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Death Toll Climbs to 50 in California Wildfires; Report Released on Death of Woman Nearly Sucked Out of Jet; Juror's Anxiety Delays "El Chapo" Drug Trial; Judges Hearing Arguments in CNN Case Against Trump. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 14, 2018 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: He has yet to report in, but Broward County has and that's the second biggest county. So, if you extrapolate that out, Brooke, we're probably only talking somewhere in the range of maybe 5,000 to 5,500 ballots total that you could add in to the mix. That's probably not enough for Bill Nelson and that would only be if the judge said you can put all of these back into the overall vote totals. So, those are the two big takeaways right now.

You know, of course, the big question here, Brooke, is will the judge say yes, we can bring these ballots back into the counting process. He did seem skeptical when answering questions from the Democratic lawyers there that the statute is pretty clear on how this all handles. And they also spoke to a county election supervisor -- the county election supervisor here in Leon County who said that they're very lenient with their standards. They do everything they possibly can to count these ballots. So, we'll have to see what the judge says. There is a good chance, Brooke, that he may issue his decision right from the bench a little bit later today.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We'll wait for that and that reporting from you. Ryan, thank you very much in Tallahassee.

Meantime, he is one of the most notorious criminals in the world. And right now, his trial is under way in New York. Jurors are already feeling quite anxious about being in the same room as El Chapo. Details from inside the courtroom.

Plus, we are now learning on what happened on that southwest flight where that passenger was partially sucked out of that plane window. Hear the investigation results next.

[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: The number of people in California who have lost their lives is up to 50 as firefighters are slowly but surely making progress on these two monster fires ravaging both ends of the state. Southern California's Woolsey fire is 47 percent contained. The state's deadliest and most destructive fire, "the camp fire", is 35 percent contained. But when you hear all of these stories of these people trying to escape the flames, this L.A. area woman who raced to Malibu to try to save her horses was overwhelmed by the fire. Listen to her try to get out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REBECCA HACKETT, DROVE THROUGH FLAMES TO ESCAPE WILDFIRE (voice): Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Please, God. Please, God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God please save the horses. Oh, my God. I'm in this tunnel. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Please God, please. Oh, my God. Oh, my God, please help me. Please, God. Please, God, please let me out. Please, God, please. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Oh, my God. What am I doing? Oh, my God. Oh, my God, please. Please, please help me, please help me, please help me. Please God, please let me out. I'm in serious danger. Oh my God. Oh my God. (CAR HORN BEEPING)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Rebecca says she drove through those flames for about two minutes and miraculously she says she managed to save 48 horses.

Just in to CNN, we have new information released on this absolutely horrific ordeal on board that southwest airlines passenger jet last April, where a passenger was nearly sucked out of the plane. The engine on that Boeing 737 failed, to bring Shrapnel inside the plane shattering the window. People on board had to grab the passenger who did ultimately die to keep her from flying out the window.

Today the National Transportation Safety Board interviews revealed new details about the frightening scene on that plane. So, let's go straight to Rene Marsh, our aviation correspondent here at CNN. And Rene, what did they find?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, as you mentioned, these are new details today. Just about that chaotic scene aboard that Southwest Airlines flight last April. It was a Boeing 737 that was headed from New York to Dallas when that engine failed.

The new information includes details about how the plane as it climbed to 32,000 feet, the pilots heard this loud bang and they felt an extreme vibration. Alarms were sounding in the cockpit. And the veteran pilots actually struggled with equipment issues that prevented them for some time from communicating with flight attendants, air traffic controllers and firefighters, as well as each other. All while they were recovering from this steep turn and figuring out where to land.

And then this. This account based on NTSB interviews with the flight crews as well as passengers, and I'm quoting now.

[15:40:00] A passenger in a seat, 14a, was still restrained by her seat belt, by her lap belt. However, the passenger's upper torso, arms and head had been pulled outside of the airplane through a window. That is the account of people who were on board the plane. Two flight attendants and two male passengers pulled that passenger back inside. The passenger we're talking about is Jennifer Riordan. She died as a result of blunt force trauma. She was the sole death on this flight with 149 people on board.

Also, Brooke, curing this critical NTSB hearing where they question the airline Boeing and maker of the plane's engine, CFM international, investigators really zeroed in on the engine design and its history. The manufacturer, CFM International, said that this engine model had failed its first certification test in the mid-1990s but ultimately passed the second certification test. Since then they said they had made various changes to prevent blade failures.

Also, one last thing, inspectors said they have discovered similar cracked blades in this engine model that's installed on other planes flown by other airlines. We should point out that the NTSB is still working this investigation, but this hearing was so critical because, number one, we got this new information about the details from their interviews. Got to hear from the airline as well as Boeing, as well as the engine manufacturer. But as far as what exactly caused this, that's still under way. All while another investigation is happening in Indonesia, also involving a Boeing 737 -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, this report 882 pages, they need to figure out what caused it and never, ever let it happen again. Rene, thank you.

Amid unprecedented security, fireworks on day two in the trial of Mexican drug lord El Chapo as the judge sparred with defense attorneys over their opening statement. Coming up next, how jurors are feeling sitting in the courtroom with that man.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: He is one of the most feared of all drug kingpins and he is on trial right now in Brooklyn, New York in a courtroom. Security for this notorious drug lord known as El Chapo is unprecedented. He is standing trial on 17 counts of drug trafficking, murder, conspiracy and money laundering. And before the trial could even get started there were delays as jurors discovered who exactly was on trial. One juror asked to be dismissed saying she suffered from anxiety after being selected. So, she was excused.

Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman led Mexico's brutal Sinaloa Cartel for 25 years. And prosecutors paint him as ruthless, violent and extremely efficient in the way he built his narcotics empire. He is also known for his many prison escapes, thus the exceptional security here.

So, let's dive right in. CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig is with me. And white-collar criminal defense attorney, Sara Azari, is with us as well. I'm trying first just on the jury piece imagining, you know, you roll in to this jury, you're saying what case might this be. The most notorious criminal of the 21st century, I'd be a little nervous, not going to lie.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, understandably so. I've tried cases involving mob bosses, involving murders, involving anonymous juries and involving courtroom security. But nothing to approach this. El Chapo is on a whole other level. The reach that this guy has is sort of unprecedented. And there's a serious element of danger here as well. And when you have security at this level it kind of cuts both ways in the courtroom.

On the one hand it sends the message to the jurors this is a super dangerous guy. And as a prosecutor, that's what you want to convey. On the other hand, if it goes too far and you jurors are too afraid, they may be too afraid to return a guilty verdict.

BALDWIN: Heavily armed federal marshals, bomb sniffing dogs, x-ray machines, metal detectors -- that's pretty normal -- two separate security screens, anonymous jurors. When does that ever happen?

HONIG: Yes, that's a higher level of security than I've ever seen. I will say this. The U.S. marshals a fantastic at protecting their courtrooms, their juries, their judges, prosecutors, defense lawyers. So, some of this may be for show. Some of this may to just dissuade anybody from trying anything.

BALDWIN: OK, opening statements. Obviously, we heard from the U.S. prosecutor and this defense attorney. It sounds to me that the message from the defense attorney is all of this is a myth. He's not the leader of anything.

SARA AZARI, WHITE-COLLAR CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: That's he's not the big fish here. That the jury is going to hear from essentially a bunch of scumbags, whose witnesses who are going to come in, who are informants, who are cooperating, getting sweet deals from the government on their own crimes. You know, that's a defense that we all put up as defense attorneys, but when you have a whole abundance of digital evidence that is corroborating, that is independent of this testimony, it's going to be a challenge for the defense.

There're text messages. There is video surveillance going over years of El Chapo. There is audio from wiretaps. And so, as a defense attorney, I hate video and audio like that, you know. It's pretty damning. And so that's what's going to be the problem here, is that you can attack the credibility of these witnesses during the trial, but it's going to be very challenging to be able to refute the corroboration of those -- of the testimony of those witnesses. I also think the defense made a mistake in its opening remarks, and I think my formidable adversary here will agree, that when you make these promises to a jury in your opening remarks, you better be able to live up to the promises.

[15:50:02] BALDWIN: Promises like what?

AZARI: This is what the evidence will show. This is what's going to happen. I think one of the things that the defense attorney did was say that, you know, he's not the big fish, because he spent a lot of time in prison, and meanwhile, the Sinaloa Cartel was doing really well. Like it was booming business in the drug trafficking of this cartel. And, you know, that's like DTO 101. I mean, the government is going to be able to prove that drug trafficking organizations continue their business even when the big fish is in the hole.

BALDWIN: Sometimes it's even up since he's been in prison.

AZARI: Exactly. BALDWIN: What about the flip side from the prosecution?

HONIG: There's two lines of defense here. One of them is attack all the cooperators, like Sara said. This is standard fare in these kinds of cases when you're trying to get up to an organization. Here they have a dozen cooperating witnesses. I've done cases with one cooperating witness. It's one thing to tell a jury this one guy shouldn't be believed, but when 12 of them come up, back-to-back, supported by tapes, that's a tough uphill climb. The other piece is this bizarre, desperate theory that Chapo was set up and it was actually this other guy, El Mio, who was the real bad guy. I don't know how they're going to square that with tapes. I know the lawyer. He's good, he's tough, but this is a long shot.

BALDWIN: Before you go, you have to tell everyone what you were telling me on commercial break. It was like, OK, this could lead to El Chapo.

HONIG: El Chapo is a legend among prosecutors, and as far back as 10, 12 years ago, when I started doing narcotics cases. Any time a DEA agent would come in and try to get us to take cases, we'd be a little skeptical. And they go, this is going to lead to El Chapo. This is going to be the one.

BALDWIN: And you take the case.

HONIG: Right. So, you go, all right, maybe it only till El Chapo. And here we are ten years later finally one has.

BALDWIN: Just over the bridge in Brooklyn. Elie and Sara, thank you so much.

AZARI: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Right now, CNN and the Trump administration in court over the White House revoking Jim Acosta's press pass. And it comes as many other news outlets, including Fox News, are backing CNN. New details, next.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: Here's what's happening right now. A hearing about the lawsuit CNN has filed against the White House for revoking the press credential of our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta. So, with me now, CNN's chief media correspondent, Brian Stelter, host of "RELIABLE SOURCES." with more on what is happening. And tell me about just all the multitude of media organizations who are backing CNN.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, at this point, more than 15 news outlets, virtually all of the nation's major news organizations are supporting CNN in this lawsuit. Just a few to name, everyone from the Associated Press to Fox News, from NBC to the "New York Times", from Gannett to Scripps. All of these outlets coming together and saying they will either be filing friend of the court briefs to support the lawsuit or they put out paper statements saying they stand with CNN. It's one of these rare cases where we are seeing a lot of different rival news outlets all stand up for free press. Because frankly, Brooke, while it's about Acosta today, it could be about somebody else tomorrow.

BALDWIN: Absolutely.

STELTER: Right now, this hearing has just begun, just started in Washington in the U.S. district court. Jim Acosta is there, along with CNN Washington bureau chief, Sam Feist and CNN's lawyers. They're all inside and CNN's going to go first. The argument will be made by CNN's lawyers first and then government lawyers will respond and then Judge Timothy J. Kelly will hear both sides. He will discuss with both sides. He may issue a ruling this afternoon. He may come out right away and respond to CNN's request for what's called a temporary restraining order. This is that preliminary injunction that CNN wants in order to get Acosta's press pass right away. So, the Judge could rule on that motion right away or he could take a little break, talk with his clerks, come back later in the evening and make an announcement.

However, this is not going to end today. No matter what the judge rules, CNN is also asking for a permanent response. A permanent relief in legalese, which would declare the Trump administration's actions unconstitutional. That way that would protect future reporters from suffering the same kind of punishment that Acosta has suffered.

BALDWIN: How has the White House responded?

STELTER: Well, the White House today in a legal filing -- actually the DOJ today in this legal filing responded to the lawsuit. Basically, said that they believe they have broad discretion to decide who comes and who goes. Who is allowed in, who is allowed out. They're essentially arguing they can kick any reporter out whenever they want. This is a radical break with decades of tradition at the White House. As well as some case law about this. In the past, whether it's Republican or Democratic administration, there's been a lot of permissive press access. Pretty much anybody can get a press pass. That's the way it should work, given you want to have a variety of reporters and diversity of views in the White House press corps. But Trump is saying he has the right to kick anybody out. So, that claim is going to be tested.

If I can see you what Sam Donaldson said in a legal brief yesterday. He filing this brief supporting CNN. He said, look, if the press is not free to cover the news because reporters are unjustly denied access then it is not free. And he said if denying access to a reporter or organization chosen to represent it, in effect asserting the president's right to take that choice away from a news organization and make it about himself. If that's permitted, then the press is not free.

I think Donaldson is making the key point here, Brooke. Which is if any President, whether President Trump or someone else, is able to pick and choose who is covering the White House or who is asking questions, then that's not -- that doesn't live up to First Amendment values. It should be the right of CNN or the "New York Times" or Fox News or the Reuters outlet to choose who covers the White House. And in effect, by banning Acosta, the President is trying to take on that power himself.

BALDWIN: You were on with me yesterday and we were talking to Ted Olson, one of our lawyers. And just the fact it's about Jim in this instance. But it's about all reporters and journalists and it's about the First Amendment and that's why this case is so entirely crucial to fight. Brian, thank you very much --

STELTER: Thanks.

BALDWIN: -- for being with me. And thank you for being with me. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in New York. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.