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Survivors of Southwest Flight 1380 Discuss Experience; President Trump Confirms CIA Director Mike Pompeo Met Secretly with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un; Former First Lady Barbara Bush Dies at 92; Bird Strike Forces Southwest Jet to Return to Nashville. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired April 18, 2018 - 8:00   ET


[08:00:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Can you just describe what it was like to watch passengers try to bring her back in the window and hold her there?

JOE MARCUS, SOUTHWEST FLIGHT 1380 PASSENGER: So I was towards the front of the plane. So I heard all this going on behind me. I didn't get a clear view of what was happening.

CAMEROTA: What were you hearing?

MARCUS: A lot of people calling for help, is there anyone that has any medical training, and a few people rushed to the back of the plane to help out. And, yes, it was just a lot of, you know, screaming and crying, and a lot of people just stepped up and did a great job, though.

CAMEROTA: There was a nurse on board that was trying to administer CPR, did you watch any of this happen?

MARTY MARTINEZ, SOUTHWEST FLIGHT 1380 PASSENGER: Yes. I was caddy corner to where it all happened and about two rows back. And as I'm franticly trying to get Internet and I'm looking up, you see the face of terror on everyone's face, thinking that, you know, these were our final moments. And a gentleman came from -- from the row up front and tried to -- he positioned himself against the window in an effort to stop that sucking from happening and I ended up meeting him at the Philadelphia airport afterwards, and we were swapping stories. And I'm looking back through all the videos that I took and I have video of him standing up against that window as the flight attendants were --

CAMEROTA: That's so brave, because how do you know you won't be sucked out the window? To be able to put yourself in that precarious position. Joe, were you trying to communicate with people on the ground as this was all happening?

MARCUS: I was also trying to buy wi-fi, and it was very difficult to do. I was trying -- I was dropping my credit card all over the place, trying to enter it. But I texted my mother as we were falling. I thought either way as we get closer to the ground, service pick up, she'll get the message either way. Yes. But like I said, I'm just trying to stay positive through this whole thing and just hope for the best, and luckily, for most of us, we're all right.

CAMEROTA: And are you changed? Does your life change starting today because of what you just lived through?

MARCUS: I don't think so. I'm just -- I feel like I did win the lottery a bit as soon as that plane landed. It was like, oh, my goodness, this is crazy. I'm just trying to move on and put it behind me.

CAMEROTA: I understand. Joe Marcus, Marty Martinez, thank you both for sharing your ordeal. It's really good to have you here back on terra firma with us today. Thanks so much.

MARCUS: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: We're following a lot of news so let's get to it.

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It Wednesday, April 18th, 8:00 in the east.

CAMEROTA: We're following two major stories, Chris. This morning President Trump confirming a top-secret meeting between CIA Director Mike Pompeo and North Korea dictator Kim Jong-un. The Pompeo meeting comes ahead of President Trump's expected summit with Kim and as Pompeo's nomination for secretary of state faces serious head wins.

CUOMO: This morning we're also remembering former first lady Barbara Bush. She's now gone at the age of 92. In her honor flags across the country are at half-staff this morning. Mrs. Bush was of course the matriarch of one of America's biggest political dynasties. Just she and Abigail Adams had a husband and a son elected president. Those men reflected her greatness as a role model, a woman who took stands that were not always popular, and someone who could put purpose before politics. She's remembered as an enforcer with her kids, a loving confidant to her husband, someone that lived by three values, faith, family and friends.

Let's begin with CNN's Abby Phillip live in West Palm Beach, Florida, with our top story. Abby?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Chris. The intrigue around this soon to be meeting with North Korea continues day by day. The president this morning confirming reports that his CIA Director met with Kim Jong-un this month in North Korea. He wrote, "Mike Pompeo met with Kim Jong-un in North Korea last week. The meeting went very smoothly and a good relationship was formed. Details of summit are being worked out now. Denuclearization will be a great thing for the world but also for North Korea."

With this announcement Pompeo becomes the most senior American official to meet with a North Korean leader in nearly two decades as the United States and North Korea barrels toward a potential summit in the coming months.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have had direct talks at very high levels, extremely high levels with North Korea.

PHILLIP: CNN has learned CIA chief Mike Pompeo met with dictator Kim Jong-un in a top-secret trip in North Korea over Easter weekend. A source telling CNN that Pompeo who is awaiting confirmation as secretary of state traveled with only intelligence officials with him.

[08:05:03] "The Washington Post" reports Pompeo went as President Trump's envoy to lay the groundwork for direct talks between the two leaders about North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The White House declined to comment, but Pompeo recently spoke about the U.S.'s goals.

MIKE POMPEO, CIA DIRECTOR: I'm optimistic that the United States government can set the conditions for that appropriately so that the president and the North Korean leader can have that conversation and will set us down the course of achieving a diplomatic outcome.

PHILLIP: During the first day of meetings with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, the president saying when that meeting might happen.

TRUMP: We'll be having meetings with Kim Jong-un very soon. It will be taking place probably in early June or before that, assuming things go will well.

PHILLIP: But leaving the door open for the U.S. to back out if necessary.

TRUMP: It's possible things won't go well or we won't have the meetings and we'll just continue to go along this very strong path that we've taken. But we will see what happens.

PHILLIP: A source tells CNN one sticking point is the meeting's location with several possibilities floated but none in the U.S. This as the White House grapples with the infighting over another foreign policy snafu after the president's ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley announced new round of sanctions against Russia would be coming in response to the suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria.

NIKKI HALEY, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO U.N.: You will see that Russian sanctions will be coming down. Secretary Mnuchin will be announcing those on Monday.

PHILLIP: But the president's top economic adviser Larry Kudlow later walking back that announcement, blaming Haley for the discrepancy, saying that additional sanctions were under consideration but not implemented.

LARRY KUDLOW, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: She got ahead of the curve. She's done a great job. She's a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that.

PHILLIP: A senior White House official tells CNN President Trump was annoyed over the confusion, but Haley fired back saying, "We all due respect, I don't get confused." A source tells CNN, Kudlow called Haley to apologize, telling her that the policy had changed but that she was not kept in the loop.

This as the "The New York Times" sheds new light on last week's U.S. led air strikes in Syria highlighting a divide between President Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis. The paper reporting that Mattis urged President Trump to get congressional approval before striking against Syria but was overruled by Mr. Trump who wanted a rapid and dramatic response. But the president ultimately compromising on limited air strikes on three separate targets that lasted under two minutes.


PHILLIP: So we should note that the Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White is denying the "The New York Times's" report about James Mattis. She says in a statement to CNN that that report is false. Meanwhile President Trump is waking up here in Mar-a-Lago. He's already been tweeting all morning where we expect him to go into a second day with Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japanese. He teased yesterday that they might be hitting the golf course today. So we'll be looking for that, Alisyn and Chris.

CAMEROTA: OK, Abby, thank you very much for setting all of that up for us.

Let's bring in CNN political analyst David Gregory and CNN politics reporter and editor at large Chris Cillizza. We have a lot to talk about.

Let's start, David Gregory, with this announcement or the leak of this secret meeting between Mike Pompeo and Kim Jong-un. What are we to make of this secret meeting? And do you think this makes Mike Pompeo more indispensable now in the eyes of lawmakers who are trying to decide whether to confirm him as secretary of state?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes. His nomination is controversial. He's facing a tough fight to be confirmed --

CAMEROTA: Do you have your microphone on, David Gregory?

GREGORY: You're such sticklers. Television professional.


CUOMO: This is why they changed the channel.


CUOMO: Forget it. We should just -- I don't know.

CAMEROTA: Should we give him another chance?

CUOMO: Yes, let's pretend it never happened.

GREGORY: I think this helps his confirmation because he's in a tough fight and he's going to be seen as being part of a sensitive mission. That sensitive mission I think is extremely promising. I think it's risky to put the president in that position where he's meeting with the North Korean dictator given who he is, and as has been mentioned here perfect this morning, potentially really unproductive because he's known to lie. And if you come out here with nothing you've exhausted all of your options.

But I think this is a little bit of what the promise of Trump was which is to break the norms, do something that hasn't been done, and I think you need some room to potentially succeed.

CUOMO: So, Mike Pompeo, this is obviously a strong play for him to try to get some people back on board. The stakes here, Chris Cillizza, what is the potential upside? What is the potential risk for the Trump administration?

CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER: Let me quickly on Pompeo, he can be reported out unfavorably out of committee, still get a vote, and because it's only majority needed still be confirmed as secretary of state.

[08:10:04] It's never happened before that you've opinion reported unfavorably out of committee for secretary of state, but it can happen. So let's just say that.

The stakes here I think are vast. I'm still amazed that we appear to be heading, now more than ever, we appear to be heading to an actual across a table sit down between North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, the president of the United States. If you would have told me that six months ago, I would've been stunned. This is to David's point. I feel like I'm stunned a lot in the presidency of Donald Trump, unconventional is his conventional.

I would argue in his first 16 months as president, his unconventional approach has done him much more harm in the country, much more harm than good, but this is a situation in which he now looks likely that he going to get across the table from Kim Jong-un. Is it possible that even if a deal is made that deal is not kept? Yes. Is it possible no deal is made? Yes.

But he's going to it seems to me get further than anyone expected and certainly than any recent president has ever come close to. I think deserves some level of credit for creating the opportunity for change. Now, there's a huge difference between the opportunity for change and actual change in that relationship, but you don't get actual change without creating that opportunity.

CAMEROTA: OK, another global hot spot with high stakes, Syria. So U.N. ambassador Nikki Haley went on the Sunday shows on Sunday and said that there would be sanctions coming that day or the following day, meaning this past Monday, to Syria's sponsor Russia because of the reported chemical attack, and then they didn't happen. And they didn't happen on Sunday, they didn't happen on Monday, they didn't happen on Tuesday, and then Larry Kudlow, the national economic council chairman, said this about Nikki Haley. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LARRY KUDLOW, NATIONAL ECONOMIC COUNCIL DIRECTOR: She got ahead of the curve. She's done a great job. She's a very effective ambassador. There might have been some momentary confusion about that.


CAMEROTA: Nikki Haley then responded with this statement, would you like to do the honors?

CUOMO: "With all due respect, I don't get confused."

CAMEROTA: There you go.

CILLIZZA: Ice cold.

CAMEROTA: So there's a million ways to parse this, David Gregory. One is that this tiff has spilled out publicly between Nikki Haley and I guess the president who decided not to do these sanctions. The other is why aren't they doing sanctions on Russia? What changed?

GREGORY: On that latter point, I think if we weren't in the middle of this Russian investigation you could look at some level of caution, especially in Syria, how you want to approach the Russians. There's always the threat that whatever conflict we're engaged in can escalate to become the United States and Russia that would be an unintended consequence of trying to degrade his chemical weapons capacity or ultimately try to force Assad out of power, which doesn't seem to be the administration goal.

But I do think in the broader context the unknowable at this point is to what extent Trump is contaminated by his fear that any ground he gives saying that Russia's dangerous or a threat is somehow feeding the idea that he's an illegitimate president. I don't think he can go there and I think that clouds his thinking about Russia, and that's the bottom line.

This I think is bumbling. I think he changed and made Nikki Haley look bad. Larry Kudlow unnecessarily made her look mad because they changed what the deal was. She was sent out on the Sunday shows to announce the deal as she understood it. I think this is bumbling within the administration.

CUOMO: Look, David, your point about the president's sensitivity to the Russia sanctions and to what James Comey meant to that is obvious because he just tweeted about it literally almost while you were speaking. He said, "Slippery James Comey, the worst FBI director in history, was not fired because of a phony Russian investigation where, by the way, there was no collusion except by the Dems." Of course the end of this tweet is demonstratively false. The investigation is not over. They're dealing with plenty of evidence of potentially collusion, but we'll have to see how the investigation comes out. The Democrats aren't the target. He and his cadre of supporters during the campaign are. But that's the simple part. The more complicated part is what he says perfect that, which is I didn't fire Comey because of the investigation. I remind you of Lester Holt, NBC News, and this statement from President Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: But regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey knowing there was no good time to do it. And, in fact, when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story, it's an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should've won.


[08:15:01] CUOMO: So he said exactly the opposite. He said when Lester Holt gave him a different scenario for why he was getting rid of Comey, no, no, no. It wasn't about the Rosenstein letter. I was going to do it any way and it was because of how I felt about the Russia investigation and how is that not just, you know, an obviously and simply demonstrated hypocrisy?


CUOMO: Next question.

CILLIZZA: No collusion. No, I mean, I think what you have here is, is that interview is classic -- the Lester Holt interview is classic Trump. If you remember the context, he was annoyed and we knew this from reporting contemporaneous reporting at the time that he was annoyed that people were saying all he did was take Rod Rosenstein, things change so much, take Rod Rosenstein's recommendation for getting rid of Comey in the memo. He was annoyed that he was not the main player, the guy who made the final call who said, you know, cliched, you're fired.

So, he was retaking that narrative back in that Lester Holt interview, Donald Trump is the man in charge, Donald Trump is the decision maker, is the firer and in so doing, he has now directly contradicted what he's trying to argue now. Donald Trump is the one who said the Russia thing was what was the real reason that he had already decided to get rid of Comey before the Rod Rosenstein memo. It makes my head explode.

GREGORY: Well, there's two things you have to hold in your head at the same time, which is why it's exploding for a lot of people. Rod Rosenstein's criticism of James Comey had to do with his handling of the email investigation for Hillary Clinton and Comey's actions during that were unprecedented and completely wrong and his sanctimony in his book doesn't help his case. His inappropriate discussion publicly about, you know, private conversations he had with parties involved in that investigation is why so many prosecutors current and former have gone after Comey for violating the norms of how you're supposed to behave yourself. And that's undermined his reputation.

But the other side of the brain deals with Trump and this part is where Trump is mad because Comey himself won't investigate and disprove the Russia -- the Steele dossier. He won't give Mike Flynn a break and he won't promise his blood loyalty to the president. All this is building and the president says, I don't like this Russia investigation, I'm just going to fire the guy and that's the piece that's potential obstruction of justice that undermines rule of law and the independence of the FBI and the Justice Department and that's why the president is under close scrutiny.

CAMEROTA: All right. David Gregory, Chris Cillizza, thank you very much for the analysis.

CUOMO: All right. Another big and sad story this morning is remembering the life and legacy of the late former First Lady Barbara Bush. She passed away last night 92 years of age. Mrs. Bush was fiercely devoted to family, the cause of literacy, children with AIDS and many other situations that made her at times controversy. Matriarch of a political dynasty, the second woman in history to have a husband and son elected president.

Joining us now is CNN special correspondent Jamie Gangel, who has covered the Bush family extensively.

And, of course, I got to respect my own mom who is very careful with me in saying don't just make her about her son and her husband. They reflect her greatness, not vice versa. She put greatness into her kids. She counseled her husband in a way that was unique and this was a woman who was about causes as much as anybody in political life. Fair appraisal by Mama Cuomo?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Your mother is always right, Chris.

CUOMO: She is.

GANGEL: What can I tell you?


GANGEL: No, it's true. She was an incredible political partner. They had this amazing family together. Literacy was not just a cause, it was a passion. She raised hundreds of millions of dollars for literacy.

The two of them together raised, after they left the White House, they helped to raise more than $1 billion for charity, for cancer, for literacy, for volunteerism.

She was also a lot of fun. There was no one better to sit next to. She was direct. She was outspoken and it wasn't just to her family. I want to show you some interviews that we did with some VIPs.

Take a listen.


CONDI RICE, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: She is -- she's a wonderful mother and grandmother and all of those things, but she's also very tough. I remember going to Kennebunkport and I was staying in a nice bedroom upstairs, and she said, now, you know, anything -- this is your home. But you do know that we make our own beds and I said, OK, Mrs. Bush. I get it. I'll make my own bed. She is -- she's just wonderful.

[08:20:02] COLIN POWELL, FORMER U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I'll never forget the first time I met her was at a lunch at the French embassy and I just arrived in the White House. I'm a three star general and I'm seated next to Mrs. Bush and I turn, good afternoon, Mrs. Bush. Great pleasure to meet you, ma'am.

She says, call me Barbara. I said, I can't do that, ma'am. Why can't you do it? Ma'am, you're the wife of the vice president of the United States. And she says, I don't care, call me Barbara.

Ma'am, my mother would kill me. If you don't do it, I'll kill you. Yes, Barbara.


CAMEROTA: Jamie, that's great. Again, that really tells you -- she was -- she was plain spoken. She was straightforward. There were no airs and it's confirmed by people closest to her.

GANGEL: Right. And like Chris's mother, she was always right.


CAMEROTA: Yes, apparently so.

I can't help but think of her grandchildren and granddaughters who have been in the public eye today. It's so hard to lose a grandmother and I can imagine how close they were to her and she with all of her many grandchildren.

GANGEL: They all spent summers with her up in Kennebunkport, and if we have a minute, she said something in her Wellesley speech that I think really, for me, always summed up her life.

She said at the end of your life you never regret not having passed one more test, not winning one more verdict or not closing one more deal, you will regret time not spent with a husband, a friend, a child, or a parent. And that's the way Barbara Bush lived her life.

CAMEROTA: That's beautiful.

Jamie, thank you very much for sharing all of that with us.

GANGEL: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: All right. So, we're learning now as we say good bye to Barbara Bush there, about a new incident this morning involving a Southwest jet, OK? This just one day after that terrifying midair engine failure that led to one passenger's death. We have our aviation experts here to discuss all of this next and we'll tell you the new incident as well.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [08:25:44] CUOMO: We have breaking news out of Nashville. These are live pictures that you're seeing right now. It seems like a nonevent but they follow another incident involving a Southwest Airlines flight. This time it was a bird strike and it forced Southwest Flight 577 to return to the Nashville airport shortly after takeoff.

Nobody was hurt. The plane was headed to Phoenix when it was struck midair. The strike caused some type of electrical or mechanical failure. Again, no injuries reported but the plane has been taken out of service.

CAMEROTA: My gosh, remarkable. Of course, this comes just hours after that deadly midair engine failure on the southwest flight New York to Dallas yesterday. One passenger died after shrapnel from the engine smashed the window that she was seated next to, nearly sucking her out of the plane. The NTSB is investigating what cause that had accident.

And joining us, we have CNN aviation analyst Mary Schiavo and Miles O'Brien.

Thank you both for being here.

So, Miles, it is remarkable that this didn't end in an even more catastrophic way, I think. You're a pilot.

What do you think was going on in the cockpit while all of this was happening in the cabin?

MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: By all account that cockpit was rather calm and cool. The captain, Tammie Jo Shults was one of the first female navy fighter pilots. She obviously has been in a lot of tough situations doing that, landing on aircraft carriers is not for the faint of heart and just listening to her on the radio was just textbook. She performed flawlessly, she did declare the emergency, went straight to the nearest airport and did everything by the book in spite of the fact that behind her on the other side of that cockpit door must have been pure chaos and terror.

CAMEROTA: We just talked to two passengers about how every one was -- some people were screaming and crying. A lot of people were trying to reach their relatives on the ground, trying to text them. They thought these were the final moments of their life and of course they did.

Mary, I mean, it's just so chilling, really, to listen to them. In terms of what caused this, it sounds like investigators are looking at metal fatigue. Here's what is unsettling. We just had the NTSB chairman on who said this is not anything that you could detect with a visual inspection.

You can't see metal fatigue, so then what are you supposed to do?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Well, you know, what's unfortunate here is the timing leading up to this. You have to do ultra sonic inspection and the manufacturer SFM issued a service bulletin in June of last year calling for just that, recommended that operators who had planes with 15,000 or more hours on their engines that they should perform these ultra sonic testings and on each fan blade.

The trouble is the Federal Aviation Administration also proposed a directive which has enforce of U.S. law in October for last year for the same thing but it went nowhere. It was never enacted. So, whether or not all operators of these planes performed this testing, we don't know. That is something that the NTSB will have to tell us.

CAMEROTA: Well, that's really scary, because guess what, in August of 2015, so I guess roughly a year and a half ago, there was also an engine failure, something similar happened on a different Southwest airplane.

So, Miles, does it sound like to you that this is metal fatigue and this is something that everybody needs to start taking more seriously?

O'BRIEN: Absolutely and that's why this investigation is headed. You know, we're talking about the first fatality on a U.S. airliner since 2009. It's an amazing safety record and the reason we're so safe in the aviation industry is we learn from incidents and mistakes and events that happen.

August 2016, metal fatigue, a fan blade breaks off, nobody got injured but it was hauntingly parallel to what happened yesterday. The National Transportation Safety Board investigation is still open.

They're so overwhelmed at the NTSB, they haven't closed out the investigation and the FAA did not take the appropriate amount of urgency to respond to that and now we have what appears to be a repeat scenario. It's time to consider emergency inspections and grounding that engine to ensure the flying public is safe. There is an issue here and an open question as to whether there are other metal fatigue cracks in fan blades flying around as we speak.

CAMEROTA: Mary, it sounds like you're both sounding the alarm this morning about this.