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Trump Advisers Urge War with Media ahead of Midterms; Bloomberg Blames Trump for "Inciting" Hate; Search Underway for Bodies of Passengers on Lion Air Flight 610. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 30, 2018 - 10:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, a source close to the White House tells CNN that top advisers inside and outside the administration are telling President Trump to go to war with the press ahead of the midterms. This despite growing calls for unity as the nation faces a rash of violent hate crimes. Joining me now is the former Democratic mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu. Mayor, thanks very much for taking the time this morning.

MITCH LANDRIEU (D), FORMER NEW ORLEANS MAYOR: Good morning. Good to be with you.

SCIUTTO: So I want to start with a general question. You have said, and I'm quoting you here, "We need to spend more time seeking and finding common ground. This means talking and listening to people who may not look like, speak like, pray like, or love like we do."

That's a valuable comment. They're valuable words. I wonder, though, in this politically charged environment, how do you make a difference as a politician or simply as an American beyond saying words like that?

LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, you do have to speak the right words because words matter. The president today could really do something wonderful by the nation when in a time of trouble we look to the president to heal a grieving nation. And he can go to Pittsburgh today and do something really wonderful for the country by speaking really to what's aching Americans today. President Obama, of course, had to do this a number of times. I was actually in the audience in Dallas, when of course, in July of 2016 when we were commemorating the lives of five police officers that were lost. It's a very, very hard thing to do, but the nation really yearns for that. So words really do matter, especially when they're coming from elected leaders and most specifically from the president of the United States.

The second thing that you can do is you can act on it. But if you continue to demonize, dehumanize individuals based on race, creed, color, sexual orientation, you're going to get the fruit of the poisonous tree, which is hateful actions, hateful words and people being afraid of each other. So it really is important not withstanding with the president decides to do and not to do. That we as a nation don't respond the way that he wants us to in the event that he continues to want to divide us because of the midterms. That's not a good thing to do. We can all watch what we say, but most importantly, we should treat other human beings as equally valuable. It's not a hard idea. It's not a hard idea but evidently, it's a little more difficult to do than we have practiced so far.

SCIUTTO: It's a golden rule. The first rule our parents taught us.

A danger or a risk, rather, for politicians in this environment is that to attack, to portray the other side as evil or the enemy. That can be an easy thing to do, even win you some political points. You know better than anybody that you can pay a political price for swimming against the tide. When you, for instance, took down confederate statues in New Orleans, you acknowledged that you lost some support. It's not a sacrifice that most politicians are willing to make.

LANDRIEU: Well, first of all, hate is easy. I mean, most of us that are in the business of politics know that we can stir people. And when people are afraid, when they're hungry, when they're cold, you can always make them afraid that somebody who doesn't look like them is going to come take their stuff. It actually does take leadership, not just from political leaders but faith-based leaders, business leaders, all to say we're going to judge people based on their behavior. We're not going to judge them based on their race, their creed, their sexual orientation, their nation of origin. That takes you to a completely different area.

In the same token though in politics, we have different ideas about what works. We can actually be very hard on the problem and soft on the people. But if the president says, for example, that all Muslims are terrorists or all Mexicans are rapists or all African-Americans are criminals like he accused the mayor of Tallahassee of being just a minute ago.

[10:35:03] That's out of bounds. And I think that Americans, the question is not what President Trump is going to do. I think David Chalian is right. He's really kind of shown what he's going to say and do. The question is why are we so susceptible to responding? And we have to make a choice. You have to choose common ground. You actually have to look for it. If you look for it, you can find it. You can also find division. It just depends on what road you want to go down. I think one is a lot better than the other.

SCIUTTO: The president, consistent with this larger message of, as you said there, immigrants as rapists, Muslims as terrorists, this is exactly the characterization that he's giving to this caravan of migrants. Even without basis, saying there are, quote/unquote, "unknown Middle Easterners in there with the implication they are terrorist has no basis for this. The Department of Homeland Security can even back that up.

LANDRIEU: Correct.

SCIUTTO: You're from a southern state, New Orleans, not quite on the border, but you have immigration issues of your own. In your view, is the caravan a national security risk?

LANDRIEU: Well, they're so far away. But listen. Let me go back to the issue of conflation that you were speaking about with Senator Santorum just a minute ago. Anti-Semitism, hating people because they're black, hating people because they're immigrants are all fruit of the same poison of tree of hating people because of their race, their creed, their color, their national origin. In a Democracy, in the United States of America, our calling card, e pluribus unum, out of many we are one, says that the United States is an idea that's based on the simple premise that we come to the table of Democracy as equals.

Now we haven't always hit that aspiration, but what we haven't said and the founding fathers haven't laid down for us, is that we get to treat each other differently because of how we look. And so, when you continue to dehumanize people by talking about them that way it's easy to get people to hate them and to make them think that they're coming. But haven't you noticed that everything that the president does, whether it's trade or immigration, it's a quote/unquote "a national security threat."

In other words, I have to make you feel afraid of that other human being so you can help me divide and conquer. I just would say to the nation, we're seeing this in New Orleans after the Katrina. The entire world came to help us. People from all over the world came. And it really made a difference when people reached up in our darkest hours, had angels among us, lifted us up and lifting people up is a lot better than pushing them down. You can get a lot further. You may win in the short term by hating, but at the end of the day, it's going to lose in the long term, as it should.

SCIUTTO: It's great you bring up the response to the various storms. Because I often I look to that when people say where do you see evidence of people treating each other nicely, as Americans -


SCIUTTO: -- regardless of race, creed, et cetera. And I know you have experienced it there, and we have certainly seen that in other parts of the country.

LANDRIEU: Well, Jim. I'll say this to you. I know that Washington, D.C. is broken. It can't function, it can't get anything done, but all across America, every day, people are living together and working together. And they're doing fine. As a matter of fact, you see it like most poignantly right after every one of the storms. Most recently, you know to our brothers and sisters in Florida, where right in our darkest hours, people come in and they help each other. They help lifting each other up. And that's really what we're doing in the country.

And so, some of what's happening on the federal level, on some of the -- when some of the campaigns, there's a hat trick, we're unified as a country. We can find a way to work together. We have done it before. The question is why are we letting ourselves be torn apart? That's the more important question. And the way you fix that in a Democracy is you go vote. If you don't like the leadership, you change it. That's the way it works. And I'm hoping that's going to happen next week.

SCIUTTO: Mitch Landrieu, thank you so much for taking the time.

LANDRIEU: Great. Thank you for having me.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: That was fascinating. And what does history show us about what happens when we let ourselves be torn apart?

All right, coming up for us, we're going to update you on this tragic plane crash in Indonesia. Right now, the country is ordering all Boeing 737s to be inspected after a brand-new plane plummeted into the ocean.


[10:43:25] HARLOW: All right. Welcome back. Right now Indonesia is ordering inspections of all of their Boeing 737 planes, all of the ones that are in the commercial fleet. This is one day after that deadly crash near Jakarta.

SCIUTTO: 189 passengers and crew members were onboard at the time. Investigators have yet to find the fuselage of the jet or crucially the black box. This is Lion Air flight 610. Big question this morning, what could have caused the new plane - a few months old -- to plunge into the ocean?

Joining us now is CNN safety analyst and former FAA safety inspector David Soucie. David, first, just big picture here this was a new version of the 737. I believe still the most popular plane for commercial flights around the world. I believe a new engine. Are there any concerns about the design prior to this accident?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Not prior to this accident. The only thing that I would do right now, like they're doing right now, is taking the 737s out of service, and they're also looking at the flight regimes. In other words, the flight patterns, because in this aircraft, as you know, there's some really curious things that happened in the aircraft the night before and this night as far as stability of the air speed and the altitude.

HARLOW: David, one of the key questions this morning is, you know, we know that the pilots made this request to turn around. We also know that they also didn't indicate that there was any emergency, right? Does that strike you?

SOUCIE: It really strikes me. Especially because before that, before they made that call, the aircraft had dropped about 800 feet in altitude before that in an uncontrolled descent and then back up again. And air speed was all over the place as well.

[10:45:04] SCIUTTO: Again, we're in a situation, I think back to previous crashes over water. We have discussed it. They haven't found the black box yet. And you always have this difficult dance, can you hear the ping, et cetera. Is that concerning to you that it's taking this time? SOUCIE: Yes, Jim. That's something, you know, we have talked about that over the years. Even Malaysia Airlines, had we had that ping underwater locater beacon working, it would have helped us to locate the aircraft. It was not, nor was it on Air France. This is something that has gone on forever. It's been my mantra and everybody in the industry knows these needs to be fixed. It's a problem.

SCIUTTO: Still not yet. David Soucie thanks very much. We're going to keep on top of this, whatever we learn.

The president is sending thousands of U.S. troops to the border because of migrants, hundreds of miles away still from the U.S. border, a little perspective. That build-up will then pass up the number of troops currently deployed in Iraq. We're going to dig into the numbers next.


[10:50:30] SCIUTTO: Welcome back. The president has now taken the extraordinary step of ordering more than 5,000 U.S. troops to the U.S./Mexico border with a total of 5,200 troops soon to be deployed there. We noticed something. There are now almost an equal number of active U.S. military on America's border with Mexico as there are deployed to Iraq, where the terror group ISIS remains a threat. With an additional 2,092 members of the National Guard also on the border today, there will actually be more forces on the border than in Iraq.

And we should note this, from an inspector general report just this past April, the DoD estimates that 15,000 to 17,000 ISIS fighters remain in Iraq, though estimates have varied some over time. That would, of course, mean they're outnumbered three to one there.

Now the president and his allies have portrayed the caravan as full of gang members, insinuated as well that there were terrorists among them. The president used a term unknown Middle Easterners in a tweet. Later, the president admitted that there was no proof to back up that assertion.

One more point. We should make this clear. The caravan today remains about 900 miles away from the U.S. border. And as they're proceeding on foot, they will not reach the border for weeks, until well after the election. The troops, however, they will be on the border before Election Day.

HARLOW: Important facts. You can't make them up. You can't make up your own. Thank you for that.

Michael Bloomberg weighing in on the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting. Also a lot of talk about him around a potential 2020 bid. He had an exclusive interview with our colleague Cristina Alesci. Of course, Bloomberg is the former mayor of New York City. He says the attack is a consequence of President Trump's words. Listen to this.


MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: When he goes around getting people to scream and hate, bad things happen. You saw the results here.

The president, who should be unifying and instead he's exciting people, inciting people.


HARLOW: Cristina Alesci joins me now. Cristina, you sat down with this exclusive interview with Bloomberg in Minnesota. He's there giving money to and campaigning for gun reform. What else did he tell you that was striking?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: What was most striking to me is the fact that he took a much sharper tone than he has in the past. You know, he's definitely criticized Trump, but he was strong in his words yesterday, and more importantly than his words, Poppy, is that he's actually putting money behind it. He's spending $100 million to flip the House and the Senate. He put an extra $10 million behind the effort just last week. And just today, he's releasing ads to target young women, to get out the vote, urge them to get out the vote because it matters. And those ads are directed by Jodie Foster, interesting point there, but certainly, a lot of effort on his part to try and at least wrest control of the House and Senate from the Republicans.

HARLOW: What else did he tell you? I mean, there's been so much made of. Is he going to run in 2020? Could he win? Could he, you know, catch momentum in states in the Midwest where you are, in my home state of Minnesota? Is there enough name recognition? Would he get the support there he needs? And also, you talked to him about anti- Semitism in this country.

ALESCI: That's right, Poppy. So, on the first point, he really feels like he's going to take a look at the polls after the midterms, get a sense of the data. But at the end of the day, he's really going to go with his gut. That's what he told me.

And on the anti-Semitism point, he did say he's not going to let the fact that he's Jewish hold him back. He's not going to hide from it. He does acknowledge a rise in anti-Semitism, but he does not see that as a significant challenge to his potential candidacy. Poppy?

HARLOW: OK. We will look for the full interview, again, exclusive interview with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Cristina, thank you very much.

Four words. Chappelle, Stewart, CNN exclusive. Wait until you see this. What they said about President Trump and Russian election meddling that surprised our Christiane Amanpour, next.


[10:59:11] SCIUTTO: Comedians Dave Chappelle, and John Stewart have surprising message when it comes to President Trump and Russian meddling.

HARLOW: Here's a quick look at their exclusive joint interview with our Christiane Amanpour. Watch.


DAVE CHAPPELLE, COMEDIAN: Some of the things they say, even when they say that Russia meddled in the election. It's kind of like, is Russia making us racist? Is that who's doing it? Thank goodness, I thought it was us.


CHAPPELLE: You know they kill the country that way, we're the murder weapon.


JOHN STEWART, COMEDIAN: We have always been.


SCIUTTO: You can catch that full interview later today.

HARLOW: Fascinating sit-down. You don't often see them together. Christiane of course will have a long version of that on her show. Thanks for being with us today. We'll see you here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow.

SCIUTTO: And I'm Jim Sciutto. Thanks as always for taking the time with us. "At This Hour" with Kate Bolduan starts right now.