Return to Transcripts main page


What is President Trump's Military Strategy?; Man Dragged Off United Flight Plans to Sue. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired April 14, 2017 - 06:30   ET



[06:33:51] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: There is a terrible friendly fire incident to tell you of. The U.S. Central Command confirms that an American-led coalition mistakenly killed 18 Syrian allied fighters in what they call a "misdirected air strike." This strike took place Tuesday, killing members of the Syrian democratic forces. That's an Assad opposition group supported by the U.S. in the fight against ISIS. Military officials say the target they hit was wrongly identified as ISIS.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A U.S. official tells CNN that dozens of troops are being deployed to Somalia in the fight against terror there. The soldiers will train and equip Somalia servicemen to battle the al Qaeda affiliate al-Shabaab. Last week, the terror group claimed responsibility for killing 15 people in a mini-bus. This marks the first time in 23 years that American forces have been sent ground troops to Somalia.

CAMEROTA: President Trump privately signing a law that critics say puts women's health at risk. The action reverses Obama era regulations by allowing states to withhold federal money from facilities that provide abortions. Planned Parenthood makes it clear that federal law prohibits taxpayer dollars from funding abortions, say a bulk of its federal cash goes towards women's preventative health services.

[06:35:06] BERMAN: All right. Donald Trump, he vowed to be the America first president. But now, he is dropping bombs in Syria and Afghanistan, sending troops to Somalia, threatening North Korea. What is the military strategy? Is there a strategy? We discuss next.



DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I know more about ISIS than the generals do, believe me. I would bomb the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of them.


CAMEROTA: Well, that was then-candidate Donald Trump outlining his ISIS strategy. Yesterday's use of the MOAB bomb in Afghanistan appears to be exhibit A of that policy.

Joining us now for more context is CNN global affairs analyst Kimberly Dozier. She is senior national security correspondent at "The Daily Beast", and CNN military analyst, retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, who was the Army commanding general Europe and Seventh Army.

Great to have you both here, with all of your experience.

General, let me start with you. I mean, the MOAB is certainly bombing the blank of ISIS. How do you see what's happened?

[06:40:00] LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I don't see it that way at all, Alisyn. I hate to do this, but I want to take the breathless commentary out of this.

This is a tactical weapon. Mick Nicholson, as he reported, and as we talked about yesterday, is using that because the joint munitions guide told him that's the right weapon for that particular area. But because it is a big explosion, because it does the fit the narrative that Mr. Trump said that he would bomb the S out of everybody, everyone's getting excited about it.

It's not a strategy. It's a tactic. And the generals on the ground can handle that.

CAMEROTA: That's really good context, and we certainly don't want any breathlessness.

But we do want context, Kimberly. And here's a couple of things -- I mean, here are the things that have happened I just President Trump's, you know, first 85 days. So, look at the military actions, OK, already under President Trump. Some have been lauded as successes, such as the strike on the Syria airbase. Some of them have been failures, such as the raid in Yemen that went terribly wrong.

How do you put all this in context?

KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, I have to second mark in that I have spoken to officials in Afghanistan and Nicholson requested this munition during the Obama administration because he was looking ahead to the Afghan fighting season. He has already seen that the Taliban has been beating the Afghan army back and taking back some territory, and he saw ISIS growing, 600 to 800 fighters, most of them in the district that was hit. So, he had looked ahead and said I could use this weapon.

Now, is he more comfortable using it in this administration than he may have been in the last considering that the Obama administration had a reputation for micromanaging from the NSC down? Something that NSC officials have pushed back against, but that was their reputation. I think that he would have had a higher comfort level under the Trump administration because Trump has indicated that he is comfortable delegating a lot of authority down through the military commanders.

CAMEROTA: OK, that's very interesting context and news you have just given us, Kim. If this was requested during the Obama administration, that does

change the feeling of it, General, and what do you think about President Trump saying, "I don't need to know about everything that they're doing even the use of the MOAB because I'm giving them blanket authority"?

HERTLING: I -- that's not a good thing to say, first of all. He does need to know. If he's putting as the commander-in-chief, military members in the harm's way, he needs to know what's gong on and he needs to receive the briefings on what's happening around the world.

And I push a little bit on the comment that he's loosening the strings, because you talk to the senior commanders, most will tell you, hey, there was nothing that prevented us from doing our job in the Obama administration. There may have been some NSC staffers who were asking a lot of questions and could be, let's just say, painful at times with what was called the 6,000 mile screwdriver to correct kinds of operations that were going on.

But, truthfully, the commanders in the field -- I have talked to all of them, didn't feel they were being inhibited from doing what they needed to be --

CAMEROTA: Is that right, General? I'm really interested in that because that was some of the narrative that we certainly heard --

HERTLING: By who, Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: Form Republicans.


CAMEROTA: They felt hamstrung, and I want you to disabuse everyone of that, if that's the case.

HERTLING: I would like to, because I heard Jack Kingston say last night on a program that he talked to his constituents and I just want to say to those kind of people, OK. Who is telling you that? Is it Sergeant Smith, Captain Jones? Or is it General, you know, X, Y, Z?

You talk to most of the general officers, the people who are conducting strategy, and they will say they have been able to do the things that they needed to do.

CAMEROTA: Go ahead, Kim.

DOZIER: I have to jump in and say, yes, that's what I've heard as well, that they finally got to where they wanted to go in the Syria, Iraq strikes against ISIS, but that they knew that the scrutiny, this 6,000 mile screwdriver as he termed it, was on them, and that that did sometimes make them hesitate or slow things down.

I did talk to multiple Pentagon planners at least who said it just drove them crazy, that they did feel like they were being second guessed. And that had a psychological affect in terms that they knew they couldn't push things that far, and it took a while to get approval of some operations they thought should have -- they should have approval faster.


DOZIER: And in this administration, it's the opposite.

CAMEROTA: OK. General, you've got ten seconds.

HERTLING: Let me just throw one more thing in there, if I can, Allie, because what -- this is the way it's done. I mean, in our system of government and even going back to a guy named Carl Clausewitz, combat warfare is politics by other means. You can't divorce combat from what's going on in the political arena. Some play more actively than others, but you can't divorce the two from each other.

[06:45:01] CAMEROTA: OK. Thank you both very much for all the reporting and context. Great to see you.


BERMAN: All right. The doctor who was dragged off this United Airlines flight announcing he plans to sue. That case, it could be worth millions. But will it reach the courts? We're going to discuss, next.


BERMAN: An Arizona high school football player is making history, becoming the first woman to earn a scholarship at the NCAA school, at the Division II level or higher.

Coy Wire has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report".

Hey, Coy.


I'm here at the Atlanta Braves brand new state-of-the-art stadium. More on that in a second.

We have to talk about this amazing accomplishment of Becca Longo, the high school kicker out of Arizona, just crushing glass ceilings. Becca only started playing football a couple of years ago, and when she signed her letter of intent to play for Adam State University in Colorado, she couldn't believe it. She could not believe when she learned she has done something that no other woman has done before. We caught up with her yesterday.


BECCA LONGO, HISTORY MAKING FOOTBALL PLAYER: I was so emotional. I was just so grateful that somebody believed in me and that I could actually do it. I mean, I'm going to go in. I'm going to be ready to compete. I'm not going to back down to anybody.

(END AUDIO CLIP) [06:50:00] WIRE: All right, guys. There seems to be a bit of an arms race here in pro-sports stadiums. In the past year, we've had two NFL stadiums pop up with the Vikings and the Falcons.

And with the next few years, there will be three more teams with new stadiums, the Rams and Chargers in L.A., and the Raiders in Vegas.

And I am here at Major League Baseball's newest stadium, the Atlanta Braves SunTrust Park where they went all out to create a great fan experience. You have to figure out a way to get people away from their couches and away from that 60-inch flat screen, and get them to the ballparks. As you can see, they have zip lining, rock climbing, any kind of food or drink you could possibly imagine.

As far as technology, fastest Wi-Fi of any stadium in the U.S. and they find the nearest burger spot, frosty beverage, even reserve me a spot in the zipline line.

For the Braves and Padres tonight, the opener here, it's at 7:35 Eastern. The first game in the brand new stadium is going to be rocking -- John.

CAMEROTA: I'll take it, Coy. That was awesome. And in your next hit, I want to know what was in that burger and how big that massive thing was. Mother of all burgers. Thank you very much, Coy.

All right. This will not come as a surprise. There's an epic legal fight brewing between United Airlines and this passenger who was dragged off a big flight. How can United possibly defend itself? We debate that next.



[06:55:20] CRYSTAL DAO PEPPER, DR. DAVID DAO'S DAUGHTER: What happened to my dad should have never happened to any human being, regardless of a circumstance. We were horrified and shocked and sickened to learn what had happened to him and to see what it happened to him.


BERMAN: The family of Dr. David Dao, the man who is forcibly removed from United Airlines flight, voicing disgust at his treatment, announcing his plans to sue the airline and the city of Chicago.

Now, United is promising policy changes by the end of the month.

Joining me to discuss: CNN chief business correspondent, star of "EARLY START", Christine Romans, and CNN legal analyst and criminal defense attorney, Joey Jackson.

Joey, this was a fascinating news conference by the attorneys of this man. They talked about his injuries -- broken nose, concussion, lost two front teeth, injured sinuses, reconstructive surgery. You predicted already $5 million in this case. Does that raise the



JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It certainly could. It goes to those issues of punitive damages that we talked about, which are designed to punish, right? You have compensatory damages to compensate you for your losses that you sustained as a result of this. But this taps into the critical issue of was this action reasonable, John? Was this action necessary? Was it appropriate, or was it something else?

And so, therefore, I think in the press conference when we learn about the significance of the injuries, it makes people even more furious at the airlines and furious at what they did to this on person who just wanted to get home.

BERMAN: That was part two of what was so fascinating to me yesterday were the lawyers for this man didn't just talk about what happened to him, the injuries, but talked about the culture at the airlines. Listen to this.


THOMAS DEMETRIO, DR. DAVID DAO'S ATTORNEY: Yes. I would say there is a culture of disrespect, of rudeness, but what's unfortunately occurred here in Dr. Dao's case is rudeness, bullying customers has gone the next step now to physical injury.


BERMAN: I'm going to talk about the business culture with Christine in just a second.

But from a legal standpoint, why do you talk about the culture of the airlines in general? Why do you tap into customer anger?

JACKSON: Because what you're doing is you're tapping into that reservoir of discontent, and when you do that, you raise the settlement value. This is not going to see the courtroom. The reality is, is that there's a business interest, right, in United to get this off the news, to get us from stop talking about it.

So, if you really want to tap into it and really want them to turn the page, you elevate the value, you elevate the outrage, and you talk about how the culture created the conditions for this to occur.

BERMAN: So, Christine Romans, United just announced all kinds of changes effective April 30th. They're not going to remove passengers for safety and security reasons -- probably a good idea at this point. They're going to talk about how to handle overbooked flights and other measures.

How much trouble is United Airlines in right now? ROMANS: Well, the PR damage is really significant. You know, there

was a market hit that has since recovered, but the PR damage is significant here. But how much trouble is it in? What are the choices do many customers have?

There have been so many mergers in this sector, that there are four major carriers in the United States that control, you know, 80 percent of the flights, 80 percent of the routes. So, in most cases, I think customers are going to choose the airline that gets them where they have to go on time at the price that they want.

One thing that really angers people -- you talk about that anger and distrust of the airlines. The consumer satisfaction ratings of the airlines have been terrible as an industry for a long time even as they're making record profits. And so, people see smaller planes with tighter seats, with all kinds of fees, and they feel as though the experience just is not commensurate with what flying should be.

BERMAN: It's clear, though, United knows it's in a moment where it's very, very sensitive right now.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

BERMAN: It's in serious jeopardy.

Delta, I had a vacation cancelled last week, and I was supposed to fly in New Orleans. Delta cancelled it as part of the mess they were in last week. Overnight, I got two emails from them. One that every ticketholder I was flying with gets a $200 voucher and 20,000 miles. The airlines know there's an issue right now.

ROMANS: They do. And you see the big international airlines are almost dancing on United's grave this week right, with some of these trolling and with these tweets and stuff about how they are really the friendly skies. They're trying for the international traveler, the big business international traveler who pays a lot of money. The big international airlines want to get some of that business from United on the back of this.

BERMAN: All right. Joey --

JACKSON: You are at their mercy and that's the issue and that gets more settlement because people are upset, John. They're upset.

ROMANS: And the employees of these companies, though, they are upset, too, because they feel as though the experience for them has gone down as well. Drunk passengers, people arriving late with too many bags. So, you know, it goes both ways.

BERMAN: All right, guys. Thanks so much. Christine Romans, safe travels this weekend.

ROMANS: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, "CNN NEWSROOM" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.