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New Day

Americans in Limbo as Southwest Cancels 2,000-Plus Flights in U.S.; Number Two House Republican Refuses to Say Election Wasn't Stolen; Passengers Describe Tense Moments During Flight Scare. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired October 11, 2021 - 07:00   ET



WILL RIPLEY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You have China expanding into the South China Sea. You have Japan now deploying missiles and troops to its outlying islands near Taiwan.

So there is a -- certainly, there's a lot of military movement that indicates tensions are high in this region. And one former diplomat told me, John, that Taiwan and the United States getting closer almost puts Taiwan in danger of being, in his words, loved to death.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEW DAY: Look, there have been people who have been watching this for decades who are now talking in terms of when, not if. Will Ripley, we appreciate you being there. Thank you very much.

And New Day continues right now.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN NEW DAY: hello, I'm Brianna Keilar with John Berman on this New Day.

Breaking news, it's been called a game changer. What Merck is revealing about its new pill to fight coronavirus.

BERMAN: Chaos at the airport as Southwest e cancels more than 2,000 flights, leaving passengers in limbo. Hear why.

KEILAR: Plus, George Clooney says America is like a battered child after four years of Donald Trump. We will discuss.

BERMAN: And why there might be a last-minute snag to William Shatner's trip to space, oh, no. He speaks with us just moments from now.

KEILAR: Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. It is Monday, October 11th. And this is a special holiday edition of New Day.

The chaos, unfortunately, is continuing at the nation's airports. Hundreds more Southwest Airlines flights already canceled for today. Over the weekend, Southwest canceled more than 1,000 flights citing air traffic control issues and weather. Video from across the country show long lines, lots of frustrated travelers here.

BERMAN: So, the cancelation has sparked online speculation about worker protests over Southwest's new employee vaccine requirements. The pilots' union insists that is not the case.

KEILAR: Pete Muntean live for us at Reagan National Airport. It's interesting. This is what people are speculating but they're saying, no, this isn't actually the issue, the vaccine mandate.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is super interesting here, Brianna. And that statement issued late last night by Southwest Airlines' pilot union, in which they say that it was not on them.

This is really more of a mismanagement issue by Southwest Airlines, according to the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association. This is a really big operational mess for Southwest Airlines. It's not like turning off a switch and turning it back on again.

This is really more akin to unplugging something and plugging it back in again, because Southwest says all these problems really began back on Friday. It really pins the blames here on air traffic control and weather issues.

But what's so interesting is that the Federal Aviation Administration issued a rare statement saying that was not the case on Saturday and Sunday when Southwest experienced the lion's share of its cancelations. 800 flights canceled by Southwest on Saturday, 1,100 flights on Sunday, about 30 percent of its total schedule. We've seen about one in every ten canceled today, about 337 flights so far, so this is not over just yet.

In a memo to Southwest Airlines employees, Southwest management really describes ripple effect, planes and people left out of position because of these problems back on Friday. In fact, some flight crews were left without hotel rooms.

The bottom line here is thousands, tens of thousands, maybe more than a hundred thousand passengers were left stranded at airports across the country and they're not happy about this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no explanation for this problem. So, I suspect that Southwest isn't being totally honest with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I couldn't leave last night, really, just because we didn't know what was going to happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Started looking through and there's just nothing, nothing, nothing for like the next few days.


MUNTEAN: One more factor here, the airline is a lot smaller than it was than before the pandemic. It has trimmed its fall schedule down to the bone. And that, the airline says, according to a memo to its employees, is making it harder for it to recover.

All people are being packed on fewer airplanes. It's not like getting back to normal will be easy. We're still seeing the problems today, Brianna and John.

KEILAR: All right. Pete, thank you so much for that report from Reagan Airport.

BERMAN: Now, to democracy, and Donald Trump is winning. In some ways, he already won. Not 2020 election itself, he lost that convincingly and could not reverse it at the time, but he won the battle for his party. His rewritten history is now practically the official dogma of his party and his lies the accepted reality of his party.

We have two pieces of video to show you, the first from the number two Republican in the House.


REP. STEVE SCALISE (R-LA): At the end of the day, are we going to follow what the Constitution says or not? I hope we get back to what the Constitution says.


But, clearly, in a number of it states, they didn't follow those legislatively.

CHRIS WALLACE, FOX NEWS HOST: So, you think the election was stolen?

SCALISE: What I said is there are states that didn't follow their legislatively set rules. That's what the United States Constitution says.

WALLANCE: Last time, I promise, do you think the election was stolen or not? I understand you think there were irregularities and things that need to be fixed. Do you think the election was stolen?

SCALISE: And it's not just irregularities, it is states that did not follow the laws set which the Constitution says they're supposed to follow.


BERMAN: Minority Whip Steve Scalise perpetuating a lie about 2020. And maybe that is not surprise given where Scalise has been politically, but on the Senate side, 88-year-old Chuck Grassley, he is the Republican establishment. In his decades' long career, no one would have called him a radical until now. Here he is after a Trump rally.


SEN. CHUCK GRASSLEY (R-IA): He listened to their testimony and in the end he decided he wasn't willing to do what one of those people in the Justice Department urged him to do, which was he wanted them to send letters to all the state legislatures, reactivate your state legislatures and then get a whole new set of delegates for the ballots, the electoral ballots, and then maybe you can overthrow this election.

He rejected all that. And they're trying to make it a scenario that he was trying to get the Justice Department to go to the states.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like so many other things, this has been overstated, vastly overstated.



BERMAN: That's just wrong. Grassley is trying to paint Trump as a victim of the attempted coup when, in fact, it was Trump driving it.

Here are some pieces of evidence that Grassley might very well have missed in his committee's report. Trump asked the Justice Department nine times to undermine the election results. He successfully got his White House staff to help pressure. He tried to pressure secretaries of state to not certify the election. He then attacked them, including Republicans when they didn't.

Trump also tried to pressure state legislatures in key battleground states. Then he tried to get the courts to overturn the election results based on bogus conspiracies. A Trump lawyer wrote a blueprint. He wrote it down, outlining how Mike Pence could overturn the election. And speaking of Pence, Trump publicly and loudly tried to get his vice president to decertify the election on January 6th, and then the mob showed up.

It is worth noting that Trump is still spouting these conspiracies, including at the rally that Grassley attended and participated in. It's all happening. Some are watching, or in some cases, like Grassley, helping.

KEILAR: Berman, you mentioned threats to future elections. Let's take a look at this pro-Trump Ohio U.S. Senate Candidate Josh Mandel's.


JOSH MANDEL (R), OHIO SENATE CANDIDATE: With respect to coronavirus, January 6th and the entire BLM/Antifa riots and looting, yes, I think a lot of this stuff were organized operations. A lot of it was funded by Soros and money liberal forces. And to your point, my guess is that the deep state was very involved with a lot of these operations as well.


KEILAR: All right. CNN's Michael Warren is joining us now. I mean, are we watching a Senate candidate or did we somehow click on the wrong YouTube link?

MICHAEL WARREN, CNN REPORTER: I mean, this would describe to what you just heard. It is pretty typical actually in this Senate race. This is a big, crowded, competitive primary for the Ohio Senate seat. We should note, Rob Portman is the retiring Republican senator, a sort of moderate sounding conservative, really kind of out of step with the party as it currently is. Almost every candidate running to replace him, to succeed him is using not Rob Portman as a model but Donald Trump.

So, you heard that from Mandel who used to be sort of establishment Republican, he's statewide elected official, former statewide elected official. You have got others, Jane Timken, the former state chair of the Republican Party also moving toward Trump. They are all running toward Trump. J.D. Vance, the author appearing a lot on Fox News sort of getting into these cultural issues. It is not just the rhetoric of 2020, it is sort of touching on those cultural touchstones, that's where the Republican Party is moving.

It is interesting to note then, there is one candidate, a Republican running for this seat, State Senator Matt Dolan, who is running sort of a different race. He is not anti-Trump candidate but he is sort of a post-Trump republican. He is out there saying, we need to leave Trump behind. The 2020 was not stolen. We need to move beyond the lies. And he calls them lies from his fellow Republicans.

The big issue for him is name I.D., can he get enough attention in this Republican Party in a Republican primary?


He just needs about 25 or 30 percent, a plurality in a crowded of about six major candidates.

I talked to a lot of Ohio Republicans who said, he just can't do it. It's just not where the party is. He's giving an honest try but we'll just have to keep watching.

KEILAR: We'll see. Because with this party, your either for Trump or you're against him. There really isn't any gray area, as we have seen. Michael, thank you so much for sort of taking us there to the ground. I appreciate it, Michael Warren.

BERMAN: Look, it is crystal clear that Trump has taken over the Republican Party. Bill Maher, over the weekend, suggested what he is also doing, slowly but surely, is taking over the country. And the guard rails that kept it from happening a few months ago will not be in place again the next time. Watch.


BILL MAHER, AMERICAN COMEDIAN: But this time, his claims of illegal voting by immigrants or mail-in ballots coming in after the deadline or the system was hacked by Venezuela, or whatever Giuliani comes up with on the fly, they will be fully embraced by the stooges he's installing right now.

What happens when two president candidates show up on inauguration day both expecting to be sworn in like a bad sitcom pilot? The ding dongs who sacked the Capitol last year, that was like when Al Qaeda tried to take down the World Trade Center the first time with a van. It was a joke. But the next time they came pack with planes. I hope I scared the (BLEEP) out of you


BERMAN: Joining us now is Ruth Ben Ghiat, Professor of History at New York University, and Author of the book, Strongmen, Mussolini to the President. Professor, I appreciate you being with us.

What Bill Maher is describing is a slow motion coup, where Trump loyalists are taking over secretaries of states' offices or very well will in the next election. Republicans could take over the Congress with Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise running the show. The things that kept Donald Trump from succeeding his coup attempt won't be there in 2024.

RUTH BEN-GHIAT, PROFESSOR OF HISTORY, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY: That's right. And what Maher said is very plausible because all the way that Trump has already acted is straight out of the authoritarian play book. And if we look at what he did in November and January, this was all a trial run. So, we tried ride to get a military intervention but that didn't work because General Milley wouldn't go along.

He tried to do what autocrats already do in Turkey, in Hungary, in Russia, which was to fix the election machinery, right? We are in the middle of an onslaught on a massive scale to neutralize our entire election apparatus. Because, today, you don't suspend elections except in maybe communist dictatorships. Today, you hold them but you make sure the results are what you need them to be. And that didn't work either because over 60 judges wouldn't go along, and those are our heroes. We need to thank those judges.

So, what was left was violence, and that was January 6th. And because he couldn't get the Armed Forces, he had to get like a kind of bespoke custom army together. But all of this was a learning experience and trial run for the future

BERMAN: And what do you call a failed coup? Practice.

BEN-GHIAT: That's right.

BERMAN: And what I am struck by is how -- what Republican observers, the evolution of their commentary on this from, oh, we're outraged by the coup, to, oh, we're going to look the other way, to, oh, we're actually embracing it and talking about it in glowing terms.

BEN-GHIAT: So, here is the thing. When you have a coup, you have -- I'm not surprised there's so much planning, we are learning about so much long-term planning, because coups need years or months to be successful. And it's not only because they have to work as an armed operation, but you have to get elites on board to accept the coup.

And this is very interesting what happened in America because the coup failed, right? It didn't work. But it was accepted by the GOP. And because of disinformation where it's unbelievable that Trump got, you know, tens of millions of people who believe he won the election. So the coup, all the things of violence, and electoral trickery, and intimidating voters, all of this has been absorbed into the DNA of the party and the Republican base.

BERMAN: So, if it is a break glass moment -- do you think it is, as it were?


BERMAN: So, who needs to break the glass? Who needs to take action right now and what is that action?

BEN-GHIAT: Yes. So, some people say that, you know, voter suppression will make means that voter turnout doesn't matter but that's quite defeatist. I think that what we see is voting does matter and we will need a huge, historically large turnout to compensate for all of this election trickery that's going on.

And we're in the middle of a massive assault on our entire election apparatus, from purging poll workers -- sorry, expanding the powers of poll workers, making voting more threatening, as well as harder, purging election officials.


So this is a very organized, well thought out strategy. And we have to be prepared.

BERMAN: You have written about authoritarian leaders, dictators and whatnot. Does this resemble anything in the past to you?

BEN-GHIAT: It does. What we lived through already is the full menu of disinformation, violence, corruption, because getting people to all agree, because for every person in the Trump base who may really think that Trump won the election, the GOP lawmakers know better. So, that's a form of corruption.

So, all of the tools of the authoritarian playbook have been successfully laid out and accepted, and this is setting up for the future, to the messages not only it can happen here, but the foundations for it happening are being laid now every day.

BERMAN: It's no longer is it can happen here, it is happening.


BERMAN: It's going on all around us. Professor, thank you so much being with us.

So, chaos at the tarmac at LaGuardia Airport after what some people felt was a passenger's erratic behavior prompt an emergency landing. Two passengers who are on board that flight join me next.

KEILAR: Plus, a new warning to parents over Netflix's popular series, Squid Game

And Adele giving fans a sneak peek of her new single.



BERMAN: Tense moments on the tarmac after reports of erratic behavior by a passenger forced an emergency evacuation at New York's LaGuardia Airport. Authorities later determined there was no criminality at play. They're not placing any kind of charges. But it had to be awfully alarming for the people who were on that plane.

Joining me now, Laura Bergdoll and Fawad Khuja, both of them were on that flight. Laura, you were coming to New York with your husband and your seven-year-old --


BERMAN: -- like for a nice weekend. It was a normal flight until the end. Tell me what happened.

BERGDOLL: Yes, absolutely. So we were near the back of the plane, completely oblivious apparently to the things that were going on near the front. A very quick landing, I noticed. And once we came to an exact stop, we just hear over the intercom, evacuate, evacuate, get out, get out. And I had not seeing anything going on so I had assumed that it was like a fire or mechanical issue. So we just panicked, looked for the slide and slid down.

BERMAN: And you have your seven-year-old with you.

BERGDOLL: That's correct.

BERMAN: I mean, so where most of your focus at this time?

BERGDOLL: Keeping the seven-year-old occupied and quiet for two hours. So, I couldn't believe it was oblivious what was going on, but I did not notice anything.

BERMAN: And then once you were on the ground, I mean, did anyone tell you? I mean, was there any --

BERGDOLL: No, people were trying escorting us away. And, again, I just continued to assume it was mechanical, just assumed it was a fire or something, looking at the plane, didn't see anything. They kept moving us, moving us. And we're kind of standing around a little bit. There were firefighters and police officers. And, eventually, I hear a firefighter goes, it's him. And someone goes, yes. And that's when I kind of started filming, they grabbed him and then turned him to the ground and detained him, and yelled at all of us, go, move, move, and the moved us further away from the scene after that.

BERMAN: So, Fawad,tell us about the end of the flight for you.

FAWAD KHUJA, EVACUATED FROM AA FLIGHT BECAUSE OF PASSENGER'S BEHAVIOR: Okay, yes. So I was in the front and I had my AirPods in. And then out of nowhere, when the airplane landed, like all hell broke loose. Everyone was pushing, shoving, and trying to get out of the plane. So, I was all the way in the front by row four, like five or six rows in front of him. And then out of nowhere, I heard some people yelling, bomb, it sounds, like, oh, wow, I want to get out of here. And I was just like pushing also, I mean, just trying to get out of the airplane.

BERMAN: I mean, what's that like? We see on T.V. so much, and we obviously know of situations where planes have been evacuated. But you were in the middle of it all. What was going through your head?

KHUJA: I was shocked. My hands were shaking. I was just trying to like -- I thought the plane was going to blow up any second, like I was thinking the worst-case scenario for some reason. So, I was scared, trying to run. And I got out of the plane, went down the slide and ran like with my hands up because there were lots of cars out there, lots of policemen out there. So, yes.

BERMAN: I mean, look, neither of you -- you were both sitting pretty far away looking in the other direction from whatever incident was happening. What about the fact that this, I don't know, false alarm is the right what I to put it, but there are no charges here. There is no criminal or anything. How does that make you feel now that you went through all that?

KHUA: I don't know. I mean, I'm kind of upset about it. I mean, like, I don't know, the guy was kind of crazy, the stuff that apparently he was saying. So, that's really that.

BERMAN: But, again, I should say that there are no charges, criminal charges, that are being pressed here.

Laura, what about you, again, given that it turns out there was nothing criminal going on, authorities say, given what you and your son all went through?

BERGDOLL: I mean, I think -- I imagine -- again, I can't speak to what was going on up front because I didn't see anything. But if somebody felt, I guess, that scared, and especially flying into New York, I can understand why they took the precautions they did. It was not fun.

But everyone -- you know, the port authority handled it well. The airline handled it well. I can't say it was enjoyable. I would never want to do it again. But I guess I would lean rather safe than sorry. And I'm glad the individual was not charged amid everything, that there was not a threat. I'm happy that that is the case.

BERMAN: I hope the rest of your New York weekend here is more peaceful, less eventful in that front. And, Fawad, I hope you get safely back to school. I know the next time you get on a plane will be, you know --

KHUJA: Yes, this Tuesday, same airlines.

BERMAN: Well, enjoy. I appreciate you both being with us. BERGDOLL: Thank you.

BERMAN: Just ahead, the new warning prompted by the worldwide Netflix hit Squid Game.

KEILAR: And William Shatner about to blast off into space, speaking to CNN just moments ago.



KEILAR: The 25th James Bond film finally playing in North American theaters a year-and-a-half late because of the pandemic. No Time to Die taking in about $56 million at the box office this weekend. And this marks the final time, very sad, that Daniel Craig will play 007.

CNN's reporters covering that and more across the globe this morning.

AL GOODMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm Al Goodman in Madrid. The Archbishop of Toledo has apologized to Roman Catholics for a new music video that's been viewed more than 2 million times. The video of this song called Ateo, or Atheist, was partially shot inside the 13th century gothic cathedral of Toledo.

The two singers, a Spanish man and an Argentine woman danced steamily together.


The cathedral's dean called it provocative but said it was about a conversion through love.