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Boeing Acknowledges Role in Crashes; Victim's Family Sues Boeing and FAA; Trump Picks Cain and Moore for Fed Seats; Man Claiming to be Timmothy Pitzen is Not Him; Activist Arrested in Saudi Arabia. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired April 5, 2019 - 09:30   ET


[09:30:00] TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: CNN, this is a minor problem they're dealing with right now. The problem is, they don't have any minor problems. This is dealing with the flaps on the plane and maybe the fix itself is not complicated. But considering what their CEO has just said about these accidents, nothing is minor.

Just take a look.


DENNIS MUILENBERG, CEO, BOEING: As pilots have told us, erroneous activation of the MCAS function can add to what is already a high workload environment. It's our responsibility to eliminate this risk. We own it and we know how to do it.


FOREMAN: The bottom line is this preliminary report from the Ethiopians absolutely pushed this totally over the edge. Yes, there are more details that may come out in a final report, but this plane that is -- the picture of this plane painted in that report suggests an aircraft that is out of control with the pilots fighting for control. And in the end, in the end, people who understand nothing about avionics will understand this, the plane ended up, according to this report, going into the ground at 40 degrees and almost 600 miles an hour. Everybody gets that. And until Boeing proves that they own the problem, that they fixed it, there are no new reports of other things needing to be fixed, these planes are going to stay on the ground. And that is almost an existential question for Boeing going forward as to whether or not they can fly.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. I just imagine for those passengers on board as well.

FOREMAN: Yes. Horrific.

SCIUTTO: Tom Foreman, thanks very much.

FOREMAN: You're welcome.

SCIUTTO: Well, the family of an American woman who was killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash is now suing both Boeing and the FAA, the regulators. Samya Stumo was among the 157 people killed in last month's crash. That's her picture there. A suit filed by her family on Thursday claims Boeing, quote, haphazardly rushed its 737 Max jetliners to the market. Samya's mother broke down, as she would, when she spoke to reporters Thursday.


NADIA MILLERON, MOTHER OF SAMYA STUMO, ETHIOPIAN AIRLINES CRASH VICTIM: All of these people, it's not just Samya, you know, one family lost their whole family, grandparents, parents, children. Another guy lost his wife and his one-year-old child. I mean, this is just repeated 157 times. I mean we've met so many of these families and this could have all been prevented.


SCIUTTO: Just so sad to hear.

I'm joined now via Skype by Samya Stumo's brother, Adnaan Stumo.

And, Anaan, thank you so much for joining us today. And let me just make clear that we've been thinking about you and you have our thoughts, you have our condolences.


SCIUTTO: Let me start by saying -- because I've been reading about your sister, just a very special person. She had just joined a team working to increase affordable health care across Africa and Asia with the Global Health Organization.

Just tell us a little bit about her.

STUMO: Well, my sister, she had just started with this organization, as you say. She was really excited for this trip in particular. She had called me the night before and she was going, as I understand it, to set up some offices. She didn't get into the technical stuff with me. But she had been pursuing this ever since she was a little girl in one form or another. She always was the one who knew what she wanted to do when she was a little girl.

And it sort transmuted a little bit. It was -- at first she wanted to be a doctor and then as she grew older she went to Peru and she saw that a lot of the failings in medicine and health care were institutional and not necessarily personal. And the doctors with the best intentions were constrained by huge bureaucracies or bad -- the administrative side of things that had no touch with what was going on, on the ground. She saw this in particular in Peru and the Andes and then also with her work in Tanzania through her master's degree. And she decided to switch over to the global health side of things.

And -- but it was always a driving force in her life to -- to --

SCIUTTO: To give back, it sounds like, to do her part, to make a difference. Let me ask you this. In the wake of this accident, which, of course,

is the second accident with this plane, who do you blame for your sister's death?

STUMO: Well, of course, early on it was all just a confusion. We were all over the world. The family was scattered. We had to try to come together and figure things out. And as the information has come to the light of basically Boeing's criminal negligence and their -- they -- they have to take the -- the blame rests squarely on Boeing, in my opinion. The pilots in the Ethiopian Airline didn't have the information that they needed. The -- I've been reading every article that comes out in a major publication on this topic, of course, and so I have a layman's perspective, but a fairly -- a fairly complete layman's perspective in terms of what information has been available. And --

[09:35:27] SCIUTTO: What do you hope the lawsuit will accomplish here? Do you hope that it will correct a safety problem, save lives?

STUMO: Yes. That -- well, that's the first step, correcting the safety problem on this particular aircraft. But it seems to me that generally you have a profit drive that just disregards human health and safety and it just pushes up against those boundaries over and over and over, and that's just the system of corporate capitalism that we have.

All in this -- all our lawsuit is doing is -- is focusing on this particular model of plane, but I hope that it sets an example and that it allows U.S. regulatory agencies and the U.S. public to be -- to be more conscious and to -- to prevent these kinds of decisions from getting out of hand before they go as far as they do, because the consequences, as we've seen, are drastic.

SCIUTTO: Well, we hope so, too. And I know this is tough to talk about, but just rest assured we're thinking about you. Please send our best to your mom, the rest of your family as well.

STUMO: Thanks.

SCIUTTO: We're so sorry you had to go through this.

STUMO: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Adnaan Stumo lost his sister in the Ethiopian crash.

We'll be right back.


[09:41:16] SCIUTTO: Is President Trump trying to stack the Federal Reserve board with loyalists and critics of the current Fed leadership? The president says he will recommend Herman Cain, a former pizza executive turned radio talk show host who dropped his 2012 Republican presidential bid amid sexual harassment allegations, not the typical resume for a Federal Reserve board member.

This comes weeks after Trump floated the nomination of Stephen Moore to be on the board, a former campaign adviser, whose qualifications for the job have also been brought into question.

Let's discuss now with Alexis Glick. She's a former Wall Street executive and financial expert.

Alexis, great to have you on this morning.

ALEXIS GLICK, FINANCIAL EXPERT: It's great to be with you.

SCIUTTO: So, Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan, he says he does not think Moore and Cain are, quote, the right people for the board. You've been around a long time. You've followed these appointments. Do Cain and Moore have the qualifications to be on the Federal Reserve board that sets interest rates that affect the entire global economy?

GLICK: Well, the commentary we're hearing, I mean, certainly across Wall Street, and arguably around the political spectrum, is we need skilled economists in these roles. And this is something we cannot be partisan about.

The role of those seven Fed governors determines economic policy. You know, their job is stable growth, maximum employment, some of the most important things that really support the pipeline of our financial structure, everything from mortgage rates on down.

So Senator Thune just came out just a short while ago, the Republican whip, and said, listen, we're going to hear, you know, what these two gentlemen have to say. We're going to assess their competency, their relevance to those roles. But as you know, you have to go through a Senate confirmation process. So the likelihood, just in terms of the background on each of them right now, is not all that high.

Now, if you look at the Cain story, you know, he ran for election back in 2012, dropped out of the race because of, you know, a sexual assault allegations. And, you know, he was the one who came up with that, you know, let's wipe away the tax plan, let's go for the 999 plan on income and business and retail taxes. But, you know, he was someone who thought we should go back to the gold standard.

The thing here, Jim, is that both of them have indicated very loudly and proudly that they don't believe we should be worried about inflation.


GLICK: They both think we should be worried about deflation. So they're really going against Powell.

SCIUTTO: And that's about interest rates. Because this is a president who, very publicly, has criticized the current Fed chair for being -- for raising them or not lowering them enough. This is also a president who knows about the effects of rates on the stock market and the economy, which he wants to be healthy so that he's got a better chance in 2020.

I mean are you concerned that he's stacking this for a selfish political motivation? GLICK: Well, that is obviously the number one concern here is, is he

trying to manipulate the market going into the election? But let me just tell you something, and this, I think, is really important. When you look at the three priorities right now in the marketplace, even as the market's reacting today, number one, we want to know if we're going to get a trade deal done with China. Number two, we're looking at the data, the unemployment figures. And, let me tell you, we just came out with March data that said 196,000 jobs were created. We've created almost 3 million jobs since the start of January of 2018. You have an historically low unemployment rate.

And if I'm the president right now, I have two key priorities. Number one, get the trade deal done. Why? Because manufacturing jobs are key to his base. If you look at the president in the last 26 months, in manufacturing alone, he has created upwards of half a million manufacturing jobs, seen 4 percent growth in manufacturing. Compare that to the last 26 months of the Obama administration, they had created just under 100,000 or 0.8 percent of an increase.

[09:45:12] So if you're the president right now, you want to get a trade deal done, you want to keep that manufacturing base intact and, oh, by the way, the last two quarters of manufacturing data have been weak in terms of those jobs. But the other thing is, you want to make sure you have a Fed that is on hold.

Now, let me just finally say one critical thing to you about this, Jim. Right now you had three Fed presidents speak yesterday, in Boston and in Cleveland, both suggesting they lean toward a hike. You have two Fed presidents in Atlanta and Kansas speaking today. So the rhetoric that's coming out of each of these Fed presidents' comments is really critical.


GLICK: But, at the moment, even given the data we're seeing right now --


GLICK: The Fed is on hold. So I would say to folks, let's not have a cause for alarm here. They're going to go through a confirmation process. The Fed likely is not going to do anything in the short term and let's see how this thing plays out.

SCIUTTO: Well --

GLICK: But, yes, the concern is stacking the bench.

SCIUTTO: And we'll see. We'll see, right? It's supposed to be independent. That's by design.

GLICK: That is exactly right.

SCIUTTO: Alexis Glick --

GLICK: Independence is critical. There is no more important role to have independence than for those seven Fed governors. No more important role.

SCIUTTO: Alexis Glick, you said it very clearly. Great to have you on.

GLICK: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: A dramatic turn of events has left a family devastated all over again. I mean this is just torture. The person who claimed to be a missing boy is actually a man with a long criminal history.


[09:51:09] SCIUTTO: Stunning developments in the case of the missing boy from Illinois. After all those hopes raised, police say the man who claimed to be Timmothy Pitzen is not him at all. He's actually Brian Rini, a 23-year-old who had recently been released from jail. A sheriff's official says that Rini is currently being held at a Cincinnati jail for the FBI. He says no local charges have yet been filed. Rini's brother spoke to reporters yesterday.


JONATHON RINI, HOAX SUSPECT'S BROTHER: I haven't spoken to him in years. He has several mental issues. Asperger's, bipolar disorder, ADHD, the list goes on. He was in juvey a lot when we were kids and then he started going to actual jail. I tell the family that I'm sorry for what he's done, but, for him, I -- I wouldn't even speak to him.


SCIUTTO: CNN's Athena Jones has been following the developments in this story.

So, Athena, for a moment there, his family's hopes were raised, and now heartbreak.

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is heartbreaking. And what a whirlwind and roller coaster series of emotions they've gone through to have their hopes dashed after eight years of suffering already.

But I can tell you that in a couple of hours from now, just two hours from now, in fact, the FBI Louisville, officials from the FBI Cincinnati, local law enforcement, are going to be having a press conference at the U.S. attorney's office across the river in the Southern District of Ohio, making an announcement about this case. And so we could hear charges, federal charges, brought at that press conference. We will be watching closely.

But as you said, Brian Michael Rini is a man who has a long history of run-ins with the law. His brother has said so. He spent time in juvenile detention. He has had a series of charges, thefts, burglary, criminal trespass, making false alarms, vandalism. He was sentenced to a year and a half in prison on burglary and vandalism charges and he was just released, as you said, on March 7th. So this is a man who has a long history of issues. When it comes to the family, though, of Timmothy Pitzen, they have

said that they are devastated. His aunt telling reporters that Timmothy's father is just devastated all over again. Going through this was like living through the kidnapping all over again.

So, really, just a tragic story, but it's not over yet for Brian Michael Rini.


SCIUTTO: Just torture for them. Totally unnecessary.

Athena Jones, thanks very much.

Two men with dual U.S.-Saudi citizenship are now detained in Saudi Arabia. Targeted is the first round-up of activists since the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

And who is tricky Dick? The four-part CNN original series explores Richard Nixon's rise, fall, incredible comeback and then political destruction, featuring never before seen footage. The series continues Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern.


[09:58:04] SCIUTTO: Two U.S. citizens are among a group of activists detained in Saudi Arabia by Saudi Arabia. The arrest of seven people perceived as critics of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman marks the first sweep targeting dissidents since the killing, the brutal murder of "Washington Post" columnist Jamal Khashoggi six months ago.

Clarissa Ward joins me now.

Clarissa, so despite all this international criticism, including from here in the U.S., Saudi Arabia continues to target people who just criticize the government.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jim. And so far Saudi Arabia is not even acknowledging that this has happened. CNN has reached out to the Saudi government. We've reached out also to the U.S. embassy in Riyadh. And so far the only people confirming these arrests are several activists and people who are close to the cases.

We know, as you mentioned, that two people from these seven activists who were arrested are dual U.S.-Saudi nationals. One of them, ironically, is the son of one of the 11 women who were also facing trial for their role in their activism related to women's rights in Saudi Arabia and the ability to drive.

I think this really speaks more broadly speaking, though, Jim, to this ongoing crackdown, to a complete lack of tolerance for any form of dissent, not even just dissent, but criticism. And if you look at the rap sheet at one of those 11 women who are on trial right now, those female activists who were pushing for women's rights to drive, Lujana Haflul (ph). You read through this rap sheet, it's extraordinary. This is -- they

say evidence includes things such as the fact that she applied for a job at the U.N., the fact that she had conversations with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. And I should add that CNN has spoken to Lujana's parents. They say that she claims to them that she has been, let me quote this, whipped, beaten, electrocuted, and sexually abused in a prison basement that she referred to as the palace of terror.

Jim, this crackdown in Saudi Arabia very much ongoing.


[10:00:02] SCIUTTO: This is how autocrats work.

Clarissa Ward, thanks very much for staying on the story.