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Russian Begin training On Iran Drones To Use In Ukraine War; Transportation Sec. Buttigieg Discusses Airlines Cancellations And Delays; Fox Boss Telling People A 2024 Trump Run Would Be Bad For U.S. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired August 10, 2022 - 07:30   ET



ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And then later that night, he was arrested along the interstate on his way to Texas.

Despite all of that, Muhammad Syed's daughter tells us that they do not believe he is responsible for these murders. They do not believe he's capable of doing that. But right now, investigators here in Albuquerque say he is the prime suspect and they are continuing to find evidence linking him to these murders -- John and Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Ed Lavandera, thank you for that.

Monday's FBI raid of Mar-a-Lago has some Republican lawmakers up in arms against law enforcement. When did the party of law and order become the party of defund the FBI?

John Avlon with our reality check.

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: The American people have the right to expect that the rule of law will prevail. That no one is above the law.

So sayeth Newt Gingrich back in 1998 when he was the Republican Speaker of the House, accusing Democrats of covering up the misdeeds of then-President Bill Clinton. But here is Newt Gingrich after the FBI searched Trump's estate.


NEWT GINGRICH, (R) FORMER SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You really are now seeing the ugly face of a tyranny. We have no idea whether or not they planted evidence.


AVLON: And that wasn't even the most unhinged accusation of the day. Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who heads the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, compared the search to actions of the Nazi-era Gestapo, while his colleague Marco Rubio lurched left to compare the Biden administration to third-world Marxist dictatorships. There were calls from House Republicans to, quote, "destroy the FBI" and -- irony alert -- "defend the FBI," as well as attacks on the fascist administrative state.

And these are just a handful of the very sober-minded responses from prominent Republicans. Arizona GOP gubernatorial nominee Kari Lake even seemed to endorse secession because that turned out well the first time. And I'm not even going to acknowledge the second civil war chatter online or the hyperventilating from members of the hyperpartisan media.

But elected officials should be held to a higher standard. It's obvious that we've seen a sea change in Republicans' approach to protecting classified documents since the 2016 election when then- Trump campaign spokesperson and current Arkansas GOP nominee for governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweeted "When you're attacking FBI agents because you're under criminal investigation, you're losing."

But, hey, situational ethics are now stakes in a party where embracing election lies seems to be a litmus test for winning primaries in many states. But there's a real cost to this escalating rhetoric. After all, just last week, FBI Dir. Chris Wray -- a Trump appointee, lest we forget -- testified about the rise in politically motivated violence in America, saying that it's become a 365-day problem.

Party leaders who fan the flames by comparing FBI agents and Justice Department employees to Nazis are pouring fuel onto this fire. Real leadership requires respect for the fact that we're a nation of laws while also denouncing attempts to demonize law enforcement.

I'm thinking of the example set by former President George H.W. Bush when he saw a prominent fundraising pitch in the -- from the NRA in 1995, soon after the Oklahoma City bombing, which called the federal agents "jackbooted government thugs" and said, quote, "Not too long ago, it was unthinkable for federal agents wearing Nazi bucket helmets and black stormtrooper uniforms to attack law-abiding citizens."

Bush's response was to resign from the NRA, with a letter condemning the Nazi comparison, saying "...your broadside against federal agents deeply offends my own sense of decency and honor, and it offends my concept of service to country. It indirectly slanders a wide array of government law enforcement officials who are out there day and night laying their lives on the line for all of us." The fact that such a response feels like a museum piece marks how far we have fallen.

Look, by all means, we should ask for and expect a thorough and immediate explanation of the search as Sen. Mitch McConnell has called for, while conservative columnist Hugh Hewitt called on team Trump to release the text of the search warrants to the public -- something they have notably declined to do, so far.

But most of all, we need to apply the same standards and principles regardless of whether investigations are conducted against Democrats or Republicans. What a concept, right? Because as Newt Gingrich once said, Americans do have the right to expect that the rule of law will prevail and that no one is above the law. And that's your reality check.

KEILAR: What a concept, but I like your concept, John Avlon. Thank you for that reality check.

So, next, we will speak to Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg as this summer travel season is plagued by these delays and these airline cancellations that we're seeing. What's being done here?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And the United States believes Russians have been training in Iran on how to use new drones. We have new CNN reporting, next.



KEILAR: Today in home front, happening here in just a few hours, President Biden is expected to sign a historic piece of legislation, the PACT Act, marking the most significant expansion to health and disability benefits for American veterans in more than three decades.


This is a bipartisan measure that will extend lifesaving health care to about 3.5 million U.S. veterans who have been exposed to toxic burn pits and other chemicals during their military service. It will also provide health care for vets' families and fund research into toxic exposure.

BERMAN: We have new CNN reporting this morning. Russia has started training on Iranian drones. This is the latest sign that Moscow intends to buy the systems from Iran as its invasion of Ukraine moves forward. This is according to National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan and satellite imagery obtained exclusively by CNN.

Our reporter Natasha Bertrand joins us now with the details on this. Natasha, what have you learned here?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Yes, John, a U.S. official tells me that the administration now believes that Russian officials have begun training on these drones in Iran over the last several weeks. And that is the latest sign that Russia intends to purchase the systems likely, of course, to use in the war in Ukraine.

Now, the official said that this training has taken place as part of the agreement for drone transfers from Iran to Russia, suggesting that these systems could be sent to Russia for use in the war as soon as that training is over. So, a major kind of development here.

Now, we knew previously that Russia was looking to purchase the drones and that Russian officials had visited an Iranian airfield just south of Tehran at least twice to inspect the systems since June.

The White House actually released satellite images last month showing the drones being showcased to the Russians in Iran. But the fact now that the U.S. believes that Russia has actually begun training on them suggests that they could be introduced into battle very soon.

And the transfer of these drones is potentially hugely significant because as CNN first reported last month, the two systems that Russia has been looking to buy from Iran are capable of carrying precision- guided missiles. And the National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said last month that the U.S. believes Russia is preparing to buy potentially hundreds of them.

Drones, of course, have been key on both sides of the war for everything from attacks, to surveillance, to electronic warfare, so this could be hugely significant for the Russians.

Now, the quality of these drones, though, is another question entirely. According to U.S. officials, as the war has continued and as Western sanctions have taken effect, Russia has become pretty desperate here and they have been struggling to replenish their supply of these drones and has been forced to turn to Iran.

You'll recall that Russia had previously turned to China for help in supporting its war effort but to date, the U.S. has seen no signs that China has transferred these weapons or these supplies, John.

BERMAN: Yes, Russia burning through supplies there. Very important reporting, Natasha Bertrand. Thank you so much for that.

So, a little bit later this morning, a key inflation report. Everyone watching to see is inflation maybe cooling off a little bit? That's ahead.

And reaction this morning after a grand jury decides not to indict the woman whose accusations led to the lynching of Emmett Till.

KEILAR: And could the FBI's search of Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort speed up his announcement to run in 2024? We're going to discuss when Chris Wallace joins us next.



BERMAN: Frustrated travelers at airports across the country. Severe weather ripped through the northeast over the weekend, helped causing more than 2,800 flight cancellations. This affected virtually all U.S. carriers. This latest round of disruptions comes during a time when airlines are under the spotlight for their performance this summer.

Joining me now is the Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg. Mr. Secretary, thank you so much for joining us.

This last Friday was, what, the second-worst day for cancellations since Memorial Day. You met with the airlines before the Fourth of July, saying guys, get your acts together with more realistic scheduling. How have they lived up to that promise?

PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: Well, let me tell you what we saw over the weekend. There was a lot of severe weather and that can happen, but it shouldn't have created the kind of ripple effects through the system that it did. That is something that, to me, is an indication that we still have not seen the improvements that we need and that the system is very brittle.

Now, after I brought them together after the Memorial Day weekend where we saw a very high number of cancellations, I asked them about more realistic schedules and more pilot training because a lot of this actually comes down to staffing shortages. About customer service -- when something does happen can you get somebody on the phone. And, of course, how we can help. Anything we can do with what's under the control of the FAA, like optimizing the resources for air traffic control.

But clearly, the bottom line is we're not seeing the level of performance that passengers expect.

And we're expanding, right now, the passenger protections that my department enforces for passengers. As a matter of fact, you can go on our website right now and weigh in on a set of rules. One airport -- airline expert has described it as potentially the biggest expansion of passenger rights in decades. And we love for passengers to share their experience and make your voice heard.

BERMAN: You better be careful what you ask for, and you're asking for feedback about airline travel from flyers this summer.

You say the system is brittle, Mr. Secretary. Why? Why is it so brittle? Obviously, you've seen this now for months and months.

BUTTIGIEG: So, the biggest element of it is the human factor -- not having enough crew, especially pilots, to do the job. And airlines, of course, have an obligation to service the tickets that they sell. What we're seeing is that the hiring has come back in most areas but they're still short on pilots.

And I believe one of the main ways you can address being short on anything is to make sure you're paying properly. And so I was encouraged to see a number of regional airlines, which is where you see some of the biggest shortages on the labor side, stepping up their pay in order to be able to recruit and retain more pilots.

This is something that we're going to support. I mean, we're encouraging curriculum for aviators, pilots, STEM -- that kind of thing. But fundamentally, the airlines, as businesses, need to be prepared to bring on the staff that it takes to serve the system.

There are other factors that are going on too, but from all the data that we are seeing that is the biggest one. And that's the one that can take the kind of weather that happens from time to time --


BERMAN: What do you --

BUTTIGIEG: -- and turn it into something that's actually wreaking havoc through the system. BERMAN: What do you say to passengers who say look, some of these

airlines got bailouts during the pandemic -- took federal money -- took taxpayer money and they're still not measuring up? How do you speak to that frustration?

BUTTIGIEG: Yes, I think a lot of taxpayers and a lot of passengers don't understand how more than $50 billion goes to keeping these businesses in business. And then when demand comes back, when the economy comes back -- and thank goodness that it has -- they're not prepared to meet or service that demand.

Now, there were a lot of rules connected to that taxpayer support, including that airlines could not lay people off. That's part of why it happened. And just to be clear, I think it's a good thing that the airlines were not allowed to go out of business. You can imagine if we were picking up the pieces right now of having had the airlines collapse altogether.

But we saw a lot of pilots guided -- encouraged into early retirement during that period that didn't technically count as a layoff but has clearly left the airlines short.

And that's part of why we're seeing so much frustration right now among passengers and, you know, that's me, too. I'm on an airliner maybe not every day but every couple of days. And so many of us are experiencing this and expecting more.

BERMAN: What's the --

BUTTIGIEG: And that's why my department is continuing to increase the rules and the enforcement that we have on --

BERMAN: You just noted --

BUTTIGIEG: -- any airline that isn't treating passengers fairly.

BERMAN: Mr. Secretary, you just noted you fly all the time, and you do -- and you fly all the time commercially.

Two questions here. What's your biggest frustration -- curious? And secondly, these rules that have just been proposed -- and there was a big slate of them and some of them are pretty big changes -- what do you think will make the largest difference to flyers?

BUTTIGIEG: So, for me, like so many others, it's cancellations. I got canceled on Friday. And especially when I'm trying to get home to Michigan to be with my kids, just as so many people, whether they're on their way to an important meeting or a job interview, or a family vacation, or wherever they need to go. That's extraordinarily frustrating.

Part of what these rules are going to do is make sure that it is clear what your rights are as a passenger.

And the proposal right now -- we're still, like I said, taking input from the public before we finalize it -- but includes things like not just if you're canceled but if you're delayed. If you have a significant delay of more than three hours on a domestic flight, six hours international. If they change your itinerary and you wind up coming out of a different airport than you were planning on. Things like that. Then they have to offer a refund and pay you back.

And by the way, we've seen some airlines fail to do that even though we already require it under several circumstances. When that happens, we will enforce with fines. We've got a number of investigations underway right now.

And to your earlier point, our consumer protection office has been overwhelmed with an unprecedented volume of complaints that they are sorting through right now to make sure that airlines are being held accountable.

BERMAN: If rules --

BUTTIGIEG: So, we're going to use those accountability tools. But, you know, we're also ready to sit down with the airlines and when there's something that there can be a partnership on, like operational issues -- Florida, for example -- very complicated airspace where you've got everything from weather to air traffic control concerns, to things like space launches and military activity.

You know, if there's a way to be collaborative to get a passenger a better experience, great. If airlines are not meeting their obligations, we will enforce because we always have the passenger's back.

BERMAN: Very quickly, why can't these rules go into effect today, tomorrow?

BUTTIGIEG: So, there are some legal requirements when you put forward a rule of this economic magnitude, and we want to hear from the public. We've done a lot of work internally and we've got airline experts and a legal team, and that's one thing, but we want to make sure it's informed by the experiences of passengers.

So you can go to I don't know if a lot of people know this website exists, but when you have a rule that's going through that legal process that creates an online way to make your experience known, or you can go to our website, if you've had an experience with an unfair, deceptive practice, if you can't get a refund -- anything like that. Tell us. File that complaint so that we can act.

BERMAN: Transportation Sec. Pete Buttigieg, fly safely. Thanks so much for being with us.

BUTTIGIEG: Thank you.

KEILAR: And here are your Late Night Laughs.


STEPHEN COLBERT, HOST, CBS "THE LATE SHOW WITH STEPHEN COLBERT": Apparently, the FBI raid is all part of an ongoing investigation launched by the National Archives and Records Administration. That's right -- he's going to get taken down by the librarians, OK? Oh, they're coming for you, baby. They're organized, they know where everything is, and you never know which way they're coming because they're so quiet.

TREVOR NOAH, HOST, COMEDY CENTRAL "THE DAILY SHOW WITH TREVOR NOAH": And wouldn't it be weird if this is the thing that takes Trump down? We thought it would be something like conspiracy or bribery, or blackmail -- but no, Trump's got busted for taking work home with him. What a nerd.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, NBC "THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JIMMY FALLON": Yeah, all day long, Trump was going crazy over the search while President Biden was at home, like, best week ever. Like, not bad. I had a pretty great week.


BERMAN: All right, the news making the late-night rounds there.


BERMAN: All right. This morning, we do have new CNN reporting on what Fox boss Lachlan Murdoch is saying privately about Donald Trump.

CNN senior media reporter Oliver Darcy broke this story. Oliver, so what is he saying privately?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes. In private, you wouldn't expect Lachlan Murdoch, the CEO of Fox, to be a Trump critic but apparently, he is denouncing or has denounced the former president in fairly harsh terms this year. I'm told by sources that he has even gone as far as to say, John, that if the president were to -- or the former president were to run again for that office that he believes it would be damaging to the country.

Now, that said, Lachlan Murdoch, in private, has also stressed that the Fox News audience still remains largely supportive of the former president. So, I think he knows that he might have his own personal feelings regarding Trump but that the Fox audience -- if the channel were to overtly become critical of the former president they might dump the channel and flee somewhere else.

And we've seen that in the past. After the 2020 election, a sizeable number of viewers left Fox for those other right-wing channels. And even more recently when the channel carries the 1/6 hearings -- the January 6 hearings, a significant number of the audience turns off Fox News and goes somewhere else, or just stops watching television. So, there are those data points that would indicate if the channel did change its tone on Trump it would be a very bad business decision.

But Lachlan Murdoch, in private, seems to be pretty critical of the former president. BERMAN: Any sense he would go public with his feelings?

DARCY: Very unlikely, I would imagine. I don't think he would probably prefer his private thoughts, even right now, about the former president to be disclosed publicly because he runs a channel that is so pro-Trump. Even recently, in the past week, we've seen how far some commentators will go to support the former president with regard to this FBI search of Mar-a-Lago. So, you know, I can't imagine a world in which he would want to be publicly seen as a -- as a Trump critic.

BERMAN: Oliver Darcy, thanks so much for joining us.

DARCY: Thank you.

BERMAN: NEW DAY continues right now.

KEILAR: New revelations this morning about the unprecedented FBI search of a former president's home and what was found inside.

Good morning to viewers here in the U.S. and around the world. It is Wednesday, August 10. I'm Brianna Keilar in Washington, with John Berman in New York.

Sources are telling CNN the FBI was concerned that Donald Trump and his lawyers were not being honest with them about classified documents at Mar-a-Lago and that's what sparked this search warrant. We'll have more on that in a moment.

BERMAN: But first, just in, the former president is about to be deposed. You're looking at live pictures there of Trump Tower where we think the former president is about to leave soon and head to the New York attorney general's office. That's the other side of the screen there.

Donald Trump is expected to face prosecutors as investigators look into whether The Trump Organization used false or misleading asset valuations to obtain loans, insurance, and tax benefits. This is the culmination of a more than 3-year civil probe into The Trump Organization's finances.

And this is one of many investigations involving the former president, including the January 6 investigations by both the House and the Justice Department. And a criminal investigation of Fulton County, Georgia surrounding efforts to overturn the 2020 election. A federal appeals court also just gave a House committee access to Trump's tax returns. And, of course, this is this DOJ probe into the potential mishandling of classified documents at Mar-a-Lago.

Joining us now, CNN anchor and senior Washington correspondent, Pamela Brown. And the former chief of the Department of Justice Counterintelligence section, David Laufman. He played a key role into the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails, which we'll get to in a moment because that's relevant here.

First, Pam, though, I want to start with you because you're part of the reporting team here at CNN who has pushed forward this story about exactly how this FBI search happened, why, and what they were looking for.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR AND SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: That's right, John. And we're also learning new details about the investigation that DOJ investigators actually subpoenaed The Trump Organization for surveillance footage at Mar-a-Lago. Now, we don't know the timeframe of that but I'm told by a source familiar that Trump Org did comply and did hand over that footage. And this happened before the FBI executed its search warrant on Monday.