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GOP Senator "Disturbed" By McConnell's White House Coordination; Boeing's Public Relations Push To Salvage 737 MAX Jets; Top Nine Trending Stories of 2019. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired December 26, 2019 - 07:30   ET




SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): I happen to think that that has further confused the process.


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: She's referring to Mitch McConnell saying that he was --


CAMEROTA: -- working in coordination with the White House.

SANTORUM: Yes. Well, two -- I'd have two comments on that.

Number one, I'm very proud of Lisa. I think she's absolutely right that there needs to be a perception out there. And in some respects, I agree with Hilary that there needs to be a perception out there and a reality that the Senate is taking this seriously and that the Senate is going to do what the Senate thinks is best.

That's what we did in 1999. We actually did take a step back and we made the decision as to what was best for the country and as the Senate as an institution. And I think ultimately, that that's what we're -- that's going to happen in this case.

But having said that, I remind you that Tom Daschle, Bill Clinton, and the like wanted no trial. They wanted to dismiss this thing out of hand. They were in cahoots with each other from the very, very start about trying to short-circuit this process.

The only reason they couldn't do it is that they weren't in control. And the difference is that McConnell and the Republicans are actually in control and have the votes to do that.

I don't think it's a wise thing for them to do. I think it's better for them to step back. And I think senators, like Lisa Murkowski but a whole bunch of others -- I mean, even some of the conservatives -- understand this is bigger than just getting rid of this and helping the president out. There's -- the Senate needs to look and act like a Senate that's responsibly dealing with this issue, and I think in the end they will.

CAMEROTA: Here are the senators -- the key senators to watch. These are senators on the Democratic side and the Republican side that are either in swing districts or that have not necessarily been in lockstep with the administration on everything.

And so, Hilary, do you think that we will see some Republican senators break with the administration and either say that they want witnesses or do something else?


Whether these senators who are vulnerable in -- Susan Collins in Maine, and Cory Gardner in Colorado or Martha McSally in Arizona -- whether these senators believe that Donald Trump can sweep them to reelection in a national narrative election in the fall or whether their personal actions on this are going to be what the voters judge in their increasingly purple, increasingly blue states. And so I think that that's the key issue here.

People are very focused on the president. What they ought to be focused on is actually the dynamics of the Senate.

We saw this in the Kavanaugh hearing where people felt like the wrath of Donald Trump could have more impact than anything else. That's when we lost three vulnerable Democratic senators. I think we'll see the same thing here again with three vulnerable Republican senators who are going to make a decision based on their state and that perception and less about Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump.

SANTORUM: Can I make one quick comment on this and that is just be careful what you wish for if you are Democrats, on witnesses, because if the Democrats are insistent on getting some witnesses and, in fact, do, Republicans are going to want witnesses, too. And they're not going to be friendly to Joe Biden and they're not going to be friendly to the Democrats.

So I think the Democrats are playing with fire here and they may just decide ultimately, as we did in 1999, that less is more. And that trying to -- and trying to blow this into a big production would be damaging to the Senate and the country and better to sort of move on. And that's what happened 20 years ago.

CAMEROTA: Hilary, should the Democrats be careful about that?

ROSEN: Sure. Well, and I think one thing is clear to me, which is that most of the country is baked on either side of this. They -- you know, Democrats believe Donald Trump is lying. I think most Republicans think he did a bad thing but that he shouldn't necessarily be removed from office.

The key issue for Democrats, I think, is to make sure that what we are doing to get the facts out doesn't drag this trial too far into next year. I think actually, both parties agree that having some resolution of this before going into an election and running on how Donald Trump has failed Americans on health care, how minimum wage is stagnant, how --


ROSEN: -- you know, prescription drug legislation hasn't made any progress -- those are better issues for Democrats and that's what people want to be talking about next spring and fall.

CAMEROTA: All right. Hilary Rosen, Sen. Rick Santorum, thank you both.

SANTORUM: Yes, Merry Christmas to all -- thanks.

CAMEROTA: Merry Christmas to you -- John.


Boeing's latest strategy to boost its image after the 737 MAX crisis. What they're asking pilots to do to help get the public back on your side. You won't believe it.



AVLON: All right.

Boeing wants to help airlines regain the public's trust as it works to contain the fallout from two deadly crashes of its 737 MAX jets. "The New York Times" reports that Boeing is providing strategies to airlines to help ease concerns of passengers who now say they're unwilling to fly on those troubled planes.

Joining us now, CNN aviation analyst Miles O'Brien, science correspondent from "PBS NEWSHOUR." And CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo, the former Department of Transportation inspector general. And we should note, Mary is an attorney representing families of crash victims and has currently litigation pending against Boeing.

Miles, let me begin with you. News of a giant P.R. offensive on the part of Boeing. The pilots are supposed to help communicate the message.

My question to you is this. Is this a P.R. problem or is this a 346- people dead problem?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST, SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT, "PBS NEWSHOUR": This is a fundamental engineering and safety culture problem, John. P.R. is papering things over, to say the least. And the company has to gain the confidence of the pilots themselves before they hand out these cards explaining the apparent safety of the 737 MAX.

[07:40:09] I think it's -- the cart is a little bit before the horse here for Boeing. They need to address much more fundamental issues before they start thinking about P.R.


And, Mary, they have been really doing polls and focus groups to see if people would be willing to fly on these airlines and the numbers haven't gotten considerably better over the last several months. I mean, is this the right strategy to try to put the facts, as they see it, forward? Or, as Miles suggests, is there a deeper cultural problem that you think Boeing needs to take more seriously?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN TRANSPORTATION ANALYST, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Oh, yes, and there's a deeper engineering problem. I always say the only laws you can't break are the laws of physics.

I mean, this plane, when it had so many problems -- and in the process it was called the frankenplane because they hung so many changes on it and tried to do such -- you know, so many things with the plane on a very old certification.

But this goes far beyond a P.R. problem and it almost makes you think that the people doing these surveys and planning this actually never consulted a real for-real airline flight department. It is impossible. You can't hand out cards telling them oh, this is why this plane crashed before and this is why it's better. It will never work.

AVLON: Yes. I think if that's the first thing I'd heard from a pilot when I got on a plane I wouldn't be filled with confidence.

But, Miles, let me just stick on this one question --


AVLON: -- because Boeing was legendary for its engineering prowess, for a culture of quality. What changed?

O'BRIEN: Well, the world changed in the sense that there is a lot more competition and pressure. And there was a tremendous push at Boeing over the years to outsource a lot of their work. I mean, building an airliner has always been a collaboration of --


O'BRIEN: -- a lot of companies. It's all done in one factory floor. But there's been a tremendous push by the corporation to build parts, design parts offshore. And in the case of the 787, they admitted they did it too much that way and that they tried to pull things back in.

In the case of the 737, you have to look at the root cause of this. It was a failure of a piece of hardware -- an angle of attack sensor that happened twice. Why -- those parts should be, quite frankly, bulletproof. The fact that two of those failed speaks of another problem which we haven't been talking quite as much about.

AVLON: Which is?

O'BRIEN: Which is the quality control. Above and beyond the software issue, the quality control of these parts --


O'BRIEN: -- is suspect. And on top of that, the fact that they were relying on this critical life or death system with one sensor, not redundant, speaks to a failing of the engineering culture. This is one of the great engineering enterprises ever in the history of mankind.

And frankly, putting the chairman of the board in the CEO slot, he's an accounting guy -- a business guy. I think it's time maybe to revamp that thinking and put some engineers at the top.

AVLON: Mary, you were the I.G. for a long time. Is this also, in addition to an engineering problem, a regulation problem?

SCHIAVO: Yes, it is. It's a huge regulation problem because federal aviation regulations, among other things, say that the plane has to be aerodynamically stable and this one is not without the MCAS system, in Boeing's words. Now, of course, they're tweaking it but tweaking isn't going to help this.

And then you have another problem in federal aviation regulations require redundancy -- just what Miles was exactly talking about. You cannot have a system that takes data from only one angle of attack indicator, just like you have to have not only double systems in some cases -- double instruments -- but triple to resolve the issues. When one fails, what's the right reading?

And so by relying on one -- and it's -- even the patents -- I've read the patent documents and even that's a little fuzzy. But relying on one and having a plane that may not be aerodynamically stable violates federal regulations.

AVLON: Miles, there's another issue, which is the forthrightness of Boeing during this inquiry. On Monday, the day they announced the firing of their former CEO Dennis Muilenburg, they handed over a whole new tranche of documents to the House committee investigating this.

What are you hearing are included in those?

O'BRIEN: Well, I mean, these messages between the pilots who were part of the test program are, frankly, shocking. And in handing them over, Boeing admitted this is not reflective of good safety culture.

You know, safety culture is a ground-up type of thing and if you allow that -- you know, basically, a lot of little decisions can lead to people dying and that's what you see here. Tiny little decisions, which in and of themselves seem like it's going to be OK, get stacked up on top of one another and you end up with this culture which leads you, in complex systems, to truly a lack of safety. And I think that's what we're seeing here and these documents just lay that bare.


AVLON: All right. And we do have a statement from Boeing, by the way, that we should read.

It says, "We routinely engage with our airline customers' communications teams to seek their feedback and brief them on our latest plans. Each airline is different in their needs, so we provide a wide range of documents and assistance that they can choose to use or tailor as they see fit."

So that is -- that's the Boeing side of things.

Mary, you mentioned that to you, it almost looks like Boeing is the mayor in the fictional town in the movie "Jaws," trying to convince folks to get back in the water after two attacks.


AVLON: What actions should they be taking in your estimation?

SCHIAVO: Well, at this point, they've mishandled it so badly by after the first crash saying oh, the plane's safe -- it's the pilot's fault. After the second crash, they said the same thing.

That report isn't out yet but I've seen a lot of the documents, the flight data recorder -- data from the cockpit. And that second report is going to be worse than the first in terms of Boeing fault. So, by Boeing blaming the pilots and blaming everything except the plane, at this point -- and, of course, no one trusts the regulators now either because they said the plane was safe. So you can't trust the mayor, you can't trust the sheriff at the town of -- in this town of "Jaws."

So at this point, they literally are going to have to go back to the engineering and prove to the Federal Aviation Administration and others that the plane truly is safe under regulation laws of physics. But I think in the long run, they'll probably rename the program and literally take the plane through the witness protection program and give it a new identity.

AVLON: Well --

SCHIAVO: That's just my guess. That's -- I have no facts on that.

AVLON: It's a reasonable guess as well as a vivid example.

Mary, Miles, thank you so much for joining us on NEW DAY.

CAMEROTA: All right, John.

From a royal baby to "GAME OF THRONES" and everything in between, which stories were biggest on social media this year? We bring you the top trending stories of 2019.


CAMEROTA: The atmospheric music.

AVLON: Ooh, I like that.

CAMEROTA: From political showdowns to scientific breakthroughs, we bring you the top trending stories of 2019. Here's CNN's Brooke Baldwin.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR, "CNN NEWSROOM": From the U.S. women's soccer team demanding equal pay to the passionate teenager fighting to save the planet, social media remained a powerful weapon for advocacy in 2019. And then, of course, there were the memes.

So here are our top nine trending stories of the year.

Number nine, a friend who nearly broke the Internet. Jennifer Aniston joined Instagram and the Internet just couldn't handle it. Her first post actually managed to crash her page.

Her first photo, an epic "FRIENDS" reunion selfie and the caption, "And now we're Instagram FRIENDS, too." It became one of Instagram's most popular photos of the year with more than 15 million likes.

Number eight, and now to even more Instagram royalty. The young son of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, Archie Harrison Mountbatten- Windsor, whose birth, gender, and name were all announced on the social media platform. The family regularly posts pictures of their son to their Instagram page before they're seen anywhere else. Just another way these modern royals are shaking up the monarchy.

Number seven, winter came and fans were not happy. It was one of the most eagerly-anticipated final seasons ever and the most tweeted about show of all 2019.

And while viewers were split on the ending of "GAME OF THRONES," it was some unintended product placement that brought divided fans together -- a coffee cup left on set. The Internet erupted in memes.

The official "GAME OF THRONES" account tweeted this response out. "News from Winterfell. The latte that appeared in the episode was a mistake. Daenerys had ordered an herbal tea."

Number six --

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR, "ANDERSON COOPER 360": Another death on Mount Everest, bringing the total to 11 thus far this climbing season.

BALDWIN: These amazing pictures went viral, showing how record numbers of climbers packed the summit. Some mountaineers think this traffic jam actually contributed to this year's death toll. Climbers endured waits of two to four hours while in the death zone. That's near the top of the mountain where there's only one-third of the oxygen found at sea level.

Number five, a scientific event of intergalactic magnitude.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A huge breakthrough for humanity.

BALDWIN: The first photo of a black hole.

SHEP DOELEMAN, AMERICAN ASTROPHYSICIST: Black holes are the most mysterious objects in the universe. They're cloaked by an event horizon where their gravity prevents even light from escaping.

BALDWIN: Located 55 million lightyears away in a galaxy called M87.

In this galaxy, another black hole photo went viral the moment researcher Katie Bouman processed the first image showing the massive phenomenon. To see it, scientists in multiple countries around the world linked local telescopes to create this virtual observatory. Predictably, Twitter couldn't escape the donut memes.

Number four, in Paris, a catastrophic fire shocked the world.


BALDWIN: Millions watched in disbelief as flames engulfed Notre Dame, the city's iconic 856-year-old cathedral.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We heard the tower fall. People screamed. It's so sad.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What went through my mind was the heart of Paris was burning.


BALDWIN: People poured onto the streets to pray. And on social media, so many paid tribute by posting photos of their visits to the holy site. Hashtag Notre Dame became the most-tweeted news-related hashtag of 2019.

The loss inspired generosity near and far, establishing a $700 million reconstruction fund. Restorations are now underway.

Number three, in 2019, Democrats took back the House. Nancy Pelosi regained the speakership and had some of the year's most viral moments, from the infamous State of the Union clap back, the rebuke that launched thousands of hashtag don'tmesswithme memes --

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): As a Catholic, I resent your using the word hate in a sentence that addresses me. I don't hate anyone. So don't mess with me when it comes to words like that.

BALDWIN: -- and staring down Trump from across that cabinet room table. The image meant to be an insult -- the president's caption, "Nervous Nancy's unhinged meltdown!" -- instead went viral, showing Washington's most powerful woman standing up to the president. Number two, the U.S. women's soccer team proved, once again, they are the best in the world. Congratulations poured in from all over social media. Ellen DeGeneres said her World Cup runneth over, while former President Barack Obama thanked the women for being a strong inspiration to women and girls, and everybody all across the country.

The players' game poses became instant memes. And many of the players took their pleas to pay equity rights to their fans via their social media pages.

And number one, she is the teenager on strike for the planet.


BALDWIN: "Time's" Person of the Year --

THUNBERG: Change is coming whether you like it or not.

BALDWIN: -- Greta Thunberg is leading a generation of climate kids.

THUNBERG: People are suffering, people are dying, and our ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction and all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth. How dare you?

BALDWIN: Her impassioned speech at the U.N. Climate Action Summit catapulted her meteoric social media rise, making her the face of climate activism online. Thunberg used her new platform to lead a global climate strike with more than 4,600 events in nearly 150 countries. Hashtag climatestrike was the eighth-most-popular hashtag of the year, so for this 16-year-old and her army of climate kids, it's only the beginning.


CAMEROTA: Our thanks to Brooke for that. I love those look-backs.

AVLON: I do, too.

CAMEROTA: So much happens in a year.

AVLON: I mean, and also, just what a way to end a decade. I mean, this decade has been so tumultuous. But when you see it all put together it really helps mark time and that -- Greta Thunberg, in particular, ending on that -- that's one of those moments that may last.

But all throughout the year we've had just extraordinary moments and you can lose in the Strum and Drang of it all.

CAMEROTA: I know you're most struck by the durability of "FRIENDS" and the popularity --

AVLON: Yes. You know what --

CAMEROTA: -- of "FRIENDS." AVLON: -- good show. Get over it. It seems to be.


AVLON: You know --

CAMEROTA: That's blasphemy.

AVLON: It may be blasphemy but I'm saying here, people --

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh.

AVLON: -- that is so last century.

CAMEROTA: Earmuffs --

AVLON: I appreciate nostalgia, but --

CAMEROTA: -- audience, earmuffs.

AVLON: -- I like more the Abe Lincoln nostalgia.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh. Yes, you go way back in the time machine.

AVLON: I'm way back in that time machine. It's all good.

CAMEROTA: Thank you --

AVLON: All right.

CAMEROTA: -- to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next.

For our U.S. viewers, a key Republican senator expressing frustration with her own leader's plan for impeachment. NEW DAY continues now.


MURKOWSKI: I heard what leader McConnell had said and I was disturbed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lisa Murkowski has some problems with what Mitch McConnell said. Where she comes down on this may be the ultimate question.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Democrats are hoping that at least four Republican senators will break ranks to compel witness testimony.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're in a very good position. Ultimately, that decision's going to be made by Mitch McConnell.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is the concern for Mitch McConnell. I think it probably will have an effect on how McConnell and the leadership goes forward. TRUMP: They treated us very unfairly. They didn't give us anything. Now they want everything.


ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.

CAMEROTA: And, good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, December 26th, 8:00 in the east.

John Berman is still off, sleeping off his massive meals, I'm sure, this week. John Avlon is here with me. Great to have you.

AVLON: Happy Boxing Day. Great to be with you.

CAMEROTA: All right. Christmas did not change the stalemate over the impeachment trial but for the first time, we are seeing a Republican break ranks in the Senate.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she is, quote, "disturbed" by the coordination between Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell and the White House in the lead-up to the president's impeachment trial.