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Race for Commercial Space Travel; Trump Encourages Boycott; Data Recorder Recovered from Stolen Plane; Omarosa Releases Recording. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired August 13, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Close are we to making space tourism a reality?

With us now, Nicholas Schmidle, who's a staff writer at "The New Yorker" magazine, who spent four years embedded with Virgin Galactic, one of the companies, of course, hoping to soon fly passengers into space. His new article "Rocket Man" profiles the pilot who's risking it all to make Richard Branson's vision a reality. You can read it in the new issue of "The New Yorker." And it is fascinating.

As we look at all of this, it's also interesting because you spend these four years there at Virgin Galactic and the messaging out of Virgin Galactic is much different at this point than what we heard for years. In fact, it's much quieter. You said in your entire time there you saw one other news crew. Why so quiet?

NICHOLAS SCHMIDLE, STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": Yes, that's right. So I started my reporting at Virgin Galactic just a matter of a week or two after they suffered a fatal crash in October of 2014. And up until that point there was a lot of boosterism, there was a lot of optimistic statements about when they were going to be in space and that it was just around the corner.

And after the crash, I think it was not only humbling from an operational perspective, but I think they took a different approach, which was, at that point they still needed to rebuild or build another spaceship to replace the one that crashed in the desert and they needed to resume their test flight program. And they saw that being a long path and I think they didn't want to get sort of in their own way with making statements about when they were going to be ready to do this. And so it's been just an amazing and inspiring, you know, like you said, nearly four years of being out there almost a dozen trips out to Mojave, California, to spend time with them.

HILL: talk about rare access. They are -- Virgin Galactic, of course, is not the only company that wants to work on private space tourism. You also have Blue Origin. You have SpaceX. What's the real difference between the three of them?

SCHMIDLE: Right. So what Virgin Galactic is trying to do at this point, they are aspiring for suborbital space tours, which is getting -- sort of crossing the threshold of space, which is approximately 100 kilometers above sea level. The flight would last from the time that they release using a mothership at about 45,000 feet, it would be a 13-minute flight, not into orbit, just thrusting into space. You experience about four minutes of weightlessness and then you glide down to earth.

Blue Origin has a similar altitude aspiration, also suborbital, but they're using a vertical -- traditional sort of vertical launch platform. They also have an orbital rocket that they are developing.

Whereas SpaceX is arguably the most advanced at this point and, you know, Elon Musk wants nothing less than to colonize Mars. So they are -- they are different models but all competing to try and put people into space, put passengers into space.

HILL: It's also fascinating, I think, the outlook that Richard Branson has about what this endeavor really is. And he told you that their vehicle, the purpose of it, is not escapist, but humanistic, believing that once people get to space they'll come back with renewed enthusiasm to try and tackle what's happening on this planet. That's a much different outlook it seems.

SCHMIDLE: Yes. Well, so, exactly. I mean, it is interesting to hear Branson compare what Elon Musk is trying to do with what Virgin Galactic is trying to do. And, you know, he's very complimentary toward Elon Musk. And after Elon Musk launched the Falcon Heavy back in February, you know, Branson went on -- went on television and said, you know, how impressive that was and that he hoped that he could -- that he could, quote, upstage that one, but acknowledged, like you said, that they were -- they were sort of using space flight and space travel as a way of opening up access to space for more American -- for more people around the world. And by doing that, there's this consequence called the overview effect that Branson comes back to, which is that when you go to space and you look down on the earth, you realize -- you see there are no divisions, there's no race, there's no ethnicity, et cetera, and that you sort of come back with a renewed purpose of trying to solve the problems in this world. And that was -- that's sort of the ethos that's guiding Branson through this venture.

HILL: Which is fascinating.

How do you see, if at all, these private industries, and specifically Virgin Galactic, possibly playing a role, helping in some way with this Space Force that we were told by the vice president could be established by 2020 he's hoping?

SCHMIDLE: Right. So, I mean, the -- what Space Force will do and what those capabilities are remain very vague at this point. And, obviously, with militaries going -- is already doing in space or is going to be doing in space in the near future is going to remain deeply classified and what not.

Some of the -- there have been some statements over the course of the past few years, the Air Force chief of staff said a couple of years ago that Branson -- if Branson's suborbital model was proven and became successful, that, you know, the notion that you could put an American special operations team on a vehicle that could travel around the world in, you know, three or four hours, to be able to sort of drop special operations units in some hot spot around the world in a very short amount of time, that that was one opportunity.

[08:35:00] But I do just think there's this private/public partnership brings a whole world of innovation to the government programs.

HILL: There's certainly a lot of interest for folks at home, we know that.

Really appreciate it. Good to have you with us and really great, fascinating reporting.

SCHMIDLE: Thanks for having me on. Thanks.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of interest here between us over the break.

HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: That answered all my questions that I had for you.

HILL: Good.

BERMAN: All right, key security questions after an airline worker stole a plane from a major airport. How on earth did this happen?


[08:40:03] BERMAN: Time for "CNN Money Now."

President Trump once again attacking Harley-Davidson, encouraging a boycott if Harley moves production overseas. Remarkable to hear from any president, let alone a Republican president.

HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: Our chief business correspondent Christine Romans in the Money Center with the latest.


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: I mean, really, John, cheerleading a boycott of an American company. The president declared it is great that many Harley-Davidson owners plan to boycott the company if manufacturing moves overseas. No comment, by the way, from Harley-Davidson.

Now, Trump first criticized Harley in June, remember, after it announced plans to ship some production out of the U.S. Harley will make motorcycles for its European customers abroad. Europe is its second largest market and it needs to avoid steep E.U. tariffs that would cost it $100 million a year. Those tariffs are retaliation for Trump's tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

And, guess what, that policy hikes costs for Harley by another 20 million a year. And fact is, sales have been slowing in the U.S. for some time and growing in Europe and Asia. Trump's own trade policies make it good business to make bikes closer to where they're going to be sold.

Another irony, John, and you mentioned it, a Republican president attacking an American company over a business decision? Just unheard of. Trump has threatened Harley with higher taxes and public backlash. His tweet came over hosting a Bikers for Trump event over the weekend. Trump invited hundreds of bikers to his Bedminster golf club.


HILL: Christine, thank you.

The FBI has located human remains inside the wreckage of a plane stolen by an airline employee in Seattle. Investigators also recovering the flight data recorder and components of the cockpit voice recorder.

CNN's Dan Simon has more from us from Seattle.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my God. Oh, my God. Is he OK?

DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's just after 7:30 Friday night at Sea-Tac Airport when Horizon Air ground worker Richard Russell steals the passenger Q400 turbo prop and takes it for a deadly joyride.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Right now he's just flying around and he just needs some help controlling his aircraft.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Not me. I don't need that much help. I've played some video games before.

SIMON: A calm air traffic controller tries to persuade Russell to attempt a landing, advising that a military air base is in his vicinity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There is the -- the runway just off your right side in about a mile. Do you see that? That's the -- that's the -- that's McChord Field.

RUSSELL: Oh, man, those guys would rough me up if I tried landing there. I think I'd -- I think I might mess something up there too. I wouldn't want to do that.

SIMON: But it becomes increasingly clear --

RUSSELL: This is probably like jail time for life, huh? I mean I would hope it is for a guy like me.

SIMON: That Russell has no intention of making it out live.

RUSSELL: I think I'm going to try to do a barrel role. And if that goes good, then I'm just going to nose down and call it a night.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Guys, he's coming this way. He's doing a weave. What do we do?

SIMON: Russell, who officials believe had no experience flying a plane, makes treacherous loops as armed F-15s scramble to prevent massive casualties on the ground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: All right, Rich, this is Captain Bill. Congratulations, you did that, now let's -- let's try to land that airplane safely and not hurt anybody on the ground.

RUSSELL: All right, ah, damnit, I don't know, man, I don't know.

SIMON: Moments before crashing into a small forested island, the 29- year-old says his good-byes.

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


SIMON: Well, colleagues who work with Russell tell me that what happened is completely at odds with the person they knew. They say that he was an extremely hard worker. That he was a good friend and had a great sense of humor. They said they did not detect any mental illness.


BERMAN: All right, such a disturbing story. Dan Simon for us in Seattle. Dan, thank you.

Prosecutors in Paul Manafort's bank and tax fraud trial say they expect to wrap up their case against the president's former campaign chair. So far 26 witnesses have been called to the stand. The only remaining scheduled witness is an executive at the bank that Manafort is accused of defrauding for millions. Manafort's team then will have its turn in court.

HILL: Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison denying allegations he abused a woman he was romantically involved with. Ellison is deputy chairman of the DNC. Karen Monahan alleges he drag her off a bed by her feet and berated her with profane language. She and he son claim there is video of that incident. Ellison is running for Minnesota attorney general in tomorrow's primary.

BERMAN: A unicorn float and weeds don't mix. Just ask some women in Minneapolis. Police drove by a lake this weekend and spotted the unicorn and his pals struggling. Turns out they were stuck in a patch of weeds. An officer was able to reel them in. The women made it back safely to sure. I had to read this very carefully --

[08:45:02] HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: Because it said unicorn float and weeds.

HILL: With an "s."

BERMAN: With an "s." Because unicorn and weed, that's something that happens all the time.

HILL: That is a totally different story.

BERMAN: Yes, that would not be news.

HILL: Right.

BERMAN: Unicorn float and weeds, plural, that's something completely different and newsworthy here.

HILL: There you go. And also there are wings on that. So I don't know if it's like a unicorn Pegasus sort of situation.

BERMAN: It can happen, rainbow wings.

HILL: There you go. (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: Well, it goes back to the unicorn and weed thing. It can be -- there can be rainbows, I'm told.

HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: All right, Omarosa, does she have legal issues? Does the president now have some serious issues if she has dozens and dozens more recordings? "The Bottom Line" is next.


BERMAN: Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault Newman released another recording this morning. And this one is of the president of the United States. She claims it came the day after she was fired by Chief of Staff John Kelly. And in it the president denies what he knew about her firing. It follows the release of another secret audio recording inside the Situation Room that Omarosa claims is the moment that Kelly dismissed her.

[08:50:12] Let's get "The Bottom Line." With us, CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Since the last time we spoke, Jeffrey --


BERMAN: Which was not all that long ago, frankly.

TOOBIN: It was a little more than an hour, yes.

BERMAN: A little more than an hour ago.

HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: There has been this recording released. Omarosa, she says, recorded a phone call with the president of the United States the day after she was fired. I think it is worth listening to again. Let's listen.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Omarosa, what's going on? I just saw on the news that you're thinking about leaving. What happened?

OMAROSA MANIGAULT NEWMAN: General Kelly -- General Kelly came to me and said that you guys wanted me to leave.

TRUMP: No, I -- nobody even told me about it.


TRUMP: Nobody -- you know, they run a big operation, but I didn't know it. I didn't know that.


TRUMP: Goddamn it. I don't love you leaving at all.


BERMAN: I don't love you leaving at all he says, acting as if he didn't know she was gone. That's one whole thing right there.

TOOBIN: Yes, who knows -- who knows, by the way, whether he's telling the truth. I mean that's --

BERMAN: We don't. We don't know.


BERMAN: And Omarosa was pressed on that repeatedly by Savannah and Omarosa wasn't clear whether or not she believed that the president knows or not.

TOOBIN: Right.

BERMAN: The bigger issue is, is that -- that this former senior adviser to the president is recording a phone call she had with the president.

TOOBIN: Well, I mean clearly her behavior, especially taping in the -- in -- you know, making an audio recording within the Situation Room was a firing offense. She was being fired on the -- on the tape. So, you know, it's sort of redundant in that regard.


TOOBIN: But the whole thing is so surreal.

I think, you know, it's better to view this whole drama as an insight into the character of the people involved and the nature of the White House, rather than a legal issue. I don't think anybody's going to prosecute Omarosa. Washington appears to be a one party consent locale. So it doesn't appear to be illegal.

But this is a great insight into how the White House works and the kind of people who work there.

HILL: Well, and, to her point, she was saying she had to record everything because everybody lies in the White House, which is -- which is fascinating on a number of levels.

TOOBIN: Right.

HILL: Looking at this though, legally we had talked about not a lot of legal recourse here for obvious reasons.


HILL: However, is there anything that could be put in place moving forward, legal or not, that would actually be stronger deterrent to keep things like this from happening?

TOOBIN: Well, you know --

HILL: I mean it's sort of been tried but --

TOOBIN: I mean, you know, all workplaces operate to a certain extent on the honor system. I mean, as far as I'm aware, CNN, Turner, does not have a rule that you don't tape your employees when you are having conversations with them. I think it's understood that that is anti- social and bad behavior, as it is in most workplaces.

HILL: Right.

TOOBIN: It is certainly true that in the Situation Room, because of the classified nature of so much that goes on there, you know, they have this system of checking your cell phones in little lockers before you go in. But, you know, I think this is really more a matter of trust and personnel rather than, you know, legal recourse.

BERMAN: Well, Josh Dawsey and Maggie Haberman, "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times," both reporting there could be dozens of recordings that Omarosa has. Josh Dawsey said maybe more than 100 tapes or recordings that she has of conversations she had in the White House. That's a lot. I mean, forget the legal issues here. As a political matter now, this seems problematic potentially for the White House.

TOOBIN: Well, it is because, obviously, regardless of the propriety of the taping itself, you want to know what's on -- what's on the tapes. I mean think about what happened during the 2016 campaign with WikiLeaks. It was totally inappropriate for someone -- illegal indeed to hack John Podesta's e-mails, to hack the DNC e-mails. But once they existed in the world, everybody wanted to see them and discern whether there was any real news in them.

HILL: And we should point out too, Maggie, this morning, also referencing reporting that she had with her colleague, Katie Rogers, from a couple of months ago that there were recordings from other people who were not Omarosa that they knew about.

BERMAN: That's crazy.

HILL: So the fact that it may not just be Omarosa is fascinating.

I want to play -- you know, you alluded to the fact that, you know, we were sort of getting differing answers or sort of a lack of a definitive answer from Omarosa on the -- one this one question about what the president knew and when he knew it. Take a listen to some of the -- to the two different answers that she gave.


NEWMAN: No, I know he knows because I've talked to him subsequently and he said he delegated. I delegated. So he knew. He knew that John Kelly was going to take me into the Situation Room and lock me in there, threaten me and say that things were going to get ugly for me.

He said he didn't know and they run a big operation. Who is the "they"?

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS: That's the honesty issue. But do you think the president lies often?

NEWMAN: Wait, wait, wait. Wait, wait, wait. Wait, Savannah, who is the "they" in the tape? You can't ask the question and then ask another question without my answer.

[08:55:03] You asked me, do you think he knows? The answer is --

GUTHRIE: And you said, you're not sure.

NEWMAN: I'm not certain.

Here's the other --


HILL: Yes, he knew. I'm not certain.

TOOBIN: Beats me. I don't know what she was saying. I --

HILL: Wait, I thought you had the answer.

TOOBIN: No, I mean, I -- she seemed to say three different things right there.

BERMAN: I have to tell you, that is a defense I think you will hear from the White House in the coming days. Again, they have a real problem here which is that dozens of tapes may exist here.

TOOBIN: Right.

BERMAN: There's nothing they apparently can do about it. I don't know if they can say some of the tapes are classified. I doubt it at this point. These are going to come out. Their only defense is going to be that, it's going to be, what on earth is she saying. She's a bad employee. You know, she's low life is what the president said, even though he hired her, right?

HILL: Could be also taken out of context. I mean we don't know what we're going to end up getting, right?

TOOBIN: Right. Yes. So, I mean, the -- you know, Omarosa has played this very well. Fundamentally, the way the news will treat this, for better or for worse, is, what's on the tapes, not, was it appropriate to tape it in the first place.

BERMAN: Jeffrey Toobin, that is "The Bottom Line."

TOOBIN: The very bottom.

BERMAN: All right, four minutes before the hour I have -- four minutes before the hour, a new tape could come out in the next four minutes, which is why CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks up after this quick break.

We'll see you tomorrow.


[09:00:01] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good Monday morning, everyone, I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. Hope you had a great weekend.

We have a lot to get to this morning.

A private firing gets even more public. The new reporting from ex- White House aide and reality TV star Omarosa Manigault Newman