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Terror in New Zealand; Trump Punts on White Supremacy Following New Zealand Attacks; Interview with Former U.S. Ambassador to New Zealand Carol Moseley Braun; Trump Signs First Veto to Protect Emergency Declaration; U.S. Mosques on Alert Following New Zealand Terror Attacks; New Evidence Points to Connection with Earlier Disaster; North Korea Threatens to End Talks, Resume Missile Tests. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired March 16, 2019 - 11:00   ET



[11:00:09] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone and welcome this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

We're learning new details behind the gruesome massacre in New Zealand that left 49 dead and dozens fighting for their lives. 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant has been charged with murder and police say more charges are coming. He made his first court appearance today where he appeared to flash a hand gesture associated with white supremacy.

Authorities are currently digging through an 87-page manifesto, filled with anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric that the shooter posted just minutes before the attacks.

Meanwhile 39 victims remain in the hospital, 11 of them in intensive care. Their ages ranging from toddlers to the elderly.

And those who managed to escape the gunfire are beginning to speak out. One witness describing how they came face to face with the shooter during the chaos.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He discharged two rounds and I come out to see what the noise was about and he was just about 10, 12 feet away. We were looking at each other while he was -- looked like he was reloading his rifle. He was fully geared up as far as like a SWAT guy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So you saw the --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We stared at each other --.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You stared at each other.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- while he was reloading his rifle. He was the driver of the, it looked like a Subaru wagon or that model of Subaru wagon. And he was reloading, putting another magazine and we were just looking at each other.


WHITFIELD: CNN senior international correspondent Ivan Watson is in Christchurch. So Ivan, walk us through where authorities are in this investigation.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is one key suspect at this time that has been arrested and identified as this 28-year-old Australian named Brenton Tarrant. And he appeared in a Christchurch court on Saturday and faced a charge of murder. And authorities say he will face additional charges.

They say that he was arrested, that he resisted arrest, and was found with five firearms that had been used they say in the attack as well as two improvised explosive devices.

The Prime Minister's office has confirmed to CNN that an e-mail for the Prime Minister received a long manifesto from the suspect moments before the attack took place. This is a manifest that rants against Islam. It warns about white genocide, of course, in a country like New Zealand where just 1 percent of the population is estimated to be Muslim.

This suspect broadcast, he live-streamed images of himself as he was carrying out the attack. And has quite clearly devastated Christchurch and New Zealand, the Prime Minister calling this one of the country's darkest days and an act of terror -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: And then give me an idea how the community is fairing there.

WATSON: well, this is of course a deeply traumatic incident, certainly for survivors because the man filmed himself walking into a mosque -- about 10 minutes walk from where I am right, opening fire on worshippers as they were kneeling in prayer.

Take a listen to what some survivors had to say.


RAMZAN ALI: Sitting just beside a wall and what he did was he told me no, no, no and then I went back again where I was. Next thing, the guy came and shoot this guy who told me not to get out. The blood spitting on me, I mean splashing on me. And I think oh my God, oh my God, what's going to happen to me now.


WATSON: In addition to the relatives, the victims, you have ordinary citizens in Christchurch. The schools were locked down. And I've heard how teachers closed curtains, how some of their students were afraid but they were actually watching the live stream of the shooter blocks away from where this atrocity was being carried out.

I've seen grown strangers embracing themselves on the streets here, many New Zealanders trying to make a point that an attack on one small community is an attack on all New Zealanders -- Fredricka.

WHITFIELD: Ivan Watson -- thank you so much from Christchurch, New Zealand.

And we're now getting a deeper look into the suspect's motive and what led him to gun down dozens of innocent worshippers. At the heart of the issue -- white nationalism.

[11:04:59] CNN senior investigative correspondent Drew Griffin has more.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: It's titled "The Great Replacement" -- 87 pages, more than 16,000 words, not rambling but a spellcheck reference dissertation on a hate-filled view of immigrants, immigration, and Muslims. Unsigned, it is the killer's explanation for why he did this.

JACINDA ARDERN, PRIME MINISTER, NEW ZEALAND: These are people who I would describe as having extremist views that have absolutely no place in New Zealand, and in fact have no place in the world.

GRIFFIN: The manifesto was posted online by this man under the name Brenton Tarrant. CNN has not yet confirmed this is his real name. But there is no doubt the 28-year-old under arrest is a white supremacist who believed his own white European race is being wiped out by immigration labeling it "white genocide".

It is also the universal rallying cry of hate-filled white supremacists across the world. In Charlottesville, Virginia the neo- Nazi cry was --

CROWD: Jews will not replace us.

GRIFFIN: In Warsaw, Poland in 2017 some marchers in an Independence Day demonstration carried banners that read "White Europe" and "clean blood".

2015 in Charleston, South Carolina a white teenager named Dylann Roof murdered nine African-Americans in a church. The white supremacist reportedly said "You all are raping our white women. You all are taking over the world," as he gunned down unarmed parishioners.

The rhetoric is old but new technology has allowed these messages of hate to be spread in real-time across the globe. The New Zealand killer streamed parts of his attack live on Facebook. The video spread to YouTube, Twitter, news sites before police pleaded for it to stop.

MIKE BUSH, COMMISSIONER, NEW ZEALAND POLICE: I have seen social media footage. It's very disturbing. It shouldn't be in the public domain and we're doing everything we can to remove it.

GRIFFIN: But hours after the attack, copies of the gruesome video still continued to appear shared by social media users. While police will not discuss motive, the suspect refers to Dylann Roof and writes he was inspired by white supremacist Anders Breivik who killed 77 people in Norway eight years ago.

He does try to explain his own breaking point came in 2017, the French presidential election of what he describes as an anti-white ex-banker and the terror-related death of an 11-year-old Swedish girl run down by a Muslim terrorist in a stolen truck in Stockholm. A crime he writes, he could no longer ignore.


GRIFFIN: In his 87 pages the suspect does make one reference to Donald Trump. He writes "Are you a supporter," asking himself. As a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose, he answers "sure". As a policy maker and leader, "Dear God, no."

Drew Griffin, CNN -- Atlanta.


WHITFIELD: President Trump is under renewed pressure to fully denounce white supremacy following these hate-filled attacks in New Zealand, but as CNN chief White House correspondent Jim Acosta notes it is not the first time the President has punted on the issue.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is a horrible, horrible thing. I told the Prime Minister that the United States is with them all the way.

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Earlier in the day, the president offered his condolences, tweeting: "My warmest sympathy and best wishes go out to the people of New Zealand after the horrible massacre in the mosques."

But the President's critics question whether that response should have been more forceful in condemning the attack allegedly carried out by a right-wing extremist. Mr. Trump was asked by reporters whether he thinks white nationalism is a rising threat.

TRUMP: I don't really. I think it's a small group of people that have very, very serious problems. I guess, if you look at what happened in New Zealand, perhaps that's the case. I don't know enough about it yet. They're just learning about the person and the people involved. But it's certainly a terrible thing.

ACOSTA: As a candidate, Mr. Trump once called for a ban on Muslims coming into the U.S. -- a campaign promise the administration later tried to turn into policy.

TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.

ACOSTA: Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke said thoughts and prayers are not enough, adding that attacks like the one in New Zealand are now all too common.

BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They are on the rise around the Western world. They're on the rise right here in this country. They're part of a larger disease of intolerance that has taken hold in what was thought to be the most tolerant, most open, most welcoming country the world had ever known.

ACOSTA: Before the mosque attack, authorities say the killer in New Zealand wrote a long manifesto expressing his anti-Muslim and anti- immigration views, even describing the President as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose.

Top White House officials are blasting the notion that the President's rhetoric had anything to do with the violence in New Zealand.

[11:05:06] KELLYANNE CONWAY, TRUMP SENIOR ADVISER: He says, you know, I'm not a conservative. I'm not a Nazi. Sounds like he's an eco- terrorist. And he certainly absolutely is a ruthless killer and he's to blame.

ACOSTA: But just this week, questions are being raised about whether the President's rhetoric simply crosses the line.

In an interview with the conservative Breitbart Web site, Mr. Trump bragged about his support coming from, quote, "tough people" saying, "I can tell you I have the support of the police, the support of the military, the support of the Bikers for Trump. I have the tough people, but they don't play it tough until they go to a certain point. And then it would be very bad, very bad."

Democrats say the President is playing with fire.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: I interpret that kind of comment as a danger to peaceful transition of power in our democracy. That's one of the fundamental principles of our Constitution, that we have that kind of peaceful transition of power and respect for the rule of law, which that kind of comment utterly betrays it.

ACOSTA: The President said he hadn't read the New Zealand killer's manifesto so Mr. Trump declined to weigh in on that. But as for the President's claim that white nationalism is not a rising threat, he may want to consider recent FBI figures and other studies showing right-wing extremism it is a growing concern. The neo-Nazi violence on the streets of Charlottesville to the synagogue shooting in Pittsburgh last year, and now the mosque attack in New Zealand -- it is a threat that can't be denied.

Jim Acosta, CNN -- the White House.


WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more about this.

With me now is Carol Moseley Braun, former U.S. ambassador to New Zealand under Bill Clinton and she is a former Democratic senator from Illinois. Ambassador -- good to see you. CAROL MOSELEY BRAUN, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NEW ZEALAND: Thank

you. Happy to be here. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Yes. Glad you're with us too, unfortunately under such difficult circumstances. So as someone who spent extensive time in New Zealand, you know, let me get your reaction by these horrific events. And describe for me that country of diversity and a country of immigrants that you know.

BRAUN: Well, at first, at the outset, I want to send my thoughts and prayers to the people of New Zealand, particularly the people of Christchurch who have suffered so much. They had horrific earthquakes a couple of years ago and now this horrendous attack that -- and assault. But they're resilient and they will come back. They'll get through this.

But the point is that you're right, it is the most wonderful country. I used to describe myself as ambassador to paradise because it is that kind of wonderful. And the people were just so nice.

And I know it is not proper to talk in terms of good and evil in these times but what we saw yesterday -- day before yesterday now, was evil unleashed on paradise. And this man who went out and killed these people deliberately, it was truly terrorism, the worst kind, and not just a singular mental health breakdown.

The fact is that he was evil. He was doing the work of the devil in paradise. And I think we have to face it, call it out for what it is, and recognize that unless we begin to address the root causes of this kind of hate filled intolerance and hate filled violence, we will continue to see this sort of thing happen around the world.

WHITFIELD: So do you see it now forever changing what you call paradise? Do you feel like people there who embrace diversity, their differences, but were connected by that one love of being together, do you think that people will feel uneasy now?

BRAUN: Well, you know, it is a fact that fear is the mind killer. So We hope this does not infect body politics in New Zealand because it was the most open, the most inclusive society I have ever encountered anywhere in the world.

The people were so nice. They had integrated their society. The native, the first people, the Maori people were very much a part of the government, very much a part of the society there. So you have this coming together of Kiwis from both the north and south island, and people work together and they loved each other.

And so that was the overarching sense that I had of the country. But I hope this won't have a chilling effect on that kind of camaraderie, that kind of sense of common identity because again, that's what this evil has intended to do, to strike fear in the hearts of people who might otherwise be open to one another, who might otherwise be encouraged to promote love and getting along with other people, understanding that we are all brothers, we are all one and the same.

And so I hope that never changes about New Zealand because it was paradise and that was one of the most important aspects of it for me.

WHITFIELD: The suspect had a manifesto. The suspect appears to be motivated by white supremacy.

[11:14:54] And you heard the President's response about whether there was a rise of white nationalism as a threat. The President says he believes it is a small group of people. What do you make of the response?

BRAUN: I think he is equivocating and once again trying to duck the reality. He lives in his own mind. I mean, it is amazing to me. This man -- can say there are good people on both sides in Charleston after a woman had been run down, deliberately killed.

And so the question is why is he in this zone? Face reality. We spend, as a country we spend a lot of money on counterterrorism. Recognize what it is. Call it what it is. Be honest with the American people.

I mean he seems to have a problem with honesty, apparently. So just be honest and tell people, you know, what is actually going on here based on all the intelligence and information that you have no doubt been given.

So I think the President's response is pathetic and disturbing, but I hope the rest of everybody, every individual who has ever suffered a loss can speak out and say this is hatred, this is evil, and we will not tolerate it as human beings on this planet.

WHITFIELD: Ambassador Carol Moseley Braun -- thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

BRAUN: Thank you. Happy to be with you.

WHITFIELD: And for more information about how you might be able to help the victims of the New Zealand terror attacks or more information in general, go to

All right. Still ahead, President Trump keeps his promised veto after Congress blocks his national emergency declaration to build a wall.


TRUMP: I have the duty to veto it. And I'm very proud to veto it.


WHITFIELD: But Congress isn't done yet. More on that straight ahead.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

President Donald Trump is once again doubling down on his campaign promise for a border wall. He has now signed his first veto of his presidency to protect his national emergency declaration after the House and Senate passed a resolution to block it.

President Trump says that move puts countless Americans in danger, so it is his duty to veto it.


TRUMP: It is definitely a national emergency. Rarely have we had such a national emergency. Therefore, to defend the safety and security of all Americans, I will be signing and issuing a formal veto of this reckless resolution. Congress has the freedom to pass this resolution and I have the duty to veto it, and I'm very proud to veto it.


WHITFIELD: All right.

Joining me right now: assistant editor at the "Washington Post", David Swerdlick, congressional reporter for the "Washington Post" Karoun Demirjian, and CNN legal analyst and Robert Mueller's former special assistant at the DOJ Michael Zeldin. Good to see you all

Ok. So this is not over just because the President has vetoed it. Next up, the House will vote to override the President's veto on March 26th, right around the corner. So Karoun -- how might that play out?

KAROUN DEMIRJIAN, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, "WASHINGTON POST": Well, I think that you've seen that the Republicans do not really like the idea of trying to cross the President in large enough numbers that you could necessarily at this point sustain a veto with the numbers of Republicans you've seen, excuse me sustain a veto override with the number of Republicans you've seen come out so far.

If that means that there's going to be ample arm twisting, or discussions, or what have you -- it's going to come from both sides. Those people who want to see this emergency declaration stopped and from the White House which is working already to try to prevent certain senators from voting for it.

So the House, led by Democrats will make this move. It is what they often make moves -- regardless of what may happen across the Capitol.

But at this point, it doesn't seem like you can both Houses of Congress to actually override the veto so it is a gesture of saying they won't just take it sitting down. Right now it doesn't seem like it can undo what the President just did.

WHITFIELD: So the President, you know, has a message to many of those senators who voted in favor of his national emergency declaration. He says when they return home to their states, people will love them even more than before.

12 Republicans, you know, broke with the President, voted to block the declaration. So David, you know, what might this mean? And I wonder if there is wiggle room for some Republicans who may have been on the fence but for now backed the President but, you know, if they're pliable.

DAVID SWERDLICK, ASSISTANT EDITOR, "WASHINGTON POST": Right -- Fred. So good morning, and early happy St. Patrick's Day. Your jacket reminded me. I forgot my greens.

WHITFIELD: Oh, I didn't even plan that. That's right. St. Patrick's Day --

SWERDLICK: There you go. Nice work.

First of all, I agree with Karoun that there will be this veto override attempt but that it is maybe not that likely to succeed because if you have the same vote count in the Senate on the veto override, that won't be enough to two-thirds necessary.

So this really is, as you say, about the senators saying we're look, we're not just going to take this lying down. Of the 12 senators who voted against this, the name that jumps out at me is Senator Lisa Murkowski from Alaska.

She voted against the President on Yemen earlier in the week. She voted against him on the wall this week. She voted against him on Kavanaugh back in the fall, the Kavanaugh nomination. To me that says there is a model for being a Republican and being unbossed by the President.

I think in Murkowski's case, it comes from the fast that she lost her Republican primary in 2010 to a Tea Party guy but beat him in the general as an Independent. Still a Republican but her own person.

That said, I think you still have most Republicans in the caucus in the House and the Senate who basically want to be on the President's side and will stick with him on this. That's the model for right now.

[11:24:57] WHITFIELD: Ok. Well, let's turn now to the latest in the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller's office, as Michael waits so patiently for his turn.

So former, you know, Trump campaign official and Paul Manafort's right-hand man Rick Gates, still helping with several on-going investigations. He was in court yesterday, not yet ready to be sentenced according to prosecutors. So Michael -- what does that mean, really?

MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, what they said was that unlike Flynn who, the day before they said, was done with his cooperation and was ready to be sentenced Gates is still cooperating with on-going matters. What we don't know is who is handling those matters? What do they pertain to?

If, for example, they pertain only to the inauguration, which is not really in Mueller's wheel house, he has given that over to New York, then Mueller could be winding down and the Southern District is still investigating the inauguration.

If he is working with Mueller in anything with respect to coordination, conspiracy, the so-called collusion stuff, that means that the rumors of Mueller's imminent report may be just that, rumors. And that Mueller is still hard at work, notwithstanding the loss of a prosecutor here and there. We just don't know yet what those matters include.

WHITFIELD: All right. So then you've got former national security adviser Michael Flynn, he apparently has finished cooperating with the Special Counsel. But the information he provided is still part of other on-going criminal investigations -- plural.

A federal prosecutor said it is unrelated to Flynn's Turkish lobbying case, you know, raising, you know, some possibilities that it could touch on Flynn's ties to the Trump campaign, perhaps the transition, the administration. What might this mean, Michael? And David -- I would love for you to follow up on that.

ZELDIN: Very similar to Gates, which is to say that these people who have received pretty nice plea agreements for their cooperation continue to cooperate and that Mueller is still apparently or the southern district of New York is still building out their cases and that these guys are still critical pieces of information for Mueller and/or the Southern District of New York or another investigation that we're not even aware of.

So I think it really does tell us that irrespective of whether Mueller files his report or not, this matter of the investigation of President Trump and his orbit and his campaign are not yet ready to be concluded.

WHITFIELD: David and then Karoun.

SWERDLICK: Yes, sure. So I agree with Michael. And Michael obviously is the expert here on how the Justice Department builds its cases.

They still have dots to connect and it's still useful to have someone like Gates out there not sentenced yet with the possibility that sentencing down the road will help motivate him to provide further corroboration on new information that they pick up.

WHITFIELD: And Karoun.

DEMIRJIAN: Yes. I was just going to say that this is just a reminder to me of how little we know exactly about it. What the plans are in Mueller's probe? And also this is not really the end of the game.

We have been focused so much on the delivery of this report, but there are other cases out there that are going to yield new information. And especially when you're talking about the members of Congress who are right now trying to run their own investigations, figure out how they jump off what Mueller did and what else is going on and potentially talk about maybe, you know, thinking about impeachment, whether to pursue that track.

We're really not going to have the full body of evidence and the full knowledge of what everyone is investigating and how far these probes and law enforcement officials think they should look before we get really to the sphere of time in which we have to start thinking about those decisions on Capitol Hill because they're working on a political calendar and Mueller and all the radiating probes and prosecutions are not.

WHITFIELD: all right. Karoun Demirjian, Michael Zeldin, David Swerdlick -- thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.

SWERDLICK: Thanks Fred.

ZELDIN: Thanks.

WHITFIELD: Still ahead -- in the wake of that massacre at two New Zealand mosques, Muslims in the United States also are concerned about their safety at home and at their mosque.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can only share in their grief. We can only share in their sorrow and (INAUDIBLE). And we hope and pray that nothing like that happens elsewhere in the world.


WHITFIELD: We're live as security is increased at so many mosques across the country.


WHITFIELD: Welcome back.

In a sign of solidarity, New Zealand synagogues closed their doors today in the wake of two deadly mosque attacks. It is the first time the country's Jewish community has ever done that on the holy day of Shabbat.

The decision coming just hours after the horrifying massacres inside two mosques in Christchurch. At least 49 people killed, dozens more injured.

And today, the imam who was leading prayer at the time of one of the shootings reaffirms that this tragic act will not shake the Muslim community's faith.


IBRAHIM ABDUL HAIM, IMAM OF THE LINWOOD MOSQUE: It's never, ever touched our confidence. We still love this country. We still worship our God and embrace our faith in this country without any problem.


WHITFIELD: We're also learning more about the Australian man accused of carrying out the massacre. In an 87-page manifesto, 28-year-old Brenton Harrison Tarrant said he had been planning this for years. Now he is charged with murder and officials expect to file more charges.

The attack is sparking fears for Muslim communities across the U.S. as well. Police boosting security at mosques in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Chicago.

[11:35:01] CNN's Polo Sandoval is live for us outside a mosque in New York City. So Polo, how is the community reacting there?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: With several signs of solidarity some of which you mentioned a little while ago -- Fred. There are also signs of security.

Yesterday, for example, several members of the Muslim community that were traveling to this particular mosque in New York's Upper East Side did notice that obvious police presence, tactical officers that were staged outside for Friday prayer.

Today, that presence is somewhat scaled back, but nonetheless still present today. I have to tell you yesterday I did have an opportunity to speak to a member of this particular mosque here. There is a concern there that the attacks that we saw play out in New Zealand, according to this member, is of course part of what they believe is that wave -- rising wave of intolerance.

However, they did say that they feel relatively safe obviously seeing those men and women in blue posted outside. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio saying that that police presence is meant to send two messages. One, a message of solidarity, that law enforcement is standing side to side with members of the Muslim community. And at the same time also that message that they will not stand for any form of hatred.

So what we're witnessing today is certainly to a certain extent business as usual. But nonetheless, American Muslims' are still -- their hearts are heavy, still certainly expressing grief. At the same time, a high level of vigilance -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval in New York -- thanks so much.

A new report cites evidence that points to a new connection between the Ethiopian Air crash and an earlier disaster involving the same model plane. We'll ask a former FAA safety inspector if he thinks this plane's safety system was flawed, next.

But first, a new four-part "CNN ORIGINAL SERIES" explores Richard Nixon's rise, fall, come back and political destruction. Here's a preview.


RICHARD NIXON, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't give a God damn what the story is.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Richard M. Nixon has lied repeatedly.

NIXON: No reporter in the "Washington Post" should ever be in the White House again. 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 is going to package me. Nobody is going to make me put on an act for television. I'm not going to engage in any gimmick or any stunts, wear any hats. If people look at me and say that's a new Nixon, then all that I can say is well, maybe you didn't know the old Nixon.




WHITFIELD: Investigators at the crash site of the Ethiopian Airways flight have new evidence that potentially connects this crash with the earlier Lion Air disaster last October that also killed everyone on board, according to the "New York Times".

The evidence indicates that the plane's nose was being forced down by its stabilizers. The "Times" also reports that the captain knew -- and I'm talking about the Ethiopian Airline -- the captain knew there was serious trouble almost immediately after takeoff. He asked in a panicked voice for permission to return because the plane was speeding up abnormally.

Air traffic controllers could also see the plane seesawing by hundreds of feet after it took off and were able to redirect other flights out of the way of that Ethiopian Airline.

David Soucie is with me right now. He's a former FAA safety inspector and a CNN safety analyst. Good to see you.

So at issue, according to this "New York Times" reporting is the stabilizers. Stabilizers on the plane that can be triggered by this automated system known as the MCAS. What do you know about that and if that's the real commonality here between the Ethiopia Airline jet and Lion Air jet.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well Fred -- it was suspected that this was the problem before, that the MCAS had drove the nose of the airplane down erroneously because of the angle of attack indicator which indicated to the system that the nose was climbing too quickly. So it automatically pushes the nose down. This was confirmed now on site by the investigators when they looked at that horizontal stabilizer jackscrew, the piece that holds it or moves it up and down. They were confirmed on site that indeed the horizontal stabilizer was in this nose down position when it hit the ground.

WHITFIELD: Isn't it extraordinary to you that based on that reporting that the control tower, they could see this kind of movement of the aircraft and we're talking about just minutes in the air after takeoff?

SOUCIE: Well, Fred -- even more interesting is the fact that indications had come across the ADSB, which is a satellite based communication, that show that the vertical speed was erroneous, erratic even before it took off from the ground.

Just before takeoff, there's a large spike showing a 2,500 foot per minute climb before the aircraft even left the ground. But at that point, the pilots had no choice but to go ahead and get it in the air because it was impossible to stop it at that point.

So I believe that they knew at that time because the aircraft was not leaving the ground. The day before, we looked at the data from the day before and same flight coming out of that airport at the same point at which about three-quarters of the way down the runway the flight was at a thousand feet and about 20 or 30 knots slower.

[01:45:04] In this case, with the Ethiopian Air flight on this tragic day, it actually was still on the ground at three quarters of the way down the airport, and it showed the spike and speed was about 260 knots, way too high.

WHITFIELD: Wow. That's extraordinary.

So now the black boxes are in France. They're being analyzed there. What are they hoping to get from that black box analysis that really could put some very important pieces together here.

SOUCIE: Well, right now, the ADSB transmits a good deal of information that they can use to determine what happened. What the black box will give them and the flight data recorder is about 10,000 data points. So all of those data points are important, not all of them, but certainly specific ones due to flight are important to figuring out if the fix that they have been working on with Lion Air, if indeed these are the two same things that happened -- will the fix that they have take care of those problems as well.

So once they get all of that data assembled and put together they'll be able to assure that whatever fix they come up with is going to take care of the problem.

WHITFIELD: So the U.S., you know, now one of the last countries really to ban or ground these Max 8 planes from the skies, the FAA in particular initially said there was no data that had given them reason to do so. What changed? Was it simply the pressure of countries around the globe who were saying it's time to ground this type of aircraft or is it something else?

SOUCIE: Well, certainly that had something to do with the decision. In risk management, which is what this really is, it is balancing the impact of something happens versus the probability that it will occur. So that's really what risk management.

And everyone has different perspectives on what's in the red, what causes this to say we're going to take action. So from Boeing's perspective, you know, looking backward at this, you know, it doesn't really serve anything at this point right now. What the important thing is that right now, those aircraft are grounded and they can move forward with a good fix on it.

I think that there was times at which this could have been done more quickly. The aircraft could have been grounded. It wasn't. But luckily there were no incidents during that time.

So at this point moving forward, we just hope that Boeing comes up quickly with a fix that will take care of this problem once and for all.

WHITFIELD: David Soucie -- thank you so much. Always good to see you. Appreciate it -- unfortunately under such circumstances however.

SOUCIE: You too -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. And we'll be right back.


WHITFIELD: The silent treatment may resume between North Korea and the U.S. following last month's failed talks in Vietnam. A top North Korean official hinted this week that Kim Jong-un's negotiators may stop talking with the United States about the dictator's nuclear weapons program.

CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr has more.


BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's top two North Korean advisers pushing back saying the regime is wrong. They are not sabotaging nuclear talks with Pyongyang.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo responding to comments from Kim Jong- un's deputy foreign minister suggesting weapons testing could go now resume after the failed Hanoi summit.

MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I can say only this, in Hanoi on multiple occasions, he spoke directly to the President and made a commitment that he would not resume nuclear testing nor missile testing. STARR: North Korea also appeared to threaten to walk away from

denuclearization talks when the deputy foreign minister told reporters that the American delegation at the failed Hanoi summit was too demanding and inflexible, claiming the U.S. team were too busy with pursuing their own political interests and had no sincere intention to achieve a result. National security adviser John Bolton rejecting the North Korean claim.

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, I think that is inaccurate but the President is our decision maker.

STARR: Military intelligence analysts say despite commercial satellite imagery showing some reconstruction activity at a satellite launch facility, for now there are no imminent signs of launches or testing.

North Korea may simply be continuing to try to divide U.S. negotiators and pressure President Trump to loosen some sanctions, a proposal Kim pressed for and Trump rejected in Hanoi.

TRUMP: Sometimes you have to walk. And this was just one of those times.

STARR: One indicator North Korea still wants a deal, the North Koreans say the chemistry between Kim and Trump is, quote, "mysteriously wonderful" according to the "New York Times."

But some caution the President has weakened his own ability to keep up with so-called maximum pressure on Kim.

MAX BOOT, SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: The reality is it's going to be impossible to return to maximum pressure because President Trump has legitimized Kim Jong-un on the world stage. He has basically given him the American seal of approval and as a result of that, China and Russia have ramped down sanctions enforcements.

STARR: Barbara Starr, CNN -- the Pentagon.


WHITFIELD: Much more ahead in the NEWSROOM.

But first, here is this week's Wonder Must.


[11:55:02] NADIA ROLLE, BAHAMAS MINISTRY OF TOURISM: Bimini is the gateway to the Bahamas. You can catch a two-hour ferry from the port of Miami to the island of Bimini.

We have miles of white sandy beaches, beautiful turquoise waters. It is a beach lover's dream. The people are very friendly and welcoming. Stop by one of our waterfront shacks for a taste of our delicious conch salad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Conch salad? Coming right up. The mangrove (ph) in Bimini is such a beautiful serene spot. One of the best ways to explore it is by kayak. Since 2011 when all the Bahamas became a shark sanctuary, they're all protected here, people wanted to get in the water to see them, so we put a cage in the dock, climb down the ladder, get in and enjoy these amazing magnificent creatures feeding inches from your face.

The next step is to get out of the cage. The reef shark swim is super easy. All you need to know how to do is swim. You can have plenty of these sharks that grow six, seven foot swimming all around you with no cage. It's a super fun experience.

One of the other things that you have to do when you're in Bimini is snorkel the Sapona. It's an old navy ship that was actually built for World War I. If you enjoy experiencing marine life in its natural habitat then Bimini is the prime destination.