Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Embracing Dictators; North Korean Nuclear Efforts; Constitutional Shake-up; Final Stretch to French Runoff Vote. Aired 12-1a ET

Aired May 2, 2017 - 00:00   ET



[00:00:09] This is CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

Ahead this hour:

Meeting with dictators -- President Donald Trump embracing the strong arm leaders of North Korea and the Philippines, and sending a message to the rest of the world.

The final week in the French presidential election with the two candidates exchanging verbal blows, and unions are split on who to support.

And prepare for a bumpy ride. There is turbulence coming ahead. The CEO of United Airlines heads to Capitol Hill to explain the airline's recent customer service nightmare.

Hello everybody -- welcome to our viewers all around the world.

NEWSROOM L.A. starts right now.

Donald Trump has called Kim Jong-Un a madman, a maniac, and a little on the wacky side. Now the U.S. President says he would be honored to meet with the North Korean dictator.

And that's not the only strong man Mr. Trump has kind words for. He has also invited an admitted killer to the White House.

We have details now from CNN's Jim Acosta.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That's why in the first 100 days --

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: More than 100 days in office, and now nearly as many new questions for President Trump after head-scratching comments to reporters.

After weeks of tough talk aimed at North Korea, the President told Bloomberg he would meet with that country's dictator, Kim Jong-Un. Adding "If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely. I would be honored to do it." And despite the fact the chief of staff Reince Priebus said it's not going happening.

GAYLE KING, CBS NEWS HOST: Can you imagine a scenario where President Trump and Kim Jong-Un sit face-to-face and have a conversation?


KING: Can you see that?

ACOSTA: White House press secretary Sean Spicer acknowledged the obvious. Kim Jong-Un is a brutal tyrant.

SEAN SPICER, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Clearly the conditions are not there right now.

ACOSTA: But he also seemed to say Kim Jong-Un has good leadership qualities.

SPICER: He assumed power at a young age when his father passed away and there was a lot of potential threats that could have come his way. And he has obviously managed to lead the country forward.

ACOSTA: The White House is now focused on a new spending bill and perhaps one more attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare. The President talked up the GOP health care bill to CBS.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Pre-existing conditions are in the bill. And I mandated it. I said it has to be.

ACOSTA: But there is one big difference. Under Obamacare, insurance companies could not discriminate against consumers with pre-existing conditions. Under Trumpcare, those consumers can be charged more. While one top adviser said the health care votes are there --

JOHN DICKERSON, CBS NEWS HOST: Do you have the votes for health care?

GARY COHN, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL: Do we have the votes for health care? I think we do.

ACOSTA: Spicer insisted there is no rush.

SPICER: I think the President has made it clear that he is not instituting a timeline.

ACOSTA: On whether he defends his astonishing claim that former President Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower, the President appeared to answer the question in several different ways all at once.

TRUMP: I don't stand by anything. I just -- you can take it the way you want. I think our side has been proven very strongly.

ACOSTA: When pressed further, he cuts off the interview.

DICKERSON: Sir, I want to know your opinions. You're the President of the United States.

TRUMP: Ok. That's enough. Thank you. Thank you very much. ACOSTA: Spicer's take.

SPICER: He clearly stands by that.

ACOSTA: In a separate interview with the "Washington Examiner", the President sounded unsure about the root causes of the civil war, saying it could have been prevented by President Andrew Jackson -- a supporter of slavery.

TRUMP: I mean had Andrew Jackson been a little bit later, you wouldn't have had the civil war. He was -- he was a very tough person, but he had a big heart.

The civil war -- when you think about it, why. People don't ask that question. But why was there the civil war? Why could that one not have been worked out?

ACOST: The President also raised questions about his glowing comments for Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte telling Bloomberg, "You know, he is very popular in the Philippines. He has a very high approval rating in the Philippines." Human rights groups have condemned Duterte's war on drugs, a crackdown that has led to thousands of people killed.

The White House says Duterte could help with North Korea.

SPICER: The number one concern of this president is to make sure that we do everything we can to protect our people and specifically, to economically and diplomatically isolate North Korea.

ACOSTA: The President did talk about health care and other big topics with House Speaker Paul Ryan over the weekend. But there is no guarantee at this point that there will be enough votes for the bill to even clear the House. Even if it did, sources say, its prospects in the Senate are in serious doubt.

Jim Acosta, CNN -- the White House.


VAUSE: Joining me here in Los Angeles talk radio host Ethan Bearman and California Republican national committeeman Shawn Steel. Good to see you guys. Happy start to the week for us.

Ok. So Shawn -- it seems the next 1,358 days of the Trump administration makes you happy.


VAUSE: If you look at that report by Jim Acosta, those days beginning to look a lot like the past 100 days of the Trump administration.

STEEL: Oh, it's exhausting. First of all --

VAUSE: It is exhausting. STEEL: -- happy May Day for all the other international socialists

and other professional mass killers of all time. No, Donald Trump, in the age of Trump, we've got to get used to a different way of looking at the world. Part of it is he thinks he's got this great diplomacy touch and so the news comes out he is going to meet with Kim Jong-Un -- maybe or maybe not. But he is meeting with Mahmoud Abbas tomorrow, who has done more damage to Israeli children. He killed more innocents in Israel and who is a mass murder himself. Sorry -- but he is.

VAUSE: No, that's not right.

STEEL: The Palestinian Liberation Organization is a terrorist organization. So of course, presidents have to see people like that. It doesn't mean that he is doing bad stuff. But we have to deal with bad players throughout the world.

VAUSE: But then Ethan -- does he have to say that he is honored to be meeting with Kim Jong-Un? Does he have to invite Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines president to the White House, a man accused of killing thousands of people during his war on drugs?

ETHAN BEARMAN, RADIO HOST: No. I mean this is the wrong move. You don't invite somebody who believes in extrajudicial killings of people just because you think they have done something. This is a high honor to come to the White House, to have this type of reception at the White House with Duterte.

I just think that's wrong. It's sending the wrong message that we say go ahead and kill as many of your citizens as possible and I'll still invite you to the White House and give you a big --

STEEL: Ok, let me ask you. Mahmoud Abbas, should he be invited to the White House tomorrow or not? Tell us right now.


STEEL: Oh, excuse me. Ok, you're consistent. I'm with you.

VAUSE: Look, the reality is over the last what -- 40 or 50 years, every U.S. president has, Shawn, at some point gone out and been a champion for human rights in some part of the world.

STEEL: They should.

VAUSE: And I know that we're only 100 and a few days into the Trump presidency, but so far it seems that this president is willing to trade off human rights, you know, in this case when it comes to North Korea for the White House spokesperson says is a policy of trying to isolate the North Koreans.

STEEL: So far he hasn't traded off human rights. There has to be some objective behavior. I don't like him saying nice things about Kim Jong-Un. He is a monster.

On the other hand, he has 10,000 artillery shells facing Seoul, Korea that could be launched theoretically in 60 seconds that could kill 20 million people. So you have to talk to a maniac like that. You have to try diplomatic means.

I think that's what most people in the world, particularly my wife is in Seoul, Korea right now. She is Korean-American. So I'm really interested in not having an all-out war.

VAUSE: Ethan, diplomacy is a good thing, you know, and people should continue to talk. But again, direct talks, one to one, with the leader of the free world, as you say, it's a reward. And again, this is an administration which appears to be turning a blind eye to human rights abuses, except for this situation in Syria where there was just 59 missiles launched on to an airfield.

BEARMAN: Right -- which didn't actually change an outcome, that was my problem with that single attack on an airfield.

But let's go back to North Korea, first and, for that matter, the Philippines. We have diplomats. Supposedly we have a diplomatic corps. That is their job is to be these intermediaries so we don't have to give these honors.

I actually agree, yes we have failed in North Korea for 25 years. It is time to try something different. But instead of the President talking to Kim Jong-Un, there should be intermediaries doing that work.

VAUSE: Ok. One of the big achievements of the first 100 days of the Trump presidency was passing a bipartisan spending bill to keep the government funded until September. And it didn't really seem to go the way of the guy who wrote the book "The Art of the deal".

So let's just look at a few things that went through this funding bill. No funding cuts for Planned Parenthood. Republicans wanted that because Planned Parenthood provides private abortion services. No funding to start construction of the border wall and nothing for deportation force. No federal cuts to the so-called sanctuary cities which Republicans also wanted. There was a 1 percent cut for the Environment Protection Agency, not the 31 percent the President had outlined. Only half of the requested funding for the military.

The list just goes on and on and on. Shawn -- as a Republican and as a Trump supporter, as a conservative, would you at the very least admit you may find that a little disappointing?

STEEL: It's very disappointing. What you have is Senate Democrats use real bullets and Republicans use rubber duckies. They have -- they're using the filibuster.

The point is you can't get a spending bill through the senate. The House is easy. But through the senate, you can't, unless you get 60 votes. They're using what the Democrats used in the 1950s to preserve segregation.

It's an unnecessary rule. It's a-constitutional. We shouldn't have it. And I'm hoping that McConnell and the other Republicans, if they want a bold, aggressive "Change America" agenda, just do the same thing they did for Gorsuch. Take away the filibuster on appropriations.

VAUSE: Ethan, Shawn wants to go back to 1950s.

STEEL: No, no, no, no, no.

VAUSE: Go back 2013, or '14, or '15 and what the Republicans did, right?

BEARMAN: Yes. I mean this is actually -- this is democracy as we have set it up, a representative democracy here in the United States exactly as it is outlined in the constitution. This is functioning the way it's supposed to.

[00:10:07] By the way, huge victory for the Democrats in this case. And President Trump should continue following the art of the deal, because this was the best negotiation ever. It was big league.

VAUSE: Shawn, you are right. There is disappointment now too with many Democrats now that President Obama has decided to accept $400,000 in speaking fees for --

STEEL: That's just the beginning.

VAUSE: -- exactly, for a Wall Street firm. It was even the subject of a "New York Times" editorial on Monday. This is what it read in part. "It is disheartening that a man whose historic candidacy was premised on a moral examination of politics now joins almost every modern president in cashing in. It shows a surprising tone-deafness more likely to be expected from the billionaires that Obama has vacationed with these past months than from a president keenly attuned to the worries and resentments of the 99 percent."

Ethan -- Obama has a right to earn a living. But really, given everything that has happened with Wall Street speeches and Hillary Clinton, this probably maybe not the best move, especially since he just got a $65 million book deal, right?

BEARMAN: But here is the fundamental difference between Hillary Clinton who is going to be running for office for president. President Obama is done. I mean he is out of office. He is not running for anything. Of course he should be able to make some money to support his family, to send his kids to private school, to put food on the table and to plant a new garden for Michelle that was ripped out, of course, from the White House.

VAUSE: Shawn -- let me see you --

STEEL: That's a terrible talking point. Obama -- the one thing that the budget bill did do is that the Republicans got school choice back in Washington, D.C. for poor black kids. Obama opposed it for poor black kids but his children get to go to private school and now we know how he can afford it.

(CROSSTALK) STEEL: This goes to Obama's ethical problems.


BEARMAN: Cut it out. Girls can't get education around the world that Obama put in place because President Trump cut it out today.

VAUSE: Ok. Thank you. Good to see you both. We'll move on. Ok.

Well, while President Trump said he would be honored to meet Kim Jong- Un, North Korea is vowing now to accelerate its nuclear weapons program. In a statement, the foreign ministry said "Now that the U.S. is kicking out the overall racket for sanctions and pressure against the DPRK, pursuant to its new policy called maximum pressure and engagement, the DPRK will speed up at the maximum pace the measure for bolstering its nuclear deterrence."

CNN is following this story across the region. David McKenzie is in Beijing. Paula Hancocks is in Seoul, South Korea.

Paula -- first to you, has there been a reaction there from Seoul, not just to the U.S. President's comments about being an honor to meet with Kim Jong-Un, but also those positive words for Kim -- calling him a smart cookie, praising him as a strong leader who took over his country?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, John -- we haven't had any official reaction. I think quite frankly officials are being very careful about what they say. We might have a comment from the foreign ministry within an hour. We have a briefing there.

But I don't think you're going hear any strong reaction from officials here. And when you look at social media, people are discussing it, but it's kind of a mixed feeling as to whether or not he did the right thing by making those comments.

Now certainly we have seen there has been some response when President Trump suggested that THAAD should be paid for by the South Koreans. This is the U.S. military defense system which has just started to be operational right now, we understand, from U.S. ministry. That got a response when it was a financial concern.

But I think it's just another issue that South Korean officials have to deal with, bearing in mind the U.S. President spoke to the Japanese prime minister and the Chinese president last week -- didn't speak to anybody in South Korea.

The country doesn't have a president at this point. There is only an acting president. So I think it's a very difficult position for South Korea to be in; obviously that election coming up for the presidency on May 9th. I think things will change and be much more easy for the officials after that -- John.

VAUSE: And what about just to the north of where you are in the North Korean capital, Pyongyang? Is Kim Jong-Un likely to be swayed by this kind of flattery, if you like, coming from the U.S. President? There is also mixed messages coming from the Trump administration as well.

HANCOCKS: Absolutely. We've almost come full circle. During the campaigning, Donald Trump said that he would potentially sit down for a hamburger with Kim Jong-Un. He said he would talk to him, thinking there was a 10, 20 percent chance that he could convince him to get rid of his nuclear weapons program.

And now we're back to the point after in the middle having some suggestions that could be a preemptive strike. The military option is still on the table, that that is still being said, that all options are still on the table. But we have come full circle when we come to potentially talking to Kim Jong-Un.

Kim Jong-Un has been very clear about what he wants. He wants to have a nuclear-tipped warhead that can be able to hit mainland United States. He has been abundantly clear about this.

[00:14:59] He has said he is a nuclear state. He has changed the constitution. He has also said through his diplomats and through other officials that potentially they would like a different relationship with President Trump, but it's not going to be under the guise of denuclearization. As far as the North Korean leader is concerned, he will not denuclearize -- John.

VAUSE: Ok -- Paula.

We go to David now in Beijing.

David -- the U.S. President has raised the issue of China and currency manipulation again. This seemed almost as if it had been put to bed because he needed Beijing's support when it came to dealing with North Korea. This is what Donald Trump said. Listen to this.


TRUMP: I did say I would call China, if they were, a currency manipulator early in my tenure. And then I get that number one, they -- as soon as I got elected, they stopped -- they're not -- it's not going down anymore, their currency.

DICKERSON: That had been true before. That had been true during the campaign.

TRUMP: No, not true to the extent that we're talking about but much more important than that is to win. But you know, it did stop and I was talking about it all during the campaign. And I would say that I was the one that got them to stop. But forget that.

DICKERSON: You were the one who got excited --

TRUMP: He is working with us -- so during the campaign I talked about --

DICKERSON: Even if they were doing it before?

TRUMP: They were doing it before. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: David, can you fact check? Did Donald Trump actually make China stop manipulating its currency?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John -- the short answer is no. Several years ago perhaps it might have been the case that China was really manipulating its currency, keeping it far lower than it probably would have been if just left to the free market to get its exports out.

But at least since 2014, three years ago, according to economists China has in fact been doing the opposite, trying to really kind of not lower the currency and more recently, in fact, raising the rates of the RMB, the currency in China because of the capital outflows.

So there is a sense from the President Trump that he is using this North Korea issue as a way to say that he is not going to name China currency manipulator. But economists say that might have been helpful to the U.S. several years ago. But at this stage it probably isn't something that is either factually correct or necessary -- John.

VAUSE: David -- thank you. David McKenzie in Beijing; also Paula Hancocks there in Seoul -- thanks to you both.

A programming note. Now on Tuesday, Christiane Amanpour will talk with Hillary Clinton at a live event. That will be at 1:00 p.m. New York time; 6:00 p.m. in London.

Well, still to come here, the French presidential race now into its final week, rather and the candidates are taking swipes at each other -- their late inning pitch to woo voters just ahead.

Plus, a people's congress or a power grab by the Venezuelan president; details on Nicolas Maduro's call for a new national assembly.

Stay with us. You're watching CNN.


VAUSE: Welcome back.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro is putting forward a plan for a new national assembly. He calls it a special chapter in the country's history. The move would allow changes to the constitution and a reshaping of the current government. Mr. Maduro told his supporters it's all about giving power to the people.


NICOLAS MADURO, VENEZUELAN PRESIDENT (through translator): I call on the original constituting powers so that we can regain the peace that our republic needs so that we can defeat the fascist coup and so that the people with their sovereignty impose peace, harmony and a true national dialogue.


VAUSE: The country's opposition sees it slightly differently. They call it a coup, urging Venezuelans to reject it.


JULIO BORGES, NATIONAL ASSEMBLY PRESIDENT: What has happened today, and I say without exaggerating or trying to be dramatic is the greatest coup in the history of Venezuela. It's Nicolas Maduro dissolving democracy and dissolving our republic.

Faced with this, the Democratic Unity Party and the members of the national assembly call on the Venezuelan people to rebel and refuse to accept this coup.


VAUSE: President Maduro made his announcement during a May Day rally in Caracas on Monday. Across the city authorities clashed with anti- government protesters. Riot police fired tear gas into a crowd of young people throwing stones after opposition marches were blocked.

And May Day rallies turned violent in a number of other cities around the world.

In Turkey, riot police fired tear gas and rubber bullets to break up demonstrations in Istanbul. At least 165 people were detained.

Protesters in Montreal launched smoke bombs at police. One person was reportedly detained there as well.

Authorities in Portland, Oregon say demonstrators threw fireworks and smoke bombs as well as Molotov cocktails at police.

And in Paris, police fired tear gas at protesters. There are reports some officers were injured.

And some activists in France also used May Day to protest far right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen. Thousands rallied in Paris just days before the country's runoff election this Sunday. Le Pen and her rival centrist Emmanuel Macron are going after each other's visions for the future of France.


MARINE LE PEN, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): The reality is simple, clear. Emmanuel Macron is just Francois Hollande who wants to stick around and is clinging on to power like a barnacle.

Emmanuel Macron means it's Francois Hollande who will continue to run politics in this country. Well, this outgoing candidate, we are going to get him out.

EMMANUEL MACRON, FRENCH PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (through translator): The question being posed on May 7th is that of the future of France, of Europe, and of a certain conception of the world.

In the past week, our country has been involved in a profound mutation. The political landscape that we had known for so many years vanished before our eyes in a matter of hours.


VAUSE: Dominic Thomas joins us now. He's the chair of UCLA's department of French and Francophone studies. Good to see you -- Dominic.

Ok. It was sticking with the May Day, Labor Day on Monday -- French labor unions who have opposed the far right National Front which is the party of Marine Le Pen historically, this time around they seem to be split on whether or not to endorse, you know, her rival Macron. Why is that? What's behind this?

And what could be the impact? How worried should Macron be about that?

DOMINIC THOMAS, UCLA: Right. It's an interesting situation because the position of the unions in many ways reflects the position of the broader political parties in this race especially on the far left. Jean-Luc Melenchon who has refused to endorse Emmanuel Macron -- he said no vote for Le Pen.

But this is very different to 2002 when there was what was known as the Republican Front, where basically everyone came out to make sure that her father Jean-Marie Le Pen didn't make it through to the second round.

So in the same way that some of these unions and the far left that Jean-Luc Melenchon expressed skepticism because I think they see for themselves also a political opportunity here, an opening as the Socialist Party has effectively been dismantled through this election, scoring just about 6 percent of the vote, that the future of the left is certainly to be questioned.

And Emmanuel Macron has been pitched by the far right and by the far left as a sort of pro-globalization, representing a kind of establishment elite and the European Union and so on and so his position vis-a-vis them remains unclear and ambiguous. And these far right and far left parties are using this as an opportunity to divide the electorate.

[00:25:09] VAUSE: You mentioned Melenchon the far left candidate. He won about 20 percent in the first round. And you say he hasn't endorsed Macron. Is he holding out for policy changes on labor laws?

THOMAS: I think that the holding out is impossible. He has made some openings, but they have been completely rejected by Macron the same way that he's rejected some openings from the right. I have my political agenda, this is the way that I'm going and I'm not going to do that.

The Socialist Party made deals with him five years ago. Subsequently, his other party from the time didn't, you know, get any kind of representation in the government. There is a deep divide between the socialists and between his wing and as they go into the legislature elections, the parliamentary elections just three weeks after next Sunday, they're very reluctant to create and establish any kind of deals for them because they're worried about their own future in this election.

VAUSE: It's politics.


VAUSE: Le Pen also seemed to be softening her position on the euro. Exactly what has she been saying and what is going on here?

THOMAS: Right. So she is saying now that well, of course, all of these decisions, you know, would not be hers. They would be made by the French people. She is aware of the fact that there has been a lot of pushback against the sort of skepticism around the European Union, around the fact that unlike Brexit, it's not just a straight-up referendum. It does have to go through the parliament and so on.

I think she realizes that there is a component of the electorate that is reluctant to support her with this sort of explicit euro skeptic kind of position. So she is backing down a little bit. The problem with this backing down is it puts into question to her sincerity over these kinds of issues which has been the issue all along in this.

VAUSE: And very quickly, her father, Jean-Marie Le Pen came out to urge voters to go out and endorse. Given the fact that he was banned from the party in 2015 for anti-Semitism, does that sort of impact those who might be on the fence?

THOMAS: Yes. The more visible he is the more it harms her. Her entire campaign has been to detoxify the polity which has been taking her distance from her dad.

VAUSE: Stay home, dad. I've got it. Leave me alone.

THOMAS: Exactly.

VAUSE: Ok. Dominic -- good to see you. Thanks so much.

THOMAS: Thank you.

VAUSE: A short break now.

When we come back, the fierce battle to retake Mosul from ISIS has been going on for months. We'll take a look at a city in ruins in just a moment.

Also ahead, the turbulence of an Aeroflot flight leaves passengers with bruises and broken bones. All those details of exactly what happened when we come back.




JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.


VAUSE: Large parts of Western Mosul are now ruined (ph). And the battle for Iraq's second largest city shows no signs of letting up. CNN has obtained exclusive drone video shot by freelance journalist Gabrielle Cheyenne (ph) -- a warning: you may find some of these images disturbing. Hala Gorani has our report.



HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A tender father and daughter moment in the most brutal of landscapes. Their home is only half standing. The city around them obliterated.

These exclusive drone pictures obtained by CNN show the scale of destruction on the front lines of Western Mosul. Neighborhoods newly freed by ISIS by Iraqis forces.

As Iraq's elite Golden Division rolls in, in its armored vehicles, ISIS retreats, paying a heavy price. Bodies of its fighters still lie where they fell.

So recently recaptured is this neighborhood that the black flag of ISIS still flutters overhead. The streets below, eerily deserted. And a makeshift roadblock from where ISIS fought only weeks ago, still standing.

In the video, dark smoke from burning tires and debris billows across the skyline. Desperate attempts by ISIS to hide themselves from airstrikes.

Here the camera catches an explosion, thought to be a mortar, hitting a building, a reminder that fighting rages on only meters away.

After months of street-to-street battle between ISIS and Iraqi forces and pounding from coalition air strikes, the scale of devastation in this part of Mosul is difficult to take in.

In these drone images it seems every building, every street, every car is shattered. Nothing left to support human life.

So the civilians are forced to flee, clutching their children and their few belongings. Who knows what future lies before them as they join the millions of other refugees running from this war.

And for those who stay behind, picking through the splintered remains of their lives, moments of joy still possible, before they are lost again in this bleak and dusty scene -- Hala Gorani, CNN.


A flight from Moscow to Bangkok turned into a terrifying ride after hitting incredibly bad turbulence. What passengers and the airline are saying about all of this in just a moment.

And also the chief executive of United Airlines will face Congress after a passenger was dragged off the plane, creating a (INAUDIBLE) firestorm. That's next.




VAUSE: A terrifying ordeal now in the air. Passengers were thrown to the floor when a Russian jetliner hit an air pocket with extreme turbulence. CNN's Diana Magnay tells us a number of people on board were badly hurt.


DIANA MAGNAY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The plane hit what Aeroflot called sudden, strong, short-term turbulence about 40 minutes before landing in Bangkok. We're hearing from an eyewitness that there were five very sudden jolts.

And the first two weren't that bad but the next three were really were. And because a lot of these people were standing up waiting for the bathrooms, they were the ones who ended up getting hurt.

There were 27 people injured, most of them Russians, but three Thais and some of them were children. Many of them were treated upon arrival at Bangkok airport, but most were then transferred to a hospital.

And we're hearing from Aeroflot now that those are still in hospital. None of them have life-threatening or very serious injuries, but there are broken bones and fractures and, of course, some bruising.

Now, this was a Boeing 777 jet making its way from Moscow to Bangkok, which is a popular holiday route for many Russians. And it hit what's called clear-sky turbulence. Now, that happens when you get a jet stream and another weather front combining and it can cause this very sudden turbulence, which is, by definition, impossible to detect.

And that's why there was no time to warn passengers to put their seatbelts on. That's clearly what happened here. The Russian embassy in Bangkok also confirming that many of those that were injured weren't wearing seatbelts -- Diana Magnay, CNN, Moscow.


VAUSE: The chief executive of United Airlines may be in for a bumpy ride on Tuesday when he speaks before the U.S. House Transportation Committee. Oscar Munoz's (ph) testimony follows the forced removal of a passenger from a Chicago flight last month. (INAUDIBLE) of course (INAUDIBLE) international outrage. Tuesday's hearing will focus on airline customer service policies along with United's president, executives from American Airlines, Alaska Airlines and Southwest also expected to testify.

Let's bring in CNN's safi alessay (ph) David Soucie. He joins us now from Denver, Colorado.

David, good to see you.

The problem here to me it seems happen to anyone actually working for United on that flight where they dragged a passenger away, kicking and screaming, thought it was actually a good idea.

Why didn't any of them intervene?

DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: I don't think any of them thought about anything. I think all they thought about was that they were asked to do something and they went ahead and followed orders and did it.

There was no common sense in this whatsoever that I can see. They had their orders; they went in, they did it and they did it violently.

VAUSE: But that goes to the culture of the workplace isn't it? This is a rules-based organization. And you just do what you do and no one bothers to take the initiative?

SOUCIE: Well, it is an interesting phenomenon that I've been studying this for years in the aviation accident arena is the fact that when you have a checklist, when you simply follow orders and follow those procedures they're in there for a reason. They're tactics. Those tactics need to be supplemented by common sense. They need to be monitored and they need to be balanced --


SOUCIE: -- by what is the right thing to do. United clearly lost track of their main principle goals, which is customer service. They totally forgot about that and just focused on what they needed to do at that time.

It's a total imbalance. And it's not uncommon in large industry.

VAUSE: I was curious, where was the captain during all of this?

Ultimately isn't he the one who is in charge?

And he was nowhere to be seen.

SOUCIE: Well, the captain at this point, the aircraft had not backed out of the gate and it's still under the control of the gate agents at this point. Until that aircraft actually has the intent to fly, which is meaning that it's backed away from the gate, the captain is in charge of preparation for the flight, he looks at the -- he takes charge of the aircraft. He does the preflight inspections.

But until that gate agent says, yes, you're ready to go; we're going to close the door now, at that point the captain is truly 100 percent in charge. Before that, these procedures commingle. They have to have a hand exchange. They have to hand off for one person to the other. And that's where this problem actually occurred, is right during that handoff.

VAUSE: OK, one thing that Congress will be looking at -- (INAUDIBLE) Congress (INAUDIBLE), new legislation -- in this case, maybe some kind of law to protect passengers, similar situation and try to make sure they get thrown off planes like this.

But can you actually change a law that's going to be effective, that would change a culture within a certain workplace, with an airline?

SOUCIE: You said the right word, is culture. And safety culture has a lot more to do with procedures, more than just procedures. It has to do with the culture, like you mentioned. It has to be with common sense and people have to think, which is a difficult thing to do, because you're talking about a very, very meticulous type of an industry here, where it means life or death if you make a mistake.

So to take responsibility and deviate from those processes and procedures and say I'm going to take this on myself, even though it makes common sense to me, perhaps there's something else involved here, so the human nature and the training that they've had all these years is to go back to the rules and say, hey, I'm just going to do what I'm told to do because, if not, it falls on me and, therefore, I personally become liable for it.

It's much easier just to say I was following orders.

VAUSE: Yes. David, we're out of time but I think you hit the nail on the head before when you said United-- I guess some of the other airlines have lost the focus on customer service. And it does seem to be this imbalance between customers and on the one hand and the airlines and those who work for them on the other.

Maybe they can't have a rule for that or a new law.

OK, David, good to see you. Thanks so much.

SOUCIE: Thanks for having me.

VAUSE: The odds may not be on his side but a horse named Patch is the sentimental favorite in this year's Kentucky Derby, the 3-year-old thoroughbred had his left eye removed lost year because of a massive inflammation. But that did not stop him finishing strong in a few local races before a second showing in the Louisiana Derby.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) having lost his eye (INAUDIBLE), very laid back, very professional, very straightforward, easy to train, you know, consummate pro. (END VIDEO CLIP)

VAUSE: Patch actually got his name before he had his eye removed. Luckily, his name wasn't Three Legs. Oddsmakers had him at 40:1 in Saturday's Kentucky Derby.

Thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. "WORLD SPORT" is up next and I will be back with another hour of news from all around the world. You're watching CNN.