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Porter's Ex-Wife: Trump Will Not Diminish My Truth; Trump Aides Defended White House; Israel Shot Down Iranian Drone; Aetna Under Investigation; Trump: Millions Got Bonuses Because Of Tax Cuts, Jobs Bill; Aired 3-4pm ET
Aired February 11, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR -- will not diminish her truth. Jennie Willoughby writes in Time Magazine, time.com, "In light of the president and the White House's continued dismissal of me and Colby, I want to assure you my truth has not been diminished. I own my story, and now that I have been compelled to share it, I'm not willing to cover it up for anyone and for any men, women or children currently in situations of abuse, please know it is real. You are not crazy. You are not alone. I believe you."
Her op-ed comes after the president tweeted yesterday that, quoting now, "People's lives are being shattered by mere allegations." The White House defended Trump's comments today and how Chief of Staff John Kelly has handled the situation. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARC SHORT, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS: I think there is probably some -- in the process some lack of communication between different elements in the White House. The FBI runs the clearance process. And when they provide somebody an interim clearance, that means that they've done an initial vet and say, "this person is OK."
I don't know, to be honest. I don't know who knew what when at this point.
MICK MULVANEY, WHITE HOUSE DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: And I think the stories of replacing General Kelly are mostly being fed by the people who are unhappy that they've lost access to the president under General Kelly as chief of staff. So, no.
I'm extraordinarily pleased with the job the chief has been doing. Everybody in the West Wing is. The president is as well. I think that talk about the chief's departure is much ado about nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Ryan Noble is at the White House. So, Ryan, perhaps too quickly for the White House to respond to the comments coming from Jennie Willoughby, but of course the White House coming out strong in defense of the sequence of events. RYAN NOBLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Fred. The White House has not formally responded to Jennie Willoughby's very powerful op-ed in Time Magazine. But I think what, more than anything it demonstrates is that, this controversy isn't going away for the White House any time soon. And even though a number of close White House aides were on many vicinity talk shows today trying to explain or clarify exactly how the White House responded to these reports of domestic violence against two different White House staffers.
They are leaving a lot of open holes and many unanswered questions as to exactly what they knew and when they knew it. I want to show you a timeline that our White House team has put together that kind of outlines exactly when the different layers and the different stages of this investigation to Rob Porter and his background were conducted during his security clearance with the White House. And it goes all the way back to January and February of 2017, that of course right after the president took office.
And that's when Rob Porter's ex-wives were initially interviewed by the FBI, and they both have said that they detailed what they perceived to be domestic violence against them during those interviews. Then in the spring of 2017, the FBI provided the details of the wives' account to the White House security office. It was in the fall of 2017 that Porter himself is then interviewed by the FBI, they brought up those domestic issues, but he vehemently denied them, said they just didn't happen.
Then just this past November in 2017, Don McGahn, who is the White House counsel, is told by the White House Security Office about these domestic issues in Porter's background ask that's when we're told that Chief of Staff John Kelly was made aware of the situation. Then just in these last few weeks, Porter's girlfriend, ex-girlfriend, calls Don McGahn, the White House counselor, to express concerns about Rob Porter's new relationship with the White House Communications Director Hope Hicks, and then also it talks about the allegations against his ex-wives.
Now, according to what the White House is telling us, John Kelly, as soon as he learned about the extent of these domestic violence issues, he took action within 40 minutes. The question is we knew he knew that there was something there, just exactly how much did he know and did it take him long enough in this entire White House to react quickly enough. Fred?
WHITFIELD: And then, Ryan, on the reported inconsistency is that Rob Porter's story doesn't match the chief of staff's, John Kelly's. Any response to that?
NOBLE: Yes, that's right, Fred. In fact, you know, the White House said doing a little bit of rebutting on that as well through Axios, the website. One of the reporters there talking to a member of Congress who said that he talked to John Kelly and John Kelly specifically said that he directly asked Rob Porter about his relationship with these women, and that Porter misrepresented the situation, said that there was no violence involved in the relationships, that they were tumultuous and stormy. But it never got to the point where he did anything that was violent.
And essentially John Kelly accepted that version of these events. And we know from our own reporting that that is something that the chief of staff has been telling his associates, that when he confronted Porter about this, Porter denied it and he believed him. But we should tell you, Fred, that there are many people even within the White House that are skeptical of that version of events from the chief of staff, and that's part of the reason that this controversy continues.
[15:05:06] WHITFIELD: Ryan Noble at the White House, thank you so much.
All right, White House Advisor Kellyanne Conway also depending the president's controversial response to the domestic violence abuse allegations against the former staff members, appearing on CNN's STATE OF THE UNION WITH JAKE TAPPER this morning. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE ADVISOR: Guys, I've seen it. When the president is saying, talking about due process, he's right in this way. We are a country of laws, there is due process, it's absolutely correct. But we as individuals have a duty to assess everybody on a case-by-case basis. In this case, you have contemporary in his police reports, you have women speaking to the FBI under threat of perjury, you have police reports, you have photographs. And when you look at all that pulled together, you realize that Rob Porter did the right thing by resigning.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: It sounds like you believe the women.
CONWAY: I have no reason not to believe the women. The president is very disturbed by what he sees, absolutely, and you can feel that somebody did a great job for you. You can talk about somebody's competence and work product and the person you worked with and you knew. And that's what the president did Friday in his statement. And you could still feel horrified when you see pictures and contemporaneous reports. The president's tweet yesterday was more generic. It was talking about --
TAPPER: It's about the Me Too Movement?
CONWAY: No, he never said the Me Too Movement and he never said Rob Porter's name. He's saying some are old, some are new. Some are -- excuse me -- some are to use my words now, done contemporaneously, some were done retrospectively. That probably wouldn't fit in the tweet. But that's different than the Rob Porter situation and that's different than the entire Me Too Movement.
And those trying to conflate, that's the only way see these Democrats out there criticizing and preening, let me remind them that this president is responsible for 18,000 women taking new jobs in 2017. He is responsible. He and his party that a single Democratic vote to help take, are responsible for over 300 companies now helping over 3 million workers and helping a lot of women get bonuses, and raises, and job security, and other benefits and making capital investments, repatriating billions of dollars of wealth to this country. This matters to people. He has been a great president for men and for women.
TAPPER: Unemployment has gone down, absolutely.
CONWAY: Including among women --
TAPPER: But -- yes, for women --
CONWAY: 18-year low.
TAPPER: -- for African-American, for a number of groups. But there does seem to be this blind spot with President Trump when a man who the president respects is accused of a horrific crime, whether it is Roy Moore, or Bill O'Reilly, or Roger Ailes, or Mike Tyson, or Bill Clinton back when he likes Bill Clinton, the president sides with the man and against the women. He didn't say anything, expressing any sympathy to victims of domestic violence in his statement on Friday.
CONWAY: Well, he is sympathetic towards woman and then who are victims of domestic violence. He was asked -- he was in the Oval Office when he was asked the question the press pool. He was asked, do you have a comment on Rob Porter. He made a comment on Rob Porter. He can also have sympathy, and respect, and compassion for the millions of victims of domestic violence, of child abuse, of drug use.
TAPPER: Are you worried at all about Hope Hicks?
CONWAY: I'm very close to Hope Hicks and I don't worry about her in that respect. I'm sorry for any suffering that this woman has endured. But in the case of Hope, I've rarely met someone so strong with such excellent instincts, and loyalty, and smarts. I didn't have the presence of mind in a professional capabilities at her age, that I've seen here every single day.
TAPPER: She's definitely strong, but strong women get abused too. It's not just weak women.
CONWAY: Oh, many women get abused, no question. Let me agree with you on that. There's a stigma of silence surrounding all of these issues, again, whether it's drug abuse, child abuse, certainly intimate partner and spousal abuse. There is no question that it knows no demographic or geographic, no question, Jake. So let's put that there.
But then the case of Hope, Hope carried on this week. She was at work every single day. She's doing her job as beautifully as she always does. You saw the president's very statements in support of Hope, that she's fantastic.
TAPPER: Yes, absolutely.
CONWAY: And we all feel that way about Hope and that she -- he respectfully -- she's got a great support system around her, she's got a beautiful family, wonderful friends, colleague, and a boss who respect and relies upon her tremendously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk more about all this. Joining me now is Tarana Burke, creator of the #metoomovement, Alice Stewart, a CNN Political Commentator and Republican Strategist, and Salena Zito, CNN Contributor and a National Reporter for the "Washington Examiner." Thanks for joining me, good to see you all.
Let me begin with you, Tarana, let me begin with you in Kellyanne Conway's comment, saying the president's tweet, you know, defending man accused of abuse was generic, and wasn't really about the Me Too Movement. Do you see his comment being separated from the Me Too Movement in this climate?
TARANA BURKE, CREATOR, ME TOO MOVEMENT: No, it can't be separated from it. You know, he has this long history, as we saw in the package, of saying things that are contrary to what women need to hear in this moment, right?
[15:10:02] And so, these two women come forward as survivors of domestic violence, and you talk about people who have been the accused.
WHITFIELD: What is the message that comes from the White House, from the president, in the way in which he crafted his tweet and even his comments on Friday?
BURKE: Well, that send a clear message that you don't support survivors, that you don't support the women who are coming forward. And it doesn't encourage other women to come forward when the most "powerful" men in the country is talking about how these accusations can take people down. And, you know, when he tweets out things like that, that doesn't show support for people who are coming forward. As hard as it is to come forward, that's what they need, support.
WHITFIELD: And we just learned from, you know, time.com and through Time Magazine new comments coming from Jennie Willoughby. She's the, you know, ex-wife of Rob Porter. And she has said in her piece, I'm giving you a portion of it right now, if we can pull up a portion of -- all right. Well, I'll just read what I've got here.
And she says, you know, "On Friday, a friend and I watched as the president of the United States sat in the Oval Office and praised the work of my ex-husband Rob Porter and wished him future success. I can't say I was surprised but when Donald Trump, repeated twice that Rob declared his innocence, I was floored. What was his intent in emphasizing that point? My friend turned to me and said, the president of the United States just called you a liar."
That was the interpretation, Tarana, that she got from listening to the president. Then, of course, he then tweeted Saturday morning, and she goes on to say, Jennie Willoughby goes on to say, "There it is again, the words mere allegation, falsely accused, meant to imply that I'm a liar. That Colbie Holderness is a liar, she's the other example-wife of Rob. That the work of Rob was doing in the White House was of higher value than our mental, emotional or physical well- being. That his professional contributions are worth more than the truth, that abuse is something to be questioned and doubted."
Does this further galvanize the #metoomovement hearing the words of Jennie Willoughby and how she's interpreting the president's response?
BURKE: It does. And, actually, I am so proud she put those things out. I just wish I could say that to her directly. That's I'm so -- this is such a wonderful statement that she put out because it's strong and it's direct. And this is really what Me Too is about.
What she is saying is that, this president is not supporting somebody who is coming forward allegations, who are saying that they're a survivor. And we always focus on the perpetrator, right? And that's exactly what the president did. He went on and on about Rob Porter and said nothing at all about the two women who accused him. The Me Too Movement is about supporting survivors, and I'm so proud of her for coming out with that statement.
WHITFIELD: So, Alice, has the problem just become bigger from the White House hearing from, you know, Jennie Willoughby, her sentiments, how she received his tweet and comments.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I hope that remains to be seen. You often only get one chance to make a first impression, and the impression in this situation hasn't been good. And let me just say while I have the opportunity, I want to commend Tarana for all the great work she has done with the Me Too Movement, from its creation to continuing the message because it is so, so important.
And, Fred, what you just read from, the passage from Jennie Willoughby, one of the most important messages she said in that piece was that, if a woman has the strength to come forward, she should be believed. And that is so important for us to make sure and convey that message.
Kellyanne did mention this, this morning, in part of the interview with Jake Tapper. Obviously, we weren't able to play the whole thing. But one of the things that she did mention towards the end of the interview was that, for those that are suffering silent, I hope that they have the courage to come forward. And if this White House can't do anything else moving forward, I think it's really, really important that they set the right tone moving forward. That if women are victims of whether it's domestic abuse, sexual harassment, they need to have the courage and opportunity to have their voice to come forward.
And let's just hope we can focus on that as opposed to how the president has missed the mark. He hasn't conveyed that message, but I would like to think Kellyanne and others from the White House can do that moving forward.
WHITFIELD: So, Salena, while Kellyanne did say that she thought the women are believable. At the same time she also said -- reemphasizing the point the president was making about due process. Is this an issue, you know, of legal process or is this an issue of morality? SALENA ZITO, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, you know, I think, I mean, I can't get inside the president's brain, obviously, but I think that he was talking -- when he made that comment, I think he was talking about a legal process.
I think what we would prefer to see from the president, and I think Kellyanne did an amazing job this morning. I think that she spoke out strongly, and I can't even imagine what it was like for either of those women to come forward with such raw, and painful, and personal, and embarrassing things that happened to them. It certainly can't be easy.
[15:15:13] But it would be great if the president had more of a balance of a statement. You know, yes, everyone deserves due process. But also people should be taken seriously for their allegations and we should stand behind them, especially when there is such physical proof of the pain and suffering that these women went through.
WHITFIELD: Earlier today Joshua Green, Author, you know, wrote a book about Steve Bannon and was on STATE OF THE UNION earlier today. He says, Bannon believes the Me Too threat could be a serious threat to Republican majorities and to the president. Here is some of what the author says Bannon believes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSHUA GREEN, AUTHOR, DEVIL'S BARGAIN: He says, look, if they were to roll out a guillotine right now, these ladies would chop off every set of balls in the room, which is blunt Bannon way of saying, essentially, this Me Too, means they're coming for our manhood, and I think that express a lot of the anxieties that Bannon, that Trump, that people of that political persuasion have about this new rising movement of women, which is really a backlash to the man that Bannon calls the patriarch, come from himself.
TAPPER: What are his thoughts on Oprah herself?
GREEN: Bannon says that Oprah could actually tilt the House to Democrats in 2018, if she were to get out there on a campaign trail. But essentially, she is a such a galvanizing figure as we saw the Golden Global Awards, that if she were to get out there, she drawn into the polls. That's the real threat to Republicans in the short term and Bannon fears that if they did win back the House so they could turn around and impeach Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. Tarana, your thoughts on that. You were grimacing by the notion of what Green is saying Bannon says about women, Me Too Movement taking down the president and taking down other men.
BURKE: Well, this is the problem, right? So the fact that you're focused on this movement as a threat to taking down this presidency really shows exactly what you think about what's happening. And so this has never been a movement about taking down powerful men. But if the byproduct is you get found out, like our president has been accused by almost nearly 20 women of sexual misconduct and that's a real thing.
Those are real people with real allegations. As a by-product of this movement, if that happens, then you have to deal with the consequences. People need to be accountable for their actions, period. However, that manifests itself, it just does.
But for him to try to paint this as some sort of witch hunt, like there are out here women with torches, they are trying to cut people's whatever, you know, using guillotines and whatnot (ph). That kind of characterization is what makes people think that this is something that it's not. This is, again, we keep talking about centering survivors of sexual violence.
WHITFIELD: Selena, is this a potential influencer of our coming elections, midterms?
ZITO: I agree with her. I mean, I think there's people on both sides of the aisle that, you know, you know, have had problems in their personal lives or treated people wrongly. And so, I don't look at it as going after a certain party and taking them down with it. I look at it personally as going after people that did things wrong to other people, and created, you know, this awful environment, whether it was at work or they're in their personal lives or whatever, and to me that's how I see the Me Too Movement.
STEWART: Fred, if I can just say, look, if anyone looks at the Me Too Movement which seeks to empowers victims of sexual harassment or domestic views, if they see that as a threat, they may want to rethink their priorities and their values.
And look, this is not a political issue, this is not Republican or Democrat, this is not black or white, this is right and wrong. And character counts. And we need to elect whether it is, whoever it is, Republican or Democrat, someone in the White House that has the character and integrity to support victims in all these types of situations. And I personally believe that personal, abhorrent behavior is qualifying for public service. Whether you're supporting someone with that type of behavior or you're guilty of doing it yourself, and these are things that it's high time, that this is a priority for discussion and action moving forward.
WHITFIELD: And, Tarana, your final thoughts on this. You know, Jennie Willoughby in her, you know, op-ed. She says, you know, she doesn't necessarily believe this is a solely reflection of the president of the United States, but it might be a societal issue. Do you agree with that point?
BURKE: Absolutely. This is what's happening at the president of the United States, is indicative of what we see in the world and particularly what we see in this country. This is a deep systemic issue, and this is why it's dangerous for us to keep counting it about around individual people and individual wrongdoing. We have to look at these systems that we have. Patriarchy is a system.
[15:20:00] And we have to look at the systems that we have in place that allows these men to do bad things and they become acceptable.
Our president is saying something like he has said, is a part of that system that keeps it afloat.
WHITFIELD: All right. Tarana Burke, Alice Stewart, Salena Zito, thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.
BURKE: Thank you.
STEWART: Thanks, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, an Iranian drone shot down by Israel apparently is a knockoff of an American stealth drone from years ago. Does it pose a threat to national security? Plus, a CNN exclusive, insurance giant, Aetna, under investigation after a former medical director admits under oath that he denied treatment requests without even looking at patients' records. Details on that straight ahead.
[15:25:05] WHITFIELD: All right. We're learning new information about the Iranian drone shot down by Israel. An Israeli army spokesman tells CNN that drone was a copy of an old American stealth drone intercepted by Iran six years ago.
CNN's Ian Lee joins us live now from Golan Heights. What more can you tell us, Ian?
IAN LEE, CNN REPORTER: Well, this drone is a copy of the RQ-170, Lockheed Martin stealth drone -- which has capabilities of being undetected. You know, the one thing that Israeli officials have told us is that, they've been able to follow this drone from the moment it took off to the moment it flew into Israeli air space, and the moment that they were able to shoot it down. So despite Iran saying that they were able to get a copy of this drone when it crashed in 2011, on a CIA mission in Iran, they say they were able to reverse-engineer it, but it doesn't look like they're able to reverse-engineer the stealth technology of this drone, Fredricka.
WHITFIELD: And then, Ian, has the White House weighed in on the latest Israeli strikes in Syria.
LEE: Yes. We're hearing from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders and she said that Israel is a staunch ally of the United States, and we support its right to defend itself from the Iranian- backed Syria and militia's forces in Southern Syria. We call on Iran, its allies, to create -- to cease provocative action and work toward regional peace.
Now, Fredricka, we also heard from the Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his weekly cabinet meeting. He said that that Israel delivered a severe blow to Syria and Iranian forces inside of Syria, Fredericka.
WHITFIELD: All right. Ian lee in Golan Heights, thank you so much. All right. Here to discuss this, retired Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, CNN Military Analyst, good to see you.
So, when the U.S. drone was intercepted in 2011, it was a pretty big embarrassment for the U.S. And in 2014, Iran said it had managed to copy, build a copy of it. So that now, it appears to be confirmed with all of this. What are the potential consequences for U.S. national security in your view?
RICK FRANCONA, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Well, if they can replicate the stealth capabilities of that drone, it would be a real danger to our national security. But I don't think they've been able to do it. Obviously, if the Israelis were able to detect that soon after it took off and track it all the way down to Israeli air space, remember, this aircraft took off from the central part of Syria, a base called Teos (ph). It's almost 200 miles from where it took off, to where it was finally intercepted by the Israelis.
The Israelis were able to detect it and react to within a minute and a half of it Israeli air space. So it didn't pose a threat to them, so obviously as Ian said, they haven't reverse-engineered it well enough to the standards that we would accept it as truly stealth.
WHITFIELD: So that's always a potential consequence, right, when technology advanced like this goes down, U.S. technology goes down, military cannot retrieve it. What are the precautions taken, generally, to make sure that something doesn't end up in the wrong hands of value?
FRANCONA: Well, you're either trying to retrieve it, which we've been able to do on some occasions, or you go in and destroy it. When say, for example, when we had the raid in Pakistan to go get Bin Laden, one of those helicopters was an advanced copy and they wanted to make sure it didn't fall into other people's hands, so they went in and destroyed it as best they could.
But this is a real problem. And if you look at the new Chinese stealth fighter, the new Russian stealth fighter, they look like carbon copies of all of our technology. So we're doing all the work, they steal the technology and, yet -- and it puts them years ahead of the research and development, and it's much, much cheaper for them to just steal ours than develop their own.
WHITFIELD: All right. Lieutenant Colonel Rick Francona, thank you so much. Good to see you.
All right. Next, insurance giant, Aetna, under fire and under investigation, the company's former medical director admitting to never looking at patients' records when deciding whether to approve or deny care. A CNN exclusive, next.
[15:33:57] WHITFIELD: All right. Now to a CNN exclusive, California is investigating insurance giant, Aetna, following a stunning admission by one former medical director. The doctor admitting under oath that he never looked at patients' records when deciding whether to approve or deny care. It's leading to questions about Aetna's practices across the country.
Here's CNN's Senior Medical Correspondent, Elizabeth Cohen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Dr. Jay Ken IIinuma is a former Medical Director at Aetna. He says million of Aetna members likely live in Southern California territory. He had the power to say aye or nay the coverage for medical procedures. How did he make those decisions?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you ever look at medical records or basically whenever?
JAY KEN IIINUMA, FORMER MEDICAL DIRECTOR, AETNA: No. I did not.
COHEN: Not by looking at medical records. Now, the state of California is launching an investigation.
DAVE JONES, CALIFORNIA INSURANCE COMMISSIONER: If a health insurer is making decisions to deny coverage without a physician actually ever reviewing medical records, that's have significant concern to me as insurance commissioner in California and potentially a violation of law.
[15:35:01] COHEN: Responding to the investigation and Aetna spokesman told CNN, Aetna medical directors are trained to review all available medical information, including medical records, to make an informed decision, adding that medical directors take their duties and responsibilities as medical professionals incredibly seriously.
The acknowledgment by Dr. IIinuma is the cornerstone of a lawsuit against Aetna by a young man name of Gillen Washington. Aetna initially paid for Washington's treatments after services were rendered. But in 2014, Iinuma didn't reapprove payment for Washington to have treatment like this. He needs these infusions because he had a serious immune deficiency.
Aetna didn't reauthorized Washington's treatment because it said he needed current blood work to meet the criteria. And despite being told more than once by his own doctor that he needed to come in for the blood work, he failed to do so for several months. Without treatment, Washington became sicker and sicker, ending up in the intensive care unit with a collapsed lung.
GILLEN WASHINGTON, FILED THE LAWSUIT AGAINST AETNA: The doctor said I had zero immunity, none. So that's terrifying.
COHEN: When you were in that intensive care unit, did you fear death?
WASHINGTON: Yes, very much so, every day and every night.
COHEN: Now, a jury is expected to sort out the facts. Among the questions to consider, can a doctor at an insurance company make decisions about a patient without looking at his medical record? Iinuma didn't respond to numerous phone calls from CNN.
In a deposition, he said he relied on information from nurses who did read the records and that he followed Aetna's policies appropriately. Aetna says, his tenure ended in 2015. Patient advocates of lung been concerned that insurance companies don't take the time to thoroughly review patient's medical records before making decisions.
Now, California's insurance commissioner is asking others to step forward if they feel they've been wronged.
WASHINGTON: I want Aetna to be made the change.
COHEN: Elizabeth Cohen, CNN, Westminster California.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: And President Trump just tweeting more than 4 million people have received large bonuses or pay raises because of the GOP tax law, but does that claim hold water. We'll find out, next.
[15:40:13] WHITFIELD: All right. President Trump once again claiming success for his tax cuts, tweeting out a short time ago, 4.2 million hard-working Americans have already received a large bonus and/or pay increase because of our recently passed tax cut and jobs bill, and it will only get better.
We are far ahead of schedule. Trump's claims come just a few hours before the opening of the global stock markets and the beginning of a new trading week. Nervous investors watching for any signs that the U.S. markets will continue to plunge when trading begins here in the morning. The Dow is now officially in a correction after dropping 2,400 points in the last two weeks and losing trillions of dollars in value.
I want to bring in Rana Forooha. She is a CNN Global Economic Analyst and an Associate Editor at the Financial Times.
So, Rana, before we get into what's ahead, let me ask you about, you know, this potential, I guess, dip or might be the opening with some kind of positive interest tomorrow.
RANA FOROOHA, CNN GLOBAL ECONOMIC ANALYST: You know, I think we're going to be up and down all day. I think that's going to be the case for several weeks to come. I mean, you often see a dip in the first half hour, then the market will make it back up. And then in the part of the afternoon, when you get the algorithms coming in, the computerized trading, you get more volatility.
Volatility is the new normal. So, people really have to strap in because this isn't going away anytime soon.
WHITFIELD: The feel is people have been spoiled for a very long time.
FOROOHA: Oh, for sure, absolutely. I mean, if you think about it really in, you know, for the millennials and their whole investing lifetime, for many of us, longer that we've ever seen. We've been in a bull market. We've been in a market with very low volatility. That's really always been creeping up. That's not normal.
You go back two or three decades ago, a 10 percent drop a year was very normal. So that's where we're at now.
WHITFIELD: We also saw the president's tweet talking about the success of the economy, millions getting bonuses from the GOP tax plan. Is he right? 4.2 million.
FOROOHA: He really can't take credit for all of that. Let me sort of clarify. The tax cuts have definitely released some animal spirits, no question. I mean, every CEO I talk to, loves the tax cuts. But companies give bonuses anyway every year. And if fact, if you look at the way companies have been paying really in the last decade since the financial crisis, they like to give bonuses as opposed to permanent pay raises, because that's not something you have to carry through every year. About 6 percent of companies say that they were going to do --
WHITFIELD: They will modify it.
FOROOHA: They've been modified, 6 percent that they were going to do one this year, a little less next year. So this may not continue.
WHITFIELD: All right. One of the biggest concerns has been the possibility of an overheated economy, rising inflation, higher interest rates. Here's what White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said this morning about inflation and the impact of this market correction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MULVANEY: Certainly, there's a risk that interest rates will spike and there's a concern. I think what you saw last week when it started these wild gyrations in the stock market, keep in mind, though, Chris, that that thousand point drop, I think we had on Monday of last week, was only the 99th largest reduction on a percentage basis. So even though that thousand points sounds like it's fairly dramatic in the history of things. It's not that large of a swing.
But I think what trigger that was not the fact that we were overheating the economy, but the fact we were borrowing too much money.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: All right. So he said, it isn't an overheating economy but that we're borrowing too much money. Well, Congress just passed a budget bill that will significantly increase the deficit so, how do you square these two?
FOROOHA: I think it's both, and I would put the tax cuts right, front and center in terms of that overheating market. A lot of Democrats were very critical of the idea that we need tax cuts at this stage in a recovery cycle. We've actually been in a recovery. It doesn't feel like it, since 2009.
So a lot of people felt, hey, the economy is just fine. If it's not broke, you don't need to fix it. But, of course, the president really wanted those extra growth numbers, wanted the power through the midterms with strong figures. And it's very possible that has contributed, along with more borrowing, to the potential of higher interest rate.
[15:45:06] WHITFIELD: So the president says that economic growth will actually pay for the deficit increase.
FOROOHA: Very much remains to be seen. You know, it's really important for us to remember what growth is. Growth is the number of people that you have in an economy and how productive they are. We don't have many people. As a matter of fact, we have an immigration policy that's keeping some people out.
Our birthrates are down where they, you know, pass where they were a couple of decades ago, and productivity is pretty flat. So unless something in that equation changes, I don't really see tax cuts or even deficits is being the key issue. It's really productivity and people, and we need to get those two things up.
WHITFIELD: Interest rates likely to go up.
FOROOHA: Yes, absolutely. And that's --
WHITFIELD: How much of an impact might that make?
FOROOHA: Big. Because if you think about it, anything to do with debt, the kind of mortgage you have, the amount of auto loans, you student loans, that's all pegged to the interest rates. Interest rates when they do start to rise, will make stocks more volatile because companies who have borrowed a lot will be under pressure. And so, you know, it's -- you can see a lot of rising and falling in the markets in the next few months.
WHITFIELD: Still lots of volatility, all right.
FOROOHA: That's it.
WHITFIELD: Rana Forooha, good to see you.
FOROOHA: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much.
All right. A Russian plane mysteriously crashing, killing all 71 people on board. Well, clues investigators are searching for to learn what brought that plane down, next.
[15:50:51] WHITFIELD: Recovery efforts are underway right now at the site of a plane crash near Moscow. And we are learning, there are no survivors. The passenger jet disappeared from radar shortly after taking off from Moscow's airport, headed for Southern Russia. There were 65 passengers and 6 crew members onboard.
A flight data recorder has now been found in the area where the plane went down. Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent out condolences to the families of the victims and promised an investigation.
I want to bring in Mary Schiavo. She is a CNN Aviation Analyst and the former Inspector General of the Department of Transportation. Good to see you.
So, the flight data recorder has been found. What might it tell investigators?
MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Probably the most important piece of this puzzle, it will tell investigators all sorts of things about the flight operation, the engines, the control settings. What was being done to the plane, vis-a-vis, you know, flaps, position of the engine, thrust, et cetera. Really just a full picture of what's going on with the mechanical part of the plane.
And since the plane was only seven years old, there's a chance that we'll have what's called an advanced parameter black box, meaning the black box will have even more leads from the engine and the plane. And it will be able to tell exactly what was going on with all parts of the plane. Very important they've got it.
WHITFIELD: So that the debris field was scattered over a very large area. Does that indicate to you explosion, a breakup upon impact, what?
SCHIAVO: Well, you know, it can be all of the above. What it suggests to me, though, is -- was not a situation where you have a loss of lift of the plane literally at spiral straight down into the earth. What happens in, you know, situations where for some reason you don't have enough lift or enough engine power to maintain flight. Sometimes it can be because of pilot error, where you just maneuver the plane wrong.
But here, looking at the flight track radar data, it looks like it was doing a very rapid descent, about 3,000 feet a minute, but still had some control. So to me it looks like some sort of an engine problem they were experiencing, which is typical on a takeoff and climb-out.
WHITFIELD: So now, I want to ask you about a problem that happened right here in the U.S. We're talking about a helicopter that crashed in the Grand Canyon. It was a tourist ride out of Las Vegas. How tightly regulated are these flights and how will they go about investigating this?
SCHIAVO: Well, you know, flights over the Grand Canyon and other national parks, selected other national parks in the United States, are very tightly regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. And it was a long time coming and it was hard for the FAA to get those regulations they were thought. But basically what they do is they maintain a requirement that you have to be of certain altitudes above the Grand Canyon and they limit the number of tour operations and you have to have special permissions and licenses to do it. So that part is regulated, but the odd thing about it, though, is the regulation of the flights over the Grand Canyon is largely for noise impact. Granted, air traffic control stemmed from a mid-air collision over the Grand Canyon in '56. But the current regulations are aimed at keeping the Grand Canyon beautiful and peaceful.
WHITFIELD: Would you feel comfortable with these flights yourself?
SCHIAVO: Well, you know, I have to say, I have done tour flights myself, personally, in the past. And what you want to look for is operators that have a long history of operation and have all the proper licensing and regulation. You know, the problem is, flying over the Grand Canyon is tough.
No matter who's doing it, and this operator had a previous fatal, where six people were killed. The NTSB said that was pilot error and he had two other ones, also ascribed to mechanical and pilot error. And so, it's very difficult to tell if their rate, their accident rate is high. They fly about 600,000 people a year. That's 1,600 a day. So four fatales since 1994, that's how far back the NTSB databases go.
[15:55:01] It's difficult to say that's a rate higher than other operators. But certainly, that is something that the NTSB will be telling us. A lot of the NTSB reports blame two things, maintenance errors and pilot errors. And those are both very, very preventable.
WHITFIELD: All right. Mary Schiavo, we'll leave it there. Thank you so much.
SCHIAVO: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. So much more straight ahead in the newsroom and it all starts right after a quick break.
WHITFIELD: All right. Hello again. And thanks so much for being with me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in New York today. We're following breaking news. A powerful response to President Trump coming from the wife of former White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter.