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Airplane Controversy; New Book on Ivanka Trump and Family; Thunder Player Clashes with Utah Jazz Fans. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 12, 2019 - 14:30   ET



RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: And even within the United States, Brooke, you have the extreme situation of the flight attendants saying, ground them, the airline's saying don't. And some of the pilot's unions saying it's safe to fly. It's leaving the traveling public in an impossible position.

BROOK BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: So if you're an American and you know that let's say two or so dozen Max 8 planes are being flown here in the U.S., how do you know if you're booked on one? What can you do about it?

QUEST: You look online, you look at the airline, it'll say 738 Max or 7 Max, the airline will tell you. If you look at your booking, it'll say 73 and then there'll be some indication thereafter. You call up the airline and ask. But that's, that's the question. But the real question, Brooke, is what do you then? You see, the problem here is the FAA put out its, exactly. The FAA put out their statement yesterday, saying that in, and they tend to be correct, by the way. In the absence of any evidence or further facts, they're saying there's no reason to ground. And that's a line that's followed by Boeing. But it's sort of almost, it's almost Alice in Wonderland turning it on its head. There are new facts. The new facts are that other airlines and other regulators have used the phrase "precautionary." Out of an abundance of safety. Wanting to absolutely make sure.

Now, if all these other regulators are saying the same thing, how can the FAA pertinaciously stick to its position that there are no new facts and there's no reason to do anything about it until they get the reading from the black boxes? It doesn't make sense and it's causing a massive confusion for the traveling public.

BALDWIN: So, I know you've seen this tweet, but in case you all haven't seen this Trump tweet on this whole thing, let me read it for you. "Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly, pilots are no longer needed but rather computer scientists from MIT." Richard? What?

QUEST: So, if you read the whole tweet, you see what the president is saying. And what the president is saying, that pilots are not needed. When you look at the whole tweet, he's saying that actually, the planes are too complicated. It is pilots who will be the last bastions of safety. And I think I agree with the president on this. There's no question, when all is said and done, the idea of a pilotless plane, it probably won't happen in my lifetime, but that's what people are talking about. The president is saying get back to simpler aircraft. The problem is your fuel efficiency, your number of aircraft, your ability to get the maximum amount of the industry, that requires your avionics, that requires your technology, and that is where the problem arises.

BALDWIN: Richard Quest, thank you so much for all of, of course your expertise in all things planes. Meantime, new today, another investigation tied to the president and his business empire, this one stemming from Michael Cohen's testimony recently up on Capitol Hill, why the New York State attorney general is interested in multiple Trump projects now. Plus, Mike Pompeo's recent travels are raising questions about his own political future, what all those visits say about future ambitions in 2020 and beyond.




BALDWIN: A new book on Ivanka Trump and her husband Jared Kushner details one of the most volatile moments of the Trump presidency, the days after his 2017 news conference in which the president blamed "both sides" for violence at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The then-chief White House economic advisor Gary Cohn was on the brink of quitting after Trump's comments, and it was Ivanka Trump who really wanted him in the White House in the first place who told him "my dad's not a racist, he didn't mean it." That exchange comes from the New York Times reporting on this book called Kushner Inc., Greed, Ambition, Corruption, the Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump.

The Kushner camp though is hitting back against the book's veracity and its author, Vicky Ward. I spoke to Kushner's attorney, Abby Lowell, who said that "every point that Ms. Ward mentioned in what she called her fact-checking stage was entirely false. It seems she has written a book of fiction rather than any serious attempt to get the facts, correcting everything wrong would take too long and be pointless." And the White House, I should add, calls the book a "sad fiction."

CNN contributor Michael D'Antonio wrote the book Truth About Trump. Michael, good to have you back. Let's start with the piece on Charlottesville where reportedly Ivanka Trump said to Gary Cohn, my dad isn't a racist, trying to stop Cohn from leaving the White House. And just given all that you know about the Trump family dynamic, how often has Ivanka Trump had to defend her father on things like this?

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR AND AUTHOR: Oh, she's been put in this position time and time again really throughout her adult life. And even as a child, we have to remember that this is the kid who walked to school seeing her parents' tabloid divorce scandal played out on the newsstands that she passed on the street. So she's been in this awful position of having to explain this man for her whole life.

And I have to have some empathy for her, she's almost trapped in this dynamic, you know, either she acknowledges that her father has racist leanings and says racist and bigoted things, or she has to lie about and join sort of this family practice of denying the truth, manipulating the facts, and distorting when things are uncomfortable. It's a terrible thing for her.


BALDWIN: Sure, so you feel for her. Here's the other nugget from the Times, this book details how Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump tried to control who could travel on trips funded by the State Department, and that apparently Ivanka Trump often requested access to Air Force planes when it was not appropriate. Is this not, I could hear some camps saying, is this not exhibit A as to why families shouldn't work in the White House, I mean essentially that the rules just don't apply to them?

D'ANTONIO: Well, it is exhibit A, and before I get carried away with my empathy for Ivanka Trump, that sort of stops with her adulthood. You know, I think this is a person...

BALDWIN: OK, full stop.

D'ANTONIO: She has taken advantage of everything that her family name and her wealth offered. You know, we're looking at this terrible scandal with college admissions right now, and that is all about boosting a kid who's not qualified to fraudulently gain access to the benefits that everyone else competes for on the level. And I think Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner are exhibit number one for nepotism, they're strikingly unqualified. It's really appalling that they have offices in the White House at all. And now, they're coveting these Air Force jets, and this all comes from being raised in a family where the jet with the big name on the side of it was an identifier, a part of their status. And it really was expected that you got this privileged treatment, and now this is abuse of the government and abuse of the taxpayer dollars to insist that this be something you get from the United States Air Force. It's really shocking.

BALDWIN: But the bizarre piece of this is, so they're working in the White House, but apparently President Trump didn't want them there. I mean, at one point when he hired John Kelly, right, his new chief of staff, he told them to "get rid of my kids, get them back to New York," because they don't "know how to play the game."

My question to you is, how do you square, why wouldn't Trump want his son-in-law and his daughter around? Because on the one hand, there's all this reporting recently of how he risked everything to get them those top security clearances, but on the other hand, he wants them out of D.C.? It doesn't jive for me.

D'ANTONIO: No, it doesn't, but a lot of what Donald Trump says and does would make no sense to a regular person. So you look at this from the outside and you think, well, either he wants them in there or he doesn't. Either he wants the comfort and protection of the family or he's afraid of their incompetence. And it could have been that on a given day, he was seeing headlines that bothered him, or maybe he was hearing from national security officials that both Jared and Ivanka have security problems, and he didn't want to have to deal with it. You know, this is a man who for all of his bellowing and bragging and jabbing, is conflict-averse. He really doesn't like face-to-face conflicts, so the idea of, well, get rid of these people, even though they're in his family, he's talking about them like they're objects, because everyone in Donald Trump's field of vision is an object. You know, even his son-in-law and his daughter ultimately become chess pieces to move around.

BALDWIN: Hmm. Just think about that for a minute. Michael D'Antonio, thank you very much, good to see you.

D'ANTONIO: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: An NBA player gets into a heated exchange with a fan, the player called it racist and says he won't be disrespected. The fan says his comments weren't that bad. How much is too much when it comes to trash talk. Plus former Vice President Joe Biden dropping his strongest hint yet that he is making a 2020 run. See what happened in front of a very energetic crowd.




BALDWIN: Sports stars mixing it up with fans, particularly NBA fans, that's nothing new, something the back and forth can be kind of fun, but sometimes it definitely goes too far. Take what happened in Salt Lake City between a Utah Jazz fan and Oklahoma Thunder star Russell Westbrook. Westbrook was caught on camera threatening a fan and his companion.



BALDWIN: After the game, Westbrook defended his remarks, claiming the fan yelled a racially insensitive comment.


RUSSELL WESTBROOK, OKLAHOMA THUNDER PLAYER: How it started a young man and his wife in the stands told me to get down on my knees like we used to. And for me that's just completely disrespectful to me, I think it's racial. I think it's just inappropriate in the sense of there's no protection for the players. There's got to be something done, there's got to be some consequences for it. Those type of people that come to the game just to say and do whatever they want to say. And I don't think it's fair to the players, not just to me, but I don't think it's fair to the players.

(VIDEO CLIP ENDS) BALDWIN: LZ Granderson, ESPN host, sports and culture columnist with the LA Times, CNN opinion writer is with me now. LZ, good to see you.

The real question is, just how much taunting and trash talk is too much before a player can fight back?

LZ GRANDERSON, ESPN HOST: Well, first of all, I think we need to separate the general sort of trash talk to some of the things that Russell Westbrook is accusing the fan of saying to him.


I think trash talk, booing, that's all part of the game, Brooke. In fact, I prefer to go to games as a fan as opposed to a media personality or journalist because I can boo. I want to boo and be engaged...

BALDWIN: I want to boo.

GRANDERSON: I want to boo, that's all part of the fan experience, there's nothing wrong with that. The problem here is that obviously, Russell Westbrook feels that the fan crossed a line, in saying the words, if they were the words in fact that were said, could be seen as racist, homophobic or certainly inappropriate. This isn't the first time in Utah, fans in Utah specifically have been accused of that. You can go back to the '80's, Brooke, in which they ran onto the floor and got into fights. They said horrible things to Shaq and Kobe. LeBron James. This is not the Utah fans in particular have been accused of crossing the line.

BALDWIN: We've heard Westbrook's version, this is the fan's version, what he said happened.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's got to be a professional. I mean, she was sitting down the entire time, me and him, we were just, it was actually we were kind of having fun, to be honest.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At least you thought you were having fun?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yeah, he was smiling at one point and I mean, there was a lot of people, because it was when Joe had come by and poked Paul George in the eye. And then Joe goes over and apologizes immediately. Russ is just F-bombing and carrying on, acting a fool down here, and everybody's getting on him. And he had I guess heat, I thought it was ice, I just told him, sit down and ice your knees, bro. And he turned to me and he was like, that's heat. And I said, well, you're going to need it. And then it turned into not safe (inaudible)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So that's what provoked his response, there was no swear words, there was no...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I never said a swear word to him, and everybody in the vicinity will say it and she never left her seat, never said a word, hands in her lap. Never said a single swear word to him. Not one. So, like I said, initially I was like, oh. I'm talking with Westbrook, you know? I mean the guy's one of the greats. But he's also classless. OK, he can threaten me all he wants. I was the one talking to him, but don't threaten a woman. She's five feet tall and 110 pounds, man. I mean, never said a word to him, her first NBA game ever.


BALDWIN: So that's the fan's side, Utah Jazz says that they're investigating, adding that multiple warning cards were issued by arena security. You go to ball games, it's the NBA where you are the physically closest to these players, which to your point you get to boo and to their face, which can be fun. But who should be held to the higher standard? Should it be the player, should it be the fan?

GRANDERSON: It should be both. There's no reason to believe that just because your job is to entertain fans, that then you should be open to being berated, be dehumanized. Buying a ticket to a game doesn't give you permission to dehumanize another human being. Now, I do believe Russell Westbrook crossed the line when he made what appeared to be a threat towards a woman. And he has apologized for that. He crossed the line there.

But certainly, fans bear responsibility to behave like decent human beings as well. As I said, I like to boo, but I'm not going to call you out your name. I'm not going to say bad things about your family, your children, and these are some of the things that not only NFL players but all players across a multitude of sports have to face by entitled fans. I think both groups should be held to a higher standard in that environment, not just the player.

BALDWIN: LZ Granderson, good to see you. Thank you so much for your opinion.

I want to get back to our breaking news now. The largest college admissions scam ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice. Academy Award nominee Felicity Huffman, Full House actress Laurie Loughlin among this group of wealthy parents accused of bribing, paying huge bribes to get their kids into elite schools, we have the details there. Also former Vice President Dick Cheney reportedly hijacks his Republican retreat to attack the current vice president, Mike Pence over President Trump's foreign policy. We have those details ahead.




BALDWIN: He is America's top diplomat, so why is the Secretary of State spending so much time traveling around the U.S.? Mike Pompeo has several scheduled trips in the Midwest and South over the next month, raising some eyebrows in the administration. Is his travel out of obligation or ambition? CNN national security reporter Kylie Atwood has some new reporting, and so Kylie, tell us what you're learning from sources.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Brooke, today Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in Texas. He's giving a speech on energy. Next week, he's going to be in Kansas giving a speech on global entrepreneurship. And last week he was in Iowa, and he was there for stated State Department purposes. He said that the first priority of the State Department is working for the American people. He was trying to recruit Iowans to work for the State Department, saying it just shouldn't be people from D.C. or Boston or New York working for the State Department. And so he was there for reasons that are tied to what he's working on. But he also of course raised some eyebrows. If anyone goes to Iowa, as you know, Brooke, it is a signal ding ding ding, that he might be trying to get Iowans on his side.

And in fact, I talked to some Iowans who helped him plan the trip and who were there with him, and he did have good reviews from them. One described to me that he's really, really smooth. He's just good and reasonable, he can operate up and down the vertical chain from Kim Jong-un, to CEOs, to American firms and employees to boot. So it was all upside for him, no downside. Of course, no downside to Secretary Pompeo...