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Government Officials Complying with Subpoenas; Boeing CEO Testifies on Capitol Hill Today; Lordstown G.M. Plant to Close as Strike Ends. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired October 29, 2019 - 10:30   ET




POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: All right. This just in to CNN, we're learning that a subpoena was issued this morning for Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman's testimony.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: That's interesting because that's, of course, a tactic that the House Democrats have used to defeat a White House attempt to stymie this testimony.

CNN's Manu Raju joins us now on Capitol Hill. Manu, what do we know about the subpoena, the response? And did the White House make any last-minute attempts to block this?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are told from an official working on the impeachment inquiry, that a subpoena was in fact issued this morning to Alexander Vindman. It was delivered to him, and he is now here, answering questions.

Now, according to the statement that was just released from this official, that there were efforts by the White House to limit any testimony that did occur, and that's the reason why the subpoena was issued.

Now, this is a similar tactic that Democrats have been doing throughout this investigation, issuing subpoenas for a range of individuals, including from the ousted former ambassador to Ukraine, Marie Yovanovitch, including to Bill Taylor, the current top diplomat for Ukraine, who testified last week. Because they are contending that the White House, the State Department is trying to limit testimony, and we've seen the White House come forward, issuing letters saying they will not comply with this investigation, which is why they have issued these subpoenas.

Now, the difference is -- it's interesting because, yesterday, we saw another former official who did not come before this committee, Kupperman, who got a subpoena yesterday. He did not appear because, perhaps, he did not want to appear. But nevertheless, the White House tried to block that testimony as well.

So you're seeing some differences in how individuals come forward. But today, we're told that Alexander Vindman, behind closed doors, answering questions after receiving the subpoena -- guys.

HARLOW: OK, yes. Notable. Manu, thank you very much.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Most of the witnesses, heeding those subpoenas as opposed to taking it to court.

We have other news we're following, it is breaking news. Within the last hour, President Trump has confirmed that the top replacement -- or one of them -- for ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was, in his words, "terminated" by U.S. forces. Details of that operation, still coming in.

TEXT: Donald J. Trump: Just confirmed that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's number one replacement has been terminated by American troops. Most likely would have taken the top spot -- now he is also dead!

HARLOW: CNN Pentagon correspondent Barbara Starr is with us now. What do we know about all this? Who it was, what raid it was in? What can you share?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are getting very few details actually. We do know that -- and we reported, yesterday, there was an additional raid beyond the Baghdadi raid, that U.S. forces were -- had been involved in, and that a top ISIS operative had been killed in that raid.

The president, now confirming that. But he's not specifically saying if it's one and the same. All indications are, the person who was killed, some people say, was a potential replacement for Baghdadi. Others are saying, more or less, the chief spokesman for the organization.

Does it fundamentally change ISIS perhaps, not of course because ISIS is now a very diffused organization, cells all over the world. And still, cells inside Syria. And that's really important right now because U.S. troops, of course, are headed back into those eastern oil fields in Syria to, in the president's words, control them.


And now we know, from the Pentagon yesterday, that the mission the U.S. forces have is to control them so that the Kurds can keep getting oil revenue and even deny access to that area to any Russian or Syrian regime forces -- Poppy, Jim.

SCIUTTO: News, moving very quickly there on the ground in Syria. Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thanks very much.

HARLOW: Coming up, we deserve the scrutiny. That is the message this morning from Boeing's CEO, and what he's prepared to tell lawmakers. Right now, he is on the Hill. He will face questions about the two fatal crashes of those 373 MAX jets. Much more on that testimony, ahead.



HARLOW: Happening now, Boeing's CEO is on Capitol Hill, answering some very important questions from lawmakers about safety issues plaguing their 373 MAX jet.

He is the first Boeing official to testify before Congress after 346 people were killed in two crashes: an Ethiopian Airlines jet in March, and a Lion Air plane -- Lion Airlines airplane, last October.

SCIUTTO: His testimony comes one year to the day after that Lion Air crash off the coast of Indonesia, a system designed to automatically lower the plane's nose if it nears a stall is suspected of forcing both flights into the ground. Lots of evidence from the cockpit in both crashes, of pilots fighting that system.

Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO, admitted this morning, well, they made some mistakes.


DENNIS MUILENBURG, CEO, BOEING: We've made mistakes, and we got some things wrong. We're improving, and we're learning, and we're continuing to learn.


SCIUTTO: Well, hundreds of people did die in those crashes.


SCIUTTO: Let's bring in now-former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Transportation, and CNN transportation analyst Mary Schiavo. Thanks very much, Mary.


SCIUTTO: Mary, I want to ask, following this story has been fascinating and a little disturbing because what's become clear, beyond Boeing's mistakes, is the FAA's involvement here, really, or just the way the system is set up where the FAA cedes so much control to the airlines to self-certify. I mean, even there's been some reporting that they wrote the law, they wrote the language of the law, ceding control to the airline here. Tell us the problem with that.

SCHIAVO: Well, you're exactly right. You know, this problem has been so long in the making that, you know, working on this case is very fascinating because the wheels were put in motion for Boeing's failure years before, because the FAA -- and remember, in concert with Congress and the Senate, delegated to Boeing the authority to approve almost every part of this plane.

And by doing this delegation, then, the FAA was not aware of crucial changes in the MCAS system that pushed the nose down even further. And even when Boeing became aware of these problems, before the Lion Air crash and certainly after the Lion Air crash, the FAA was not immediately notified. But, again, this change, this designation of authority to certify was

approved by Congress, it was passed by the Senate. So they have a lot of questions to ask both Boeing, the FAA and themselves.


HARLOW: The Europeans are looking at this differently, Mary, and it seems to me as though they're taking -- they're just taking a slower route here, and they are saying we need more evidence before we unground these planes. I wonder if you think that's the right approach, and also what it takes for the public to regain trust in these planes.

SCHIAVO: Right. The Europeans are taking it more slowly, as is the rest of the world. I mean, there are many other aviation nations that are taking a long, hard look at this, you know, China and other countries. And we have to remember that, last Friday, the final report on the Lion Air crash did come out and the Federal Aviation Administration, if you just look at it by line count and word count, they had more recommendations aimed at them than even Boeing.

So the nations of the world, sadly the Federal Aviation Administration's reputation is very, very tarnished and its leadership is in question, and so other nations of the world won't just accept the FAA's word.

Passengers? Who knows how long before anyone will feel comfortable. I mean, the issue's been raised that perhaps Boeing will even change the name of the plane, putting it into an aviation version of the Witness Protection Program, with a new identity --


SCHIAVO: -- but I think passengers will resist for some time. But that's part of Boeing's job on the Hill and elsewhere, is to really convince them that not only that they have fixed the problem, but that they deserve our trust.


SCHIAVO: And I'm not sure the Hill's convinced, and I know the public isn't convinced.

SCIUTTO: Just very briefly, yes or no. For Poppy and myself and others who might be listening, should we feel comfortable flying on this plane?

SCHIAVO: Well, not yet. And it's going to depend what the FAA does next, and it's really going to depend on what Congress does. The Senate and the House, I say, allowed this designation. They have to revisit what they did as well.


HARLOW: Right. SCHIAVO: We've got to get all of Washington working again.

SCIUTTO: Yes. The House was involved, of course, in writing this legislation too. Mary Schiavo, thanks very much.


HARLOW: All right. There's a lot going on today. Here's "What to Watch."

TEXT: What to Watch... 11:00 a.m. Eastern, Obama Foundation Summit; 12:00 p.m. Eastern, 9/11 Families & Survivors in NYC; 7:10 p.m. Eastern, Sen. Kamala Harris Hosts Town Hall in Iowa



HARLOW: Still to come, new details this morning about the true cost of the General Motors strike, the billions of dollars lost and those jobs that will not be coming back to one Ohio town.



SCIUTTO: New this morning, General Motors is expecting significant losses following the now-resolved United Auto Workers strike.

HARLOW: The company says the six-week strike will end up costing nearly $3 billion in revenue. It ended last Saturday. But even though it's over, not every G.M. employee is getting to go back to work.

SCIUTTO: Yes. The deal reached with the union means a shuttered plant in Lordstown, Ohio. You may remember that, we've covered that here. It will not reopen after all. That's despite repeated promises. I'm sure you remember those from President Trump.


SCIUTTO: CNN's Vanessa Yurkevich, she is in Lordstown, Ohio. Vanessa, tell us how workers feel there. Do they feel betrayed?

VANESSA YURKEVICH, CNN BUSINESS AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Jim and Poppy. This sign behind me may still say, "Home of the Cruze," but G.M. is no longer producing cars here and that is leaving workers with a lot of uncertainty about their future.


TIFFANY KING, FORMER G.M. WORKER: Never, ever, ever did I think I would see this day.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Tiffany King spent more than half her life working at this G.M. plant in Lordstown, Ohio. This parking lot once filled with the cars she helped build, now it sits completely empty.

KING: It's all gone in a blink, in an instant.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): This is her first time back since she helped build the last Cruz, six months ago. She's held out hope this engine would start again, but that ended Friday. G.M. and the United Auto Workers Union signed their contract with no new plan for Lordstown.

KING: By that time, my mind was already made up, I was going to stay here. I wanted to stay here, this is my home, my community.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Lordstown, the poster child for the auto industry, once a huge economic driver for this rural part of the state. Not anymore. President Trump took notice, came to town and promised these workers their jobs.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Don't sell your house. Do not sell it. We're going to get those values up, we're going to get those jobs coming back and we're going to fill up those factories or rip them down and build brand-new ones. So it's going to happen.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): But it didn't. Most workers have left town, and the city says it's lost $1 million since March. These two shuttered restaurants are signs of the times.

YURKEVICH: What will this area start to look like in the next couple months, next couple years?

BILL ADAMS, V.P., LOCAL UNION 1112: I would say it's going to get -- economically, it's going to get worse. You're not going to have the engine that drove it for so many years.

YURKEVICH: Bill Adams heard the president's promise to save his job. And now, he's helping other union members find new ones.

YURKEVICH: Do you think it was an unrealistic promise that he made?

ADAMS: Pretty much anything that man says is unrealistic to me.

YURKEVICH: A lot of people do believe. They believed that he was going to save jobs.

ADAMS: How'd that work out? It didn't. He lied.

DOUG GRANT, FORMER G.M. WORKER: I wanted to believe him, I wanted to give him a chance. I did not vote for him, but I thought if he could do something, fine. We'll take any avenue of help that we can get to keep the facility open.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): Doug Grant worked in Lordstown for nearly 20 years, and he doesn't plan on leaving.

GRANT: You hope for the best, prepare for the worst. And right now, we're living the worst.

YURKEVICH: So what do you do now? GRANT: I've looked for some jobs. As you get older, it's harder.

I'm going to be forced into retirement, take a retirement package.

YURKEVICH (voice-over): This plant represents more than just jobs. Its demise is an industry indicator. And for Grant, a warning about the future.

GRANT: If it could happen to Lordstown -- again, another cliche -- if it could happen here, it could happen anywhere.


YURKEVICH: That economic anxiety that you're hearing there is something we saw play out in the 2016 election, where President Trump won. We'll start to hear more of that as we head into 2020.

The president still has a lot of support here, Jim and Poppy. But Democrats we spoke to say they're really interested in candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders because they talk about corporate greed, something these workers here feel like --


YURKEVICH: -- they just felt with the closing of this plant here in Lordstown, Jim and Poppy.

HARLOW: And they talk about actual, you know, policy proposals like having 40 percent of board members be elected by the employees, right? Whether that would actually be able to happen is another story. Vanessa, great reporting. Thank you.


SCIUTTO: Coming up, a race against the clock for crews fighting wildfires, ongoing in Southern California. When hurricane-force winds are now expected to move through the area.


HARLOW: Powerful winds, high temperatures putting more than 25 million people under red flag warnings in California as crews battle at least 10 wildfires across the state. The Getty fire in Los Angeles has burned 600 acres, destroying several homes and threatening the 405 freeway. Right now, that fire is just 5 percent contained and hurricane-force winds are expected to move in tonight that could just fuel all of this.

SCIUTTO: It's amazing how common this has become. Those are people's homes, going up in flames. Thankfully so far, no lives lost.

Meanwhile, here are live pictures from Middletown, California. This is where the Kinkade fire has now grown to more than 75,000 acres, that's twice the size of the city of San Francisco. Nearly 200,000 people under evacuation orders in California wine country. The fire there, just 15 percent contained. They got a long way to go.


HARLOW: We'll keep a very close eye on this. We're thinking of everyone, dealing with that in California.

Thanks for being with us. We'll see you back here tomorrow morning.