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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Interview With New York Governor Andrew Cuomo; Gary Johnson Stumbles; War Over Women; New Jersey Train Accident; At Least 1 Dead, 112 Hurt in NJ Passenger Train Crash; Sources: Trump Angry His Team Isn't Saying He Won Debate. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired September 29, 2016 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Witnesses say the train literally flew.
THE LEAD starts right now.
Breaking news: one person killed, more than 100 wounded after a train on one of the busiest tracks in the nation jumps the rail and plows through a platform. The witness accounts are horrifying.
The war over women, Donald Trump now firing back at Hillary Clinton for her alleged mistreatment of her husband's accusers. But is Trump's campaign really in the position to be bringing up infidelity?
Plus, #facepalm. Another simple question becomes a gotcha for Governor Gary Johnson. So, here is a question. Is the Libertarian nominee taking this campaign seriously at all?
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD, everyone. I'm Jake Tapper.
We are going to begin with this breaking news. A New Jersey transit train crashed, killing at least one person, injuring some 112 others during the height of the morning rush. Witnesses say the train just would not slow down as it approached Hoboken terminal just across the river from Manhattan.
People on the station platform could only watch in horror as the train jumped a barrier, hit a wall at the station and then finally careened to a stop in a passenger waiting area inside the terminal. The person killed, we're told, was a woman waiting on the platform who was hit by debris.
The injured were both on the train and in the terminal. Even with live wires and other risks in the immediate aftermath, we're told many in the terminal ran towards the train to try to help those trapped inside.
From witness accounts to the investigation into how this happened, we're covering the crash from all angles.
We are going to start with CNN's Jean Casarez. She's at Hoboken terminal.
Jean, do we have any idea as of now why the train was not able to slow down?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No. And that's a pivotal question.
And the governors of New York and New Jersey would not comment on that because the investigation is just beginning. Now, I can tell you that structural engineers are currently inside the train terminal right now to assess the structural damage.
And no one will be allowed in it until it is determined to be safe. But it all started at 8:45 this morning. Train number 1614 was coming into the Hoboken terminal, as it does every morning, and then disaster.
CASAREZ (voice-over): Witnesses say the train never seemed to slow down, hit a safety bumper, went airborne, even took down the roof.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It went up and over the bumper block, through the depot, and came to rest at the wall by the waiting room.
CASAREZ: One person is dead. She is seen here on the platform.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I am stepping over a dead woman's body. That bothered me. I backed up and looked. I said, what the? And nothing you can do for her.
CASAREZ: With over 100 injured, witnesses inside the front car described the impact.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It just didn't stop. And just got thrown around. Lights went out. I think the roof caved in on the train.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone that was standing in the vestibules between the first and second car flew over into the first car. And many people were, like, thrown. And there was a lot of blood.
CASAREZ: Officials say, at approximately 8:45 a.m., New Jersey transit train 1614 struck the Hoboken terminal building on track five at a high rate of speed, leaving the structure unstable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I heard a bomb-like explosion.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It sounded like nails, like, on a chalk board. You know what I mean, and then just followed by a deafening silence. And then all of a sudden, I just hear all these screams coming and terror, like shrieks and everything. And then people just start running towards me up the stairs from all the platforms, just pouring in, like, right in front of me.
CASAREZ: Train workers and bystanders rushed to the scene to help passengers trapped in the severely damaged train cars.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were kicking out the windows and trying to get off the train.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They were jumping the turnstiles, climbing up the stairs, like, hands and legs, like, running up the stairs with their hands and everything.
CASAREZ: Tonight, investigators focusing on the train engineer, who was pulled from the train unresponsive.
GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: The engineer, who was operating the train, was also critically injured. He is at a local hospital and cooperating with law enforcement officials in the investigation.
CASAREZ: And the one female that was killed in this train accident has not yet been identified. She was not on the train. She was standing on the platform. And it was the debris from that train plowing into the station that ultimately, it is believed, caused her death.
Now, we did learn from Governor Chris Christie that civilians that were inside the train station that were watching what happened, they rushed to that train and, as the first-responders were operating, trying to get people out, civilians were helping and standing side by side those first-responders -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Jean Casarez at the crash scene in Hoboken, New Jersey, Jean, thank you.
We are going to have more on the injured in just a little bit.
But, right now, let's turn to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.
Governor, thanks so much for joining us. We appreciate it.
GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D), NEW YORK: Good to be with you, Jake.
TAPPER: So, you have been briefed on the crash. Do investigators have any leads as to what the likely cause might be as of now?
CUOMO: You know, Jake, I was -- I went to the crash site. I went to Hoboken.
We don't -- we know what happened. We don't know why it happened. The train did come in at a high rate of speed. The estimates vary. But certainly it was much, much faster than the train was supposed to come in. It went right through the bumping block, the end post for the rail.
And it went through the platform, and, luckily, it stopped just shy of the wall of the station itself. And, as your report suggests, when it went through the platform, it knocked over columns that were support beams for a canopy above. And the support beams were very heavy I- beams that came down. And the canopy itself, the roof, came down. And that's what killed
the woman on the platform. The abrupt stop of the train is what injured the people within.
Now, why was the train going so fast? We don't know. The conductor, we understand, is responsive and is cooperative. But there has been no determination yet. And I wouldn't expect one soon, Jake. You know, you have the NTSB that comes up now.
You have local authorities that will do a full inspection and examination. And that will probably take some time. We don't know if it was an equipment error. We don't know if it was a medical condition with the conductor. We just don't know.
CUOMO: But I can tell you this. From the damage that I saw, that there was only one fatality is actually the silver lining here, if that's appropriate at all.
TAPPER: Right, 112 people injured, of course. Have you talked to any of the injured? Have you talked to any of their families? What have they told you?
CUOMO: We have people who are in the hospitals now working with the injured.
They all have basically the same story about what happened. This was a train that was pulling in. They had a sense that it was going too fast, right? You ride. People ride that train. It's a basic commuter route. It starts in New York in Spring Valley, and then makes stops in New York and makes stops in New Jersey.
But they knew it was coming in too fast, or they sensed it was coming in too fast. And then, when it went through the end post and over the platform and the canopy fell and the beams came down, I mean, it was just a horrific, horrific scene, dust everywhere.
But, again, everyone will say that the people who were nearby were fantastic. And I don't know, Jake, if being in New York, New Jersey, you know, we have gone through so much over the past few years. I think it's actually made us more resilient. It's made us more collegial in some ways.
You know, people are really willing to help one another. And that's that's a beautiful aspect about New Yorkers and people in New Jersey. We work very well with New Jersey. You know, New Jersey is right on the other side of the Hudson River. We share the harbor.
So I have been governor. Governor Christie has been governor. And we work together on too many disasters and too many terrorist attacks to be comfortable. But we have an excellent working relationship.
TAPPER: It is heartening to hear the stories of people in the train station running towards the danger to help people. I know, Governor, that it's early, and we don't want to be pointing
any fingers at any issue in these just first few hours. But do we know anything about either the train that was involved in this accident, the actual object, or about the engineer who we're told by Governor Christie is injured and is fully cooperating with investigators?
Is there anything that we know that seems out of the ordinary at all when it comes to safety background?
CUOMO: You know, Jake, I have gone through a number of train accidents. You have a lot of rumors. You have a lot of what-ifs, and you have that here. Is it equipment failure? Was it a medical condition? Was it a trainee? But they're all rumors.
And it takes a while to get the facts. But we can speculate all day long. Until you have the facts, you're just chasing your own tail. And that's where we are now. The conductor hasn't said anything determinative. NTSB has not looked at the event recorder, the black box.
So, once we get the facts, then we will have a sense of how it happened and why it happened. And if there is anything we can do about it. Sometimes, it's just human error.
I'm not saying it is here, but, sometimes, that's what it is. People talk about positive train control and systems as if they're talking about driverless cars. That's not the system we have. That's not the system that's in the future for us with trains, not in the immediate future.
And, sometimes, it is just an accident. And that may very well be what happened here. But we will get the facts. We will have the solution. In the meantime, we want to get the trains up and running again, so the commute tonight and tomorrow morning is as normal as it can be.
The good news is, we have the PATH train running again, so you can get from Hoboken to New York City and back tonight, which is a very big deal for commuters.
TAPPER: All right, Governor Cuomo, thank you so much. We appreciate your time, sir.
CUOMO: Thanks. Good to be with you, Jake.
TAPPER: As we mentioned, at least one person was killed, and more than 100 people hurt in the crash. The victims were treated for different injuries, ranging from superficial bumps and bruises to more serious injuries.
Those lucky enough to make it out OK are sharing rather terrifying accounts of that moment when the passenger train crashed.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Someone had his -- I was gone, and he had only one side, and all the blood everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Let's bring in CNN correspondent Sara Ganim, who is outside Jersey City Medical Center.
And, Sara, as of now, how serious are the most serious injuries that we know about?
SARA GANIM, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Jake, we know that there were patients here with orthopedic injuries like broken bones, with internal injuries. At least one person underwent surgery today.
Hospital staff just moments ago updating us that, at this moment, 13 people remain here at the region's trauma center in what they're calling guarded condition, which is like serious condition. Thankfully, none of them have life-threatening injuries.
Some of the patients who were brought here with just bumps and bruises shared the stories of their terrifying morning with us as they were being discharged.
DAVID MIELACH, PASSENGER: It was a loud bang that just seemed like it didn't stop. And then the lights went out. And then the roof Just came down.
GANIM (voice-over): Harrowing stories from the passengers aboard that New Jersey transit train.
AMY KRULEWITZ, PASSENGER: I didn't feel or hear anything. The only thing that I felt was the feeling of my car going off the track.
GANIM: Victims describe the chaos and confusion of their morning commute, as those with less serious injuries were discharged from the local trauma center.
KRULEWITZ: There was just this impact. And it sounded like an explosion. And we were stunned. And our car was diagonal. So, when we got out, the car behind us was still straight on the track.
MIKE SCELZO, PASSENGER: Our cell phones kind of flew out of our hands. Nobody retrieved them. Nobody grabbed their stuff off the train. So, all of my -- my glasses flew off my face. I have idea. They're somewhere in there, hopefully.
GANIM: One witness was getting coffee nearby and said he heard the impact of the crash and rushed over to help.
CHARLES FRAZIER, WITNESS: It actually sounded like a bomb went off. Like, it was really loud. The train just flew in. It never stopped. Me and another guy, I don't know who the guy is, we pulled a couple of people off. And then the cops got there.
GANIM: Over 100 patients were taken to area hospitals, the most arriving at Jersey City Medical Center, where the staff is set up to treat large numbers of people in the hospital's cafeteria.
DR. KEN GARAY, JERSEY CITY MEDICAL CENTER: Being a trauma consider, we have neurosurgeons, oral and maxillofacial surgeons, orthopedic surgeons all here on board in the house looking at our patients. As Mr. Scott said, there are three serious patients with orthopedic injuries, some internal injuries and some deep lacerations.
GANIM: Hospital officials say none of the remaining injuries are life-threatening.
GANIM: The hospital officials here are saying they train for this. They drill to be prepared for this, and they believe that coordinated effort that was in place that got those patients here, many of them within the first hour, is what they credit to saving lives today, Jake.
[16:15:02] TAPPER: Sara Ganim, thank you so much.
It's a safety mechanism that automatically slows a train down if it doesn't brake when it's supposed to. But would it have prevented the crash like the one we saw earlier today in Hoboken. That story next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Rush-hour tragedy, a train catapulting off the tracks into a platform packed with commuters.
Let's bring in CNN correspondent Rene Marsh who covers transportation issues for us.
Rene, you're just learning that National Transportation Safety Board investigators are now at the accident scene. Map out what we know right now about how this New Jersey transit train careened into this train station.
RENE MARSH, CNN GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESONDENT: Well, Jake, what I can tell you, they just got there. And they are focusing in on this train station here in Hoboken, New Jersey. That's where NTSB investigators are really going to put a lot of their efforts.
This is the train station here. And all of the trains travel in this direction into the terminal area. We do know for a fact that this train was arriving on track number five. So this is the track that this train, again, with more than 200 people on board, pulled into the Hoboken station.
[16:20:06] Many witnesses saying that this train never slowed down, it was going some 30 miles per hour. And this purple line that you're looking at here, that is the platform.
We do know and that's been confirmed that the one fatality, someone who was waiting on that platform, and that is the person who died when the train struck.
So, this video was captured on surveillance cameras. This was the train actually 45 minutes before the crash. So, when you look at this video, it looks like things were going along normally. I can tell you that investigators, what they're going to want to do is get the event recorder, which is at the back of the train near the engine.
That event recorder will tell them things like how fast this train was going, when did the engineer step on the brakes. This right here, the immediate aftermath after that crash happened. We do know that, because that train did not stop, Jake, when it pulled into the station, it jumped a safety barrier, again, crashing into the platform, and then we had this ceiling collapse.
So, that is the issue that investigators are kind of faced with again, not only the event recorder, but they need to talk to that engineer. Those are going to be two critical pieces in trying to figure out exactly what went here. But not only that, they're going to want to know what was his schedule before his shift. They're also going to want to know the condition of the tracks. They're going to want to know were the signals operating properly.
All those things will come into play as NTSB tries to pin a cause as to what went wrong.
TAPPER: And, Rene, we just heard Governor Cuomo talk about positive train control, how this train did not have that safety mechanism. Remind us what positive train control is, and would it have made a difference?
MARSH: Right. I mean, we just heard Senator Menendez as well essentially pinning things on PTC, saying that if that technology was in place, perhaps this wouldn't have happened. I would caution folks, I have been speaking to a lot of investigators all throughout the day. We cannot make any definitive statements at this point, if we don't know if that technology would have prevented this particular crash.
We do know that this technology, which automatically slows a speeding train when the engineer doesn't act, we do know it was not on these set of tracks. That is a fact.
Would it have prevented this? We don't know. We do know a similar type of accident, Jake, happened at this same train station back in 2011. This is the image from that. The NTSB blamed the engineer for not properly maintaining the speed there.
TAPPER: All right. Rene Marsh, thank you so much.
Donald Trump keeps claiming that he won the debate, but new reports from behind the scenes of the Trump campaign, well, that paints a very different picture. That story next.
[16:27:22] TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD.
Our politics lead now as Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton look ahead to the second presidential debate, they are right now battling over that all-important female vote. The Clinton campaign continuing to dog Trump on his past criticism of a former Miss Universe for having gained weight, while the Trump campaign is beginning to raise questions about Hillary Clinton and how she has reacted to her philandering husband's various accusers.
Trump's allies on Capitol Hill, however, sounding the alarm today, suggesting that such may not be wise for Mr. Trump whose adulterous exploits sold forest of tabloids of newspapers throughout the last few decades.
CNN correspondent Jason Carroll is traveling Trump who just spoke in Bedford, New Hampshire.
And, Jason, Trump is preparing for debate number two but he's still kind of reeling from his team's reaction to his performance in debate number one.
JASON CARROLL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is, he is. Look, going forward, Trump would much rather have the discussion be about what he calls the FBI immunity five. These are some of Clinton's former aides who received immunity for testifying. That's what he want the discussion to be about. Not about his debate performance. Some of those questions about his performance coming from his own team.
CARROLL (voice-over): Publicly, Donald Trump continues to push the idea he won Monday night's debate against Hillary Clinton.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Every single online poll said we won, which is great.
CARROLL: But, privately, Trump is angry. His aides and advisors are telling reporters he struggled in the first debate. And a conference call with surrogates Wednesday, Trump aides making clear the GOP nominee is upset by reports that advisors encouraged him to change his approach before his next faceoff with Clinton.
His team also stressed to supporters they should energetically defend his debate performance. Trump campaign spokesman calls the description of the call "completely false".
This as Trump seeks to rebound from the debate. Trump is sharpening his attacks on Hillary Clinton.
TRUMP: The Clintons are the sordid past. We will be the very bright and clean future.
CARROLL: But Trump is still unable to shake comments he made about former Miss Universe Alicia Machado's weight. TRUMP: She gained a massive amount of weight. It was a real problem.
CARROLL: "The New Yorker" taking a satirical jab at the candidate with its latest cover showing a plump Trump and labeling him "Miss Congeniality". That as Trump refuses to back down from his criticism of Machado.
TRUMP: I saved her job because they wanted to fire her for putting on so much weight. And it is a beauty contest.
CARROLL: Trump's campaign manager Kellyanne Conway says she reprimanded Trump for his comments.