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NEW DAY SATURDAY
Ex-FBI Deputy Director Fired Two Days Before Retirement; Trump Joins Effort To Stop Porn Star From Speaking Publicly; McCabe: Firing Is Part Of Trump's "Ongoing War On The FBI"; Stormy's Attorney: Suit Another "Bullying Tactic" From Trump; Russia Hits Back at UK, Expelling 20 Diplomats; Victim Recovery Underway After Deadly Bridge Collapse; Sex and Love Around the World. Aired 8-9a ET
Aired March 17, 2018 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Attorney General Jeff Sessions firing Andrew McCabe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The president has made this political.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have the attorney general being pressured by the president of the United States to get rid of this person.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump for a guy who made his career on the phrase, you're fired, doesn't like to be that person who says, you're fired.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stormy Daniels is really outmaneuvering them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They want to hide the facts from the American people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cohen thinks he's going to get a friendlier hearing in the courts.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump, if you have nothing to hide, why are your lawyers fighting so hard?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: FIU pedestrian bridge and some cracking that has been observed.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: An engineer for the company that designed the pedestrian bridge that collapsed at Florida International University was aware at least two days before that collapse of cracks.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our primary focus is to remove all the cars and all the victims in a dignified manner.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTI PAUL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. So grateful to have you here. I'm Christi Paul.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Victor Blackwell. Good Saturday to you. This morning, it is the president and attorney general versus the former FBI deputy director, and the president versus a porn star, and the president's team versus Facebook.
PAUL: A lot of battles going on there. In an emotional strongly worded statement, we're hearing from former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, who was fired last late night, and his firing comes less than 48 hours before he could retire with full benefits.
BLACKWELL: President Trump is also taking on an adult film star who alleges she had a relationship with him more than a decade ago. The president's personal attorney now involved claiming Stormy Daniels violated her non-disclosure agreement and could now owe $20 million.
PAUL: President Trump also starts assembling his team for a 2020 run. The data firm used by his campaign has been kicked off Facebook for misusing data.
BLACKWELL: There is a lot going on, all happening in just the last 12 to 16 hours. Let's start now with CNN's Abby Phillip live in Washington. Abby, Andrew McCabe, let's start there, planning to retire on Sunday, fired Friday night before he could get to those full benefits.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Victor. Andrew McCabe just short of 50 years old when he would be eligible to take home a pension for his 20-plus years of service in the FBI was fired last night by the Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The circumstances around his firing are somewhat unclear.
But what we do know is that there was an inspector general investigation into McCabe's actions surrounding a Clinton investigation that the FBI had been doing. That investigation was sent then to another office, the Office of Personnel Responsibility, who then recommended to FBI leadership that McCabe be fired because according to our reporting McCabe allegedly misled investigators about his role in directing FBI officials to talk to reporters about that case.
The problem becomes why exactly why exactly was McCabe fired. Was it because of that ongoing investigation or was it because President Trump has been attacking McCabe on social media and privately and publicly for months now.
McCabe in a statement last night really targeted President Trump saying that President Trump has been using a personal vendetta against -- using this investigation to carry out a personal vendetta against him.
He said, "The attack on my credibility is one part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement and intelligence professionals more generally. It is part of the administration's ongoing war on the FBI and efforts of the special counsel investigation, which continue to this day. Their persistence in this campaign only highlights the importance of
the Special Counsel's work."
Now McCabe's claims in that statement seemed to kind of be reinforced by President Trump's own actions last night. The president sent out a celebratory tweet after McCabe was fired, saying this, "Andrew McCabe fired, a great day for the hard-working men and women of the FBI, a great day for democracy.
Sanctimonious James Comey who was the former FBI director was his boss and made McCabe look like a choir boy. He knew all about the lies and corruption going on at the highest levels of the FBI."
Now, for McCabe, he faces a choice now of whether or not he will try to get some of his pension back maybe through some legal action in which case he is likely to use the president's public statements on this matter.
[08:05:10] But then there is also the prospect that McCabe just like James Comey is now free to publicly criticize President Trump and now a potential witness in the Special Counsel investigation, which is dealing with the issue of obstruction of justice.
BLACKWELL: And now, Abby, just quickly on Stormy Daniels, the White House is trying to stay away from this. Michael Cohen, the president's attorney, has said, he didn't know all about this, but now the president's attorneys are getting involved.
PHILLIP: That's right. The president's attorneys have now officially made it clear that President Trump is a factor in this case after weeks and months of saying he has known nothing about the Stormy Daniels case.
Some legal filings that were made in the last day indicate that the president has a new attorney, Charles Harter, viewed as a pitbull in some of these cases who is now getting involved in this case involving the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, against Stormy Daniels trying to enforce this non-disclosure agreement that really, Victor, until a few days ago the White House had really said they knew nothing about at all.
What is happening here is that Stormy Daniels is now being pressured to stay quiet and they are accusing her of violating that agreement in 20 different occasions for a total of $20 million in damages as a result of those violations.
Let me read to you -- sorry, let me have you listen actually to what Stormy Daniels' Attorney Michael Avenatti has said on CNN in the past about what this case means for his client. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL AVENATTI, STORMY DANIELS' ATTORNEY (via telephone): This is truly remarkable. I don't know that there's ever been an instance in American history where you had a sitting president carrying out a personal vendetta and seeking $20 million against a private U.S. citizen who is merely trying to tell her version of the facts. He and his attorney, Mr. Cohen and now others are seeking to gag and silence my client and keep the information from the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: So, Trump's lawyers now want to move this case from state court to federal court, which might increase their chances of winning against Stormy Daniels. But also, Stormy's attorney is accusing the president's associates of physically threatening his client. So, we'll see how this all unfolds, but it is only getting messier from here -- Victor and Christi.
BLACKWELL: And we also heard from the attorney that some of the allegations have happened while the president was in office. That coming during a conversation with Jake Tapper. We'll discuss that this morning as well. Abby Phillip, thanks so much.
PAUL: Democratic Congressman Luis Gutierrez from Illinois is with us now. He is a member of the House Judiciary and Intelligence Committees. Congressman, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.
REPRESENTATIVE LUIS GUTIERREZ (D), ILLINOIS: Thank you. A pleasure to be with you this morning.
PAUL: Thank you. Good to have you here. I want to talk to you first about Andrew McCabe. There is this internal review that they are saying from the Department of Justice, Office of Inspector General, that's where this report came from. Nobody really know what is in this report though. Is it fair to try to make some assessments about the validity of this firing just yet?
GUTIERREZ: Yes, I think it is a really sad day again in the continuing horror show that is the Donald Trump administration. To fire -- I mean, let's face it, McCabe got fired because the president didn't like him, didn't like his political affiliation. He made that absolutely clear to us.
He didn't like the fact that McCabe's wife had run for the state legislator in Virginia and received hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Democrats, and that was the attack of President Donald Trump.
The man was about to retire in 26 hours. So, he was already out of the loop, had taken a leave of absence months ago. So why the rush? I think we know why the rush. And now we have the attorney general of the United States, Mr. Jeff Sessions saying, well, you know, I fired him after looking at this because we really can't believe Mr. McCabe.
Really Jeff Sessions is talking about who we can't believe? The same man who went before the Senate during his confirmation and denied he ever met with the Russians and now has had to recuse himself from the Russian investigation?
So, look, this is an administration that can't tell the truth and so we need to arrive at the conclusion that this was clearly political. And you know, how vindictive, how small of the president of the United States. There are men and women who are out there on the front lines in Iraq and around the world defending our nation, there are kids getting shot in our schools, there is an epidemic of people dying from overdoses. And what is the president minding? These little vindictive small -- let's get rid of McCabe and deny him his pension.
[08:10:10] PAUL: But, Congressman, again, we don't know what is in this report. We don't know how much credence could be given to whether McCabe did mislead investigate torts. We've had Tom Fuentes from the FBI who said if he lied, then yes, what is happening is standard for what should happen.
GUTIERREZ: Yes, but it happens -- if it is so clear and it is so transparent, then why do it at 10:00 on a Friday night? Why do it hours before he is about to get his pension as a former FBI agent. Why do it then? Why not do it earlier? Why not do it during broad daylight, right?
No, they always do these things in the dark of night because that is the tragedy. This would seem to be a comedy of having a president of the United States engage in a legal battle with a porn star. And you know, some people would think that is ridiculous, that is funny. It is not funny. It is really tragic that we have this kind of president of the United States.
PAUL: To stay on the McCabe section for a moment here, he testified to the House regarding the Russia investigation. He may still be a witness perhaps will testify more. Do you think Sessions should have recused himself?
GUTIERREZ: Absolutely. Here is what Jeff Sessions says. I'm going to recuse myself from the collusion and the Russian probe into collusion between the Donald Trump campaign and the Russians. So, he recuses himself.
Yet McCabe is the one person, right, who is clearly in a position to verify James Comey's story of being fired by the president of the United States for political reasons. Remember, former FBI Director James Comey was leading the investigation into collusion between Russians, right, and the Trump campaign.
He was called into the White House and Jeff Sessions was told please leave the room, Mr. Sessions, because I need to have a conversation with Mr. Comey in which Mr. Comey was asked under oath and he has stated that he was asked by the president to give him a loyalty. He said he couldn't and he was fired.
The president of the United States has said very clearly on tv during an interview, I fired him because of the investigation into the Russian probe, which I don't believe there should be one.
This is the president of the United States. This is clearly a pattern of obstruction of justice because Mr. McCabe was going to become arguably a very critical witness in the ongoing Mueller investigation.
PAUL: So, what would you like to ask Mr. McCabe? GUTIERREZ: Well, what I'd like to ask Mr. McCabe, are there any memorandums, what were your conversations with Mr. Comey, how quickly were those conversations conducted between you and Mr. Comey?
And let's remember that Mr. McCabe stood up and defied this White House. Something you can't do even as a law enforcement (inaudible), what a chilling effect this must have in the intelligence community, in the FBI, that is leading the investigation under Mueller into this collusion. When you get to fire somebody and say I'm firing you because I don't like you, I don't like your politics.
PAUL: OK. I do want to just veer off one moment here before we run out of time to the news coming out about Stormy Daniels and her attorney, Michael Avenatti, saying -- they are alleging that some of the accusations she is making happened since President Trump took office.
Now, we need to be very clear here, she is not implicating President Trump himself in any way. We don't know what threats she's saying were made to her or by whom since the president has taken office.
But do you think that it is time for the president to answer some of these questions and what do you think of his move from his lawyers to try to move the case from California to a federal court?
GUTIERREZ: Well, first of all, we now know once again that the White House has been lying to us and that this president has been lying to us because they said they had nothing to do with it. Of course, they had everything to do with it because now they have lawyers. How sad that we find ourselves in this situation.
And I just want to go back because some people think this is funny and I know the comedians think it is hilarious. But it is really tragic that the president of the United States -- but I guess I have a couple of questions.
And those questions would be how many other lawsuits are out there that this president wants to contain and other agreements that he wants, how is that affecting the presidency of the United States.
And by the way, do the Russians have their own Stormy Daniels that they are keeping secret in their pocket and what is that having in terms of influence on our national security processes.
PAUL: All righty. Congressman Luis Gutierrez, I'm so sorry that we've run out of time. Thank you for being with us.
GUTIERREZ: Thank you for having me.
PAUL: Appreciate it, of course. Coming up at 10:00 a.m., we're going to be talking with Republican Congressman Charlie Dent.
[08:15:06] BLACKWELL: All right. Some developments in the Florida pedestrian bridge collapse, the first cars have been pulled out of this rubble and then escorted away by police. We'll have a live report from Miami ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLACKWELL: Just hours after the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, President Trump praised that decision, and called it a great day for democracy. But how does this play out on the world stage?
Joining me now is CNN national securities analyst, Sam Vinograd, a former senior adviser to the National Security Council and work in the Bush 43 and Obama administrations.
Samantha, good morning. Before we get to the perspective of our allies and those around the world, I want to read just a single sentence of McCabe's statement and get your reaction to it.
He said this, "This attack on my credibility is a part of a larger effort not just to slander me personally, but to taint the FBI, law enforcement and intelligence professionals more generally." Do you see it that way?
[08:20:11] SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I don't think we know, Victor, and I think to be totally honest, it is really hard to stay objective after the president's Twitter bomb last night. There are a lot of unanswered questions. We have not seen the inspector general report. So, we don't really know exactly what McCabe did.
We don't know if the penalty that he is being faced with is proportionate in light of what he did. And Victor, I also don't think we know if Sessions spoke with Trump before making this decision. So, we don't know if there was direct influence on Sessions before he made this decision last night.
So, without knowing all of that, I know where my gut is going on this based upon past precedent, my gut is telling me that this was political, but until we have a full picture, I don't want to jump to any conclusions.
BLACKWELL: There certainly was that public pressure through Twitter with the president asking why Jeff Sessions has not taken action in this situation and several others over the last several months. But, of course, you say we need to see the report from the inspector general and maybe some information from that Office of Professional Responsibility.
Let me move on to now, how U.S. allies see not just this firing, but the last week around the White House with the firing of the secretary of state and several other State Department officials and several resignations, now the firing of the deputy FBI director. How do they see this chaos?
VINOGRAD: Well, none of this is happening in a vacuum and when we look first at the firing last night, either scenario, whether that McCabe was rotten and in cahoots with Comey or that the Department of Justice has become a political arm of the president and is no longer functioning without bias, both of those help Vladimir Putin because they undermine the credibility of our justice system. And the truth of the matter is, Victor, Vladimir Putin is not sitting in his cabinet meetings looking at a bunch of empty chairs or revolving door. He has a fully staffed national security apparatus. So that is advantage Russia again.
But the fact is that we have a lame duck syndrome permeating the administration right now. We had it with Tillerson. We have it with McMaster unfortunately. I think he has an expiration date on his forehead.
So, a lot of people are going to work and or interacting with cabinet officials thinking they may not be around that long, and I think that's going to undermine the depth and the breath of the conversations that are happening.
BLACKWELL: Yes, the president has said that he is close to getting the cabinet that he wants and there could be more changes coming. Samantha Vinograd, thank you so much.
VINOGRAD: Thank you.
BLACKWELL: Let's turn now to Stormy Daniels and that saga. The president's attorney says the porn actress could owe $20 million because she revealed details of her alleged affair with the president violating her non-disclosure agreement.
Daniels' attorney claims that she has been physically threatened to stay silent and alleges that some of the accusations she's making against the president occurred while he was in office.
Joining me now, CNN political commentator and columnist for the "Washington Post," Catherine Rampell. Good morning to you, Katherine. Let me just get this straight here that the president is suing a porn star for $20 million because she is telling secrets she promised not to tell.
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it is a particularly bizarre bundle of positions that the White House and Trump have taken at this point. They are saying both that nothing happened between Stormy Daniels and Trump and she better stay silent about that nothing that happened.
Also, Trump had no involvement in this hush payment and NDA, and yet he is suing to enforce the hush agreement. So, it is a bit untenable at this point I think for this particular line of argument to go on because of the bundle of contradictions that we're hearing.
BLACKWELL: So, the point being untenable, the line from the White House at least since Sarah Sanders made that slip up about saying that there was arbitration won in the president's favor has been that that it is a personal matter, you should consult the president's personal attorneys.
With these new allegations especially the one from Stormy Daniels' attorney that some of these have happened since he has taken the oath of office, is that a tenable position for the White House, for the president to say absolutely nothing about this?
RAMPELL: I think it is very challenging for them to deflect this controversy going forward given the fact that every White House press briefing reporters ask about it. That said, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the press secretary has been very adept at trying to shut this down claiming that Trump himself has fully addressed these allegations when in fact he has done nothing of the sort.
So, how this actually plays out to Trump's supporters I think is a little bit more complicated. Those who are following the news, you know, will probably notice the fact that there are these many contradictions in things that the White House has said.
[08:25:05] But even so, if you look at polling about this particular allegation that they had an affair, that there was an NDA that Trump was party to, et cetera, Trump supporters themselves don't particularly seem to care.
There was a poll that came out a few days ago that found that only about half of Trump's own supporters, people who voted for him in the 2016 election, said that if in fact Trump did have an affair, it would not -- that it would be immoral.
So, only half of them actually think it would be immoral. You know, so, maybe they don't even care if in fact it turns out that Trump eventually cops to all of this which seems unlikely of course.
BLACKWELL: Here's what I don't understand and maybe you can clear this up for me and people who are watching. The joining of these lawsuits and the motions by those attorneys for the president are to accomplish two things.
To say that Stormy Daniels violated the agreement 20 times and is liable in the amount of $20 million, a million dollars for each breach. Also, to vacate this from state court and move it to federal court, right?
Could those two things have not been accomplished through the attorneys for the LLC without the president's personal attorneys getting involved?
RAMPELL: You know, that I don't know to be quite honest. I'm not an attorney so I don't understand all --
BLACKWELL: Yes, neither am I.
RAMPELL: I don't understand all of the procedural nuances here. It does appear that would they are trying to achieve in getting this vacated to federal court is as to move it back into arbitration in which case all of the proceedings would be confidential, right.
If this happens in a courtroom setting, the filings are public, many of the proceedings are public, so the end goal for Trump and for Cohen at this point is, of course, to keep as much of this secret as possible. That is the whole reason they are trying to enforce this NDA. BLACKWELL: All right. Catherine Rampell, thanks so much. We have a lot to cover there.
RAMPELL: Thank you, Victor.
BLACKWELL: All right -- Christi.
PAUL: Well, Russia is kicking out British diplomats after the U.K. kicked out Russian diplomats. So, what will the U.K.'s next move be?
[08:31:56] PAUL: Saturday morning, 8:31. Happy just to wake up on your own time, with no alarm. Good for you. I'm Christi Paul.
BLACKWELL: Aren't you lucky?
BLACKWELL: And I'm Victor Blackwell.
The big story this morning, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has been fired by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. It happened late last night, less than 48 hours before his retirement. This was after an investigation. Sessions claimed that there were multiple occasions of misconduct by McCabe. And McCabe was set to retire tomorrow night on his 50th birthday. Since he was fired before then, McCabe will take a financial hit on his early pension benefits.
PAUL: Also President Trump's attorneys have joined a lawsuit to keep porn star Stormy Daniels from speaking publicly. They say she could owe $20 million for violating her non-disclosure agreement. Daniels claims the agreement is not valid because the president didn't sign it.
Well, UK officials are meeting next week to plan their response to Russia after learning the Kremlin is expelling 23 British diplomats. This is coming after the UK of course kicked out 23 Russian diplomats after the nerve agent attack on British soil earlier this month.
BLACKWELL: The Russians are also closing both the UK-controlled consulate and a cultural center.
And joining us now, Thomas Pickering, former U.S. ambassador to Russia.
Mr. Ambassador, good morning to you.
THOMAS PICKERING, FORMER U. AMBASSADOR TO RUSSIA: Good morning, Victor.
BLACKWELL: And so, your reaction now to this response from Russia, the expulsion of these 23 British --
BLACKWELL: Diplomats -- correct -- and these two facilities.
PICKERING: It's measured in a sense that the numerical equality in the expulsions is exact. It may also be measured in the fact that the British did a number of things with respect to Russian activities and individuals in Britain in addition to the expulsions and the Russians have closed St. Petersburg and a cultural center on their side and we'll wait and see.
Interestingly enough, the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson yesterday took the mystery away if there was any mystery and charged President Putin with being directly involved. Something they hadn't done. They said the Russian government was involved or the Russian government allowed some rogue element to become involved. That's been cleared away in terms of Boris Johnson in any event. So that is there.
And secondly, Scotland Yard has now said that Mr. Glushkov, another Russian who died mysteriously this week, was being put into the category of a murder investigation which his extremely interesting because they said they did that on the basis of an autopsy or post- mortem.
PAUL: What's -- what proof or evidence do you believe the UK has to charge Putin as you say?
PICKERING: Well, I think we have to wait and see. Normally this comes out of stuff that we would consider to be classified intelligence. That is that they have information from agents who are from technical collection that indicates that this decision somehow was up the top there.
[08:35:05] And that is pretty tricky stuff. And obviously governments don't want to reveal that because it is a sources and methods problem. And Boris Johnson has a tendency to be, put it this way, remarkably outspoken and often steps on the ankles of the prime minister. I guess principally because Boris Johnson has additional political ambitions in the United Kingdom.
BLACKWELL: Let's talk about this election in Russia this weekend. Putin is going to win another term there as president. I wonder from your perspective how do the last six years of Putin there at the top of the government, the annexation of Crimea, the involvement in Syria, the propping up of Assad, meddling in the U.S. elections and elections around the world. How do they inform what you expect for the next six years out of Putin and Russia?
PICKERING: Victor, that's an extremely important and interesting question and I would just say two things to set the stage. One is that a lot of what we have seen over the last six years has been Putin himself strengthening his public position against the backdrop of some uncertainties I think on his part going back to when he resumed the presidency six years ago. And the street demonstrations that about five years ago accompanied some of that on the one hand, and secondly the pursuit of policies to strengthen Russian nationalists commitment in effect to drive wedges between Europeans and the United States, to do some significant ankle kicking of the United States, and to rehearse grievances that he feels are justified in terms of how the U.S. has handled him.
I would not expect a great deal different. I think that the Trump administration opened the door a little bit to the idea that maybe given Trump's very kind attitude toward Putin there would be an opportunity there. But that seems to have failed. A year ago President Putin is reported to have mentioned in a conversation with President Trump that it would be a good idea to take the new START nuclear agreement and make sure that it extended another five years. And apparently Trump didn't know what he was talking about and went to his advisers and they said well, that is Obama, kill it.
So unfortunately an opportunity was lost. Unfortunately I say because continued negative relationships with Russia and the continued demonization of Russia in the United States and the political parties and the press and elsewhere is not good for a relationship where two sides have nuclear arsenals that still have enormous capability and is not in my view a wise way to proceed.
PAUL: The UK is responding to Russia's response this morning by saying Russia's response does not change the facts of the matter. The attempted assassination of two people on British soil for which there is no alternative conclusion other than that the Russian state was culpable.
How concerned are you that this back and forth between the UK and Russia could expand beyond verbal?
PICKERING: Christi, it always has those possibilities. And there is I think a good bit of ire in the United Kingdom and in Europe and the United States about the continuation of assassination because we go back to earlier case, Mr. Litvinenko, was poisoned with polonium two years ago, quite well-established. And the continuation of this kind of activity, if it goes to Glushkov as well, is something of a campaign now. And it breaks what I think have been the unwritten almost unstated rules that you don't do these kinds of things in other people's territory and you don't do them with respect to people who one way are or another have, put it this way, not been continued to be incarcerated in Russia for betrayal.
But Putin said two years ago or a year ago when he was asked was there anything that was truly up forgivable, and he said betrayal. So that message is out and I think it's out because the Russians may have some fear that they are in danger of more betrayals and want to put a hard marker down, as well as obviously promote Mr. Putin's campaign which as you said comes to a culmination tomorrow but about which I don't think there are any real worries that he's going to lose. He may lose some popularity. And that won't help him and so all of this is built into those political factors as well.
PAUL: All right. Ambassador Thomas Pickering.
PICKERING: Thank you.
PAUL: We so appreciate your insight. Thank you for being here.
PICKERING: Happy to be with you, Christi. Thank you. PAUL: Thank you.
With the new developments in the Florida pedestrian bridge collapse this morning.
[08:40:03] A key step in recovery efforts as crews remove the first two vehicles from the rubble here. We're live in Miami next.
PAUL: We have some breaking news this hour in that deadly collapse of a Florida pedestrian bridge. Just in the last hour crews have been able to pull the first vehicles out of the rubble there.
BLACKWELL: And there are new questions that are swirling over an unheard voicemail left by the bridge's lead engineer.
Let's get straight to Kaylee Hartung in Miami with the latest. We know last hour there were two vehicles that were pulled out of that rubble. Have they given you any timeline -- I know this is painstaking work -- on when the other vehicles will be pulled out?
[08:45:04] KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They have not, Victor. And we should say that it wasn't necessarily just in the last hour that those two vehicles were extracted from beneath the rubble, but it was in the last hour that they were ready to escort those extracted vehicles away from the scene and take them on to the medical examiner's office. The question that that raised for all reporters in the vicinity when we saw those vehicles being escorted out and we're told they were going to the medical examiner's office was, well, are there bodies inside those vehicles?
Officials were not ready to confirm that information for us. We know that this collapse claimed the life of at least six people. But with each extraction of a vehicle, more information of course is gathered about what remains are inside. The priority here has been for the last day or so more to respectfully remove the remains in the vehicles crushed beneath that bridge.
We do expect to learn more in the coming hours from officials on the scene here. But these new pictures we are getting of those two flattened vehicles come in addition to new information we're learning about concerns that the bridge's lead engineer had in the days before the collapse. Just two days before the bridge collapsed, the engineer called an employee at the Florida Department of Transportation, left a voicemail on his landline. Listen to what he described.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DENNEY PATE, FIGG BRIDGE ENGINEERS: I was calling to share with you some information about the FIU pedestrian bridge and some cracking that's been observed on the north end of the span. The Pylon end of that span we moved this weekend. So we've taken a look at it and, obviously, some repairs or whatever will have to be done. But from a safety perspective, we don't see that there is any issue there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARTUNG: So that voice mail left on Tuesday two days before the collapse. But not heard until Friday, a day after the collapse, because the Florida Department of Transportation employee who received it was out of the office on assignment.
Now the engineering firm, the lead engineer who works for, responded to the release of the voice mail saying the evaluation was based on the best information at that time and indicated that there were no safety issues, something you did hear the engineer say, as we played that recording. And as we asked the NTSB chairman with the release of this information what they are aware of, they said in the course of the investigation where we stand now, they don't factually know that there was a crack and they're not aware of any tips related to the cracking. But that there are many interviews to go in the process of a long and tedious investigation here -- Victor, Christi.
PAUL: All right. Kaylee Hartung, thank you so much.
Coming up on CNN, the premiere of "SEX AND LOVE AROUND THE WORLD" with Christiane Amanpour.
[08:52:10] BLACKWELL: What are you doing tonight about 10:00 Eastern? Well, you should be watching the new CNN original series all about sex and love around the world. I spoke with the show's host and chief international correspondent for CNN, Christiane Amanpour, about what inspired her to do this series.
CHRISTIAN AMANPOUR, HOST, "SEX AND LOVE AROUND THE WORLD": I've spent the rest -- the preceding decades of my foreign correspondent career covering the extreme areas of the human condition, war, crisis, famine, natural disasters, all the things we've just been talking about. And a couple of years ago, I started to look at people and the human condition from the other side, the flip side, the other side of the coin, which is what about our humanity, what about our love, what about our souls, what about our minds, our emotions, what about sex, sexuality, women, whether they fit into this picture.
And it was watching actually Syrian refugees being, you know, expelled from Syria and fleeing for their lives that I wonder how they keep themselves human. And so that led me to thinking about what it's like for women and girls all over the world. And I do explore it from the perspective of women and girls. And we went to six different cities around the world in Asia, in Africa, in Southeast Asia, and in Europe.
And it's an amazing set of stories that I've come back with, with a little bit of something for everyone. It's like a bunch of girlfriends sitting around and talking as they would do at a table over drinks, but this is on television. And we haven't actually seen this on TV ever. I stayed away from the typical stuff you see on television which is pornography and prostitution, victims. Here women are agents of their own happiness. BLACKWELL: Let's watch a clip.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Women are no longer willing to take the place society has imposed on them. They don't all want to be the perfect daughter who grows up to be the perfect housewife, and a massive shift is under way.
Oh, good. We're going to get some drinks, going to loosen up a bit.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
AMANPOUR: I've come to meet a group of friends at their regular hangout where they gather to dish on their lives and their loves.
Ladies, let's talk about sex. How is sex? Do you think men here, people who you are dating and your husband and your partners, do they care about your happiness, about your emotional and your physical satisfaction?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLACKWELL: You've got a piece on CNN.com and you say that this series sent you on an odyssey into life's most essentially question, trying to discover what makes us all human.
[08:55:05] BLACKWELL: Even in the most extreme conditions. Now if it's still possible to surprise Christiane Amanpour after all that you've seen, what surprised you?
AMANPOUR: Just talking about that in public, just saying the words, you know, because look, sex is still a taboo subject to discuss in any kind of natural way. It is in the United States and it is in many, many parts of the world which are even more conservative than the U.S., which have religious, you know, orthodoxy that prevents women from expressing and actually even having an equal role in society.
BLACKWELL: "SEX AND LOVE AROUND THE WORLD," a CNN Original Series with Christiane Amanpour, airs tonight at 10:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.
All right. That's it for us. We'll see you back here at 10:00 Eastern for an hour of CNN NEWSROOM.
PAUL: "SMERCONISH" is coming up after a short break. Stay close.