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United Airlines Passenger Yanked Off Overbooked Flight; Tillerson Condemns Russia Over Chemical Weapons in Syria. Aired 6:30- 7a ET

Aired April 11, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:30:47] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. It is time for "CNN Money Now", but it is not a traditional CNNMoney type story. United Airlines is in damage control because of this video.

That screaming is coming from a doctor who's being forcibly removed from his seat because the flight was overbooked. In the end, his lip is bleeding. He's bruised. He's upset.

The airline CEO addressing the incident on social media, saying an investigation is under way but seeming in the letter to blame the flyer. Meantime, one of the security officers now on paid leave.

So, what are the rights here? What happens if you're on an overbooked flight? What are you supposed to do in a situation like this?

Let's discuss with chief business correspondent Christine Romans.

What do we know about what the rules are?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know this whole incident really exposes just how few rights passengers have. When you book that ticket, you agree to the overbooking policy, which means they can sell the seat right up from under you. It is standard practice for airlines to sell more tickets than there are seats.

Now, in United's case, the back and forth usually happens at the gate, not after the passenger is on the plane. So, that's mistake number one.

What are your rights here? Well, when a flight is overbooked, federal rules require that airlines first check to see if anyone will give up his or her seat voluntarily. Airlines dictate what the compensation looks like. They decide. It's usually a voucher toward a future flight or gift card.

If airlines can't get passengers to switch, they can bump you from that flight. How often does it happen? Forty-six thousand travelers were involuntarily bumped in 2015. That's according to the Department of Transportation. Now, when this happens, there are rules airlines have to follow.

Passengers must get to their final destination within one hour or the carriers have to start coughing up money. Flyers get to their final destination one to two on domestic flight, airlines are required to pay double the original one way fare, $655 limit.

Now, shares of United Airlines, this why it's a business story, guys, are down 6 percent in premarket trading on the heels of this video. Whether the storm yesterday, everyone was talking about this yesterday, stock was up just a little bit yesterday. Today, it's tanking.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: But hold on a second. Why couldn't they get somebody -- I mean, so we know that two or three other people got off the plane?


CAMEROTA: Why did they have to forcibly remove him and drag him down the aisle?

ROMANS: I can think of 100 ways they could resolve this without having it come to this, right? And I'm sure that they are gaming the scenario -- their investigation --

CAMEROTA: If you say no, are they allowed to drag -- manhandle you and drag you down the aisle?

ROMANS: In the contract, it does not say manhandling per se. But it says they reserve the right to eject you from that plane. It is their right.

And there are some airlines that don't do this. JetBlue does not overbook planes. Most airlines overbook planes so when that plane flies, there's a body in the seat, either a crew member getting to a connecting flight so they can make money or a paying customer.

CUOMO: Look, the United CEO in his letter was negative about the flyer. People will judge the video as they want. Is he being too dramatic? Is he playing it up? He seems to bang his face somewhere. He had some blood coming --

CAMEROTA: Here, now, you see the blood coming out of his mouth.

CUOMO: He supposedly came back on the plane.

CAMEROTA: Look at this.

CUOMO: And talked to people.

ROMANS: They took him off the plane, he went back on the plane. They are saying he was a belligerent passenger.

But he was a paying passenger sitting in his seat.

CAMEROTA: Let's be clear in the order of events. He became belligerent after they were manhandling him and dragged him, not first. I understand removing --

CUOMO: They asked him to leave the plane.

CAMEROTA: He said I have patients, I don't want to leave the plane.

CUOMO: They said we're going to remove you and then you saw what ensued.

CAMEROTA: There had to be another way to do this.

ROMANS: This has tapped into this huge well of anger among the flying public who feel like they have been dissed, disrespected so much.

Earlier this week, there are all these flight delays from Delta. Remember, all these flight delays --

CUOMO: Right. Flight delays, not getting nuts, those are little things compared to a guy getting bloody.

ROMANS: I agree but there's a well of anger tapped into by the public. The company has not responded yet. I think you may see a change in that today.

CUOMO: Do you think he sues?

CAMEROTA: All right. Christine, thank you for all facts on this.

ROMANS: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: We should let you know that coming up in our next hour, we will be speaking with two passengers on that flight. They witnessed the man being dragged off the plane. What did they think was at the root of all this?

CUOMO: Imagine being on the plane sitting there watching this.

[06:35:02] What would you decide to do? Interesting part of the story.

All right. Another big story this morning, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, he's at G7 summit, big news made there. Italy, saying -- hosting the G7 summit, saying Russia has to be part of the solution in Syria. Where is Tillerson going now? Russia. What message is he going to carry on that plane to Moscow? Next.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: We do have some breaking news for you right now, because Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was speaking just moments ago, this is at the G7 summit in Italy. This is right before he departs for Russia. Secretary Tillerson demanding Russia stop supporting the Assad regime.

Here it is. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: Last week, Bashar al Assad's regime killed even more of its own people using chemical weapons. Our missile strike in response to his repeated use of banned weapons was necessary as a matter of U.S. national security interest. We do not want the regime's uncontrolled stockpile of chemical weapons to fall into the hands of ISIS or other terrorist groups who could and want to attack the United States or our allies.

[06:40:06] Nor can we accept the normalization of the use of chemical weapons by other actors or countries in Syria or elsewhere.

The U.S. is grateful for the statements of all of our partners who express support for our time in proportional response. As events shift, the United States will continue to evaluate its strategic options and opportunities to deescalate violence across Syria. Many nations look to the Geneva process to solve the Syrian conflict in a way that produces stability and gives Syrian people the opportunity to determine their own political future. And our hope is Bashar al Assad will not be part of that future.

If the Astana ceasefire negotiations become effective towards achieving a durable cease-fire, then the Geneva process has the opportunity to accelerate. To date, Astana has not produced much progress.

It's also clear Russia has failed to uphold the agreements that had been entered into under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions. These agreements stipulated Russia as the guarantor of a Syria free of chemical weapons. That they would also locate, secure and destroy all such armaments in Syria.

Stockpiles and continued use demonstrate that Russia has failed in its responsibility to deliver on this 2013 commitment. It is unclear whether Russia failed to take this obligation seriously or Russia has been incompetent, but this distinction doesn't much matter to the dead. We can't let this happen again.

To be clear, our military action was a direct response to the Assad regime's barbarism. The United States' priority in Syria and Iraq remains the defeat of ISIS.

We are calling on our G7 partners to sustain the fight against ISIS well after the liberation of Mosul and Raqqa. Whether in Iraq, Syria, online or on the ground in other countries, we must eliminate ISIS. G7 support will be critical.

To stabilize Syria, we will need the G7's direct participation, helping settle the conflict in Syria, protecting the Syrian population, committing to reconstruction that eventually will lead to normalcy for a unified Syria.


CAMEROTA: OK. Let's discuss all these comments with our panel. We have Patrick Healy, Cedric Leighton and Abby Phillip.

Cedric, let me pick up on the logic that he's purporting there. Does it follow that the chemical weapons stockpile could fall into the hands of the terrorists, so this -- what the U.S. did last week was in the U.S. national security interest. But by damaging 20 planes, how do you stop that stockpile from falling into the hands of terrorists?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Alisyn, there's definitely logic from the idea of preventing chemical weapons from getting into the hands of terrorists. Absolutely, that has been the U.S. policy from day one, even the Obama administration.

The problem you have is 20 planes. Those 20 planes, yes, they could absolutely and they were possible instruments of deploying chemical weapons and using them on civilians.

CAMEROTA: On civilians, I get that, stopping that.

LEIGHTON: But it's you know sufficient. The problem is this is insufficient to actually prevent those bombs not only from being used. That part has nothing to do with the transference, or the potential transference of chemical weapons from Syrian government control into ISIS's hands. That's the issue.

CUOMO: The number of them there, I mean, first you got what looks like on that level a $100 million miss, OK? You did not do your objective of taking that air base out or doing anything.

CAMEROTA: If that was the objective. We don't know that was the objective.

CUOMO: What else would be the objective if you hit an airbase?

CAMEROTA: It was sending a message. It was sending a signal. That's what we heard sending a message, a signal.

LEIGHTON: So, they were sending a signal. But I think what we see here is a refinement of the objective. This is kind of an ex post facto looking at I've got an objective -- wait, I better have an objective. I did this, what was a good thing.

CUOMO: And no good military source came out to say we didn't want to hurt the runways, we just wanted to bruise them. That's not the way the military works. Tomahawks are no joke, they sent 59 there.

But that goes to your military objective. You have idea of national interest, this idea of transference. There's a standard for what is a threat to this country. And these two or three steps away from chemicals maybe getting to ISIS probably doesn't meet the standard.

So, it gets to pick a message. If you want to take Assad out, fine. If you don't think you should take Assad out, fine. You want to defend civilians when it meets a certain mark, fine.

They're just saying all of them, Abby. So, how do you satisfy any? ABBY PHILLIP, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: We're seeing a president who ran

on anti-interventionism, trying to fit military intervention into that frame and it's very difficult, obviously, because these are the kinds of things he campaigned against.

So, when you're in President Trump's position right now, he has to create a rational for why Syria is a grave national threat to the United States. He has to make that real so it can fit into his America first policy. You know, I think it's been very clear that even within the administration, there are disputes about what that means and whether that should even be on the table.

We saw it play out over the last 48 hours, where you have some administration officials making a clear argument that it isn't just the threat of chemical weapons, it's also the principle of using them against civilians. Sort of a values-based argument that matters here, too.

We really still don't know where President Trump lands on that and whether or not they are willing to do more in order to ensure both objectives are met, the moral objective and also national security objective.

CAMEROTA: Which will make the meeting in Russia with Rex Tillerson today particularly interesting.

PATRICK HEALY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: This is exactly it. I think to build on these points, I mean, the message that is also being sent is very much aimed at Russia and trying to sort of -- it seems like sort of raise the threat issue and say to Russia you need to be part of this values driven idea that Russia has either been incompetent or has missed the ball.

I mean, this is really kind of Rex Tillerson coming very much to the fore in a much bigger sense, going in and really kind of raising the sense of this threat and bringing ISIS into it. I mean, going into Russia with this kind of message is very powerful, but also, I think, creates a dynamic between the United States and Russia where you're just not sure -- you know, they are holding Russia to account for this.

CAMEROTA: We'll see what happens. Panel, thanks so much for being with us.

CUOMO: So, President Trump once called him a really nasty guy. Well, that really nasty guy just won a Pulitzer Prize for his investigation of the president's charitable giving. David Fahrenthold is the man on your screen and he's coming on to talk about the role of journalists in the era of Trump, next.


[06:51:02] CAMEROTA: So, our next guest you will recognize him. But now, he's a new Pulitzer Prize winner, honored for investigations of President Trump's claims of charitable giving during the 2016 campaign. David Fahrenthold is a "Washington Post" reporter, a CNN contributor,

and a compilation of his award winning reporting is "Uncovering Trump: The Truth Behind Donald Trump's Charitable Giving." It has been turned into an e-book.

David, congratulations.


CAMEROTA: You must be feeling very good for being recognized for all your hard work during the campaign.

FAHRENTHOLD: It was wonderful. A wonderful day in the newsroom yesterday. I got to talk to all my colleagues at once. It's overwhelming but it was great.

CAMEROTA: That's great. Good for you. Well, let's talk about what gave you this prize.

So, this was based on -- everybody might remember that during the campaign, one of the things then candidate Trump was doing was holding this big fundraiser for veterans. And he said it brought in $6 million and it was going to be disbursed to veterans groups.

What did you discover?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, the question I started with, did he give the money away? He said he raised $6 million for veterans on television, including a million dollar out of his own pocket. All I wanted to figure who he gave the money to. I thought that would take a day. I thought it might take two days.

I mean, if you're going to make that promise during the campaign, of course, I thought you would follow through. It took months and months to get the answer out of the Trump campaign.

CAMEROTA: And what did you discover when you started poking around and you realized this was going to be a bigger assignment than a two- day story, what did you discover?

FAHRENTHOLD: Two things. One was that people had given money to then-candidate Trump in the hopes that he would then give it away to veterans. And he was still sitting on a lot of it. The other thing was Cory Lewandowski, Trump's campaign manager at the time, called me and said, Mr. Trump has given away the million dollars he promised out of his pocket to veterans.

And I check and that turned out to be completely untrue. It was completely false. The money was still in Trump's pocket when Lewandowski made that promise. He only gave it away later after I made a public show of checking to see if it existed.

CAMEROTA: And he was sitting on it why? I mean, was that just bad organizational skills or something else behind that?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, there certainly was bad organizational skills behind it. I don't know the motive or why he sat on it so long. When he finally did give the money away, the money other people gave to him to give to veterans, he gave it away in an extremely haphazard fashion.

One of the charities that got the money, if you just Google the name of the charity, like the first page of certainly results gave warnings that charity was a scam. So, the money when given out, didn't take a long time because they were checking into so thoroughly into the backgrounds of these groups.

CAMEROTA: So, they weren't doing it in a timely fashion. They weren't doing what they had promised. They weren't doing what they said they did, they weren't vetting it. What did that -- what conclusion did you draw from all that?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, it changed the course of last year for me because we said, wow, if Donald Trump is willing to try to wriggle out of a promise to give money to veterans made under the brightest spotlight we have in American journalism, which is a presidential campaign, if he was going to try to get out of that promise even with that kind of scrutiny on him, we said, well, what was he doing before when no one was watching to see if anyone was following through on many, many other charitable promises he made going back for years.

CAMEROTA: So, now where does it leave you? Now you can rest on your laurels and give up on journalism, or you can now do what?

FAHRENTHOLD: I'm part of a team at the post covering President Trump's conflict of interest and his businesses. So, we're looking at the hotel businesses, Mar-a-Lago, golf course issues, what kind of favors is he doing for members of those golf courses and what is he doing in office to bring money into his businesses.

CAMEROTA: OK. And what should we know about that? I mean, as readers and viewers, what have you already found out?

FAHRENTHOLD: Well, me and my colleagues have figured out that one out of every five days as he's been president, he's been at a Trump branded property, bringing a lot of people and business and Secret Service agents to those properties, and he also has done very little to separate himself financially from those properties. So, the hotels, golf courses.

We were told, we'll separate -- he's putting it in a trust.

[06:55:04] We've learned from our work and the work of people like ProPublica that actually he has not separated himself. He can take money out of those businesses at any time and money that goes into them comes to him. So, if you want to impress President Trump if you're a foreign government, it makes sense to go to a Trump property.

And the money that you're spending will eventually get back to him. And maybe very eventually -- maybe very soon.

CAMEROTA: David Fahrenthold, we're really glad that you're on the case and you're sharing your reporting with us and congratulations again on the Pulitzer Prize.



CUOMO: All right. Breaking news: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on his way to Moscow right now. He had plenty to say about Russia's support of Syria. Can he convince Russia to abandon Assad? If not, then what? Next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Rex Tillerson is going to have a long day when he sits across the table from Sergey Lavrov.

TILLERSON: It is unclear whether Russia failed to take this obligation serious or had been incompetent. But this distinction doesn't matter to the dead.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: When you watch kids and babies being gassed and suffering from barrel bombs, you are instantaneously moved into action.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is not a policy. One strike is not a policy.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is unclear what the larger goal is.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED NATIONS: I don't think anything is off the table at this point.

SPICER: The Trump doctrine is that America is first.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A United Airlines passenger dragged off of an overbooked flight.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pretty shocking there actually. Grabbing him, pulling him off the plane.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. Look at what you're doing to him.

ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Chris Cuomo and Alisyn Camerota.


CAMEROTA: OK. So, that story is getting a lot of buzz. Why did the airlines have to manhandle that passenger and drag him from the plane, though he did refuse to get off? We have two witnesses who were on that plane coming on to tell us what they saw.