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Hurricane Dorian Claims 43 Lives in Bahamas; U.S. House Judiciary Committee to Lay Out Formal Steps in Impeachment Probe; Getting Aid to a Disaster Zone; Robert Mugabe Dies at 95; Surviving Dorian; Netanyahu Looks to Trump Playbook As Election Looms; American Airlines Mechanic Accused of Sabotage. Aired 4-5a ET
Aired September 7, 2019 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): The drumbeat for impeachment gets louder as U.S. lawmakers take a major step that could bring it closer to reality. We have both sides this hour, this hour from a Republican, about what is happening.
And plus the death and staggering destruction in the Bahamas, survivors there who barely made it out alive after Hurricane Dorian, they are expressing frustration over the pace of aid.
And also ahead this hour --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRENT LOWE, DORIAN SURVIVOR: I picked him up, through him on my shoulder. When I stepped off my porch, my front porch, the water was shin high.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: That father is blind, he carried his disabled son on his back through the floodwaters in Abaco. We'll hear his story of survival.
Live from CNN World Headquarters in Atlanta, we want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm George Howell, the CNN NEWSROOM starts now.
HOWELL: We start with the Democrats in the U.S. House taking a major step toward formalizing their impeachment investigation into the U.S. president, Donald Trump. Here is what sources are telling CNN.
They say next week the House Judiciary Committee is planning to vote on a resolution that would lay out the rules for how it conducts hearings. All of this comes as former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski and two former White House aides are about to testify before the committee. Manu Raju shared the details on what is happening on "CNN TONIGHT." Listen.
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: What they're essentially saying here is that Jerry Nadler will have the authority going forward to say we want to look into potential campaign finance violations involving this president as it relates to those hush money payments that occurred in 2016.
That's going to be in connection to this impeachment probe. They will call a hearing, saying that it ties to impeach this impeachment deliberation. Also they could say, for instance, that the president in an effort to pitch his Miami golf resort as an location for the G7 summit in 2020, that can be a violation of the emoluments clause in the Constitution which limits foreign influence on a president, tries to limit the president's ability to enrich himself in office.
They could take that as also part of the impeachment probe. They are trying to make it very clear the different things that they are doing in the committee, tie it all back to impeachment and then ultimately make the decision that they can vote after the (INAUDIBLE) after this hearings will be to decide whether to vote to actually impeach the president.
And that would occur at the committee level and then a full House would have to vote.
HOWELL: We're getting perspective on all sides. This hour we're speaking with Greg Swenson, a Republican, a member of the Republicans Overseas U.K. And next hour we'll speak with a Democrat to get perspective.
Greg, good to have you on our show. I'd like your reaction to the fact that this seems to be moving forward.
And the question, what do you believe Democrats are trying to achieve here?
Is it more about keeping this issue of impeachment hanging over the president's head?
Or do you believe that they truly believe that they can accomplish this goal?
GREG SWENSON, REPUBLICANS OVERSEAS U.K.: Well, a few things, George. First of all, they do not believe they can accomplish this goal. That is kind of -- that has been around for 2.5 years. They invested a lot in the Mueller investigation. So there is no realistic chance that there will actually be an impeachment. So they are conflicted.
On the one hand, they can't just roll over and ignore all the news headline, they want to keep impeachment hanging around, which is a bit absurd because they know it will never work. You have 127 out of 235 Democrats in the House against it. Nancy Pelosi is against it. But they are running -- they are being affected by the candidates from the far left, from the progressive militant left, that are running against some of the judiciary members in the primary.
So on one hand you have primaries to run against -- and challenges coming from the Left. But in the general election, that would be devastating for the Democrats. So look, any progressive impeachment proceedings will actually help the president and it will help Republicans running in red districts.
HOWELL: Your view as a Republican on that issue. And then also I'd like to get your perspective on the White House plan to pay for portions of the border wall the president wants.
He famously promised, as you will remember, that Mexico will pay for it. We know that is not the case. Congress did not budge on the issue. Now the administration planning to take money from the military funding, diverting $3.6 billion from approved military construction projects in the United States and overseas.
It means 127 projects will feel the funding acts, including a middle school in the district of Mitch McConnell at Fort Campbell.
What do you think about that?
Because Mitch McConnell is saying that he will try to make sure that doesn't happen.
Is that fair?
SWENSON: It is not great optics when a school that is about to be built gets cut from the budget --
HOWELL: And you'll remember, McConnell did support this.
SWENSON: Look, I think that there is a lot of support for the president to do this because it was one of his major campaign promises that he hasn't really delivered on. Look, he delivered on a lot of the major issues that he campaigned on, notably regulation reform, regulatory relaxation as well as tax reform.
And so this is one where he fell down. And, look, we all wish that he had done this in the first term when he had the Republican House. He failed to do that. I think that was a mistake. And now he's trying to stay with a campaign promise.
And it is arguably a mistake to dip into a different bucket in the federal budget to do that. So on one hand, it is difficult because the cuts have to come from somewhere. On the other hand, you know, we in the conservative -- in conservative circles are always arguing for less government spending. So that isn't necessarily a negative.
But I do think that this is a very delicate situation when you are cutting from other areas that are important, especially in defense. HOWELL: But I do want to just push on that point again, I mean, for someone who would support this plan, certainly to fund the wall, to make sure that it happens and then push against that funding coming from a project in his district, Mitch McConnell, is that something that he can really do?
Because he did support this.
SWENSON: Politicians are very good at these things. Supporting something as long as it doesn't -- if it is something unpleasant as long as it is not built in my district or it doesn't come out of the budget for, you know, my favorite projects.
Look, it is a little delicate. I don't envy Mitch McConnell right now. I would imagine it is a bit awkward for him. But this is something that has become a very big issue, that the Republicans and especially the president have been talking about the border for 2.5 years and not getting a lot of attention.
And all of a sudden it becomes a humanitarian crisis which, again, the president has been arguing that for quite some time. So something has to be done. The fact that he is taking drastic measures to do it, that will annoy a lot of people and I understand that. I think that it is a delicate one.
It is not as simple as impeachment which is pretty black and white.
HOWELL: And getting the Republican perspective on this, pleasure to have you. Thank you for your time.
And again what we want to do next hour is get perspective of a Democrat. We'll pose the same questions and share that with you here on CNN NEWSROOM next hour.
Hurricane Dorian is now speeding away from the United States headed northeastward in the Atlantic, its path going past New England toward the Canadian Maritimes. Forecasters warn that severe winds, torrential rains and large waves will have major impacts there, causing flooding.
That comes again after it caused a great deal of flooding and even kicked off several tornadoes and waterspouts. This as it marched along the southeastern coast of the United States. We also understand that five people were killed here in the U.S.
Very different story to tell you about, of course, in the Bahamas. Look at the devastation, the destruction there. Survivors are in desperate need of shelter and supplies. The official death toll has now risen to 43 people who have lost their lives. Even government officials know that number could get higher.
Hundreds if not thousands are still missing and many bodies lay in the rubble still yet to be recovered. Survivors are sharing their stories of what it was like to go through one of the most destructive hurricanes in history.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GERMAINE SMITH, DORIAN SURVIVOR: Next thing I look, I see its roof just flying off and it came toward me when I was inside my bedroom. And I ducked. Thank goodness, I ducked. And I moved. A big tree came. I don't know why, I just moved it from it and just missed it, just like that.
And the rain just started pouring in, my roof started lifting.
SMITH: So I run inside the bathroom for cover in the tub because they say it's always a safe haven. And that is what saved me. And I was just praying to God just to save my life because I was scared. Literally I didn't think that I was going to make it. I just holding on to that. But I was scared.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: So thankful that she did make it. And the days since the storm ripped through the Bahamas have been filled with a great deal of shock. A lot of chaos and confusion as well. And there are also concerns about not getting to where people need the help. Paula Newton has this report for you.
PAULA NEWTON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're in Nassau, where they are deploying a lot of aid because we are hearing a lot of frustration from survivors, saying this has not happened quickly enough.
The Bahamian government saying that they are doing all they can and working very closely with the American government and American military and that things will improve the next few days.
But the issue is people are wondering, will that aid make to them in time? Take a listen.
NEWTON (voice-over): The people of Marsh Harbour can barely believe they survived the epic devastation of Dorian. But now they wonder, can they survive the aftermath?
The Nixon family says they barely made it through the storm. They put the children in coolers to get them out and, at the airport, they were separated. Those same children are now stuck on the island.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH NIXON, HURRICANE SURVIVOR: Those babies can't stay another minute because they haven't eaten. Last night, they said they was in the airport and they didn't even eat.
NEWTON: Are they at the airport right now?
NIXON: Yes, they're in the front, but it's so chaotic. With those little kids are trying to push through, it's a lot. (END VIDEO CLIP)
NEWTON (voice-over): Their aunt Elizabeth made it to Nassau and tells us the conditions are horrific and families are having to make difficult choices.
NIXON: Bodies are in the harbor. It seems we're in a movie, because you hear stories where a mother had her nephew. She had to decide which one was going to live.
NEWTON: It is the death toll that so rattles many here. Even the government admits the official death toll doesn't begin to tally the grim reality of this disaster, especially in some of the poorer neighborhoods.
And then there's the aid effort. It would be a challenge for any nation, but the damage inflicted here over several hundred miles of scattered islands and keys will transform the Bahamas for months, possibly years, villages and towns that may never be inhabited again.
The basics are getting in, but the distribution has been spotty and at times chaotic. There are significant search-and-rescue efforts on the go and aid pre-positioned on land and offshore. But the mix of volunteer and government efforts has complicated delivery.
It means aid isn't always getting to the most needy. The effort has even brought volunteer aid workers to their breaking point.
GINA KNOWLES, HEADKNOWLES RELIEF AGENCY: It's upsetting that these people have to stay in shelters and then hearing they're not being fed. And the children.
NEWTON (voice-over): And Bahamians also worry the millions being donated may not reach them in time to make a difference or reach them at all.
NEWTON: And going back to the issue of the death toll here, the tragedy is that in those poor neighborhoods, it may not be possible to learn exactly who is missing.
And that is a big problem for friends and relatives really trying to get an accurate assessment of whether or not their loved ones are still perhaps stranded on islands or if, unfortunately, they died in this. And as each day drags on, it becomes more difficult just to bear the uncertainty -- Paula Newton, CNN, Nassau.
HOWELL: To talk more now about the aid efforts in the Bahamas, we have on the phone with us Jenelle Eli, who is director for International Communications at the American Red Cross.
Thanks for your time.
JENELLE ELI, AMERICAN RED CROSS: Thanks for having me, George.
HOWELL: And the images that we've seen out of the Bahamas are staggering. Just stunning to see the amount of destruction there.
From your view, what is your organization doing now to help people get the help they need?
ELI: As you said, the images are not just stunning, they are heartbreaking. The Bahamas Red Cross has had aid supplies pre- positioned before the hurricane and Bahamas Red Cross volunteers were spreading preparedness messages, making sure people evacuated and telling them what to bring and where to go.
Right now we're focusing on getting life-saving aid to people who need it. Yesterday we were able to deliver tarps, blankets, hand-crank radios to people in need. And we began ice distribution. That is something that people told us they really needed, so they could use it for water and also to keep their food safe.
ELI: We had a plane land on Thursday in Nassau; it had 38 tons of aid on it. Shelter tool kits with things like hammers, nails, ropes, so people can start preparing their shelters. They have hygiene items on there so that people can stay safe and healthy as they are going through this emergency and things like jerry cans so people can get clean water.
HOWELL: And we saw a few pallets a moment ago.
What is the process to get that out and about?
Because many of the roads there have been either damaged severely or simply destroyed.
ELI: Certainly. There are several options for being able to get aid in. It could be flying it in, it could be driving, it could be taking a boat.
So right now, we're getting aid to some places but there are definitely logistical challenges right now, everything from flooded airports and roads to teleconnectivity and harsh weather. So we're working around the clock to get aid to the communities who really need it.
HOWELL: And of all of the things that you are bringing in, surely you've spoken to people, what is the most critical item would you say at this point for people?
ELI: Right now people really want food, water and emergency shelter. So many people I spoke with lost their homes. Sometimes they were in a house and the hurricane took their roof and they ran to the neighbor's house to seek safety and then that neighbor lost their roof.
And then they went to the next neighbor's house and the same thing happened. So emergency shelter is huge right now for people who are sleeping outside. One thing that is really important that I think a lot of people don't
think about when disasters strike is that, if people don't have teleconnectivity, they aren't even able to know if their family members in other cities or towns are safe or even alive. So that is really in the forefront of a lot of people's minds who I spoke with.
They just don't know if their sister is alive or they want to make sure their mother knows that they made it through the storm. So people really want food, water and shelter. But it is that peace of mind that lot of families are seeking.
HOWELL: And I've seen and covered so many of these storms. But the images coming out of the Bahamas unlike anything I've ever seen before. And as you state, so many families that are still missing loved ones; in fact, hundreds if not thousands of people unaccounted for. So that search will continue.
I'm curious to ask you, of the storms that you've covered and seen, where does this stand in your mind?
ELI: I have to say, when you've seen one disaster, you've seen one disaster. Whether it is a wildfire or a tornado or a hurricane, people's heartache of losing loved ones and losing their homes, that is the same. But the effect on people is very deep and emotional and unique to them.
People even who live in disaster prone areas, they never get used to disasters or devastation. And the people I've met, I can really see the pain in their eyes. And right now we're focusing on Hurricane Dorian and how this has affected them.
HOWELL: We appreciate your time and certainly the work that your organization is doing there for so many people who are in need. Thank you for your time.
ELI: Thank you, George.
HOWELL: And, of course, throughout the show and next hour we'll have more on what is happening with Hurricane Dorian, where it is going right now and, of course, the aftermath, the destruction it left behind.
Still ahead here, around the world, leaders are reacting to the death of Robert Mugabe. Some calling him a liberator, others calling him an oppressor. CNN will be live in that nation's capital with the latest for you.
Plus Israel's leader says that he is being persecuted by the media. If you follow American politics, it sounds like a familiar political tactic. Why that is worrying his opponents. Stay with us.
HOWELL: The president of Zimbabwe has declared the country in mourning after the death of the longtime leader, Robert Mugabe. He died at a hospital in Singapore. He was 95 years old.
Some leaders are remembering him as a national hero who led Zimbabwe to independence, the founder of that nation. But others say he was ruthless, consumed with power, refused to surrender power and drove the country into ruin.
Let's cross over live now to that nation's capital. David McKenzie is covering Mugabe's death.
First of all, leaders around the world offer their thoughts, some focusing on his leadership, others lean on his forceful crackdown of dissent as the way they remember him.
DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, George. I think you've got that split between Western nations, pointing out some of the very troubling legacy of Robert Mugabe. But in terms of Africa certainly the official word from statehouses and liberation movements across the continent is one of the glossing over that legacy or not even mentioning it and really remembering the man for what he was, which was a liberation icon in his early years.
But here in the outskirts of Harare, despite the fact that the flags are at half-staff at police stations and public memorials, showing the public mourning, there isn't any real sense of an outpouring of emotion for the man, very little indeed.
Though it has to be said, even opposition members and activists I've spoken to have a complicated relationship with the legacy of Robert Mugabe.
MCKENZIE: They even acknowledge the contribution he made to this country but point out the violent legacy and crackdowns and economic malaise that really captured this country because of his rule.
HOWELL: David McKenzie, following the story for us. Thank you, we'll keep in touch.
We have new developments to tell you about on the Iranian tanker that was seized by Britain in July. It was thought to be carrying oil to Syria in violation of sanctions.
Iran denied it and the ship was eventually released. But now U.S. national security adviser John Bolton just tweeted this satellite image, he says it is the same ship and claims that it places the tanker two nautical miles from a naval base in Syria. We'll have more on this story as it develops. We're hearing incredible stories of how people survived a monster storm, Hurricane Dorian. Coming up, a journey a blind father took, who walked through floodwaters to carry his own son to safety.
HOWELL: Welcome back to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from the ATL. I'm George Howell with the headlines we're following for you.
HOWELL: Looking at the devastation from Hurricane Dorian, it is unbelievable to see what happened to parts of the Bahamas. It was like going through one of the most destructive tornadoes imaginable every minute, some would say, hour after hour as this storm continued to churn. Victor Blackwell is there and filed this report.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: This is Marsh Harbour. This is the most populated settlement on Abaco. I'm at the marina or what's left of it. Look, so this is here where the marina is where there were boats but the strength of the storm carried several of those really large boats here on land now.
You see the St. James II here and several other boats on land here as well. There are a couple of houses here, each with the roofs torn off. We can see sunlight coming through one of those rooms with the door or window that used to be there. It's really hard to tell.
Lumber parts of the marina shoved up to the fence line here and these cars, there's no telling where these cars were before the storm but they're now scrambled over here. If you take a look in the distance, I don't know if my photographer, Amanda (ph) can get it, those houses over on the edge of the shoreline there are just piled on to each other. Those houses have been destroyed.
We've seen as we flew in that there are shingles ripped from roofs, wooden boards you can see straight into what used to be habitable bedrooms and living rooms. The rebuilding effort here will take years. The question is how many of the people who have left for some safety and comfort on another island will be coming back to rebuild on Abaco.
HOWELL: Victor Blackwell reporting.
And the U.S. Coast Guard is helping with recovery efforts. They have rescued so far more than 200 people but their focus is on the most critical cases. And that could lead to difficult choices.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETTY OFFICER CHAD WATSON, U.S. COAST GUARD: We also saw a lot of traumatic injuries, injuries to the head by flying debris, people crushed by cars, by buildings, multiple fractures to legs, any limbs, anything. It was bad. Lots of people were waving at us but, unfortunately, the priority was to go in and get the critical out that we knew were there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HOWELL: We're also hearing some amazing stories of survival and some incredible acts of heroism. One such story from Brent Lowe, a blind man who carried his 24-year-old disabled son to safety. Lowe is now in Nassau after evacuating Abaco. He described what happened to my colleague Erin Burnett.
LOWE: Well, I had to do it. My sister-in-law was there. Her name is Deborah Stuart (ph). And it was her that said that water was coming into the house that we have to go.
And at that time, it was rainy and raining hard. So I picked him up and threw him on my shoulder and when I stepped off my porch, my front porch, the water was chin high, up to my chin and I was with her and some of her family because their roof blew off and they came over to my house.
And then my roof blew off so we all had to walk out into that water, into the wind to the neighbor's house. So that's basically what happened.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: I mean how far away was that?
LOWE: But it was ...
BURNETT: How far away was that?
LOWE: It was at least five-minute walk.
BURNETT: But it felt like much more?
LOWE: And especially in the water, it felt longer than that. Yes. Yes, especially with the deep water, it felt a lot longer than that.
BURNETT: I mean I'm just having people try to understand.
BURNETT: I mean the bravery of what you did when you grab your son and you step off that porch and the water is up to your neck and you cannot see, you must have been so frightened.
LOWE: Yes, I was terrified, especially I didn't realize the water was that deep. I was thinking maybe knee deep. It wasn't until I step off and I realized, "Oh, I wonder if it's going to get any deeper, because that means I'm going to have to swim with him." Do you know what I mean? But thankfully it really didn't get over my head.
I thank God for my sister-in-law, too. Her name is Deborah Stuart (ph). She was a really big help to me. I can tell you that.
BURNETT: I know that your son is now in Nassau, but you haven't yet been reunited with him. Have you been able to speak with him, Brent?
Is he OK?
LOWE: No. No. No. No, in fact he is with her, my sister-in-law. He's with her. That's my ex-wife's sister. He's with her right now. But I really hope to get in contact with him, because I really missed him. I want to see him.
BURNETT: Well, you saved his life. I mean you were then taken to Nassau, Brent, because you need the dialysis treatments. I know that you need them three times a week and they said if you didn't get that, you wouldn't be able to live.
BURNETT: And I know the Coast Guard is now having to pick and choose who they can save because of the depth of the need. You must be so thankful right now that you are OK.
LOWE: Yes. Yes, I am. I am very much. Very thankful. Very thankful indeed.
BURNETT: So, Brent, what happens for you now? I mean your home is gone, your community is gone, what will you do?
LOWE: I don't know. I don't know and it looks like it's going to be a long time before we get to go back home. I'm 49 years old. My son is 24 years old. I've been disabled for 11 years and all of the time I've never asked anybody for anything. I just went about me and my family. I took care of my family, me and my kids with the help of my ex wife and we did it.
But right now, I need help. We need help. I don't know exactly what we're going to do. But we really, really need help.
BURNETT: And what do you feel you need most? I mean, I would imagine you need a place to go. You need a place to be.
LOWE: We need a place to go, yes. And him being in the situation he is, we had to have a caretaker, a live in caretaker. Because when I go out on dialysis, he needs somebody who's going to be there and take care of him.
Do you know what I mean?
I don't know exactly what we're going to do. We need help. BURNETT: Brent, thank you very, very much for taking time to share
your story with us and our thoughts are with you and your son. Hoping that you are able to be with him very soon.
LOWE: All right. Thank you for having me.
HOWELL: And again, what we've seen so far in the Bahamas, these images just show so much devastation, the Bahamas will need a lot of help. We'll be back after this.
HOWELL: The prime minister of Israel seems to be taking a page from the U.S. president's playbook. Benjamin Netanyahu is now calling out the media as he faces a tough election. Our Oren Liebermann has this report from Jerusalem.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They share a style, a billboard and now it seems a campaign strategy.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That is a lot of fake news back.
LIEBERMANN: President Trump has made attacking the media a central theme of his election and his presidency.
TRUMP: If you look at the news cast, I call it fake news.
LIEBERMANN: And now his friend, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who's facing a tough re-election bid, is doing the same.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: (INAUDIBLE) fake news.
LIEBERMANN: Ignoring traditional media outlets, the longest-serving leader in Israel history has gone to Facebook Live to rail against what he calls a secret quartet of media owners planning to tilt the result of the upcoming election.
NETANYAHU (through translator): The media court-martials us. They lie. They cheat. They distort on an enormous scale and when we give our reaction, they say, this is terrible. This is awful. This is incitement.
LIEBERMANN: In a week when Hezbollah militants fired anti-tank missiles at Israel, Netanyahu said it was the media that was planning what he called a terror attack.
NETANYAHU: You are carrying out a terror attack against the truth and against democracy. We will not bow down to your hypocritical double standards. We know it's all a bluff.
LIEBERMANN: Netanyahu and his Likud Party declined to comment to CNN. But political analysts here say they've never seen anything like this.
CHEMI SHALEV, HAARETZ JOURNALIST: In Israel, to call a journalist a terrorist which is the worst moniker that you can attach to anyone and to declare that they are trying to undermine democracy is very dangerous. It's a new stage.
LIEBERMANN: Channel 12's Guy Peleg now has a security team for his own safety. He says he's received threats.
But Netanyahu in another echo Trump's language called them fake security guards. As Netanyahu faces possible charges of bribery and breach of trust in
ongoing corruption investigations, he's accused the media of carrying out a witch hunt in an effort to unseat him. Even though it's an attorney general he appointed who is in charge of the cases. Netanyahu has insisted he is innocent.
SHALEV: I think now he truly believes that he is being persecuted, victimized by a vast left wing cabal run by the media. And I think it's worrying if he is indeed living in such a delusional state.
LIEBERMANN: And Netanyahu is also warning his voter base of election fraud. He says one of the Arab parties stole the victory from him last April when he failed to form a government after the election and he warns it is happening again.
Meanwhile Netanyahu's rival Benny Gantz says that Netanyahu is just trying to lay the ground work to reject the results of an election on an important democratic process, he says -- Oren Liebermann, CNN, Jerusalem.
HOWELL: Oren, thank you. An aborted takeoff and evidence of sabotage. Investigators say they talked to a man who is accused of tampering with an American Airlines flight and he has a surprising explanation.
HOWELL: A mechanic accused of tampering with the navigation equipment of an American Airlines flight back in July is waiting for his next court date. The incident is also raising questions about just how much we know about who is exactly working on our planes. Our Rene Marsh has this story.
RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: An American Airlines mechanic is accused of trying to sabotage a commercial airliner with 150 people onboard just before takeoff.
Abdul-Majeed Marouf Ahmed Alani faced a judge in Miami after being charged with willfully damaging, destroying, disabling or wrecking an aircraft and attempting to do so. Alani has not entered a plea.
It happened at American Airlines hub Miami International Airport on July 17th. According to the arrest affidavit, the plane's pitot tube, a key instrument, was found loose.
RODNEY HOOVER, CHIEF FLIGHT INSTRUCTOR, FREEWAY AIRPORT: This is the pitot tube. This is what drives our air speed indicator so that we know how fast we're moving through the air, which is one of the more fundamental things about flying a plane.
MARSH: Additionally, investigators say Alani superglued a piece of foam to a part of plane's navigation system to disable it. The system reports aircraft speed, pitch and other critical data.
PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: You have to know how fast the plane is going to do a successful takeoff. It's a very dangerous malfunction.
MARSH: The pilots noticed the problem as the plane began rolling for takeoff en route to the Bahamas, forcing them to abort takeoff.
Alani told investigators he was upset over a contract dispute between union workers and the airline that was costing him money. He allegedly tampered with the aircraft so he could get overtime by fixing the problem, which he created. According to the complaint, his intention was not to cause harm to the aircraft or its passengers.
Tonight, the incident is highlighting the vulnerabilities that still exist for commercial aviation post-9/11.
JAVED ALI, COUNTERTERRORISM EXPERT: There should certainly be an expectation that the airline security personnel, law enforcement, homeland security, that they are making sure that these types of events don't happen again.
MARSH: In a letter to employees, American Airlines saying today that they are disturbed and disappointed by this incident. We do know the mechanic has been suspended and we're also learning at one point worked for Alaska Airlines but was fired. According to court documents, the reason given, because of mechanical errors -- Reporting outside of Reagan National Airport, Rene Marsh, CNN.
HOWELL: Rene, thank you.
HOWELL: India's prime minister is reassuring scientists that an attempt to send a rover to the moon was worth the journey and the effort. That is even though the mission is assumed to have failed.
Prime minister Narendra Modi was watching with scientists as the spacecraft lost contact with the control room just moments before it was supposed to land. Mr. Modi also tweeted, "We will remain hopeful and will keep working on the country's space program."
Finally this hour, a mystery that has captivated the world for a better part of a century. You know that image right there, Scotland's Loch Ness monster. This famous photo from 1934 turns out to be a hoax but many people believe there is actually a monster in the lake.
Now scientists say Nessie might be a giant eel. Researchers took 250 DNA samples from the lake to study its biodiversity. They confirmed there are no, I repeat, no reptiles living there. Listen.
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NEIL GEMMELL, UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO: There is absolutely no evidence of any reptilian sequences in our samples. So I think we can be fairly sure that there is probably not a giant scaly reptile swimming around in Loch Ness.
There is one idea that remains plausible although (INAUDIBLE). There is large amounts of eel DNA in Loch Ness. Eels are very plentiful in the loch system. (INAUDIBLE) went through pretty much (INAUDIBLE).
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HOWELL: So while scientists say Nessie may exist in the famous Loch Ness in some way, they found nothing.
Thanks for being with us here for CNN NEWSROOM, I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. More news right after the break. Stay with us.