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Fed Chair Doesn't See Recession on Horizon; Boat Fire Investigation; Hurricane Dorian's Aftermath; American Airlines Mechanic Accused of Attempted Sabotage. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired September 6, 2019 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:01]

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of people obviously use them.

What they're basically raising the flag on is, they're saying, look, something's happening. We haven't quite figured it out, but it's serious. Until we figure it out, just stay away from this stuff.

That's what they're saying.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Yes. Stay away.

Dr. Gupta, thank you.

GUPTA: You got it. Thank you.

BALDWIN: All right, we roll on, hour two. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being here.

As the Bahamas takes its first steps towards cleaning up and rebuilding after Hurricane Dorian, the nation is also preparing for the grim task of locating and burying those who did not survive. Thirty people are now confirmed dead and hundreds are missing.

But officials warn that that number will go much higher, significantly higher. That's the quote from the health minister. In the Abacos, an island chain that was decimated, people who live there are trying to get help. They have gathered what is left of the airport to just get supplies.

The prime minister says an estimated 60 percent of those homes there have been destroyed.

And CNN's Patrick Oppmann has been in the Bahamas throughout the storm and has the very latest.

And so, Patrick, I mean, just these stories that you have been telling, what more are you hearing today?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Brooke, so many more things.

We just had a Coast Guard helicopter literally behind us. And they had hovered for maybe five minutes, very, very low, lower than I thought they really could have, because they were just in that forest behind us, what used to be a forest.

And some of the Bahamians we were with said they believed they had spotted a body back there, that this is how they do it. They spot the body. They obviously take some sort of location, and then they communicate that back to the Bahamian authorities, who then will be out here as soon as they can, if that was a body, to retrieve it.

But they have said they have scene this repeat itself again (INAUDIBLE)

BALDWIN: OK, the connection with Patrick not entirely awesome, for understandable reasons, with communications and what's happened on in the Bahamas.

This is some of Patrick's reporting from earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OPPMANN: We have been going down -- now that we can get into this area finally, down the road.

We're actually in the town of High Rock right now, just down the road from Bevans Town. And we're with one of the local pastors. His name is Joey Saunders. We're in front of a place that used to be his house and his church just back that way.

I drove by here yesterday. I did not realize. I would have thought this was an abandoned building. You were here on that Sunday night when the water came in, came in that way from the north. Actually, we're farther from the ocean on that side, right?

And, sir -- sorry, I will just repeat that. This is your house. This is the church. What happened on Sunday when the water came in?

JOEY SAUNDERS, PASTOR: We started make out to the second floor of the house. And within about 10 minutes, and it started to flow up to the third floor.

And the water flow up to our head. And we felt this strong current trying to break lose everything in the cracks.

OPPMANN: And this was in the middle of the night?

SAUNDERS: One thirty in the morning.

And then the current was so strong, then the roof started to lift. And next thing I remember, I was underneath the water. My son (INAUDIBLE) and I noticed he had the search light. And he was just -- he just disappeared with the search light.

And I heard him screaming, "Daddy, daddy, daddy."

OPPMANN: He was in the water at that point, right?

SAUNDERS: He was already gone. And minutes ago, when I came from underneath the water, I threw my

hand. I caught on to the truss. The roof carried me away. So, we were like about 600 feet away from each other for over two days. And we caught up into the pine tree of 32 feet high.

OPPMANN: So, the water carried you into a pine tree in the middle of the night. Your son was a ways away from you. What was going through your mind? You must have been terrified.

SAUNDERS: Yes, I was hoping that he was alive. And he thought I had died also. It wasn't until two days later that we saw one another. He was on the trailer right there. And that's when we saw one another again, yes.

OPPMANN: How would you describe the damage in this area?

SAUNDERS: It was very devastating. It's major damages.

OPPMANN: Do you recognize your own town anymore?

SAUNDERS: Not really, no. It will take a while. Everything look different. Even in my own premises here (INAUDIBLE) is another city.

I didn't even recognize where I was living, because were in the pine tree. The wind was so severe. And the consistent rain, you could hardly recognize anything. Even as I'm standing here talking to you, it is unrecognizable.

OPPMANN: How much help has come from the government? I don't see much. People are asking us for water.

SAUNDERS: Yes, I think the government is on its way, but it's going to take a bit of time because there are other settlements. But they're doing their thing gradually, you know?

OPPMANN: Do you wish they were moving quicker?

SAUNDERS: Yes, I wish they could move a little quicker than they're moving.

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OPPMANN: And tell me what you need here. What are the priorities?

SAUNDERS: A lot of people have lost most of their clothes, water. Need food, stuff -- medical -- different stuff, basic stuff right now.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Patrick Oppmann, thank you for telling all of these stories. You have just done phenomenal work this past week.

And we are hearing more from those who battled Dorian as they fought for their lives.

Let me show you a picture. This is Adrian Farrington and his 5-year- old son A.J. They threaded water for an hour as the storm raged trying to keep their heads above it. And as -- in a desperate effort to keep his son safe, Adrian put little A.J. up on the roof, planning join him in mere minutes.

What happened next is something no parent should ever have to experience.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ADRIAN FARRINGTON, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: Gust of wind blew him off the roof on the next side of the home, back into the surge water. I still could see my son getting dragged across the roof, reaching up.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Adrian Farrington says he jumped in to search for his son, couldn't see anything in the debris-filled water. He then dove down a second time, but eventually had to go to higher ground after being battered by all the waves.

Adrian, who is being treated for broken bones suffered during the storm, told a local paper that he can still remember his son calling out for him "Daddy" as he was swept away. And he said if his son was rescued, he would -- quote -- "praise the lord."

In Man-O-War City, a tiny community of just 300 people in the Abacos, a husband and wife were united after getting separated during the storm. And CNN was there. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh my God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I told you I would get out. OK. OK. OK. OK. You OK? You're OK. You're OK. You're going to be OK. You're going to be OK.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: "You're going to be OK, you're going to be OK," says this husband.

Bill Aubury tells us that he had not heard from his wife, Shawna (ph), in days, didn't even know if she had made it. Shawna and her friends sought shelter in the bathroom inside of a seaside home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

NANCY AUBURY, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: We came in and hunkered down. And Shawna was on the ground crying, and we were just trying to...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was hysterical.

PAULA NEWTON, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: What did it sound like in here at the time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was loud.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, there was a lot of crashing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Crashing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I remember all the crashing and banging and whirling.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And stuff, we thought was coming through this wall.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: When asked about the storm and the destruction left behind, one Man-O-War resident said -- quote -- "It was like an atomic bomb went off."

And now we turn our attention to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, where hundreds could be trapped still in the barrier islands, despite a state-ordered evacuation earlier this week. A storm surge as high as seven feet could take place along the coast still and nearly 200,000 people across the state are without power.

And that includes Ocracoke Island, where Hyde County officials are preparing for evacuations after a local sheriff said that his office had received reports of catastrophic flooding.

CNN's Alex Field is in Kill Devil Hills, where Dorian's wrath continues to be felt.

We see those waves whipping up behind you. What do you know about these potential evacuations?

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, people who need to get out of their homes who are facing that flooding are being told to contact the county emergency management office.

It seems that they are getting -- preparing to do airlifts for people who need to get out before the ferry service reopens. Obviously, the ferry is not running at this time. But back here where we are, Brooke, you mentioned the waves.

I don't know if you can it see behind me. We're seeing these large wood planks that are just being churned up in the water here. They might be part of a pier that we're hearing was damaged. But, at this point, we can't yet get a full sense of the damage that could have happened here on Kill Devil Hills.

They are concerned, just like farther south in Hyde County, about the possibility of flooding. I'm actually at one of the highest points of Kill Devil Hills, a hotel where there is no power, but where some people came to ride out the storm, those people who chose not to evacuate. I spoke to one woman. She says her house is over the sound side. That's the lower side of the island. And she's really concerned about flooding, because the big concern from officials here was that, in the aftermath of this storm, on the backside of it, you would see that storm surge in the sound four to seven feet.

So people who have been riding up the storm inside for the last few hours still don't know what they're going to get home to -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Alex Field, keep us posted. Thank you very much in the Outer Banks.

Coming up next here on CNN, an airline mechanic arrested and charged. He's accused of trying to sabotage a flight with 150 people on board. Wait until you hear why he says he did it.

And President Trump may be dissing him, but Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell may have just gifted the president the best news all week.

And a significant development in the case of a Connecticut mother who's been missing for months, including blood evidence linked to her husband. But police say it is still not enough for murder.

You're watching CNN on a Friday afternoon. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.

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BALDWIN: Now to a story that is disturbing on every level for anyone who flies.

An American Airline mechanic is accused of trying to sabotage a plane this past July, shortly before it was set to take off from Miami to the Bahamas with 150 people on board.

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According to a criminal federal complaint, the man has been charged with willfully damaging, destroying, disabling, or wrecking an aircraft and attempting to do so.

Investigators want to know why he did it and airline travelers want to know how close he came to succeeding.

CNN aviation analyst Justin Green is with me.

And so let me just get this. This was his real reasoning why he wanted to do this. He was upset over this contract dispute between the airline and the union workers, a dispute he says cost him money. He wanted to work on the plane longer. So he wanted overtime.

That's his reasoning. Do you buy that?

JUSTIN GREEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: No.

There's -- he could have damaged the airplane in a way that it would have been obvious to the pilots and the flight crew, and they would have not tried to take the airplane up.

But what he did is, he did it in a way that was hard to detect, that wasn't going to be detected until the airplane is on the roll. And he put the passengers and the flight crew at risk.

And why he did that, that's going to be part of this investigation.

BALDWIN: Until the airplane was on the roll, as in rolling down to take off, until tell the pilot got some sort of error message and aborted the flight.

What would have happened had the pilot not heeded that warning?

GREEN: Well, the first of all, the pilot probably could have flown power and pitch and been OK. But he would have had or she would have had erroneous flight data information, including airspeed information.

They probably would have had to fly the flight manually. And what they did is the right thing. They had a -- they had -- once they got the system error, they aborted the takeoff. But, remember, aborting a takeoff is an emergency procedure and could have led to an overrun, could have led to injuries.

It certainly delayed and put at risk the flight crew and the passengers. And I think what's going to be interesting to see is why he really did it, because it doesn't make any sense that he would disable an airplane in a way that, once it was investigated, it would be clear that somebody sabotaged the airplane.

So I think it's possible that he was trying to take the airplane down.

BALDWIN: Wow.

The thought bubble among everyone watching, including myself, is, how do I know that my next flight I get on, that there's not some mechanic who wants to -- with the system? What -- what...

GREEN: Well, you know, there are -- I just want to say that these incidents are such -- so newsworthy because they're so rare.

There's thousands of men and women, mechanics, flight crew, people that are involved in aviation safety, and we trust them. And when we do, do background checks, they have criminal checks, they have drug and alcohol testing.

But no matter what the industry is, whether it's policing or aviation safety, you have to, at the end of the day, have people that you will allow behind the wall, that you have to trust that they're going to do the right thing for the right reasons.

BALDWIN: Like an airline mechanic.

GREEN: That's right.

BALDWIN: Because it's not like there's a buddy system who would have had to check whatever he had done to make sure it was OK before the plane took off.

Like, the plane was rolling down the runway.

GREEN: In aviation mechanics, actually, a lot of times, you do have two mechanics checking it.

And one great example is the president's airplane, the president's helicopter. Those things are double-, triple-checked.

BALDWIN: Checked and re-checked, yes.

GREEN: Yes.

But if you have a bad actor who's allowed behind the wall or an aviation secure zone, you got a problem.

BALDWIN: Yes, because we're not all flying Air Force One.

GREEN: That's right.

BALDWIN: And that isn't always the situation.

Justin Green, thank you so much for your expertise. A pleasure. Thank you.

GREEN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: It could be at least a week before we learn more about the cause of that deadly scuba dive boat fire off the coast of Southern California.

But as the NTSB is working to determine how the deadly fire happened on board this boat called the Conception, the Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office says it is still working to recover the last victim, and the task of identifying the bodies is not easy.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is with me now with new details from a news conference that wrapped just a bit ago in Santa Barbara County.

So what are we learning, first and foremost, about the victims?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we do know now, Brooke, is that they have been able to contact all of the family members of all 34 people that have been lost.

And it really was a reaching effort. They had to reach out to the FBI field offices, because there were some family members that were in Japan, Singapore, India, and get all of that DNA evidence, because they're saying DNA is the only way that they're going to be able to identify these people.

That being said, they believe they have identified 18 of the people and they released the names of nine of those people today.

Also worth noting here, when you take a look at this, they are saying that they're not going to do any autopsies because they don't think it will proceed or help them anymore in the investigation.

They're pretty sure that they all died, their preliminary belief, because of smoke inhalation. And just take a listen to Sheriff Bill Brown of Santa Barbara County, who also happens to be the coroner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL BROWN, SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, CALIFORNIA, SHERIFF: The preliminary indications are that the cause of death was smoke inhalation.

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As I indicated earlier, we will not have a final cause and manner of death until all aspects of the coroner's investigation, including toxicology results, come back in.

The belief is that the victims died and that the burn damage to the victims was postmortem and not antemortem. In other words, it occurred after death and not before death.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELAM: So that's obviously a new detail there, to learn that they probably all died of smoke inhalation.

And as far as the investigation is concerned, today's the first real day, according to the Coast Guard, that they are going to work to reposition that boat. It's now upside-down on the ocean floor. They're going to work to flip it over and stabilize it before they begin the process of bringing it back up.

Now, one thing that they're hoping to find is that one outstanding victim who they have not yet been able to recover. They're hoping, by repositioning the boat, they will be able to find that last victim and bring them on to shore.

But they're saying because of the winds and the currents, if they really speed up, as they're expected to do over the weekend, they may have to wait until Monday to bring -- to salvage what's out there. But it's a slow, meticulous process, they said, and they want to bring it up so that the investigation into what may have caused this fire can go further, so they can figure it out.

BALDWIN: Yes.

ELAM: But, at this point, they are at least getting in touch with the family members and letting them know the status of their loved ones.

BALDWIN: That's what they want. They want to understand the why.

Stephanie Elam, thank you for the update. Just in to CNN, the Fed's Jerome Powell says he doesn't see a

recession coming. But he does still have a warning. We will have that for you.

And new details today of what's being called all-out hostility with top members of the president's national security team next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:26:38]

BALDWIN: New jobs numbers are out today, the same day that President Trump once again dissed his Fed chair.

But this time it comes as Jerome Powell is giving the president something he desperately wants, talk about a recession maybe not coming.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: Our main expectation is not at all that there will be a recession. I did mention, though, that there are these risks, and we're monitoring them very carefully. And we're conducting policy in a way that will address them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: The jobs report found 130,000 jobs were added, but hiring is slowing.

And the president tweeted this: "I agree with Jim Cramer the Fed should lower rates. They were way too early to raise, way too late to cut, and big dose quantitative tightening didn't help -- didn't exactly help either. Where did I find this guy Jerome? Oh, well, you can't win them all."

Lindsey Piegza is the chief economist at Stifel.

So, Lindsey, let's first just begin with the news from the Fed chair, right, who says there's been all this, is there a recession to be had? He says he doesn't see one coming? That seems pretty significant coming from him. What do you think?

LINDSEY PIEGZA, ECONOMIST: Oh, absolutely.

He was generally optimistic about the current state of the economy, as he has been. But he was also quick to recognize some of the mounting risks weighing on the outlook, including the risk of deteriorating global growth, as well as a trade relations.

So, at the same time he was pointing out, yes, the economy is still on firm footing at this point, he also reiterated that the committee is willing and able to step up and provide additional support should we see the economy falter.

So they are paying very close attention to the data, and each data point is really driving the next move that they take in terms of policy.

BALDWIN: And then, when you look at the jobs numbers, really some positive news for black America, for example, African-American unemployment, the rate falling to record low to 5.5 percent from 6 percent.

It was a record low for the data, which has been collected since early '70s. Apparently, a lot of black women are getting work. What do you make of this? Why is this happening?

PIEGZA: Well, I think the labor report was actually a little mixed.

Yes, we did see pockets of improvement, particularly, as you mentioned, in terms of the unemployment rate in the African-American community. But when we look at the top-line payroll number, just 130,000 jobs were added.

This is a noticeable slowdown from a more robust pace that we had seen at the start of the year. So we're still creating jobs for Americans on a month-to-month basis, but the pace of that job creation has slowed considerably.

So this really is sort of that middle-of-the-road report, where the Fed doesn't necessarily see recession in and of itself because of this morning's number, but it falls well, sort of the strength that the committee was looking for to give them room to maybe back off from providing additional accommodation near-term.

BALDWIN: Yes, I hear you loud and clear on the just 130,000.

Lindsey Piegza, thank you so much for your analysis. Good to have you back.

PIEGZA: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Bolton vs. Pompeo. CNN has learned that the relationship between these two key advisers at the White House has hit a new low.

Also, bound by two mass shootings -- high school rivals in football El Paso and Odessa unite on the field for an emotional display of unity.

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