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Trump Unleashes Flurry of Lies; USS McCain Moved for Trump's Visit; Threat of Storms and Tornadoes Today; Boeing's CEO on 737 Max. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired May 30, 2019 - 09:30   ET



[09:33:21] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.

We're joined now by Mike Rogers, former chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, now a CNN national security commentator, to help us digest the president's comments on the White House lawn just a short time ago.

Mike Rogers, you've served in government a long time. As a Republican you have, and we've got to give you credit here, you have been even handed in sharing criticism of Democratic and Republican lawmakers and administrations here.

I just want to get you to react, particularly someone who's even served for a time on the Trump transition team, to the president so easily and willfully sharing a series of debunked claims on the grounds of the White House. How should Americans react to that?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Unfortunately, this is the thing that I think sells to a lot of Americans outside of Washington, D.C. The fact that he's fighting back, he's fighting, you know, the Department of Justice and all other folks who are coming at him I think has a selling quality, again, outside of the town for people who don't have time to pay attention to all of the details of this kind of thing. And I think, candidly, that's why he does it and that's why he continues to do it.

I don't think it serves him well when he does this. I don't think that these -- this going after Robert Mueller personally is -- I mean, a, I think it's beneath the office of the president. But, b, I don't think it helps him in any way, shape or form. The guy has a great reputation not only with the bureau but outside of the bureau as a man of integrity. He could have taken a shot at the president yesterday. He didn't do it. He just laid out his case and said I really don't want to come up and testify.

I think the president would have been well to say, hey, the case is closed and walk off to his helicopter. He just can't help himself. And he gets angry about it. That's what were -- and I think when you do that, in a public setting, that's when you're going to make a mistake. And I think that's exactly what he did today. [09:35:13] HARLOW: All right, so we also want you to weigh in on this

because this was -- this is just a remarkable story. And the president weighed in on it in a remarkable way just now.

The president confirmed reports that U.S. Navy officials and the White House military office exchanged e-mails about possibly moving the USS John S. McCain ahead of the president's visit to Japan. So the Navy disputed this and then the president just said this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I don't know what happened. I wasn't involved. I would not have done that. I was very angry with John McCain because he killed health care. I was not a big fan of John McCain in any way, shape or form. Wasn't a fan. But I would never do a thing like that.

Now, somebody did it because they thought I didn't like him. OK? And they were well-meaning, I will say. I didn't know anything about it. I would never have done that.


HARLOW: OK, he's confirming what Barbara Starr, Pentagon correspondent, who also joins us now, confirmed and reported overnight.

Barbara, it's significant. The president is saying, yes, this happened.

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I mean, I think there's very little doubt at this point that the White House military office, which helps organize his overseas travel, approached the U.S. Navy and said something to them, e-mailed them, about keeping the warship McCain out of the president's sight when he was in Japan. Whether that was a practical idea, or whether anybody thought that was a good idea, whether anything ever really happened about it all remains open to question.

Look, what we know is there had been a tarp on the ship to -- for work purposes, for repairs. Some people said it was to obscure the name of the ship. By all accounts, it was not. That there was a barge there in the water to obscure the name of the ship. By all accounts from sources we're talking to, that also was part of the routine maintenance and work being done on the McCain.

Navy sources telling us that the Navy sailors were not kept -- McCain sailors were not kept away. Actually, the facts are both they and the crew of another nearby ship had a four-day memorial holiday pass to be away from their ships. So there's a lot of fine-tuning of what went on here.

Defense secretary -- acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan talked to reporters about this several hours ago in Asia where he's traveling and he said -- and I want to quote, because it's important to hear what he has to say. I never authorized, I never approved any action around the movement or activity regarding that ship. Furthermore, I would never dishonor the memory of a great American patriot like Senator McCain. I also think it's important, I'd never disrespect the young men and women that crew that ship. And he has said that he has asked his chief of staff to look into all of this and find out what happened.

SCIUTTO: Barbara -- I think we lost Barbara Starr there --

HARLOW: For a second.

SCIUTTO: But we have Mike Rogers and I hope -- Mike, can you hear me?

ROGERS: I can.

SCIUTTO: Mike Rogers, do you hear Jim Sciutto?

All right, we lost our guests. And I -- we're going to get back because reaction to an important story. I should note that ten U.S. sailors died on the USS John McCain in a collision not long ago.

HARLOW: That's right.

SCIUTTO: So adds to the remarkable factor of concealing that ship to shield the president's eyes from it. We're going to have more on that right after this break.


[09:43:05] JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Jessica Dean. We're going to get back to Jim and Poppy in just a moment.

But first, more than 55 million people are under the threat of severe weather again today. Voluntary evacuations are underway in Arkansas, where officials say two levees on the Arkansas River could breach. And it's not just Arkansas. Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Oklahoma all dealing with severe storms and record flooding.

Rosa Flores is live in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

And, Rosa, just how fast is this river rising and are officials considering mandatory evacuations at any point?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Jessica, they are definitely considering everything at this point because the water continues to move in. All this water in Arkansas is coming from Oklahoma.

I want to show you around because this very generous couple that came to take a look at their house allowed us to come with them.

And you can see around me, there's about a foot and a half of water in this house already. We were able to gain access because of just how this house is designed. And the couple is actually here with me. And I want to talk to them so they can share their story with us.

So this is Steve and Trish NGUYEN. They've been in this community for about 13 years.


FLORES: And, Steve, tell us how difficult it is for you to come into your house and see it in this condition.

NGUYEN: I don't know how to say it, but it's so sad. And I'm starting to cry. But I'm trying to hold back. But, you know, see how that -- you know, you can't describe like when you get into your house and the way it looks right now is so, so sad.

FLORES: You were (INAUDIBLE) entire life, save your money, buy a new house, it's the American dream to have a home in America.

[09:45:06] NGUYEN: Yes. Yes.

FLORES: And yet the water started creeping in slowly and then here we are.

NGUYEN: Here we are in this house. Yes. It's unbelievable when you see this -- this water in the house. And just -- I don't know how we'll recover. You know, that's really sad because, I don't know, it's just heartbreaking.

FLORES: Steve, thank you. Thank you so much for allowing us to come with you.

And, Jessica. I mean it's just heartbreaking. We were on the boat with them. As we were riding on the boat in this neighborhood, all of the houses, all around here, are under water. And then, at a distance, you see the Arkansas River raging, raging by this neighborhood. Here it's calm because we're inside the house, but it's not the case outside.


DEAN: We certainly -- we certainly feel for those people. Rosa, I actually started my career there in Fort Smith, lived there for a time. It's an amazing community. So wishing Steve and Trish the best.

Rosa Flores in Fort Smith, Arkansas, for us today, thanks so much.

Still ahead, Boeing's CEO says he is confident in the fundamental safety of the 737 Max airplanes since the software update, but what did he say when asked if he would let his own family fly on one?


[09:50:53] SCIUTTO: Boeing's CEO is now apologizing to the families of the victims in those two 737 Max crashes and, crucially, is taking responsibility for the company's handling of the software problems that led to those crashes.


DENNIS MUILENBURG, CEO, BOEING: We clearly fell short and the implementation of this angle of attack disagree alert was a mistake, right. We did not implement it properly. We're confident in the fundamental safety of the airplane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You'd put your family on a 737 Max?

MUILENBURG: Without any hesitation, absolutely.


HARLOW: Well, that's quite a statement. What's happening right now is that Boeing says they fixed this and they're waiting for the FAA to certify that the 737 Max is once again safe for commercial air travel in the United States.

Of course, those planes were grounded around the world earlier this year after that second deadly crash.

With us now is former FAA safety inspector and CNN safety analyst David Soucie.

OK, David, the fundamental question is, you had Muilenburg, the CEO there, admitting in another part of the interview, public confidence has been hurt. So how should the public know that Boeing has done enough to actually fix this for good when it is this same agency certifying that this time around? Again, it's just going to be Boeing and the FAA saying we're good to go.

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: Well, that's a really good point, Poppy, because it's omitted from the interview, anything to do with what's going to happen tomorrow that's different than what happened yesterday.

HARLOW: Right.

SOUCIE: And that is crucial. And that's the point that's being missed right now. Yes, sure, I believe that the 737 Max 8 MCAS system is working properly, but the question that's not being answered clearly, and what's not being said, is what caused it to miss -- how did they miss this in the first place? Their systems are designed to catch these kinds of things and to not under -- under qualify or under estimate the damages that these types of systems could cause. And that -- that in lies the entire issue, the main problem. And I don't think they're addressing that.

SCIUTTO: I'd like to ask you the question that Nora O'Donnell there asked the Boeing CEO, because this is the crucial one, would you put your family on this plane knowing that, yes, OK, Boeing says it's addressed this, but as Poppy said, through the same standard that they previously met and that failed to keep the plane safe because the FAA and Boeing said, oh, we fixed it between the crashes and then there was another deadly crash. So why should I feel confident that I can put my family on that plane?

SOUCIE: Jim, you asked me this question the day after that Ethiopian accident and I said unequivocally that I would not let my granddaughter or family fly on that airplane. I have been involved in the fixes and the tests and everything that's gone on so far and I would probably do it but with hesitation. SCIUTTO: Wow.

SOUCIE: I've never been in this situation before. I've even lost confidence in it, as much as I know about what's going on and the safety and the systems that are in place, I really hate to say this, Jim, but I'm still hesitant about it until something is addressed that says, look, we misclassified this and here's what we're going to do to make sure we don't miss this again. And I haven't heard those words yet.

So, at this point, no, I still wouldn't be comfortable with it.


HARLOW: You know, David, one thing that one of our other contributors here, Mary Schiavo, has pointed out is that she believes that the FAA relies too much on the aircraft manufacturers for saying everything is good to go, right? She relies -- the FAA relies too much on the experts at Boeing to say the science is right, this is good, we're good to go.

Do you share that concern?

SOUCIE: No, not completely. That's something that's been in place forever. The fact that experts can be called in. there's no possible way that I know of -- it would cost estimates say up to $2 billion a year to try to staff the kind of people that would do this. And the problem is, what happens when you're not certifying an airplane, then you've got to lay all those people off. So it's not government's role to do that. The government's role is to make sure that they're classifying that the systems that they have in place, and the delegations they have in place, are working properly. That's the failure for the FAA. The fix is not to go hire a bunch of engineers to have that responsibility. The responsibility is clearly there.

[09:55:16] Now, one point I did want to make at this point is that they're still waiting for the FAA to approve this.


SOUCIE: They have not even submitted anything to the FAA yet.

HARLOW: Yes, it will take a while.

David -- yes.

SCIUTTO: Former FAA inspector there saying -- and he's been involved --

HARLOW: IN this, yes.

SCIUTTO: In this, in the aftermath, saying he probably would not consider it safe to go on that plane. That's remarkable.

HARLOW: It is remarkable.

David, thank you for the expertise this morning. We'll stay on this.

SOUCIE: All right. Thank you.

HARLOW: Still ahead, the president attacks again the special counsel, Robert Mueller, calling him this morning highly conflicted after a few weeks ago he called him honorable. We'll talk about the remarks ahead.