXAS: I don't think it makes sense to send a handful of ground troops into harm's way when there is no plan for them to win. There's no air support. When their rules of engagement are so constrained that they are able to be effective.

SEN. BERNARD SANDERS, I-VT.: The United States should be supportive and we should be working with our allies in Europe and elsewhere, but at the end of the day, it is going to have to be the countries in that region who are going to have as to stand up and take on ISIS.


PAUL: CNN military analyst Lieutenant General Mark Hertling is joining us now. So, General Hertling, when you hear these candidates and the points they are making, what stands out to you?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING: Well, there is a couple of key issues, Christi, that all of the candidates need to take a little bit closer look at. First of all, Americans do want action against ISIS. That is true. But at the same time, the American people, the Congress of the United States and the current president all say they don't want any major new deployments into the Middle East. So what do you do when that happens? You find ways around those constraints by generating some support for the indigenous people on the ground. That's what the president is doing. He's giving $100 million in this case to the Syrian fighters. He's given a lot more to the Iraqi fighters, and now we are supporting the Kurds even closer. We get more intelligence from those indigenous forces on the ground so we can have stand-off bombing campaigns that are more effective. And you do and try to get the allies involved, which is what has been happening for the past year. Not only the European allies, but the Middle Eastern allies. And recently, within the week, as a matter of fact, both Lebanon and Jordan have been pulled closer into the fight.

I think all of the things the candidates are saying is exactly what is happening right now and has been happening for a year. They are just putting it out there for the American people who they want to vote for them.

PAUL: So you're hearing the concerns of the candidates. When you look at this plan, do you have any major concerns?

HERTLING: I don't. I actually think it's a very smart plan. We have said from the very beginning, the president has said -- the various military leaders have said when they get more contacts in the Middle East, when they have more people to engage with on the ground, intelligence sources and people who they know will properly fight against ISIS, they will support them more. We have said that for over a year. So now you're starting to see the insurgence of special operating forces, which are very good at what they do, and they can bring a significant advantage to the battlefield not only by advising and assisting, but coordinating all of these forces between the Kurds, the Syrian Democratic Front as they are now calling themselves, and the Iraqi security forces, but you're also allowing for the potential for more and more effective bombing of ISIS territory and ISIS headquarters.

PAUL: All right, General Mark Hertling, thank you so much, as always.

HERTLING: Thank you, Christi.

PAUL: For your expertise, we appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: A couple of minutes now from the top of the hour. We will get the newest details on the final seconds before a Russian passenger jet crashed, killing all 224 people on board.


BLACKWELL: We know Egypt maintains no foul play is suspected. There is this investigation that is ongoing into what caused the crash. We have got a live report to you in just a moment.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) PAUL: This is one of the most incredible things to watch. Seriously. Just six seconds left on the clock. Coy will take it away here and tell us what is going on.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS: Good morning, everyone. This play is definitely one for the history books. Can certainly go down as one of the greatest plays in college football history. Not one, not two, not three, not even four laterals coming up here. This had eight laterals in one play. We're talking about the 22nd ranked Duke Blue Devils. All they needed to do is get one tackle to get the guy on the ground and the game is over. But no, the Hurricanes had other plans. Eight laterals. Check it out. I mean, this is phenomenal, outstanding, commanding, demanding, never--

PAUL: This is where I lost it! I didn't see this one!

WIRE: Yes. I mean, look at this, look at the sideline erupting. This was an incredible play. Who says special teams doesn't matter? Right? You hear that all the time. Here is this kickoff return. Last week, we had the Georgia Tech blocked an undefeated Florida State field goal attempt, and took it back and beat Florida State. Two weeks ago, we had Michigan, Michigan State, remember, on a blocked punt! So here you had another special teams thriller. We want to know, though, guys, this brought to mind what are some of the most exciting finishes in sports history? We want to get you involved this morning. Let us know using the #newdaycnn or hit us up on our New Day Facebook page. And we're going to use your responses coming up.

BLACKWELL: This is a good one.

PAUL: This is already called the Miami miracle, right?


WIRE: I like it.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, Coy.

PAUL: Coy, thank you.