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Inside the Fight Against ISIS; Trump Threatens to Stop Obamacare Payments; United Airlines' Expensive Mistake; Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired April 13, 2017 - 07:30   ET



[07:32:47] CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: All right. This is a big CNN exclusive. We're going to take you inside the fight against ISIS. Flying above the battlefield with a general commanding the war in Iraq and Syria.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh got the exclusive, joins us live in Iraq to take us inside the combat zone.

Nick, you spent a lot of time in bad places where the war is raging. What was your take from the ground?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That the preparations for what is the next big fight ahead for the de facto capital of ISIS, the Syrian town of Raqqa, they're really taking up speed.

Chris, the north, west and eastern flanks of those city really it seems surrounded now held by Syrian rebels, backed by the U.S. coalition. And go bear in mind the complexity as the pressure in that city mounts, the Russians and the Syria regime, who of course now weeks ago was sort of neutral in this, but now may well be considered an adversary after the Trump administration strikes. They're not too distant away from where that battlefield was going to heat up. And that could mean tense times ahead. Particularly in the weeks now where I think they're going to put more pressure on that city by surrounding it and moving coalition forces to the south.


LT. GEN. STEPHEN TOWNSEND, COMMANDER GENERAL, COMBINED JOINT TASK FORCE: Right now I think we have the resources we need there to isolate.


WALSH: Sorry. I thought I was going to do a follow-up.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, I was wondering, Nick, how fast is this operation moving?

WALSH: Well, we are looking potentially weeks ahead now so we may start seeing the pressure mounting. They're not really keen on giving a clear timetable here. But certainly they want to be in the city center. I was hearing by roughly the sort of summer months. That's incredibly hot here and they want it over by 2018, by this year certainly. But you will see I think potentially moves for more troops involved in that fight. They're relying on Syrian rebels. Here is what the commander Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend had to say about troop numbers in the future.


TOWNSEND: Right now I think we have the resources we need there to isolate, to do the tasks we're doing right now which is complete the isolation of Raqqa. After the isolation of Raqqa, will come the assault.

[07:35:06] And we're still evaluating what resources we need. If I need more resources, I'll go to my leadership, my chain of command, and tell them what we need to get the job done.


WALSH: Now with feeling kind of a sea change really heard in the tempo, that dynamism in for that fight for Raqqa, it could be a much more U.S. intensive effort potentially. We should bear in mind one of the things, too, we heard from Lieutenant General Townsend, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, you remember him, the ISIS leader? We've not heard from him for quite some time. He's really low profile, keeping away from public pronouncements but they do still think he's running the show -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Nick, thank you very much for all of that reporting from the frontline so that we can see it. We appreciate you being there and Iraq.

Well, President Trump proposing a move that could strip healthcare for millions of people. Is this a negotiation or is this a serious threat? We discuss.


[07:40:05] CUOMO: Storms are expected to hit the Midwest. Are they going to affect holiday plans? Let's bring in CNN meteorologist Chad Myers. What do you see?


CAMEROTA: No. That will be great. And I generally like a slower ramp up to summer. But OK, 82, I'll take that as well.

MYERS: Turn it on.

CAMEROTA: Thank you.

All right. President Trump is considering making a drastic move to try to get Obamacare repealed. He is threatening to withhold billions of dollars in subsidies that the poorest rely on. President Trump telling the "Wall Street Journal" Obamacare is dead next month if it doesn't get that money. I don't want people to get hurt. What I think should happen and will happen is that Democrats will start calling me and negotiating."

Joining us now are CNN political commentators Jeffery Lord and Symone Sanders. Great to see both of you this morning.



CAMEROTA: Hello, guys. Jeffrey, when President Trump says that he will withhold billions of dollars -- this is the money that President Obama had set up to act as subsidies for the poorest among us who can't pay, say, their deductibles, or their premiums, so -- their co- pays, I should say. That's just sort of starting salvo of a negotiation, right? That's not serious.

LORD: Well, I think he -- I think he is serious in the sense that when he negotiates, he's very, very serious. I mean, let's recall that when the situation was reversed, President Obama put in place a situation that did in fact remove healthcare from a lot of people who were very unhappy and unhappy to this day. So --

CAMEROTA: But it didn't leave them not covered. And I understand what you're saying that they didn't get to keep their doctor and they didn't get to keep their exact plan. But it didn't leave them -- they didn't fall through the safety net in the way that these people --

LORD: Well, they were not happy.

CAMEROTA: I mean, I understand they weren't happy. I get it, Jeffery. But hold on, this affects seven million people who qualify for these subsidies. So are you are saying really that President Trump who said he doesn't want to hurt anybody would leave these people uncovered?

LORD: I'm saying -- I'm saying Democrats shouldn't let them be uncovered and they should get with the program and negotiate.


SANDERS: Look, Alisyn, it's sad. The president sees millions of people that are benefitting from health insurance that are on the ACA and he sees bargaining chips. He doesn't see lives. He doesn't see that he's putting people in danger.

The fact of the matter is, this is a wildly popular piece of legislation that has only gotten popular with the Republicans' attempt to repeal. And so now Democrats are saying, look, we know Obamacare has some issues and we're willing to work with you to fix those issues. But the administration has yet to come to the table.


LORD: Well, now -- CAMEROTA: Hold on. I just want to challenge what you're saying. How

do you know that the president these people as bargaining chips? This is how he does it. He says something generally inflammatory or at least it gets a lot of people's attention and this certainly got Chuck Schumer's attention, and then he backs off it.

So, Symone, I mean, why do you think that this is what we actually would see?

SANDERS: We don't know. I think we've seen a President Donald Trump who, you know, says one thing, does another. We don't know what the president would do. All we can go off is what he is saying. And currently what he's saying is look, if you don't give me what I want, I'm withholding stuff from everybody. And that is going to actually hurt people.

I don't think we can use this inflammatory rhetoric, Alisyn, when we're dealing with people's lives. People with really serious illness from cancer and on down the line. So I think we need to just step back and the president should take a more humane tone and course of action when talking about this issue.

CAMEROTA: Jeffery, what about that?

LORD: Alisyn --

CAMEROTA: But it does scare people when they hear it, even if it is just a negotiating tactic it scares people.

LORD: Alisyn, I -- I want to say something here that I know will probably drive Symone crazy. But think of President Trump as the Martin Luther King of healthcare.

SANDERS: Oh, Jeffery.

LORD: When I was a kid --

SANDERS: Jeffrey.

LORD: When I was a kid, President Kennedy did not want to introduce the Civil Rights Bill because he said it wasn't popular. He didn't have the votes for it, et cetera. Dr. King kept putting people in the streets in harm's way to put the pressure on.


LORD: So that the bill would be introduced. That's what finally did it.


SANDERS: Jeffrey, you do that -- you do understand that Dr. King was marching for civil rights because people that looked like me were being -- were being beaten.

LORD: Correct. SANDERS: Dogs were being sit on them.

[07:45:04] Basic human rights were being withheld from these people merely because of the color of the skin. But let's not equate Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

LORD: I agree -- I agree --

SANDERS: Humanitarian, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, to the vagina- grabbing president Donald Trump.


LORD: Symone, Symone, President Kennedy --


CAMEROTA: Jeffrey, you did introduce -- you went there.

SANDERS: No. There is no -- there is no similarity. What Donald Trump is doing -- what Donald Trump is doing is he is in over his head. He doesn't -- he understand that healthcare is a complicated issue. He just arrived here. Thank you. Most of us have been here. And he doesn't understand that these are people's lives. So again, I implore the president to take a humane approach.

LORD: I understand. And I --

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Jeffrey.

LORD: The people whose lives are affected, I -- they talked to me all the time. They are very upset with Obamacare. They want it gone.

CAMEROTA: Yes, but if they lose their coverage, they'll be upset also. But, Jeffery, I guess the point is, is that the president did say that it's more complicated than he expected. But this has gotten Chuck Schumer's attention. Let me read to you what Chuck -- Senator Chuck Schumer said.

LORD: Oh, no.

CAMEROTA: Yes, it has. Let me read to you. "President Trump is threatening to hold hostage healthcare from millions of Americans. This cynical strategy will fail."

I guess the point is, Jeffery, is do you think that the president will end up working with Democrats on this new version of whatever he wants healthcare reform to look like or will he just cobble this together with the conservative House Freedom Caucus?

LORD: I think the president will work with those who are willing to work with him. And if Chuck Schumer is not willing to work with the president then, you know, that says more about Chuck Schumer than the president.

CAMEROTA: Last word, Symone. SANDERS: Well, Alisyn -- well, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer did

send a letter to President Trump noting that they're willing to work with him, that they're ready to work with him on the ACA. And they haven't -- you know, to my knowledge, they have not heard anything back. Look, the fact of the matter is, a Keyser poll most recently said that the people, the voters, they're going to blame Donald Trump, not the Democrats, if this doesn't work out well.

CAMEROTA: OK. Jeffery, Symone, thanks for the lively debate as always.

LORD: Thank you, guys.

SANDERS: Thank you.


CUOMO: All right. So from the tarmac to the courtroom. Lawyers for that passenger dragged off the United Airlines flight planning to announce legal action today. They are asking to preserve evidence. What could they sue for and what kind of price tag could come with it? Answers.


[07:51:01] CAMEROTA: For the forcible removal of that passenger from a United Airlines flight is proving to be a costly mistake.

Chief business correspondent Christine Romans is here with more. What's it looking like, Christine?

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, United Airlines will reimburse all passengers who are on Flight 3411. That's the flight where Dr. David Dao was bloodied and dragged from that full flight to make room for last-minute crew members. Passengers tell CNN the airline called them Tuesday night, offered an apology, told them they would be reimbursed through their original form of payment.

On paper at least, United has already paid a very big cost. Its stock initially tanking. And now it looks like the stock could open slightly higher. This morning investors no doubt hoping this airline can put this PR nightmare behind it.

Even as the practice of overbooking is likely not going anywhere, booking more people than seats is just too important for airline profitability. Ending overbooking, experts tell you, would lead to higher ticket prices.

Now this horrific incident has sparked calls for Congress to investigate how airlines deal with overbooking. How often does that so-called involuntary bumping happen? Last year about 40,000 passengers were bumped against their will from the biggest airlines. Sounds like a big number but it's actually just a tiny percentage of flyers on those carriers.

Now United is not done paying for these mistakes. A lawsuit likely coming from Dr. Dao, at least what we're expecting -- Chris.

CUOMO: Lawsuit, you say? Good point, Christine. Let's take a look right now at what kind of shape that could take.

The family and lawyers for the passenger violently removed from that United plane, they are asking to preserve evidence. Always a good indication that a lawsuit is going to be coming. That wouldn't be a surprise here. They're expected to announce legal action, what would it look like? What would be the causes of action? Remember this will probably be a civil case. How much money could come with it?

CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney Joey Jackson with the info.

All right. So here's the statement. OK. This is from the CEO of United. "He was approached a few more times and after that in order to gain his compliance to come off the aircraft and each time he refused and became more and more disruptive and belligerent."

All right. This would have been their strong, let's find out the facts if there --


JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: There wasn't something in a statement or a video that showed otherwise.

CUOMO: That's right. So they have the proof that we're going to look at right now, but also the CEO came out and said we apologize. We did the wrong thing. He ate some culpability. That's big fuel for someone like you, is it not?

JACKSON: Absolutely it's big fuel. Well, first of all, listen, Chris, when you get on an airline, you do not expect and anticipate when you book the flight and you get the flight and you actually say, you know, let's welcome aboard our passenger to stay on it.

CUOMO: Right.

JACKSON: And so when you have an admission like that from a CEO, who made multiple statements, I think it becomes problematic. Which one was it? Was he belligerent? Was he not belligerent? Was he disruptive or not disruptive? Or was he just a passenger who wanted a seat to get to his destination?

CUOMO: All right. So you start with the starting point of breach of contract. You know, I had a contract, if they could counter on that and say you don't have a guaranteed seat. But it's how they went about it. Was he belligerent? Let's play.


DR. DAVID DAO, DRAGGED OFF UNITED AIRLINES FLIGHT: No, I am not going. I am not going.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know how this seat is going (INAUDIBLE), right?

DAO: What? You can drag me. But I won't go. I'm not going. I'm staying right here. I fly from L.A. I take a long flight. I spend almost 24 hours.


CUOMO: Now he's talking. OK. He's not belligerent. Obviously could be a question of fact. But doesn't look good for the airline. A removal is where this really starts to get interesting.


DAO: No.





CUOMO: All right. We saw that but hold on a second. I want to play the impact. This is where the analysis are going to get important in terms of what do they owe him.

JACKSON: Yes. Yes.

CUOMO: All right. Needs to go a little bit farther. OK. So hold on a second. Do you see here? All right. Now what we just saw was his head bounce off that armrest. We do know that the doctor has said he not only has injuries but he says that he's got a broken jaw. That's going to have a price tag on it.

[07:55:04] Let's hold it up right here in terms of where we are, all right? You've got breach of contract.

JACKSON: Yes, you do.

CUOMO: What other causes of action, which is, you know, reasons that they will sue, do you see?

JACKSON: There are multiple. OK. Now not only do you have the breach but you're talking about an assault. What is an assault in layman's terms? It's apprehension of fear that you're going to be pulled off, that you're going to be struck, that something is going to befall you in a negative variety. That's an assault.

CUOMO: To keep it clear, the law -- the test that they give you in law school is this. Assault, assault, assault --

JACKSON: An apprehension of the battery.

CUOMO: Right. And then the battery.

JACKSON: Battery is the touching.

CUOMO: That's right.

JACKSON: Right? So you have the assault which is the apprehension of being hit. That's damages. And then you have the actual hit which is damages. Beyond that, Chris, what you have is something called intentional infliction of emotional distress. When you purchase a ticket, when viewers purchase a ticket and when you're told welcome aboard our airline, you can be seated now. You paid for that seat. You know you're going to that destination. Do you now expect to be pulled off of a plane and to be humiliated in front of everyone and to have potentially the jaw broken or your head to be hitting the headrest because police are forcibly removing you?

The answer is no. So when you count them all up, the breach of contract I anticipate to go to my destination. The assault, the apprehension of fear of being hit. The actual hit, which is the battery, and the intentional infliction of emotional distress. What does that come up to? Money.

CUOMO: All right. Let's talk because 97 percent of civil cases don't wind up finding their way into a courtroom. This is certainly going to be a high candidate to be one of those 97 percent. What kind of price tag are you putting on these?

JACKSON: You know what, I think it's going to be a tax in the millions variety. And here's why I say that. First of all, to your point, it won't see the courtroom. Why? This is bad press. If they would have just exercised a bit of common sense, we heard Christine Romans, regarding the economic impact. The Wall Street stock value. How about before pulling someone off of a plane, Chris, giving some incentive to go. Offering them some opportunity. Telling them, we'll put you in a hotel. We'll take care of you. We will get you a great dinner.

To the extent they didn't do that, it resonates. And the average person feels that airlines just abuse you. So think about your jury and think about how your jury is going to say, you know what, you disrespected me. That entitles me to punitive damages. And as a result, he wins. Look at that picture.

CUOMO: That's right. So in court you only know what you show. Right? And the video here is damning. I stopped it on this for a reason. When the lawyers push back and say, look, I'm not going to give you $4 million. Let's be serious. So you're OK. He's OK? How do you think a jury is going to feel about this? He's obviously disoriented. You know, he's babbling about what happened. He's bleeding out of his face. This could be a big deal for a jury.

JACKSON: It's an opportunity cross also, Chris. It's not only about the actual damages that he suffered and this horrible picture, it's about how much money do they want to lose by continuing to demonstrate themselves as a tone deaf airline that doesn't believe that the passengers are right. We're right as the initial statement of the CEO tried to suggest.

CUOMO: Customer is always right.


CUOMO: Customer is always right as you go in in terms of what their policy and principle was supposed to be. Now you have that statement from the CEO that cements it. But here's another one. If you settle this, you avoid the kind of damages that could in a case like this bring the biggest price tag, punitive damages.

JACKSON: Punitive damages.

CUOMO: What is that?

JACKSON: Well, punitive damages are designed to punish and they're designed to deter. First, there's two types of damages. One is compensatory damages. I missed my flight. I couldn't treat my patients. I suffered economic --

CUOMO: Pay me back.

JACKSON: Pay me back. Exactly. Make me whole. And then you have punitive damages which is designed to send a message to say that this ain't right. And I think the general public will agree, Chris, that this ain't right. That's where you get your money. Those are punitive. That gets you to the millions.

CUOMO: So let me get the dollars. Come on. Give it to me. I got to wrap. Give me a dollar. What do you got?

JACKSON: I say it's worth a few million dollars.

CUOMO: A few million?

JACKSON: A few million. That's about --

CUOMO: What's the bar? $4 million or $5 million?

JACKSON: I would say five million is the absolute outtake of it if you had to hold me to the fire. And for those saying, really, is it that much? There's opportunity costs. They don't want the publicity. They want this to go away. They're willing to pay for that to happen and they should pay for that to happen. This is despicable.

CUOMO: Joey Jackson, thank you very much.

JACKSON: Thank you, Chris.

CUOMO: What do you think? $5 million? You let us know online.

We're following a lot of news. Let's get after it.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Number one, NATO is obsolete. I complained about that a long time. It's no longer obsolete. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From NATO to China, this is a president who's

doing a lot of 180s.

TRUMP: China is a grand master at currency manipulation. I think we had great, good chemistry together. I think he wants to help us with North Korea.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm glad that he's squaring up his philosophy with reality.

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The current state of U.S.-Russia relations is at a low point.

STARR: Communications intercept of Syrian officials talking about the chemical attack before it happened.

TRUMP: I have absolutely no doubt we did the right thing. That's a butcher.

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


CUOMO: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Thursday, April 13th. 8:00 now in the East.

What you heard during the campaign is not what you're getting now from President Trump. The president reversing positions on several key campaign promises including what to do about NATO, Syria, Russia, China --