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British Airways Outage Causes Global Delays; White House Sets up War Room to Rebut Russian Allegations; UK Lowers Terror Threat Level to Severe; FBI Investigates If Portland Attack is a Hate Crime. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired May 28, 2017 - 02:00   ET


[02:00:08] CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, this is a sight that British Airways is hoping not to see again today. Their flights were grounded at London's airport on Saturday after a power failure. BA is hoping to get things back to normal on Sunday.

And within seconds of arriving back at the White House Mr. Trump is met with questions about the Russia investigation.

Plus, British police believe they know where the Manchester bomber put together his deadly device.

Hi, everyone, thank you for being with us. I'm Cyril Vanier at the CNN NEWSROOM in Atlanta.

So a major computer failure means chaos for British Airways passengers at London's two biggest airports. This was Heathrow Airport on Saturday. Planes grounded, no one taking off. British Airways had to cancel all flights from both Heathrow and Gatwick after the system went down because of the power supply.

Now there is no evidence of a cyber attack. The airlines says it's hoping things will be back to normal at Gatwick on Sunday and that most of the services will also resume at Heathrow. They're currently looking to re-book the thousands of passengers who could not fly out on Saturday.

Frederik Pleitgen tells us what the airline and the customers have been dealing with.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Disruptions for travelers trying to fly with British Airways from their two major airports here in London, London Gatwick and London Heathrow, with many, many people stranded in the terminal.

Now British Airways says that there are not going to be any flights going from London Heathrow for all of Saturday. They do hope to resume service on Sunday. Originally the airline had said that they wanted flights to continue to take off here from London Heathrow and Gatwick, they'd start at 6:00 p.m. local time, but that didn't happen. They then extended the time the planes would not be taking off for the rest of the day on Saturday. Now what we've been seeing while we've been here at the airport here

in Heathrow is a lot of BA flights are coming in, are landing, but none are taking off. And the other thing that we're also seeing is British Airways planes piling up on the tarmac and the parking positions here at the airport simply because so many planes are landing and not taking off again.

Some passengers have been tweeting about all this, have been saying that some of them have been on planes for a considerable amount of time after landing without being able to get off, simply because their planes weren't able to find a parking position to let people off. So many, many angry travelers, a lot of them in the terminals because people came here to the airport wanting to get on their flights only to find out that their flights have been cancelled.

Now BA says that this global IT outage that they have observed, that they've gotten affected not only their Web site and their app but their call centers as well. They say they hope to resume service on Sunday in a normal fashion but of course there could be delays there as well. And they are saying that some passengers who want to fly on Sunday might have to check in at the terminal rather than checking in online.

Fred Pleitgen, CNN, London.


VANIER: U.S. President Donald Trump is back in Washington after his first foreign trip. And that means he is right back in the Russia controversy. A source now confirms to CNN that Mr. Trump's close adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, wanted to set up secret communications between the Trump transition team and the Kremlin, something he proposed to the Russian ambassador last December. No sooner had the president stepped off his helicopter than he was asked about this.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Mr. President, did Jared Kushner try to set up communications between the Russians?


VANIER: No reply to that question by the president. Earlier on Saturday, Mr. Trump's top economic and national security advisers also deflected questions about these allegations.


GARY COHN, CHIEF ECONOMIC ADVISER: We're not going to comment on Jared. We're just not going to comment.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Generally speaking, General, would you be concerned if somebody on the National Security Council or in this administration were to seek a back channel communication system with the Russian embassy and with the Kremlin? Would that generally concern you not to even addressing Kushner especially but in general terms?

H.R. MCMASTER, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: No. I mean, we have back channel communications in a number of -- with a number of countries. So generally speaking, about back channel communications, what that allows you to do is to communicate in a discreet manner, so it doesn't predispose you to any sort of content of that conversation or anything, so, no, I would not be concerned about it.


VANIER: CNN's Michael Smerconish spoke to Michael Hayden, former director of the CIA and the National Security Agency, and Hayden says that a secret line of communication like the one that Kushner talked about with Russia's ambassador would have been quote, "off the map."


[02:05:03] MICHAEL SMERCONISH, CNN ANCHOR: General Hayden, is this nefarious or is this naivete?

GEN. MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA AND NSA DIRECTOR: Well, Michael, right now I'm going with naivete and that's not particularly very comforting for me. I mean, what manner of ignorance, chaos, hubris, suspicion, contempt would you have to have to think that doing this with the Russian ambassador was a good or an appropriate idea?


VANIER: As the leaks and allegations of Russian connections pile up, the administration is wondering how to counter them.

Ryan Nobles has more on that.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: President Donald Trump is back in Washington after his lengthy trip abroad and even though his team feels confident the trip was successful, he returns to plenty of controversy including a number of issues involving his son-in-law and senior adviser, Jared Kushner.

Kushner has yet to respond to reports that he attempted to set up a secret back channel line of communication with the Russian government during the transition. Kushner's connections to the Kremlin through a variety of means continue to be a specific line of inquiry by investigators looking to Russia's attempt to intervene in the U.S. election.

Despite these issues, a White House official says, Kushner isn't going anywhere. He plans to just keep his head down and keep focused on his wide portfolio of responsibilities in the West Wing. Meanwhile, the White House is shaking things up, creating a war room designed to quickly rebut the attacks that pour out as a result of the ongoing Russian investigation and the president's children are getting involved as well. Donald Jr. and Eric Trump, his wife Lara, spending the last few days in Washington, meeting with Trump aligned groups in and outside of the White House, including the teams of the RNC and the PAC American Priorities which supports the Trump administration.

The goal of these meetings was to get all of these teams on the same page ahead of the 2018 midterm elections and the president's own reelection bid in 2020.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, Washington.


VANIER: And setting up that so-called war room is in its early stages. Possible members are White House chief of staff Reince Priebus, chief strategist Steve Bannon. Corey Lewandowski and David Bossie are also mentioned. Neither of them are currently in the Trump administration but they are long-time Trump loyalists.

This might be a major breakthrough in the Manchester terror case. Parts of the investigation have been focusing on how and where the explosive device was made. Well, British Police have now identified that location. They say it was an apartment in Manchester City center.

They also released these images of bomber Salman Abedi who was caught on security camera the night of the attack. Meanwhile, public events that had been planned around a bank holiday in Manchester will go ahead but with extra security including armed officers.

Officials are also saying that they've stopped several potential terror attacks in recent months. According to the security minister, five plots have been disrupted since March 22nd, that is the date of the attack near parliament that killed five people. And that's just two months ago.

And British authorities have lowered the national threat level after raising it to critical in the wake of Monday's attack.

Muhammed Lila is in Manchester.


MUHAMMED LILA, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: British officials have lowered the threat level from critical to severe. Now critical was the highest level possible. It meant that officials believed that another terror attack could be imminent. By lowering it to severe, it still calls on the general public to exercise a degree of vigilance. Well, what it means is that they don't believe that another terror attack is around the corner.

This comes as British Police continue to carry out raids both here in Manchester and surrounding areas. They arrested two individuals in connection with this investigation. That brings to 11. The total number of people that are now in custody.

Now while these investigations are still going on and police say they are trying to contain the network that they believed enabled the attacker to carry out his plot, behind me at this memorial, the memorial continues to grow. Thousands of people have come here just in this one day alone to pay their respects. And in one of the most emotional moments that I have seen here in my days covering this tragedy, the family of 18-year-old Georgina Callander came here to pay their respects.

You'll remember Georgina Callander was one of the first victims that was identified. She had posted a picture of herself smiling next to Ariana Grande. Well, in a symbolic gesture, her relatives brought yellow balloons and as a way to say goodbye to their loved one, they released those yellow balloons up into the sky. And the moment they did that the crowd around them began applauding as a way to pay their respects and to honor Georgina and the other victims who lost their lives as a result of this tragedy.


VANIER: Muhammed Lila reporting there.

Now back in the U.S., the FBI is investigating whether a deadly attack on a commuter train in Portland, Oregon, is a hate crime.

[02:10:03] According to witnesses, the suspect in the attack started yelling hateful slurs at two Muslim women. Two men then tried to intervene and they were stabbed to death. Another was wounded.

Our Dan Lieberman has more.


DAN LIEBERMAN, CNN DIGITAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Portland, Oregon, police are now identifying the suspect in a brutal stabbing. Thirty-five year old Jeremy Joseph Christian was booked on murder charges and is being held without bail after allegedly stabbing three people on a crowded commuter train during rush hour yesterday. Two of those victims died.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's horrific. And there's no other words to describe what happened.

LIEBERMAN: Videos show Christian at a rally, shouting racist slurs and making Nazi salutes just weeks ago. Witnesses say that's what he was doing on Friday, shouting anti-Muslim and other hateful slurs, like --

EVELYN HERNANDEZ, WITNESS: Get out of the country. Plus, you don't pay taxes in here. And he doesn't like Muslim to stare, like, they are criminals.

LIEBERMAN: Authorities believe the comments were directed towards two female passengers, one wearing a hijab. Other passengers intervened and that's when the violence broke out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I go to reach out to start pulling people apart, and then I see that there's just blood everywhere. Again it happened so fast but it looked like every punch that I saw was actually a stab.

LIEBERMAN: Two men were killed and police say the suspect fled the train. He was later arrested at a nearby neighborhood.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When he got off the train, I saw he was holding a knife and then he says, "Don't follow me."

LIEBERMAN: First responders tried to save one victim's life, but he died on the scene. The other victim died at the hospital. The other passenger who was stabbed is expected to survive. Two others were also injured.

Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley responded on Twitter saying, quote, "Terrible tragedy on Portland's max train. Champions of justice risked and lost their lives. Hate is evil."

Dan Lieberman, CNN, New York.


VANIER: The woman who sparked a diplomatic row between Australia and Indonesia is back home in Queensland. Australian Schapelle Corby spent nine years in a Bali prison after being convicted of smuggling marijuana. Her original sentence was 20 years. Corby's case has attracted intense interest in Australia with public debates over her guilt or innocence.

And Greg Allman, the legendary co-founder of the Allman Brothers Band died Saturday after battling cancer and other health problems.

Allman had numerous hits during his nearly 50-year career, including "Midnight Rider" and "Rambling Man." His band features a uniquely American sound that became known as southern rock. The group was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame back in 1995. Allman had been working on a new album at the time of his death. No funeral day has been set.

Greg Allman was 69.

Well, that's it from us at least for now. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. Stay with CNN, "MARKETPLACE AFRICA" is next after this.