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Pilots Scoured Handbook Moments Before Lion Air Crash; Vietnam Vet Brought to Tears by Trump's Attacks on McCain; Reagan's Daughter Speaks Out Against Trump's Attacks on McCain; New England Patriots Owner Will Not Accept Plea Deal on Solicitation Charge. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 20, 2019 - 13:30   ET



[13:30:16] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Stunning revelations reported by "Bloomberg News" about the first of two Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashes. The day before the crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 back in October, there were different pilots flying that same plane and they fought to control it as it went into a dive. There was a third pilot, who just happened to be there, who was off-duty, and he was in the cockpit jump seat. He figured out that this was the malfunctioning flight control system and he helped the crew get out of the dive, according to two sources in this "Bloomberg" report.

Alan Levin is here. He's one of the reporters, along with Harry Suhartono, who broke the story, and he covers aviation safety. And we are joined by CNN aviation analyst, Peter Goelz.

Alan, tell us more about what you discovered.

ALAN LEVIN, REPORTER, BLOOMBERG NEWS: This is a very critical flight because all of the flight crew survived, unlike what happened the next day, but they had an identical failure. Shortly after takeoff, all of these alarms start going off and they get what's called a stick shaker which indicates it's a very dire situation that an aerodynamic stall is occurring. They're going through checklists. They can't figure out what's going on. And after a little bit of altitude, the plane starts trying to dive on its own. Very stunning sort of thing that was confusing. The gentleman in the jump seat is the one who suggested, after a period of multiple dives, to shut off the motor that was pushing the plane down and ended up saving them.

KEILAR: My goodness.

Peter, when you hear this report, what does this tell you, not just about the Lion Air crash, but potentially about the Ethiopian Air crash, and about some of the other complaints that we've heard from pilots that have now come to light after both of these crashes?

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It does underscore the pilot's concern that they were not trained properly on this new MCAS system. The idea that it took a third person uninvolved with the crisis taking place to diagnose it is stunning. And these guys were in a dire situation, but they were able to solve it once they figured out what was wrong. And apparently, the solution was buried in the flight manual.

KEILAR: Buried in the flight manual, and they were not aware of it.

And one of the stunning things, Alan, about your report is essentially it's like Indonesia's NTSB, right, that put out as it would do in a crash a report of what happened and this wasn't in it? Why?

LEVIN: That is a very good question. As Peter knows when he was at NTSB, if you have a witness in the cockpit you would want to interview him, you would want to document that in the report. I'm led to believe that that will occur going forward, but it was not in this initial report. And it is a very good question.

KEILAR: And so in the normal case, I would imagine, say the flight where they were successful in disabling this motor, the normal procedure, one would assume, is that this gets reported. Any time you get a problem like that in an airplane, wouldn't this somehow percolate upwards, this information, you would hope?

GOELZ: That is a broader question. This was a safety of flight issue that they were not -- that did not make it to the flight managers to say, wait a minute, this plane, even though our overnight maintenance has said they repaired it, let's take it up for a check ride and make sure it is repaired. This is going to make Lion Air review their safety procedures.

KEILAR: You said the fix was buried in the flight manual. So it is in the flight manual, is that right?

GOELZ: No, I'm saying, how you shut off the MCAS system is in the flight manual.


KEILAR: You have to make that cognitive leap of this is a thing we have to shut off.

GOELZ: And you have to make the analysis.

KEILAR: To that point, "Reuters" is now reporting from the voice recorder in the Lion Air flight that the pilots were scouring the flight manual. This is what -- as the plane went down. You can imagine, they don't have any time, and they didn't have any time.

LEVIN: Here is the stunning thing about that. They should have been scouring the flight manual, but the procedure to shut off this motor is what's called a memory item. It is so critical -- it's equivalent to say an engine fire or something like -- that that you're required to memorize it in training, this so-called runaway trim thing, because it happens so quickly and can cause you to go into a dire dive very quickly, so you have to know off the top of your head how to do it. And for some reason, they didn't put two and two together and realize that.

[13:35:07] KEILAR: Why wouldn't they? Is that something you would link to the training that Boeing was supposed to provide on this? There have been a lot of complaints that Boeing didn't provide enough.

Peter, what do you think?

GOELZ: I think it's also -- it's not also Boeing's responsibility. It's the air carrier's responsibility to know that the pilots they're putting in the right and left seats know fully how to confront problems and how to fly the aircraft safely.

KEILAR: Just very quickly. You say this is a memory item but was it something that they were aware of that it should be a memory item? Did they mess up by not having it in that -- in that --

LEVIN: This is not a memory item for the new MAX. It's a memory item for every 737 they've ever made dating back almost 50 years. In theory, they clearly should have known about this.

KEILAR: Alan, thank you so much.

LEVIN: Thank you.

KEILAR: And, Peter, we really appreciate both of your expertise.

GOELZ: Thank you.

KEILAR: A Vietnam veteran brought to tears after hearing President Trump's attacks against the late Senator John McCain, and this is according to Senator Amy Klobuchar.

And moments from now, a Republican Senator is expected to take the president to task over his criticism of McCain.

Plus, a source telling CNN that the Patriots' owner, Robert Kraft, is going to reject a plea deal in connection to his prostitution case.


[13:40:00] KEILAR: Moments from now, we will hear from GOP Senator Johnny Isakson. He is one of only a few Republicans speaking out against the president's continued attacks on the late Senator John McCain.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was never a fan of John McCain, and I never will be.


KEILAR: And in the wake of those comments and these tweets, Cindy McCain, who lost her husband less than seven months ago, posted a message that she received a very hateful rant directed at her husband's legacy, and her daughter, Meghan, who has defended her dad against the president.

And the outrage and hurt is going beyond Washington. Democratic presidential hopeful, Amy Klobuchar, posted this video of a Vietnam veteran brought to tears, in part, she says, by the president's attacks on John McCain.




KEILAR: Former Pennsylvania congressman, Charlie Dent, and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum with me now.

Why, Senator, do you think the president keeps coming back to these attacks on John McCain?

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, I think in response, I guess, there were some things out there recently by someone related to McCain that offended him, and it sort of gets him going and, you know, he goes off on John McCain. Look, I --

KEILAR: Aside from the trigger


KEILAR: And not just a trigger. What --


SANTORUM: He gets triggered.

KEILAR: What do you think? So he's triggered -- John McCain is gone, OK.


KEILAR: What is it that triggers him about John McCain, do you think?

SANTORUM: I don't know. Look, you're asking me to psychoanalyze the president. I'm not going to do that. Let George Conway do that. I'll stick to the fact that the president is not behaving presidential. And you know, I know that his supporters -- and I'm one of them -- talk about how you know he can't be blamed for all of this hostility and notes to Cindy McCain and things like that. And that's right because that kind of activity happens all of the time. But you're going to be blamed if you act the way the president acts. I don't think there's a tie candidly, but it's a legitimate criticism if the president continues these types of untoward, crude attacks that he's going to get blamed for creating a culture that that is encouraging that.

KEILAR: Is there a tie? Because any time someone goes on television and says -- I'll be interested to see what kind of tweet responses you get, Senator, just for saying it's not --


KEILAR: You just said it wasn't presidential. That's not coming down too hard. But any time someone goes on TV and they say that this is not

appropriate, that this denigrates an amazing service that John McCain provided, they get hate tweets from the president's supporters.

CHARLIE DENT, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: It's loathsome to make this kind of attack on John McCain. It's disrespectful. I don't know about you, but my parents -- you don't speak ill of the dead. I don't know why he would do this. Maybe the health care issue sets him off. Maybe John McCain had a different world view than President Trump. And I think that maybe plays into this, too. But I don't know what sets off the president, but it is simply so disrespectful I can't imagine why he would do this.

KEILAR: What does it say -- I wonder what you think now looking at your party and there are members of Congress who do not feel politically they're in a position to defend, maybe not -- maybe they don't like John McCain, but they don't feel that they can defend the war record of someone who spent five years as a POW. What does that say about the state of the GOP?

SANTORUM: I don't think it's as much that they don't want to defend it. I just don't think they want to be in a position of having to comment every time the president does this because it would be a daily occurrence. And I think -- they just decided --


KEILAR: I would say this one's different because this isn't just about John McCain. This is about service in the military.

[13:45:10] SANTORUM: Well --

KEILAR: Do you disagree with me on that?

SANTORUM: I did disagree because, look, this is about John McCain. The fact that he comments on his service and he comments on his record at the naval academy, it just -- look, I sat in an audience in Iowa during the primary in 2016, and heard the president -- heard now the president, but then Donald Trump, talk, say that John McCain isn't a war hero, and that, you know, he's a loser and folks who get captured aren't heroes. I was stunned. You could hear a gasp. Yet, you know, at the end they applauded him and supported him. So I just think that most Republicans see the president, everybody understands that he does things that are completely, in my mind, outrageous at times and certainly unorthodox, and that's something that they'll tolerate in order to get the policies that he's trying to put forth.

DENT: I was in a debate that was sponsored by a Tea Party in 2016 in the general election, and I was defending John McCain for all of the terrible things the president had said about him not being a war hero. Somebody blurted out that John McCain was an idiot. I stopped immediately and I called the person out. How could you say such a thing? There were people in the audience wearing Vietnam veteran's caps. It was just stunning to me that people would say these kinds of things. But if the president will say disparaging things about John McCain, maybe that enables some of his supporters to say similar things. I've seen it.

KEILAR: It does enable them.

I want to ask you about something different, which is that Ronald Reagan's daughter, Patti Davis, has spoken out against the president. Here's some of what she said.


PATTI DAVIS, DAUGHTER OF FORMER PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN: I think he would be horrified and heartbroken because he loved this country a lot and he believed in this country.


KEILAR: It's important to point out, Senator, she's not a Republican. That's important to point out. She did go on to shame your party for allowing the president to get away with what he has gotten away with, to your point. What do you think?

SANTORUM: Well, look, Ronald Reagan had the 11th commandment, which was not to speak ill of another Republican. And I can tell you he didn't do that when he ran for president in 1976 and 1980 in the Republican primary. He was tough. But it was within the bounds of normal, political discourse. And what I think the comment was, once the election's over, you sort of try to be civil, and particularly within your own party. And John McCain was, you know, certainly someone who was more of a moderate and someone who did some things to upset the president, but it doesn't get -- Reagan's credo was it doesn't win you any points to get things done by attacking people in your own party. And I think the president and, frankly, the problems he's having up on Capitol Hill is starting to reflect that.

KEILAR: What do you think, Congressman?

DENT: Well, I can't for the life of me understand why the president says the things he says. And I am really stunned that more Republicans aren't pushing back and not just on these outlandish --


KEILAR: But do you talk to them? And do they tell you why they feel they can't?

DENT: They're all worried about primaries. It's about base pressure. And that's pretty much it. Even on this recent vote on the emergency declaration, if you -- my guess is most Republicans supported that disapproval resolution and few have voted for it simply because they're worried about base pressure and primary pressure and I think that's what's driving all of this.

KEILAR: Really good point.

Congressman, Senator, thank you so much for the discussion.

And moments from now, the president will appear in Ohio as he says the public should see the Mueller report.

Plus, just in, Kellyanne Conway now defending the president over the feud with her husband. Another bizarre twist in this war of the words.


[13:53:22] KEILAR: New England Patriots owner, Bob Kraft, will not accept the plea deal offer in the case -- the prostitution case that's embroiled him over the last month. That is according to a source familiar with the case. Kraft and 24 other men charged with the solicitation at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa were presented a deal that would drop the misdemeanor charges in exchange for fines, community service, and an admission of guilt, which might be key.

As we bring in CNN legal analyst and civil rights attorney, Areva Martin.

What does the rejection tell you?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It tells me that Robert Kraft has been consistent in saying he didn't do this. This rejection is consistent with his denial of the charges filed against him. He has to admit that if he goes to trial he would be found guilty. And I think he's concerned about the repercussions that will have with the NFL because they do have this personal conduct policy that, you know, could cause him a great deal of, not only embarrassment but a lot of money and other fines from the NFL.

KEILAR: Where does the case go next then?

MARTIN: To trial. He'll have to defend himself in a trial. There are a couple of defenses, Brianna, that's he can raise. He can raise the defense that, one, he didn't do. Two, that the video tape they have doesn't depict him. Three, if he is depicted on the video tape, they don't have him actually engaged in the act of solicitation. And one big key in this case is the payment. How was the payment made or the alleged payment made? Was it with a check? Was it for cash? If it was made with cash, that's a lot harder for the prosecutors to establish. I think he has some viable defense ifs he chooses to go to a trial in this matter.

[13:55:04] KEILAR: We will see.

Areva Martin, thank you so much.

MARTIN: Thank you.

KEILAR: And after sharing a meme about a modern-day civil war, Congressman Steve king is confronted by people in his home state. See what happened.


[14:00:04] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN on this Wednesday. Thanks for being with me.

In a White House often criticized for its lack of transparency and even unprecedented obstruction.