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HALA GORANI TONIGHT

Cause of Ukraine Airliner Crash Remains Unknown; War Powers Resolution Vote This Afternoon; Meetings in Buckingham Palace to Resolve Fallout as Harry and Meghan Announce Reduced Roles as Royals; Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO) Is Being Interviewed About Iran Plane Crash; U.S. Increasingly Believes Iran Shot Down Jet By Accident; Lawmakers Question Whether Soleimani Was "Imminent" Threat; Canadian Prime Minster Speaks About Iran Plane Crash. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 9, 2020 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:19]

HALA GORANI, CNN HOST, HALA GORANI TONIGHT: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.

Tonight, shot down by mistake? That is what U.S. officials are starting to believe happened to the Ukrainian airliner that crashed in Iran.

And right now in Washington, lawmakers are debating whether to rein in President Trump's war powers. I'll speak live to a senator.

Plus, CNN now understands that Prince Harry defied the queen by issuing that statement. The latest on the young royal's pullback from the family.

The U.S. is pointing the finger at Iran for that crash of the Ukrainian airliner outside Tehran. Multiple U.S. officials tell CNN the working

theory is that the plane was mistakenly shot down by Iran. This, of course, as tensions between the two countries are extremely high.

The U.S. president says he is suspicious. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's a tragic thing, when I see that. It's a tragic thing. But somebody could have made a mistake on

the other side, could have made a mistake. It was flying --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Air defense system?

TRUMP: -- it was flying and -- not our system, no, it has nothing to do with us. It was flying in a pretty rough neighborhood.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, we expect to hear from Justin Trudeau, the Canadian prime minister, any moment now; 63 Canadian lives were lost on that plane. We're

going to monitor Justin Trudeau's comments and bring them to you when we have them.

Now, Iran is questioning this theory, noting that the plane appeared to be turning back toward the airport when it went down. The head of Iran's Civil

Aviation Authority says if it was shot down, it would have gone into freefall.

Now, of course, all 176 people on board were killed when the plane crashed early Wednesday. We're going to get reaction as well from Kiev, where that

plane was headed to.

Let's get more now on what the U.S. is saying. CNN's Barbara Starr has been talking to her sources at the Pentagon. What are they telling you, Barbara?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, actually, Hala, this isn't really coming from the Pentagon. This is a number of other U.S.

government agencies across Washington, very quietly saying that the working theory now by the U.S. government -- not at the Pentagon -- is that this

most likely, at least it appears to be, was a mistaken shootdown by Iranian forces, a fog of war incident.

The president, as you saw, saying it could have been a mistake and then going on and saying he just doesn't believe at this point that it was

mechanical failure.

When we talk fog of war, the theory goes right now, based on what they do know, that perhaps an Iranian missile unit on the ground got confused, they

thought they saw a threat coming in and fired against it, and this plane was impacted.

So there seems to be some kind of U.S. radar or satellite evidence of an external object, if you will, an external threat being involved, an

external event being involved in bringing this plane down.

As you say, we are awaiting the prime minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, because there were so many Canadians on board. We know that Canadian

intelligence services are also looking at this very closely.

You know, eventually, I think one hope is that someone will be able to test some of the wreckage for any kind of explosive residue that would be unique

to a missile rather than aviation fuel, and that could wind up giving them some of the evidence that they're looking for -- Hala.

GORANI: Yes. And so many Canadians, as you mentioned there, Barbara, on board. Thanks very much.

For Iran's reaction, let's go to Fred Pleitgen in Tehran. And people are asking, well, if Iran did nothing wrong, why won't it release these black

boxes?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the Iranians are saying that they're in charge of this investigation, Hala, and

that they have the capabilities themselves to read the black boxes.

I was actually able to get in touch with the head of Iran's Civil Aviation -- or we were able to get in touch, our producer, Rami (ph) (INAUDIBLE),

was able to get in touch with the head of the Iranian Civil Aviation Authority -- and ask him what about this new information coming from the

U.S., that the plane might have been brought down by an accidental surface- to-air missile launch by the Iranian military.

And he says that he didn't rule that out, that that might have happened, but he says that he doubts that that happened. And the reason why he said

that is he said the plane took off, it flew for several minutes -- I think it was five minutes in total, the report that's been put out so far says --

and then the plane tried to turn back and fly back to Imam Khomeini Airport, obviously with some sort of problem.

[14:05:00]

He says he believes that if that plane would have been struck by a missile, it would have fallen out of the sky immediately. Now, of course, we saw

that footage with the plane seemingly on fire, having trouble to stay in the air. But he says he believes that, in his mind, there are some doubts

about whether or not it could have been hit by a missile.

Now, back to those black boxes. The Iranians are saying they will not hand them over to Boeing, they are going to work on this themselves. They say

they have the capability to read black boxes. There are investigators here on the ground from Ukraine who are working with the Iranians, the Iranians

say. And tomorrow, they want to try and get data from those black boxes.

Now, the head of the aviation authority also says that those black boxes -- or at least one of them -- is damaged. And he says if the Iranians and the

Ukrainians don't have the capabilities to try and get the data from the damaged black box, that they might ask the Canadians or might ask the

French for help in reading that data.

Of course, the Canadians and the French both had citizens on that plane as well. And especially the French have an amazing track record of dealing

with aviation disasters. They obviously have the BEA down there in Toulouse, which is one of the big expert organizations.

So the Iranians are saying right now, they want to handle this on their own. They say there is transparency in their investigation because they

have the Ukrainians here. They said that they've also invited the Swedes to come over as well.

And finally, Hala, this head of the aviation authority said whatever data gets out of that black box will be released to the world. His own words --

Hala.

GORANI: All right. Interesting, though, because we were speaking to airline accident investigators over the last 24 hours, saying those black

boxes technically belong to the plane maker, which is Boeing. So Iran's saying they have the capability, we'll see how that develops. Thanks very

much for that, Fred Pleitgen.

I want to cross over to Beirut, Lebanon, where CNN's Richard Quest is following the investigation of course. And the big headline this hour,

Richard, is that the U.S., other intelligence agencies increasingly believe that this plane was accidentally shot out of the sky.

RICHARD QUEST, CNN EDITOR AT LARGE: And if so, an appalling, horrific incident, worthy of the most detailed examination to find out exactly what

happened. And, Hala, the issue is, will we get this from the Iranians.

Well, firstly, they are in a position, better than anybody, to know whether they shot the plane out of the sky. So that's where the first question

needs to be followed up closely. They can tell us, did you shoot by accident, this plane? Thereafter --

GORANI: Yes.

QUEST: -- you've got the residue, you've got the evidence, you've got the plane. You've got all the explosive residue that will be on the fuselage,

the wreckage and -- pardon me saying so -- on the bodies of those who were killed.

GORANI: Yes. But I mean, it is odd, right? This goes very much against protocol, for a country to say we're not releasing these black boxes, we're

going to hold onto them. Don't they technically belong to Boeing?

QUEST: Well, yes. They probably still are Boeing property, or more -- perhaps even more likely, they belong to the airline. But the rules, the

international rules are clear.

GORANI: Yes.

QUEST: The responsibility for investigating this rests with Iran. However, if Iran is not qualified, reading the boxes, they are to send them to a

competent country. Now, in the past --

GORANI: Right.

QUEST: -- countries that have been sent to are, of course, the U.K., the U.S., France, Canada, Australia, even Russia could -- obviously could read

these boxes.

What I doubt -- I could well be wrong here, completely and utterly wrong -- but I doubt that the Iranians have the capabilities to read out these boxes

if they are highly damaged and need the most sophisticated sterile environment for dealing with it.

GORANI: What Tehran is saying is that the plane turned back around, it attempted to go back to the airport and therefore, the missile scenario is

unlikely. Is that the case?

QUEST: The data that we've seen so far does not suggest that. But even if it does suggest there was some sort of turnaround, forgive me being crude

but that could be the plane falling out of the sky. That could be whatever happened. This (ph) is the plane going in an opposite direction.

We believe that the data from the aircraft stopped immediately and instantaneously, the sort of thing where there is an explosion. But, Hala -

-

GORANI: Right.

QUEST: -- in all of this discussion, we are sort of straying from the simple fact that if Iran fired the missile, they are the people who can

quickly and easily tell us. If they won't, then let in the Canadians or the Americans -- which they won't do -- to investigate the debris and you will

have residue that will show explosive content.

[14:10:08]

GORANI: Right. It should be a pretty straightforward process. Thanks very much, Richard Quest.

And obviously, the big victims here are the family members, the friends, the loved ones of those who so tragically lost their lives, victims as well

on that plane.

Let's go to Ukraine, where the country has been in mourning. CNN's Scott McLean joins us live from Kiev. And you're at the airport, and there's this

makeshift memorial where people are paying tribute to those who lost their lives -- Scott. It's a pretty somber mood, I imagine.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It certainly is. And this is a growing memorial. I should say, Hala, as you've been saying, American sources are

increasingly sure that this plane was shot out of the sky. The Iranians say that's not true. The Ukrainians just want everyone to avoid speculation.

But separate from all this, let's not forget that there are 176 families who just want answers.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MCLEAN (voice-over): Grief is the only emotion on show at Kiev Boryspil Airport, and overwhelming sadness for the victims of Flight PS752, which

crashed shortly after takeoff from Tehran, killing all 176 on board.

This woman sobs uncontrollably for her son, Captain Volodymyr Gaponenko. Why did you leave me? Who will visit me? She cries.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, MOTHER OF VOLODYMYR GAPONENKO (through translator): They thanked me for raising a good son. We just celebrated his 50th

birthday. He was my only son. Now, I'm all by myself.

MCLEAN (voice-over): The growing memorial at the doomed flight's scheduled destination pays tribute to the crew members, nine of the 11 Ukrainians who

were killed. Family and friends, publicly coming to terms with the fact they now only have memories. One by one, colleagues lining up to say

goodbye.

Through tears, one flight attendant tells us her aviation family has lost not just colleagues, but a piece of themselves. Even those who had only

fleeting encounters feel the need to pay their respects.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We remember that this (ph) were (ph) very nice, very cute and smiled, young woman.

MCLEAN (voice-over): Most of the grief will be felt in Iran and in Canada: 138 passengers, many of them promising young students, were transiting

through Kiev on route to Toronto.

In Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelensky declared a national day of mourning, just after Ukrainian investigators touched down in Iran to bring

families some much-needed answers.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKY, PRESIDENT OF UKRAINE (through translator): The morning of January 8th, 2020 became a black page in the history of both Ukraine and

the world. We will surely find out the truth. For this purpose, a thorough and independent investigation will be conducted in accordance with

international law.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MCLEAN: And President Zelensky has been taking calls from around the world today, getting condolences and offering his own as well.

When it comes to responsibility, Ukraine is caught in the middle between the United States and Iran. Zelensky is urging European partners, including

the U.S., to provide hard evidence if they have it -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. Scott McLean, thanks very much.

Now to Capitol Hill, where House lawmakers are debating a resolution that would technically limit Donald Trump's ability to wage war on Iran without

congressional approval. It would require the U.S. president to get the OK from Congress before, quote, "engaging in hostilities," unquote, unless the

use of force is deemed necessary to prevent an imminent attack.

Now, that's a very important qualifier, as the Trump administration insists Qassem Soleimani posed an imminent threat before he was killed, thought

lawmakers on Capitol Hill who were briefed on the intelligence say, many of them, that they were not convinced that was the case.

Now, the House is expected to hold a final vote on the resolution in just a few hours. Let's get more now from Lauren Fox -- she's on Capitol Hill --

and Jeremy Diamond at the White House.

Talk to us a little bit about what's expected. I understand between 4:15 and 5:15 p.m. Eastern, the vote will take place. What does it change? What

will this resolution mean practically?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, essentially, what we know is that this vote will take place this afternoon. They're voting right now,

Hala, on the rule, which basically establishes what the rules are surrounding how they're going to vote at 4:15, later on today.

Now, I will tell you that the expectation in the Senate is that those lawmakers will go with Senator Tim Kaine's resolution. It's slightly

different than the version in the House of Representatives.

[14:15:00]

But we do expect, now, that there will be at least two Republicans who will support that resolution: Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky, who

both were in that briefing last night and were very frustrated with the fact that they viewed administration officials as stonewalling them.

I'm told by an aide to Mike Lee that Lee actually got a phone call from Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law, who said that he would express

Lee's concerns to the president himself about how that briefing was conducted. Clearly, the White House trying to do some damage control there

when it comes to how senators left that briefing yesterday -- Hala.

GORANI: Yes. And, Jeremy Diamond, I wonder if this resolution passes, is the administration signaling that it will abide by its terms when it comes

to initiating a military action?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: No. So far, there is no word from the White House on how they will actually react to this

resolution. But clearly, this is not a resolution that the White House wants to pass. And like other Republicans, they're likely to argue that

it's not legally binding. There is some debate about that, as Lauren was pointing out there.

The president took to Twitter earlier today to urge House Republicans -- all House Republicans -- to vote against this resolution, so he is clearly

trying to whip votes against House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's war powers resolution here.

The question, though, really is, as far as what happens in the Senate, particularly whether Mitch McConnell can keep his Republican coalition

together. As Lauren mentioned, the White House was indeed doing some damage control there, trying to reassure Senator Mike Lee, who expressed concerns

about that briefing yesterday.

But so far, there's no change in the posture from the president himself. When he was asked earlier today whether or not he would seek congressional

approval for any additional action against Iran, he said that while he wasn't objecting necessarily to the notion of seeking congressional

approval if there's time, he argued that sometimes there isn't time to consult Congress, which suggests that he doesn't see it as a necessary

step.

And so on that front, at least, it seems that the president is not necessarily changing his posture, but again there is at least some concern

inside the administration about this resolution, given the fact that we're seeing even the president tweeting about it, urging Republicans to stick

together.

GORANI: And, Lauren Fox, the Kentucky senator, Rand Paul, was quite upset about this briefing and this is what he said after it concluded.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. RAND PAUL (R-KY): They have justified the killing of an Iranian general as being something that Congress gave them permission to do in

2002. That is absurd, that's an insult --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: I wonder how significant is it that you have at least two Republican senators, Lauren, dissenting on this? How significant?

FOX: Well, Hala, I think context is important when we're talking about some of the Republican dissent here. You have Rand Paul and you have Mike

Lee. These are two conservatives who are a little more libertarian-minded when it comes to U.S. foreign policy.

This is a position that they have held for some time, Hala. There was a debate last year over Yemen and how much the president should be able to do

in that country without congressional approval. Those two Republicans voted with Democrats on that resolution.

So there is some history here for Republicans crossing the aisle at times, especially Rand Paul and Mike Lee. These are two people who have made it no

secret that they have concerns about the U.S. going out and making decisions when it comes to war without congressional approval. That's

something that they have railed against before, it's not surprising that they railed against it yesterday but of course no less significant -- Hala.

GORANI: All right. Lauren Fox and Jeremy Diamond, thanks to both of you.

Still to come tonight, defying the queen: new details on Prince Harry's decision to step back from the royal family. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:20:01]

GORANI: All right, we are learning new details about Prince Harry and wife Meghan's surprise announcement that they're stepping back from royal

duties.

The duke and duchess of Sussex defied the queen to issue that public statement on Wednesday, according to reports. Max Foster joins us now

outside Buckingham Palace.

So when we say "defied," does that mean that the queen had recommended they not go ahead, and they did anyway? Did they defy the queen in that sense?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it's the red line that he crossed. And everyone in the palace and probably outside the palace finds

it extraordinary at this point.

So we know that Prince Harry didn't consult with other senior members of the royal family when he drew up this very intricate plan for his future,

which was published on a website last night.

What we weren't quite aware of -- and we also knew that the senior members of the royal family were said to be upset. Now, we know that the queen was

upset because she had actually asked Harry not to send this statement out and launch the website, and he went ahead with it anyway.

So it's a pretty extraordinary thing to do, when you consider she's not just his grandmother, the head of state; she's also his boss.

And this wasn't Harry saying -- and Meghan saying they want to resign from the royal family. They're within their rights to do that, they could have

done that and given up all of the trappings that come with that.

They were basically saying, we demand a new type of role. These are the bits we want to do, these are the bits we don't want to do. And saying

that's what we're going to do. And there was no discussion to it, and he went ahead with publishing it anyway.

Since then, there have been crisis talks here in London with the prince of Wales, with Prince William and the queen all involved but being led by

their teams, where they -- the teams have been told, you have to find a solution to this. You need to work with the Sussexes to try to find some

sort of solution.

Extraordinary as well, the government's been brought in on this, for some type of mediation role presumably. But they need to find some sort of

solution.

And the clear inference is that the main -- the senior members of the royal family, those in the direct line, are not happy with what Prince Harry and

Meghan put on this website. Therefore, it's going to have to change.

And if Harry and Meghan refuse to change it, then there is no role for them in the royal family. They either need to leave, or the queen needs to make

the seismic decision to expel him, effectively, from public duties. He'll still remain as part of the family, of course.

But this is really what we've got to tonight, Hala.

GORANI: All right. Max Foster, thanks very much.

Kate Williams joins me now. She's our royal historian. So this, it appears as though there is a huge rift in this family right now, right?

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL HISTORIAN: Yes. Well, there's always been talk about it, but certainly the surprise statement last night, the triple

whammy of financial independence, stepping back from royal duties and dividing their time between the U.K. and the U.S.

And then the very terse statement that came from Buckingham Palace that evening --

GORANI: Yes.

WILLIAMS: -- saying that it was an early stage and these are complicated matters, it did seem very clear from that that there was a rift.

And I think that perhaps Buckingham Palace are rowing (ph) back from that statement because it's been obvious, if you look at social media, that

Harry and Meghan's decision has a huge amount of support. And this whole principle of saying either you're in or you're out, well, really, I think

that it's been clear that the royal family are going to have to work --

GORANI: Yes.

WILLIAMS: -- with this flexi-royal idea and accommodate it because otherwise they will look unsupportive of Harry and Meghan, and I think will

lose popularity.

So it's interesting that now they're changing their tune and saying, we're going to work together and try and find a way to create a solution.

GORANI: It is interesting because the queen is a national treasure. You don't defy the queen. She's the head of the family, she's the monarch, you

pledge allegiance to the queen in this country.

These are, by the way, the front pages. Everyone, obviously --

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: -- every (ph) in the U.K., even the ones that never (INAUDIBLE) the royal stories.

(CROSSTALK)

GORANI: -- exactly right. So I'm going to show you the broadsheets, sort of the more serious dailies. "Harry and Meghan Quit the Firm." And then you

have the tabloid papers. "They didn't even tell the queen." This is the "Daily Mirror." And then the "Daily Mail," "Queen's fury as Harry and

Meghan say: We quit!"

[14:25:13]

So I wonder if people will be as supportive of the couple if they -- we're now learning more details -- that they went ahead and issued this

statement, would it just come across as disrespectful to the monarch?

WILLIAMS: I think one way -- one reason why they went ahead and issued the statement was because there was talk that one of the newspapers had the

story, so they felt they were to a degree bounced (ph) into it.

But I think that the royal family wanted it to be -- the story could run, whatever. But Harry and Meghan felt they wanted to get ahead of it. And

certainly, in that sense, there is a disagreement. But I think that, you know, you can't always control your children. And --

GORANI: Yes.

WILLIAMS: -- there was a lot of briefings saying about the hurt, the disappointment, the upset, the anger. And I actually saw, in one newspaper,

courtiers saying Harry and Meghan should be punished, which seems rather astonishing --

GORANI: Punished?

WILLIAMS: -- punished, how? So I think --

GORANI: But it's some 19th century schoolmaster.

WILLIAMS: Put them on the naughty step? I don' know. But I do think they have to be supportive of this because this could be the future.

GORANI: But -- let me be the contrarian here. This is not my opinion, I just want to push back and just play devil's advocate. So they issue this

statement and they say, we don't want to be senior members of the royal family so we don't want any of the obligations of -- that come along with

being members of the royal family.

But we hope to keep the cottage that was renovated for three million pounds, we hope to still be members of the royal family. So you get all the

advantages, none of the obligations.

WILLIAMS: Well, I think they've made it clear that they do want to take on the obligation -- some of the tour, some of the travel. And I think that

the Commonwealth is a place that Harry and Meghan are so popular --

GORANI: Yes.

WILLIAMS: -- and we know that the Commonwealth are discussing possibly -- some of the countries, discussing moving away from the queen, especially

after her reign is no longer with us. And if anyone can keep the Commonwealth together -- it may that it can't be kept together -- it's

Harry and Meghan.

So I think they will do overseas tours for the queen, they will do work for the queen. They won't -- just won't be full-time working royals.

What I predict is that they'll set up a charitable -- a big charitable, really, foundation, like the Bill Gates Foundation --

GORANI: Right, right.

WILLIAMS: -- what presidents and prime ministers do, and use that for their charity work.

So they will really --

GORANI: Because they say they want to be financially --

WILLIAMS: Independent.

GORANI: -- independent. So they're not going to, like, open a restaurant or something.

WILLIAMS: Well, I don't think so. But you and I can --

(CROSSTALK)

GORANI: Yes.

WILLIAMS: I don't think people are saying Meghan will be going back to acting. I don't think so --

GORANI: Right, right.

WILLIAMS: -- I don't think Harry's going to be training as a solicitor, as a lawyer. I think what we're going to see is them being these charitable

global ambassadors.

But of course, we've seen offers, I've seen Meghan's had an offer to go and be in the "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," And TV producing. I think --

GORANI: Something tells me she's going to turn that one down.

WILLIAMS: I think they'll stick to the senior (ph) stuff.

GORANI: But also -- also, he has money, he has land. I mean, these aren't people starting from scratch.

WILLIAMS: Well, Harry has money from his mother, millions --

GORANI: Yes.

WILLIAMS: -- of pounds that Diana left him, that he invested very wisely. Meghan has money from her career, and they are -- they made clear on their

website, they get very little money from the sovereign grant. It's mainly from Prince Charles.

This is one question going forwards, will Prince Charles fund them --

GORANI: Sure.

WILLIAMS: -- or will, really, they could do things like, say, ex- presidents do, speaking engagements to fund their charitable foundations because that is possible.

GORANI: Something tells me they'll be fine.

(LAUGHTER)

WILLIAMS: I think they'll make a go of it, I think they will.

GORANI: Yes --

WILLIAMS: It could be the future.

GORANI: Kate Williams, thanks very much, as always.

WILLIAMS: Thank you.

GORANI: The House of Commons has finally approved the Brexit bill.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ayes to the right, 330. The nos to the left, 231.

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: Well, after years of drama, it is done. The vote happened a little while ago, it didn't have the drama finally -- it was a bit anti-climactic

-- or any of the suspense of previous attempts to get the Brexit deal through the House of Commons, only a few dozen lawmakers even bothered to

show up for the debate before the vote.

Conservative M.P.s still cheered nonetheless as the E.U. withdrawal bill cleared its biggest hurdle yet. It now goes to the House of Lords. The

stamp of approval from M.P.s essentially became inevitable after Boris Johnson's Conservative Party won a commanding majority in parliament last

month.

[14:29:03]

Still to come tonight, a U.S. Democratic senator and presidential candidate will join me live to talk about tensions with Iran and the congressional

efforts to limit Donald Trump's war powers. We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:30:36]

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: I want to go back to that passenger plane crash in Iran. The Iranian government is disputing the notion that

Iran mistakenly shot down the plane Wednesday amid heightened tensions with the United States. That theory is gaining traction in the U.S.

CNN aviation analyst, Mary Schiavo, is with us from Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. And we were discussing this plane crash yesterday, Mary, and you

were saying it looked according to the debris, images and the debris field like some sort of external projectile.

Now, we're hearing this from sources within intelligence agencies, what is your reaction?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, so many of the things that we've heard all fit with the theory that it was a missile. Most notably that

there is no evidence of a plane malfunction, of an engine failure, of an uncontained engine failure, no mayday call, no emergency call.

And the plane, according to flight radar, was climbing and at the right altitudes, right air speeds and had the right rate of climb. So there's no

evidence of any mechanical failure.

And with the punctures on the wreckage, they look similar to the wreckage of MH-17 which was the plane shot down over Ukraine by a Russian boot

missile.

GORANI: Yes. And now, the plane if you look at its trajectory, it took off and it climbed to 7,900 feet, then it goes off radar at that point. But

then when it crashes, it crashes in another location that is about halfway between the last known position and the airport. And the Iranians are

saying this proves that it wasn't a missile.

SCHIAVO: No.

GORANI: What's your reaction to that?

SCHIAVO: No. Unfortunately, I've worked an awful lot of crashes. And when they're in the -- you know, in the crash sequence, as they're falling from

altitude, they turn in many different directions. Some planes literally fall like a leaf in the wind.

In fact, if it had been a mechanical, it would have been more likely to put -- go nose down and it would be a different debris pattern.

But when an aircraft is completely uncontrollable, as it -- you know, as when hit by a missile, it falls, in many cases, literally like a leaf, like

a dead weight.

GORANI: All right. Thank you, Mary Schiavo, for joining us.

Let's get some perspective now on the plane crash, the tensions with Iran, the intelligence the administration said led to their decision from

democratic senator and U.S. presidential candidate, Michael Bennet.

He's well placed to talk about this as he sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Thank you, Senator, for being with us. First of all, I just want to get your quick reaction to these reports that intelligence agencies in the

U.S., I understand also in Europe, increasingly believe the Iranians shot this plane out of the sky. What's your reaction to that?

SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I can't speak to the intelligence, but what I can say is that it sure seems increasingly likely

that that's what happened.

GORANI: And what do you think then should be the consequence of that?

BENNET: Well, this obviously needs to be thought about in the context of the broader issues that we're having in the Middle East. I mean, I think

the United States needs to not be in a reactive posture pushback because we're having public sentiment in the region galvanize around us.

And I think that it's very important for us to assemble and marshal our allies across the region and outside the region to decide what we want our

endpoint to be here with respect to Iran and in the region generally.

[14:35:10]

GORANI: You were briefed on the intelligence that the administration says supported its action to take out Qassem Soleimani inside of Iraq. I know

you can't talk about classified intelligence, but were you convinced that this strike was justified?

BENNET: I was -- I'm convinced that Soleimani's death was justified. I'm not convinced that the strike was in the interests of the United States.

The commander in chief's job is to protect the American people, to protect us at home, and in the Middle East, and around the world.

I'm unpersuaded that our posture today is better than the one that we were in before we attacked Soleimani. I think that the Iranians are playing a

long game here and I don't think Donald Trump understands the strategic implications of what he's done. I think he understands what the

implications are for getting headlines, but not necessarily for supporting the long-term interests of the United States in the region or here. And I

still am unconvinced that it was the right thing to do.

GORANI: And this is what Mike Lee, a senator yesterday in the United States from Utah said about that intelligence briefing. I want our viewers to

listen to that and then I'll get your take on it.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. MIKE LEE (R-UT): What I found so distressing about that briefing was that one of the messages we received from the briefers was do not debate,

do not discuss the issue of the appropriateness of further military intervention against Iran. And that if you do, you'll be emboldening Iran.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

GORANI: What do you -- do you agree with Senator Lee on this point?

BENNET: Well, I've been to some really terrible briefings in Washington, so I'm not sure that was the worst that I've ever been to. But I completely

agree with...

GORANI: Right.

BENNET: ... I completely agree with the sentiment. I mean, here we've been in two wars, both of whom have lasted for almost 20 years. Our own war

college has put a 2,000-page report out that says the winner of our Iraq war was Iran, which by the way completely contradicts what Donald Trump

said which is Iran's never won a war, they only win negotiations. They won the Iraq war, according to our own workout.

We spent almost 20 years in Afghanistan and the reports -- most recent reports from the Washington Post, I think, are fairly convincing that after

the first six months, we basically not only didn't achieve our objectives, we made matters worse with respect to corruption, with respect to drugs,

with respect to the rise of the Taliban.

So I think this is a moment when we need the United States Senate to exercise our constitutional prerogatives. I think if Donald Trump tries to

go to war with Iran without the Senate's involvement, he's going to be -- he's going...

GORANI: But this -- do you think he would abide -- do you think the administration would abide by the terms of any war power resolution...

BENNET: I don't have any idea.

GORANI: ...if it passes to Senate?

BENNET: Yes. I don't have any idea. I think that this president is lawless. He's not committed to the rule of law. He doesn't believe in separation of

powers. I get that. He doesn't believe in the democracy.

This is why it's so important that our system was designed the way that it was designed. And I believe we should conduct that oversight and that the

president should abide by the decision that we make.

GORANI: Yes. We're about a little more than three weeks away --

BENNET: Go ahead, please.

GORANI: Please go ahead. Yes. I was just going to ask you about your campaign because you're still running, a democratic candidate. Even though

your polling numbers for Iowa are under one percent and in New Hampshire, I think, it's two percent around there. Why are you still in the race?

BENNET: Well, two percent is progress for me, and we're going to continue to work really hard over the next few weeks to have town hall after town

hall after town hall in New Hampshire to see whether we can do better.

The reason I'm still in the race is I am the only candidate in this race that's won two national elections in a swing state. Nobody else has. I'm

running on a program that can galvanize not just the -- not just Democrats but also some of the nine million people that voted twice for Barack Obama

and once for Donald Trump. And I believe I'm the only candidate with...

GORANI: So you still have hope?

BENNET: I have hope. But more important than that, I am absolutely convinced that for our kids' sake and for our grandkids' sake, Donald Trump

must be a one-term president. And we need a president who actually, among other things, will abide by the rule of law and understands how important

the alliances are in Europe and other places that this president has either taken for granted or has trashed.

GORANI: If not you, who would you support, which candidate would you back?

BENNET: Well, I'll talk to you about that if I drop out of the race.

[14:40:01]

But this is has important international implications because of his mishandling of Iran, his mishandling of North Korea, of Russia and of

china. I mean, these are all huge big-ticket items that are going to set the agenda for the next generation of Americans and that's a lot at stake.

GORANI: We're seen and watched a lot actually in the Middle East and in Iran. What would you say to people in that part of the world as a sitting

U.S. senator about, you know, what your hopes are for the region? If you're elected president, how would you handle things differently?

BENNET: If I were elected president, what I would want to do is lead the community of nations into a much more peaceful era than the one that we've

experienced over the last 10 years. I'd want to lead the United States away from the involvement that we've had in the Middle East that's been

counterproductive to our own interests and counterproductive in the Middle East.

And I think we need to build on the institutions in the Middle East that actually are working and are committed to the rule of law and see if we can

make incremental progress. Nothing is going to happen overnight. But the United States can't do this by ourselves.

GORANI: So the polar opposite of Donald Trump, it sounds like.

BENNET: I would say that that's my offering in New Hampshire. If you want somebody like Donald Trump, you're not going to vote for me. If you're

looking for the opposite of Donald Trump, probably out of 330 million Americans, that's me.

GORANI: All right. Michael Bennet, democratic senator...

BENNET: Thank you.

GORANI: ... the senior democratic senator from Colorado, thanks so much for joining us.

BENNET: Thanks for having me.

GORANI: Still to come tonight. Iran's threat of a military response, we were discussing with the senator, may have gone quiet, but are they

retaliating in a different way? We'll find out more, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GORANI: The Canadian prime minister is speaking -- the Canadian prime minister is speaking about the Ukrainian airliner crash outside of Tehran.

He's speaking in French right now -- and in English now. So let's go to Justin Trudeau now.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: Before we go any further, I want to extend once again my most sincere condolences to the families of the

victims and their loved ones. I and we are, all standing with you. Since last addressing Canadians, there have been ongoing discussions -- since I

last addressed Canadians, there have been ongoing discussions with foreign ministers, senior intelligence, military officials, including the fourth

meeting of our incident response group.

There have been important developments regarding the potential causes of this deadly crash, developments of which Canadians should be made aware.

The news will undoubtedly come as a further shock to the families who are already grieving in the face of this unspeakable tragedy. We have

intelligence from multiple sources, including our allies and our own intelligence. The evidence indicates that the plane was shot down by an

Iranian surface-to-air missile. This may well have been unintentional.

This new information reinforces the need for a thorough investigation into this matter. Canada is working with its allies to ensure that a thorough

and credible investigation is conducted to determine the causes of this fatal crash. As I said yesterday, Canadians have questions and they deserve

answers.

TRUDEAU (through translator): Allow me to repeat what I just said in French. We have intelligence from various sources, notably, from our own

intelligence services and those of our allies. This information indicates that the plane was brought down by a surface-to-air missile from Iran. It

is possible that this was inadvertent.

This news confirms the need to have an in-depth investigation into this affair. As I said yesterday --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[14:45:00]

GORANI: All right. We're hearing there the translation, but some breaking news coming to us from Ottawa, Canada. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin

Trudeau, is holding a news conference right now. He is talking about that plane that crashed outside Tehran. More than 60 Canadian citizens were

onboard and lost their lives.

The Canadian prime minister said, quote, we have intelligence from multiple sources that indicates the plane was shot down by an Iranian surface-to-air

missile. That is confirmation from the highest levels of government of course in Canada.

Let's go back. He's speaking in English again.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUDEAU: He also condemned Iranian strikes that targeted military bases in Iraq where coalition forces, including Canadians, are currently stationed.

Minister Zarif committed to continuing this dialogue with Canada as we seek answers. I spoke with Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, earlier

today and conveyed my condolences to the many Ukrainians who perished in this tragedy. He assured me that Ukraine is taking all necessary measures

to ensure a thorough investigation. We will work closely with Ukraine and our partners throughout this process.

I also called Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands. He shared with me his experience in handling the aftermath and investigation into

Malaysian airlines flight 17.

TRUDEAU (through translator): I also spoke to President Macron once again today who offered his assistance as we move through this very difficult

time.

GORANI: Once again, now we'll go -- we'll get back to Trudeau once he starts speaking English again. But a lot of breaking news coming out of

this news conference early on after offering his condolences to the families of those who were so tragically killed, with more than 60

Canadians onboard, that Ukrainian airlines plane that crashed outside of Tehran.

The Canadian Prime Minister confirming that there's intelligence that indicates the plane was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.

Let's go back to the news conference.

TRUDEAU: That means closure, transparency, accountability, and justice. And this government will not rest until we get that.

Thank you for being here this morning. I'll now take your questions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So first question (INAUDIBLE) and then we'll go to Glen McGregor, CTV.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Good afternoon, Mr. Trudeau. You said that you asked to be able to participate in the investigation, I'd

like to know what response Iran gave you. Are they accepting to have Canada participate?

TRUDEAU (through translator): We are working with the Ukrainian investigators at this time and we are continuing to ask to have Canadians

involved in this process. And we will continue to have that conversation. That tells me that this is not yet confirmed, correct.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Given the context, do you feel that the U.S. is partly responsible for this, given that they created this

situation in which the missiles were launched?

TRUDEAU (through translator): I think that's one of the many questions that people will be thinking about and trying to find answers to. For the

moment, I just want to underline the importance of having a full and credible investigation so that we can get those facts and then we can

continue to analyze based on those facts.

TRUDEAU: I think it underscores how important it is that we have a thorough and credible investigation to allow us to then draw conclusions and

reflections once we have assessed and established the facts of what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Prime Minister, could you describe in some more detail the kind of information you have that indicates that this was a surface-to-

air strike? Because this is, as you know, an extremely serious allegation and Canadians are going to want to see proof that this is what happened.

TRUDEAU: The intelligence and evidence suggests that it is likely that it was a surface-to-air strike, but I will not go into the details of that

intelligence at this time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Given that the Iranians have denied this and there's reports they're bulldozing the crash site, they've claimed the flight and

the voice and data recorders have been damaged, do you trust them that they haven't actually already compromised the investigation at this point? Do

you think it's a possibility that we won't get a real answer here?

TRUDEAU: We have highlighted that it is extremely important that there be a thorough and credible investigation on site of the crash with international

partners. The Iranians have indicated that they understand that, but the conclusions we have been able to draw on the -- or the preliminary

conclusions we've been able to draw based on intelligence and evidence today are clear enough for me to share with Canadians right now.

[14:50:08]

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So next up (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Good afternoon, Mr. Trudeau. Can you tell us now whether Iran has agreed to share the black boxes with

Canada or France and what would be the next steps?

TRUDEAU (through translator): For the moment, Iran has said that they will be keeping the black boxes in Iran. They told Ukrainian President Zelensky

that Ukrainian investigators, at least, would have access to the black boxes.

TRUDEAU: The Iranian authorities have indicated that they wish to keep the black boxes in Iran, but have indicated to President Zelensky of Ukraine

that Ukrainian investigators would have access to those black boxes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): How can you trust Iran now when they're denying some of the information that you just shared with us?

TRUDEAU (through translator): We recognize that this is a situation where we're going to need to get more clarity, more answers, and that's why we

are calling for a complete and credible investigation with international partners so that we could uncover the facts of what happened. For

Canadians, for the families affected, and for people around the world.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, Prime Minister, I just want to circle back to an earlier question. If the intelligence is accurate, then it seems this is

the end result of a sequence of events that was sparked by the drone strike ordered by the U.S. president, so given the information you have, how much

responsibility does the United States bear for this tragedy?

TRUDEAU: The evidence suggests that this is the likely cause, but we need to have a full and complete and credible investigation to establish exactly

what happened. That is what we are calling for and that is what we are expecting will happen.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Iran does not cooperate and there are some reports of at least minimal cooperation or questionable cooperation to this point,

what pressure can you bring to bear? Would you argue for sanctions? Would economic repercussions? What can Canada do to pressure Iran to give you

the investigation you want?

TRUDEAU: I think those are conversations and steps we will contemplate as things move forward if it doesn't appear that there is a credible complete

investigation.

But right now, we continue to work with partners and direct Iran with our requests that we have a credible and complete investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. I'm going to go to Marie Vastel (ph) next and then afterwards, David Akin (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Yes. So to come back to the question of Iran, if you're concluding that this is due to a missile

strike, what will your reaction be and how do you intend to respond to Iran?

TRUDEAU (through translator): Well, first of all, the conclusion that we grew was based on a preliminary analysis of the intelligence that we have.

But it just underscores the importance of having a credible and complete investigation into exactly what happened. That's why we're going to proceed

with that step before we draw any other conclusions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): So I understand that, but would that not threaten diplomatic relations in terms of having access to the

site, in terms of the repatriation of the victims? Would that not threaten our presence in Iraq if that's what's happening, if people are launching

missiles at the bases?

So will our instructions to our forces in Iraq remain the same or will something change? I imagine something will happen.

TRUDEAU (through translator): Well, indeed, this is a very concerning situation. That's why we want to know more. We're going to be working with

international authorities and with investigators and with Iran in order to get answers into exactly what happened.

We recognize that this may have been done accidentally, but that just makes it even more important to clarify exactly what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Akin and then we'll go down to (INAUDIBLE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good afternoon, Prime Minister. I just want to come back to the qualifiers you've been using may well have been unintentional. You

just, a minute ago, said it may have been accidental. That implies that it may not have been unintentional. Can you be, as definitive as you can be,

knowing what you know, knowing what you can't share with us, about the intentionality of this apparent missile strike?

TRUDEAU: I think that is one of the reasons why it is so important to have a full and credible investigation. Before we get into definitive

conclusions, as you say, we need to ensure that we have all the facts gathered.

[14:55:07]

The intelligence and evidence, right now, suggests very clearly a possible and probable cause for the crash, but it is all the more necessary,

therefore, to gather all the evidence to have a complete picture of what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And let's follow through then that the evidence does in fact show that it was an accidental, unintentional surface-to-air missile.

What range of options would the -- would the government of Canada respond in some way to that? And if so, what range of responses might your

government consider?

TRUDEAU: I think anything in the range of responses would need to start from a clear understanding and a credible confirmation of what actually

happened and that is why a proper and full investigation is going to be so important.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Christian (ph) and then we'll go next to Michelle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Good afternoon, Mr. Trudeau. Based on what you know now, are you convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that

this was a missile and that it was unintentional?

TRUDEAU (through translator): Well, to be convinced beyond all doubt, we would need a credible, thorough and in-depth investigation. And that is

exactly what we're calling for. We want a complete investigation. That's what we asked for yesterday and we're continuing to ask for that today.

Those discussions are ongoing.

And I want to tell Canadians and families that what we have gathered in terms of intelligence does indicate very clearly that this could very well

have been an unintentional surface-to-air missile strike. And for the families of the victims who want answers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If the investigation isn't done with the full cooperation of Iran, how can you reassure Canadians that

you're really doing everything possible to get answers and to have a credible, transparent investigation?

TRUDEAU (through translator): Well, we understand that investigations at this time -- of this type do take time. We know that getting really

thorough investigation takes time. This is only the second day, and we're only drawing preliminary conclusions at this time. We do need more clarity

for the Canadians and the families who are feeling despair and who are really suffering right now. So we will continue to insist on getting more

information and more in-depth investigation.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hi, Prime Minister. When you spoke with President Zelensky today, had he been briefed by any of his -- any allies on this

intelligence that you've been receiving in the recent hours, or did you have to share this intelligence with him for the first time?

TRUDEAU: I shared with him some of the reasons we are so intent on having a full and complete investigation. We know that it's extremely important to

establish clarity around the facts of what happened, and he assured me that Canada, as a good friend of Ukraine, will be closely involved with them in

the investigation into this tragedy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. So I'll rephrase the question. Did President Zelensky know about this intelligence suggesting that the missile possibly

being used to hit the plane?

TRUDEAU: I believe there have been media reports about it through much of the day. But I don't know for sure whether he was briefed by intel

officials or not.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to the back of the room.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): So if I understand correctly, you're not ruling out the possibility that this was intentional, is that

correct?

TRUDEAU (through translator): It's really too early to draw any clear conclusions or to rule out any other possibilities. Certainly, we know that

we need a more in-depth and credible investigation that we'll be able to establish beyond any doubt what the causes of this tragic accident were.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There have been some discussions with other counterparts. Have you tried to talk to your counterparts?

TRUDEAU (through translator): I'm willing to talk to anyone in order to get answers in this tragedy.

END