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CNN NEWSROOM

Brexit's Future Uncertain after Key Vote Fails; WSJ: Anti-Stall System Activated Before Plane Crashed; Grand Canyon Tourist Taking Pictures Falls to His Death; Chicago Mayor Sends Jussie Smollett $130,000 Bill; George Clooney Calls for Hotel Boycott Over Stoning & Biden Calls Out Brunei. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired March 29, 2019 - 14:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:30:00] BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: They want to stay in their pure positions on Brexit, they either want a really clean break and look outward to the rest of the world for their trade and other opportunities or they want to stay very closely aligned to their nearest neighbor, the E.U., and to prevent any kind of economic shocks that could ensue from leaving the E.U. with no deal.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: I know there have been all these conversations about hard Brexit versus soft Brexit, but in terms of a potential next referendum, is there even the slightest possibility that this will never even happen?

NOBILO: There is. In fact, that's why the protesters behind me are chanting so loudly today because they feel that Brexit is in jeopardy. It's something they fought for, sometimes all of their life, but so many years. And there's a sense here from politicians spoken to that have campaigned for Brexit that they're losing it. One of them said to me, "We grasped defeat from the jaws of victory. It was that close." They felt the U.K. was going to leave the union. It could lead to a lengthy extension. That's where the next leader of the Conservative Party will be key. Theresa May has pledged to stand down if she gets her deal through. And there's plenty of talk that someone, like Boris Johnson -- who's been likened to President Trump on many occasions. In fact, Donald Trump called him a friend of his, the other day. He could potentially fill Theresa May's shoes. He's famous in this country for wanting a very hard Brexit and for also being ruthlessly ambitious and wanting that top job. With Theresa May promising to stand down in the near future, all eyes are on who could be next to replace her and the affect that person is going to have on Brexit.

BALDWIN: Bianca Nobilo, in London. Bianca, thank you.

We are also now starting to get answers about what may have caused that Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 to crash shortly after takeoff killing everyone on board. The "Wall Street Journal" reports that according to multiple unnamed sources the preliminary findings show it was a problem with the automatic anti-stall system. If confirmed, this would mean that it is the very same problem that the doomed Lion Air flight encountered mere months earlier when it also crashed shortly after takeoff.

Les Abend is a retired American Airlines pilot and is the author of the book, "Paper Wings."

Les, good to have you on.

First of all, can you explain to all of us what this automatic anti- stall system -- how it even works?

LES ABEND, FORMER PILOT & AUTHOR: Yes. We've been talking about it since this tragedy has happened with Ethiopian Air, but it was basically designed to compensate for the big engines and the higher thrusts and where they were mounted on this airplane and it takes away control from the pilots, an unprecedented thing for Boeing. That's not how they design an airplane. It prevents the airplane from stalling so if the pilots don't recognize it in time, the airplane will do -- put the nose down to stop this aerodynamic stall. At this point it seems that the faults caused the airplane to do something it shouldn't have done. It was not stalling, according to the data that's coming out. We don't know at this time whether the pilots of the Ethiopian Air crash activated or deactivated a system that may have stopped this from happening. That might be coordinated with the cockpit voice recorder that we don't have information about at this time, but this system constantly recognized the stall situation and the pilots were fighting this nose to keep it from coming toward the earth and as we know they were unsuccessful at it.

BALDWIN: But if this was the same problem in both of these crashes, how damning is this for Boeing?

ABEND: It's very damning for Boeing. Listen, I spent 34 years in Boeing cockpits, more than that. I think they built an incredibly quality product. Why they departed with this particular system, I don't know because we need redundancy when you have a system that has one fault, you should have another system that says, hey, we'll take over now and that wasn't something Boeing did on this particular -- on this particular design. So it's unprecedented in many, many areas in many levels. Pilots are very disappointed, me, in particular, in a type of aircraft I flew for years.

BALDWIN: We know these MAX 8s are grounded globally. Hasn't the public perception been destroyed? Will Boeing have to abandon this particular aircraft all together do you think?

ABEND: No, absolutely not. I don't see this airplane being abandoned all together. I think there's going to be some trepidation and some fear out there, but I think the best --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: How do they fix it?

[14:35:02] ABEND: Will they fix it?

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: How will they fix it? I don't mean literally, like public perception, how do they do crisis management? ABEND: Sure. Boeing needs to fix it on their own and to have

credible pilots come out and say, OK, we believe the machine is fixed. You're already starting to see that with higher-level management pilots that have been out to Boeing and have seen the software fix to this MCAS system we've been talking about. So they seem to be indicating confidence. But we need more pilots to come out and say we're confident with the airplane and we're willing to fly it and we think it's safe for our customers.

BALDWIN: Les Abend, thank you.

ABEND: My pleasure.

BALDWIN: Just ahead, two people killed in just one week while visiting the Grand Canyon. Just as officials expect to be bombarded with tourists, what Rangers are warning.

The president says he is better, smarter, and he has more beautiful things than the so-called elite in America. Why those comments may actually be a big topic on the campaign trail? We'll explain.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:40:10] BALDWIN: Search teams in the Grand Canyon have found the body of a Hong Kong tourist. He fell to his death from the Eagle Point Observation Area. Officials say he slipped and fell trying to take a picture.

And would you believe this is the second death in the canyon this week. The other happening hundreds of miles away in the south rim of the canyon.

CNN's Paul Vercammen is working this for us.

Can you tell us about these two deaths and what exactly happened?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Let's start first with the man that plunged to his death as you said. It is believed that he was from a Hong Kong-based tour. He was taking a picture when he slipped and fell. And you showed those pictures, Brooke, of that skywalk. This happened just about 100 yards away from that skywalk. That is a very safe place to take a picture. The design of it is, you go out over the canyon by 4,000 feet. You're in a horseshoe-shaped structure. It's completely enclosed in glass. And the idea is, go ahead and take that daring photo. There's a level of frustration because this man plunged to his death 100 yards from that very point.

Now, as for this other death, it was Tuesday evening when, 200 miles away or so, they received reports of a body in the forest or the woods. This was just south of the main village there in the park. Determination of how this cause of death or what caused this death has not been revealed yet by the county coroner. They said this was not a fatal fall. This was in a forest.

The National Park Service says there are about 12 fatalities in the park an average per year and a small percentage of those are fatal falls. Among the other causes of death, drownings, heat exhaustion, medical issues, and some of that is exacerbated by the altitude.

BALDWIN: Got it. It's a beautiful place. Tragic, tragic story.

Paul, thank you very much for following that for us today.

President Trump wants to end Obamacare and says he's working with a group of Republican Senators on a replacement plan. The problem is, that group apparently doesn't exist.

Plus, after Chicago police expressed outrage over Actor Jussie Smollett and the decision to drop all those charges, the city of Chicago's mayor says, you are going to pay us back, billing the actor for $130,000. But legally speaking, does he have to pay it?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:47:04] BALDWIN: Backlash to the charges being dropped in the Jussie Smollett case keeps coming. The star arriving in Los Angeles and racing past the hordes of paparazzi.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Smollett may show up at the NAACP Image Awards. He's been nominated for his work on "Empire."

Meantime, outgoing Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel made good on his promise to bill Smollett of the cost of that police investigation. The city of Chicago sent Smollett an invoice for just over $130,000. It is due in seven days.

Then there's President Trump also weighing in.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RAHM EMANUEL, (D), CHICAGO MAYOR; Given that he doesn't feel any source of contrition or remorse, my recommendation when he writes the check, in the memo section, he can put the words, "I'm accountable for the hoax."

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He said he was attacked by MAGA country. Have you heard that one?

(BOOING)

TRUMP: Maybe the only time I've ever agreed with the mayor of Chicago.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin, is with me.

And, Areva, can the city actually make Jussie Smollett pay that check for $130,000?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You know, Brooke, all things legal are not expedient. There's a city ordinance in Chicago that may provide the basis for the city attorney, which is the branch of government that's involved now, filing some action going after Jussie Smollett for restitution, I have to tell you, I have a real problem with what's happening with this case now. When I look at the statements made by the prosecutor's office, when I look at these statements made by Rahm Emanuel and even the superintendent for the police department, we didn't see this kind of outrage when the police were involved in the cover-up of the shooting of McDonald's and so many of the other cases involving misconduct on the part of Chicago police and the prosecutor, they had an opportunity to negotiate a plea deal with Jussie Smollett that would have required him to pay the restitution that would have required him to admit that had this case gone to trial he would have been found guilty. That would have required the records in this case to be made public. They didn't do that, so now to have the state bring all of its resources and this pressure on to this private citizen to say, you should do all of these things after we went into court and voluntary dismissed that 16-count indictment against him, this is troubling to me.

BALDWIN: Do you think he would have a civil case against the city?

MARTIN: He would have a civil case. Here's the problem, if he sues the city of Chicago for defamation then the whole case has to get litigated and his team is the team that filed, made the request to the criminal court judge that the records be sealed, so the question is, does he really want to litigate this matter and have those, you know -- the evidence that he's had sealed in the criminal case, does he want that evidence exposed in a civil case? I don't know if his team wants to do that, but I think the prosecutor needs to decide, you know, what do they want to do to now go on and say that he was guilty or he's lying, they had an opportunity to try the case and to hold him accountable and they didn't. They dropped the charges.

[14:50:30] BALDWIN: They did. All 16. All 16 of those charges.

Areva Martin, thank you very much. Thank you again, earlier, for that conversation with Chief Ramsey. That was excellent. Thank you for that as well.

MARTIN: Thanks.

BALDWIN: Let's move on. George Clooney in the news today. He's calling for a hotel boycott over Brunei announcing it will stone people to death for gay sex and adultery. Possible 2020 contender, Joe Biden, just weighed in on that.

Also, just as officials warn that the humanitarian crisis at the border has reached a breaking point, President Trump is mocking asylum seekers, suggesting that they are trying to cheat their way into this country. And now the president is threatening to close the border as early as next week.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [14:55:41] BALDWIN: To choose a career as a police officer is to choose a life of service, protection, and often times exposed to drama.

CNN's Erica Hill spoke to one police chief in Massachusetts, who's going "Beyond the Call of Duty," and channeling the pains and frustrations of his job into poetry.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MICHAEL CLOUTIER, CHIEF, FITCHBURG STATE UNIVERSITY POLICE DEPARTMENT: These are the experiences that resonate with me in a very positive way to balance things out. If you could see what I have seen, you'd have a ringside seat to life. It's not always full of sugar and roses, often there are strive.

ERICA HILL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With more than 20 years in law enforcement, chief Michael Cloutier doesn't shy away from tough moments.

CLOUTIER: You are trying to be reassuring for them, to not make that moment any more challenging for them than it needs to be.

HILL: Yet, nearly three years ago, increasingly frustrated by the growing divide between the public and his brothers and sisters in blue, he started writing.

CLOUTIER: If you could see what I have seen, maybe you'd understand. It takes a special kind of person who ups to make a stand. I've never written a poem before. I haven't written one sense.

HILL: The result, "If You Could See, a testament to an officer's daily challenges and their dedication.

(on camera): What do you think the biggest misconception is?

CLOUTIER: What we do and what we see day in and day out and maybe the motivation behind what we do.

HILL: What is the motivation for you?

CLOUTIER: I always wanted to be the person to help others.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd opt to go in, because you know that someone is trapped from within.

HILL (voice-over): Chief Cloutier never intended to share his poem but, at the urging of a colleague, he submitted it to the Web site "Police One" in February where it quickly went viral.

CLOUTIER: I think that some of the content had the ability to resonate with not only those that work in the profession but their families.

If you could see what I have seen, the stories are all true, but the scars are not always visible, not even to you. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon, class.

(SHOUTING)

HILL: His message now being shared with the nearly 200 future officers who are part of Fitchburg State University's police program in Massachusetts.

CLOUTIER: We need, as police officers, as educators, as instructors, as instructors, as community members, we need to do a better job sharing with our community so they can understand what it is that we see.

HILL: And help the public process, too.

CLOUTIER: I think there's a lot more common ground that people have these days than perhaps what people recognize.

If you could see what I have seen, you'd understand what I do. It's not in vain, the reason is simple, I do it all for you.

HILL: Erica Hill, CNN, Fitchburg, Massachusetts.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Erica, thank you for that.

Former Vice President Joe Biden is speaking out against this new draconian law in the small Muslim country of Brunei. Starting next week, it will be legal to stone people to death for homosexuality or adultery. And the former vice president calling it appalling and immoral in a tweet. And going on to say this, that, "There's no excuse, not culture, not tradition, for this kind of hate and inhumanity."

George Clooney has always called for a boycott of hotels owned by the sultan.

CNN's Salma Abdelaziz explains how the law came to be.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN REPORTER: It is shocking news but it is to be expected. The small nation of Brunei had said in 2014 that it would gradually implement Sharia Law. At the time there was outrage. The sultan of Brunei is one of the wealthiest men in the world. And there were calls for boycott his investments in major city, including the Beverly Hills Hotel in California.

Still, over the years, we have seen conservative changes made in the country. Alcohol is already banned. And there's a fine for missing Friday prayer or for having a child out of wedlock.

And now a new set of laws will be enacted on April 3rd. If you're found guilty of adultery or of having homosexual sex, you could face death by stoning in front of an audience of Muslims. And that's not all. If you're accused of theft, your hand or foot

could be cut off.

Human rights groups have called the new set of laws draconian.

[15:00:00]