Return to Transcripts main page
CNN RIGHT NOW
WSJ: Anti-Stall System Activated Before Plane Crashed; Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D) of Pennsylvania Discusses Obamacare, Chants Against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at Trump Rally; Brexit's Future Uncertain after Key Vote Fails; Illinois Prosecutors Blast "Abnormal" Dismissal of Smollett Case; Foxx Asked Accusers of R. Kelly to Come Forward in Inappropriate Move. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired March 29, 2019 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:30:00] TOM FOREMAN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Basically, what MCAS does is it's an onboard computer, a piece of software that essentially says, if this plane starts nosing up, as these planes are prone to do, it will start pushing back level. The problem is, if you have a bad sensor that tells that software the nose is pushing up, it may try to push it down, making it dive to earth because it thinks the plane is in the wrong position. Then as the crew tries to push the plane back up and the computer tries to push it back down, you end up with a porpoising effect in the sky.
Now it is suggested that, yes, not only did that happen in the Lion Air crash but probably also in the second crash. Boeing, after the Lion Air crash, started working on this software update that said, "We're going to stop this problem. We're going to make sure it not only stops happening in the sky." But they're going to put an indicator in the cockpit to let pilots know this automatic system has kicked in to warn them about it. They'll have them rely on not just one sensor that can go bad, but two sensors. If the sensors don't agree about the position of the plane, then it won't turn on and it should make it a little easier to fight back and get control of the plane and shut this system down.
The problem for Boeing, though, is this is not just a technical issue right now. They have to convince passengers and airlines and pilots that this will all make these planes genuinely safe. So for the moment, in a very strange way, the future of these planes is both up in the air and not -- Brianna?
KEILAR: Tom Foreman, thank you so much for walking us through that.
Now, the president wants to kill Obamacare. He says he's working with four or five Republican Senators on a replacement plan. The problem is no such working group appears to exist.
Plus, a major group of Illinois prosecutors blasting the dismissal of the Jussie Smollett case as "abnormal, unfamiliar," and an affront to prosecutors across the state. Will this place pressure on the state's attorney at the center of this case to resign?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[13:36:50] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to have a plan that is so much better than Obamacare. The health care is going very well.
TRUMP: All right, guys. Thank you.
You can always take care of preexisting conditions, just remember that. Always preexisting conditions. But Obamacare is too costly for people, they can't afford it. And the deductible, which averages more than $7,000, meaning unless somebody has got really big problems, can't even use it. Obamacare is a disaster. Right now, it's losing in court. Right now, in the Texas court, as you know, probably ends up in the Supreme Court, but we're doing something that is going to be much less expensive than Obamacare for the people. I'm not saying government, I'm saying for the people. And we're going to have preexisting conditions and we'll have a much lower deductible. And I've been saying it, the Republicans are going to end up being the party of health care.
Thank you very much.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: The president there in Florida with some dubious facts also about Obamacare. The president once again claiming that a health care plan is coming as his administration asks the courts to end Obamacare. Keep in mind, a federal judge has just blocked another attempt by the administration to undermine Obamacare. This latest ruling involves an effort to weaken the Affordable Care Act by offering alternatives to health insurance exchanges.
We have Democratic Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan, of Pennsylvania, with us.
You just introduced a Democratic bill. It's wide-ranging tweaks to Obamacare.
Thank you so much for joining us.
With that in mind, tell us your reaction to the president saying there's no great urgency in coming up with a new health care plan.
REP. CHRISSY HOULAHAN, (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Thank you for having me.
And in terms of where I'm coming from in my part of southeastern Pennsylvania, about 300,000 of us in my community would end up without health care if preexisting conditions weren't covered. And from day to day, hour to hour, in fact, with our president, I'm not certain where he lands on preexisting condition and undermining the Affordable Care Act. And what ends up happening is a community, my community, is worried about whether they will have affordable quality, accessible health care. And the industry also associated with it is worried about whether the stabilization will happen or not happen. I think he's creating an enormous amount of uncertainty, which ends with a lot of people being worried.
KEILAR: You just heard him talk about preexisting conditions. He's saying it's always going to be covered. We do hear this consistently from Republicans and from the White House, but do you believe it?
HOULAHAN: I, frankly, don't, because I feel as though pretty much every other day we're talking about blowing up the Affordable Care Act, which is, in fact, a vehicle we have right now in the nation that is protecting people with preexisting conditions. Ad so I think that this is a system, albeit flawed, that definitely needs tweaking, as you mentioned. That is the system of our nation right now. And if we all want to be working at this, we should be working to fix the Affordable Care Act rather than blowing it up and starting all over again.
KEILAR: If the administration succeeds in doing that, in blowing this up, scrapping Obamacare entirely, what would it take for a Democratic House, a Republican Senate and this president to find a health care law that they could agree on? Is that even possible?
[13:40:13] HOULAHAN: So, you know, I come from a very purple part of our country. We are very pragmatic people. I am completely willing to work with the administration and with the Republican-controlled Congress and the Democratically controlled House. Because it really is that important that we fix the accessibility and affordability of quality health care for our people. But I'm dubious, probably at best, in terms of the opportunity that this administration provides for that pathway.
KEILAR: So I want to talk to you about the president's rally last night. The president's son, Donald Jr, was warming up the crowd, and he did so by blasting your fellow freshman congresswoman, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. The crowd responded by chanting, "OAC sucks." Let's watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: What is it about her, your colleague in this incoming class, that makes her such a lightning rod for conservatives, do you think?
HOULAHAN: I guess what I would say is there were two things that were really signature issues in my campaign and in many campaigns across the country that were important to people. One was health care. The second thing was civility and decency. We've seen these two things come up in this conversation right now, which is it's absolutely unacceptable that we are maligning people who don't agree with our beliefs. I think we saw it with Senator McCain, the way to behave when we're in things like town halls, in things like rallies and people are maligning and disparaging people not like us. And that's not OK. We demand and expect more from our leadership of all forms in terms of the way that we model being a decent representative of our community. So I'm disappointed in President Trump and in President Trump's son, frankly, in not leading by example in this particular case. We can agree to disagree, but we shouldn't disrespect each other.
KEILAR: Congresswoman, thank you so much. Congresswoman Chrissy Houlahan joining us.
And coming up, the Brexit Day that wasn't. A pivotal vote ends in a protest on what should have been the U.K.'s so-called Independence Day.
Plus, explore the incredible rise and fall of Richard Nixon in the new CNN original series, "TRICKY DICK," airing this Sunday night at 9:00 p.m. right here on CNN.
[13:47:00] KEILAR: The British government planned for this to be a historic day, Brexit Day. Parties were planned, coins were minted for this occasion, as you can see here. It's still historic but not for the reasons they had hoped.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ayes to the right, 286. The nos to the left, 344.
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Mr. Speaker, I think it should be a matter of profound regret to every member of this House that once again we have been unable to support leaving the European Union in an orderly fashion.
JEREMY CORBYN, U.K. LABOUR PARTY LEADER: There has to be an alternative plan. If the prime minister can't accept that, then she must go, not at any indeterminant date in the future but now, so we can decide the future of this country through a general election.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KEILAR: So another plan voted down. A prime minister on the brink of resigning. And almost three years of planning to leave the European Union on hold.
CNN Business editor-at-large, Richard Quest, and host of "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS," is outside of parliament.
Richard, there are so many questions here. The big one is, what happens next? RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR-AT-LARGE & CNN HOST, "QUEST MEANS
BUSINESS": If I knew that, nobody knows. Anyone who does say they know is lying. The options are narrowing. Parliament has now singularly refused to pass the prime minister's deal three times. And so now Europe has said, well, you can have her longer if you want it, but you need to come up with what you want. There will be more votes next week. Parliament is now in anarchy. They've taken over, basically, and they're doing the votes themselves.
There are some really cruel analogies being drawn, Brianna. For example, the Monty Python sketches of which everyone is so familiar. People are describing the prime minister's deal as the dead parrot. No, she says, it's just resting. And then there's the Holy Grail. When it comes to Brexit, these protesters are essentially saying, get on with it.
It is by no means certain the U.K. now will leave the European Union, but it is absolutely 100 percent, without any shadow of doubt, a total utter mess.
KEILAR: What happens with the prime minister? Is she going to stay or go, Richard?
QUEST: It's only a matter of when. She promised to go if her deal was passed. Her deal wasn't passed. And now people are just wondering when she's going to go. There is no chance she, for example, will be the prime minister by the end of the year. It's simply not likely to be the case. No, the prime minister is going to be gone.
Here's the real truth. The only thing that's keeping her there is sheer fear by many M.P.s of what will come next, an M.P., a member of Parliament, who is farther right wing and more hardline Brexit. The P.M. is basically dead woman walking.
[13:50:07] KEILAR: All right, Richard Quest, in London, thank you.
A new twist in the Jussie Smollett scandal as the city of Chicago demands he pay up. The six-figure tab he's been handed. Plus, how the actor is responding.
[13:54:09] KEILAR: Prosecutors who dropped felony charges against Actor Jussie Smollett have fundamentally misled the public on the law and the dismissal of the charges. That is the accusation from an Illinois lawyers' group about Cook County State's Attorney Kim Foxx and her office and how they've handled this.
A grand jury had indicted Smollett on 16 counts in a hate crime hoax. And in a stunning reversal the prosecutor dropped the charges against Smollett on Tuesday, sparking outrage from the president, Illinois lawmakers, Chicagoans, including the mayor of Chicago, who said that he wants Smollett to pay more than $130,000 to cover the cost of the investigation.
Let's bring in Eric Sussman. He's a former first assistant state's attorney for Kim Foxx. He's joining us from Chicago.
With your perspective of having worked in this office with Kim Foxx, do you have any idea what happened here?
ERIC SUSSMAN, FORMER FIRST ASSISTANT STATE ATTORNEY UNDER KIM FOXX: Well, I mean, the best I can tell, both from working in the office as well as talking to the lawyers on both sides, is that the defense lawyers for Jussie Smollett went in and they told the prosecutors they have serious problems with their case. I don't know if some of it had to do with the reasons why the state's attorney recused herself. And the prosecutors ultimately agreed to dismiss the charges and then once the public got upset and outraged, they tried to justify it by calling it either a deferred prosecution or saying this happens all the time, both of which are demonstratively false. I think those are the deceptions that the Illinois State Prosecutors Association is zeroed in on and the fact that, really, at this point their misleading the public in terms of what really happened here.
KEILAR: Foxx says and her office says that sealing this criminal case -- everyone wants to know what happened because it was sealed. And they're saying it was mandatory, this lawyers group says that is not true. Do you think it was mandatory?
SUSSMAN: It is not mandatory. That is false. And the state's attorneys office -- there was a motion -- an oral motion that was made. The state's attorney's office didn't object. They should have objected. The fact of the matter is, there was no conviction to expunge. So it is completely shrouded in mystery as to why the judge ultimately sealed these records. There clearly was no mandatory reason why they should have been sealed. And quite frankly, there's no legal reason why they should be sealed at this point in time.
KEILAR: There was also, among these contradictions, this example of whether Foxx formally recused herself because she didn't. She made it sound like she was recusing herself but had she recused herself her office likely would not have handled this case. Should she have properly and fully recused herself in the legal sense of the word?
SUSSMAN: There are two issues here. We have to address each of the issues. The first question is, did the state's attorney have a conflict of interest. Based on what we have seen in terms of the discussions with Tina Tchen and the discussions with the victim's family or witnesses' family that's not a basis to assume there's any type of conflict of interest. There has to be a conflict there for the prosecutor to even think of recusing herself. Again, there's a real mystery. To be clear, state's attorneys interview witnesses, meet with family members, meet with defendants all the time. There's an entire unit of the state's attorneys office, called the Felony Review Unit, and that's all they do. There's nothing based on what we've seen in the record that would explain why the state's attorney believed she needed to recuse herself in any way, shape or form.
Then we get to the second issue --
KEILAR: Oh, no. I only have a minute with you. I have a question I really want answered. It's a broader question.
SUSSMAN: Yes. OK.
KEILAR: So this whole thing is a mess by many accounts. It's been mishandled. Ms. Foxx has other important cases she's handling. She encouraged R. Kelly accusers to come forward and they did. Does she have good judgment to handle these other things?
SUSSMAN: Well, I mean, the answer is clearly she has shown poor judgment in this case in terms of the statements she's making about Mr. Smollett after the charges have been dropped, which are clearly a violation of prosecutorial ethics rules.
And the second thing is, I have never in my life, and I can't think of a prosecutor that would ever get on and make a public statement soliciting information to try to prosecute someone like R. Kelly. It's improper. R. Kelly is a private citizen. He's presumed innocent. And until they bring charges, there's no basis for them to be out there in essence fishing for information and then getting people, like Michael Avenatti, who come in with questionable video tapes and a lot of other questionable issues.
KEILAR: Eric Sussman, thank you so much for lending us your expertise.