Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Newsroom

Sources: Trump Believes An Indictment Will Help Him Politically; Arrest Warrant Issued For Putin Over Alleged War Crimes; Questions Remain In Death Of Female Fort Hood Soldier; GOP State Leaders Take Over Dem-Led Houston's School District; CNN Looks At How Pilots Navigate Close Calls. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired March 18, 2023 - 12:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST (on camera): Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

And we begin this hour with major new developments involving former President Donald J. Trump. Trump saying today via social media post that he expects to be arrested on Tuesday and is calling for protests.

He made the announcement today in a social media post, lashing out at the Manhattan District Attorney's Office, which has invited him to testify before a grand jury.

The arrest, if it is to happen would be part of the D.A.'s investigation into alleged hush money payments to Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election.

In the post, Trump call for protests over his pending arrest to "take our nation back."

This development comes as sources tell CNN that law enforcement agencies in New York are also now preparing for the possible indictment of Trump.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is outside the Manhattan criminal courthouse for us. And CNN senior crime and justice reporter Katelyn Polantz is in D.C.

Katelyn, to you first. What more do we know about this possible arrest that the former president is talking about via post?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER (on camera): Well, Donald Trump says he expects to be arrested on Tuesday. But he doesn't know that is the facts. As we have them right now, his team even came out this morning with a statement from his spokesperson, saying they have no notification yet from the Manhattan district attorney that, that is what is happening here.

However, we do know that there is a long investigation that has been going on into possible financial crimes within the Trump organization, specifically, that hush money payment that Donald Trump's personal attorney Michael Cohen made to Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about the affair that she alleges she had during Trump's 2016 campaign.

And we know that Donald Trump was invited to testify before this grand jury in Manhattan and has turned them down. That is the sort of indication that we are in the end stage of this investigation, asking him to come in.

But we do know from our reporting this morning, Kristen Holmes and Paula Reid at CNN, were able to confirm there is another witness expected to go before the grand jury to testify on Monday.

And so, Trump sensing that he did -- he's nearing the end here that indictment could be coming is clearly agitating for his team to help get his base riled up to send a message to the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. And also believes that this could help him politically if he does face an indictment, the first, former president of the United States to ever potentially be in that situation. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: All right, Katelyn Polantz.

Let's go to Polo Sandoval now, there in Manhattan, outside the courthouse. So, what can you tell us about any preparations by law enforcement agencies in New York for what the president says would happen this week?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Fred, these are high level behind the scenes conversations that are ongoing among local state and federal law enforcement officials here in New York City.

And as our colleague, John Miller, and his conversation with his sources is basically pinning this picture of those conversations happening as law enforcement officials consider all possible options. And among those options is the possibility of the former president having to come here to New York City to surrender himself and officially face potential charges.

And with that, would certainly come, in a post January 6th world, some concerns about security at some of those state court facilities here in lower Manhattan.

And that is why, according to sources that are privy and under discussions that concern about keeping those facilities safe, especially, if we see some Trump supporters, for example, responding to the former president's call for protests that we saw this morning.

And with that, according to sources, the concern that they could see any possible clashes with anti-Trump demonstrators.

So, this is just all of the possibilities that officials here in New York City are certainly considering. And we're talking about NYPD in conversations with the FBI, and certainly, with the Manhattan district attorney.


And then, of course, the choreography that comes with what is usually a routine booking process being all, but routine, if the former commander in chief have to -- have to travel here in New York City and face these charges. So, again, a lot of ifs.

But what we are seeing right now from law enforcement officials here in New York City are preparing for a possible worst-case scenario, where they would have to respond to any potential threat. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. I will leave it there for now. Polo Sandoval, Katelyn Polantz.

And pick it up now with Charles Ramsey. He is a CNN senior law enforcement analyst and a former D.C. -- Washington, D.C. police chief.

So, Chief, good to see you. So, given the precedents of January 6th, and the ongoing investigations involving the former president, how might all of that influence the kind of readiness that law enforcement might be planning for right now?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, it have a tremendous impact on the readiness. I mean, we learned a lot from January 6th, so you can't take anything for granted.

The last time he really called on people to protest on his behalf, we know what happened, and it wasn't pretty at all.

So, I'm certain that right now, you have a lot of behind-the-scenes discussions going on. Remember, the former president still has Secret Service protection, and it would be the Secret Service actually bring him to Manhattan, if in fact, he is indicted, and has to turned himself in.

So, they would know in advance that this is going to take place and certainly coordinate with Secret Service there, with the FBI, with NYPD, with the DA's office, with anyone who needs to be involved, because it is going to be -- is something that's going to draw an awful lot of attention, and perhaps even protests.

And whether this happens Tuesday or not, he is calling for people to show up on Tuesday. So, you have to be ready for that not just to protest, but any counter demonstrations that might happen.

WHITFIELD: And so, you just touched on the coordination that would take place between Secret Service, FBI, you know, local jurisdiction, law enforcement, and all that, might that be -- or that relationship that Secret Service has with the former president, might they have tipped him off, you know, to help precipitate this kind of social media post that the former president would say and make that statement? That it would be Tuesday?

RAMSEY: Well, I don't think there is any indication of that. In fact, I think that what the president doing, former president is doing is simply anticipating what might be happening and trying to rile up his supporters.

He is known to use other people to kind of run interference for him. When he feels it necessary, this would be no exception to that. So, it is far as any tip off goes, the D.A. would notify all the relevant parties that this is going to take place.

This isn't something because of the high-profile nature, first time it's ever happened. You're talking about a former president of the United States.

This isn't something that would be a surprise, when it does take place. There would have to be a lot of behind-the-scenes coordination. You have facilities, you have people, you have a lot of things that have to be protected during that period of time.

So, you know, to get everything in place, the logistics of it, it will require a great deal of coordination.

WHITFIELD: And in the former president's a social media statement, Trump lashed out, specifically, at the Manhattan district attorney, Alvin Bragg.

Do you believe that certain security measures have to be put in place for Bragg and anyone else working in his office, just by virtue of the former president, singling him out?

RAMSEY: Absolutely. I mean, that's all part of the coordination that would have to take place.

Again, you have people that are involved in this could easily become targets, could receive threats. I don't know if they have or not, I wouldn't be surprised if they have.

So, obviously, they'd be paying very close attention to social media, any other intelligence they may have, coming their way to see whether or not there's anyone who is posing a threat to any of these individuals.

But again, you can't take anything for granted. And so, people like the district attorney, perhaps, the state court judge or whoever else may be involved.

Members of the grand jury, if their identities become known, there would have to be some consideration in terms of making sure that these people are safe and secure.

WHITFIELD: All right. Chief Charles Ramsey, great to see you. Thank you so much.

RAMSEY: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Turning now to Ukraine and the shock waves after an arrest warrant was issued for Vladimir Putin over alleged war crimes.

The International Criminal Court is accusing Putin and Russia's children's rights commissioner of allegedly creating a scheme to deport 1000s of Ukrainian children to Russia.

Even as the charges were announced, there has been no letup in the war, particularly, in eastern Ukraine.


And now, the head of the mercenary Wagner Group, which has led Russia's intense fight to capture Bakhmut, says he plans to recruit an additional 30,000 fighters by mid-May.

CNN's David McKenzie is in Kyiv for us. So, David, what is the latest from there?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Well, Fred, that's a statement from the Yevgeny Prigozhin. Shows the extent of his ambition to try and get more and more mercenaries into the fight, particularly, around Bakhmut in the eastern part of this conflict.

Now, from all sides, the Russians appear to be taking very heavy losses in that very intense fighting around that town. The Ukrainian say they still hold a significant section of that city that has largely been depopulated in the eastern front.

And that all comes as there's still reaction today on the extraordinary arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin, by the Hague criminal court.

You know, several weeks ago we spent time with a mother who was desperately trying to get her daughter back.


MCKENZIE (voice over): Weeks ago, we first met Tetiana Vlaiko in Kyiv, in a shelter for displaced families. All of the mothers here separated from their children by the trauma of war.

TETIANA VLAIKO, UKRAINIAN MOTHER (through translator): Emotions overwhelmed me when Lilia left. When I realized what was happening, it terrified me. All I wanted for the best for my child at the time.

MCKENZIE: Her 11-year-old daughter, Lilia, stuck in a Russian camp in occupied Crimea. All the lessons are in Russian.

At first glance, the retreats seem like any other summer camp, but the loyalty expected from Ukrainian children is crystal clear. Part of what a new Yale University study calls a systematic reeducation effort.

But Tetiana and Lilia story begins a year ago. The hometown of Kherson fell quickly to advancing Russian troops. Within days, the occupiers began a campaign to ratify the population. Often coercing thousands of parents like Tetiana to send their kids to the camps.

But when Ukrainian forces took back Kherson in November, Tetiana's daughter was on the wrong side of the front line. MYKOLA KULEBA, FOUNDER, SAVE UKRAINE: We provide rescue mission for children who were abducted now in Russia Federation, and in Crimea.

MCKENZIE: Mykola Kuleba, the founder of Save Ukraine, declined to say exactly how they negotiate the entry into enemy territory, just that the mothers can't do it on their own.

KULEBA: It's impossible to communicate with any Russians because you can ask this mothers, they don't want to give children back.

MCKENZIE: But Tetiana was ready to take the risk.

VLAIKO: I'm worried, of course, you cannot even imagine my emotions inside. It's, fear and terror. It's emotional that I could see her soon. And this is a big deal for me.

MCKENZIE: 11 mothers and one father, putting on a brave face, but theirs is a perilous route. From Ukraine by road to Poland, and to Russian ally, Belarus. Through the Russian Federation, to occupied Crimea.

VLAIKO: We were counting every kilometer on approach. I could feel it with every cell in my body. I was very emotional when we were closer and closer.

MCKENZIE: Save Ukraine spent many months planning this moment.

Reuniting families shattered by war, returning children who just wanted to go home to Ukraine.

VLAIKO: Once I entered, to me, it was an outburst of emotions. Once we embraced, it was like a great weight lifted.

MCKENZIE: In the end, they gave up the children willingly. But Save Ukraine says that hundreds, perhaps thousands remain. Our two countries are at war, says Tetiana, but there are good people everywhere.


MCKENZIE: Now, President Zelenskyy says more than 15,000 children could have been moved across the border into Russia. The most serious cases that the ICC is talking about Fred, is around orphans taken from state owned areas, or estates housing in Ukraine and into Russian adopted by Russian parents. That makes up the crux of that ICC indictment of Vladimir Putin and one of his deputies. Fred?

WHITFIELD: Wow. Unbelievable. Great reporting. David McKenzie, thank you so much.

All right. Still to come, the U.S. Army is investigating after a Fort Hood soldier was found dead. Straight ahead, why the family is skeptical of her cause of death?

[12:14:51] And Republicans gaining control of the largest school district in Texas. Find out what this means for students and reaction from the mayor.


WHITFIELD (on camera): The army is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of a female soldier at Fort Hood army base in Texas this week.

Officials say Private Ana Basalduaruiz died Monday. The family of Basalduaruiz says the army told them she died by suicide. But they are questioning that and say that she was being sexually harassed at the base.

CNN national correspondent Camila Bernal, joining me now from Los Angeles with more on this.

Camila, tell us more about these allegations.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): Hey, Fred, these are serious allegations here. And this mother is saying she spoke to her daughter every single day. And in one of those conversations, she detailed that sexual harassment.

They now have an attorney, and through their attorney, they are saying they want a full and open investigation on this case.

Now, the army says it's doing just that investigating this case, looking into the circumstances.


BERNAL: There is a division of the army that's handling this. It is the Criminal Investigations Division, and they are separate independent of the chain of command at Fort Hood.

So, they will be looking at all of the facts here. But what they're already saying is that they do not believe foul play was a factor in this case, in particular.

All of this coming after the mother spoke to Univision News, who's our affiliate, and also Telemundo News. And she was essentially detailing this sexual harassment allegation.

She also told the news outlets that the army had told her that this was a suicide, but that she questioned that suicide.

So, again, a lot of that information is coming from the mother. The army is saying they will investigate the harassment, as well, but they did not confirm whether they believe that the cause of -- or the cause of death was suicide.

Our team went to Mexico to speak to that mother and they asked her, look, had your daughter expressed wanting to leave the army? And she said yes, my daughter wanted to leave. Here is the rest of what that mother told us. Take a listen.


ALEJANDRA RUIZ ZARCO, MOTHER OF BASALDUA RUIZ (text): Mom, I want to go with you to Mexico, I want you to hug me the way you did when I was little.

BERNAL: And if you didn't read those subtitles, that mother is saying that her daughter wanted to be hugged again, the way that she was hugged when she was a little girl.

I spoke about obtaining an attorney. That attorney also released a statement saying, you know, that they're watching this case closely, and making sure that the leadership conducts a thorough investigation for the sake of that family and everyone else who was in the Army.

The Army held a press conference yesterday. And what they said was that they're expecting the family to visit Fort Hood. They say that there is a line of communication there.

They are trying to help the family. But, of course, this is a family that is in mourning. That mother in those interviews, saying that she sent her daughter to the U.S. alive and is going to bring her back dead to Mexico. Fred.

WHITFIELD: Oh. That's heartbreaking.

And Camila, there is another case -- another soldier. Vanessa Guillen died at Fort Hood three years ago, and the two families have apparently now spoken. But what more do we know about what they talked about?

BERNAL: Yes, they're expressing support to each other because Ana Basalduaruiz's family, they were heartbroken and they immediately thought about Vanessa Guillen, and immediately wanted to speak to the family called out and said, you know, we are essentially on the same boat.

And I spoke to the Guillen family attorney, and they say, you know, this is triggering for the Guillen family.

This brought them right back to three years ago when they received the news that, you know, Vanessa Guillen had died at Fort Hood.

There are two very different cases. Vanessa Guillen was murdered at Fort Hood. And there is been an investigation into that case, there is been legislation in the Vanessa Guillen Act.

But again, these two families just coming together to essentially speak about not being able to leave the military if there is sexual harassment or if there are any sort of complaints against leadership.

So, again, these are things that need to be investigated when it comes to this case, but these two families definitely coming together, Fred.


All right. Camila Bernal, thank you so much.

BERNAL: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, new details about another case involving former President Donald Trump. We'll talk to one of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporters that spoke exclusively with five members of the special grand jury, looking into Trump's pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 election.



WHITFIELD: We're continuing to follow new developments involving former President Donald Trump.

Trump posted on his social media platform today, saying, he expects to be arrested on Tuesday, and is calling for his supporters to protest.

Trump offered no details on why he expects to be arrested. But his legal team has been expecting an indictment to happen soon, involving a Manhattan investigation into hush money he allegedly paid to adult film star, Stormy Daniels.

And we're also learning stunning new details about former President Donald Trump's pressure campaign to overturn the 2020 election.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution spoke exclusively to with five members of the special Fulton County grand jury looking into Trump's efforts in Georgia.

And they revealed a previously unknown phone call between the former president and then-Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston, who has since passed away.

Jurors detailed a recording between the two, in which Trump asked Ralston to call a special session to overturn Biden's narrow victory in that state. Ultimately, a special session was not called.

This marks at least the third known recording now of Trump, urging officials to push election lies. Joining us right now, one of the authors behind this new report, senior reporter for the AJC Tamar Hallerman.

Tamar, good to see you.


WHITFIELD: So, you actually spoke with five of the 23 grand jurors. And what did they make of that phone call?

HALLERMAN: They said that the late Speaker of the Georgia House, David Ralston kind of came out as the consummate politician. He basically shut former President Trump down, and said, basically, I'll do whatever I think is appropriate in this manner.

Which made Trump apparently think that he was going to call for a special session. But, of course, the late Speaker did not end up doing that. There was no special session called, but the call appeared to end cordially, according to the jurors I spoke to.

WHITFIELD: OK. And so, I'm just going to pull a portion of that quote that's in your article, where you say, one of the jurors, you know, said that the Speaker basically cut off the president.


He said, "I will do everything in my power that I think is appropriate." And you reported that he essentially took the wind out of the sails, according to how the juror kind of interpreted that.

So was it the general consensus that these grand jurors felt like the speaker handled the situation well? And then how did they interpret that phone call as they're making their overall decisions?

HALLERMAN: I think they all seem to have pretty favorable impressions of the late speaker Ralston, who passed away in November after an illness. And of course, this is one of three phone calls, as you mentioned, that they heard over the course of this investigation. The first two we've known about, since almost pretty much that happened, of course, the infamous phone call between the former president and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, in which he asked them to find almost 12,000 votes and a separate phone call involving an elections investigator who was looking into absentee ballot verification in Cobb County.

So kind of in the context of that it's just the latest in a line of phone calls to Georgia officials. We also know about several other phone calls, which we don't believe have been recorded, including two with Governor Brian Kemp.

WHITFIELD: And is that separate from in your reporting? You talk about a meeting in December 2020 called by the former Republican senator and staunch, you know, Trump ally, David Perdue, you know, that Governor, Brian Kemp, the former senator Kelly Loeffler, and their aides all attended that meeting. Is this like a face to face meeting or was this a phone call meeting that you're making reference to?

HALLERMAN: This was face to face meeting (INAUDIBLE) and Kelly Loeffler and David Perdue (INAUDIBLE) in the fight of life, they were both seeking reelection in 2001 (INAUDIBLE) Georgia. And they were kind of pushing what the former president pushing for a special session to basically overturn Roe vs. Wade. George. The governor said he wasn't to do that. He didn't think it was going to work. We believe in all sorts of lawsuits and he put it down.

WHITFIELD: OK, all right, Tamar Hallerman. We're have to leave it there only because the audio got a little weird, but people can read your article because it's fascinating and it gives all the accounts of how these jurors listen to, heard, reviewed the information, evidence and how they've now interpreted it all. Tamar Hallerman, thank you so much of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Appreciate that.

All right, coming up, Republican leaders in Texas are taking over the Houston Independent School District. One of the largest school districts in the U.S., the mayor of Houston joining me live, next.



WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Republican leaders in Texas are taking over one of the largest school districts in the U.S., the Houston Independent School District. The district, however, is in a city that is led by Democrats. The school officials will be replaced by a new board appointed by the State Commissioner of Education. I want to bring in now Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, for his perspective on all this. Mayor Turner, good to see you. So you recently, you know, said that this takeover is very troubling but it's not expected. What do you mean?

MAYOR SYLVESTER TURNER (D), HOUSTON: Well, there was an attempt back in 2019, for the state to move and take over the Houston Independent School District. And let me just quickly say, it's not a district that is controlled by the city itself. They have their own board and superintendent. And in 2019, there was some concerns I even had some concerns, in terms of this assess, their failure rate of some of their schools and the actions of the board.

But four years later, things have changed dramatically for the better, which is good. But the state is taking actions not just control the local school district. But there are a number of bills, for example, in the Texas legislature that would preempt the authorities of counties and cities throughout the state of Texas. So this is not unsurprising to me.

WHITFIELD: So this is a democratically elected board and superintendent. And you just said that you felt that many of the schools had improved. So is this a penalty? I mean, what's going on?

TURNER: Well, let me just put it this way. There's a new superintendent that is now in place. He's been there for 17 months. And the people in the Houston Independent School District pretty much replaced almost all of the trustees that were there in 2019. Under this new board and this new superintendent over the last 17 months, 40 of the 50 schools that were NAD or F rated status are no longer there. They have improved.

The one school that people keep referring to that had underperformed for five consecutive years, that school is now a C plus rating. And so it's no longer in that same status. So there's been significant improvement. There are 274 schools in the Houston Independent School District. It is the largest school district in the state. It is the seventh or eighth largest in the country. And so to step in and take over the entire school district, pretty much what they're saying, based on the underperformance of one simply doesn't make a lot of sense. And it certainly we believe is not in the best interest of the nearly 200,000 kids that are in the Houston Independent School District so I think this is more political rather than trying to benefit the students themselves.


WHITFIELD: What have you heard from the students and the parents?

TURNER: Well, there has been, there has been no community engagement with the parents are the students, or the teachers, the cafeteria workers, the custodians, workers, there's been no community engagement. Now that the decision has been made to take over the school district, they the state has set up some community meetings this coming week. And they have announced that the takeover will be taking place as in June of this year.

But this is the point, Fredricka, if we are operating in the interests of the students, then what additional resources will the stay be providing or planning to provide beyond what is it -- what is taking place right now and there has been significant improvement. In most 94 percent of the schools are doing well, 94 percent. So you mean to tell me --

WHITFIELD: Sorry to interrupt, I mean, I felt like that was going to be my next question, which is like, OK, so what will a state takeover mean? What will it mean in terms of resources, in terms of, you know, supplies or addressing certain specifications to each community? What's the promise that comes with this take over?

TURNER: The state has made no commitment, the state has made no commitment than any additional resources are coming. What the state has said, is that we will replace your elected Board of Trustees, with a Board of Managers that the state will select, and we will remove your superintendent and replace your superintendent by someone that the state will select. Beyond that element, that control element, the state has not said, we're going to be providing an additional resources to your students, so that they can have what they need in order to improve their academic performance.

And in age -- and in the schools in the state of Texas, in terms of financial resources, they are underfunded by three to $4,000, in comparison to the national average. So the state is basically saying we're going to take you over, we're going to remove your elected leaders and remove your superintendent. But the state is not saying we're going to be providing additional financial support for everything that you need. And neither is state saying, we are promising you that every one of your schools will be performing above the required levels.

WHITFIELD: So State Representative Harold Dutton, a Democrat from New York City of Houston, you know, argued in the Houston Chronicle op-ed this week that the takeover was justified saying his amendment back in 2015, allowed for this to happen, and he has no regrets. What's your response to that? TURNER: And I know, Representative Dutton very well. And I served in the legislature myself for 27 years. And I was there in 2015. And I understand his concerns, because he went to went to school that in question. And he was very much as we all work with the underperformance of that school for five consecutive years. So I understand that.

But the reality is like now, four years later, that school is no longer underperforming. And the question then becomes, do you allow the state? Or is it appropriate or right, or in the best interest of the students for the state to step in and take over 274 schools because of one school? Does that make any sense?

When the state is not saying we're going to be providing you with additional financial resources, when the state is sitting on a budgetary surplus in the state of Texas, of more than $30 billion? So if you're going to take it over, what are you saying to students and the parents? Are you saying that you're bringing the necessary resources? And that's not what they're saying, they're taking control, but they're not providing any additional assistance.


TURNER: And I think in that sense, when you look at the bills that have been filed in the Texas Legislature, there are a number of bills that have been filed for the state to you serve preempt the authorities of local governments, even the city of Houston and counties throughout the state of Texas, so you have to put everything in context.


I understand his concern but I will tell you there are many others, 95 percent of everybody else, especially here in the city of Houston, are opposed to this hostile takeover.

WHITFIELD: Yes, it sounds like households would want to hear more about the justifications and the promise that comes with this new arrangement.

TURNER: At least -- very good, at least the parents and the students and the teachers, all of the major stakeholders, I think you've talked to them before. You don't talk to them after the fact.

WHITFIELD: Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

TURNER: Thanks. Thanks for having me.

WHITFIELD: Coming up, amid an alarming spike of runway close calls CNN heads to the cockpit to walk through what needs to be done to avoid an incident.


[12:50:20] WHITFIELD: Fourteen seconds away from a collision. That's how close the NTSB says two commercial jets were to crashing into each other at the Sarasota, Florida Airport last month. An investigation found an Air Canada jet was cleared for takeoff just as the American Airlines plane was about to land.

Thankfully, the American Airlines pilot was able to pull back from the landing after spotting the Air Canada plane taking off. This incident is just one of seven runway incursions that have taken place this year alone. So how do pilots navigate runway close calls? Here's CNN's Pete Muntean.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On any given day, in the United States, airlines operate 45,000 commercial flights, taking off, landing, and taxiing, at some of the busiest airports, in the world. Delivering millions of passengers, precisely, and safely, can be a delicate dance. One mistake can bring it all to a halt.

BILL ENGLISH, FORMER NTSB INSPECTOR: Runway incursions have been around since we've had more than one runway.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Former NTSB investigator, Bill English, recalls the Tenerife disaster, of 1977. Two Boeing 747s slammed into each other, on the runway. More than 500 people died.

ENGLISH: Runway incursions have been a pretty tough nut, for decades, in aviation.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Bill and I, both pilots and flight instructors, met at flight school, Aviation Adventures, in Virginia. Here, student pilots are taught about runway incursions, almost immediately in their training.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Let's try it now (ph).


MUNTEAN (voice-over): In the pilot seat, of this Diamond Twin Star trainer, Bill and I are setting out, on a demonstration, of what goes into a runway incursion, and what keeps pilots, from making mistakes that could be deadly.

ENGLISH: There are a lot of layers built in here, a lot of protections, to prevent even when something does go wrong, from it becoming catastrophic.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Five cameras are rolling to show some solutions, are as simple as markings on taxiways that lead to runways.

The yellow "Hold Short Line" reminds pilots not to enter a runway, a holy grail of paint, matched by crucial phrases, between pilots and air traffic control.

ATC: You can move up to and hold short of runway 35. MUNTEAN (on camera): Hold short 35 Skyventures 262.

We had to read back all the short instructions, very good. And why is that so critical when it comes to a runway incursions?

ENGLISH: Well first off confirm that it was heard. Confirm that you got the correct runway. Those are the big ones, right there.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Confirmation and communication are key.

(on camera): Prepare for takeoff 35 Skyventures 262.

(voice-over): This Executive Airport, in Leesburg, lacks some of the technology that the FAA is deploying, at busier airports, nationwide. Warning lights embedded in the pavement of taxiways, and runways, even new radar that can track planes, and other vehicles, on the ground.

ENGLISH: Power back to 50 percent.

MUNTEAN (on camera): I've got the airport in sight.

(voice-over): We are navigating to a landing, at Dulles International Airport, one of the D.C. area's busiest, with four runways, three of them are parallel to each other. Even though we're landing in clear weather, Bill dialed in a radio beacon, used for poor visibility landings, to point us, at the proper runway.

I'm approaching the airport here. And in the interest of time, we've edited out some of the turns directed by air traffic control, to line us up, with the runway.

ATC: Skyventures 262, Dulles is 10 o'clock five miles.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Airport in sight Skyventures 262.

ATC: Skyventures 262 turn left heading zero four zero cleared visual approach one center.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): I've been cleared for the approach.

ATC: Skyventures 262 contact Dulles tower 134.42.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Over to tower Skyventures 262.

(voice-over): And now, I've been cleared to land.

ENGLISH: Let it come down. Come down. There you go. Nice, best description (ph). See, it's lower than you think.

MUNTEAN (on camera): It really is.

ENGLISH: All right, there we go. So, we are rolling. We got Yankee Six coming up here.


ENGLISH: That's going to be our first turn off to the right.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Yankee Six is the taxiway we'll use to exit the runway. Turning exactly where controllers tell you on the ground, is just as important as the commands given in the air.

ATC: Skyventures 262, you can turn right at Yankee Six or Yankee Seven contact ground point six two.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Over to ground point six two Skyventures 262.

(voice-over): Bill points out to me how he's using an iPad app to track where we are on the airport grounds.

(on camera): How important is being aware of where you are, on the airport, especially in a busy airport, like Dulles, here?

ENGLISH: Well that's absolutely critical, because we -- look where we are right here. We've got airplanes coming in and coming out of the terminal there, both directions, all the time.

MUNTEAN: You know, in an airport like this, there are multiple different runways, aligned with one another.


MUNTEAN: But I feel like it becomes even more precarious, at an airport, when that has criss-crossing runways.

ENGLISH: Yes, exactly.

MUNTEAN: When things make the news, like runway incursions, and you have to be almost extra-vigilant, as you're flying.

ENGLISH: I mean, runway environment, especially at an airport like this, you absolutely have to be extra-vigilant. And, you know, with what we've seen lately, I think everybody's up got their head on a swivel now.



(voice-over): We are now taxiing to take off from a different runway, at Dulles, runway 30, which crosses in front of the northbound runways we just used to land. Air traffic control tells us to take off with a flight approaching those runways, from the South.

ATC: Skyventures 262, fly runway heading runway 30 clear for takeoff. Wind 360 at 3.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Clear for takeoff 30 Skyventures 262.

ENGLISH: Here we go. Runway 30 is on the pavement, and 30 is on our heading indicator.

MUNTEAN: Got it. ENGLISH: That's a double-check. Power come up. Power to 20 and rolling. We want to --

MUNTEAN: Got it--

ENGLISH: -- we want to go quick for that guy --

MUNTEAN: Got it.

ENGLISH: -- just go into the center.

MUNTEAN: Airspeed alive.

(voice-over): My normal flying is typically from a smaller country airport. It's not as busy, and there's no air traffic control tower. What's clear, from this demonstration, is that the nature of these incidents has not changed. But they have put a new spotlight on safety.

ENGLISH: I think dealing with the problems? That's what we do in aviation. We try to build that robust system, where safety is paramount.

All right, coming on back. It comes down. Hold it right there. Just hold it right there, perfect.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Got the hang of it on the second one.

ENGLISH: You got it.


WHITFIELD: All right, Pete Muntean thanks for bringing that to us.

All right still to come, former President Donald J. Trump says he expects to be arrested on Tuesday and is calling for protests, details straight ahead.