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Secret Service Shoots Man Near White House; Flight Data: Smoke Alerts on Airliner Before Crash; Smoke Alerts on Airliner Before Crash; NRA Endorses Donald Trump. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired May 20, 2016 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN: Make sure to turn into CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION" this Sunday at 9 a.m. Eastern and noon. My guest will be presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.
[17:00:07] That's it for "THE LEAD." I'm Jake Tapper, turning you over to Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Have a great weekend.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. White House shooting. A violent encounter near a Secret Service checkpoint puts the White House on lockdown. Sources say a suspect was shot after brandishing a weapon. The vice president was secured in the White House complex during the incident.
Smoke in the plane. Flight data obtained by CNN shows smoke detector alerts on board EgyptAir Flight 804 in the minutes before it crashed into the Mediterranean. Was it terror? No group has claimed responsibility, but Egyptian authorities suspect an act of terrorism, and the early thinking of American officials is that the plane was brought down by a bomb. If so, was it an inside job by someone on board the airliner or with access to it?
And airport security fears. Is there a link -- a weak link in keeping air travelers safe. Even as passengers wait on longer lines for screening, who's keeping watch over the thousands of workers and contractors at every major airport?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news. A violent incident near a White House checkpoint. A law enforcement source says Secret Service officers shot a male suspect after he apparently brandished a weapon. The suspect was taken into custody. The White House was thrown into lockdown.
President Obama was away, but Vice President Biden was secured in the complex during the incident. That lockdown has now been lifted.
We're also following breaking news in the EgyptAir crash. Flight data information obtained by CNN shows smoke was detected on board Flight 804 shortly before it went down over the Mediterranean. Censors showed smoke in a laboratory and other indications of trouble on the airliner. The search for wreckage is starting to yield some results. Officials
say debris has been located, including seats, luggage and human remains.
The airliner disappeared from radar early yesterday as it flew from Paris to Cairo with 66 people on board. Egyptian officials say they suspect terrorism, and the initial assumption by U.S. officials is that a bomb may have brought down the plane. But there has been no claim of responsibility, at least not yet, and officials say there is, quote, "no smoking gun." I'll speak live with the Egyptian foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry.
And our correspondent and analysts and guests, they will have full coverage of the day's top stories.
Let's begin with the shooting incident, though, over at the White House. Our senior Washington correspondent, Joe Johns, was there during the lockdown. Tell us the very latest. What are you learning, Joe?
JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it was around 3 p.m. Eastern Time here at the White House. A law enforcement official tells CNN that an individual was identified with a weapon around the ellipse around 17th and E Street, 17th and State Place.
That individual was told to drop the weapon, we're told. He did not do it and was shot in the abdomen, a law-enforcement source tells us. He was taken into custody, then taken to the hospital. Authorities tell me this was one Secret Service agent who did the shooting, apparently identifying this individual with a gun.
When that happened, the entire White House complex went into lockdown. The president of the United States was not on the property, playing golf at Andrews Air Force Base. The vice president was and he was secured.
So after a short time, the entire situation was resolved, and what initially happened here was that they lifted the lockdown here at the White House, and now things at least are getting back to normal.
They have identified a car that was driven by the individual they believe showed up with the gun, and they are searching that for additional evidence as this investigation continues.
BLITZER: They believe they've identified the suspect, but apparently, no motivation, no explanation, at least not yet?
JOHNS: Absolutely. That's correct. Talking to law enforcement officials, it's not clear what the motivation of this individual was, showing up here at the White House with a gun, but they certainly are looking into that at this point.
BLITZER: All right. When you get more, let us know. Joe Johns at the White House.
There's more breaking news we're following now in the case of that Egyptian airliner which went down over the Mediterranean. Flight data information shows smoke alerts were triggered on board just before contact was lost with Flight 804, even as searchers are now beginning to locate debris and human remains.
CNN's Brian Todd is joining us here in THE SITUATION ROOM with new information. What are you learning, Brian?
[17:05:05] BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, CNN has just obtained data from a real-time in-flight recording system indicating that smoke alarms went off near the bathroom on board the EgyptAir flight and near the plane's avionics.
This occurred just a couple of minutes before the plane vanished. Now, this is breaking as we're getting more information on the security investigation and the recovery effort.
TODD (voice-over): A series of grim discoveries in the Mediterranean less than 200 miles north of the Egyptian coast. Officials say search teams have found body parts, personal belongings, seats and possibly more debris from Egypt Flight 804.
PANOS KAMMENOS, GREEK DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): Allied aircraft appear to have located further findings in a different location.
TODD: Data obtained by CNN from the flight's real-time reporting system, called ACARS, indicates that smoke alerts were detected near a bathroom, in the cabin and near the avionics just minutes before the plane's signal was lost.
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: If there's a fire on board the aircraft in this area, which the ACARS indicates, then something was close to the cockpit and it's up near the cockpit and could have been something either mechanical that had failed, a short circuit, or it could have been an incendiary device of some kind, as well.
TODD: Tonight, Egyptian and U.S. officials are holding to their belief that a terrorist bomb brought the plane down. Investigators have a daunting task, looking at everyone who came in contact with the plane at four airports in four different countries.
RAFI RON, FORMER ISRAELI AIRPORT SECURITY OFFICER: We're talking about maintenance (ph). We're talking about cleaners. We're talking about technicians. We're talking about the people that fuel the aircraft.
TODD: In the 24 hours before it vanished, the plane had stopped in Eritrea, in Cairo, in Tunisia, back to Cairo, then to Paris. Security experts say, at the airports in Cairo, Eritrea and Tunisia, officials don't have tight control over the employees, and the workers are vulnerable to bribes or extortion.
But the plane's final stop in Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, isn't air tight, either. French officials say since January of last year, 85 employees at Charles de Gaulle lost their security clearances because of alleged radicalization. U.S. officials say Flight 804 had a security sweep at Charles de Gaulle before it is final takeoff. But experts say that sweep may not have been able to detect a bomb the size of a soda can, like the one which brought down the Metrojet plane in the Sinai.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's almost impossible to do without the help of dogs or some technology. And I think the description of sweeps being performed, because those sweeps are very superficial.
TODD: Tonight, more than 24 hours after the plane vanished, there's been no claim of responsibility by ISIS, al Qaeda or anybody else. Relatives and colleagues are vouching for the character of pilot Mohamed Said Shoukair and first office Mohamed Mamdouh Assem. But analysts say they have to be investigated.
DAVID GLEAVE, AVIATION SAFETY INVESTIGATOR: We will look into the background of the pilot, everything they were doing recently. Their family history and their social history to make sure that they were not particularly stressed.
TODD: Now, regarding that new data indicating smoke alerts went off near a bathroom and near the avionics of this plane, the Egyptian civil aviation industry tells CNN it is not aware of that ACARS data. EgyptAir has not yet commented -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian, regarding the security situation at Charles de Gaulle Airport, Paris, and the people who lost their clearances due to being supposedly radicalized, are the French stepping up security at that international airport?
TODD: Well, they apparently are, Wolf. A top French official telling us there are going to be 30 extra intelligence officers at the airport starting next month.
But, Wolf, this is already one of the most heavily secured airports in the world. There are nearly 6,000 security agents there. But they've really got to look tonight at the sweeps they're doing in these passenger planes, because as you just heard, experts are telling us there are real gaps in those security sweeps. They've got to step those up, as well.
BLITZER: They certainly do. All right, Brian. Thanks very much.
I want to bring in our justice reporter, Evan Perez. Evan, what are your sources telling you about this?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we -- even with this new additional information, they still aren't any closer to determining what exactly happened. This data really tells us that something catastrophic happened, which obviously we already knew, and it tells us that something that catastrophic happened very quickly.
But it really doesn't bring us any closer to determining whether it was a bomb, whether or not it was something mechanical that just happened really quickly and brought this plane down.
Now, I think from looking at everything, officials still believe at this point, their going theory, is it's something terrorism-related, possibly a bomb, brought down this airliner.
But until they recover the data boxes and be able to look at some of the evidence, including whether or not there's any evidence of explosives on the bodies or on pieces of the aircraft that are recovered, they're really not going to be able to rule anything out, including whether or not there might have been a catastrophic failure caused by something going wrong on the aircraft.
[17:10:10] BLITZER: So basically, what your sources are saying, even though there was some smoke detected in the laboratory, that doesn't necessarily mean it was mechanical or terrorism? It could have been either?
PEREZ: Right. And in past cases where we've seen fires on aircraft, what we've seen is fires burning slowly, things that give you time for you to radio that there's something wrong on this aircraft. There have been a number of incidents where you've had fires on aircraft, and the pilots are able to radio and say, "We're having trouble. We're having smoke on the aircraft. We're on fire." Those things typically give you time to react.
In this case, what appears to have happened, happened very quickly, and this aircraft just fell out of the sky. So it tells us that whatever happened was very, very quick and did not have any time to be able to radio in.
BLITZER: Interesting. All right. And there was no radio mayday or anything like that from the cockpit?
PEREZ: Or anything like that.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much for that.
I want to bring in our aviation correspondent, Richard Quest, who's watching all of this unfold. Richard, how do you interpret the data from these sensors showing there was some smoke in the lavatory on that airliner?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think, listening to what you've just been talking about, you put it into the totality of the picture. It's not one warning.
The ACARS system sends out these warnings, sends out, in real time, what is happening to the aircraft. And, you know, the crucial ones are the last two in many cases, because that shows the total failure of the aircraft. That shows the flight computers completely failing as a result of fire or whatever.
And then you work up to find the proximate cause, and you find the one in the lavatory. You find the window set, all from the same side of the aircraft, behind the co-pilot. Where is the location of whatever has taken place? Is it under the
hold, the hold that is immediately to the rear of the cockpit, or is it in what's known as the E and E (ph) bay, the electronics and aviation department, which is underneath -- immediately underneath the cockpit, where you've got all the communications information, all the technology relating to the operations of the aircraft? If you like, the brain of the plane is immediately under the cockpit.
Now, it tells us nothing about the source of the fire. You and Evan have been discussing that. We know nothing about what may have caused it, whether it was an explosion that led to a fire that led to failure, or something else.
But I can tell you, having looked at these things, fires on planes are the single most deadly aspect. You've got two cases to bear in mind. You've got Swiss Air, where there was a 20-minute gap between the fire being discovered and the plane failing; and ValuJet, which you'll remember, Wolf, ValuJet over the Everglades off Miami, where there was only four minutes, four minutes between the pilots basically saying, "What was that?" and the plane actually crashing.
The only thing that I -- I caution with this one is, we don't have any warning. Fires tend to take a little bit longer, so you do get a chance to get a warning out, a mayday, some sort of a distress signal.
However, in this case, because of the location, it may have been that the communication devices were also taken out at the same time. I think, you know, not to be either humorous or in any case flippant about it, I think what we're hearing, what we've found is certainly, quote, "the smoking gun."
BLITZER: Richard Quest, I'd like you to stand by. I'm going to bring you back shortly.
But up next, Egyptian officials, they were quick to suggest terrorism was the cause of the crash. I'll speak live with Egypt's foreign minister. He's standing by, Sameh Shoukry. We'll talk about where the investigation stands right now.
[17:18:36] BLITZER: Our breaking news, flight data information just obtained by CNN shows smoke was detected on board EgyptAir Flight 804 shortly before it went down over the Mediterranean. That comes amid a massive hunt for wreckage and clues to what down that EgyptAir Flight 804.
Searchers have found aircraft parts, personal belongings and human remains floating on the Mediterranean.
Joining us now by phone is the foreign minister of Egypt, Sameh Shoukry.
Foreign minister, thanks very much for joining us. Our deepest condolences to you and to everyone -- everyone in Egypt for this horrendous loss. First of all, I need to get your reaction to the new information
obtained by CNN that there were, in fact, smoke alarms detected on the plane near the lavatory just before the plane disappeared, vanished and crashed. What can you tell us about that?
SAMEH SHOUKRY, EGYPTIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (via phone): Well, first of all, thank you for your sympathy, Wolf. It was really tragic. Today was Friday, and prayers in all of our mosques and in all of our churches for those that have lost their lives and for families that are grieving.
I've only seen reports -- I've read reports of what CNN and maybe other broadcasters (ph) have been putting out. It does say something about intercepting some information so I really don't have anything related to this issue. And I'm not quite sure to what extent it's verifiable. I'm just following it in terms of how it's being reported in the press.
[17:20:09] BLITZER: Have you seen any concrete evidence yet, Foreign Minister, that would indicate this was an act of terror?
SHOUKRY: There is no concrete evidence as of yet. We are coordinating very closely and cooperating with the French authorities, and we are taking every measure on our side to try to find whatever evidence that might exist. Of course, as you know, Wolf, that the evidence related to the black boxes, the flight data recorders and whatever other technical facilities are available, those are -- usually do give the correct interpretation of what happened.
BLITZER: Besides terrorism, are you looking into the possibility there could have been a mechanical failure of some magnitude, obviously, that could have brought this plane down? Is that -- is that a serious -- a serious part of the investigation?
SHOUKRY: Well, always. So now you relate to the potential of terrorism because of the position of the aircraft and also any technical faults that might be investigated. You'll know the plane has a technical record that was clean and had all of its maintenance and technical checks before it took off.
So again, it's a matter of referring to the data, to the hard evidence before one can make any conclusions.
BLITZER: The Airbus was a relatively new plane with an excellent safety record. The weather was good over the Mediterranean at the time. So your assumption is -- the working assumption, it was probably some sort of act of terror.
U.S. officials suspect it may have been a bomb, maybe even a small bound the size of a soda can, which apparently brought down that Metrojet over Sinai last year, that Russian plane taking off from Sharm El-Sheikh, flying to Russia with 222 people on board, all of whom were killed. Is that the assumption; maybe it was a small bomb like that?
SHOUKRY: Well, I can't really speak to the nature of whatever terrorist threats might exist. It is being mentioned by several officials and certainly not something that can be ruled out because of the position of the aircraft and its height and altitude and losing contact and getting off the radar screen.
So we're looking into all the possibilities, and I'm sure that there's going to be the two most likely possibilities are probably those of terrorism or of a technical failure. But again, there's nothing, really, to think that there was anything wrong with the plane from a technical perspective.
BLITZER: The engines of the Airbus, the Airbus made in Europe, but the engines of the plane were made by the U.S. company Pratt and Whitney. The National Transportation Safety Board here in Washington says U.S. experts are ready to assist in the investigation if they're asked by the Egyptian government, the Egyptian authorities to do so.
Are you asking the U.S. NTSB, the national safety transportation board to help?
SHOUKRY: Well, we're certainly asking everybody that is obliged to cooperate in the investigation. And my understanding is that the manufacturer of the aircraft, the manufacturer of the engines is always part of the investigation into aviation accidents.
So I'm certain that they will be requested. And they are obliged to participate in the investigation as a matter of international regulation.
BLITZER: So you -- the bottom line, you do want the U.S. to help?
SHOUKRY: Of course. Of course. I spoke yesterday with Secretary Kerry, who provide -- who indicates his willingness to provide assistance in the search operation and the extraction of the black boxes and have conveyed our thanks and appreciation. We depend on the usual cooperation between us and the United States when it comes to things of this nature.
BLITZER: Foreign Minister Shoukry, thank you so much for joining us. Once again, our deepest, deepest condolences. We will stay in close touch with you.
SHOUKRY: Thank you.
BLITZER: Coming up, our experts getting ready to explain that cryptic new data showing smoke on the EgyptAir jet in the minutes before its fatal plunge.
[17:28:57] BLITZER: We're following the breaking news in the mystery of what brought down an Egyptian airliner with 66 people on board.
We have just learned the data relayed by satellite show there were smoke alerts in the plane just minutes before it disappeared from the radar screens. Let's get insight from our experts. Joining us, our CNN senior law
enforcement analyst Tom Fuentes -- he's a former assistant director of the FBI; our aviation analyst, the former NTSB managing director Peter Goelz; our aviation analyst Miles O'Brien; and our aviation correspondent, Richard Quest is still with us, as well.
Peter, what could these smoke alerts basically tell us? This is the ACARS system, this little black box you have right in front of you. What does that indicate to you if, in fact, the ACARS system detected smoke coming from that lavatory just a minute or two before the plane vanished and went into the sea?
PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, the ACARS is a satellite- connected data link that each airline can set it up to report information that they want to get.
[17:30:01] Oftentimes it's maintenance information that allows them to maintain the plane more promptly. In this case it indicated that something started a fire, there was something going on in the lavatory and then it spread quickly. And it certainly does not eliminate terrorism. But boy, it is a very perplexing and ominous note.
BLITZER: Yes, Miles, you're a pilot. How does this ACARS system work and would the pilots have known immediately that there was smoke detected?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I mean, think of the aircraft sort of live-streaming as it flies along and reporting its condition. And this is about reducing the time on the ground so when the maintenance crew gets the aircraft when it arrives, they know exactly what parts to have on hand and get it back in the air. And so as it flies, it sends either by satellite or by ground VHF radio these reports on its health and condition.
I was just reading through them. There's a couple of issues with anti-ice that the windows and the pilot windows are heated. Apparently there was a problem with that. Then there was a smoke in the lavatory indication. And then there was also smoke in the avionics bay and that's beneath the cockpit, not accessible in flight.
And then there were some failures on the flight control units. You know, the Airbus A320 has more than 100 computers in it, and they ought to work in concert for the aircraft to stay in the air and they all have to talk to each other in just the right way. And so there was a series of faults here that were going on. Obviously something of a reasonably catastrophic nature was unfolding at this time and I would remind you that the first maneuver that we saw this aircraft do was a 90-degree left turn.
That is standard operating procedure for a flight crew to get off the airway because you don't want to dive down into traffic which might be beneath you. You make a left or right turn 90 degrees and you go down as fast as you can to an altitude where you can get enough air so that the passengers and crew can breathe. And so what they did initially was seemingly, at least, doing a rapid emergency descent and they could have been responding to what we're seeing here. BLITZER: Richard, how does this change the investigation, this ACARS
system saying that smoke was in fact detected?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It changes it in the respect that it narrows down the areas that you're looking at. As everybody is pretty much ad idem. It doesn't tell us anything whether it's an explosion because of a bomb or because of a mechanical fault but immediately, Wolf, immediately it narrows down the area that we're looking at. We're now no longer worried about wings or what else might have happened or other flight control surfaces. You're now focusing on smoke, avionics bay, flight control failures, the various sensors that failed and what Airbus and the Egyptian authorities and the BEA will be now studying very carefully, is looking at the sensors that failed and starting to build a picture of the sort of cascading effects that would have happened.
We saw this with Air France 447 where we have 24 ACARS messages sent from the plane as Miles points out automatically sent out from the aircraft. It starts with the pito tubes in that case and then you have the next one and the next one and the next one. But what you're able to do is build up a picture of what was happening.
Now I'm guessing here that there is not enough information to go that much deeper other than the fact that there was smoke, there was a fire, what was the cause of it, what might have been the tangential effects. But certainly, Wolf, this ACARS data is exactly what is needed to start narrowing the field of understanding before we get to the black boxes.
BLITZER: Tom Fuentes, you heard the Egyptian Foreign minister, Sameh Shoukry, tell us just a few moments ago, their working assumption is likely act of terror. You hear U.S. officials saying they think it was some sort of bomb. How does that affect the investigation right now?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: You know what? It shouldn't affect it at all, Wolf. And I disagree with our authorities or their authorities who keep saying we've got a working theory, we're narrowing it down to this or to that. They shouldn't be narrowing it down to anything. This is still so early that they've got to consider that it could be a bomb, it could be a terrorist attack, it could be lithium batteries that caught fire in the cargo bay. It could be any number of things. And they don't have enough forensic material to work with to narrow it down yet.
BLITZER: Peter, you heard the Egyptian Foreign minister also tell us they would welcome the NTSB coming over, getting involved in this investigation.
[17:35:07] You would welcome that as well, right?
GOELZ: Sure. I think the NTSB has a lot to offer and they have -- they are the accredited representative under the treaty for -- and they would bring people from Pratt and Whitney with them. So I would hope that they would be involved.
BLITZER: All right. Everyone, stand by. We're getting some more information. I need you all to stay with us.
Up next, Egypt's role in this investigation. Its Foreign minister, you just heard. He said his country is asking the United States, will welcome the United States getting involved and helping in the investigation.
[17:40:15] BLITZER: Our breaking news, CNN has obtained data from an in-flight recording system indicating smoke alerts went off on board EgyptAir Flight 804 just before it crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. From the start, Egyptian officials have suggested that terrorism rather than technical or mechanical failure brought the plane down.
Our global affairs correspondent Elise Labott is joining us now.
Elise, a lot of people are asking whether Egypt can do a good job in this investigation.
ELISE LABOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS REPORTER: Well, Wolf, the U.S. says it's ready to help as questions loom about Egypt's ability to lead the investigation, even as they struggle with the aftermath of an aviation attack just months ago.
Now Egyptian officials tell us they are investigating pilots, crew, security personnel and passengers aboard, but they want answers from France about the security of the plane in the moments before its fatal flight.
LABOTT (voice-over): In Cairo today, mourners gathered at a mosque to pray for victims in the crash. Egyptian president issued a statement on TV to a grieving nation, offering his sadness and regret and he formed a special committee to look into the crash.
So far the investigation has yielded few clues but today an Egyptian official tells CNN the government still believes the way the plane fell from the sky points to terrorism.
The Egyptian government is investigating the crew, pilot and security marshals aboard the plane. But CNN is told so far there is nothing to implicate them in the crash.
GOELZ: They certainly have the technical ability along with the French and the English, who they have invited into this investigation, to conduct a full and complete investigation. The issue is transparency. Will the Egyptians allow the investigation to go where the facts dictate?
LABOTT: With Flight 804 originating in Paris, Egyptian officials say they are looking to France to determine if there was any lapse in the handling of the plane by security personnel, baggage handlers or caterers before its fatal flight.
Today, the French Foreign minister insisted the two countries are in lockstep.
JEAN-MARC AYRAULT, FRENCH FOREIGN MINISTER ((Through Translator): We have to speak in complete transparency to react. There's a total cooperation between Egypt and France.
ERIC SCHULTZ, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: For us, it's too early to definitively say what may have caused this.
LABOTT: At the White House today questions if the U.S. has confidence in the Egyptian investigation.
SCHULTZ: Obviously the Egyptian authorities are in the lead here. But we stand ready to assist in any way we can.
LABOTT: But Egypt does have a history of ruling out terrorism, taking months to acknowledge a bomb took down a Russian airliner last October, even after ISIS posted pictures of the bomb and Russia, the U.S. and other nations blamed terrorists. And to this day, Egypt insists mechanical failure brought down EgyptAir Flight 990. Even though American investigators released a transcript of the cockpit voice recording indicating the pilot deliberately crashed the plane into the sea.
This second aviation disaster in just six months could deliver a crippling blow to the Egyptian government's push to get countries to resume flights to Egypt which were suspended after the Metrojet crash.
LABOTT: And Egyptian officials tell us they move quickly to release information to avoid the criticism they faced after the Metrojet crash that they were in denial about links to terrorism. The government is eager to restore confidence in its air security and is sensitive to what officials call a rush to judgment that Egypt is responsible for the security lapses.
You know, officials say finding those black boxes are priority. They hope they will provide some clues as to what brought the flight down -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Yes. They've got to find the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder.
All right, thanks very much, Elise, for that.
Coming up, the EgyptAir disaster's impact on the U.S. presidential race. Donald Trump mentioned it once again today, right after he picked up a major endorsement.
We're also getting in more news on that breaking development. New data showing sensors aboard the airliner detected smoke before the plane vanished from radar.
[17:48:53] BLITZER: We continue watching the breaking news. New reports indicating smoke in the plane's restroom only minutes before it vanished from radar. We're also following the disastrous aftershocks in the U.S. presidential race where Donald Trump has quickly blamed the crash on terrorism and U.S. weakness.
Trump had more to say just a little while ago when he addressed a convention of the National Rifle Association which endorsed his bid for president.
Let's bring in our senior White House correspondent Jim Acosta.
Jim, what else happened over there? What else did Trump have to say?
JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it was a fiery speech at the NRA's annual convention today. Donald Trump once again attacked Hillary Clinton as unfit to be president but she's not holding back wither, declaring that Trump is not ready for the Oval Office and the terrorist threat that appears to be responsible for the EgyptAir disaster.
ACOSTA (voice-over): Picking up the endorsement of the nation's top gun lobby Donald Trump paid tribute to the NRA. And then within seconds fired off some tough lines of attack at Hillary Clinton.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: You know I call her crooked Hillary because all you have to do is read any newspaper you want. But Hillary Clinton wants to abolish the Second Amendment, just remember that. We're not talking about changing. She wants to abolish the Second Amendment so we're not going to let that happen. I can tell you that right now.
[17:50:07] ACOSTA: Trump, who once supported an assault weapons ban, says he now backs a broad expansion of gun rights, adding that last year's terrorist carnage in San Bernardino, California, and Paris would have been avoided had some of the victims been armed with weapons of their own.
TRUMP: If you would have had guns on the other side, if I took a couple of these folks in here, some especially wearing the red caps, make America great again, I promise there wouldn't have been 130 people killed and hundreds of people lying in the hospital to this day. It might not have happened.
ACOSTA: And the presumptive GOP nominee slammed Clinton as unqualified to be president. Tying the EgyptAir disaster to a record on terrorism as secretary of state.
TRUMP: I've been looking at airplanes getting blown up in the air and lots of bad things happening. Bernie Sanders who I'm sure you all love, he did say one thing that was very interesting. He said that Hillary Clinton is unqualified to be the president of the United States. He said she suffers from bad judgment and she does.
ACOSTA: Even though investigators have not publically concluded the EgyptAir jet was targeted by terrorists Trump went as far as to warn what would happen if warplanes are taken out.
TRUMP: You're going to have a depression worldwide the likes of which you've never seen because nobody's going to travel, there will be no anything.
HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Chris, it does appear that it was an act of terrorism. Exactly how, of course, the investigation will have to determine.
ACOSTA: Also speculating on the apparent downing of the EgyptAir jet, Clinton is hitting right back at Trump.
CLINTON: I know how hard this job is and I know that we need steadiness as well as strength and smarts in it. And I have concluded he is not qualified to be president of the United States.
ACOSTA: The results, well, a new poll suggests Clinton is holding on to a slight lead over Trump they are both deeply unpopular. More than half of those surveyed in a "New York Times"-CBS News poll say they have unfavorable views of Trump and Clinton, though 70 percent say Trump lacks the right temperament to be president, an area where she performs better.
Trump is also spending much of his time shoring up his support among conservatives bragging how many guns his sons own. And pointing to Clinton's comments on gun control.
CLINTON: Here again the Supreme Court is wrong on the Second Amendment and I am going to make that case every chance I get.
TRUMP: Gun free zones. We're getting rid of gun free zones, OK. I can tell you.
ACOSTA: Trump is also taking a victory lap after his big wins in the primaries, urging Republicans to rally behind him, even working in a few double-stuffed jabs at his old rival Chris Christie.
TRUMP: I'm not eating Oreos anymore, you know that, but neither is Chris. You're not eating Oreos anymore. No more Oreos. For either of us, Chris. Don't feel bad. For either of us.
ACOSTA: Now Oreos aside, the Clinton campaign says Trump's claim that the former secretary of state wants to do away with the Second Amendment is false, adding she wants to leave gun control to the states. As for Trump he will be traveling as if the general election campaign has already begun with stops planned in New Mexico, California and a big speech on energy in North Dakota all next week. It's going to be very busy for Donald Trump.
BLITZER: You'll be busy as well. All right, Jim Acosta, thanks very much.
Coming up, CNN now has obtained flight data indicating that smoke alerts went off on board EgyptAir Flight 804 before it crashed into the Mediterranean.
BLITZER: Happening now. Breaking news, lockdown. The White House goes on alert as a Secret Service officer shoots an armed man nearby. The suspect critically injured, taken into custody. So what was his intent.
Smoke alert. CNN obtains data from that EgyptAir plane that crashed into the Mediterranean showing that an on board system detected smoke in parts of the plane moments before it crashed. Was it a malfunction?
Debris found. Grim discoveries in the water north of Egypt. Human remains along with debris from the plane --