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CNN International: Fox Hosts Privately Dismissed Trump's Election Lies; Acting FAA Chief Grilled on Capitol Hill; Lawmakers Question Covid Origins Panel on Possible Causes; U.S. Intel Officials Say China Remains Unparalleled Priority. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired March 09, 2023 - 04:30   ET



BIANCA NOBILO, CNN ANCHOR: Another railway company says that there's no danger to the public after a separate derailment in West Virginia on Wednesday.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: A freight train owned by CSX hit a rockslide before jumping the tracks. Three crew members were injured at least one locomotive caught fire, and fell into a nearby river, spilling fuel and oil. CSX says it'll deploy containment measures. The company also says the train did not carry hazardous materials.

NOBILO: Fox News is facing new criticism after more false narratives have been exposed. What it's top rated host had to say about Donald Trump in newly-revealed text messages.

FOSTER: Plus, the latest brawl on a U.S. airline flight. Now, the top aviation official talks about how he plans to crack down on unruly passengers.


NOBILO: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Bianca Nobilo.

FOSTER: I'm Max Foster. These are the top stories this hour.

Much of California is under a state of emergency as a new round of storms moves in. Authorities are urging residents to be prepared for heavy rain and possible flooding over the coming hours.

Plus, U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell is in hospital. A spokesperson says the 81-year-old tripped and fell at a private dinner at a Washington hotel on Wednesday night.

NOBILO: We have a new court filing in the Dominion voting systems $1.6 billion lawsuit against Fox News. The company says that the right-wing network is seeking a first amendment license to knowingly spread lies. Dominion claims that Fox has already conceded its on-air statements about Dominion rigging the 2020 election were false.


FOSTER: The court filing goes on to say, quote: If Fox cared about the truth that it now acknowledges, Fox would have its top personalities reporting that truth to its audience today. If not for Dominion's sake, then for the sake of the significant percentage of Americans who still wrongfully believe the 2020 election was stolen -- including so many of Fox's own loyal viewers, who heard it over and over again on Fox's airwaves.

NOBILO: The Dominion lawsuit is just one of several new examples of Fox News being less than honest with its viewers. CNN's Paula Reid has the details.


TUCKER CARLSON, FOX NEWS HOST: They could not have been --

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS ANALYST (voice-over): This is the Tucker Carlson America sees on camera.

CARLSON: The outcome of our presidential election was seized from the hands of voters.

REID (voice-over): But new courts documents revealing a very different Carlson behind the scenes. Texting a producer on January 4th, 2021, just two days before the Capitol attack, saying of Trump: I hate him passionately. I can't handle much more of this. We are very, very close to being able to ignore Trump most nights.

Admitting what a disaster it's been is too tough to digest. But come on, there isn't really an upside to Trump.

Those private remarks, a total contrast to Carlson's public comments, like these at a conservative event just a few months ago.

CARLSON: Actually, love Donald Trump as a guy. I'm so grateful that Donald Trump ran in 2016. Donald Trump, like, Donald Trump completely changed my view of everything.

REID (voice-over): His private messages were released as part of Dominion Voting System's $1.6 billion defamation lawsuit against the right-wing network, revealing that Fox News stars and top executives didn't actually believe the lie they put on air that the 2020 election was stolen. But amid falling ratings, the network continued to promote Trump and his lies.

CARLSON: Voter fraud is something that is real, that just took place two weeks ago.

What happened was, the people in charge rigged the game.

REID (voice-over): Despite his prior personal objections to Trump, Carlson continues to support him publicly. Defending him after a search warrant was executed at Mar-a-Lago.

CARLSON: No honest person could believe that the raid on Donald Trump's home last week was a legitimate act of law enforcement. It was not.

REID (voice-over): And seen here laughing with Trump at a golf tournament over the summer.

REID: In two weeks, there will be a hearing, where both sides will try to convince a judge to resolve the case in their favor without a trial. If that doesn't work, they could potentially settle this out of court before it is scheduled to go to trial on April 17th.

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.


NOBILO: Another incident of violence on a U.S. airline flight has been caught on camera.






FOSTER: The footage so passers try to separate two men who got in a fistfight on Southwest airlines plane in Dallas. It happened while they were boarding a flight for Phoenix on Monday. Witnesses say both men left the plane before takeoff. Police responded to the incident, but no one was arrested. The footage also shows the man who threw the first punch telling other passengers why he did it.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm tell you what happened. I will tell everybody what happened. He approached me and approaching me and my family, I don't play with my family. Tell them what happened. Tell them what you did.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There is no need for that right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will sit down and tell you were approaching my family. I would die for my family. But that's why I'd beat you (BLEEP).


NOBILO: The acting federal aviation chief faced a grilling on Capitol Hill on Wednesday over encounters like that and other similar safety concerns.

FOSTER: There's been a lot of them, hasn't there?

NOBILO: Plenty.

FOSTER: Bill Nolen testified before the Senate Commerce Committee for the second time in the month, on top of concerns over unruly passengers. There've also been six near commissions between passenger planes on the nation's runways so far this year.

NOBILO: No one told reporters that the FAA will use every means at its disposal to crack down on unruly passengers, and despite multiple runway close calls, he said that his agency is still managing to stay on top of things.


BILLY NOLAN, ACTING FAA ADMINISTRATOR: The FAA absolutely has a grasp on the situation. And it's something that we look at every day. Throughout the course of every day, I got reports all day long about what's happening in the RSAT, the level of completion and I can tell you that the system is a strong and safe and resilient.


FOSTER: As if violent passengers and runway close calls aren't enough, severe turbulence can be another headache for flyers.

NOBILO: Some 5,500 flights in the U.S. experience it every year on average, but as Tom Foreman reports, that number could grow, thanks to climate change.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Violent turbulence has been a feature of flying for decades, with each year bringing fresh and frightening examples.

MICHAEL BAILEY, AIR CANADA PASSENGER: A lot of people hit the ceiling, and a lot of screaming.

FOREMAN (voice-over): A series of recent incidents have alarmed some fliers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was honestly pretty scary. It was kind of like out of a movie.

FOREMAN (voice-over): And they have terrified others.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My life just like flashed through my eyes. I thought it was the end.


FOREMAN (voice-over): Climate change has been scientifically linked to increasingly severe weather. So, amid all the headlines about planes being rattled, a troubling question has emerged. Is the climate making turbulence worse too? Yes, says the co-author of this 2019 study, Professor Paul Williams who studies atmospheric science.

PAUL D. WILLIAMS, ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCE PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF READING: Which the climate change has made turbulent flights more likely in much the same way that it's made heatwaves more likely as well. Climate change is strengthening clear air turbulence at all flight levels in all seasons, everywhere around the world where there's a jet stream.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Simply put, he says climate change is creating atmospheric disturbances which generate a ripple-like effect in the air even when no bad weather is apparent. But, proving a link for any given flight is tricky. When a passenger is injured, like the seven who went to the hospital after a Lufthansa flight a few days ago, or if someone dies, as happened with a woman on a private jet over New England, the National Transportation Safety Board notes the incident, but it does not track turbulence on all flights.

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: And frankly, that's not enough. We need to have a more robust system, because the attempts at forward- looking radar to pick up clear air turbulence, they simply have not panned out yet.

FOREMAN (voice-over): More information is key, researchers say, because the threat is not going away.

WILLIAMS: Well, I'd love to see more efforts put into collecting reliable, robust data, as we move into this more turbulent future.

FOREMAN: The Federal Aviation Administration says it is stepping up efforts to collect more data on turbulence, and perhaps that will lead to smoother and safer flights ahead.

Tom Foreman, CNN, Washington.


NOBILO: I feel like we should be sponsored by flight anxiety causes.

Still to come, U.S. lawmakers hold another hearing about the origins of COVID-19. But critics say that some of the expert witnesses have questionable resumes.

FOSTER: Plus, take stock of China's expanding global ambition. U.S. intelligence chief warned of Beijing's plans to replace the U.S. as the world's dominant economic military power. Those details when we return.



NOBILO: U.S. lawmakers questioned a panel of experts Wednesday about these supposed origins of COVID-19. The panel hand-picked by Republicans has drawn criticism from Democrats not only for their bias, but in some instances being discredited by the scientific community.

NOBILO: Meantime the former director of the CDC testified saying he was left out of important discussions by top health officials. He went on to share and also a popular theory in the States that the virus was created by the intelligence community.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) DR. ROBERT REDFIELD, FORMER CDC DIRECTOR: This virus was immediately the most infectious virus -- not the most, I think probably right behind measles -- virus that we've ever seen to infect man. So I mediately said, wait a second, this isn't natural. And then you go back a bit to literature, and you find the 2014 this lab actually published a paper that they put the H2 receptor into humanized mice so it could infect human tissue. And then you learn that the new COVID which came from bats now can hardly replicate in bats. So, how does that happen? I don't think that answer is going to come from the scientific community. I think that answer is going to come from the intelligence community.


FOSTER: The U.S. director of national intelligence is describing Russia's invasion of Ukraine as a grinding attritional war with neither side having a decisive military advantage at the present time. Admiral Haines offered that official analysis -- offered that official analysis as she and other senior U.S. intelligence officials testified before Senators on the U.S.'s annual report of global threats.

NOBILO: The war in Ukraine commanded a lot of attention at Wednesday's hearing, Haines made clear that China remains America's top intelligence concern as Beijing attempts to exert more and more influence around the world. CNN's Oren Liebermann has our report.



OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A look at worldwide threats that keep coming back to China. The heads of U.S. intelligence agencies telling Senators that Beijing is modernizing its military, expanding its influence, and working to control supply chains as it tries to replace the U.S. as the global leader.

AVRIL HAINES, U.S. DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Chinese Communist Party or CCP under President Xi Jinping will continue efforts to achieve Xi's vision of making China the preeminent power in East Asia.

The CCP is increasingly convinced that it can only do so at the expense of U.S. power and influence.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): China using its economic force and its tech to spy on adversaries.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Could they use TikTok to control data on millions of users?


RUBIO: Could they use it to control the software on millions of devices, given the opportunity to do so?

WRAY: Yes. LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Senators push for a consensus on the origins of COVID-19. The FBI believes it leaked from a lab in Wuhan. But there is no smoking gun and no definitive answer.

HAINES: The Department of Energy has changed its view slightly. With low confidence, it says that a lab leak is most likely. But they do so for different reasons than the FBI does, and their assessments are not identical.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Relations between Beijing and Moscow came under scrutiny, with the U.S. watching closely for any signs that China is considering providing weapons to Russia.

HAINES: We do see them providing assistance to Russia in the context of the conflict. And we see them in a situation in which they have become increasingly uncomfortable about the level of assistance and not looking to do it as publicly as might otherwise occur and given the reputational costs associated with it.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): One year into the war in Ukraine, Russia's manpower is spread thin, its military resources strained. But President Vladimir Putin is playing for time, not for short-term victory.

HAINES: We do not foresee the Russian military recovering enough this year to make major territorial gains. But Putin most likely calculates that time works in his favor, even if it takes years.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): There was bipartisan outrage on the investigations of classified documents found at former President Donald Trump's home at Mar-a-Lago and the offices of President Joe Biden and former Vice President Mike Pence.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): We still have unfinished business regarding the classified documents that we need to see in order for this Intelligence Committee to effectively oversee its job on intelligence oversights.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Members of the committee pressing the intelligence leaders to provide the documents or even just to characterize what's in them.

SEN. TOM COTTON (R-AR): Our patience is starting to run out. And at least some of us are prepared to start putting our foot down if we don't get better answers and the stonewall doesn't stop.


LIEBERMANN: One of the other issues that kept coming up in this hearing was the drug fentanyl, responsible for many of the more than 100,000 annual drug overdose deaths in the United States. And although the finished product, the drug itself, often comes from Mexican cartels, the intelligence chiefs said the raw material, the chemicals to make fentanyl, often comes from China.

Oren Liebermann, CNN, at the Pentagon. (END VIDEOTAPE)

FOSTER: Florida's governor says the world number one tennis player deserves to compete at the upcoming Miami Open, even if he is not vaccinated against COVID. We'll tell you what the governor says he is willing to do to get Novak Djokovic into the U.S.


NOBILO: Phoenix Suns fans will have to wait a little bit longer before they see Kevin Durant in action. The newly acquired center fell -- fell during warm-ups before what would have been his home debut against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

FOSTER: Suns coach Monty Williams says Durant will undergo more tests today. For now, the team is calling it a sprained ankle. The Suns have won all three road games since Durant joined the team and they went on to beat the Thunder last night.


Florida's governor really wants tennis superstar Novak Djokovic to play at the Miami Open, which is later this month, isn't it, but the U.S. still requires COVID vaccinations for international arrivals in the U.S. and the world's number one player, apparently hasn't had any shots.

NOBILO: Now Governor Ron DeSantis wants the Biden administration to lift that restriction so Djokovic can compete in the Miami tournament that he's already won six times. Here's what the governor said on Wednesday.


RON DESANTIS (R) FLORIDA GOVERNOR: He should be allowed to compete now, I would run a boat from the Bahamas here, for him. I would do that. 100 percent.


NOBILO: The Miami Open is set to begin on March 22nd, Djokovic confirms that applied for special permission to enter the U.S. so he can compete. Last year he was shut out of all U.S. tennis tournaments, including the U.S. Open because of the vaccine mandate.

FOSTER: An interesting test case.

NOBILO: And before we go, a south Florida woman is making a public plea for Friday to be named "Sugar Daddy and Mommy Appreciation Day." Ashley Cream addressed the Boca Raton planning and zoning board meeting with her sweet proposal.


ASHLEY CREAM, BOCA RATON RESIDENT: Florida has the largest per capita population of sugar daddies in the U.S., Miami, Palm Beach, and Boca are the most concentrated populists of these age benefactors. Sugar daddies both gay and straight and yes even sugar mommies are responsible for college educations, cars, homes, rents, jets, Birkins, and the occasional body enhancement.


FOSTER: Standing up there for equality for sugar mama's. Cream argued that sugar daddies and mommies are vital to the Florida economy. The board didn't rule on the request and instead told her it was a city council issue.

And they got around it that way.

Thanks for joining us here on CNN NEWSROOM, I'm Max Foster.

NOBILO: And I'm Bianca Nobilo. "EARLY START" is up next right here on CNN.