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Southwest Flight Makes Emergency Landing; Daniels Releases Sketch; Cohen Represented Hannity; Comey Slams Trump. Aired 1:00-1:30p ET

Aired April 17, 2018 - 13:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: INSIDE POLITICS. Hope to see you back here this time tomorrow. "Wolf" starts right now.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Wolf Blitzer. It's 1:00 p.m. here in Washington. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks very much for joining us.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BLITZER: We start with breaking news in the disaster averted in the skies over the northeast. A Southwest Airlines flight lost an engine. The engine appears to have simply blown apart. You're looking at live pictures coming in right now. Some of that shrapnel from the engine may have cut right into the plane. The plane was on the way from La Guardia Airport in New York City to Dallas, Texas, with 148 passengers and crew on board. It made an emergency landing. There you see it right there in Philadelphia, just about 100 miles or so from where it took off. Right now we're hearing that one person was injured. These are early, early reports.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is joining us live from Philadelphia right now.

What more can you tell us about what happened, Polo?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (via telephone): Well, Wolf, as we arrive on scene here to try to get some more information, let's get you up to speed with what Southwest Airlines has already confirmed.

As you mentioned, this was a Southwest Airlines Flight 1380 providing service from New York's La Guardia Airport to Dallas. A flight that was wheels up late this morning. One hundred and forty-three customers and five crew on board. One of those customers was taken to the airport -- I mean to the hospital, rather, after the plane made an emergency landing here at Philadelphia's airport.

A couple things that we're trying to find out, of course, that is the status or the condition of this passenger that was taken to the airport and the extent of their injuries. You can see, though, from these pictures that we've been seeing for the last several moments, it certainly was quite the dramatic scene that played out in midair as officials now are tasked with trying to find out exactly what went wrong. One passenger aboard that aircraft has reported that there was some sort of engine failure that the passengers aboard that flight started feeling before there was trouble with that engine and then some of that shrapnel potentially hitting the fuselage and eventually resulting in the injury of that one passenger.

Here's what you need to know, though, especially if your travel plans this afternoon take you to this particular region. The FAA has issued a mandatory ground stop for all flights that are either headed here or through here. So it's important for you to check with the airlines if you will be flying, again, to or through Philadelphia's International Airport as the ground stop is currently affecting flights that have left other airports that are coming here right now. Obviously that would potentially help the situation here in the ground to not have too many airplanes on the tarmac as they try to get to the bottom of what exactly happened.

But, again, Wolf, we are here on scene at Philadelphia's International Airport where this Boeing 737 made an emergency landing late this morning with those -- with at least one confirmed injury. As soon as we get more information here on the ground, Wolf, we'll send that to you and the rest of our viewers.

BLITZER: Yes, I just want to point out to our viewers, Polo, while I have you, first of all, that engine looks like it was completely blown apart, completely destroyed. But if you look at the side, the windows on that plane -- we just got to a different location. You see right there next to the "t" in southwest, there -- it looks like there's a blown-out window there that may have been the result of shrapnel going from the engine. Are they saying anything about that window being blown out?

SANDOVAL: Not quite yet, Wolf. Those are certainly reports that we are aware of here on the ground. And when you see those pictures, that certainly wouldn't be surprising when you see how much damage was -- how much damage that engine actually sustained. Some of the reports that we are trying to confirm are just that. Some of that debris could have hit the fuselage and potentially damaged that -- one of the passenger windows resulting in the injury of that one passenger. And as you may imagine, that certainly would have made for some extremely scary moments in midair had that plane depressurized as we're hearing possibly happened.

So that certainly will be key in speaking to investigators, not only FAA, the National Transportation Safety Board, who often investigates these kinds of incidents as well, exactly what they see with their preliminary findings. But it doesn't take much that when you see these pictures, Wolf, that things certainly could have been much, much worse. And at this point the latest information we're getting from authorities is that there was only one passenger who was injured and taken to an area hospital here in Philadelphia.

BLITZER: One hundred and forty-three passengers, five crew members on board Southwest Flight 1380 from New York's La Guardia to Dallas Love Field.

Polo, stand by.

Peter Goelz is with us, the former National Transportation Safety Board managing director. He's a CNN aviation analyst. Unfortunately, Peter, you've reported and worked on these kinds of

engine disasters in the past. Walk us through what we're seeing, first of all, right now.

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, I think you're right. I have been on scene on these kinds of disasters. They're very rare. The turbo fan engine is extraordinarily reliable.

[13:05:02] But in this case, it looks like it came apart in midair. What's called an uncontained failure. Pieces of the internal engine exited the cowling of the engine. And it looks like it penetrated into the fuselage and that window blew out.

That would explain why the air -- the oxygen masks dropped immediately. It had to be a harrowing experience inside the plane.

BLITZER: Well, the plane was apparently flying at altitude, about 30,000 feet. The passengers inside have already told us they heard this loud explosion. That's a terrifying moment if you're flying at 30,000 feet and you hear something like that, and then shrapnel blows out a window at that altitude.

GOELZ: Absolutely. And it's unusual because the engine is not under great stress at that point. It's at cruise speed. The plane is at 30,000 feet. It's just simply not a stressful time. Usually these things take place when they're ramping up or when they're landing. So it's unusual.

The NTSB will go back through the history of this engine and they'll look particularly at fatigue. Were any of the fan blades in the engine fatigued? Did they -- did the last check on the engine miss those fatigue cracks? Where was the engine maintained? Who did the work?

BLITZER: And the results -- we'll know fairly soon when the last time these engines on this particular plane were examined.

GOELZ: We'll know before the end of today.

BLITZER: Yes.

GOELZ: They'll pull all the records down. Southwest will give those to the NTSB. And as I say, they'll go back to the actual location where the engine was serviced and see who did the work, how is it done, were any steps missed.

BLITZER: Miles O'Brien is with us, our aviation analyst as well.

Miles, anxious to get your thoughts on this near disaster over the -- over the skies not too far away from Philadelphia.

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes, Wolf, I think you're wise to point out to viewers that apparently broken window. A passenger window. Stands to reason that that has something to do with the shrapnel that would have been kicked out by this uncontained engine failure. I should note from our -- your viewers, Wolf, that back in August of

2016, Southwest had a very similar incident. An uncontained engine failure. This aircraft was headed from Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans to Orlando, diverted to Pensacola. Some shrapnel penetrated the skin of the aircraft. There were no injuries reported in that case, but they it divert.

So you have to start asking some questions about the engines on the 737s that Southwest is flying. They use an engine made by a joint operation called CFM, which is a partnership between General Electric and the French engine maker Saffron. And maybe there is some common point of interest or clue between those two incidents, whether it's maintenance or design. That's the kind of thing that the NTSB will be diving into thoroughly here.

These uncontained engine failures, Wolf, are very rare. They're designed to fail in such a way that they don't spin out that shrapnel, which is, of course, is a great hazard. It killed two people on the ground in Florida in the mid-'90s on a Delta MD-88. So it's extremely potentially dangerous. We don't know about the injuries of this particulars passenger. Was it the person sitting beside that window? That certainly stands to reason as we look at that right now. But we'll have to stay tuned to see what kinds of injuries and how those were caused.

BLITZER: And, Miles, very quickly, if a window is blown out at 30,000 feet, what happens to cabin pressure?

O'BRIEN: It drops pretty quickly. And that's when you get the -- of course the masks will drop down and the flight crew will immediately be aware of the depressurization incident. And their intent and their goal in that case is to get down to about 10,000 feet as quickly as possible.

I was looking at the profile of this particular aircraft's flight, and there was a rapid descent after the incident, apparently. And then they actually climbed a little bit and maintained a slightly higher altitude than you might expect. So I'm -- it's unclear to me at this point what sort of depressurization situation they were dealing with. But, clearly, the crew did the right thing in getting on the ground to an appropriately equipped airport as quickly as possible.

BLITZER: All right, Miles, I want you to stand by.

We're going to continue to watch this story unfold throughout the hour.

Peter Goelz is going to be with us as well.

Polo Sandoval is now on the scene at the Philadelphia International Airport.

We're going to have much more on this story coming up.

We'll also speak with some of the passengers who were on board. But there's other news we're following as well, including some new

scrutiny right now on the Fox News host Sean Hannity revealed to be one of Michael Cohen's clients, but never disclosing it. Will Fox News act? And what was Sean Hannity's involvement with Michael Cohen, the president's long-time personal attorney?

[13:10:02] Plus, the fired FBI director slamming President Trump's call for him to be thrown behind bars. How the war of words is now escalating.

And, quote, ID the thug. Stormy Daniels unveiling the sketch of the man she says threatened her to keep quiet about her alleged affair with the president. Why the porn star says she hasn't done this until now. That's the sketch, she says, of that alleged thug.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BLITZER: Stormy Daniels speaking out today on the talk show "The View," talking about the president of the United States, her legal case and also releasing a sketch of the man she says threatened her and her child back in 2011. Stormy Daniels claiming the man told her to keep quiet about her alleged affair with Donald Trump. She also explained why she didn't come forward at the time of the incident.

[13:15:00] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE, HOST, "THE VIEW": Stormy, why did you feel like you couldn't go to the police originally when you were threatened?

STORMY DANIELS, ALLEGES AFFAIR WITH DONALD TRUMP: Well, two -- two things. First of all, I was scared. It was expressly what he told me not to do. And I went home and, like, regrouped. And it was -- I was going to, because I always feel like you should stand up for yourself and you should report it. But the problem with that in this particular case -- instance was, I would have gone to the police and would have gone, OK, a man approached me. This is what he said to me. He told me to leave -- you know, leave Mr. Trump alone. And their very next question the detective would have asked me, why would somebody tell you to leave Mr. Trump alone? And I would have had to answer that question, which was not public at that time, and I would have had to tell the police, an entire police department -- and police reports are public record, I know that for a fact -- I had sex with Donald Trump. And then the whole world would have known and I was in the process of trying to quiet that or figure out what to do, and, honestly, I was just afraid and I didn't want everyone to know. I didn't want my family to find out that way. I didn't want my life turned upside down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you were speaking to news organizations, though, and, Michael, maybe you can talk to this, too, including ABC, you never brought up the threat. So why now?

DANIELS: Obviously one of the main reasons I didn't say anything is because I didn't tell my husband at the time. I didn't want him to be upset with me. And then I felt like honestly that so much time had passed I was embarrassed to say something and have him say what --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But your husband knew about the incident with you and Trump in California?

DANIELS: At that point in time -- he did not. At that point in time he didn't know. And so to go home and be like, this guy attacked me. Oh, and by the way, he did this because of this and I didn't want him to think I was a bad mom or that I'd put our daughter in danger. I just didn't know.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: All right, let's bring in our panel for some perspective on Stormy Daniels' claims and her appeal for help and the quote, ID the thug. The individual you've seen on that sketch who allegedly threatened her and her child.

We have CNN's senior political analyst, Mark Preston is with us, our legal analyst, Laura Coates, and CNN political commentator Catherine Rampell.

Catherine, let me start with you. A lot of people say this is simply a tabloid slide show, but it has escalated over these weeks into a lot more than that.

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, obviously part of the reason why this has been able to stay in the public consciousness, why members of the media are still talking about it is that it's a salacious story. It involves a sitting president allegedly having an affair with a porn star, right? There are a lot of elements to this that are titillating and that are easy to understand.

But there's a reason why this is beyond just another tabloid story, including that there are potential crimes that were committed, right, including campaign finance violations. So it's not just the affair that's kept it in the news. It's not just the affair we should care about. It's these other potential crimes that have been committed.

BLITZER: And, Mark, she's absolutely right, Catherine, because the potential damage for the president of the United States, based on all the legal issues that have surfaced since then, could be significant.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And this is the reason why that Republicans, and specifically Donald Trump, didn't want special counsel named, because by naming a special counsel, it has allowed him to go out and do an investigation that is much broader than the narrow focus that they are coming in on Russia right now.

The biggest problem right now for Donald Trump, and he has a lot of them, is if Michael Cohen will flip on him. If there's something there that Michael Cohen is willing to tell the prosecutors in order to save himself if he himself is in trouble. And that is if you're Donald Trump, you've got to be very worried about that.

BLITZER: What do you think about that, Laura?

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And the reason Michael Cohen comes into the discussion is because, remember, he's the one who set up the LLC to then pay Stormy Daniels in this case. If you've got a current judge saying, tell me what among your collection of materials is privileged, having to do with your client, perhaps Donald Trump, and if it's not privileged based on a legal communication, then I'm going to have it be a part of the investigative team and the SDNY (ph), well that is going to set alarm bells off everywhere to say, hold on, was everything I did on behalf of Trump with respect to -- as a consultant? Stormy Daniels? Anybody else? Is that all going to be confidential and protected by the privilege? It might not be, and that's going to be a problem.

But, remember, Summer Zervos is still out there. The case in New York where she is allowed to then maybe depose the president of the United States. Put those together and you've got a really, really foreboding experience for the president of the United States and Michael Cohen.

BLITZER: And all of a sudden, Catherine, Sean Hannity's name surfaces in this federal courtroom yesterday with potential significant ramifications there as well.

RAMPELL: Yes. The fact that Hannity didn't disclose the fact that he had a relationship of some kind. Maybe he was -- he was a client. Maybe he wasn't a client. Maybe he has attorney/client privilege and maybe he doesn't. Who knows. But in any case, he had a relationship with Michael Cohen. And despite going on TV and exercising high judging (ph) about the fact that there was this raid at Cohen's office, he didn't disclose this. I mean I stand with my colleague, Eric Whembel (ph), who has called for Fox News to do an investigation into Hannity and what other undisclosed relationships he may have, and financial ties he may have, with members of the Trump orbit.

[13:20:01] BLITZER: Because it's -- it's -- well, go ahead, you want to make a point, Mark.

PRESTON: Well, I was going to say, this is where it gets really messy between mainstream media, who is actually a journalist and who is somebody who's a provocateur. And right now, if you look at Sean Hannity, sometimes he says he's a journalist, other times he says he's not a journalist. What he is, though, is that he's a provocateur. That's what he does on television. He's not necessarily out there talking about news trying to inform people, he's trying to persuade people. That's what he does for an hour on his show. And clearly he didn't want anyone to know the connection with Michael Cohen because, again, it would show another link that he has to Donald Trump.

RAMPELL: And he kind of wants it both ways.

PRESTON: Right.

RAMPELL: He's a propagandist. I would call him a propagandist rather than a provocateur, although he does that as well. He has been promoting propaganda for Trump, for his company, for his administration, and sometimes he wants to say, oh, I'm a neutral party and everything I said is blemished by any sort of financial interest or whatever that I have in this. And sometimes he wants to say, no, actually, I'm not bound by the ethical constraints that most people are. BLITZER: And the reason, Laura, we know -- that his name came up in

this federal courtroom yesterday is because Michael Cohen's lawyers said that Cohen had three clients, legal clients, over the past 18 months, the president of the United States was one of them. Another client was, you know, this GOP fundraiser who had a --

RAMPELL: Impregnated a "Playboy" model --

BLITZER: Yes, an extramarital affair, and then, of course, there was a third client. They didn't want to name that third client for sensitive reasons. The judge said, you must name that third client. And instead of just handing a slip of paper with a name written on it to the federal judge, the Michael Cohen lawyers announced Sean Hannity's name in public.

COATES: Well, it's fascinating because, of course, first, in that graphic, no one wants to be in the company of that. And he also said, first of all, I did not have any third-party interaction-based communication with Michael Cohen, meaning he did not attempt to try to silence somebody for an alleged sexual encounter.

But what's so fascinating about your -- both of your discussions that you were talking about the semantics, journalist, provocateur, propagandist. Well, he tried to make that same argument whether he was a client, a casual consultant, a friend. You cannot be nuanced when it comes to the attorney-client privilege. Either you are in a relationship or you are not. And if you are the client who is the one that holds the privilege, who controls what information goes out and what does not, if you yourself, as Sean Hannity are saying, I'm not your client, well, then, guess what, Michael Cohen cannot say that it's his attorney. It will make the court furious to know they've been misled in some way if that's true. But add it to the list of unethical claims against Michael Cohen because, remember, he already said, I didn't even include Trump in Stormy Daniels' nondisclosure agreement.

BLITZER: Everybody stand by.

There's more developments unfolding as we speak.

The fired FBI director warning American President Trump's behavior is not normal, he says. James Comey escalating his war of words against the president.

The president, meanwhile, calls for Comey to go to jail.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:27:11] BLITZER: The fired FBI director, James Comey, unleashing another round of scathing criticism against President Trump as his new book, "A Higher Loyalty," hits bookstores today.

This morning, Comey slammed the president on a list of topics and he also fired back at President Trump's tweets, suggesting that Comey should go to jail.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: That is not normal. That is not OK. First of all, he's just making stuff up. But, most importantly, the president of the United States is calling for the imprisonment of a private citizen as he's done for a whole lot of people who criticize him. That is not acceptable in this country.

That should wake all of us up with a start. But there's been so much of it that we're a little bit numb, and that's dangerous.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Let's get back to our panel.

Mark, what's your reaction to that? Are America's too numb right now?

PRESTON: Yes, absolutely. I mean this whole idea that this is the new normal, it's not new and it's not normal, OK? I mean this has been repeated throughout history in worse scenario cases, but we have seen this happen before. And I do think the fact that we are embracing it and allowing it to roll off our shoulders is a mistake. It is a very big mistake right now.

I'm not saying anything is wrong with Mr. Trump's presidency when it comes to policies. However, his actions in office right now are questionable if at best.

BLITZER: You know, the -- Catherine, Comey, in this new book, and I'm sure it's selling well right well, he responded to the critics who say, you know, he got to petty, too personal, describing some of the president's characteristics. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES COMEY, FORMER FBI DIRECTOR: I'm trying to be an author and bring the readers with me into a room. And so I describe all kinds of people in great detail to try and create a vivid image for the reader. I'm not trying to make fun of President Trump. I'm not trying to make fun of anybody. But if you read the whole book, you'll see I'm trying to give you that picture.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: Because he talked extensively about the president's hair, his tan, the size of his hands, which a lot of people have suggested undermines the credibility of the book.

RAMPELL: I don't know that it undermines the credibility of the book per say. It doesn't seem to suggest that there was anything in there that is an outright fabrication or a lie. However, I do think it undermines his general message about ethical leadership and how he is a -- he has more character than the other people that he's talking about in the book, in particular the president. So in that sense I think it undermines his case, but I don't think that it suggests that there's anything false in the book.

BLITZER: This book is written by one of the key witnesses in a potential obstruction of justice case against the president of the United States. Legally speaking, what's going to be the impact of this book?

COATES: Well, it is impactful, but the FBI would have already vetted it pre-publication. They would have already known everything in there. Presumably Mueller's already met with him, so he knows everything that's going to be out there.

[13:29:57] But for many people, it's important to understand, the obstruction case really begins where the FBI director's tenure ended. The idea of, what was the basis for firing this particular person? Was it about Flynn? Was it about (INAUDIBLE)? Was it the Russia investigation in total? So, from his perspective, he's almost