Return to Transcripts main page


Biden Pushes to Win Back Pennsylvania After Firefighters' Union Endorsement; Graham: I Have "All I need" From A.G. Barr; Graham Not Interested in Hearing Testimony From Don McGahn; New Poll: 54 Percent Say They Haven't Benefited From Economy. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired April 29, 2019 - 13:30   ET


[13:30:00] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: The CEO of Boeing is suggesting that pilot error may have been a contributing factor in the Ethiopian's airline crash last month that killed all 157 people on onboard. He says anti-stall software, known as MCAS, was a common link between the Ethiopian crash and the earlier Lion air crash but pilot error may also have played a part in the tragedy in have played a part in the tragedy in Ethiopia.

Drew Griffin joins us now. He's in Chicago with the details on this.

So fit this into what we're hearing from Boeing.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Somewhat of a remarkable position, Brianna. You have a company trying to get its MAX flights back up in the air, this grounded aircraft, working on a software system to fix something that was identified in both of these crashes, in Lion Air and Ethiopian Air. And yet, the CEO today, Dennis Muilenburg, really refusing to take any responsibility in terms of anything that went wrong with its airplane, just saying maybe pilots were involved.

It's somewhat nuances, but I want you to listen to what he said in a very short news conference just about an hour or two ago.


DENNIS MUILENBURG, CEO, BOEING: We've gone back and looked at both accidents, we've done deep assessments of the airplane and design, and we've confirmed that the MCAS system, as originally designed, did meet our design and safety analysis criteria and our certification criteria. Those are standard processes that have worked for decades and will continue to work.

Now, that said, when we design a system, understand that these airplanes are flown in the hands of pilots and, in some cases, our system's safety analysis includes not only the engineering design but also the actions that pilots would take as part of a failure scenario. That's all baked into a system end-to-end analysis.

Now, that all said, going forward, we've identified a way to improve this as to make it a dual-sensor feed. That's a change we're making with the software update. (END VIDEO CLIP)

GRIFFIN: That change, Brianna, is in the design of the system that was built not on redundancies but on a single sensor, which drove the system. That sensor apparently failed in both of these crashes. But as you heard, Boeing says nothing wrong with our design. They are looking at pilot error or pilot inaction, which is somewhat stunning. The questioning got a little rough and the CEO left after a really few questions.

KEILAR: Nothing wrong with the design that they are fixing the design of, right?

GRIFFIN: That's how I summarize this whole thing. They have to do something because the final investigations won't be done for a year, months ahead. They have got to get this plane back up now, so they are trying to convince the world that the software fix would, in my words, make this a dummy-proof cockpit.

KEILAR: Drew Griffin, thank you for that report, from Chicago.

Joe Biden just won a highly coveted endorsement ahead of his first campaign rally. The International Association of Firefighters, one of the country's largest trade unions, says they are going to back the former vice president in his quest for the White House. And this endorsement is especially notable this election because this union chose not to endorse Hillary Clinton nor Donald Trump in 2016.

And the president is not happy about this. This is what he tweeted: "I'll never get the support of dues-crazy union leadership. Those people who rip off their membership with ridiculously high dues, medical and other expenses, while being paid a fortune. But the members love Trump. They look at our record economy, tax and regulation cuts, military, et cetera, win, exclamation point."

Biden is defending his endorsement while scolding the president for his tweets.

I want to bring in Harold Schaitberger, the president of the 316,000- member union.

Sir, thanks for being with us.


KEILAR: You are obviously at the Biden rally, which we're awaiting in Pittsburgh, and your union sat out of the 2016 race in the primaries, in the general. Why endorse now?

SCHAITBERGER: Well, it's pretty simple. Joe Biden has stood with firefighters, workers, working families, with our union members throughout his entire 40-year career. Every step of the way Joe Biden has fought for fair wages, guaranteed overtime, protect our retirement plans, guaranteed the collective bargaining rights of workers, and make sure that Right to Work does not become a national law. So it's just very simple for us. He's had our back and now we're going so have his.

KEILAR: Well --

SCHAITBERGER: He'll stand with us and now we'll stand with him.

KEILAR: But why is this race different than 2016? Why did you stay out of 2016 --


KEILAR: -- but wade into this one?

SCHAITBERGER: Well, in 2016, we didn't feel that we had a Democratic nominee that was actually speaking to the workers that work for a living, particularly the workers right here in Pennsylvania, the workers that are in Ohio and Michigan and Wisconsin, and Iowa, workers that didn't feel that they were being connected to nor cared for nor listened to. It was a big difference. And now we have a candidate that over his entire career has listened and is connected and will support workers in every way, shape or form. He's got a proven track record for doing just that.

[13:35:20] KEILAR: You -- you poll internally after elections, which is very interesting to see how members of your union come down on who they say they voted for, some abstaining from saying. President Trump claims that your endorsement is going against the wishes of your membership when you look at some of these internal numbers. Because, after 2016, it actually showed, as you said, that there wasn't a Democratic candidate who could really speak to union members. Your numbers show that 27 percent only had voted for Hillary Clinton. Nearly twice that number, 50 percent reported voting for Donald Trump. And a large chunk didn't reply. Do you have some concerns -- and in the past, we should mention, you endorsed President Obama and then Senator Obama. So do you have concerns in this case looking at these numbers that you're going to face some backlash from your members who support President Trump?

SCHAITBERGER: Well, let me make a couple of points here, Brianna. First of all, in 2016, Joe Biden wasn't on that poll, so that's a major difference. Second point is our membership isn't monolithic and we never claimed to suggest that it is. I have Republican members and Democratic members. I have conservatives, progressives and Independents.

So we're not a union that follows one particular ideology or philosophy. But what we do is we're a union that's loyal and loyal to those that have really stood with us and that has support us and our profession and our members' lives and livelihoods throughout an entire career. That's the difference. So I am very confident, with the polling that we did do this this short time ago, with Zogby strategies, a pollster that I know you're very familiar with, and we polled our members, our Democratic, Independent and members that did not choose to identify with the party, and Joe Biden overwhelmingly prevailed in that poll. And more importantly, those that had a different first choice, Joe Biden overwhelmingly was their second choice. So we're going to stand on our principles of delivering for those that

delivered for us. And it's just simply that he has an extraordinary track record of supporting workers and working families and that's why we're going to stand and support him. And I believe the majority of ISF members will do so.

KEILAR: After President Trump won in 2016, you said in an interview at the time -- what you just said now, that the Democratic Party didn't focus on union members. You said they focused on identity issues, that they were courting minority voters rather than blue- collar, middle-class workers. We certainly saw in the vote that appeared to be true in some of these key industrial states. Do you worry that President Trump -- as you endorse former Vice President Joe Biden, do you worry that President Trump may have made a change in some of these union states that Democrats may struggle to bring back?

SCHAITBERGER: Well, I think, really, Brianna, that you made the statement, and that is, in 2016, a lot of union members, a lot of middle-class workers, a lot of those that simply work hard for a living, coming up through middle America, felt like that they were disenfranchised. They weren't listened to. They didn't hear a voice from the Democratic side of the aisle that was reaching out or connecting with them. That's different today. Today isn't 2016. We have a candidate now that's consistently been a voice for workers, for fairness, for job security, for a living wage, for bargaining rights and union rights. It's a record that is unquestionable. And I believe that that will prevail with a lot of union members that felt like they just could not get there in the last election for the Democratic nominee.

KEILAR: Harold, thank you for talking with us. We really appreciate it.

SCHAITBERGER: Well, I appreciate you having me.

KEILAR: Harold Schaitberger, with the International Association of Firefighters.

[13:39:38] And we do have more on our breaking news. For the first time in five years, the leader of ISIS has appeared in a video.


KEILAR: Attorney General William Barr is threatening to pull a no- show Thursday when he is scheduled to testify before the House Judiciary Committee. Democrats plan to have committee lawyers interview Barr as well as members of Congress, and Barr is staunchly opposed to that move. But he is expected to show up Wednesday for a Senate hearing.

Nevertheless, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, Lindsey Graham says his testimony is a waste of time.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): From my point of view, I've heard all I need to really know.


KEILAR: Now Democrats have criticized Barr for drawing his own conclusion about whether or not the president obstructed justice. And although Robert Mueller left that decision up to Congress, Graham reiterated he doesn't care to interview one of the key players of Mueller's report, White House counsel, Don McGahn.


[13:45:07] GRAHAM: I don't care what happened between him and Don McGahn. Here's what I care about. Was Mueller allowed to do his job, and the answer is yes. Name one thing that they did to stop Mueller from doing his job. And if you can't, then there's no obstruction.

UNIDENTIFIED ANCHOR: Will you call McGahn to testify?

GRAHAM: Me? No. No, I'm done.


KEILAR: My next guest penned an op-ed for the "Washington Post" simply titled "Lindsey Graham's Shamelessness." James Downie is joining us to talk about this.

James, what prompted you to write this?

JAMES DOWNIE, DIGITAL OPINIONS EDITOR, WASHINGTON POST: Well, I think it was looking at his appearance on CBS yesterday that you were just showing the clip of. He had such a different approach this time from the Lindsey Graham of the 1990s when he was an impeachment manager, when he was one of the prosecutors for the Republicans in the Senate trial of Bill Clinton. And -- and he has a completely different view now of what is sufficient -- where he would cut off investigating the president and where he would cut off following up a clear report such as the special counsel.

KEILAR: And let's take a listen to that. We actually have this, Lindsey Graham back in the late '90s talking about Bill Clinton.


GRAHAM: The point I'm trying to make is you don't even have to be convicted of a crime to lose your job in this constitutional republic. If this body determines that your conduct as a public official is clearly out of bounds in your role, thank god you did that. Because impeachment is not about punishment. Impeachment is about cleansing the office. Impeachment is about restoring honor and integrity to the office.


KEILAR: Clearly, there's a double standard, James. You point that out in your column. But if I may challenge you on this. It's not unusual for a member of one party to be much easier on their own party than on the opposition, so why does this stand out to you so much when it comes to Lindsey Graham?

DOWNIE: Absolutely. As you said, so many politicians have completely different standards. Graham has often prided himself to be someone who tells the truth, who doesn't sugar coat his opinions. We saw it during the presidential -- the last presidential campaign how unvarnished he was with respect to President Trump himself, calling him repeatedly a disaster for the country. And yet, now he's completely changed his view. And furthermore, he has -- he has much more experience than your typical member of Congress in the legal system. He was an adjutant general in the Air Force for decades. He was a lawyer in private practice before he entered Congress. So this is somebody who has plenty of experience in our legal experience and who claims to have a great respect for our legal system. But all of a sudden, has a different view of the legal system and principles when the president is a Republican.

KEILAR: All right. James, thank you for being on talking about your column. James Downie.

DOWNIE: Thank you for having me.

KEILAR: President Trump touting the economy as his biggest 2020 selling point, but are most Americans feeling the benefits of a booming economy?

And why anti-vaxxers are using a 1969 episode of "The Brady Bunch" to explain why they say measles are harmless.


[13:53:07] KEILAR: President Trump is heading into the 2020 election touting a surging economy. But is that enough for the president's prospects for reelection? Maybe not.

Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, is here to explain -- Patrick?

PATRICK MURRAY, DIRECTOR, MONMOUTH UNIVERSITY POLLING INSTITUTE: Hey. Yes, it's really interesting that we have this economy, that all metrics say is recovering, doing really well, and yet, we have only 12 percent of Americans who say they feel a great deal of benefit from the economy. Another 31 percent say they feel some. A majority, at 54 percent who say, hey, I'm not getting these benefits. This economy is growing but it's not for me.

KEILAR: Yes. I mean, it's pretty stunning when you have more than half. Because this is always the question as we look at the economic indicators, how do people actually feel. And the poll also finds that health care costs continue to be the top concern for American families. What other issues are top of their list?

MURRAY: Well, we have taxes. After the tax reform, we found a lot of people felt they didn't get the benefit from that. Health care, they feel is still really unstable. Everyday bills, job security, these are the things that keep people up at night. What they're telling us, particularly the middle class, is saying, you know, I haven't seen any real benefit from the Trump administration. I think that's why, when you were talking with the firefighters and their endorsement of Joe Biden, that's where the opening for somebody like Joe Biden comes, is that these people are looking for somebody who has their back and can express that to them.

KEILAR: And 5 percent saying immigration top of the list. That's pretty interesting.

Patrick Murray, Monmouth University Polling Institute, thank you.

MURRAY: My pleasure.

KEILAR: Michael Avenatti, former attorney for porn star, Stormy Daniels, needing not to a long list of charges, including embezzlement, wire fraud, tax evasion, bankruptcy fraud and bank fraud. Ahead of today's court hearing, Avenatti issued a statement stressing his presumption of innocence. He's accused of stealing millions of dollars from five clients, including one who was a paraplegic. He is a paraplegic. He was indicted on April 11th. He's set to go to trial June 25th.

[13:55:11] And disturbing details about the deadly crane collapse that killed four people. How safe are the cities as more buildings are going up?


[14:00:01] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me.

In just a couple of hours, Joe Biden will take to the stage in his home state of Pennsylvania in his first official event of his 2020 campaign.