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Head of FAA: Could be Link Between Ethiopian/Lion Air Crashes to Warrant Grounding Boeing MAX Planes; Rep. Kevin Kramer (R-ND) Discusses the Senate Vote on Trump's National Emergency. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 14, 2019 - 13:30   ET



[13:30:00] DANIEL ELWELL, ACTING ADMINISTRATOR, FAA: We got new information yesterday, and we acted on it. And it is in our minds now, a link that is close enough to ground the airplanes.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Joining me now is former U.S. secretary of transportation, Ray LaHood, who served under President Obama.

Thanks so much for joining me, Mr. Secretary.

You heard the acting FAA administrator, Daniel Elwell. He also said it takes more than guts to ground a fleet. But there were more than these similarities, some of, why was the U.S the last major nation to ground this Boeing model?

RAY LAHOOD, FORMER SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION: You know, I don't know, Dana, but I agree with what he said. It takes more than a gut reaction. After two crashes and people being killed, including seven Americans perished in the last crash, that's more than a gut reaction. That should -- the immediate reaction when the Ethiopian crash occurred and seven Americans perished was ground those planes. Let's find out what's wrong with them. So, you know, the idea that, you know, it's more than a gut reaction, my gosh, when you have people perish in a plane and it's the second one, you should -- they would have immediately grounded those planes.

Look it, we didn't mess around when we were at DOT. And the Dreamliner was having these batteries catch fire in the hulls of the planes. We grounded the planes. Was it a pleasant decision? Of course, not. I talked to the CEO of Boeing, and it wasn't a pleasant conversation. And I talked to the administrator of the FAA. But in the end, the American people and the flying public want 100 percent assurance that the planes they get on are safe. That is the number- one obligation of DOT, safety.

BASH: Do you think there's any question they would have been grounded sooner, even immediately, had any of these crashes happened in the U.S.?

LAHOOD: Well, that I don't know, Dana. That should not be the standard though. The standard should be when there are crashes like this and these are new planes and there's questions about the technology and questions about, you know, the newness of the plane and whether the pilots were properly trained or not, and all of that has really come out. It shouldn't matter where it takes place. What should matter is that if these planes aren't functioning right, they should be grounded and inspected.

BASH: You said, when you were serving as transportation secretary, you had to have a very difficult conversation with the head of Boeing. It's a big American company, the second-largest defensive contractor. How much did that play into grounding these planes?

LAHOOD: I don't know. I hope it didn't have anything to do with it. I give President Trump credit on this, Dana, he made the call yesterday, he made the decision. I believe he made the decision based on safety and based on the idea that the plane should be grounded and inspected, notwithstanding anything else he might have said. He did make the right decision, a decision he should have made a few days earlier after the Ethiopian crash. I think he gets it. He owns his own plane. Obviously, he knows about safety. At one time, he bought a fleet of planes and was going to design his own airplane. He knows safety is number one. I think he really got it and made the decision. It was a good decision, and I congratulate the president for doing that.

BASH: What now? Based on your experience, what now?

LAHOOD: What now, there's going to be a little bit confusion, some scheduling changes, planes are going to be grounded. But what's going to happen is what happened after the Dreamliner. The planes were inspected, changes were made, solutions were found, and there's no more fire in the hull of these Dreamliners, and that's a good thing for Boeing. Once these planes are inspected by FAA safety inspectors and Boeing safety inspectors, working together, this will be an opportunity for Boeing to tell the American public these planes are 100 percent safe. It's going to take a little time. There's going to be a little confusion. But you know what? This discomfort to the flying public is worth it because the discomfort of getting on a plane that they're not sure is safe is a lot more troubling.

BASH: You can say that again.

Former transportation secretary, former congressman, how I got to know you, Ray LaHood. Thanks so much for joining me. I appreciate it.

LAHOOD: Thank you, Dana. Thank you.

[13:34:51] BASH: More on our breaking news right now. You see the Senate floor drama unfolding right now. The Senate set to rebuke the president over his national emergency. I'll speak to one Senator who's siding with the president.

Plus, President Trump is not the only one reacting to Beto O'Rourke's campaign launch. Hear how the campaign of one of his competitors is trolling him.


[13:39:51] BASH: We're now just moments away from a highly anticipated Senate vote, condemning the national emergency declaration on the border that frees the White House to moves money from other parts of the government to fund the border wall. It's expected to pass with support from several Republican Senators. The president said he will veto it. It will be his first veto of his presidency.

I'm going to speak more about this with North Dakota Republican Senator Kevin Cramer.

Thanks for speaking with me.


BASH: You're sticking with the president. You're voting against this resolution of disapproval. Why?

SEN. KEVIN CRAMER, (R), NORTH DAKOTA: First of all, Dana, thank you for the opportunity.

I'm voting against the resolution because I agree with the policy. I think there's an emergency, a crisis at the border, it requires more money than we appropriated, and furthermore, when the president announced his support or he would sign the appropriations bill that only put up $1.375 billion for additional border security, he also announced he would be declaring a national emergency. We all knew that going into the vote and we voted for this appropriation knowing he was going to use to get more. It's not a matter of loyalty to the president but to the policies I agree with.

BASH: If this were a Democratic president -- give me some North Dakota candor here -- if this were a Democratic president, you wouldn't be saying the same thing.

CRAMER: A North Dakota candidate comes with North Dakota common sense. If a Democratic president asks for more money to fund the border wall, we believe in border security in North Dakota, we believe a wall is part of that, and I would support that president. This issue we've been debating about a national emergency has been done 58 times. We're not breaking new ground. I'd like to think I would be with the president. If they can make a compelling case this this precedent and his team have made about what's going on at the border, I would be for more money for a wall.

BASH: He has made his case, but he also said something that seems to fly in the face of it being an emergency when he talked in the Rose Garden last month. Take a listen.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: On the wall, they skimped. I was successful in that sense, but I want to do it faster. I could do a t wall over a longer period of time. I didn't need to do this, but I'd rather do it much faster.


BASH: He stepped on his own executive order there, meaning he could do it in a slower period of time, which means he could do it with congressional approval, with congressionally approved funds. So didn't he just kind of, you know, pull the curtain back to see exactly what's going on here?

CRAMER: I think what he said is accurate. Remember, he stressed the speed. The speed of getting wall up is directly relational to the urgency of the moment, which is directly relational to the declaration. I think that's part of his candor. He stated everything that's accurate, and some could say it was a conflict. I think it makes the case.

BASH: How much pressure are your Republican colleagues, who are either on the fence, no pun intended, and those who have already said that they're going to vote against the president in your conference today?

CRAMER: You know, I suspect they're feeling some. I hope they understand and the president understands this is a legitimate conscience issue. It's not a crisis of the Constitution. It's a crisis of conscience. And I don't think it's about the -- the wall is not about security. It really is a conflict of Article One, overreach of the presidents, past and current, and I hope they're all comfortable with where they are. I also hope we can move forward after this with additional legislation and additional appropriations to make sure the president has both the money and the money on time to adequately secure the border.

BASH: And one last question. Do you also support legislation to change the emergency declaration powers the president has so that this pickle that Congress is in, particularly his fellow Republicans, doesn't happen again?

CRAMER: I am, Dana, open to that. I'm open to doing something in the future as we move forward. I really didn't like tying that effort to this vote because I think it misrepresented the legality of what the president is doing with his national declaration. I think we ought to look at a whole bunch of presidential powers and executive powers as Congress and see if we can't come back together with the Democrats and claw back a lot of that and put it where it belongs, and that, of course, is in the people's House and the United States Senate.

BASH: Senator Kevin Cramer, of North Dakota, thanks so much for joining me. I appreciate it.

CRAMER: Thanks you for the opportunity, Dana. My pleasure.

BASH: Thank you.

Later, he is one of Robert Mueller's top prosecutors. He's been called the Lebron James of money laundering investigators. What his departure says about the investigation. [13:44:58] Plus, a Gambino family member mob boss shot and killed

outside his home, the first murder of a crime boss in 34 years. New details about his last moments.


BASH: Beto O'Rourke finally made it official today. He is running for president, although his splashy front-page spread, the cover of "Vanity Fair," photo and all, tipped off his decision just a bit when it was released yesterday.

Joining me now is CNN senior political reporter, Nia Malika Henderson, and CNN reporter, Michael Warren.

Thank you so much to both of you.

This is so fun. The producers of this show found some really fascinating comparisons. Look at that one.


BASH: Beto O'Rourke, and you remember that guy, his name was John Edwards.


HENDERSON: I do vaguely remember him.


[13:50:10] BASH: Very similar, different magazines but both -- look at Ronald Reagan. Look at the next one.

HENDERSON: Yes, that is -- yes.


HENDERSON: It's very similar, the hands in the back of the pocket.

BASH: OK. So don't tweet at me, we're not doing splash-over substance. We have a lot of substance going on. Just on this, this is about imagery and about trying to portray, what?

HENDERSON: You think it's about -- I think it's about -- John Kennedy probably understood this first and foremost -- the presidency is about image and crafting an image early particularly in a media age when you're just bombarded by images and you want to break-through. This was smart of him to have that photo on the cover of "Vanity Fair" in that way where he looks like a plain folk with his dog on a dirt road and maybe a pickup truck. I don't know what that is. It is an -- it isn't obviously necessarily who he is. He's the son of privilege and a former congressman. That image certainly speaks to that.

MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: And it helps pull the Democratic Party, which has an image now for a lot of voters as a coastal party. He's nowhere near the coast there in El Paso. It also provides that image at a time when the biggest attack that he's going to face is that you just lost the last election that you ran in. This sort of almost tries to erase that loss and say -- look at little more aspirational and into the future.

BASH: Aspirational a great word. That's why there's so much buzz around here, the hope/change thing.

Nia, I want to talk about something you wrote about. You wrote about it during the "will he or won't he" phase when Beto O'Rourke was driving around and sending Instagram's. You wrote about the fact that he -- you call it -- the cover story it was referenced, your story was referenced by his wife, Amy. And here's what the reporter said: "Amy bristled at a CNN essay that chastised him for taking an excellent adventure while leaving his wife and kids at home. 'I was a little insulted because it implied that I couldn't support our family.' His stream of consciousness posts, which Amy edited, were mocked on Twitter as mean."

What so you?

HENDERSON: I think the writer sort of misinterpreted my piece, she proves the point. The point of the piece was that, as a white male he had a certain privilege, which is that he could leave and go out on an excellent adventure because his wife was at home and could take care of the kids. And a female candidate I don't think could do that without facing all sorts of criticism. I don't think a female candidate would have done it and felt the freedom to do it. That was the point I was making and she says, yes, I was at home to support the kids allowing him to go out on the road and leave the three kids at home. She's going to face -- he's going to face all sorts of criticism. She bristled at that, really?

BASH: There's the bro factor.

HENDERSON: There's the bro factor.

BASH: Yes, there's the bro factor.

And, Michael, you look at that versus, you know, the very large, very diverse, most diverse field in history, how does that play in?

WARREN: I think there's -- there's -- there seems to be a sense that as a white male Beto O'Rourke's going to have a hard time in a party that is so diverse in a field that is so diverse. I'm not so sure that Democratic voters think in those ways.


WARREN: Republicans fall in line and Democrats fall in love. Beto's exactly the type of candidates that Democrats want to fall in love with. Now whether they will actually do that, that's going to be depended on him. This is something where he's competing with Kamala Harris and Cory Booker and Bernie Sanders, for that fall-in-love candidate role. He's the perfect candidate for that. We'll see if he actually falls through. HENDERSON: The electability part, too. Maybe a white man might be

more electability than a black woman, than a black man. If you look at the polls of the folks leading, all white men, Biden, Bernie Sanders.

BASH: We have to take a break.

I'm watching you talk with your hands and watching you talk with your hands. I talk with my hands.

[13:54:58] Before we go to break, something the president noted about Beto O'Rourke today. Listen.


TRUMP: I think he's got a lot of hand movement. I've never seen so much hand movement. I said, is he crazy or is that just the way he acts. So I've never seen hand movement. I watched him a little while this morning, doing -- I assume it was a news conference -- and I actually never seen anything quite like it. Study it. I'm sure you'll agree.


BASH: We'll let that hang out there.

Nia, Michael, thank you so much. Appreciate it.


BASH: And Stanford students are the first to sue the elite universities named in the admission scandals. What they want from them, next?