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Talking to Pilot of American Airlines Boeing 737; Speaker Nancy Pelosi says No Impeachment for President Trump; Syrian Prisoner Talks About Three Years In Prison There. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 12, 2019 - 13:30   ET


DENNIS TAJER, AMERICAN AIRLINES CAPTAIN OF BOEING 737: Certainly we're concerned but the difference here at American is after the Lion Air crash, we did have meetings with Boeing and we expressed our pilots concerns over this. Boeing then finally disclosed to us a system that led to the nose down that everyone has focused on in the Lion Air crash.

In that system, we asked for software changes. Those changes were just announced by the FAA (ph) yesterday along with additional training. What's unique at American Airlines and Boeing reaffirmed this for us is that we have indicators in the cockpit like -- unlike any other carrier in the U.S. that I'm aware of. We've had them for over 20 years and their AOA indicators and with that comes warnings of that --

BRIANA KEILAR, CNN RIGHT NOW HOST: Angle, it's an angle indicator right?

TAJER: Angle of attack indicator. And we have that's unique to American and we have that in our aircraft and that give us an alert prior to this. Now this is not to connect it to the Ethiopian crash. We're waiting on the details on that but we deeply, deeply respect and also are equally concerned about the information coming out of that. But its early to make decisive decisions and we're confident that those aircraft are -- are safe for the systems that we are aware of.

KEILAR: OK. So you -- you are -- you're basically saying that you have this angle of attack indicator and because of that you think at this point it would -- it would compensate for any problems with the plane. And you're not calling for the planes to be grounded just to be clear although you say you respect that people are -- are calling for that. A lot of them are, a lot of influential people too.

I want to talk about Boeing because it was after the Lion Air crash in the fall where they put out more information in a really unprecedented move. Information that pilots like yourself didn't previously have about this plane that clearly they should have had. Is Boeing doing all that it should here? Have they fulfilled their responsibilities?

TAJER: Since the Lion Air break of trust, they have. And I want to point out that not only indicators but the pilots have identified the process and the procedures to stop that malady in the aircrafts and stopped the whole process from happening. So President Trump is right. The pilots being aware of this and others have talked about this information streamed to us. That's happened after the Lion Air crash and Boeing is now updated that with the FAA's condoning of additional training and software update.

Again, we don't know what happened with the Ethiopian crash and we are certainly reserving judgment based on that information. Pilots work on facts and we're human beings. We're asking those questions. We're just as concerned and we'll see what happens as we go forward. Every minute counts on this, that information is key.

KEILAR: Can I just ask you a question though about the president's tweet? Has automation helped with safety? I mean, he is voicing concerns and you are appreciative that he's saying there should be experienced pilots. But his automation and some of these computers, have they helped keep planes safer because we haven't seen a lot of mechanical failures really.

TAJER: Absolutely. Automation is an enhancement to the margin of safety. It is not the replacement for experienced pilots. Period. The president's observation is just like our pilots observation, I want that technology. It helps me out. It's part of my equipment and my crew essentially but when that goes afoul, then I need to use stick and rotor skills and bring that aircraft back and protect those people. That's why we're there.

KEILAR: All right. Dennis Tajer. Thank you so much. We -- we really appreciate your expertise. We have more now on stunning breaking news. Actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are among dozens of parents charged in a massive cheating scam involving college entrances. Plus a new book giving us a behind the scenes look at Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's rise to power inside of the White House. We have the new details on report that President Trump wanted them out.


KEILAR: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she is not in favor of pursing the impeachment of President Trump right now. She says that it is not worth it for Democrats. Some people echoing that saying it would be too divisive. She also said that President Trump is intellectually and ethically unfit for office and I want to talk about this with A.B. Stoddard, Associate Editor for RealClearPolitics and CNN Chief Political Analyst Gloria Borger. What do you make of Pelosi's rational and the fact that it's creating a bit of division here?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well it is because there are -- there are progressive Democrats that say, wait a minute, she shouldn't be doing this and ruling that out. And I think Nancy Pelosi, first of all, did it before the Mueller report came out, which is very important in the timing because it made it clear she wasn't reacting to anything that was in the Mueller report. And she's also saying, you know, lets just -- lets just slow down here.

She looks at the polls. A majority of Americans even though a lot of them believe that the president has done something wrong, they don't favor impeachment. They're sick of it. They're exhausted by it. She doesn't want this to get in the middle of an agenda that the Democrats might have. So she says, hold off. He's just not worth it.

KEILAR: What do you think?

A.B. STODDARD, ASSOCIATE EDITOR FOR REALCLEARPOLITICS: I agree with Gloria. I think, you're looking at a woman who wants to hold the House in 2020 and wants the -- her party to win the presidency and it -- it is true. The founders intended for a remedy that would look like this and it's never used. It's never going to be used and how do you, you know, turn someone out of office but you're looking back at the Clinton example. You're looking at a Republican party over on the Senate side that's not going to convict him and therefore it would be a wasted effort on the House side.

Could be -- end up being a political boost to the president so it becomes purely a political issue now. It's no longer a legal Constitutional issue. She's saying politically it's not worth it and she knows her parties in a better position to run against a weakened President Trump on the other side, without dividing the country in this explosive way. I think she's right and I think Gloria's right that it was very smart to come out now when there's no findings. The Republicans will be in a terrible pinch if the findings are bad.

KEILAR: Listen to what Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib who made headlines for saying the president in very coarse language should be impeached. This is what she told Arman Arazu (ph).


CONGRESSWOMAN RASHIDA TLAIB: I can tell you again Speaker Pelosi and all members of leadership have always encouraged us to represent our district and this is something that was very important to my residents and will continue to be and to my constituents. And so I'm going to move forward obviously, but the point that there's a transparent process. No one, not even the president should be above the law.


KEILAR: A.B., I mean, that's going to be the feeling of a lot of voters.

STODDARD: That's what Rashida Tlaib is going to tell her constituents back home. Pelosi is freeing her members to say whatever that they want to say and then they can say my school principal won't let me.


BORGER: She's taking the hit. She's taking the hit for her members and that's probably saying to Milik (ph). You can do what you want to do and blame it on me. I'm the -- I'm the bad guy here and that's OK. Now, all of this of course, let's see what's in the Mueller report. Let's see what occurs --

KEILAR: Because she didn't really close the door on impeachment. BORGER: No she did not. She did not. This is sort of before Mueller. She didn't close the door. She wants to see what -- what -- what is presented but she kind of said, you know, slow down, I don't want us to be the party of just throwing him out of office and people will think that we want to de-legitimize him.

KEILAR: But I just talked to Senator Hassen, A.B., who essentially said if we look at the -- I said is there a situation where the crimes are clear but the Republicans don't come to the side of Democrats on this. Basically what happens and she said you need to look at how divisive this is going to be. So it seemed like she was saying it's not as much about what the evidence bears out but about what the effect of an impeachment will be. Is that the correct stance?

STODDARD: Absolutely. That's what Pelosi's saying that there are already legal opinions that is evident he's obstructed justice and done things in office. Maybe (inaudible) violations but there will be stuff outside of the Mueller report that might merit impeachment but that it is not something they can see anymore through the Constitutional legal lens. It's all political now and that it's not worth the division in the country unless the Republicans come begging to throw their own leader out of office and join in a bipartisan impeachment effort.

KEILAR: Thank you so much Gloria and A.B. Really appreciate your perspective and right now the crisis in Venezuela is escalating. How the foreign minister is giving American diplomats just hours to leave the country? And a remarkable story of survival, we have an exclusive interview with a man who spent three years in Syrian prisons starting when he was 15. His journey to freedom and his response to an answer by Tulsi Gabbard ahead.


KEILAR: For the past eight years, civil war has ravaged Syria. It began as a peaceful uprising against the country's President Bashar al-Assad during the Arab spring.



KEILAR: It rapidly escalated when the regime responded with a violent crackdown. And as you know hundreds of thousands of people have died in the fighting in Syria or they've been pushed our of their homes. Countless more have been arrested, thrown in prison, subjected to horrific torture. And we have a very important CNN exclusive interview that we are bringing you today. Omar Alshogre who spent three years in various Syrian prisons including Saydnaya Prison which is the most notorious of Assad's prisons.

It is dubbed a human slaughterhouse by Amnesty International and he's with us to share his story. Thank you so much for -- for telling us. This is something we need -- we need to know what's going on. Describe what it was like for you. Tell us what happened. How -- how it started? OMAN ALSHOGRE, PRISONER OF WAR IN SYRIA: The first time I was in

(inaudible) I was in (inaudible) just because was fun to be a lot of people in Syria.

KEILAR: You were demonstrating.

ALSHOGRE: Yes. I was 15 years old and people was in big demonstration for the thousand people and (inaudible) was fun. I had no idea what (inaudible) means or dictatorship means. I was just a child. So I just sort of (inaudible) people on the other side and I was a child thinking that the bullets would protect us as we read in the books and we know on the TV (inaudible). But the bullets were shooting people for the first time and my best friend died next to me and they arrested me from the demonstration. So they put me in prison for two days for the first time.

KEILAR: They arrest you from the demonstration and then they put you in prison and it's just two days.

ALSHOGRE: Yes. Two days for the first time. I was arrested seven different times, the last time was three years between 17 and 20. So, I get out of prison I was 20 years old. Last (inaudible) because of (inaudible) and the torture. We had like -- our life in prison was four hours of sleep, four hours of torture, two hours then you're eating and you're going to the toilet and you have like 5 meters to (inaudible) to the left. You have a lot of guards torturing the whole way and you have counting and someone's counting outside the door, one, two, three, four, five, 10 and you (inaudible) out and then you go back to your cell where you have a foot something into square and you sit down. There is no wall. The wall is people sitting next to you and the person to the right is (inaudible) engineer behind you. Well educated people.

KEILAR: Four hours of torture a day.

ALSHOGRE: A long time.

KEILAR: What is the torture?

ALSHOGRE: The torture, it depends on which time is it and are you new in prison or not. Because when you're new in prison, they start with taking out your nails and then they use --

KEILAR: Taking out your fingernails.

ALSHOGRE: Yes. Exactly. Then they electricity almost all the days.

KEILAR: Electricity to shock you.

ALSHOGRE: Yes. Absolutely. They do that. They have a systematic way to torture people they know and they torture you with starvation and on the way torture they give you a lot of food but you're not allowed to eat. You can just look at the food and they put the food outside the room and your extremely hungry.

KEILAR: They're trying to break you psychologically. ALSHOGRE: Yes. It's really important for them to break you

psychologically so they don't want people to get -- to think about getting out because in case -- in case the (inaudible) think about freedom. But when people's hungry they're thinking about food, only food.

KEILAR: So, they beat you a lot. You talk about that in an extraordinary 10 (ph) talk. You hear them beating other people. Throughout this process, you loose essentially your entire family. Right? Inside and outside of the prison.

ALSHOGRE: Yes. I was arrested with three cousins. Two -- two of them -- of them died in front of my eyes. One of them died in my arms and the third one was a female cousin as all -- as the same age as me but I heard the -- she was killed but I had no -- I was not sure. Then -- there was a new cousin who told me that they could hold my family (inaudible)

KEILAR: They killed your family in a massacre. Right?

ALSHOGRE: In a village of Vida (ph) where -- where people was only demonstrating with the flowers. Getting out of them was (inaudible) flowers. Just asking for freedom or just for -- for a better life. Nothing else. They killed people for that reason.

KEILAR: Why were you released?

ALSHOGRE: I was released -- it was a lawyer get into prison. Had to get in contact with an officer, paid money and get me out and from the (inaudible) I have your son if you pay money you get your son.

KEILAR: And your mother paid --

ALSHOGRE: My mother paid money to get me. My mother told me at that time.

KEILAR: There is a -- something happening here right now in the U.S. as we're looking towards the 2020 presidential elections. One of the Democratic presidential candidates Tulsi Gabbard who met with Bashar al-Assad 2017 was just asked at one of our CNN town halls if Assad is a war criminal and here's what she said.


TULSI GABBARD: I think that the evidence needs to be gathered and as I have said before. There is evidence that he has committed war crimes. He should be prosecuted as such.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you're not sure now.

GABBARD: Everything that I have said requires that we take action based on evidence. The evidence is there. There should be accountability.


KEILAR: She won't say, has not said, that he committed war crimes. She won't call him a war criminal. How do you respond to that?

ALSHOGRE: There is a lot of evidence. There is the wounds in my body that there's a lot of -- not a lot but there is survivors can tell me about prison. How many people are being killed? I have -- I have a video of my father being killed. There is a lot of evidence, a lot of videos about the commentary. There is everything.

KEILAR: What happens when politicians here will not, even depending on whatever they want to see what the policy in the Middle East, but they will not say what is happening? What does that do for people in Syria like you, like your friends who may still be there and what does that do for the legitimacy of the regime?

ALSHOGRE: For the first time came as prisoners, the first thing (inaudible) no one is -- no one think about us. No one care. So we die in silence and the same thing with all the people in the war in Syria. They know no one is caring. Why people don't do that? Do you think I deserve to survive? If you think I do other people will do as well. Why you today look at me, some people look at me and say, you deserve to get help but you don't do anything. I don't need help right now but there is other people (inaudible) do anything.

One time they thought I died. They put me in this room with all dead bodies and the door was closed. As -- wake up like there was an arm over my head so they looked at dead bodies, some one who's dead and his eyes is open. They should do something more. Just try to take myself to the door, clink the door and someone opened it and say what are you doing here? I said, I -- I still alive. And he said, why? You should die.

KEILAR: Omar, your story is so important to hear. Thank you so much for talking with us and sharing it.

ALSHOGRE: Thank you.

KEILAR: A new investigation tied to President Trump, this one stemming from his former attorney and fixer Michael Cohen's testimony on the hill. Why the New York State Attorney General is asking for records related to multiple Trump projects? Also stunning details from a brand new book on Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner revealing how Ivanka reportedly had to defend her father after the Charlottesville protests. The White House just responded to that book. Stand by for that.