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Countries and Airlines Ground Boeing Jets; Investigation into Trump Projects; Venezuelan Orphanages Hit With Food Shortages; Carlson Offers No Apologies. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 12, 2019 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Two crashes, five months, the very same new jet. In the wake of Sunday's deadly crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 in Ethiopia, would you, should you get into one of these planes now?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: It's a really important question. Pilot and flight attendant unions are raising major concerns this morning about whether lives are being put at risk in this country.

Let's discuss with Mary Schiavo, former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation. She's also an attorney represents families of airline crashes, of victims, and does have current litigation against Boeing, which we should note.

Mary, for everyone, let's pull up Flight Aware right now which always shows planes that are in the air as we speak. These are all of the Boeing 878 Max jets currently in the air right now. Looking at that, looking at these two crashes, Max 737 -- Max 8s, I should say, why isn't the FAA urging the caution and going farther right now?

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, USDOT: Well, it's really inexplicable. The real reason is that the FAA relies on Boeing. Boeing has the expertise and Boeing earlier had made a statement saying that they don't thing any additional guidance or change is necessary. So the FAA relied on what they said. And the FAA does that and they're allowed to do that. They're allowed to have designated inspectors. Boeing does most of their own designated inspections. And that's just the way the system works.

So when something happens, the FAA looks to Boeing for guidance. Boeing has rocket scientists. The FAA doesn't. So this is not unlike their behavior in any other situation, except this time it is completely crazy. And here's why. After the Lyon Air crash, the FAA said -- and they issued the guidance, the guidance which yesterday they said if Boeing doesn't do this, the FAA is going to order them to make this change by April. And they said without these changes to the computer on the 737 Max, it could lead to difficulty controlling the plane, altitude loss and impact with terrain -- possible impact with terrain. Pretty scary things to a pilot and to passengers.

But now they say, well, we aren't going to order any change because we don't know what this second fatal crash is. It is completely crazy because you've already said the problem with the first fatal crash could lead to impact with terrain. We know those changes haven't been made. They're ordering Boeing to make them in April. And now there's a possibility of a second fatal flaw on the same plane? There's no reason not to put these on the ground. It's only going to take a week to see what's on the black boxes.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask you this. It struck me as unusual that you have pilots unions, as well as flight attendants unions, these are folks with loads of years, loads of hours up in the sky, both expressing concern about flying this jet right now. I mean that's a remarkable thing.

SCHIAVO: Exactly.

SCIUTTO: For folks at home, for folks like myself, I've got a flight coming up with my family, should we be concerned about flying this kind of jet right now?

SCHIAVO: Sure. And it's just common sense that you should be concerned. The FAA's own language says, loss of control and possible impact with terrain. Those are terrifying words. And so to not act on their own words means that flight attendants, pilots and passengers are voting with their feet and with their mouths and raising concern, as well they should.

No, I wouldn't. I think it's -- it's ridiculous to say we don't know what it is, so we're not going to act. We're going to leave people at risk. And it's just not going to take that long to get the information from the black box. That's why we have black boxes, to solve the unknowns. And the unknowns are dangerous.

HARLOW: Mary, it sounds like you're saying that Boeing essential, for the most part, just like I suppose Airbus, polices itself in this country in large -- in large --


HARLOW: Is that -- I mean that would never fly in any other industry.


SCHIAVO: Well, but that's -- you know, it worked that way in a lot of industries and that's how it works with the FAA. In fact, they have, over the years, gone even more that way. They have a system -- what they call their amnesty system, where if you self-report problems they won't take any enforcement action. But when I was inspector general, Congress asked my office -- myself and my office, to look at the certification of the Boeing 777. And we actually came up with a statistic. We found that -- our conclusion was that Boeing self- certified about 95 percent of their planes.

And, you know, in that case, they're the ones that have the expertise. So it seemed to work. They had a few glitches with that plane, but everyone came to love the 777. But what this points out is that the FAA over the years has really just kind of become an advisory organization and they really don't get tough with major carriers and big manufacturers. The little guys out there with puddle jumpers, or gals with puddle jumpers, yes, they'll feel the wrath of the FAA, but the FAA pretty much rubber-stamps the big operators.


SCIUTTO: That is a remarkable statement. For folks who rely on the FAA's word to feel safe when they fly, and, as you say, lots of money. It's (ph) 5,000 orders for $120 million jet.


[09:35:10] SCIUTTO: That's a lot of money.


HARLOW: A lot of money. And we just learned, Mary, just in the middle of this, we just learned that the U.K. has just banned 737 Max 8s from their -- from their airspace. So, wow.

SCIUTTO: And, Mary, if that happens -- I mean that's a significant market here. Does that change the calculus for the FAA, and even for Boeing here?

SCHIAVO: Well, yes it does, but they're -- you know, it's -- I'm just really surprised that Boeing hasn't been more proactive because they're at the point in the program, they are going to have to do reengineering. Remember, the 737 Max 8 and other Max models, they have hung additional engines and equipment on essential an older plane. You know, the 737 came around in 1967. And so what they're going to have to do is do some reengineering.

They have to go back and look at their computer programs. It's inevitable. But now is the time to do it. I mean if they -- the old say is, the -- in a -- in a plane crash, the first one of the series, it's the pilot's fault. And we heard that after Lyon Air. The second one, it's the plane's fault. The third one, it's the company's fault. And Boeing's got to do -- got to act right now or they could -- I mean face some serious company circumstances.

SCIUTTO: Mary Schiavo, thanks very much.

Still to come this hour, the investigation is expanding into the Trump Organization. What is the New York attorney general looking for exactly? We're going to have the latest.


[09:40:58] HARLOW: All right, this morning, "The New York Times" is reporting that the New York attorney general has subpoenaed records from two major banks in connection to its investigation into the Trump Organization. This is a civil investigation. It's not a criminal one.

SCIUTTO: Authorities want several documents from both Deutsche Bank and Investors Bank relating to four Trump properties, as well as the attempt to buy a NFL team, but the focus and scope of the investigation still unclear.

Our Kara Scannell is following the stories. So, Kara, one thing is clear, that this is -- this is delving into the business side of Trump operations here. You know, it's certainly territory he does not like to be delved into. How broad do we know this investigation is?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, based on "The New York Times" reporting and some of which I have confirmed, we understand that the New York Attorney General's Office has sent these subpoenas to these banks looking apparently for any misrepresentation in these financial documents. So the New York attorney general, which is now led by Letitia James, has subpoenaed Deutsche Bank looking for a range of financial documents, from loan applications, mortgages, lines of credit, any financial transactions relating specifically to three properties that Deutsche Bank has financed for the Trump Organization. That's the hotel and tower in Chicago, the Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., and the golf course outside of Miami.

Now, the subpoena is also looking for information about a failed bid to purchase an NFL team the Buffalo Bills. Now, according to "The New York Times," another subpoena was sent to Investors Bank and that relates to financing done for a Trump property on Park Avenue.

Now, this subpoena appears to stem from Michael Cohen's testimony where he said publicly under oath, made these allegations that Donald Trump and the Trump Organization may have manipulated their finances. Let's take a listen.


MICHAEL COHEN, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S FORMER ATTORNEY: It was my experience that Mr. Trump inflated his total assets when it served his purpose, such as trying to be listed amongst the wealthiest people in "Forbes," and deflated his assets to reduce his real estate taxes.


SCANNELL: This is the latest move by authorities since Michael Cohen's testimony. Last week we saw New York's top insurance regulator subpoena Aon (ph) Bank. That's the Trump Organization's insurance broker based also on Michael Cohen's testimony.

Jim. Poppy.

HARLOW: Kara, thank you. Let us know as you learn more out of this investigation.

Ahead, we're going to turn to Venezuela because the desperation there is just remarkable. People are looting stores for food. Orphanages are filled with children because parents have dropped them off because they can no longer feed their own children. The latest in a live report, ahead.


[09:47:55] HARLOW: All right, so this morning the United States is pulling all U.S. embassy staff out of Venezuela. This is after days on end of power outages across most of the country and, of course, the ensuing chaos.

SCIUTTO: The cross-country blackout is adding to already desperate and dire conditions there. This video shows people gathering water from a contaminated river. That water is not clean for drinking. Others have turned to looting as the country faces food shortages, a near collapse as well of Venezuela's health care system. Today, the opposition leader, Juan Guaido, is calling for another round of protests. The situation so dire, in fact, that some parents are struggling just to feed their children and so they've been leaving their children at orphanages to let them care for them.

Our Patrick Oppmann, who's been on the ground there for days, has this story.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): At an orphanage on the outskirts of Caracas, 25 children laugh and play, unaware that their country is sliding deeper into chaos. Many of these children have special needs. Children that are hard to care for in the best of times. For their safety, we've been asked not to show the kids' faces.

The government sends children here who have been abandoned to live or find new homes, says Magdalena, who has run the orphanage for 15 years. All her funds come from private donations, she says. Last month she told the government they can't take any more kids. She can barely feed the ones already here.

Before all the grocery didn't fit in the car, she says. Now, with the same amount of money, maybe you carry one or two bags.

At the orphanage, there's no fruit or vegetables anymore and only meat every other day. Still these kids don't go hungry.

Other children in Venezuela are not nearly so lucky. Magdalena sends us to a kitchen she helped start in one of Caracas' most dangerous slums. There, we find children lining up, their stomach's rumbling, many on their own.

The parents had to leave to work in other places, other countries, says an organizer. Maybe their grandparents are taking care of them. We give them what we have to give.

[09:50:11] No one here has to be told to clean their plate, even if they can't reach the table.

OPPMANN (on camera): As Venezuela slowly comes undone, this Camador (ph) kitchen is one of the places that's trying to make the difference however they can. When they started two years ago, about 30 kids came here each day to eat free meals. Now they're up to 600. And, for many, it's going to be the only meal they get all day long.

OPPMANN (voice over): Venezuela's government says there is no humanitarian crisis here, but activists like Magdalena say the number of children being abandoned or going hungry is spiking. Children don't have political alliances or colored flags, she says.

They are every color. They don't belong to anyone. They are Venezuelans.

These children are too young to understand the events taking place around them or how deeply their country has failed them.


HARLOW: Patrick, that is remarkable. Thank you for bringing us that story on the ground. I mean what you've said that, you know, 30 children used to go there a day for meal. Now, 600 are and it might be their only meal a day. It brings home to everyone the crisis that continues in Venezuela.

What's it like being on the ground seeing this in the eyes of those kids?

OPPMANN: And, you know, since we filmed that story things have just gotten so much worse. I'm a father. It's heartbreaking to see children suffering -- for anybody. But particularly here because whatever's going on between these two governments, between Nicolas Maduro and the opposition leader, everybody should agree that children are incent, that they need to be protected, and yet that is not what is happening. We've seen children eating trash out of garbage cans. More and more children being abandoned as their parents begin this dangerous journey -- exodus, really, outside of Venezuela to look for work or money. And it is the children that are being left behind.

We've followed up with that orphanage and they said they have not had power since Thursday. All their food there has spoiled and things that were desperate last week have only gotten more dire.

HARLOW: Unbelievable.

SCIUTTO: It's heartbreaking.

HARLOW: Patrick, thank you.

Ahead, Tucker Carlson not backing down, not apologizing as more offensive comments are made -- made from several years ago, rather, by the Fox News host have come to light.


[09:56:33] SCIUTTO: Tucker Carlson is under fire again after more clips surfacing of the Fox News host making really offensive remarks.

HARLOW: All right, so these are published by Media Matters for America. And the clips are remarkable, racist, homophobic language that he used repeatedly on a radio program between 2006 and 2011. Listen to this.


TUCKER CARLSON: Iraq is a crappy place filled with a bunch of, you know --


CARLSON: Semi-literate, primitive monkeys.

THE LOVE SPONGE: Keep bearing -- keep --

CARLSON: I just have zero sympathy for them or their culture. A culture where people just don't use toilet paper or forks.

THE LOVE SPONGE: Obama would kick your ass playing basketball.

CARLSON: Yes. Oh, of course he would. (INAUDIBLE) play basketball. Come on.

THE LOVE SPONGE: He's black. Say it. He's a real brother.

Hey, do you think -- do you think the --

CARLSON: He's not -- I don't know how black he is.


HARLOW: Our chief media correspondent Brian Stelter is here.

Over and over again also talked about views on child rape, shield laws, under age marriage, criticizing the appearance of a sitting Supreme Court justice, Elena Kagan.

BRIAN STELTER, CNN CHIEF MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lot of these comments predate his time as a Fox host. But Media Matters, this anti- Fox group that has brought these clips up, says they're reflective of his views now against women, against minorities, et cetera. But Carlson is not backing down and not apologizing. Here's part of what he said on his show last night.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: First, Fox News is behind us, as they have been since the very first day. Toughness is a rare quality in a TV network and we are grateful for that.

Second, we've always apologize when we're wrong and we'll continue to do that. That's what decent people do, they apologize. But we will never bow to the mob, ever, no matter what.


STELTER: Yes, so that's part of Carlson's argument. He says he's not going to back down to the mob. But Media Matters says this is important because this is Carlson in his own words. This is how he really feels. And why is this all coming out now? Because Fox is holding a big advertiser event tomorrow in Midtown Manhattan. Media Matters already organizing a protest because it wants to challenge those advertisers not to support this kind of language, this kind of rhetoric. It's an ongoing battle. And I think there's a bigger thing going on here. We've all been

talking about President Trump and his viewership of Fox News, his love of Fox News. That means this is also about what kind of values Fox stands for.


STELTER: What kind of standards Fox has.

SCIUTTO: We should also note, he worked for MSNBC during the time of those comments.

STELTER: During part of that time, right.

HARLOW: Good point.

SCIUTTO: The president tweeted today a comment that's really, sorry to say, but it's ignorant about climate change science.


SCIUTTO: Quoting someone on "Fox and Friends." Fake news, fake science, there is no climate crisis, noting that carbon dioxide is the main building block of life. Yes, but, unless you have to much of it, it warms the planet. I mean --

STELTER: This is the Fox Trump feedback loop, right?

SCIUTTO: What is happening here? Yes.

STELTER: This is the president engaging in climate change nihilism simply because he heard it on an entertainment morning show on Fox News. I think this is ultimately why the rhetoric from the Tucker Carlsons of the world matters. It's ultimately why the "Fox and Friends" morning show matters because the president is being informed or more often misinformed by this nonsense on television.

SCIUTTO: And it's reflected in U.S. policy, right?

STELTER: That's right.

SCIUTTO: Because that has driven the U.S. out of climate accords and against a whole host of environmental measures that would address climate change.

STELTER: And I know it's -- of course, gone on for a couple of years. He watches Fox. He tweets about Fox. It goes on and on.


STELTER: But it's still really strange. And I think we'd have to continue to call it out and observe how strange it is that he's getting his intelligence, or lack of intelligence, from Fox News.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Well, believe the science, don't believe the tweets.

STELTER: That's right.

SCIUTTO: Brian Stelter, thanks very much.

We'll be back.

[10:00:01] HARLOW: All right, a very good morning to you. I'm Poppy Harlow.

And I'm Jim Sciutto in New York. The reaction pouring in this morning.