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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Terror Suspected as Search Intensifies For Jet; U.S. Officials: Early Theory Bomb Took Down Plane; Clinton: Trump is Not Qualified to be President. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired May 19, 2016 - 19:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[19:00:09] ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next. Breaking news. An intense search and rescue operation for EgyptAir 804. That plane missing. Sixty six on board. One early theory, a terror attack. What happened to the plane, where is it?

And U.S. officials working on the theory it was a bomb. Who planted it? How did it actually get on board? Was it in Paris?

Plus, Los Angeles International Airport under heightened security alert tonight. What is the risk to the United States this evening? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening. I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news. A massive search underway tonight for any sign of EgyptAir Flight 804. The plane, 66 on board, is still missing. It disappeared from radar nearly 24 hours ago. Let me repeat. It's still missing. They haven't found it yet. U.S. officials are working on the early theory that the plane was taken down by a bomb. So far, no group, though, has come forward to claim responsibility.

And just in at this moment to CNN, the names of the highly experienced crew. Captain Mohamed Saeed Shokeir (ph) and his first officer Mohammad Mundo Ahmed Assem (ph). The Airbus A320 calling from 37,000 feet in the sky. Swerving wildly, plunging thousands of feet in just minutes, according to Greece's defense minister. The Paris to Cairo flight that was around it was on took off from Charles de Gaulle Airport, the main airport in Paris.

It is the second-largest airport in Europe. And late today, one of the most heavily trafficked airports in the world, Los Angeles International, dramatically ramping up security. We are covering this fast-breaking story. There are so many angles. So much we do now know and we are learning more at every minute.

We begin with Arwa Damon who is OUTFRONT tonight in Cairo. And Arwa, what are your sources telling you?

ARWA DAMON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, they're still trying to piece together exactly what took place. There was a little bit of hope earlier in the day, Erin, that perhaps the plane had been found. But then the Vice President of EgyptAir said that he was mistaken and a lot of questions are still being asked. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON (voice-over): U.S. officials tells CNN, they believe a bomb brought down EgyptAir Flight 804. Killing all 66 on board. Officials basing their early theory on circumstantial evidence. A routine flight manned by an experienced crew, suddenly falling from the sky. Egyptian authorities aren't ruling out anything.

AL MASRIYAH, EGYPTIAN CIVIL AVIATION MINISTER (through a translator): We do not deny there is a possibility of terrorism.

DAMON: 11:09 Wednesday night. EgyptAir, 804, lifts off from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris for the four-hour flight to Cairo. On board, 66 passengers from a dozen countries. A crew of seven. Three security personnel. And among the passengers, a child. And two infants. 1:24 a.m., the Airbus A320 enters Greek air space. Athens air traffic control makes routine contact, 24 minutes later, still in Greek airspace, another routine check. The pilot reportedly cheerful. The weather, clear. And calm.

At 2:27, less than an hour later, Athens controllers try to contact Flight 804. But despite repeated calls, radio silence from the cockpit. At 2:29 a.m., while cruising at 37,000 feet, radar indicates the plane began a series of wild maneuvers. First swerving 90 degrees left. Then a full circle. Three hundred and sixty degrees to the right. All the while, plunging from 37,000 to 10,000. The plane disappears from radar.

MASRIYAH: After the plane was lost, there were trials to get in contact with the plane again. But they failed.

DAMON: The aircraft passed airports in Tunisia at Eritrea the day before. Then the plane was swept by security in Paris prior to takeoff.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

DAMON: The passenger manifest, Erin, we understand, were cross- checked with any sort of other terrorist lists that may be out there. Both before the passengers had boarded the flight, we understand, as well as after the flight went missing. The names of the crew and the three security officers on board were also cross-checked. This is part of a routine undertaking that EgyptAir and many other airlines now have in place, because of an overall heightened state of security. And there were no red flags that were raised before the ill-fated flight took off.

[19:05:13] BURNETT: All right. Arwa, thank you very much. Arwa live in Cairo tonight. U.S. officials right are scouring their system, also going through the satellite data to see what happened at the moment of, well, what is the right word? Impact, explosion? Looking for any indication that EgyptAir flight 804 was brought down by a bomb.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT in Washington. And Evan, officials tonight as you have been reporting, talking about what they think could be very significant.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Erin. One of the things that they're looking at is the fact that there simply was no mayday. No distress call that was made by the pilots on board this aircraft. And why that's significant is, we're talking about a modern aircraft that has redundancies. Redundant systems that would allow time if there is something happening on the aircraft, perhaps even if someone is trying to break into the cockpit. These pilots would have had time make that call.

None of it was made. And so that's one reason why authorities are focusing on the possibility of terrorism, of a possible bomb. Again, nothing has been ruled out at this point. But this is where they're beginning. It's an operating theory that they have before they can look at the wreckage of this aircraft to try to determine what happened.

BURNETT: Part of the fear here is, Evan, as of yet, no one, no group has claimed responsibility. Raising a lot of questions. Because they just don't know. And they don't know if more things -- if this was a group, are there more things planned. Is there heightened concern right now?

PEREZ: There is. There is a tremendous concern in Western Europe. This summer, Erin, you remember last summer here in the United States, there was this heightened state of alert about the possibility of terror attacks in the United States. I'm told by authorities, both in Europe -- top French officials, top U.S. officials. They believe that this summer is something that they are very, very concerned about. We have seen terrorist attacks in Brussels, in Paris in the last few months. We know that next month we have big soccer championships in France. It's a very big concern about the rise of extremist groups in Western Europe. And the possibility of some major attacks coming in Western cities in Western Europe.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Evan Perez.

OUTFRONT tonight, Mary Schiavo, former inspector general, the U.S. Department of Transportation. David Soucie, former FAA safety inspector. Bob Baer, former CIA operative. Miles O'Brien, our aviation analyst. And Justin Green, a former military pilot. Good to have all of you with us.

Let me just start with you, Mary. This -- is this really a game- changer? You have now seen a plane that they now think possibly brought down by a bomb, taking off from the second busiest airport in Europe, Paris' main airport, Charles de Gaulle.

MARY SCHIAVO, FORMER INSPECTOR GENERAL, U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: Yes, it's a game-changer, because everyone has been on a heightened state of alert. The United States demanded increased security on planes leaving Europe to come to the United States back in 2014. After the attacks in Paris and Brussels they went on high alert. They supposedly scrubbed the airport. And so if whatever caused this plane to go down, if it was terrorism or criminal activity, got through all of that, and got through undetected and was successful in bringing down a plane, this is a new level of terror.

BURNETT: And David Soucie, would you agree that this has changed the game, possibly?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: I have. Security has always been a game of cat and mouse. Of chasing your tail, however you want to put this. But until you see that threat, until you know what it is, it's -- at this level of this complexity, it's virtually impossible to try to guess ahead and prepare and prevent. We have -- we're continually learning and moving forward. Although there are mitigation things happening all of the time, the airlines are safe. I don't want to put false threats -- false worry out there for anybody. But it is constantly learning and getting better and this really changes the game of complexity.

BURNETT: I mean, and Miles, I mean, another big appointment here is the mystery. At this point, just the mystery. I mean, they're saying they think there was an explosion that it was likely a bomb. But yet there is no proof of yet, there is no plane tonight. There have been 24 hours almost. And there is no plane. There is been no claim of responsibility.

MILES O'BRIEN, SCIENCE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: Yes. And when we start talking about, you know, terrorism as a possibility, you would expect a claim, wouldn't you, by now. But we have a lot of missing pieces, literally. And figuratively right now. And part of what have we're thinking about here is this time line. There's this two-minute period of time where they weren't responding to air traffic control. And in that course of that time, the plane began its erratic maneuvers and ultimately disappeared from radar. What was going on in there? Was that nonresponse part of some sort of struggle on the plane or some deliberate intent not to respond?

BURNETT: Because you're saying the time line that Arwa just went through, they reached out to the plane, time went by, then the erratic moves started. So there was time.

O'BRIEN: Yes. It wasn't instantaneous. Or so it seems. However, an alternative theory here could be they were just in a bad radio zone. They couldn't here air traffic control or air traffic control could not hear them.

BURNETT: Uh-hm.

O'BRIEN: Because that first turn, that 90-degree turn is what you would do if you were doing an emergency rapid descent after a decompression. You take a turn off the airway so you don't fly into another aircraft below you. So was it possible they were doing a standard operating procedure, emergency descent after some sort of, you know, explosion, perhaps. And were they perhaps -- issuing Mayday calls all the way back and no one heard them.

[19:10:31] BURNETT: And no one heard them. I mean, Justin, that's the thing, I mean, just the mystery. That we do not know at this time. Although you do, of course, have intelligence agencies from Cairo to the U.S. saying, they are leaning towards a bomb towards terror. But yet as Miles is pointing out, it could be something else.

JUSTIN GREEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes, there are too many ifs right now. And too many possibilities. So if this was a terrorist attack, I agree with Mary. That you know, you had an airport that was on heightened security. You have an airline that should be on heightened security. You have a lot of threat, you know, I'm not a threat expert. But you have certainly enough notice.

BURNETT: We do know. I mean, I was in Paris. Even those groups we were talking about. Successfully pulled off the attacks in Brussels at a Brussels Airport and in Paris, they were trying to strike Charles de Gaulle.

GREEN: So if there was a successful terrorist attack, it would have had to be based on what we know now. It would have had to have been a relatively sophisticated one. That is a game-changer. But that's a big if. So --

BURNETT: And Bob Baer, I mean, what is your take on this? You know, that something like this could have happened. That at this moment almost 24 hours later, we still have so many questions we do not know. Including where is the plane.

BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, I think everybody would agree, an airbus just doesn't come out of the air like that. It's very, very rare. This is Egypt, we're talking about France. It's an airport that's been under threat for some time. They fired a dozen people last year with Jihadi connections. That whole airport has got problems with its staff. The French are under threat. So if you start adding up what we know for certain, it does point to terrorism. And the question is, are we going to be able to figure this out. And where was the bomb put on? A sophisticated bomb maker could have put this on in Cairo, got it to Paris with the barometric switch and timers and the rest of it. This could be done and didn't have it explode on the way back. The question is, was it put on Paris -- in Paris, and if it was, that really is a game-changer.

BURNETT: Would be a complete game-changer and terrifying for people watching around the world. All right. We're going to take a break.

Next, we're going to go inside the final moments of that flight. Exactly what we know. In those crucial seconds, which way did it turn? Then it turned. We're going to show you exactly how EgyptAir 804 went down.

Plus, those major security concerns at Charles de Gaulle Airport. Reports of radical Islamists working there. Some of them given -- security clearances taken away but still allowed to work at the airport. We're live with the latest.

And Donald Trump called to the terror attack before there was any evidence. Did he jump the gun?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:16:27] BURNETT: Breaking news in the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804. Right now officials analyzing every second of the plane's final moments to figure out what happened. At this hour, nothing has been ruled out. But those last minutes offer very revealing clues.

Tom Foreman is OUTFRONT. And Tom, what do you know at this moment about these crucial final minutes for this plane?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: What I know, Erin is that many of the clues come from what happened and from what didn't happen. Here's what we know. The plane took off right after 11:00 at night, from up here in France. It should have been a routine four-hour flight down here to Cairo. Left at 11:09. We know by 1:24, it was in Greek air space. 1:24 in the morning. At 1:48, a Greek air traffic controller spoke to the pilot who he said was cheerful. And then about 40 minutes later, as the plane passed from Greek air space into Egyptian air space, they couldn't contact it anymore.

And about two minutes after that, then they described these wild turns and gyrations of the plane as it rapidly loses altitude and then it disappears. So, we have a combination of what happened here that they know was going on, and all the things that didn't happen before when it seemed to be normal and no sign of anything going wrong, Erin. They have to think about all of that and ask, what does it mean?

BURNETT: So we're going to be talking in a moment with our experts about their ideas about what could have caused this. But from what you have been looking at, Tom, what could cause a plane to do what it did? You do a 90-degree turn and then you're followed by a 360-degree turn. And then a plunge.

FOREMAN: Well, first of all, let's bring in a model of the plane here and talk about this some of the -- this may not be those turns. This, in fact, could be sort of artifacts of how radar is trying to read a plane that is tearing up in flight. We don't know. We'll have to find out if it was actually the plane doing all of that or parts doing it or something like that. But here are some possibilities. They always look at weather in circumstances like this. It is possible for weather to make a plane like this fail in flight. The problem with that theory in this case, is there was no known weather in the area. It seemed to be a fine night for flying.

So they have to look at that. They can push it sort of to the back as they're looking right now. What about a structural failure? It has been known that there are cases where perhaps a wing actually falls off a plane like this. It's traveling 540 miles per hour. Maybe something on the tail fails on an engine develops some severe problem. But again, there is no indication that this plane was having a problem and it was cruising altitude. It was doing what is one of the most -- one of the least stressful things for a plane like this. There's no real reason to think there was some sort of catastrophic structural failure, or that that would have kept the pilots from reaching out to the tower and saying, we've got a problem.

That's one of the reasons why they're looking so much at a deliberate act. The idea that maybe somebody on the ground did something to this plane, or let's open the plane up and talk about who is inside. What about the question of the people who were actually on board? We know that there are two people up in the cockpit of this plane. We know there were five crew members back in the cabin. We know that there were three security people in the cabin. We marked them here in red. And, of course, we have all of the passengers back here that we marked in yellow. We don't know exactly whether they were seated on the plane. We know the plane wasn't full.

But investigators now have to look at all of those people. And one of the reasons Erin that we're talking so much about the idea that it being a deliberate act, is that there are so far has been nothing to support the idea that it was something else. They have to look at all of that, but this is one of the reasons that a deliberate act keeps coming to the foreground -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Tom Foreman. So we want to talk about -- more about that now with my panel.

Mary, let me start with you on this. Because you believe that one of the most terrifying things about what we are seeing right now is that this possibly could have been a test. Or a dry run.

[19:21:19] SCHIAVO: That's right. I think probably the most terrifying prospect is if this was a -- dry run for something like -- we had two plots. One was in 2006, and that was the plot, al Qaeda, where they were going to take seven planes from Great Britain headed to the United States and blow them up over the ocean. Luckily, that plot was foiled. But that is why we have the liquids ban at the airport. They were going to use liquid bombs that would be constructed after they got through security and the other is, of course, the 1995 Bojinka plot which was supposed to take a dozen airliners or so out over the pacific.

And that one, they did a rest run with the plane and were able to get a bomb on board and blow it up. But they plan that, they wanted that to happen over the water so no one would find out. So, that's one reason why it could be terror. And yet there is no responsibility or credit taken, because there is something else that they want to plan in the future.

BURNETT: And Bob, does this make sense to you, especially in light of what Evan Perez was just reporting, which is that U.S. officials are now concerned about travel this summer?

BAER: Oh, I think so, absolutely. These groups, whether it's al Qaeda or the Islamic State, are after airplanes. They're looking to recruit people in airports. They're looking to modify bombs, to get them on airplanes. You can take this explosive, home-made explosive, TATP and put it inside of a Samsonite, for instance. They're working on this all of the time. And this may be a dry run. But they don't necessarily follow a book. They may claim it a week from now with some sort of proof. We just have to wait to see.

BURNETT: Right.

BAER: But you know, as we were just talking about, these planes are vulnerable. BURNETT: And you know, which, of course, with Metrojet, they ended up

coming out with a video of what they say was the explosion when they finally claimed credit and they took a little while to do so. Miles, your view is that this possibly could have been humans. Whether it was the pilots or someone that came into the cockpit.

O'BRIEN: Yes, I think, you know, deliberate act.

BURNETT: Right.

O'BRIEN: Let's go with deliberate act.

BURNETT: OK.

O'BRIEN: I think we have established that one way or another. But the evidence could support two ways that this could be. First of all, a terrorist plants a bomb. In that scenario, for whatever reason, the crew is unable to make a radio call. There is bad radio transmissions, whatever the case may be. They have a rapid decompression, they follow the standard operating procedures, take the 90-degree turn off the airway. They try to stabilize the craft at 10,000 feet but are unable to do so because the plane is structurally compromised. The other option that the evidence also supports --

BURNETT: Yes.

O'BRIEN: Is a deliberate act by one or both of the crew members. And maybe more likely one. Because --

BURNETT: One had -- there was that cheerful, as they describe it, handoff from someone in the cockpit to air traffic control.

O'BRIEN: And what if one of the crew members took it upon himself and we have certainly seen precedent for this, including with EgyptAir 990 in 1999, Germanwings more recently. What if the nonresponse by air traffic control was a deliberate silencing of the radio, and one or both of the crew members are in cahoots with that. And then what if those erratic maneuvers were somehow indicative of some kind of struggle in the cockpit. Could be.

BURNETT: David Soucie?

SOUCIE: Yes, I think it's important to point out the fact that we talked about vulnerabilities before and the possibility it could be going on for the next one. So the way to plug those holes, the way to stop that from happening, is to go back and look at, not only everyone that was on the aircraft, like Tom Foreman had pointed out. But everyone who touched that aircraft. Everyone had access to it. So right now investigators on the ground are doing just that. They're looking back to see who is on shift. Who called in sick, what day? Who may have had the accident, the access to the aircraft, and acted peculiar with those videos, so they're reviewing videos, seeing that. They're trying to plug those holes, safetys a bunch of Swiss cheese and you want to line up those holes. So, there's not vulnerabilities through. BURNETT: And Miles, a question to you though. How significant is it

that they haven't found the plane? I mean, you know, this is the Mediterranean. It's not the Pacific Ocean. We know it's there. I mean, they haven't found it. It's been almost 24 hours.

O'BRIEN: Not the certain Indian Ocean and it's not really the North Atlantic. Air France 447. They found the vertical stabilizer floating about four days later, if I have or take. It's a still a pretty big sea. Let's give it a little more time. You know, there is a lot of shipping traffic there. They have a pretty good fix on where the aircraft was. Let's give that 24 more hours before we get too concerned about that.

BURNETT: All right. All going to stay with me. And next, Charles de Gaulle Airport, it is one of the world's busiest. As our guests are saying, a complete game-changer, if a terrorist there was able to plant a bomb on a plane, are terrorists among the employees at de Gaulle right now.

And U.S. officials telling CNN they're very concerned about US Air travel this summer. This as security is ramped up at L.A.X., Los Angeles International tonight. Our report, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:29:05] BURNETT: Breaking news. Back with our special coverage of the disappearance of EgyptAir Flight 804. The flight original natured from Paris, Charles de Gaulle Airport, one of the world's busiest. More than 60 million people pass through that airport every single year. And it has been the focus of major security concerns.

Atika Shubert is on the ground there for us tonight. And Atika, we know that the groups when we were in Paris covering the terror attacks there, they had been aiming to strike de Gaulle. What can you tell us about the concerns at de Gaulle right now?

ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. I mean, the airport authorities here have known for quite a while this is a prime terror target. But what they have really been focusing on in the last few months are those employees that have access to those secured areas. There's about 8500 employees here at Charles de Gaulle and Orly Airport that have access to these restricted areas and there have been a lot of concerns to what links to radical Islamist groups they may have.

[19:30:04] And in fact, in December, airport authorities actually removed up to 70 people from their jobs, took away their security passes, precisely because of those security fears. And now what they do is they do periodic and random checks of personnel security lockers. And, you know, those kinds of security checks you and I go through to get on to a plane where no liquids, have our laptops checked, well, all of that also applies to those personnel who are going into those restricted areas.

So, it's already a high state of alert, even before what happened to today's flight. But now, investigators are looking at this even more closely.

BURNETT: All right. Atika Shubert, thank you very much, live from Paris, Charles de Gaulle at this hour.

Well, the terror attacks on airplanes are happening more often. In the past year an explosion brought down a Russian passenger jet in the Sinai, in Egypt. A bomb hidden in a laptop damaged a jet near Mogadishu.

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Airline security under scrutiny again after EgyptAir flight 804 abruptly descends mid flight into the Mediterranean. Worldwide, over the last five years, there have been nine hijackings, two bombings, two suicides and one mystery in what brought down Malaysian Airlines Flight 370. Egypt has been targeted before. Authorities today more forthcoming than ever.

AHMED ADEL, EGYPTAIR VICE PRESIDENT: Terror exists everywhere. It's definitely something that we are concerned about.

MARQUEZ: But when Russian airliner, MetroJet 9268, was brought down by a homemade terrorist bomb placed in the luggage hold, killing all 224 aboard, it took Egyptian authorities four months to admit it.

EgyptAir itself has also been targeted. In March, a hijacker claiming he had an explosive belt forced Flight 181 to land in Cyprus. He was arrested, no one was injured.

And in February, another bomb aboard a Somali airliner, Daallo Flight 159. This time, two airport workers suspected of sneaking a bomb into a laptop through security and giving it to a third accomplice who carried it on to the plane. The bomb blew a hole in the side of the plane, which was able to land safely. The only fatality was the man holding the device.

The incident raised enormous security concerns then. EgyptAir Flight 804 raises new concerns today.

LES ABNED, BOEING 77 CAPTAIN: If this is indeed a terrorist act, there's a hole. Where did that hole start? You know, did it start on the original departure?

MARQUEZ: Another security gap, pilot suicide. In March 2015, the co- pilot of Germanwings Flight 9525 suffering depression crashed his plane into the French Alps, 150 people died.

EgyptAir too has a history with one of its pilots possibly bringing down his own plane. In 1999, Flight 990 from Los Angeles to Cairo via New York's JFK crashed into the Atlantic. Sixty miles south of Massachusetts, killing all 217 on board.

The National Transportation Safety Board concluded it was a deliberate act by the first officer that downed the plane. Egyptian authorities came to a different conclusion, citing mechanical failure of the Boeing 767.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MARQUEZ: Flight 804 could still have been brought down by a mechanical failure, but every sign points to sabotage at the moment. If that is the case, the question is, how did a terrorist bring a flight like this down midair? Forbid that security lapse was in Paris -- Erin.

BURNETT: God forbid.

Thank you very much, Miguel.

Bob Baer, Mary Schiavo back with me, along with our terror expert Paul Cruickshank, editor of "The Sentinel", the journal of Combating Terrorism Center at West Point.

Let me just start with you, Paul. What do you know now?

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, Erin, at this point, there is no solid evidence whatsoever that this was, in fact, terrorism. There's been some speculation from Greek -- the Egyptians. There's been some speculation from U.S. sources. But no solid evidence yet that this is terrorism. And there's been no claim of responsibility whatsoever from any terrorist group.

The silence from ISIS has been deafening. When they brought down that Russian airliner in October, over the Sinai Peninsula, they put out responsibility within a few hours, within five hours. They're very trigger-happy with these claims of the responsibility.

But almost 24 hours into this event, no claim of responsibility, Erin, from ISIS. So, we really don't have anything to back up the idea that this is terrorism at this point.

BURNETT: Right. No, of course. Although it did take them a little bit of time with the MetroJet, as well.

Bob Baer, let me ask you. Your theory is a bomb is very possible.

[19:35:00] And you have an idea of, you know, in the metro jet case, as you heard Miguel reporting, there was -- ISIS says it was basically a soda can, a homemade bomb they were able to put in the luggage, checked luggage, get that put on a plane by a luggage worker who worked at the airport.

In this case, if you think it was a bomb, it was very different. How so?

BOB BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, I mean, you can take -- make these bombs very small, the size of an iPhone, even a couple ounces. And if you put them inside the cockpit, assuming you have access to that, the cleaning staff or whatever, it's easy to disable one of these airplanes, or put it on the skin in the overhead, which is more complicated. You don't need a lot of explosives. You -- simply -- what's called

the zipper effect, cuts a small hole because of the pressure, the hole will expand and will cut the airplane in half.

So, of course, these are all theories we're going by. And I support the possibility of a struggle in the cockpit. 1999, I have listened to the tape, the first officer. And he was clearly taking the airplane down on purpose --

BURNETT: That was the EgyptAir -- suicide off the coast of New York.

BAER: Exactly. That was -- in my mind, it's clear it was a suicide, and probably related to Islam, as well.

Right now, we don't have any evidence about this, but again, I go back to Paris. It's impossible for an airport like Charles de Gaulle to have 100 percent security. They can't keep track of everybody. And if the bombs are so small, anybody could carry these in with access to the airplane, including the cleaning staff.

BURNETT: Mary, how many people come in contact with the plane? When you're talking about a plane like this at Charles de Gaulle -- again, we can't overstate the significance of this. I mean, it would be incredible if this actually happened and was placed in at Charles de Gaulle.

But how many people would possibly have access to a plane like this? To an Airbus on the tarmac?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, actually, hands on the plane, probably a couple dozen. But remember, there's sort of extension hands, if you will, of people who prepare the food carts, who check the bags in, who might have handled the previous flights. So, literally, if you put all of the people that go into putting things on to the plane, even if their hands don't put it on to the plane themselves, hundreds.

BURNETT: I mean, it is pretty incredible.

And, Bob Baer, what do you make of the point that Paul was making, that there has been no claim of responsibility. Mary thinks it could be significant, because it could mean that this is possibly a dry run. That this is a test and they don't want to reveal themselves because they have something much, much worse in store.

BAER: It could be a test. They could be testing Charles de Gaulle or even Cairo airport. But Paul is right. It's normal for these people to claim responsibility.

But, again, there's no rule book for terrorists. And, you know, it may come later, a couple days, or maybe never. It just all depends.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you all very much.

OUTFRONT next, U.S. officials warning about air travel this summer. Tonight, Los Angeles International Airport, this evening, is now on a heightened alert. We'll tell you exactly why our American flyers at risk. We're live there next.

And we're going to show you live pictures. Donald Trump has a fund- raiser in New Jersey tonight. He says the terror attack took down Egypt Flight 804. Does he have any evidence?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:42:16] BURNETT: Breaking news tonight. Heightened security at Los Angeles International Airport, one of the busiest in the United States. As American officials tell CNN tonight, they are very concerned about air travel this summer.

Our Paul Vercammen is at LAX tonight.

Paul, you're seeing signs of this high alert. How concerned are officials?

PAUL VERCAMMEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, concerned enough that the L.A. airport police told me they, of course, ramped up security here, and especially their counterterrorism security. One of the things they intended to do, we saw this near the entrance to LAX, is they were going to make their emergency services unit, their SWAT unit, much more visible. They say that is indeed quite a deterrent to any counterterrorism -- any terrorism activity.

They were also pointing out to us, it's not uncommon for them to make adjustments based on chatter or any news information, such as the disappearance of the Egypt flight. And they add that there is no credible threat they have heard directly to LAX or any of its affiliated airports. Nevertheless, they are urging anyone who sees something to say something, Erin.

BURNETT: Are people -- are people nervous there that you've talked to?

VERCAMMEN: Yes, the people I talked to are not really nervous. They said they noticed that security has been sort of picked up a notch and they rather like that. They say they're glad to see everything here is going calm. You'll see mind me, they're getting ready for their international flights and overall, they say it's extremely sad what happened, but they're glad to see things are going smoothly here at LAX, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Paul, thank you very much.

And now back with me, our aviation analyst and pilot, Miles O'Brien.

Paul talking about the heightened alert at Los Angeles International. The SWAT team walking around. Your concern is not what we the passengers see, when we're walking into the airport. It's the other side of the security line.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST AND PILOT: Yes, I call it the back door of the airport. I'm not as concerned about the front door, frankly. To me, that's a little bit like security theater, having people walk around with automatic weapons and dogs. The real threat, in my view, are the employers, the caterers, the

people who are not screened, are not taking off their shoes. We have seen all kinds of evidence in recent years that the back doors of these airports are -- leak like a sieve, including gun runners, drug runs.

If you want to get stuff on planes, you can. So, to the extent that they are addressing the wrong problem, I worry, because let's face it, resources are limited.

BURNETT: Resources are limited. And you have the U.S. now warning about fear of air travel this summer. A significant statement.

O'BRIEN: Fear of air travel. And, you know, here we have -- expected huge surge of air travel. We have the TSA understaffed at the front door of the airport, and you have to wonder where this is headed. I would like to see better focus in this country, more resources put on keeping that -- the employee side of the fence a little more tightly secured.

[19:45:06] BURNETT: All right. Miles O'Brien, thank you.

And next, Donald Trump quick to call today's crash a terror attack. Hillary Clinton weighing in hours later. What she is saying in our exclusive CNN interview, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: Breaking news tonight is the crash of EgyptAir Flight 804, take center stage in the race for 2016.

Moments ago, Donald Trump wrapping up a campaign rally with Chris Christie in New Jersey leaving no doubt about what he believes happened to the plane.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Today, we had a terrible tragedy, a plane got blown out of the sky, and if anybody thinks it wasn't blown out of the sky, you're 100 percent wrong, folks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: This comes hours after Clinton weighed in on the plane crash, and why she says Trump is not qualified to be president, in an exclusive interview with our own Chris Cuomo.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HILLARY CLINTON (D), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, Chris, it does appear that it was an act of terrorism. Exactly how, of course, the investigation will have to determine.

[19:50:01] But it once again shines a bright light on the threats that we face from organized terror groups. ISIS, of course, but then there are other networks of terrorists that have to be hunted down and defeated.

And I think it reinforces the need for American leadership, for the kind of smart, steady leadership that only America can provide working with our allies, our partners, our friends in Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: How do you fight the perception that we look weak?

Trump this morning was out hot and yearly on Twitter when this happened saying, "Looks like another act of terror. More proof that we're weak, we have to be strong. There's a lot of hate, and anger out there."

He's channeling the perception that a situation like this fuels, which is we are weak. They can take our planes when they want. The Russians, the Chinese, they can scare our military when they want and America does nothing.

How do you answer that?

CLINTON: Well, first of all, he says a lot of things. He says a lot of things that are provocative that actually make the important task of building this coalition, bringing everybody to the table, and defeating terrorism more difficult.

CUOMO: Why?

CLINTON: Well, for example, when he says bar all Muslims from coming to the United States, that sends a signal to majority Muslim nations, many of whom we have to work with in order to defeat terrorism, some of whom are already among our strongest allies in this fight.

CUOMO: Let me ask you, do you think that Donald Trump is qualified to be president?

CLINTON: No, I do not, and I think in this past week, whether it's attacking Great Britain, praising the leader of North Korea, a despotic dictator who has nuclear weapons, whether it is saying pull out of NATO, let other countries have nuclear weapons, the kinds of positions he is stating, and the consequences of those positions, and even the consequences of his statements are not just offensive to people, they are potentially dangerous.

CUOMO: How so?

CLINTON: Well, as I mentioned...

CUOMO: Politicians talk, Madam Secretary. They say things but then once they get in office people believe nothing will be that different.

CLINTON: Well, when you run for president of the United States, the entire world is listening and watching. So, when you say we're going to bar all Muslims, you are sending a message to the Muslim world, and you're also sending a message to the terrorists because we now do have evidence. We have seen how Donald Trump is being used to, essentially, be a recruiter for more people to join the cause of terrorism.

So, I think if you go through many of his irresponsible, reckless, dangerous comments, it's not just somebody saying something off the cuff, we all misstate things. We all may not be as careful in phrasing what we say.

This is a pattern. It's a pattern that has gone on now for months, and it's a pattern that adds up, in my opinion, having watched presidents, having seen the incredibly difficult work that they do, and the decisions that they have to make, the thinking that goes in, sitting in the Situation Room. Do we go after Bin Laden, or not? I was part of that.

Was it a clear easy choice? Of course not. Did it have to be carefully parsed, and analyzed, and then we all gave our opinions, but it was up to the president to decide.

I know how hard this job is, and I know that we need steadiness, as well as strength and smarts in it, and I have concluded that he is not qualified to be president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, our executive editor for politics, Mark Preston.

Let me just start where she finished. She criticized him a lot, said very negative things about him before. She has never come out and said he is unqualified to be president of the United States even when she's been pushed to do so. Today, offered it up again and again.

MARK PRESTON, CNN EXECUTIVE EDITOR FOR POLITICS: Right, timing is everything, isn't it? So, an airplane goes down, they're still trying to figure out what happened, people think it's terrorism, and she goes out and says she doesn't think he is qualified, that he is divisive, that he's dangerous, and quite frankly, she reiterates again that he's been used as a recruiter for ISIS. Timing is everything.

BURNETT: On a day an airplane goes down and she said that. Now, here's the thing, you had a poll showing him ahead in national polls. We had a poll today, she's still ahead, CBS poll, but the gap narrowing significantly.

After Paris, after San Bernardino, Donald Trump went up in the polls. She has got to be feeling that.

PRESTON: No doubt, because his rhetoric is so strong and very simple, right? He goes out and says, look at the terror, look at the anger. I am going to stop it. I am the person who can stop it.

You know, I looked at numbers as well. The latest CNN/ORC poll shows Hillary Clinton has a huge lead over Donald Trump when it comes to the issue of foreign policy.

[19:55:02] When you boil down to the issue of terror, she only leads Donald Trump by five points. That's got to be concerning to her. BURNETT: That's got to be extremely concerning to her.

PRESTON: No doubt.

BURNETT: And yet, today, what you saw this morning was Donald Trump out first on Twitter. Just heard him speak, of course, with Chris Christie, but this morning, out before anybody else, this is an act of terror. She's trying to say that's irresponsible. He is trying to sell it as coming from a position of strength, being unafraid to call it like it is.

And, of course, the question is how will the undecideds see it? How will foreign policy establishment in Capitol Hill see it?

PRESTON: And what happens when he starts to get intelligence briefings. When he gets those key briefings as she does, does he come out and use that to try to bolster his argument that he is the better person to take that on.

BURNETT: And they both get those when they're formally the nominee. So, after the convention.

PRESTON: So, you're looking about August 1st. It is amazing.

BURNETT: It is incredible when we realize the race we are about to see. Thank you very much, Mark Preston.

And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BURNETT: And thank you so much for joining us. We will see you tomorrow night. Thanks so much for watching.

"AC360" continues right now.