Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Sends General to Help Saudi Investigators after Deadly Strike; Trump: Harley-Davidson Boycott would be "Great"; FBI NTSB Investigating how Airport Worker was able to Steal Plane; White Nationalists Outnumbered by Anti-Hate Protesters. Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired August 13, 2018 - 10:30   ET




NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Many of the bodies, found after the attack, are so mutilated that the process of identifying them has been drawn out and torturous. While the men busy themselves digging little graves waiting to be filled one by one.

You can hear the joy in the Osama's voice. Ali Mohammad, he calls out chasing behind them, wait. Let's take a picture. And the camera goes dead.

ELBAGIR (on camera): The little boy who was filming that, Poppy, Osama, both he and his brother died. His parents spoke to us very briefly but they were -- their grief is such that they were unable to really give us much beyond how absolutely heartbroken they are. Poppy?

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Nima, thank you for being on this story and for bringing it to us as we learn more.

Let's talk about what the U.S. is doing about this and the investigation that has begun at the Pentagon, my colleague Barbara Starr with more. You know, the U.S./Saudi relationship is central in all of this, right? And the arms deal between the U.K., the U.S. and Saudi Arabia. Now, Mattis says they are sending investigators over and this was a Saudi coalition strike. So, what happens now?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, what we know was the Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters over the weekend, he is sending a three star general. They are not issuing the person's name yet to Saudi Arabia to find out what happened in the Saudi's conducting the investigation, the United Nations and U.S. State Department also calling for an investigation. These three-star general is tasked at least for the moment with trying to determine what happened and what needs to be done from keeping it from happening again.

How welcoming the Saudi military will be to the U.S. Military, if there is any criticism to be had of Saudi actions here. The Saudi's may not be very welcoming of that. What the U.S. has been doing in Saud Arabia for years now is backing the Saudi-led coalition that operates in Yemen, helping with refueling the aircraft. We don't know if that was involved here and helping with targeting intelligence. And we also do not know what the U.S. may or may not have done to help identify this target. Poppy?

HARLOW: That's important reporting, Barbara, thank you very much for that.

Ahead for us, changing gears. They are bikers who back the president. But do they think that a boycott of Harley-Davidson is great like the president said this weekend? One of them will join me next.


[10:37:29] HARLOW: This morning, President Trump is encouraging a boycott against Harley-Davidson, the motorcycle company. He writes, "Many Harley-Davidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. That is great!"

The president's tweet followed a "New York Times" piece that highlighted Harley owners who say they are angry with the company's decision to shift production of the bikes that it sells in Europe to Europe. The reason that they're doing that, Harley-Davidson says, is because of the retaliatory tariffs on steel and aluminum in retaliation to the president's own tariffs.

Chris Cox is with me. He is the founder of Bikers for Trump. Thank you for being here.


HARLOW: I know you are supporting a boycott of Harley-Davidson. Why?

COX: Well, there are many reasons. You know, at this point, boycott is a little harsh word. Bikers don't like that word. If we had our way, we would help Harley-Davidson reinvent that company and get it back to its American roots to remember the veterans, the blue collar and people that kept them afloat all these years. Many times they were in turmoil and we stuck with them. Now we need them and all other companies to stick with America.

HARLOW: As you know, because you have been following this so closely, the reason that Harley-Davidson writes in its SEC filing as to why it's moving production of just the motorcycles it sells in Europe, moving those over to Europe, is essentially to stay in business. I mean it's going to cost them millions and millions of dollars, up to $100 million even before they move that part of the business. They want to stay afloat and they point directly to the president's tariffs and the retaliatory tariffs on those as the reason that the cost just became too high to create those bikes in this country anymore. So, is it the president's own fault?

COX: No. Let me shed a little light on that. Harley-Davidson has been planning this for some time. About seven years ago they bought a motorcycle company in Europe. Several years later, it went belly up and cost them millions of dollars. One of the only things left from that botched deal is a Matt Levatich, I believe his name is and which has European ties.

So, if they were just thinking about this, why do they have a CEO with European ties for the last four years? Not to mention, I think over $2 billion in 2008 with the government bailout, not to mention that Warren Buffett bailed them out, not to mention that the --

HARLOW: I'm sorry. Hold on. There's a lot of -- hold on. There is a lot of assertions that you just made about bailouts. And I'm not sure what you are talking about Warren Buffett bailing who out?

[10:40:06] COX: Warren Buffett bailed out Harley-Davidson at one point. He was criticized but you don't find a lot of criticisms going yet to Warren Buffett. But had he not accepted the payment back, it would have been one of the most lucrative deals that he ever made.

HARLOW: OK. All right, I'm unfamiliar with that. But getting to the substance, this is a regulatory filing where Harley-Davidson talks about the fact that its business would not be sustainable. It says it's the only sustainable option to move this production, which is what a lot of automakers do - as you know, they make cars in Europe that they sell in Europe. But they make cars in Asia that they sell in Asia. This is not the first company to do that. Case in point, I mean you sell these Trump T-shirts, right? Did you bring one with you?

COX: No. But your producer asked me to send one. I am very happy to. You have to get your information from the "New York Times," which forgot to mention that our staple is our patch. This is made in Virginia Beach, Virginia. For us, we sell T-shirts that are made in America really just did not very affordable for the bikers.

HARLOW: Well, that's an interesting point, right? Just so people know the pictures we're showing you on the side sell Trump T-shirts, Bikers for Trump. But they are made in Haiti. And you told "The New York Times" the reason that you have to make them in Haiti is because it's unaffordable to make them in America. That it costs too much. So, I mean, isn't that doing exactly what Harley is doing?

COX: Like Harley-Davidson, Bikers for Trump was born in America. We weren't -- we don't survive on the blood, sweat and spit of the American blue collar and the veteran who kept them afloat for so long. Let me tell you a quote that Matt Levatich said in a financial publication shortly after the RNC was in Washington and Cleveland and the DNC was this Philadelphia. He came out and said, quote, "I don't feel like either party has much to offer. Quite frankly, the Republicans are leading the crazy train." This is coming from a CEO that is running a company that was built on the blood, sweat, spit, callous and scabs of American hard workers.


HARLOW: I am unfamiliar with that quote. And I have read a lot about him and have not seen it. But let me read you something else that the Harley-Davidson CEO said after making this decision. Quote, "We worked very hard to be apolitical in how we approach our business and our consumers everywhere in the world. We have to do what we have to do based on the facts and circumstances before us and we are doing that." Let me ask you this. If Harley-Davidson were not to move the production of European bikes over to Europe and it cost the business so much that it was not able to sustain nearly the amount of jobs that they hope to retain here in the United States, then what? If they don't move the business, they say that it's unsustainable to be operating the way it s. Are you concerned that could cost more American jobs frankly?

COX: No. I'm glad you mentioned that. That's why we are here. We are here for the owners of Harley-Davidson dealerships and more importantly, we're here for the mechanics that work at Harley- Davidson, the front office, the back office. If Harley-Davidson was to come up with ironclad servants' plan that was a sweetheart deal in the event that things go wayward, then it may be a little more easier to support them. But at this point after the comments that he made about the Republican Party and having not done his own work -- Bikers for Trump were already political phenomenon, we were already making more news in the political news cycle than just any demographic.

So, it just goes to show you how out of touch he is. We would urge the shareholders and Bikers for Trump would urge Harley-Davidson to reconsider their leadership and to try to identify someone within their ideals back to the American way so that the American bikers, veterans, blue collar to help reinvent that company. But for them to move out of this country when our president is trying to give us an equitable, clean slate so that moving forward Americans and American companies will not be taken advantage of. This is a no brainer for us. We stuck with them. They are going to stick with America or they're going to have bad news ahead.

HARLOW: Chris Cox, let us know when you have the source of the publication that the CEO you argue made that comment to. It would be good to see it and share it with our viewers. Thank you for being here.

COX: Thank you.

HARLOW: All right. So, to Seattle, over the weekend, and how did he pull this off? Huge security gaps exposed after an airport worker stole a commercial plane, flew it around and then crashed it, next.


[10:49:18] HARLOW: New this morning, human remains have been located in the wreckage of that Horizon airplane that was crashed, stolen and crashed near Seattle. It was stolen by the airport worker you see here, Richard Russell. He flew the plane for about an hour before crashing it into a heavily wooded island. Take a listen to this newly obtained audio from him in the cockpit speaking just moments before the crash, speaking with air traffic control.


RICHARD RUSSELL, AIRPORT EMPLOYEE: I've got a lot of people that care about me. It's going to disappoint them to hear that I did this. I would like to apologize to each and every one of them. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose I guess. Never really knew it until now.


[10:50:09] HARLOW: Alan Bell is with me. He's a former Navy pilot and air traffic controller. And Allen, I wish we had played so you could also have heard the calm with which the air traffic controllers. You know, when I was reading these transcripts, how they were talking him through. You know, trying to get him down, to land the plane. There's an open area here to take the plane down. You served in air traffic control. How do you prepare for something like this?

ALAN BELL, FORMER NAVY PILOT AND AIR TRAFFIC CONTROLLER: Well, the human element of this is probably the most interesting one. And there's probably no way you could prepare for something exactly like this. But I think that in the days ahead as we look back on this incident, after we get by the shock of the initial tragedy of losing a human life and of course, the airplane that went with it. I think we're going to look at this as a success story because in the wake of 9/11, the air traffic management community has put a game plan in place. And all of the controllers who are involved executed that game plan as well as it possible could have been, including some of the other pilots who are on the frequency. Throughout the entire course of the communication process for as you mentioned almost an hour, they were trying to give him alternatives, they were trying to give him a way out. But it seems evident from everything we know that this individual was really committed to his course of action. I'm not sure there was anything that anyone could have said to change the outcome.

HARLOW: Well, it begs the question, what could have been done to prevent it from even happening, right? To prevent a plane from being able to be stolen like this by an airport worker who had cleared through the security checks. We know Congress is trying to tighten the rules on this, right?

I mean the House, the bipartisan legislation passed in the House late last year, called for more stringent employee background checks, especially looking into, you know, any terrorism threats, et cetera. It doesn't really dive into mental health concerns. What is the one thing you think could be done on the part of Congress to prevent something like this again?

BELL: Well, just more of what they are doing to enable the research and the development of new security measures that can be put in place both by Homeland Security and by the FAA. But I think, again, this is really a success story because although the incident did occur, something that no one could realistically have forecasted, it was very well managed. And we shouldn't forget --

HARLOW: But the fact that it even happened, right? I mean, something needs to change. No?

BELL: Yes. And you know, I think throughout the entire course of aviation history, one of the things that we see consistently is that we have failures and we have accidents. But we learn from them. And we go back and we fix the problems. I'm sure that in the days to come that these lapses and the gaps in our security will be addressed and fixed.

HARLOW: OK. Alan Bell, thank you for being here.

BELL: My pleasure.

HARLOW: Next for me, rallying against hate. We will speak one on one with a reverend who helped lead those counter protests this weekend.


[10:57:21] HARLOW: One year after the violent clashes in Charlottesville, white nationalists were widely outnumbered in the nation's capital this weekend. They gathered near the White House at a Unite the Right rally on Sunday. Hundreds of anti-hate protesters surrounded them. In Charlottesville, church leaders organized a rally for faith and healing exactly one year after Heather Heyer and two Virginia officers were killed there.

Joining me now is Brittany Caine-Conley. She's a minister and helped put on that rally yesterday. Thank you for being here.


HARLOW: You said recently, we weren't prepared for how difficult it was going to be afterward. How long the trauma would linger everyday has felt like August 13th. Where have we come as a nation in a year?

CONLEY: I believe we're definitely making strides. More people are coming along in the work of anti-racism. But we still have a long way to go. We know here in Charlottesville, the white supremacy didn't arrive last August 12th, and it certainly isn't gone now and we will continue to do that work.

HARLOW: You have talked about being so much more than -- you say Charlottesville is not just a hashtag. This is work that goes on every single day. Can you talk about the progress that you believe has been made in the last year?

CONLEY: Sure. We certainly are having more people come along with efforts, for example, to have more affordable housing, to do court support for the black and brown people who are consistently targeted by police, to have court support for those who were targeted last year on August 12th, three black men for simply protecting their own selves and their own bodies. So it's ongoing, the movements, such as these that people are starting to come along with, but we definitely need more people with us.

HARLOW: Heather Heyer's mother said over the weekend -- of course, she was murdered by a neo-Nazi, a white supremacist there -- it was not all about Heather. It was never all about Heather. She represents something bigger. Do you agree?

CONLEY: Oh, absolutely. I know Heather's mom has been really working to prioritize the needs and the voices of people of color who particularly here in Charlottesville have been doing this work for a very long time. And Heather gave her life up for a cause that's much wider than herself and much larger than the August 12th narrative here in Charlottesville.

HARLOW: Minister Brittany Caine-Conley, thank you for what you do and thank you for being with me today.

CONLEY: Thank you very much.

HARLOW: And thanks everyone for joining us. I will see you here tomorrow morning. I'm Poppy Harlow at New York. "At This Hour" with Kate Bolduan starts now.