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Helicopter Crash in NYC; NRA Facing Controversy; Red Sox Honor Ortiz; Biden to Eviscerate Trump in Speech. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 11, 2019 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Live with the very latest outside the site of where all this happened.

Brynn, what have you learned?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, day one of this investigation, John. We know that the pilot's name was Tim McCormack, the only fatality in this helicopter crash. We know by all accounts he was an experienced pilot, had about 20 years' experience under his belt, but the past five years was flying executive aircrafts for a company called American Continental Properties Group, which is a real estate group. And that particular helicopter was registered out of New Jersey, except law enforcement sources tell us that it took off from a heliport in 34th Street, on Manhattan's west side. It went south near the Statue of Liberty, and then came up east before crossing into the heart of New York City onto this building here behind me, really getting into restricted air space. The reason it's restricted is because Trump Tower is not too far from here. Of course, that's where the president stays when he is in town.

But you can imagine what this crash landing was like at this high-rise here in Manhattan. Listen to what folks were saying.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You could feel the building shake.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It wasn't until we got outside of the building that we understood that it was actually a helicopter that hit the building.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: If you're a New Yorker, you have a level of PTSD, right, from 9/11. So as soon as you hear an aircraft hit a building, I think my mind goes where every New Yorker's mind goes.


GINGRAS: Yes, emergency personnel feeling that PTSD as they raced here.

Eleven minutes, that's how long that that aircraft was up in the air before it crashed down here on the top of this building. A lot of questions this morning, including why did it cross into the heart of Manhattan? Did it have any communication with air traffic control at LaGuardia? What was the pilot thinking, an experienced pilot, taking off in the sort of weather we had here in New York City? NTSB and FAA on scene to help answer those questions.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: It's all so mysterious, Brynn. Thank you very much for your reporting from the ground there.

Well, the NRA is trying to save face. The influential gun rights organization now facing controversy on several fronts.

CNN's Tom Foreman joins us to explain.

What's happening there, Tom.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: At the core of it, Alisyn, is a question of how the NRA is spending all the money it gets from all those members, who is benefitting from that, and whether or not this will undermine the famous loyalty of NRA supporters.


FOREMAN (voice over): $3 million to a firearms company executive. $400,000 to a former pro-football player. $255,000 to a former police officer. And $50,000 to a rock star. In all, "The Washington Post" sites 18 members of the National Rifle Association board getting paid for a variety of goods and services by the NRA.

Illegal? No. But for a powerful tax exempt organization, such matters can draw scrutiny from the Internal Revenue Service.

George Donnini is an attorney focused on corporate law.

GEORGE DONNINI, PARTNER, BUTZEL LONG LAW FIRM: It calls into question, at least potentially, people acting in their own self-interest versus the interests of the organization to which they owe a fiduciary duty.

FOREMAN: Tax law says a 501(c)3 organization, such as the NRA, is prohibited from allowing its income or assets to benefit insiders, typically board members, officers, directors, and important employees. The NRA says "The Post" has presented a distorted view. And in the close knit community of gun rights supporters, and the NRA, connections between employees or board members and strategic partners are not unusual, but other allegations are also rocking the gun rights group.

OLIVER NORTH, FORMER PRESIDENT OF NRA: I always feel at home at an NRA annual meeting, surrounded by law abiding citizens of this great republic.

FOREMAN: NRA President Oliver North was pushed out when he went to war with long time CEO Wayne LaPierre, who has been accused of lavish spending on clothes, foreign travel, and approving exorbitant legal fees.

WAYNE LAPIERRE, CEO OF NRA: Well, I'll tell you, the only reason I can keep up this fight is because of you.

FOREMAN: LaPierre pointed the finger at North, accusing him of cashing in on an NRA deal with an advertising company. Everyone is denying everything, but amid this, the New York attorney general has launched a probe. Congressional investigators looking at alleged contact between NRA officials and some people caught up in the Russian investigation. And even President Trump, who loves the NRA --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You are great American patriots.

FOREMAN: Has tweeted, stop the internal fighting and get back to greatness.


FOREMAN: To be sure, for the NRA to lose its tax exempt status would take a lot, but that would be an existential problem for the organization. And, lately, it has shown a real penchant for shooting itself in the foot.


[08:35:04] BERMAN: All right, Tom Foreman for us. We're watching that very closely. Thank you.

So a moment of prayer for David Ortiz at Fenway Park last night. Red Sox fans showing their love for "Big Papi." We're going to speak to a legendary sports columnist from Boston, next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is loved through our nation and beyond, yet to us he is our own adopted son. Won't you please join us as we offer a moment of reflection, thought and prayer for a complete healing and a full recovery for our beloved "Big Papi."


BERMAN: Number 34, you see it right there. That was Fenway Park last night before the game started. An outpouring of support for Red Sox legend David Ortiz after he was shot in the Dominican Republic. The Sox paid tribute to Ortiz and actually flew him back to Boston overnight where he's now being treated at Mass General.

Joining me now is Dan Shaughnessy, legendary sports columnist for "The Boston Globe," an associate editor as well.

[08:40:01] Dan, thanks so much for being with us.

I know you've actually been covering hockey, because the Bruins happen to be in the Stanley Cup finals right now and so your focus has been there, but any sense if there's any update on David Ortiz and his well-being this morning as he wakes up at Mass General? DAN SHAUGHNESSY, SPORTS COLUMNIST, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": Well, it's been

a dramatic couple of days, as you reference there. And, yes, Sunday night, most of the Boston sports media certainly and all the attention in the sports world was turned to the Stanley Cup final. I was in St. Louis and word got out that David had been shot in the Dominican Republic. And everybody's focus was kind of distracted after that.

And then, yes, it was dramatic here yesterday that the Red Sox had a press conference. I'm holding "The Boston Globe" here. They lost a game last night and the headline here says Ortiz was all that mattered at Fenway. And I think that was true for those who got to Fenway last night, that there were prayers for him, people talking to ex- teammates, managers, coaches, equipment guys, and just the amount of love he gets here because he -- he is, he's family here.

And then, yes, the plane -- evidently he got to Mass General around midnight. There's -- we have video and pictures of that with the ambulance. Police escort to Mass General. And that's where he is now. And I don't certainly have any medical updates --

BERMAN: Right.

SHAUGHNESSY: But he had damage to, you know, his liver and small and large intestine, so it's serious.

BERMAN: You can look at these pictures right now, a police escort to Mass General after being flown from Dominican Republic. That doesn't happen for just anybody or just any athlete for that matter.

But, honestly, David Ortiz is more than just a ball player I think at this point to Boston, isn't that fair to say?

SHAUGHNESSY: Iconic figure. He came here in 2003 and just took over. He had -- he was Mr. Clutch. They won three World Series with him, getting all the big hits at the end of games back to 2004. And they win it again. And then, of course, in 2013, days after the marathon bombing, the day after shelter in place, Boston got back on his feet. And it was a Red Sox home game that sort of got things going. And he was designated to grab the microphone and historically he goes out to the center of the field and said, this is our city, and he used a bad word there and nobody cared. I mean it's a -- he really is an iconic figure. There will be statues of David Ortiz at some point here. There's already bridges and other stuff named after him.

BERMAN: You know, I was in the park that day and I will never forget the roar after he said that. First there was the look. Everyone looked sideways and said, wait, did he really say that, did he really just use that word? And then there's the giant roar.

And, you know, President Obama, who was president at the time, put out a statement yesterday on the health of David Ortiz. He said, six years ago David Ortiz's spirit and resolve helped us all begin to heal from the Boston Marathon bombing. Today I want to join many others in wishing him a speedy recovery of his own. Get well soon, Papi.

You know, again, not a lot of people would get a response from a former president like that if they were recovering in the hospital.

SHAUGHNESSY: Right. Absolutely. I mean there was a -- there was a -- he almost got in trouble that day because he took a selfie with the president, and after that I think they said you're not supposed to do that anymore.

BERMAN: That's right, they actually changed the rules for presidential selfies after David Ortiz did that.


BERMAN: But "Big Papi" could get away with that. He could get away with so much else.

And, you know, we're having this conversation. I do want to note, you know, and people who read your columns will know, you and David Ortiz, not the best of friends. You're saying all these things about David Ortiz and it's not like you're going out to the bar drinking every day with him.

SHAUGHNESSY: Well, no, that's incidental. I mean, you know, we've had our ups and downs over the years. I've been here for his whole career and everybody loves David Ortiz because he's great to the fans. He was a clutch performer. He delivered. And he's nice to everybody. We've had our little issue regarding other stuff, but it's inconsequential to this.

BERMAN: Right. And he treats the fans, well, as people.


BERMAN: And I think, for the most part, treats the media as people.

SHAUGHNESSY: Absolutely.

BERMAN: I mean so many reporters who might -- who covered the Red Sox over the years put up pictures because they've had interactions with him. And that -- and that's not common or even guaranteed, is that correct?

SHAUGHNESSY: He was great to the whole media out here. And if you go around the clubhouse guys, you know, he's peeling off $100 bills to all the equipment guys and a very generous guy. Again, he was father Christmas the whole time he was here. The year he retired, it was a bigger deal that he was retiring than that they lost in the playoffs. There was a celebration every night. He gets so much love. And he's been feeling it the last two days. He's going to keep feeling it.

BERMAN: I remember reading columns, and maybe they were from you, that the celebrations were so great they were distracting from that playoff run potentially.


BERMAN: I know there's a lot of focus on the investigation. Tell me -- people in Boston, how interested are they into the whys of this, why this happened?

SHAUGHNESSY: Interestingly enough, there's been very little on that. And now we're into day three, I guess you could say, regarding motive. Not a lot of investigation on it yet that anyone's been able to come up with stuff. I can't find anything in the Boston papers today about what this -- you know, what is the cause of this.

This was a targeted message or assassination attempt, whatever you want to call it. This was not a random crime. And I think that -- that's going to lead to some places that might be uncomfortable. We don't know. But clearly somebody wanted to hurt him.


SHAUGHNESSY: And it was targeted at him. And that's not -- never a good thing.

[08:45:01] BERMAN: That's what it certainly appears from the video we're showing right now. We've got a reporter, Patrick Oppmann, down in the Dominican Republic asking all kinds of questions. I'm sure you do also. Everyone wants to know.

Dan Shaughnessy, thanks so much for sharing your thoughts on David Ortiz with us this morning. I really appreciate it.

SHAUGHNESSY: Thanks for having me.

BERMAN: All right, now here's what else to watch today.


ON SCREEN TEXT: 11:00 a.m. ET, Buttigieg foreign policy speech.

4:15 p.m. ET, Biden Iowa event.

4:20 p.m. ET, Trump Iowa event.


CAMEROTA: All right, the gloves are off, even -- no I'm not saying --

BERMAN: We always wonder -- we always wonder if today is going to be the day when Alisyn sings.

CAMEROTA: That I share with the viewers.

BERMAN: When she sings along with that.

CAMEROTA: I do sing along. You can't even tell her voice from mine, they're so similar, I feel.

BERMAN: Right. They're identical. Virtually identical.

CAMEROTA: It's like an echo.

BERMAN: Except for the -- except for the singing, it's exactly the same.

CAMEROTA: And the pitch. It's exactly the same.

All right, well, the gloves are off even before Joe Biden and President Trump arrive in Iowa. We'll get "The Bottom Line" on what both men plan to say and do when they campaign today. That's next.


[08:50:28] CAMEROTA: Democratic frontrunner Joe Biden plans to take on President Trump in a blistering speech tonight in Iowa. The entire speech was released to the press 13 hours before he delivered it. We read through it and have been reading you excerpts.

President Trump will no doubtedly hear those and respond.

So let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's political director David Chalian.

So very interesting split screen that we will see today, David. And, you know, we've been talking about how it works for Joe Biden to go after President Trump. It positions him as the frontrunner. It acts as though this is the general election. It also works, according to all of our reporting, for President Trump to have Joe Biden because, as Maggie Haberman and Kaitlan Collins have pointed out, he likes having a foe. In fact, he needs a foe to stay focused on his own campaign.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yes, no -- there's no doubt, it works for both of them to be in this mode. I -- there are some Trump advisers that felt that the president's focus on Biden might be elevating Biden and helping him, but I think the value of having him engaged and having him have a foil and getting him focused on the year and a half battle to come for his re-election may outweigh some of those concerns.

Listen, Joe Biden, as you noted, Alisyn, wants to pretend that there's not a Democratic primary taking place. Or, better yet, he wants to be so focused on President Trump so that he can go to Democratic primary voters and say, see, I am the best equipped to take him on and take him down. You noted that amped up rhetoric. I think one of these questions out of what Joe Biden is going to say today is, is this the right way for a Democrat to take on Donald Trump or have we seen this before and it didn't work effectively?

BERMAN: One of the things that he's doing in this speech -- and I agree, people say, you know, Biden's too focused on the general election. This is a primary strategy. The general election is Joe Biden's primary strategy.

CHALIAN: Precisely.

BERMAN: But there's some new elements in this speech where he gets to a populous theme and he takes on the president for not managing the economy well for American workers and for being out of touch. And I just remember four years ago, or I guess it was three years ago, Joel Benenson (ph) telling me after the campaign, one of the Hillary Clinton -- one thing that the Clinton campaign didn't do that he regretted was making more of the fact that Donald Trump is this rich guy who lives in Manhattan and isn't in touch with the working people. And it seems that Joe Biden's trying to do a little bit of that in this speech.

CHALIAN: Yes. And, you know, looking at a lot of the Democratic sort of outside group research, John, that has been out there, they -- there's a belief inside the Democratic Party that that is the strongest message to go at him with. It's a little like the playbook that the Obama team used against Mitt Romney, right? And so I do think that they do believe that if you can show that Donald Trump, despite all the loyalty he has from his voters, is not actually delivering for those very voters economically, that there may be an argument there to be heard by people across the country that hasn't been heard about Donald Trump yet. We haven't yet seen a Democrat to be able to fully take that to the president. And I agree with you, Joe Biden, including that indicates that perhaps that's a path he's going to head down.

CAMEROTA: He's also going to head down, taking it right to the heart of farm country. So Iowa farmers. So here's an excerpt. How many sleepless nights do you think Trump has had over what he's doing to America's farmers? Here's the answer. Just as many as he had when he stiffed the construction workers and electricians and plumbers who built his hotels and casinos. Zero. End quote.

So that's what Joe Biden's message is.

We have already heard President Trump's message about Joe Biden. He's calling him names and he's saying to some of his closest advisers, according to Maggie Haberman, Joe Biden is not as popular as people think. And that's interesting also because there is this feeling that because he's the frontrunner, he's very popular and maybe President Trump knows something that the polls don't know.

CHALIAN: Maybe he does. Joe Biden, in every poll, forget the horse race number of being the frontrunner, his favorability ratings, he's got a really -- a ton of goodwill with the American public broadly, with Democrats as well. I would say that it is not going to be quite as easy for Donald Trump when he was paired up against Hillary Clinton, who was a polarizing figure, who wasn't nearly as broadly popular with the American public that Joe Biden is now. Now, Joe Biden's just the -- at the beginning of this process. I would expect maybe those numbers will come down as Donald Trump tries to soften him -- soften him up some.

[08:55:01] BERMAN: Is there any element to this release 13 hours before the speech, David, of this being the Biden campaign trying to send a signal to maybe campaign analysts and reporters out there that, yes, actually, we do have our act together following the whole flip- flop-flip on the Hyde Amendment. This is them trying to regain the narrative and also show that they know how to do it?

CHALIAN: There's a little piece of that no doubt, I'm sure, John. But I also think -- Alisyn noted at the top, it's trying to goad Donald Trump's reaction early so that there can be a fully engaged battle of that general election that they'd like to see on display all day. CAMEROTA: All right, David Chalian, thank you very much.


CAMEROTA: We'll all be watching what happens in Iowa, as we know you will.

CHALIAN: Thanks, guys.

BERMAN: Do you think the president will take the bait?

CAMEROTA: I'm going to go yes.

BERMAN: You're voting yes.

CAMEROTA: Would you like to place a wager?

BERMAN: You're -- you're going to take the over on that one?

CAMEROTA: I'm going to say yes on that one.

It will be a busy day in Iowa. "NEWSROOM" is next.


[09:00:06] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, top of the hour. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow. Jim Sciutto has.