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Trump Backs Israeli Sovereignty over Golan Heights; Boeing to Lose Indonesian Airline; O'Rourke Continues Campaign Blitz in South Carolina; Farmers Devastated After Floods; Trump Speaks Before Departing for Mar-a-Lago. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired March 22, 2019 - 09:30   ET



[09:31:35] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, President Trump used a single tweet to overturn five decades of foreign policy, announcing the U.S. will, quote, fully recognize Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights. In the tweet the president pointed to the, quote, critical, strategic and security importance of the region. The Golan Heights, of course, borders Syria and Lebanon. It was formally annexed from Syria in 1981, something the international community does not recognize now. The declaration gives embattled Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a huge political victory just three weeks before his own re- election. This morning, the president told Fox News helping Netanyahu was not part of this decision.


MARIA BARTIROMO, FBN ANCHOR: It's not about Benjamin Netanyahu's re- election?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No, don't -- I wouldn't even know about that. I wouldn't even know about that. I have no idea. I hear he's doing OK. I don't know if he's doing great right now, but I hear he's doing OK. But I would imagine the other side, whoever's against him, is also in favor of what I just did.


HARLOW: Oren Liebermann joins us from the Golan Heights this morning.

So, Oren, a few questions to you.

First of all, the president says this has nothing to do with Netanyahu and he wouldn't even know about it. So what other reason might there be for this now?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I don't think you can find another good reason for the president to have done this right now. The only significant thing on the horizon was the re-election campaign of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. And he had been having a rough week until this point. He had been sliding in some of the polls. He was facing tough headlines about the criminal investigations against him and many in his inner circle. And this reverses that entire trend. It immediately gives Netanyahu a boost, especially because this came as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was here.

And on that point, Pompeo visited the western wall in the old city of Jerusalem with Netanyahu. And that is unheard of. Trump had visited on his own. Vice President Mike Pence had visited on his own. No more. Pompeo visited with Netanyahu, making it appear, for all intents and purposes, as if the Trump administration is openly campaigning here for Netanyahu. It's that, it's the tweet.

And, Poppy, on top of that, Netanyahu now heads to Washington, D.C., for the AIPAC conference, the American Israeli lobby. He's staying at the Blair House as an official guest of the White House. And, once again, he'll meet there with Trump. All of this lends credence to the argument that Trump is openly, at this point, campaigning for Netanyahu with that election just a few weeks away on April 9th.

Poppy, it doesn't look like there was any other compelling reason for Trump to have done this tweet now.

HARLOW: I mean I know Lindsey Graham visited the area a few weeks ago and tweeted something similar, that we should do this. But, yes, I mean, look, the timing here, there's a lot of questions about it.

So, before you go, Oren, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, as you mentioned, we just saw him there visiting the western wall in Israel. He gave an interview this morning to the Christian Broadcast Network and he was asked an interesting question. He was asked essentially if he believes that President Trump was sent by God to protect the Jewish people. Pompeo's beginning of his response is, I certainly believe that's possible.

You know, I think it raises the question of, what does this mean for the prospects of a Mid-East peace deal, right? What does this mean in terms of the Palestinian Authority being willing to come to the table for that?

LIEBERMANN: Let's be clear that even before Trump's recognition of Israeli's sovereignty of the Golan Heights, that peace deal didn't have a great chance of success because of the political situation with the Israelis and Palestinians. They were both likely to reject it. And this certainly doesn't help. For that peace plan to have gained any traction, it needed the support of many of the Arab states in the region, specifically the Egyptians, the Jordanians, the Saudis, the Emirates.

[09:35:05] And now this makes it even more difficult. Even if those Arab states had essentially acknowledged that Israel would remain control of the Golan Heights, at least in the near future here this makes it more difficult for them to have any wiggle room on trying to support Trump's peace plan.

Poppy, it wasn't likely to get much traction before and certainly not now.

HARLOW: Oren Liebermann, thank you for reporting for us live today from the Golan Heights. We'll keep following this.

Ahead for us, Boeing on the brink of losing a $5 billion deal as one airline says their passengers have no faith in the Max 8 aircraft.


HARLOW: All right, welcome back.

As the investigation across the globe looks into two separate deadly crashes involving Boeing's 737 Max 8 planes, the company is on the brink of potentially losing a nearly $5 billion deal for those planes. An Indonesian airline is pulling their order of 49 Boeing Max 8 jets, saying their passengers have lost confidence to fly on the plane.

[09:40:21] At the same time, we're learning the training for U.S. pilots on the Max 8 planes was a short self-administered course online.

Tom Foreman is following the latest.

Is that right? Short? Online?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, in terms of this course, according to some of the pilots in the U.S. that we've spoken to, yes, that is the case. They're arguing that basically what they had was a simple, self-guided update, depending on which airline you're talking about, American or Southwest. It was an hour to three hours. This is something that's developed in conference with Boeing for each airline out there. That explains the difference in the time.

The bottom line being that it was something that each pilot was supposed to do. Sort of like what you might do at work, where you have some update on your computer that you're supposed to read about, some company policy, that sort of thing. And what we're hearing from these pilots is that none of this included any explanation of this MCAS (ph) system, this software, this automatic system that would control the tilt of the plane based on sensors up front that the pilots in some cases wouldn't know about any of this and would not know that MCAS was working, at least not through this training, Poppy.

HARLOW: OK. And when it comes to this deal that appears to be falling through with this Indonesian airliner, 49 planes, that's a lot of money, billions of dollars from Boeing. What's going on?

FOREMAN: Yes. Absolutely. Well, you can -- you can -- of course in all of this, in human terms, we can never lose sight of the fact that there were hundreds of lives lost.

HARLOW: Of course.

FOREMAN: But the -- the outflow of that for Boeing right now is really, at least at this point, sort of a low level existential crisis here because when you start having an airline say, we don't want these planes, this is the cutting edge plane for Boeing around the world right now, this Max line of planes. And now you have Indonesia saying, we took one of the planes, we already have that one, we don't want the other 49 planes. This is a deal that's close to $5 billion worth. If other airlines start following suit, then Boeing has a real problem. Boeing executives are going to Indonesia to talk with the airline,

with Garuta (ph), later on this month, in just a matter of days really, and try to talk about this deal.

Now, in fairness, these deals are not easily unwound. Indonesia may find that they can't really back out of this the way they think because what they would have to do probably is to prove that there is something fundamentally unsound about this plane. And we may be quite a distance from them being able to do that.

Nonetheless, if you are Boeing right now, between this and the investigations into how this plane was approved and whether or not there were shortcuts taken, they have, I would guess, they're waking up every day in crisis mode at Boeing trying to figure out how to get ahead of this story.

HARLOW: Yes, and to protect people, right, that is the number one issue.

FOREMAN: Absolutely. Absolutely.

HARLOW: Tom Foreman, thank you for the reporting.

FOREMAN: You're welcome.

HARLOW: All right, just under 600 days, in case you are counting, to the next presidential election and Democratic candidate Beto O'Rourke is in a sprint usually not seen until the final days of a campaign.


[09:47:46] HARLOW: All right, welcome back.

Beto O'Rourke is all over South Carolina today as he continues his full-on sprint out of the gates. The 2020 Democratic candidate is slated to take part in six events across the state today and tomorrow. Those are just a few of the 23 events that he has scheduled this week.

Meantime, a former Obama aide appears to be the one to head up Beta's team.

Leyla Santiago is on the trail following Beto O'Rourke. She joins me now from Rock Hill, South Carolina.

So let's begin with this sprint. This is a different strategy than some of his competitors in the Democratic field. It's the sort of small, more intimate events. You just spoke with the Texas Democrat a short time ago. He sounded a little hoarse. What did he tell you?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He did. And I asked him about that. I said, hey, you sound like you're getting sick. And he just said, no, it's just eight days on the road. That's what this will do to you.

You know, this is a little bit different from the past week. You know, he started in Iowa, went to Wisconsin, went to New Hampshire. He is now in the south, in the palmetto state. And so he's taking time to hit some of those historic sites that really resonate with people here. He went to the Friendship Nine counter here where there was a sit-in, people were arrested and it's still a historical site here in Rock Hill. He's going to Orangeburg. He's going to the largest historically black college here in South Carolina. And so he's talking a lot, not just about immigration, but about education, criminal justice reform. We're hearing a lot of what we have heard in the past week. But you're seeing a little bit of a different response simply because of demographics and history near.

Now, while I was with him, I took the opportunity to talk about something else going on today, and that is, we're, obviously, talking a lot about the Mueller report and possible movement we're seeing here. Here's what he had to say.


BETO O'ROURKE (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The facts, the truth and understanding so that there can be a full accounting for what happened in the 2016 election.

No man, no matter what position he sits in, is above the law. No one is too powerful for our system of justice. And I want to make sure that this investigation follows those facts as far as they go, as high up as they lead. And, at the end of the day, we have justice.


[09:50:11] SANTIAGO: That's what he said he's looking for.

Now, in terms of reaction, I spoke to one woman who, when she went in, she said, I don't really have a list. And when she came out, she said, he's at the top of my list. And then I spoke to another man and he said, well, he's identified the problems. Now I need him to identify the solutions.


HARLOW: Yes, the specifics are going to be important.

Before you go, Leyla, he appears poised to hire a former top Obama aide to lead his campaign. Is that right?

SANTIAGO: Jen O'Malley Dillon is her name. and she is known to be quite the data expert. And as you mention, also tied to the Obama camp. So that could kind of give a picture as to how this campaign might be molded in the future. The type of activities, strategy, message that Beto O'Rourke is looking to have as he moves forward in his presidential bid, Poppy.

HARLOW: Leyla Santiago on the trail. Thank you.

Growing concerns in the Midwest. Farmers already reeling from the president's tariffs and plunging crop crisis, now dealing with historic flooding. A live report. We'll take you there. That's Cedar Rapids, Iowa, folks.


HARLOW: All right, heavy rain combined with melting snow has left miles of open fields looking like inland seas. This is Sidney, Iowa, that you're looking at there on your screen. Communities, though, across the Midwest are wrestling with record-breaking and deadly flooding. Across parts of Iowa and Nebraska, thousands of livestock are dead or stranded, grains stored in silos destroyed and the farmers across this region are wondering how long they can hold on.

Our Vanessa Yurkevich is live for us.

And, look, you look at the flooding. We saw Nebraska. Now we see what's going on in Iowa. What are the farmers there saying?


Just behind me is some of this historic flooding on this farmland. This water came down about six and a half miles from the Missouri River and the Agriculture Department here said that 100,000 acres are flooded in Iowa alone. Many farmers can't get to their farms to assess the damage and they don't even know if they'll be able to plant a crop this year.


YURKEVICH (voice over): It came fast. And it hasn't stopped. The Missouri River flooded to record levels across Midwestern states, taking with it homes, crops and livestock, leaving farmers with hundreds of millions of dollars in losses.

[06:55:11] YURKEVICH (on camera): As you stand here and you look at this flooding, what are the emotions that come to you?

DUSTIN SHELDON, IOWA FARMER: There's a lot of pain and uncertainty of your future.

YURKEVICH (voice over): This on top of new tariffs which have lowered prices on crops and livestock implemented by a president many farmers here support.

Dustin Sheldon is a fifth generation soy and corn farmer in Percival, Iowa. He hasn't been able to get to his 2,000 acre farm since Sunday.

YURKEVICH (on camera): How much of your land would you say is underwater right now?

SHELDON: Ninety-five percent.

YURKEVICH: What is the damage that you're looking at?

SHELDON: It's in the -- it's over a million dollars.

YURKEVICH: Over a million dollars lost.

SHELDON: Yes. Yes. YURKEVICH (voice over): The Nebraska Department of Agriculture estimates losses of up to a billion dollars. Here in Iowa, preliminary damage is estimated at 150 million. And according to their Department of Agriculture, it's expected to rise dramatically.

SHELDON: These are the people out here that feed America. And without these people, America's going to suffer. The whole economy's going to suffer.

JEFF JORGENSON (ph), FARMER: Boy is it a mess.

YURKEVICH: Standing on the edge of his family farm, Jeff Jorgenson's (ph) corn fields are now lakes.

JORGENSON (ph): That's just more money straight out of my pocket. I need to be able to farm this ground. I need to be able to do my job. We're passionate about what we do.

YURKEVICH: Just across the street is Leo Edelman's (ph) sixth generation farm.

YURKEVICH (on camera): What should we be seeing right now?

LEO EDELMAN (ph), FARMER: You'll see a farm field like you do on out in there. The crop that was harvested last fall.

YURKEVICH: What does this mean for your season?


HARLOW: All right, I'm very sorry to have to drop out of that, but I do want to take you to Washington, where the president just spoke moments ago to reporters on the South Lawn as he's heading to Mar-a- Lago for the weekend. Let's listen to the president of the United States.

QUESTION: Mr. President, do you expect the Mueller report (INAUDIBLE) of the day?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have no idea about the Mueller report. I'm going to Florida. We have meetings with the five Caribbean leaders. That will be at Mar-a-Lago. We have a lot of other meetings set up for this weekend on trade. We have a lot of talks with China and a lot of things are happening. We'll be doing it from Florida. And a lot of very important things are happening.



QUESTION: And you said Democrats are anti-Israel and that they're anti-Jewish. (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: The Democrats have very much prove to be anti-Israel. There's no question about that. And it's a disgrace. I mean I don't know what's happened to them, but they are totally anti-Israel. Frankly, I think they're anti-Jewish.


TRUMP: Yes, we're being very, very strong on the border. The number is enormous of people that we've captured, people that we've apprehended. But we're going to take care of it. We are being very, very tough at the border.


TRUMP: It's just a continuation of the same witch hunt. They know it. And behind closed doors they laugh at it. It's just a continuation of the same nonsense. Everybody knows. They ought to go to work, get infrastructure done and get a lot of other things done instead of wasting everybody's time.


TRUMP: I can't hear you.


TRUMP: I know nothing about it. I never heard that. I have never heard about it.


TRUMP: Well, we're going to see what happens. It's going to be very interesting. But we'll see what happens. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. Everybody knows it. It's all a big hoax. It's like -- I call it the witch hunt. It's all a big hoax. So we'll see what happens. I know that the attorney general, highly respected, ultimately will make a decision.

QUESTION: Mr. President, is there even a peace process (INAUDIBLE).

TRUMP: There won't be. And if there is, it will only play to our advantage.


[09:59:37] HARLOW: There you have it, the same refrain that we have heard now for about 675 days from the president since the Mueller probe began. Once again, the president this morning in anticipation of this report that has Washington waiting. The president says continuation of the same witch hunt, in his words, no collusion. He did have praise for the attorney general, William Barr, who has a lot of power certainly when he gets this report. He'll be the first one to get the Mueller report, remember. Then he'll go through it and determine what Congress sees.