Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

State Dept: U.S. Evacuating Americans From Haiti Via Chartered Helicopters; Boeing Forecasts Cash Drain After Alaska Airlines Debacle; State Sen. Julie Slama (R-NE) Discusses Lawmaker Condemned For Using Colleague's Name In Book's Rape Description; EPA Makes Concessions, Giving Carmakers Longer To Comply. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired March 20, 2024 - 13:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: This just in. The U.S. is evacuating American citizens from Haiti via chartered helicopter flights to the Dominican Republic starting today. That is according to the State Department.

And Americans are due to land in Florida this afternoon. That's a flight organized by the state of Florida after two planned rescue flights on Tuesday were scrubbed.

The situation on the ground was deemed too volatile as the Caribbean nation reels from gang violence and political instability.

CNN's Carlos Suarez is in Miami for us.

Carlos, tell us what you're learning about this. It sounds like there's at least a little bit of movement, although, obviously, a lot more people who want to get out.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. So there is movement on two fronts. As you just reported, according to the State Department, the U.S. is going to start to take Americans that are stranded in Port-au-Prince via these chartered helicopter flights over to Santo Domingo and the Dominican Republic.

Now the State Department did not want to say exactly how many Americans they plan on getting out today, citing security concerns. But they said that once these Americans are in the Dominican Republic, it is up to them to figure out how they are going to get back to the U.S.

As for the efforts now underway by the state of Florida to get citizens back to Florida, we're told hold that at least 348 Americans have told state officials here that they are trying to leave the country from the Caribbean here back to south Florida.

At this hour, we believe that there are going to be at least two flights that will take some of these 348 Americans from Cap-Haitian -- that is a port city in the north of Haiti, about a seven-hour drive from the capital there -- to the central -- central Florida area. We expect that that flight will land at some point this afternoon.

The flights were supposed to take off yesterday but we're told that security concerns on the ground prevented the flights from taking off -- Brianna?

KEILAR: All right. Carlos Suarez, thank you for the very latest on the situation in Haiti force.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Boeing says it's bracing for a big financial hit following the Alaska Airlines door-plug blowout.

They expect profit margins to shrivel as they, one, slow down production of 737 Max jets in order to focus on quality and, two, pay back airlines for lost business after their Max-9 jets were grounded.

CNN aviation correspondent, Pete Muntean, is here to walk us through the details.

Pete, the hits just keep on coming for Boeing.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and this really means that Boeing's quality control issues are translating into financial losses.

One of the reasons that Boeing is reporting this massive loss is that it now must shell out huge payments to airlines. Remember, the Alaska Airlines door plug blowout was back on January 5th. That led to a grounding of the 737 Max-9 for19 days.

And airlines, like Alaska Airlines, had to cancel something to the tune of about 150 flights each day. Alaska Airlines CEO Ben Minicucci says he now expects Alaska Airlines to get paid back by Boeing $150 million from Boeing because of all of its losses.

The other reason for all of this is the expense associated with Boeing now having to get its house in order. It's under a lot of pressure from the FAA. They just completed an audit, a Boeing quality control.

And I want you to listen now to FAA Administrator Mike Whitaker. He says that now it is on Boeing to come up with new changes to its quality control and report those back to the FAA in the next 90 days.

Here's what he said to NBC News.


MIKE WHITAKER, FAA ADMINISTRATOR: Their priorities have been on production and not on safety and quality.

I would say they're too big to not make a good airplane. They have all the resources they need. There's no reason they can't make a good airplane. And that's our focus right now.


MUNTEAN: Boeing still cannot ramp up production of the 737 Max at its factory in Renton, Washington. The most 737 Maxes they ever made were 38 in a month. But Boeing says it's not going to meet that goal just because of all the pressure it's under right now.


SANCHEZ: A tough time, no doubt, for the manufacturer.

Pete Muntean, thanks so much.

MUNTEAN: Thanks, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Of course

Coming up, they are comments that would likely get anyone fired. But a State Senator is, so far, ignoring calls to resign after -- listen to this -- he inserted fellow lawmaker's names into a violent depiction of rape during a debate over book bans.

We're going to talk to one of the colleagues that's calling on him to step down as soon as we come back.


KEILAR: A Nebraska lawmaker is facing calls to resign after reading a violent depiction of rape on the State Senate floor and seemingly targeting one of his colleagues while doing so.


The legislature there was debating a bill that would ban obscene material from schools when Senator Steve Halloran read a graphic passage from the best-selling memoir, "Lucky," by Alice Sebold.

But that's not all. Halloran began inserting a fellow lawmaker's name into the passage, making it appear as if she were the victim.



STATE SEN. STEVE HALLORAN (R-NE): I was grounded on the ground, trying to search about the filth of my clothes. He kicked me and I crawled into a ball.

I want to (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Senator Cavanaugh.


KEILAR: Halloran apologized for what he said. He said he was trying to get the attention of both the female lawmaker and her brother with the same last name.

But now many of his colleagues are calling for his resignation, including one of the Senators that Halloran mentioned in the speech, Michaela Cavanaugh.

She sent this statement to CNN:

Quote: "Halloran verbally spat in the face of sexual assault victims across this state and the country by inserting my name in-between phrases of obscenity. It's beneath him. It's beneath his title.

So let me say this. Senator Steve Halloran should be held accountable."

Cavanaugh's colleagues backed her up. Here's what another State Senator had to say about what Halloran did.


STATE SEN. JULIE SLAMA (R-NE): If you were at your job, any other job, any other job in the world, and you got up and told your co-worker in front of the entire rest of the workplace, give me (DEPLETIVE EXPLETIVE).

And you got up and you said that, and then you interjected their name into a graphic description of a rape, what do you think your company would do to you? Do you think you would have your job the next day?


KEILAR: That was Nebraska State Senator Julie Slama, who is with us now to talk a little bit more about what's happening there in Nebraska.

Senator, thanks for being with us.

And your colleague has no plans to resign. He's made that very clear. He is term-limited out, so he's not going to be in the State Senate too much longer.

But where does this go from here then?

SLAMA: Thank you very much, Brianna. I appreciate it.

I have spoken with Senator Cavanaugh and she is moving forward with her own official action to be taken.

The executive board announced an investigation this morning, which I think is an effort to slow-walk any action being taken until after the session.

There's no investigation that needs to take place. Everything Senator Halloran said was in public on the mic for the entire state of Nebraska to hear.

It's shameful. It's disappointing. And it's another in a long line of very embarrassing comments that have happened in our Nebraska legislature over the last few years.

KEILAR: You are a survivor of sexual assault. You had other survivors, as did other lawmakers, reaching out to you. What did they say?

SLAMA: The survivors who reached out, and very bravely shared their stories, shared their anguish at this happening in their House, in their legislature.

And it's stirred up a lot of emotions for many of them to see another State Senator be very cruelly victimized by being named in that passage.

So my heart goes out to all of the survivors that have reached out to me. I stand with them.

I stand with Senator Cavanaugh in breaking party ranks and fighting for what's right here and holding Senator Halloran accountable.

KEILAR: What has offended you the most about this entire incident?

SLAMA: The most offensive chapter about it, for me, happened yesterday morning when Senator Halloran gave really a half effort at an apology. And the speaker of the legislature, John Arch, made it clear that we needed to move forward and not make an issue of what happened.

The legislature has historically failed to correct actions in times like this and has failed to implement any kind of H.R. policy.

The most public workspace in Nebraska lacks any kind of coherent human resources policy, which is a disservice to Nebraskans and everybody working in the legislature.

So for me, after all of the survivors had reached out to my office and I had recovered from the night before, having that really half-hearted effort to make those survivors feel better about what happened was the most offensive to me.


KEILAR: At the heart of this was a debate over this bill, which would hold teachers and librarians criminally responsible for giving students in grades K through 12 access to obscene material, as it is defined in the law.

You know, what do you think about the effort behind this bill?

SLAMA: I think the effort behind the bill comes from a good place. The bill died on a filibuster this morning.

But I think that Senator Halloran's comments took us so far beyond anything that was appropriate in debate on that bill to where I actually think that his comments served to help kill the bill, even though he was trying to support it.

KEILAR: Do you think that what we heard from Senator Halloran speaks to this larger trend that we're seeing, where violence is being invoked in the name of politics. Do you see a through line there or not? SLAMA: Yes, absolutely. This has been a problem in the Nebraska

legislature for at least the last five years, and it's only gotten worse.

The more that Senators see that there are no consequences for invoking violence and how they're speaking. And this is just another -- another example of that conduct been seen as acceptable.

KEILAR: In Nebraska, you see that trend. Do you see it as part of a national trend?

SLAMA: Yes. I think there is definitely a national through line there.

KEILAR: And how do you worry about that as a -- you know, you are a young lawmaker and I know that you are not going to be seeking another term.

But you may have a political future ahead of you. That's certainly a potential expectation. I mean, what do you think about that as you think to the future of politics in your state and beyond?

SLAMA: For me, I've survived some of the worst things a person can go through. So I'm not necessarily worried about myself.

I worry for the next 22-year-old young woman that's going to be coming into the legislature or getting into politics and knowing what I've fallen through and knowing that there are protections in place to keep them from experiencing some of the same trauma I've had to experience.

So my -- my worry right now, as I'm leaving the legislature and going on to other things, is really calling out the issues I see that have traditionally been swept under the rug in the Nebraska legislature and fight for positive change.

Even if it does mean defending one of the most staunch liberals in the legislature, while I'm one of the most outspoken Republicans in the place.

KEILAR: Well, we appreciate the conversation. Obviously, what happened in Nebraska garnered a lot of national attention. And it's great to get your perspective.

Nebraska State Senator Julie Slama, we appreciate your time.

SLAMA: Thank you very much, Brianna.

KEILAR: And we'll be right back.



SANCHEZ: The Biden administration is taking a big step today by finalizing new rules for tailpipe emissions from new cars and trucks. By cutting pollution, the rules push the industry to transition to electric cars, SUVs and pickup trucks. The new rule means that, by 2032, between 35 percent and 56 percent of

new cars sold are likely to be E.V.s and 13 percent to 36 percent could be plug-in hybrids.

But it is an election year, and this deal being somewhat politicized, there were some concessions for the industry.

Here to discuss is CNN's Bill Weir.

Bill, this is one of Biden's biggest climate moves yet. But there were, again, some concessions not only for the auto industry, but for unions as well.

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: There has been a bit of an E.V. tug of war here. That's right, Boris.

About a year ago, the EPA announced a really ambitious fast-track to an E.V. future for the United States. They were then hoping that two- thirds, 66 percent of cars sold, would be electric by the end of this decade.

But carmakers pushed back, especially Toyota. They call this draconian way too much, too fast.

And as a result, the White House has pulled back to those numbers that you displayed there, 35 percent to 60 percent or 56 percent of E.V.s, and they could also mix in plug-in hybrids or more efficient gas engines that get the right mileage, the right tailpipe emissions to meet these mandates.

So they're trying to knock down the idea that this is a ban on gasoline-powered cars and really leaning into the idea that this gives automakers a choice on how to meet these sort of climate targets.

SANCHEZ: So, Bill, big picture, what do the new rules mean for the environment?

WEIR: Well, it's much better than it would have been without any action. The White House is saying that, all told, they're still within the range of ambition in cutting things, almost seven billion tons of carbon over the years coming up there. That is a huge number.


Transportation makes up a quarter of the planet-cooking pollution in an economy like the United States. So knocking that down by half or even more in the next decade would be a big step forward.

Some will say it's not ambitious enough, that decarbonization is not happening at the rate it needs to in order to really flatten that curve and stabilize earth's atmosphere right now.

There's been no real meaningful cuts in carbon pollution in oil and gas drilling and exporting, specialty United States.

Again, this is an election year. And what's interesting is that the United States now exports more fossil fuels than any country in human history right now, way more than the Trump administration. A lot of that is natural gas.

Donald Trump, of course, trying to make this about the U.S. versus China when it comes to E.V.s. You'll hear a lot more about it coming up.

SANCHEZ: Bill Weir, thanks for walking us through that update. Thanks so much.

Still to come, who tried to access the princess of Wales' medical records? How the London hospital where Kate underwent abdominal surgery earlier this year found itself at the center of a royal scandal, potentially an invasion of privacy, too.

We'll be right back.