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Woman Carrying Chinese Passports In A Thumb Drive With Malware Get Into The President's Private Club In Florida; Stunning Revelation About The Fatal Crash Of Ethiopian Airlines Flight; Actresses Felicity Huffman And Lori Loughlin Are Facing Fraud Charges; Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired April 3, 2019 - 11:30   ET



[11:30:29] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: They are the party of healthcare but then they are not. They are going strong on the border but maybe not quite yet. And the still nonexistent voter fraud from 2016 is still nonexistent but still a talking point nonetheless. Is this the platform that Donald Trump that gets Donald Trump reelected and wins Republicans control the House, once again as the President assumes.

Joining me right now is a former Republican governor of Ohio, CNN senior political commentator John Kasich.

Governor, we got a lot to get to today.


BOLDUAN: The President - for the President, immigration, healthcare and the boogy man of voter fraud, these were major themes of his 2016 campaign. So it helped get him elected. Is it wrong to think that this same formula, no matter how much of it is based in fact, works for him four years later?

KASICH: Well, I think what all Republicans are going to try to run on and hoping that the economy stays strong.


KASICH: Although we are now beginning to see some slippage and now they are blaming the Federal Reserve, which is another institution that's kind of under attack, which has always been viewed as independent. And I think they are going to talk about the court. And then what they are going to do is spend a lot of time trying to say that Democrats are socialists. And I think this 2020 election, it could be the most vicious we have ever seen. You know, the idea is let the President keep his numbers.

BOLDUAN: Which is so sad. As you say what we need is unity.

KASICH: Well, we need idea. We need ideas.

BOLDUAN: Yes. KASICH: So the fact is that they can't talk about the healthcare

changes because there's not a simple solution, Kate. This is a very complicated issue.

BOLDUAN: You know. You have been working on this.

KASICH: Well, you can't have people lose coverage if they have a preexisting condition. You can't throw 20 million Americans off the roles. You can't just give block grants to states where it doesn't match up for each state. This is very complicated. And the overall health care issue is also very complicated because Obamacare is just one piece of it.

Now I will say this. If, in fact, you were to repeal Obamacare, everybody across the board would be in -- they would have a problem now with being able to keep coverage if they had a preexisting condition.

So I think what the Republican are saying is, look, the economy is strong. We have deregulated, we cut some taxes. We got the court. Let us run on that and don't muck this up by shutting down the border, and make us go through the health care thing again because we don't have any great ideas for that. The Democrats on the other hand have to be careful that they are not branding themselves as far left.

I was actually -- I'm in Washington now. I was actually on Capitol Hill, talked to a number of Democrats who say we are not far left. We are moderate. And, remember, America is center right, center left. It is not on the extreme. So if the Democrats don't come with somebody who is more moderate and acceptable, then, you know, I think it's tough for them.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about a big conversation in Washington right now, which is obviously Barr's memo. Barr's memo and then the full Mueller report, actually.

The memo comes out a couple of weeks ago. And there is one thing that I have noticed that we all kind of started to notice since its release. Pretty much zero impact that it's had on the public's opinion of the job that the President is doing. In terms of that, there's no dip and maybe surprisingly, no bump, considering how ecstatic he is over the result. And that fits with, right, the story of his presidency. Nothing is moving the numbers.

KASICH: Tribal. Everything is tribal right now. And, again, I think the Republican idea is, you know, kind of crow about these two things that have happened. And the economy is obviously very important but it's got to stay strong. And then talk about the Democrats being far left and socialist and wanting to raise your taxes and take away your health care, whatever or to do Medicare for all, which doesn't work either.

So the key is, who is going to capture some lightning in a bottle? Who is going to have both the personality and who is going to have the ability to talk about the major issues? And what are they? Income inequality. Now obviously, the need to have health care for people. These are the issues that worked for Democrats in the midterm.


KASICH: The question is, can they pick somebody for 2020 who is not going to be extreme? Because their base is like - and they way out there. And that's not going to work for them.

BOLDUAN: There is a conversation about that going on right now. Because Bernie Sanders, he just posted big fund-raising number, 18.2 million raised in the first quarter. But here is how "Washington Post" columnist Dana Milbank put it in a column. The column is titled "Bernie Sanders has emerged as the Trump of the left." And here is a bit of it, governor.

Meanwhile, Sanders himself remains untouchable in a Trumpian way, claims of mistreatment by male staffers from women who worked on his 2016 campaign? Yawn. His resistance to releasing his tax returns? Whatever. The idea that Democrats need a unifying figure to lure disaffected Trump voters in key states? Never mind. What do you think of that?

[11:35:24] KASICH: Bernie Sanders isn't going to be president. It just not going to happen. And I'm not saying that. You know, I just have to call them like I see them, Kate. And I don't see that.

BOLDUAN: Tell me.

KASICH: Because he's too far to the left. He's just way out there. And that is not where people are. People -- you know, they don't like that left wing ideology. They don't like a lot of right wing ideology either. What we are seeing today is sort of an absence of really exciting, new ideas. And that's where these candidates have to go.

Now you don't win an election just based on ideas and what your health care plan is, but it's your ability to communicate, that people think that you get them or that they believe that you get them and their problems and underpinning that are the issues that sort of speak to that.

Bernie, with his issues -- Kate, he's just out of the mainstream. And that's the problem. And look, the Democrats are worried about this. And, you know, the funny thing about it all is that Nancy Pelosi is more and more becoming the moderating influence on that party, which is really fascinating to see. And Republicans are now giving her grudging respect.

But I'm hearing Democrats now begin to say we need to take back our agenda. And we are not defined by the new green deal. We are not defined by Medicare for all. And you are beginning to see their candidates move away from it. So the question is, who can capture the nomination, satisfy the left and yet be more moderate so they cannot only attract the bulk of the country, but also some disaffected Republicans? It's interesting to watch. But we have a long, long way to go.

BOLDUAN: We sure do. The most important or maybe the least important question of the day, do you know where your parents were born?

KASICH: You know, we live -- listen, we live in a whole new world. Although I must say, we say that my father is Czech, but we are not quite sure of the spelling of our last name and all of that. And that happened but my father was born in America. No. It's a whole new world, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I know. I'm saying, do I need to fact check that now, governor? I'm going to go look after this and then we are going to have a problem next time. Just tell me now.

KASICH: Yes. So my mother is Croatian. So all the Croatians out there, you rock.

BOLDUAN: Thanks for coming on, governor.

KASICH: Thank you. See you again.

BOLDUAN: Talk to you soon. Thank you.

Coming up, a major security breach at Mar-a-Lago. How did a woman carrying Chinese passports in a thumb drive with malware get into the President's private club in Florida? And what was she planning to do? That's coming up.


[11:42:32] BOLDUAN: Mystery of malware at Mar-a-Lago and how safe is the president when he stays at his South Florida resort? Who was the woman carrying two Chinese passports and gained access to Trump's Mar- a-Lago club over the weekend? Why was she carrying four cell phones and a thumb drive containing malicious software? And what - and was the President ever at risk?

CNN's Kaylee Hartung is in West Palm Beach with more.


KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Federal prosecutors filing charges against a Chinese national Yujing Zhang who they say illegally entered the President's Mar-a-Lago club in Florida last weekend and lied about it.

Prosecutors say Zhang was carrying two Chinese passports, four cell phones, and lap top computer and external hard drive type device and a thumb drive that contain quote "malicious malware."

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (R-CA), HOUSE INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Is it this malware that she wasn't even aware she had on the thumb drive? Was it intended to be planted in some fashion? We don't know the answers to these questions.

HARTUNG: According to the complaint, Zhang initially told secret service she was at Mar-a-Lago to use the pool. Club managers believed she was related to another member of the club with the same last night and allowed her in. But when questioned by a receptionist, Zhang's story changed, responding that she was there for a U.N. event that the receptionist knew did not exist.

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: If you were trained you would never have deviated from what your story was at front gate to any security checkpoint. It just doesn't feel like a spy effort to me.

HARTUNG: Agents removed Zhang from Mar-a-Lago to interview her. The charge in documents and says she then got verbally aggressive, telling agents she was told by a friend to attend the event and try to speak with the member of the President's family about Chinese and American foreign economic relations. President Trump was staying in Mar-a-Lago at the time, in fact, golfing during the incident. The breach is raising questions about security at the club.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: There's a reason why there's Camp David. The President doesn't like it, so he doesn't go there. And so, once again, we have a porous Mar-a-Lago.

HARTUNG: The secret service issuing a rare statement, insisting that they do not determine who was invited or welcome at Mar-a-Lago, knowing that their policies are no different than that long used at any other site temporarily visited by the President.


HARTUNG: I just spoke to a secret service official who explained to me this woman went through two physical screening checkpoints. A search of a person and of the contents of her bag. Secret service was aware of what she carried on the property. They tell me they had eyes and ears on her every step of the way and as soon as the security staff at the hotel informed them that they had mistakenly granted her access, secret service acted immediately.

[11:45:10] BOLDUAN: Important to know. Great to see Kaylee. Thank you very much.

Joining me right now is former secret service agent Jonathan Wackrow.

It is good to see you again, Jonathan.


BOLDUAN: What do you make of this one?

WACKROW: So listen, there is a lot of anomalies here. But when you take a step back, did the secret service do the right thing? Did their security protocols work? The answer is yes, absolutely.

What's really important to understand is that a lot of people refer to Mar-a-Lago as the winter White House. It's not the White House. It's not a government facility. It's a private commercial entity just like any other place the President goes, you know, on a temporary basis.


WACKROW: So the security protocols are concentric rings of protection that are around the protectee. What this individual did is they went through two checkpoints, the most outer rings, but the security structure work. It's a layered approach to access control. And the moment that they realized she was lying, they let her come through. They knew what she had on her. They let her come in. Once she got to the reception area, it was deemed that she was not a guest, she did not have a bona fide reason for being there, field interview by the secret service, they intervened, they removed her from the property, continued a line of questioning, figured out that the story didn't match up and an arrest was made.

BOLDUAN: When it comes to that, if this was an attempt at Chinese espionage, does it seem clumsy to you kind of how this story go over?

WACKROW: So what does a Chinese espionage model look like?

BOLDUAN: Great question.

WACKROW: Right? So if I'm going, you know, there's really seasoned, you know, intelligence officers, but then there could be -- you know, there's a direct engagement model where you could kind of act aloof in looking around.

Look. She got all the way into the lobby of Mar-a-Lago based upon some cover story that evolved over time. She went from going to a pool to, you know, a Chinese-American event. The story was (INAUDIBLE). And you know, the secret service agents were picking up on that. They were watching it.

If you read the text of the complaint, they are actually showing, you know, not that she went through all these different security levels, is that she willfully went through them and disregarded that. That actually leads to the elements of the crime and that's why the arrest was made.

BOLDUAN: Still, I mean, this is something.

WACKROW: It is. And so time will tell. I mean, listen. Forensics are going to look at what's on the hard drive, on a thumb drive. Was there malicious intent to introduce, you know, something into like the building management system, et cetera?

BOLDUAN: On the most basic though, secret service, thank God for them and thank God they did their job and thank God everyone is safe.

WACKROW: They did it right, the system work and it was proven in this instance.

BOLDUAN: Thanks, John.

WACKROW: Thanks a lot.

BOLDUAN: Coming up, new details about the final moments inside the doomed Ethiopian airline flight. A new report that the pilots followed Boeing's instructions in the event of an emergency. So why did the plane still crash?


[11:51:50] BOLDUAN: A stunning revelation about the fatal crash of Ethiopian airlines flight, that flight last month. The "Wall Street Journal" is now reporting the pilots of the Boeing 737 Max 8 initially followed the emergency procedures laid out by Boeing but still couldn't keep the jet in the air. It crashed killing everyone on board.

CNN's Tom Foreman has been following this for us.

Tom, it sounds like the pilots did what they were supposed to do in this emergency, still this tragedy.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, all along Boeing and the FAA have been sort of winking at the idea that maybe the pilots didn't know how to handle this thing. So if this "Wall Street Journal" report is correct, that could push that idea aside and they were going through the procedure, they simply couldn't recover the plane.

Then if you add to it, this report from Reuters that suggests that even after this automatic system had been turned off, that it reengaged or that it did not successfully turn off, essentially, remember what we are talking about is software that is meant to keep the plane from nosing up into the sky, and if it gets the wrong input, thinking it is doing that, instead forcing the plane to dive into the ground.

If you take these two reports together, they would suggest that maybe the pilots did do the right things, maybe they simply could not overcome what this robotics system was trying to force the plane to do.

Now, to be sure, Boeing is saying, look, we are still waiting on the preliminary report from Ethiopians. We are hoping we will get the details of it soon. Maybe they have seen it already. But they are saying, don't believe everything you have heard. Wait until you have more evidence. Let's talk about what really happened as opposed to speculation. Nonetheless, there is an awful lot of speculation out there and a lot of good reporting out there that has been slowly unwinding the story. And what we are seeing so far has not done a lot I think to restore confidence in the airlines, the flying public and the regulators -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: No kidding. And those families deserve to know what happened. The families of all of those passengers. And honestly, the flying public does as well.

FOREMAN: Absolutely. Before we get back on this plane, before they take off into the sky again at some point.

BOLDUAN: Exactly. Good to see you, Tom. Thanks.

FOREMAN: You are welcome.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, actress Felicity Huffman arriving at a courthouse in Boston just a short time ago getting ready to face charges that she and others tried to cheat the system and broke the law to get there's kids in college. We are going to have that next.


[11:58:10] BOLDUAN: Prosecutors say they broke the law to get their e their kids into college. And right now actresses Felicity Huffman and Lori Loughlin are mother group of more than a dozen parents facing a judge today, charged in one of the largest college admission schemes in history. And remember, investigators say that the parents paid the college prep business which they say was a fraud to help them cheat on test or bribe college coaches to get their kids into some of the country's top schools. And now, they are in court.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is in Boston watching all of this.

Brynn, what's going happen in there today?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Neither Felicity Huffman nor Lori Loughlin have actually addressed to these charges in public. So if they say anything in court today, that will be the first time we actually hear from them.

However, I will say we have been here for other court appearances for the other parents charged in this massive case. Nobody has really said anything. They have let their lawyers do the talking. This is really just the first process -- step in this process that can go on a while with the government in this case.

I want to tell you, though, that Felicity Huffman did already arrive for court three hours ahead of the time that she is scheduled to appear before the judge. She surely just entered the side here, very under stated, not wearing sunglasses, holding the hand we believe of her attorney, her husband, William H. Macy who is not charged in this case, was not by her side.

So certainly here early, we have not seen Lori Loughlin yet. I can will tell you that the government has said there will be no special treatment for these actresses despite their name and their prestige. But I have been here for a while and we are all behind barricades, this time around where in past cases we have been able to actually get up close to the people who are charge in this case and ask questions. It doesn't look like we will be able to do that in this case.

But prosecutors say, you know, what, they have evidence against everyone, the charge in this case. And it is possible, more charges could be coming down in the future for all of the parents, not just these two actresses -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Wow. That is really amazing these cases, if you have these indictments.

Thanks so much, Brynn. We will see what happens today. Really appreciate it.

And thank you all so much for joining me at this hour.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with John King starts right now.