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Trump Says Bowing Under Great Pressure to Figure It Out Fast; Graham Blocks Senate Vote for Public Release of Mueller Report; Pelosi Doubles Down that Impeachment Isn't Worth It; Two Rockets Fired from Gaza Towards Israel; Federal Prosecutors Want E-mails Between Cohen and Lawyer. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 14, 2019 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Boeing needs to figure it out and fast, that is the message from President Trump after officials worldwide decided to ground the company's Max 8 and 9 jets following two fatal accidents in just a few months. Here in the United States passengers who were on those planes as that announcement was made expressed relief.


JENNY MEADS, BOEING PASSENGER: I think it's the right choice. God forbid another one happens. I mean, they need to figure it out first for everybody's sake.

TIM HOSIER, BOEING PASSENGER: I made it safe. If we had a problem that'd be different. I'm here. We'll deal with that issue and if that's what the President wants to do then that's what we'll do.

DAN DUNHAM, BOEING PASSENGER: It doesn't bother me. I figured it's an hour flight. We'll get up there. I do know the FAA was looking into the concerns.


BALDWIN: Dennis Tajer is an American Airline's pilot and spokesman the Allied Pilots Association, represents the pilots of American Airlines. So Dennis, thank you so much for coming on with us and you know the news, American has 24 Max 8 aircraft. Yesterday before the grounding was announced, you said you were confident in the Max 8. You flew one just the other day. Do you still feel that same sense of confidence?

DENNIS TAJER, SPOKESMAN, ALLIED PILOTS ASSOCIATION Well, the facts changed and that's what we were waiting for. If we had seen those facts, we don't have all the details. But the FAA announced they found something in the wreckage that led them to a conclusion on the configuration of that aircraft after takeoff. And then they had more visible data on the flight path and those would be the kind of facts we would be processing. But our government got those quickly and then made a decision. That's what changed everything and we are confident up to that point because we knew how to comeback any maladies. But any time we got information like that, factual information which is what we were waiting for, we see the grounding, we understand that wisdom.

BALDWIN: A lot of those similarities were reported earlier in the week, the rest of the world reacted so much sooner, do you think that the FAA waited too long?

TAJER: Well, the FAA waited for the actual facts, concrete facts they could point to. So I'm not here as a spokesman for them, but for our pilots we were looking additional information. There's enough of an overlay. They took action. So now we'll continue to be part of that partnership and want to find out the details. So prior to that the information was a little bit fuzzy. There was indication but because of our training, the unique equipment on American Airlines aircraft that was related to the Lion Air incident -- the alerts would have given us along with just the -- I said the training experience of our pilots, we felt comfortable. The pilot at Southwest and United felt comfortable. But that changed yesterday when additional facts came in and our government took step and the President parked those airplanes and we are going to get this right.

BALDWIN: Boeing has deep ties in Washington, D.C. including the current acting Defense Secretary, former Boeing executive, listen to what he said in a Senate hearing today.


SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: I'd like to know whether you have spoken about the Boeing 737 Max 8 to anyone in the administration in the Department of Transportation or in the White House?

PATRICK SHANAHAN, ACTING DEFENSE SECRETARY, FORMER BOEING VP: Senator, I've not spoken to anyone regarding the 737 Max.

BLUMENTHAL: Are you in favor of an investigation that would look into why these defects that cause crashes were not known earlier or were not acted upon earlier?

SHANAHAN: Senator, I firmly believe we should let the regulators investigate the incidence.


BALDWIN: And this isn't just the Trump White House, former President Obama recently attended the company's corporate retreat. And Boeing donated to Obama's presidential library. There's also the millions Boeing has paid out in lobbying. Do you think this was done to protect an American company?

TAJER: That is not our field. We're in charge of the cockpit. We have deep ties to our passengers and deep ties to our fellow crew members. So that's our job. That's what we focus on. All that's for everybody else to forensically figure out. We're interested, obviously, if it affects decisions that may affect the safety of our passenger and crew and the viability of our airlines. So they'll get that figured out. But we're going to stay in our lane. But we're certainly looking at that and great interest just like our passengers would be, so they'll take care of that on their own. That's their jobs. We'll do ours.

[15:35:00] BALDWIN: Denis Tajer, thank you very much.

Coming up next, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi doubles down on why she's not ready to start impeachment proceedings against President Trump. But my next guest argues in the new issue of "Time" magazine that it may be inevitable. We'll have her explain why.


BALDWIN: More breaking news up on Capitol Hill where Republican Senator Lindsey Graham has just blocked a vote on a resolution calling for the Mueller report to be made public.

[15:40:00] Our senior Congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, is live with this. And Manu we know this is a measure that already passed the House unanimously today. Is that correct?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it passed 420-0. Something you rarely see in these polarized time. Particularly over something like the Russia investigation. But that resolution nonbinding passed the House calling for the public release of the Mueller report.

Chuck Schumer the Senate Democratic leader tried to quickly pass that same nonbinding symbolic measure in the Senate just moments ago. But he needed to get support from all of his colleagues to get a unanimous support to quickly pass it. And Lindsey Graham, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, objected, blocked that from moving forward. Because Lindsey Graham wanted that measure amended so they could call for a second special counsel to investigate what he believes were FBI abuses during the Clinton investigation and the Russia investigation and that prompted this back and forth between Schumer and Graham.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D), NEW YORK: I'm deeply disappointed in my good friend from South Carolina. This amendment appears to be a pretext for blocking this very simple, noncontroversial resolution. 420 members of the House voted for it. Congressman Jim Jordan, friend of the President voted for it. Congressman Devin Nunes friend of the President voted for it. This resolution should pass the Senate in the blink of an eye.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Mueller's been allowed to do his job. You're going to find out what he found pretty soon, as much as we can consistent with the law. But I'm not going to give up on the idea that we're just going to look at one problem of 2016. I've been talking to myself for the most part. Now I've got a forum. I will introduce a resolution asking you to do a simple thing. Ask somebody outside of politics, a special counsel to look in to how in the world the system got so off track to use a document prepared by a foreign agent, paid for by the Democratic Party, collected in Russia to obtain a warrant against American citizens that is garbage to this day?


RAJU: Now those concerns that Lindsey Graham are raising echoing the concerns of the President has raised time and time again for months. And Graham is the new chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to use his panel in part to investigate what he believes is the way the FBI improperly carried out both the Clinton investigation and the early parts of the Russian investigation back in 2016. But all this led to here was him blocking this effort from moving forward. Chuck Schumer would not agree to amend his resolution calling for a second special counsel so as a result stalemate. No Senate approval for calling for the public release of the Mueller report despite unanimous support in the very polarized House calling for the release of the report. We'll see what happens when the report is finally done here -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Manu, thank you very much.

"Time" magazine's provocative new cover hitting the streets soon. We have a preview for you. We should put up on the screen and you can see. "Time's" upcoming cover story entitled, "Do they dare? The Democrats Will Likely Impeach". Well not if you ask the most powerful Democrat in Congress, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, declaring President Trump is quote/unquote, just not worth it. And today, Manu Raju asking Speaker Pelosi if she might change her mind about impeachment if the Mueller report comes back suggesting criminal activity and here was her response.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D), HOUSE SPEAKER: Our focus was in what we said we would do, health care, job creation, cleaner government, gun safety, issues like that and it is not worth our time to take our attention from that.

If the Mueller report comes back with information, I don't think we should impeach a President for political reasons and I don't think we should not impeach a President for political reasons but you have to be iron clad in terms of your facts.


BALDWIN: Molly Ball wrote "Time's" new cover story and serves "Time's" national political correspondent. If I may, the old English nerd in me with my T.S. Elliott book that sits in my office, "Love Songs of J. Alfred Prufrock." Do I dare eat a peach, I loved, I loved what you did with this cover. Can you tell me a little bit more about it?

MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: Well, I can't take any credit for that. That was our brilliant editors and graphic designers in New York who came up with that very clever design and cover line. But, yes, I agree, it's a great reference. A lot of people have gotten it and found it very musing. We don't mean to make light of the subject obviously.

BALDWIN: No, no making light. It's a brilliant cover. On this very serious topic, though of impeachment, you say conventional wisdom in Washington tends to treat impeachment as a fringe crusade. Right. And that Speaker Pelosi is right to resist the momentum but that she's playing a deeper game. How do you mean?

[15:45:00] BALL: Well, just listen to those remarks that Nancy Pelosi made just today in response to the question and, you know, the summary or the headline from those remarks is, she's doubled down on being against impeachment. That isn't what she said. What she says is, we're not going to impeach for political reasons and we're not going to impeach for political reasons. She has never shut the door to impeachment from the beginning. And I spoke to her about this topic more than a year ago and she said essentially the same thing. She said we want to have a high standard. We don't want to prejudge the evidence but, you know, we're going to go forward based on the facts if they're there and we're going to set a high standard.

You know, she was around during the impeachment of Bill Clinton. A lot of people in Washington today were already around at that time and I think both Republicans and Democrats have regrets about that process and see it as having been unduly political or at least not as having not done the Republicans any favors politically. So she doesn't want a repeat of that, you know, in reverse for the Democrats. Where an impeachment process is seen as a political play and backfires on the party that brings it. But she hasn't shut the door to it. What she has said is, we need to meet these prerequisites, we need to first allow Mueller to do his work. And then we need to have these high standards for what we would proceed with.

And also, as you saw on that clip. She wants to send a public message that this is not the focus of the Democrats. Because the President's message has been that this is a witch-hunt and that they are obsessed with this idea of impeaching him and she is trying to send the message that that's not the case.

BALDWIN: So, we're looking at a recent Quinnipiac poll. It shows not everyone in America is not on board with this, at least not yet. And when asked if Congress should begin impeachment process against Trump which could lead to his removal from office, 59 percent of Americans say no. Let's set aside the resistance from Senate Republicans for a moment. Do you think Democrats need more of the public on their side? Or as you point out in your piece when you go way back to Nixon where the public opinion wasn't entirely on the side that that will evolve through the process?

BALL: Well look, I am not arguing for impeachment. I am reporting that based on my reporting I believe it is much likelier than most people believe and the conventional wisdom suggests. But I would point out that, you know, I think the people who believe that impeachment is this, you know -- is this fringe crusade are not recognizing that public support for it is quite high by historical standards. That poll has got it at 35 percent. That's a little bit on the low end of the massive polling that's been conducted on this topic. It's been as high as 49 percent. This is before the Mueller report comes up, before people feel they have had enough information to judge. Already nearly half the public has at one point or another believed that the President ought to be impeached and that is -- that's the highest that it's been for any President since Nixon.

Of course, there was a group of people who thought Barack Obama should be impeached when he was President, thought George W. Bush should be impeached when he was President. It was not nearly such a large proportion. So there are already is a pretty high bar of public opinion.

But as you point out, it is not a majority and one of the standards that Nancy Pelosi has tried to set is that they don't want to move forward in opposition to overwhelming public opinion. But what she doesn't say when she says that is that one of the things that she is trying to do is to bend public opinion. One of the purposes of the Democrats oversight operation is to send a message to the American public about what they view as the misconduct of the Trump administration and to, you know, create a narrative and tell a story to people about what they believe the facts show.

BALDWIN: Molly Ball with the "Time" cover piece. Molly, good to see you, thank you very much for that. We'll be looking for it.

I want to get breaking news out of Israel where we have the reports of two rockets being fired from the Gaza Strip toward Tel Aviv. CNN's Melissa Bell is with me now live on the phone. Melissa, tell me what you know.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via phone): Brooke, for the time being what we know is that the sirens were sounded in Tel Aviv warning people of what was happening. What we know also this is from the Israeli Defense Forces from the Israeli army, essentially that two rockets were reported to have been fired from the Gaza Strip. We don't know yet who is responsible, of course.

According to the Israeli ministry, their antimissile defense system intercepted one of those rockets, Brooke. While the other is likely to have landed in an open area possibly in the sea. This is what we're hearing for the time being. When we know more about that, this is an escalation insofar as the last time that Tel Aviv -- the rocket alerts were activated in Tel Aviv was two years ago in what turned out to be a false alarm.

[15:50:00] It is reported that these sirens went off and according to Israeli Defense Forces, that two rockets were fired from the -- from Gaza. We have yet to find out more about who was responsible for launching them. But Iron Dome, we're told, intercepted at least one of them. That, for the time being, Brooke, is what we have heard. But those sirens being sounded in Tel Aviv indicates that there is some sort of escalation going on. And we are trying to get to the bottom of exactly what that means and what has happened precisely.

BALDWIN: I understand, it is still early going and we don't want to get ahead of the facts here. Again, two rockets fired from Gaza toward Israeli territory. Melissa, do we know anything about any fatalities as of yet?

BELL: No fatalities for the time being. But again, according to the IDF, Israeli Defense Forces, no fatalities according to them. But an escalation nonetheless insofar that it has been a while since we'd heard of rockets being sent from Gaza towards Tel Aviv. So, in that respect were talking about an escalation. What precisely it means and what group is sending them remains to be established. No fatalities for the time being but all eyes clearly on Gaza and what is coming from there.

BALDWIN: Got it. Melissa Bell, thank you very much. Calling in from overseas. Quick break. We'll continue our special coverage after this.


BALDWIN: We are back on the breaking news out of Israel where we have reports of two rockets were fired from Gaza towards Tel Aviv in Israel. CNN global affairs analyst, Aaron David Miller is with me on the phone. I was talking to our correspondent a second ago. She said the Iron Dome appears to have worked, so far, no fatalities. But, you know, the point being that this is an escalation. It's been a while since something like this happened. I know there'd been false alarms in recent years. It's really been since 2014. You correct me, you're the expert. But what does this mean for you?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (via phone): The problem, Brooke, is that we don't know where the source of the fire was. It seems -- it seems to have come from the northern Gaza strip. Whether this was Hamas, that certainly has the capacity with high trajectory fire to reach the Tel Aviv area, or some Islamic Jihad or some other jihadi group. But this represents rockets launched toward Tel Aviv and we don't know where they hit. Iron dome intercepted one, the other presumably fell in an open area, represents a serious escalation.

Why Hamas would want to risk this this, which is directed toward one of Israel's major urban concentrations, is unclear. There was a launch Saturday night, for example, a rocket, and Israelis responded by striking Hamas positions in Gaza. But again this is wash, rinse and repeat. 2008, 2012, 2014 and a series of intermittent tensions between Hamas and Israel and other jihadi groups makes Gaza an explosion waiting to happen.

I'm surprised, though, frankly, by the intent here. And remember, this occurs 30 days before an Israeli election, with an Israeli Prime Minister, who has been traditionally risk averse and unwilling to truly strike with ground forces in Gaza, for obvious reasons, and high Israeli casualties. But it's election season. And I suspect we're going to get a pretty severe tough response by the Israelis.

BALDWIN: All right, Aaron David Miller on the phone. We are going to keep a close eye on this. Thank you.

Also just into CNN, we have learned e-mails sent to Michael Cohen to discuss of a back channel of communication with Rudy Giuliani have been requested for review by federal prosecutors in the Southern District of New York. CNN first reported that these e-mails -- these 2018 e-mails -- yesterday, which included a conversation, suggesting that Michael Cohen could, quote, unquote, sleep well tonight because he had, quote, friends in high places. Nicole Argentieri is a former federal prosecutor and a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. And so, good to see you.

Good to see you.

BALDWIN: Why do prosecutors want to look at these e-mails?

NICOLE ARGENTIERI, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: I think the most interesting thing about this story is that prosecutors didn't already have the e-mails. You'll remember Michael Cohen provided these e- mails to Congress to bolster his testimony that people had been dangling a pardon in front of him. And if you read the e-mails, I'm not sure that that's that clear.

BALDWIN: Why not? Sleep well tonight, what else would it mean?

ARGENTIERI: When Robert Costello, who's the attorney who sent Cohen the e-mails, was interviewed yesterday, he said that it was Cohen himself who had wanted him to raise the possibility of the pardon. And you'll remember that in his testimony before Congress, Cohen couldn't have been clearer, he has now clarified those statements but at the time said he has never asked for, nor would he accept a pardon.

So these e-mails that he produced himself have complicated his situation. And the Southern District, at his sentencing, was not -- the Southern District prosecutors were not happy with him. You remember that they told the judge that they felt like he hadn't fully cooperated. He only talked about the things that he wanted to talk about and he hadn't turned over, obviously, these e-mails as evidence. So the fact that they've asked for them at this point may not spell good things for Michael Cohen.

BALDWIN: OK. Ny Nicole, thank you very much. I'm out of time but more on Michael Cohen and e-mails they'll be looking into, for sure. Thank you very much.

Thank you so much for, of course, being with me. You are watching CNN. Let's go to Washington right now. "THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER" starts right now.