Return to Transcripts main page


Miami Air Flight Ends up in St. John's River; North Korea Fires Projectiles, World Powers Will Investigate; Illinois Silicone Plant Explosion Hospitalizes Four; Unrest in Gaza as Rockets Fired at Israel; Venezuelan Protests Continue; Harris Grills Barr, Sends Letter to Judiciary Department; Buttigieg Heckled by Anti-Gay Protestor; Severe Weather to Continue in Parts of the Southern U.S.; Cruise Ship Crewmember Tests Positive for Measles. Aired 6-7a ET

Aired May 4, 2019 - 06:00   ET



CHRISTI PAUL, CNN HOST: Good morning. So glad to have you with us on this Saturday. I'm Christi Paul.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: I'm Victor Blackwell, good to be with you. Breaking overnight, an NTSB investigative team is on the way to Jacksonville, Florida, after a Miami air flight left the runway and ended up on the St. John's River. Everyone onboard is safe; that's important to say first. But the more than 100 passengers and crew had to be rescued from the wing of the plane after it came to a stop in shallow water.

PAUL: And then on the Korean Peninsula, South Korea is urging North Korea to stop raising tensions after they detected several projectiles fired from North Korea's eastern coast. The question is, were they missiles, rockets, were they something else? That's all trying to be determined this morning. Japan and the U. S. working with South Korea to make those determinations.

BLACKWELL: We are also following breaking news out of Illinois where four people have been taken to the hospital after an explosion at a silicone plant. Three workers are still unaccounted for. They're searching for them right now.

PAUL: Look at the pictures. I mean that really shows you what these rescue workers are trying to deal with right now in Waukegan. But the explosion was powerful people in Wisconsin say they felt it. In fact a woman who lives nearby says everything just started to shake.


JENINE HAYES, LIVES NEAR PLANT: I was sitting in my recliner watching TV and all of a sudden, my lights flickered, then they flickered and then they went out for a second, they came on, then they went out again. I heard this really loud explosion. The whole building shook. That was just about it. I was trying to figure out what happened because we didn't have power and I came out, then a little bit later I came out here and I heard all the ambulances and the fire engines and everything. I came out here and I saw this. I just hope everybody is okay.


PAUL: According to officials the fire has been put out. Search and rescue effort is underway for those people who are still missing but the fire damaged five other buildings. And Waukegan's fire chief says the damage is going to cost about $1 million. No word on the cause of that explosion, obviously, just yet.

BLACKWELL: Let's get more now on that emergency in Jacksonville. After landing at the end of a flight from Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a military charter jet slid off the runway in Jacksonville, Florida, and ended up in the St. John's River.

PAUL: CNN's National Correspondent, Natasha Chen, has details for us on what happened there.

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The Boeing 737 went down in the St. John's River near naval air station Jacksonville. Authorities said the chartered jet was coming in for a landing from a military base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when it apparently slid off a runway and into the water. One hundred thirty-six passengers and seven crew members were on board; in the cabin, a mixture of civilians and military personnel. Cheryl Bormann, an attorney from Chicago was on the flight and spoke to CNN.


CHERYL BORMANN, ATTORNEY ABOARD PLANE: As we went down, we had a really hard landing. Then the plane bounced and screeched and bounced some more. It lifted to the right, then lifted to the left, then sort of swerved, then it came to a complete, like a crash stop.


CHEN: Fire rescue crews arrived shortly afterwards. Twenty-one people were treated at the base with some going to local hospitals. There were no critical injuries or fatalities.


BORMANN: I hit my head on the plastic tray that is in the seat in front of you. I'm not injured, thankfully, just a little bump on the head.


CHEN: She and other passengers climbed on to the wings of the plane and described the chaotic scene.


BORMANN: We were in the water. We couldn't tell where we were whether it was a river or ocean. There was rain coming down. There was lightning and thunder. We stood on that wing for a significant period of time. The rescue boats came. Eventually, somebody inflated a life raft that had been on the plane and we began climbing into it.


CHEN: It's unclear if severe weather played a role in the crash. There was a tropical disturbance in the area Friday night.


MICHAEL CONNOR, CAPTAIN AND COMMANDING OFFICER JACKSONVILLE NAVAL AIR STATION: I think it is a miracle. It could have ended very -- we should be talking about a different story this evening. So I think there's a lot to say about the professionalism of the folks that helped the passengers off the airplane. There's a lot to say about that. It could very well could be worse.


PAUL: Natasha Chen, thank you so much. I want to bring in CNN transportation analyst, Mary Schaivo, former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Mary, so good to see you this morning. We hear there, it sounds like weather certainly had some sort of impact here, but they are obviously praising this crew. What is your gut feeling about this?



Now certainly, I looked at the weather reported for the area and it looks like they might have had a tailwind on landing and of course that will bring into question for the investigators to whether the crew were fully and properly trained on tailwind landings which can be very difficult.

Was there an alert given to the crew that there was water standing on the runway? Which runway were they on? One is 6,000 feet; one is 9,000 feet. On the 6,000 feet with a tailwind, if they didn't land right at the threshold and they were hydroplaning, which the witness description certainly describes a hydroplaning situation. They might have used up many hundred feet or 1,000 feet of the runway while hydroplaning down it. There's so many issues that the investigators will look at. Oh, and did the pilot set the spoilers, the little flaps on the wings that happen when you land automatically if they're set to help slow down the plane. Those were all issues in two prior similar crashes I worked; one in 2009 in Jamaica, American Airlines and 1999 in Little Rock. And so those are all issues. Sounds like weather and a tailwind but there's always a lot of other issues to investigate.

BLACKWELL: A lot of other issues. There were issues with this flight before it ended this way. We heard from the passenger, there was a long delay, that there was no air-conditioning. Of course, it has to be investigated by NTSB what the cause was but what have you learned about this airline in the hours since this slide off the runway?

SCHAIVO: It's a charter operation and they provide regular charter flights for the Department of Defense. The Department of Defense, before it will contract with an airline, does its own review of carriers. There have been cases in the past where the Department of Defense has not allowed defense personnel to fly on regularly- scheduled commercial U. S. carriers, finding them substandard. So we know the airline got a review. We will assume that the delay might have had an effect on something we call "get there itis." In other words, if they had a long crew day, lots of weather, we don't know the full extent of the weather reports they had. Was it wise to go into this runway in these thunderstorm conditions? That's another issue they will be looking at. Was the crew intent on getting on this runway regardless of the weather? Who knows? They'll look at that.

BLACKWELL: All right, NTSB now trying to get answers to all these questions. Mary Schiavo, thank you so much.

PAUL: Thank you Mary.

SCHAIVO: Thank you.

PAUL: We have more breaking news to talk to you about. At least 90 rockets have been fired from Gaza toward Israel just in the span of one hour.

BLACKWELL: And we also know that one person is dead and three others wounded from Israeli air strikes according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. CNN correspondent, Oren Liebermann is in Southern Israel on his way to the Gaza border and joins us now. Initially, the first report Oren we got was that there were 50 rockets, then minutes later that was increased to 90 rockets. Does the IDF have a good hold on what exactly happened?

OREN LIEBERMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So now that number is well over 100 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel. That shatters what has been a period of relative calm over the last few weeks. Israel is responding with a series of air strikes and tank strikes against Hamas military posts throughout Gaza in response to that barrage of rocket fire that at this point is continuing. In those air strikes, the Palestinian Ministry of Health says one Gazan was killed and three others have been wounded.

As I said, this shatters what has been a few weeks of calm, calm that had been heating up but certainly nothing like this until Friday afternoon. That's when the Israeli military says two soldiers on the southern Gaza border were wounded by sniper fire from Gaza; one moderately wounded and one lightly wounded. In response, Israel struck a Hamas post inside of Gaza killing two Gazans. Those two were members of the al-Qassam Brigade, that is Hamas' military wing and that's what brought us into this morning. It was right about 10:00 local time that dozens of rockets started to be fired from Gaza, from Hamas and other factions inside of Gaza into Israel and that led us to the situation we are in right now.

The question, where do we go from here? We have certainly, over the course of the last few months and years seen these sorts of sharp escalations before. They are generally capped at 24-48 hours. Then you see somebody like Egypt or the U.N. step in and make sure that a ceasefire is restored between Israel and Gaza before this gets out of control, before a mistake is made on one side of the other. That sends this into a much larger conflict. So those efforts in all likelihood happening behind is scenes at this point.

So far, the fighting has been contained to a certain envelope. The rockets fired from Gaza to this point have been short-range rockets. Israel has carried out strikes against smaller Hamas targets inside of Gaza. The question, of course, is where does this go from here. Victor and Christi, it is worth pointing out, that even as there will - there are will be soon efforts to restore a cease-fire here. This is a sensitive time for both Israel and for Gazans. It is memorial week here in Israel and that leads up to Independence Day.


That means next week is when Palestinians mark what they call the Nakba, the catastrophe of the state of Israel.

So even if both sides don't want a larger conflict here, it is sensitive for both sides and each have their red lines as we see how this develops.

PAUL: All right, Oren Libermann, thank you so much for waking us through that. Appreciate it.

BLACKWELL: More breaking news now, South Korean officials say North Korea has test fired multiple short-range projectiles. Now the U.S. and South Korea are trying to determine exactly what the North Koreans launched.

PAUL: And President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin talking Venezuela, North Korea, but not election meddling. What we are learning now about the call between the two leaders.


PAUL: Breaking overnight, the South Korean defense ministry says North Korea launched several short-range projectiles. We know right now officials are working to determine if those projectiles included missiles.

BLACKWELL: South Korean officials are saying the launches came from North Korea's east coast, north of the city of Wonsan. They flew anywhere between 43-125 miles before crashing into the sea. The White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders in a statement says this, "We are aware of North Korea's actions tonight. We will continue to monitor as necessary." CNN correspondent, Paula Hancocks is following the latest from Seoul, South Korea for us. Paula, what more are you learning?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Victor and Christi, we're waiting to get guidance on what exactly was launched this Saturday morning local time. We did hear from the Joint Chiefs of Staff that as you say, there were multiple short-range projectiles


And of course, what exactly those projectiles are could make quite a difference when it comes to what kind of reaction we can expect from the Trump Administration. We have just in the past couple of hours had a reaction from the South Korean President Blue House. They have said that they believe that this goes against a military agreement that he two leaders agreed upon on Pyongyang back in September of last year where they agreed that they would not do anything that would raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula. The Blue House believes that North Korea has gone against that and has urged them to come back to the negotiating table as soon as possible. But there's very little difference of opinion when it comes to why exactly Kim Jong-un has done this this time. The overwhelming opinion is that he is sending a message to the U.S. President, he is pointing at what could happen if, as he asked, the U.S. doesn't change its attitude by the end of this year.

A suggestion of going back to potential missile launches the likes of which we saw in 2017. This is being taken as a message, potentially playing to his domestic audience as well, showing he is still a force to be reckoned with. Certainly will be interesting to see what kind of reaction we do get from the U.S. side. We know there's been a flurry of phone calls, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speaking with ministers in Japan and South Korea. And of course Steve Beguin will be here in the region next week, coming to Japan and to South Korea. That's the U.S. point person on North Korea. They will have a lot to talk about now, back to you.

BLACKWELL: Certainly will. Paula Hancocks for us. Paula, thank you.

PAUL: Adam Mount is with us now. He is a senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists and the director of the Defense Posture Project. Adam, good morning to you. Thank you for being here. We know North Korea, they've been, as Paula said, they've been very open, very public about their displeasure with the U.S. particularly since President Trump walked away from the table at the summit in Hanoi. What does this launch tell you about the intentions of North Korea?

ADAM MOUNT, SENIOR FELLOW AT THE FEDERATION OF AMERICAN SCIENTISTS: Well this is the first test in more than 500 days. It's the first launch since diplomacy really started in earnest and it's the latest in an escalating series of steps from North Korea to communicate that they are not willing to let talks stagnate indefinitely. That they're not willing to wait around forever.

We saw, in the last couple weeks and months that North Korea returned its Sohae satellite launch facility to operational status. We saw that they tested a shorter range tactical missile system and they've talked repeatedly about the possibility of returning to longer range missile tests. So, they are really signaling that they are not willing to wait around forever, that they are trying to force a breakthrough in negotiations. PAUL: I want to listen to something that President Trump said back in

September, regarding the U.S. and North Korea.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You don't have any more nuclear testing, in fact they're closing a lot of sites. You don't have rockets going up. You don't have missiles going up.


PAUL: Obviously, that has now changed as of this morning. Let's talk about the types of projectile. You mentioned what they have done in the past. This is a short-range missile as we pointed out, or a short range projectile, still trying to determine whether it was a missile. The assumption is it wasn't particularly nuclear, but how confident are you that the U.S. knows that they have a really good gauge of what North Korea has in its arsenal?

MOUNT: Well, we in the public still don't know precisely what was tested. It could have been something as simple as a salvo fire of rocket artillery. It could be a developmental test of a short range ballistic missile system. What's clear is that it's designed not to be escalatory as one of these long-range intercontinental ballistic missile tests. T

The U.S. military and intelligence services will have a pretty good read on the characteristics of this missile system but it's not clear that this president is willing or able to discern specific facts about the missile system, whether he's able to respond proportionately to this specific kind of test, to read the signals that they're sending or whether he overreacts or ignores the launch all together. Both would be bad for the future of negotiations.

PAUL: OK, so we have President Trump who talked as well, recently, about Kim Jong-un writing him beautiful letters and they fell in love. You juxtaposition that with a week and a half ago when Kim Jong-un was in Russia with Putin and President Putin said Kim Jong-un asked him to mediate, so to speak, between the U.S. and Russia? What do you make of that? What is the status right now that we know between the U.S. and North Korea?


MOUNT: Well, as you are sort of implying, the president often seemed to operate on blind faith with respect to North Korea. He's sort of suggested that the threat is over. He said so explicitly. He's sometimes seemed to trust Kim Jong-un that these missile tests are over completely, the threat is over. Actually, what happened is that Kim Jong-un voluntarily paused longer range intermediate and intercontinental range tests. There was never an explicit agreement done to set expectations about what could be tested and what couldn't. There's always been a risk about they test something ambiguous or something shorter range and fairly claim that they aren't defying their commitment to the United States. A great deal rests on the president's reaction. PAUL: Does it warrant some sort of action from the president? What we

have seen this morning?

MOUNT: Well it certainly doesn't warrant this sort of kinetic or military response, certainly not military signaling. The key now is to send a signal to try to create this breakthrough in talks, to put a new kind of proposal on the table. Just today, the United Nations said that after the worst harvest in a decade, that 4 in 10 are facing an acute food shortage so one thing we could do is act to stave off a famine. Another thing we could do is to go back and clearly accept the North Korea proposal to codify this nuclear and missile test freeze to avoid this kind of ambiguity in the future.

PAUL: All right, Adam Mount, we appreciate your expertise on this. Thank you for taking the time for us today.

MOUNT: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: So a booming economy usually helps to boost a president's prospects for re-election but this president is having trouble staying on message. Coming up, how his talk with the Russian president may be complicating matters.

PAUL: And Venezuela's opposition leaders calling for more protests today, vowing they will continue until President Maduro steps down. We have a live report for you from Caracas.



BLACKWELL: Breaking overnight, a Miami air flight left the run way and ended up in the St. John's River; this is in Florida. Now, an NTSB investigative team is on the way to Jacksonville to find out why.

PAUL: Most importantly here, everybody is safe. Everybody who was on board is okay. The more than 100 passengers and crew had to be rescued from the wing of that plane after it came to a stop. Fortunately, it was in shallow water.

BLACKWELL: So President Trump says he will run on the economy in 2020, but the president may be complicating his own election plans.

PAUL: New job numbers show the economy is booming. Unemployment is at the lowest level since 1969, in 50 years. Instead of focusing on the economy, though, the president started talking about this call between himself and Russian President Vladimir Putin. CNN's Sara Westwood is with us now. The president's call with Putin, I know they hit a range of issues. What are the discussions, what are the rumblings you are hearing there Sarah?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right Christi and Victor. That call between Russian President Vladimir Putin and President Trump lasted more than an hour, according to the White House. They talked about everything from Venezuela to North Korea and even Russian interference in the 2016 election or the investigation of it from Robert Mueller. President Trump told reporters he did not ask that Putin not interfere in the 2016 election. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We discussed if he actually, sort of smiled when he said something to the effect that it started off as a mountain and ended up being a mouse. He knew that because he knew there was no collusion whatsoever.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you tell him not to meddle in the next election?

TRUMP: We didn't discuss that.


WESTWOOD: So obviously there was a lot of attention on the fact the president did not address election interference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. They only talked about the end of the special counsel's investigation. Trump also appeared to contradict Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who earlier this week told our colleague Wolf Blitzer that it was the Russians who convinced the embattled Venezuelan President Maduro to stay in the country, amid all these uprisings.

Trump said Putin told him that the Russians were not involved in that decision and had nothing to do with Maduro clinging to power amid the unrest. There's a little bit of contradictions there. And as you mention, this did distract from a very good jobs report for this president; 263,000 jobs added in the month of April but this has been a constant theme with this president. He's seemingly more interested in discussing things that are controversial sometimes than the good economic news that could help boost his reelection prospects Christi and Victor.

PAUL: And it is good economic news, everybody says. Sarah Westwood. Thank you so much Sarah.

BLACKWELL: All right with us now, Daniel Lipmann, reporter and co- author of "Politico Playbook." Daniel, good morning.


BLACKWELL: So U.S. intelligence says Russia, in 2016 and this upcoming election continuing now to interfere in U.S. democracy and elections. Just as context here, I want to play what the president told "Fox News." This was on the eve of this call with Putin. This is Thursday night from "Fox." Watch.


TRUMP: President Obama, in September, before the November election, my November election, if you look, he was told by the FBI and others about Russia. He did nothing about it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What could he have done? TRUMP: He could have done something. I mean he could have called out

the troops and said let's look at this very closely. He did absolutely nothing.


BLACKWELL: I feel like the question asks itself. If he says Obama, President Obama could have done all these things, is he doing any of them?

LIPPMAN: You know that's a great question because he seems to want to have it both ways where he blames Obama for not stopping Russian interference, but is happy to benefit from it in 2016 and potentially 2020.


And also, won't bring it up to the Russian leader when he is on the phone with him for an hour and all they are going to do is bash Robert Mueller and celebrate the fact that this cloud has been partially lifted over his presidency and the fact that Kristjen Neilson, the former DHS secretary went to Mick Mulvaney and said I have to talk about election interference and cyber security with the president. We have to convene in groups of high level officials to talk about it and address it and Mick, reportedly, said, you will want to do that at our level, it's not a good idea. Keep it internal. The president doesn't want to hear about it.

BLACKWELL: Beyond the rhetoric though of the president hearing about it, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the administration is taking a whole government approach here. Not the whole government because the president doesn't believe it. The rest of the government, we assume from the comment. What is the reality beyond that, beyond not being able to talk to the president about this, what is the government doing? Do we know?

LIPPMAN: So they're trying to work with states and beef up their election security and prevent Russians and other foreign governments from meddling and basically being able to access voter registration rolls and election, you know, outcomes. But, you really need leadership at the top to make it a national priority; so far, that's lacking. There's not many top cyber officials at the NSC. Even those people who are there aren't exactly the best in the business, according to my sources. And so if you have a president who dismisses this as a bunch of nothing, then states are reluctant to work with the federal government as much.

BLACKWELL: Let's talk about Venezuela because the White House says that's what most of this call was about - the ongoing political and humanitarian crisis there. We know that this week, the president's national security adviser, John Bolton and the Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both said that Putin and Russia are interfering in what is happening in Venezuela. The president, from the Oval Office said that Russia, quote, "is not looking to get, at all, to get involved in Venezuela," close quote. How do you reconcile those two? Somebody is out of the loop. Those two things cannot both be true. LIPPMAN: Yes, I trust John Bolton on this. He is man dealing with

this on a day-to-day basis. Perhaps Trump just forgets what Russia is doing or he did not read his briefing books ...

BLACKWELL: Or is the president just repeating what - what - what Putin is saying and not endorsing it?

LIPPMAN: He always gives the benefit of the doubt to the last person he talked to, doesn't matter who it is. When Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer are in the room, often he'll take their side over republicans. When Kim Jong-un says I'm going to denuclearize, President Trump says he's going to believe it. This is not a new pattern but it's especially damaging to the credibility to someone like John Bolton or Mike Pompeo who have been beating a drum that we have to stop Russian interference in our hemisphere and Trump just totally undermines that.

BLACKWELL: In this last minute we have together, Senator Kamala Harris sent a letter to the Justice Department inspector general's office to follow up on this exchange with the attorney general. This was Wednesday with the Senate judiciary.


SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D) CALIFORNIA: Has the president or anyone at the White House ever asked or suggested that you open an investigation of anyone? Yes or no, please, sir?

WILLIAM BARR, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: The president or anybody else?

HARRIS: Seems you would remember something like that and be able to tell us.

BARR: Yes, I'm trying to grapple with the word "suggest." There have been discussions of matters out there that they have not asked me to open an investigation, but...

HARRIS: Perhaps they've suggested.

BARR: I don't know. I wouldn't say suggest.

HARRIS: Hinted?

BARR: I don't know.


BLACKWELL: I don't know. Tell us about this letter and what the Senator and 2020 candidate is asking for?

LIPPMAN: Yes, so she is trying to make, you know, Bill Barr kind of tell the truth on this and, you know, a lot of democrats are saying that Barr was not truthful on the stand and he was under oath. This letter is an effort to get at that and to also just reveal what suggestions have the White House given to the Justice Department which is supposed to be a nonpartisan independent body of government, not a tool of the White House to investigate Hunter Biden, for example, Joe Biden's son or any other political opponents.

This is something that Kamala Harris thinks democrats are going to be happy to get behind her.

BLACKWELL: All right, we'll see what the I.G. decides to do with that letter or any potential investigation. Daniel Lippman, always good to have you.

LIPPMAN: Thanks for having me.

PAUL: Well presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg got heckled by anti- gay protestors at a speech in Texas. The Indiana mayor came out four years ago, married his husband in 2018. He is the first openly gay democratic presidential candidate in history. He was speaking at a dinner for the Dallas County Democratic Party. Some then started shouting something to the effect marriage is between a man and woman and repent. Listen to how Buttigieg responded.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, MAYOR AND 2020 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: See that moment when I was packing my bags for Afghanistan for the purpose of defending that gentleman's freedom of speech, not to put too fine a point on it but I believe at the time our president was focused on season seven of the "Celebrity Apprentice."

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well at least we got $150.00 out of each one of those loud mouths.


PAUL: So fellow presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke was at an event in Texas last night as well, we should point out and he came to Buttigieg's defense. He tweeted, "Texans don't stand for this kind of homophobia and hate. Mayor Pete, we are grateful you came to Texas and hope to see you soon."

BLACKWELL: And we're following up on our conversation with Daniel, President Trump saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin, does not want to get involved in the ongoing crisis in Venezuela despite what we are hearing from his top policy advisers. We go live to Caracas where the opposition leader, Juan Guaido, is calling for more protests today.

PAUL: And at least seven people have died from flooding across the U.S. It's not yet over, we have an update for you from the CNN weather center.

BLACKWELL: Be sure to tune in Sunday night at 9:00 to see what happened when parents and the offender are incarcerated for the life threatening injuries to their daughter meet face-to-face on "The Redemption Project" with Van Jones, then W. Kamau Bell, he heads to Tacoma with "Redneck Revolt." On an all new episode of "United Shades of America," that's at 10:00.


PAUL: Well President Trump says he had a, quote, "very good talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the crisis in Venezuela. He says Putin is quote, "not looking to get involved in Venezuela, but rather he would like to see something positive happen." This, claims from top administration officials that Russia continues to prop up the regime there and we learned Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is meeting with his Venezuelan counterpart tomorrow to talk about the situation.

BLACKWELL: More protests are planned today, the head of the opposition party there, Juan Guaido said demonstrations will continue at Venezuela's military bases until President Nicolas Maduro steps down. Earlier this week, protestors encouraged a military revolt that led to some violent clashes.

PAUL: CNN correspondent Paula Newton is with us from Caracas, Venezuela. Talk to us about the conflicting reports from within the administration and what you expect to happen there today.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning to both of you. It's been an interesting week, hasn't it? We had Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo actually going further than anyone has before saying military action is possible, if that is what is required, that is what the United States will do. Then you had the president, yesterday, saying he had a very good conversation and saying that he was looking toward humanitarian assistance. It's been a confusing week and certainly a change of tone, perhaps not totally in words but definitely a change in tone. And this will be curious even for the opposition which is looking for the Trump Administration and trying to figure out how far they will go.

I have to tell you, Victor and Christi, it was also interesting to have Mike Pompeo tell our own Wolf Blitzer the reason Nicolas Maduro was still in office today is because the Russians interfered because he claims that there was a plane waiting for Nicolas Maduro and that the Russians talked him out of leaving. I have to let you know that in fact, there are back-room negotiations that are continuing between multiple countries and that includes, of course, the Russians who continue to speak with their Venezuelan counterparts to see if there is any kind of transition that would be acceptable to the Russian government as well. We're not sure that at this point is at odds or isn't at odds with the Trump Administration given just what the president said yesterday.

I want to bring you forward then to today, Juan Guaido, as you said the opposition leader, talking about the protests coming. What's different this time with these protests is that he is actually calling for them to go to those military installations. This is sure to set up confrontations. He's gone further than ever before in saying that look people need to remain on the streets. We're going to get people power and that is what is going to eventually lead to Nicolas Maduro being out of office.

He continues to say, Juan Guido that they want a peaceful transition here but it can be anything but when they want to try and confront the military head on at their own installations. Victor, Christi. BLACKWELL: Paula Newton there for us in Caracas, Paula thank you.

PAUL: People in Iowa are having to get around by boat, as you can see, because there is severe flooding. More than 10 million people are getting ready for more of that today. We are going to get the latest from the CNN weather center.



BLACKWELL: Some people in Iowa have been forced to try to get around by boat after record flooding hit the city of Davenport. A look at video shows water reaching the middle of buildings and almost completely submerging cars. Parts of the Mississippi River have been shut down.

PAUL: Seven people died in flood related accidents. This week in Texas, a woman died near Houston after officials say she hit a tree that fell into the road.

BLACKWELL: More than 40 million people are under severe storm threat today. Let's get to Allison Chinchar in the CNN weather center for more. Allison, what types of severe weather are they expecting?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: You have pretty much a bit of everything. This is the look yesterday. This is the system that's going to progress east into the southeast. Look at yesterday. We had about 70 total storm reports; four of those tornadoes, the rest of them being either damaging wind reports or some large hail. We have reports of over tennis ball sized hail yesterday. That same storm system is going to continue to push off to the east. And yes, the threat for tornadoes. Take a look at the damage behind me. This is actually from one of the storms. This is la Grange, Texas. They believe a possible tornado did cause a lot of this damage here from the storms yesterday. This is in Fayette County, Texas.

This is the type of stuff that is going to push it forward. We look at the forecast today. This is brought to you by Shark, the self- cleaning brush roll. The vacuum that deep cleans now cleans itself.

Here we have two different areas. We talked about the storms yesterday in Texas. That's going to shift into the southeast today. Cities like Atlanta, Charlotte, Montgomery, Birmingham, those will be the target points for today. We also have this other threat zone out to the west, places like Colorado, Texas, New Mexico, both of these storm systems will cause damaging winds, some potential for isolated tornadoes as well as large hail.

Already on the radar, you have violent storms east of Houston, pushing over toward New Orleans as we speak. You also have the potential for flooding. Victor and Christi, like you guys mentioned, you already have towns like Davenport that are already under water and now you're going to be looking at potentially that lasting for a while.

[06:50:00] No new rain is necessarily in the forecast today, but they are expected to remain above flood stage for the entire rest of the week.

PAUL: Oh my goodness. Allison Chinchar, thank you so much.

BLACKWELL: So this cruise ship quarantined because of a measles case can now finally go back to port but the people on board are still at risk. We'll have more on that ahead.


BLACKWELL: A Church of Scientology cruise ship is clear to head home after one of the crew members tested positive for measles. The Free Winds ship was under quarantine in St. Lucia; it will now head back to its homeport of Curasol for doctors to further evaluate the nearly 300 people onboard. The St. Lucia's health officials said they provided 100 doses of measles vaccines to people on the ship.

PAUL: In tonight's episode of "Chasing Life," Dr. Sanjay Gupta explores the dark, desolate, chilly regions of northern Norway to find out how Norwegians have unlocked the secret to happiness.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you see?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A lot of sea urchins and some different shells. I want to check as many organism as possible.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm going to be actually of some help here, put on my gloves and put my surgical skills to use. Very gelatinous. What do you think, you want smaller?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We can take that, but you can also make the next one smaller. We will make several, I think.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we can harness their unique chemistry, these sea creatures could provide new sources of medicine, everything from vaccines to HIV treatments and anti-cancer drugs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The amazing thing, you have no idea what you are going to find, could be the plant. It could be the microorganisms inside, whatever it may be but there could be great medicine for humanity.



PAUL: Watch "Chasing Life" with Dr. Sanjay Gupta. It is tonight at 9:00 p. m. Eastern only here on CNN.

BLACKWELL: A Boeing 737 slides off the runway and plunges into the St. John's River in Jacksonville, Florida; 143 people on board have been rescued. We have more after this breaking news after a break.


PAUL: Good morning to you. Grateful to have you with us. I'm Christi Paul.

BLACKWELL: I'm Victor Blackwell good morning to you. Breaking overnight, an NTSB investigative team is on the way to Jacksonville, Florida after a Miami air flight left the runway and ended up in the St. John's River. Now everyone on board is safe; everyone was rescued.