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House Report Blasts 737 Max Failures; Hurricane Sally Pummels with Rain; Pelosi Wants Stimulus Deal Reached; Sen. John Barrasso (R- WY) is Interviewed about the Stimulus, the Environment and the Peace Deal. Aired 9:30-10a

Aired September 16, 2020 - 09:30   ET



STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: All throughout the state working to battle these blazes. They're tired, but they can't stop. And they're working very long shifts. So it's amazing work that they're continuing to do in these very dry, dry, treacherous conditions.


ELAM: Jim and Poppy.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Wow. I really -- I've been thinking about them and I cannot even imagine what it is like.

Stephanie, please, I know when you see them, please thank them from all of us for doing this day in and day out.

ELAM: Yes.

HARLOW: Thank you for being there too.

Hurricane Sally is ripping through the Gulf Coast and some areas could see up to three feet of rain and life threatening flooding. We're going to speak to the sheriff of Mobile County, Alabama, to see how they're doing, next.


HARLOW: This is a really significant development. It is big news about the Big Ten.


Big Ten football is coming back.

SCIUTTO: Yes, this is going to make a lot of people happy in a lot of states in this country. Moments ago the league reversed course, announcing its unanimous decision to play college football this fall, tweeting the Big Ten Council of Presidents and Chancellors adopted significant medical protocols and has voted unanimously to resume the football season starting the weekend of October 23-24. Still got a few weeks till then, but they're going to play.

HARLOW: This is just a month after deciding that they would postpone the season. That chosen start date allows a conference title game to take place. It also gives teams a chance to earn a potential spot in the college football playoffs.

And, Jim, I mean it was interesting just reading through the guidance that they're going to do this daily antigen testing for everyone, not just before games, but before practices. So that's like a big, you know, game changer here.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Looks like they're watching the experience of the other -- the other conferences. And, listen, let's be frank, there's a lot of money at stake for these programs.

HARLOW: True. Very true.

SCIUTTO: Millions and millions and millions of dollars, particularly if you go into the college playoff.


SCIUTTO: All right, we're going to stay on top of it.

Also new this morning, a congressional report is slamming both Boeing and the FAA over their handling of fatal crashes involving Boeing's troubled 737 Max jets.

HARLOW: Our Pete Muntean is following the latest.

Good morning to you, Pete.

This was an 18-month investigation. What did it unveil, not only about Boeing, but also, if anything, the FAA, which gave Boeing sort of a lot of leeway here for self-approvals?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Poppy, so many damning new details in this new report. And what's so interesting it that doesn't really focus on the actions of the pilots leading up to those two 737 Max disasters, but rather the years before at Boeing and the FAA.

About 250 pages from the House Transportation Committee. And in it this quote really sums it up perfectly. It says, a disturbing pattern of technical miscalculation and troubling management misjudgments made by Boeing. Also it illuminates numerous oversight lapses and accountability gaps by the FAA.

The report calls into question two instances. One, that a Boeing test pilot struggled with the MCAS system in a simulator for more than ten second with a catastrophic result. That MCAS system has been at the heart of all these investigations. And that this report highlights that Boeing engineers emailed one another trying to downplay the significance of that system, trying to get it considered as part of an existing system rather than a new system to avoid additional scrutiny by the FAA. Sanya Stumo was 24-years-old when she died on one of those crashed. I

talked to her father and he says this all shows that Boeing and the FAA failed.


MICHAEL STUMO, FATHER OF CRASH VICTIM: They're still hiding the ball like they did before, like they did between the crashes when they kept the plane in the air when they knew the thing was a killer plane. Between the Lion Air crash and the Ethiopian crash that killed my daughter.


MUNTEAN: Now, Boeing continues to stand by its design. It says that when it emerges from recertification flights and it's given the sign- off to carry passengers once again and it will emerge as one of the most scrutinized aircraft in history. Not good enough for House Transpiration Chair Peter DeFazio. He wants the entire FAA process of certifying aircraft to be completely revamped.

Jim. Poppy.

SCIUTTO: Listen, it's alarming because you remember early on the manufacturer was trying to shift blame to foreign pilots. I mean you remember all that messaging then. I mean the data since then has been alarming to see.

Pete Muntean, thanks very much.

Well, Hurricane Sally is now a category one storm. A bit weaker, but, mean, that's still strong and it has posed the danger of life- threatening flooding. Very much a problem on the coastlines.

SCIUTTO: The sheriff of Mobile County, Alabama, where the National Weather Service office there warned people to, quote, hunker down because conditions are going to get worse, Sam Cochran is with us.

Mayor -- sheriff, rather, I apologize. Thank you very much for being here.


HARLOW: I know you're wearing a lot of hats these days.

You have so many years of experience and you've said that what it has shown you is that very, very quickly streets and neighborhoods can fill up with five or six or seven feet of water.

Is that, you know, what you're going through/preparing for right now?

COCHRAN: Well, actually, we sort of dodged the bullet here in Mobile County because overnight --

HARLOW: Good. COCHRAN: In late yesterday, the storm moved further to the east. And, as it is, it came in, it hit shore to the east of us, which put Mobile County and Mobile Bay in the west side of the hurricane. So, in essence, we did not have the five to seven foot water surge.

But, unfortunately, to our neighbors to the east, they're the ones that took the brunt. Gulf Shores, Alabama, and Orange Beach, Alabama, and further into Pensacola and (INAUDIBLE) Beach. So they really took a -- both a beating by the water and the wind.

And this storm is moving so slow is what's so damaging.


While the winds were not as strong as many hurricanes we've had in the past, the constant battering of 105 mile per hour winds for as much as four hours before getting to the eye of the hurricane. And so they're still getting it over to the east.

We've got trees down, wires down, but no -- not heard of any serious injuries and stuff such as that. But we'll continue to have trees falling over the next several hours because of the saturation of the ground. But we took a lot of rain, but -- and the wind is still whipping, but we've really come out good on this and I'm glad many of our people heeded the warnings we gave them.

SCIUTTO: Sheriff, Jim Sciutto here.

It's -- listen, it's hard to get folks to heed those warnings in normal times. I wonder how the pandemic influenced folks. I mean were folks, for instance, concerned about going to shelters and how you got over to that.

COCHRAN: Well, I think people were concerned about going to shelters and so we did not see as many people go to shelters. And the EMA had reduced the population of the shelters by about two-thirds and were taking precautions, checking temperatures and stuff like that. But I believe, you know, people are scared of the pandemic and scared to get around other crowds and so maybe this time they went with friends and family elsewhere.

HARLOW: You were a police chief for ten years, so you also know very well what it's like for first responders and your warning to folks who didn't evacuate and who didn't take precaution was essentially don't call us after when you'll need it. I mean I'm glad to hear things were better than you were anticipating because of the movement of the storm, but are you concerned that there were not enough folks heeding that advice and could have really risked the lives of your first responders?

COCHRAN: Well, since it -- since it didn't hit here, I really don't know, but we did not get the calls for help that normally in past hurricanes we would get. And I think simply the water did not rise.

But, again, I -- I did not want to send my officers and deputies into harm's way for the -- for the ridiculousness on certain individuals. I mean we're going to try to do everything we can to help people in time of need, but -- but sometimes people just -- just are terribly irresponsible when they know the nature of the flood and -- and don't --


SCIUTTO: Yes, folks have got to know when they make those decisions, I think it's just about themselves, but it puts a lot of other people at risk.

Sheriff Sam Cochran, we wish you the best of luck. We know it's just early in this hurricane season, right?


SCIUTTO: So we've got a lot more weeks and months to get through, but we wish you the best of luck.

COCHRAN: Thank you for your concern. Appreciate you.

SCIUTTO: House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she will keep her chamber in session until it reaches a new stimulus deal. I'm sure a lot of you watching, you're on the edge about this. We're going to bring you an update.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

So House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is vowing to keep the House in session through the elections until a new stimulus deal is reached. This comes as top Democrats immediately rejected a bipartisan proposal from the Problem Solvers Caucus, a move that freshman Congressman Max Rose, a Democrat, said made him, quote, disappointed to be a Democrat.

This as new data show the blow that this pandemic is dealing, particularly to minorities, according to NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the Harvard School of Public Health, more than half of Latinx (ph), black and Native American households are facing serious economic consequences from it.

Manu Raju joins me now.

And that's just another data point about the dire situation that so many are in right now.

Give us a sense of if this Problem Solvers Caucus, bipartisan proposal, Manu, a rarity these days, is going to go anywhere.

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's not because the Democratic leadership is not in favor of it. There was a significant statement put out yesterday by eight Democratic chairman in the House who said that it simply does not go far enough and they would only do that if they had the approval of Nancy Pelosi, who is defending her position right now, saying that -- that essentially they need to push the White House to come back to the negotiating table and not go behind -- get behind more narrow approaches, which is what a lot of Democratic freshmen members who are in swing districts have been pushing.

They want their leadership to get behind a more bipartisan approach, a pared down approach. And at the moment, Nancy Pelosi is saying, no, we'll push on our proposal. We'll get Democrats -- we'll get the White House back. The White House does not want to go to the level that the speaker's pushing, which is why a lot of people, Poppy, don't think that there will be any deal here before the election.

HARLOW: Yes, I mean, Republicans did come to the table in this one, if I get -- if I understand it right, with I think a fair amount for state and local aid, which they hadn't been willing to do before. But then the president said in a town hall last night that the stock market bouncing back means the majority of Americans are recovering because, quote, stocks are owned by everybody.

First of all, that's not true that stocks are owned by everybody. And I just wonder what message that sends to Congress about the administration's sense of urgency or not on additional stimulus being needed.

RAJU: Well, you are hearing from a lot of Republicans who don't believe that additional stimulus is actually needed at this point because they think that the economy is improving. They see the job market improving. They believe that opening up the economy would be more effective than providing more federal aid.

So you've seen that division play out within the center republican conference and that sign from the president clearly is what would be used by some of those folks who say, look, we don't need to do anything more, which is why there's a lot of pessimism here in -- on Capitol Hill that anything will be done any time soon here, Poppy.

HARLOW: Manu, thank you for the reporting.



SCIUTTO: All right, well, we're joined now by Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso. He serves as chairman of the Senate Republican Conference. So certainly involved in these negotiations.

Senator Barrasso, thanks so much for taking the time again this morning.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Thank you, Jim.

SCIUTTO: All right, let's start on stimulus, because this is top of the mind for many Americans.

Democrats in the House passed a $3 trillion new stimulus bill in May. This Problem Solvers Caucus is talking about $2 trillion. Many Republicans either don't think it's necessary or we're talking about something in the order of several hundred billion dollars.

I wonder, from your point of view, why not meet in the middle? Why not meet in the middle somewhere, get some stimulus for the many millions of Americans who are still suffering through this?

BARRASSO: Well, and as you know, Jim, Pelosi rejected that bipartisan effort by the Problem Solvers yesterday. There was a headline today, Pelosi's nervous majority because so many Democrats are nervous at the position that Nancy Pelosi has taken, which is so far to the left and so excessive. She seems to be fixated on bailing out big cities, sending a blank check to states that have been poorly managed for a long time and using coronavirus as an excuse to do it. The real (INAUDIBLE) that's needed --

SCIUTTO: Well -- well, Senator, as you know, there are Republicans resisting getting close to that figure. Would you vote for a middle ground figure of say $2 trillion, get money into the hands of people who need it right now?

BARRASSO: I think relief is needed right now and that's why 52 Republicans last week voted on a major proposal to do the targeted relief that I think people need, which is getting kids back to school so they won't fall further behind and so that parents can go back to work, more money for the Paycheck Protection Plan.

SCIUTTO: I'm just -- I'm just asking if you could compromise. I'm just asking --


SCIUTTO: Because you've got the Republican position, you've got the Democrat position. You need more -- you need -- you need folks to come together, otherwise we won't get to a majority and folks will just have to wait. I mean are you willing to compromise is my question?

BARRASSO: I'm willing to do everything possible in a targeted way to people who are impacted by the coronavirus, and which means the kids in the schools, making sure we have more money for small businesses for Paycheck Protection so people can stay on the payroll, more money for vaccines and tests and for treatment for people with coronavirus.

But when you look at Nancy Pelosi's wish list on what they passed, with money for environmental justice and direct checks to illegal immigrants --

SCIUTTO: I -- I was just --

BARRASSO: And that's just the tip of the iceberg. I'm not going to say, oh, yes, I'll give you half of these things which have nothing to do, Jim, with the coronavirus.

SCIUTTO: All right. Well, we'll see -- let's hope folks can find some sort of compromise there.

You have the advantage of being a doctor. You're on the Foreign Relations Committee and you're on the Environment Committee, so I want to take advantage of all your expertise here, starting with your doctor hat, if I can.

You heard the president last night again question the usefulness of masks. I just want to play his answer on that, that went out to millions of Americans and get your response on the science. Just listen very briefly, if you can.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: There are a lot of people that think that masks are not good and there are a lot of people that -- as an example you have --


TRUMP: I'll tell you who those people are, waiters.


SCIUTTO: You're a doctor. Is there, in fact, any question based on the data that we know today that masks don't help reduce the spread?

BARRASSO: Well, I think masks do help reduce the spread. I have my mask right here. I just took it off in front of the camera for the interview. All of our staffs on The Hill are wearing masks. People at home are doing it, as well. We know how important it is.

We need to do all that we know that we can do to lower the risk of spread. We have made huge progress in the fight against coronavirus, 800,000 tests being done a day. We have the capacity in the hospitals. A number of new cases is going down. The death rate is starting to go down, as well.


BARRASSO: All of these things are in the right way because we aren't wearing masks and keeping social distance, as well as washing and proper hygiene.


BARRASSO: I think it's all very important, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Good to hear that. I hope folks are listening because, listen, it does make -- it does make a difference.

I want to ask you on then environment, if I can, you're chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee. Again, just because -- listen, he's the commander in chief, that's why I'm playing these comments to you and I want to get an answer on the science. Here's what the president said about whether climate change is real.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we ignore that science and sort of put our head in the sand and think it's all about vegetation management, we're not going to succeed together protecting Californians. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: OK. It will start

getting cooler.


TRUMP: You just -- you just watch.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I wish science agreed with you.

TRUMP: Yes, well, I don't think science knows, actually.


SCIUTTO: You're on the environment committee. Based on the science you've read and seen, is there any question -- is -- is there evidence that the earth will suddenly cool again?

BARRASSO: To me, climate change is real. It is happening. Man is contributing to it. I think we ought to address it through innovation, not drastic, unilateral, immediate actions, which will hurt our economy and the United States but won't affect the global problem.


I think we need to innovate in ways and get people around the world to use that innovation. And there's a lot of work being done in that and I'm working in a bipartisan way in the Senate as chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee to accomplish it.

SCIUTTO: Let's keep talking about it. It's an important issue.

Finally, you're on the Foreign Relations Committee. As you and I have talked about, I spent years covering the Middle East. It's a remarkable development to have Israel making peace formally with countries that -- Bahrain, United Arab Emirates.

Tell us, in your view, the significance of these decisions for the region and also for America's national security.

BARRASSO: Well, for both reasons, I think this is -- this is a huge development, the signing yesterday at the White House. I mean this really is the art of the deal to bring Israel together with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. Presidents, in the past, could not accomplish this. And this goes Republican as well as Democrat administrations over the years.

President Trump was able to get it done. And I think in terms of stability in the Middle East, it is a very big deal. In terms of isolating Iran, it's a very big deal. And in terms of maybe the United States not having to commit forces overseas in the future, I think it is also very, very important. A big day of global peace and a big day for America yesterday at the White House.

SCIUTTO: Right, and one that a lot of folks didn't expect.

Well, Senator and Dr. Barrasso, you're always welcome on this broadcast. Thanks very much.

BARRASSO: Thanks for having me, Jim.

SCIUTTO: And we'll be right back.