Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Warns Republicans Not to Vote Against National Emergency; Boeing 737 MAX 8 Grounded. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired March 13, 2019 - 16:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Breaking news in our world lead now.

A stunning announcement from the FAA. New evidence begins to show a connection between Sunday's airplane crash in Ethiopia and the Lion aircraft five months earlier.

This came minutes after President Trump told the world that the U.S. will now ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 and Max 9 models.

Let's go right to CNN's Tom Foreman.

And, Tom, Boeing is still standing by its plane. What do we know about this new evidence that the FAA is citing?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The FAA says initially it had some satellite tracking on this plane which indicated the first three minutes of flight, and that just didn't tell them enough to conclude what was happening with this plane.

Now they say they have a more complete picture of almost the entire flight, and the pattern looks a good deal like what happened with Lion Air last fall, in other words, this idea that somehow the crew ended up fighting with software that was trying to bring the nose of the plane down while they were trying to bring the nose of the plane up.

It looks enough like that the FAA said this is somehow confirmation of enough concern that the president could take action.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Amid fierce global pressure and political alarms at home, the president finally called it.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to be issuing an emergency order of prohibition to ground all flights of the 737 MAX 8 and the 737 MAX 9 and planes associated with that line. Any plane currently in the air will go to its destination and thereafter be grounded until further notice.

FOREMAN: The order came after days of mounting worries following the Africa crash of just such a plane and serious questions about its safety, hours after the Federal Aviation Administration insisted once again there was no evidence the Boeing jets were unsafe, and just after Canada cited new satellite tracking analysis and ordered the planes out of the sky.


Yet, even in issuing the order, the president praised the massive airplane manufacturer and military contractor.

TRUMP: Boeing is an incredible company. They are working very, very hard right now.

May God bless the United States of America and God bless Boeing.

FOREMAN: The president has long and openly admired Boeing, hosting the CEO at Trump Tower and Mar-a-Lago, visiting Boeing factories, bragging about a multibillion-dollar deal to send planes to Vietnam.

TRUMP: And the reason I like the Boeing is because it's jobs for the United States.

FOREMAN: Vietnam says that deal is now in limbo. But Boeing's ties with team Trump remains strong. His acting secretary of defense is a former Boeing executive. Trump's former U.N. ambassador was just named to the Boeing board.

The company building the new Air Force One?

TRUMP: Actually, Boeing is doing it. And it's going to be a new color system, red, white and blue, and it looks phenomenal.

FOREMAN: Still, Trump says he spoke with Boeing and others amid the storm of concern over one of the company's newest jets and said Boeing has to figure out what if anything is wrong with them.

TRUMP: And hopefully they will very quickly come up with the answer, but until they do, the planes are grounded.


FOREMAN: What the FAA really wants is the information from the flight data recorder and the voice recorder, the so-called black boxes.

Those had been sort of inexplicably held up a little bit too long down south. Now they're being sent up to France. They are on their way there tonight. The data from that will really tell them in detail what has happened and lead toward a fixed.

The FAA is saying, however, that fix will not -- until that fix is done, these planes will stay on the ground. Whether that takes weeks, months or longer, we don't know. But, for right now, they are parked -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thanks so much.

I want to bring in Peter Goelz right now. He was a managing director at the National Transportation Safety Board, or NTSB. Peter, thanks for being here again.

This is a major reversal. Other than 9/11, have you seen such a ground stop, something this momentous?

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, they did ground the Dreamliner after it had problems with lithium batteries.

But this is really a major reversal. And I think the FAA did not want to do it. And when finally the political pressure built, the tipping point was when Canada pulled out this morning, there really was no other option but to put the plane on the ground. And it was deserved.

TAPPER: Between Southwest Airlines and American Airlines, Boeing had nearly 60 of its 737 MAX 8 planes in the United States. This is a fairly new plane.

What might this mean for future investigations? Should everyday travelers be worried about disruptions?

GOELZ: Well, here's the problem I see, is that the opening week of this tragedy has really been kind of mishandled.

I think there's going to be a call for an independent panel to review not only these accidents, but to review the whole certification process and whether Boeing was too close to the FAA, whether they were taking -- whether the FAA was doing the kind of rigorous oversight that is required.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Congress call for that.

TAPPER: As somebody who worked at the NTSB, when you see President Trump praising Boeing, the way he did, when you see that there's a Boeing former lobbyist running the Pentagon right now as the acting Defense Department chief, and all the times, the president eager to boost Boeing because of American jobs, does that make you uncomfortable?

GOELZ: It does.

I mean, the idea of aviation being a nonpartisan, nonpolitical industry that is driven by safety, his kind of ham-handed praising of Boeing is really, I think, uncalled for.

TAPPER: All right, Peter Goelz, thank you so much. Appreciate your expertise and your candor, both.

More breaking news. President Trump's new push to stop Republicans from voting against his national emergency, the behind-the-scenes lobbying and efforts next.

But, before we go, take a look at "Tricky Dick," the new CNN original series about President Richard Nixon's rise and fall featuring some never-before-seen footage.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) RICHARD NIXON, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't give a goddamn what the story is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richard M. Nixon has lied repeatedly.

NIXON: No reporter from "The Washington Post" is to ever be in the White House again. Do you understand?

The tougher it gets, the cooler I get. I have what it takes.

I want to say this to the television audience, because people have got to know whether or not their president is a crook. Well, I'm not a crook.

This crap about Watergate. Let others wallow in Watergate. We're going to do our job.

I'm going to kick their ass. Nobody's going to package me. Nobody's going to make me put on an act for television. I'm not going to engage in any gimmicks or any stunts, wear any silly hats.


If people looking at me say, that's a new Nixon, then all that I can say is, well, maybe you didn't know the old Nixon.

ANNOUNCER: "Tricky Dick," a new CNN original series Sunday night at 9:00.



TAPPER: We're back with our national lead.

Moments ago, President Trump saying he is not worried about tomorrow's vote in the Senate on his national emergency declaration, even though an embarrassing defeat could be coming for him.

As of now, it's anticipated that at least five Republican senators will join with the 47 Democrats to oppose the president. Vice President Pence has been dispatched to try and keep all the other remaining Republican senators in line.

[16:45:00] CNN's Abby Phillip picks up our coverage now from the White House.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump calling in the reinforcements at the White House today as he tries to stave off embarrassment in the Senate tomorrow.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This is really a bill on border safety, border security. PHILLIP: Trump acknowledging that he may be forced to veto a bill rejecting his national emergency declaration that up to 15 Republican senators could vote for.

TRUMP: We have a vote tomorrow, a national emergency and we'll see whether or not I have to do the veto. I said use your own discretion but I think it's a bad vote if they go against -- I think anybody going against border security, drug trafficking, human trafficking, that's a bad vote.

PHILLIP: The President also accusing those senators who might vote with Democrats of overthinking the vote. Trump tweeting it is very simply border security, no crime, should not be thought of any other way. But one Republican Senator Mike Lee saying Trump is acting like a king and is proposing legislation to restrict future national emergency declarations. That proposal drawing support from his colleagues.

REP. TOM REED (R), NEW YORK: We have an institutional problem in Congress and Congress has delegated that authority away to the president. We need to claw that back.

PHILLIP: But Trump rejected it out of hand when he called into a Senate Republican lunch today.

TRUMP: This is really about not unconstitutionality because it's constitutional. It's not a vote on precedent because you take a look at what President Obama did with DACA and with so many other things that was no precedent.

PHILLIP: And issuing a veiled threat to anyone who votes against him.

TRUMP: I think it's bad for a Republican Senate, I also think it's bad for a Democrat senator to vote against a border security and devote against the wall.


PHILLIP: If Senator Mike Lee had been trying to strike a deal with the White House, he would back the president up on this national emergency if President Trump supported his bill to restrict future national emergency declarations. But when the president said no, Mike Lee, said in the last hour that he is going to vote for that resolution of disapproval all but assuring that it will pass tomorrow and requiring then the President to veto it. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Abby Phillip at the White House, thanks so much. Let's dive into this. Sources telling CNN the White House is warning Republicans who don't get in line that there could be 2020 consequences. The President just hinted at that. I want to play you his full comments about what he says he told Republican senators.


TRUMP: But I told Republican senators vote any way you want. Vote how you feel good. But I think it's bad for a Republican senator -- I also think it's bad for a Democrat senator to vote against a border security and to vote against the wall. I think if they vote that way, it's a very bad thing for them long into the future.


TAPPER: So apparently a tougher message even than that which was pretty tough behind the scenes telling Republican senators this could have consequences in 2020. Some of them are running for re-election in 2020.

BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR AT LARGE, THE WEEKLY STANDARD: I spoke with our Republican Senator at the last few days who said, behind the scenes the law being -- has been intense. Vice President Pence has been the key person and they sent him to the Hill repeatedly and he's been on the phone with senators, seen them in other places and telling them this is important to the president. If you want to keep that good relationship both for avoiding primary challenges, but one let's not forgets also these senators have a million favors to ask of the White House, matters of business with different -- legitimate things for their constituents of different parts of the government.

And they want to be -- this President's pretty personal about how it deals with these things. So it's -- they've been putting a lot of pressure on it. But they're going to lose not just four or five, I think I can lose something like ten Republican senators tomorrow. They should lose more, honestly. It's such a ridiculous thing this emergency declaration but it will be interesting to see the president lose -- have to use his first veto upholding his fake emergency declaration or trying to uphold it. I mean, I suppose they won't override the veto.

TAPPER And Jen, Mike Lee, Senator from Utah was trying to come up with a compromise but President Trump apparently in this phone call said he wasn't supportive of this compromise which would have allowed this to go forward but taken away powers for national emergency declarations in the future.

One Republican senator then told CNN after the president delivered that message. It's over. All that's left to do is to vote. It sounds like it's getting pretty tense.

JEN PSAKI, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, look, I think all of these members who are up for re-election in 2020 will make their own decisions about the politics and what politics work for them. And if you're Cory Gardner in Colorado or Susan Collins, you're not looking at Trump's model as your model for how you're going to come back to the Senate.

But the dam is breaking here no doubt. It's not the first time there was a vote in the fall on funding for Saudi Arabia or military assistance for Saudi Arabia on Yemen that many Republicans also broke from. Now that is less of a political issue but we're starting to see some Republicans make decisions about what's best for their own politics as opposed to aligning all the time with Trump. That's a good thing. TAPPER: David, turning to 2020 for a second. Former House Speaker

Paul Ryan is now trying to clean up comments he made earlier this week in which he said that if 2020 is "about Donald Trump and his personality, he isn't going to win it.

Ryan tweeted today. "To be clear GOP wins elections when they're about ideas not when their personality contest like Dems and media want. We're clearly better off because of Donald Trump. His record of accomplishment it's why he'll win reelection especially when compared to Dems leftward lurch." It does seem like he's trying to do a little cleanup though.

[16:50:25] KRISTOL: How -- let me interrupt. How pathetic is it. He's not speaker anymore. He doesn't have to -- he could just let his statement speak for itself.

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: This is me searching for a Paul Ryan spine. I can't find it.

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Paul Ryan is just realizing that you know, that the fact that the Republican Party much to Bill Chagrin is the party of Donald Trump right? And so Paul Ryan is trying to find his place in the wilderness and have a home for a while and you can't do that by bashing the President.

Look, to go back to what Jen and Bill were talking about on this emergency declaration. I think a lot of these senators not necessarily you know, voting against the president because they don't agree with the policy. I think there is some of -- there's some believe it or not some institutionalism here saying as the Senate and as an institution we have some powers that shouldn't be taken away from us.

I think you're getting a lot of votes on this because of that, a lot of votes against the President on this matter. You know, if this were --

TAPPER: Right, they don't --

URBAN: They don't oppose the wall, they don't oppose the President's position, they just say -- and you've heard this -- Senator Tillis wrote this Op Ed that said hey, if Republicans wake up, if we get a senator -- if senator Sanders wins, we may have an emergency declaration and Medicare for all. And that scares a lot of Republicans and rightfully so.

SANDERS: Look, I think to David -- I agree with David on this point.


SANDERS: I agree with him on this point. That is why Leader Schumer took to the House, took to the Senate floor today to urge all senators to vote to support this resolution to take these back. Look, what -- what Leader Schumer is saying, what most people are saying is one, that constant -- that Congress has the power to appropriate dollars. And what Donald Trump is doing in this emergency declaration is taking that power away from Congress.

Congress has said they're not going to appropriate and the president cannot circumvent them. But secondly the President himself said this was an emergency. He said in that press conference that oh, I didn't need to do this. And so is this truly an emergency declaration? And third, this is not how you go about it. There are negotiations to be had. There's more work to be done, and --

URBAN: Well, if Congress -- listen, if Congress has given up their power a long time ago, earmarks they keep giving things away --

SANDERS: No, Congress has not given away their power to appropriate though. That's a very key thing that Congress does.

URBAN: They appropriate to Trump but they're giving away their power.

SANDERS: They're the very -- look, for the people at home, just so nobody is confused. The way things get funded in the government is there is an appropriations in the Senate and in the House. You don't get funding without appropriation. Congress appropriates the funds.

TAPPER: So former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz who's talking about possibly running for president as an Independent talked today about some new proposals. Take a listen to him talking about bipartisanship.


HOWARD SCHULTZ, FORMER CEO, STARBUCKS: I would not sign any legislation, none, into law that does not have bipartisan support. We need to be candid and truthful with the American people and admit yes, that both sides do have good ideas if we work together.


TAPPER: And when it comes to nominating Supreme Court justices, here's his pitch.


SCHULTZ: I would not nominate a Supreme Court justice unless he or she could be confirmed by two-thirds, two-thirds of the United States Senate.


TAPPER: Thoughts?

PSAKI: Bless his heart. Look, I think he is in a desperate place where he has no path to the presidency and he's been panned. All of those things should sound good but he -- and they do sound good on the surface. But the problem for Howard Schultz is he hasn't kind of laid out what his own vision is for the future. What he would do on these major issues people care about.

So if we knew where he stood on health care and what his plan was. If we knew where he stood on kind of lifting up lower-income people, maybe that would be a platform he could say those things on, but right now it sounds a little like you're just looking for a path.

URBAN: So just to point out by the way, Howard Schultz does point another thing there you know, Democrats got us where we are in Supreme Court nominees. Remember when the Leader Reid took away that you know, you used to have to have you know, 60 to get a Supreme Court justice through and determined we don't need that for judges. We don't need that -- they took away the filibuster.

SANDERS: To be clear, he didn't take -- wait, wait --


SANDERS: He didn't do it for Supreme Court Justices.

URBAN: But he did -- but he lowered the threshold. That's why we are -- that's why --

SANDERS: Mitch McConnell did it for the Supreme Court Justices. And (INAUDIBLE) had to break the prep.

URBAN: The slippery slope -- the slippery slope started -- and when Harry Reid did it, I remember in the well of the Senate, you had a lot of --

TAPPER: But it wasn't for the Supreme Court Judge.

SANDERS: This isn't the same thing.

URBAN: But I'm saying, in the well of the Senate old bulls on both sides of the aisle including you know Senator Leahy and others said this is a bad idea. This is going to lead to bad thing.

SANDERS: Yes, but that wasn't for Supreme Court Justice. Can I just say? I don't know why is Howard Schultz still taking up space in the conversation. In my opinion, he's not a serious candidate. He doesn't have any policy. I want to hear more from folks like Julian Castro who has actually cares policy to him running.

TAPPER: Here's why --

SANDERS: Howards Schultz is a joke.

[16:55:01] KRISTOL: No, I don't agree with that necessarily. At the end of the day, if we have Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, a lot of people who right now are saying I agree with Jen. They'd like to see more specificity from Mr. Schultz and stuff will decide you know what, it would be good to have a sane person who could govern the country responsibly.

SANDERS: You think Howard Schultz is sane?

KRISTOL: Totally compared to -- and Sanders and Trump on the nominees, you really would have room for conceivably centrist -- SANDERS: I'd like you to know that I've worked for Bernie Sanders and

Bernie Sanders is not -- he's that crazy. He at least has policy platform. You might -- you might not agree with it --

KRISTOL: I did say he's crazy.

SANDERS: But I mean, how -- he at least have a policy platform. What is Howard Schultz running on? He's not here for --

KRISTOL: He's not a Socialist -- he's not a Socialist and he's not -- he's not -- and he's not Nativist.


TAPPER: Breaking news from the Hill. The Chair of the House Judiciary Committee telling CNN that the former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker did not deny -- did not deny talking with Trump about the Cohen probe. That's ahead. Stay with us.