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AT THIS HOUR WITH BERMAN AND MICHAELA
U.S.: Bomb Brought Down EgyptAir Flight 804; John Kerry Talks Flight 804; Sanders Committed to Stay in Race until Convention. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired May 19, 2016 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:34:08] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: We're continuing to follow breaking news on the missing EgyptAir flight. New breaking details coming in.
Let's get back over to CNN justice reporter, Evan Perez.
Evan, walk us through what you're hearing from your sources on the initial theory from the U.S. side.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, you know, it's important to make note that officials aren't ruling anything out. Obviously there's still the possible of mechanical failure here, although people think it's very, very unlikely given the circumstances of what we're watching here. Leading theory at the moment is that there's some kind of deliberate act, whether a bombing or somebody who tried to deliberately bring this plane down, whether it's a crew member or someone who rushed the plane. There are various parts of this that simply just don't make sense, which is why the leading theory that officials I have talked to say is most likely a bombing. Now, this is an aircraft that went from -- before it flew from Paris to Cairo was -- flew to Eritrea and to Tunis before landing in Paris. That's part of something that investigators will have to look at to see whether or not there was any security risks there that were missed. We have to look at the security picture we're talking about both in Egypt and generally in Europe. We're talking about the rise of radical extremism. The big concern of terrorists acts in Europe this summer is something that's on the minds of a lot of officials not only in Europe but ado here in the United States. There's a lot o4 interest obviously in trying to figure out what happened to this aircraft flying at 37,000 feet. Suddenly according to the Greek authorities they noticed some swerves. The question of whether or not those swerves would have been picked up by radar and whether to trust that radar would pick up those swerves is something that I talked to officials this morning and they said they just didn't think that was a very reliable thing to say simply because again if this plane blew up in the sky, perhaps, again perhaps, the radar was picking up pieces of the aircraft as it fell or it could be something else. Simply not reliable to say that you could defect these swerves based on the radar that we were looking at -- Kate?
[11:36:22] BERMAN: All right. Evan Perez, thanks so much.
We want to bring back our terror analyst, Paul Cruickshank; and also Juliette Kayyem.
Paul, no claim of responsibility, right? We're talking about a theory or a belief. Both words have been used by U.S. officials. An early belief or theory that it could and Egyptian officials believe it's more likely an act of terror. You have been reporting that targeting airports is something both ISIS and al Qaeda want to explain.
PAUL CRUICKSHANK, CNN TERRORISM ANALYST: Absolutely. Both al Qaeda and ISIS want to target airplanes, want to take down passenger jets. They get a lot of global headlines. There's a big economic impact by doing that. And there's been a technological arms race between jihadi terrorists on the one side and people working in the field of explosive detection on the other side with terrorists innovating and creating new types of devices to try to beat airport security. We've seen al Qaeda in Yemen take the lead on this. Ibrahim al Asiri (ph), their master bombmaker, developing new generations of shoe bombs, new generations of underwear bombs, even experimenting with surgically implanting bombs into people's bodies, according to recent intelligence that has come out --
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: Relevant authorities are --
BOLDUAN: Paul, we're going to interrupt. We're going to dip right into the Secretary of State John Kerry who is speaking in Brussels at a NATO gathering.
KERRY: I have no more knowledge than others at this point with respect to those facts, but we certainly extend our condolences to each and every country that has lost people, and particularly to Egypt which has made so many efforts in recent months to break out of and away from the last events, and so no matter what I think everybody -- our thoughts are with them and with all the passengers.
No matter what crisis demands our attention at this moment, and obviously, there are many, we are never taking our eye off of the larger picture, which is what NATO and this meeting is really all about.
BERMAN: Secretary Kerry there talking in Brussels right now at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers. He said, at this point, he does not have any new information about what brought down EgyptAir flight 804, but he did express his condolences to the families of everyone on board, and particularly to the entire nation of Egypt, which he pointed out has dealt with tragedies in the near past and is dealing with another one now.
BOLDUAN: We're in conversation with Paul Cruickshank and Juliette Kayyem. Let's get back in with them.
Juliette, as the secretary of state offers condolences to Egypt and all of the passengers and everyone that was on board, there is one fact about who was on board that I and many others have noted as very interesting, that there were three security officials on the flight. There were 66 people total on board. Is that unusual?
[11:19:38] JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It seems higher given the quantity of people who are on the plane in terms of passengers. I know this just from the TSA side and the U.S. side, but what we don't know is, were the security personnel actually being moved from Paris back to Cairo to then get on other flights. Remember, they're leaving people all around the world. They have to bring them back. That's why you see extra pilots often on flights or extra flight attendants. So we don't know if they were on duty or not, but they were just given the designation of security. That's what they're looking at. You're hearing that is part of their review is was there either an increased threat on this plane that caused them to have more personnel.
My speculation -- and I'm willing to say that just based on my experience -- one or two of them may have just been in transport to realign with their workforce.
If I could just add one more thing on what Paul was saying, there's a lot of stuff going on. I recognize that. But there's only a limited number of possibilities at this stage, mechanical failure, pilot error, or some deliberate act. So we don't have to call it terrorism. And all three of those investigations are going on simultaneously, but the data is starting to align around the deliberate act. We don't know if it's a passenger, luggage, or airport personnel that put something on it. But I just want to say all three of those investigations are going on. We're just seeing -- what the evidence is suggesting based on both what happened, the lack of evidence, the lack of any weather explanation, is that a lot of the data is falling into that deliberate pool.
BERMAN: You say the data is aligning toward deliberate act. What data, why? Can you go further?
KAYYEM: Some of it is lack of data. So no SOS. No weather disruptions. No question about the sanctity of the airplane. In other words, there was no mechanical failures, sort of what I would say professional pilots, pilots that -- no one is saying this guy had a mental illness, at least at this stage. So some of it is lack of evidence. Then the sort of flight, right? The way it moved. And hearing your aviation folks remark on this, has convinced me in many ways, the lack of an SOS. So some of it is lack of data in other cases where there was either mechanical failure or pilot error. So part of it is lack and other of it is the threat environment we live in, what Paul has been reporting on in terms of desire, previous incidences with EgyptAir and concerns at the Paris airport. Look, we take all the data and put it into piles. People are investigating all three potential acts, but it would be sort of denying the data points right now to say that it's mere speculation that this was a deliberate act. There's just a lot of things pointing that way.
BOLDUAN: Those three types of investigations though, you explained it really well, Juliette, happening all at once. And the bits of information that we get in that you have to kind of filter it all through and what it means as part of the three avenues of investigating at this moment.
A lot more to cover.
Juliette, Paul, they're going to be sticking with us.
We'll be right back.
This is CNN special coverage. We'll be right back.
[11:47:10] BOLDUAN: All right. Our breaking news coverage, EgyptAir flight 804 taking off from Paris, heading to Cairo, and believed to have cashed in the Mediterranean Sea. Officials telling CNN the early belief is that it was brought down by some kind of deliberate act, possibly an act of terror. This is based more on circumstances than evidence right now, but that is the current theory.
BOLDUAN: You can see right here with us is Les Abend, CNN aviation analyst, also a 777 captain.
Which is where we really want to lean on your experience on this. We're on the big floor map and we want to show you guys so we can kind of talk through this as we look at the flight path of where it was -- where it took off, where it was supposed to go. This is -- how busy is this corridor? We assume a very busy corridor.
LES ABEND, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It's a busy corridor. This was a scheduled, standard flight. There's a lot of airplanes that go back and forth. A lot of radar coverage, so, yeah, it's a busy corridor with a lot of commercial traffic and boat traffic.
BERMAN: And you look at the floor over there. You see the map. That is the point of last contact, north of Egypt and in Egyptian air space in the Mediterranean Sea.
And what we've been told, Les, is that they checked in, they had a friendly conversation with air traffic. Then 45 minutes later, with 45 minutes, air traffic tried to check in with them, got no response. Then we're told radar picked up wild swings, a 90-degree turn to the left, a 360-degree turn to the right.
ABEND: My gut reaction is something catastrophic happened. There's also a possibility we're talking that -- this captain was cheerful. Could they have been suffering from a potential hypoxia situation where the airplane was continuing along and it's insidious where it's a slow leak? Not likely. But they might have done something funky with the airplane. All of these turns, that's very difficult to do in an Airbus. Airbus is designed to protect itself from radical turns of that nature. It stops, if I recall, it will stop pilots from turning it rapidly to like 35 degrees of bank. The same thing with Boeing products. They'll also do that. Turning that airplane that quickly is very, very difficult if this data is correct.
BOLDUAN: Right, of course. ABEND: And what data are we getting? Are we getting the data
directly from the aircraft itself, from the radar? Is the radar picking up pieces of the airplane? We're not quite sure because that's a crazy turn, if, indeed, that's the information that's being disseminated.
BOLDUAN: As we're looking, this is where the plane would have left Greek air space, entered into Egyptian air space, and this is where the last point of contact happened, and then the plane dropped off. I'm fascinated, from your standpoint, what is the protocol when it comes to, there's contact, the handover to Egyptian -- to EgyptAir- traffic. When the reach out -- when the Greek authorities are trying to reach out, there is no response. What is the protocol? If it is mechanical, if they are dealing with a situation, what is the protocol? If it is terror related, if there was something or someone who entered the cockpit, who knows, if the protocol any different?
[11:50:24] ABEND: It's standard procedure. You know you are handed off. There were approaching called an FIR, it's a flight information regions. They're all over the world, South America. They know they are approaching. They know they have a change in frequency, they're going to be handed off. So if it was an emergency situation occurring or about to occur -- as I have always said every time I have been on. We aviate and navigate and communicate. If we have a situation that is occurring, we are going to assess the airplane and see what we have going on, and try to control the airplane, is our first order of business, and then go to the appropriate check list. If you are going into other air space and you have time to communicate this information, you do so. But the first thing you want to do is get hat airplane under control.
BERMAN: But talking is not the priority. In and of itself, it is maybe not enough reason.
Les Abend, stick around.
We are following the apparent crash of EgyptAir flight 804. We are getting new information, right after the break.
[11:55:24] BOLDUAN: We continue to follow breaking developments on the missing EgyptAir flight 904.
But first, we turn to politics, with new demands by Bernie Sanders for Hillary Clinton to face him in a final debate before the June 7th primary in California. Sanders doubling down on his commitment to remain in the race until the very end, even if it means continuing rising tensions within the Democratic party which may boil over into a hotly divided July convention.
BERMAN: Joining us now to discuss, CNN chief political correspondent, Dana Bash; and CNN politics executive editor, Mark Preston.
Great to have you with us. Guys, Mark Preston, big article in the "New York Times" today saying the Sanders team is going to compete and compete hard, possibly all the way into the convention, and simply do not care if it hurts. You get the sense, in some cases, that some folks may hope that it does.
MARK PRESTON, CNN POLITICS EXECUTIVE EDITOR: Right. And I think that there is a segment of Bernie Sanders supporters that wants to see that happen. However, I think, once we get through California and maybe to June 14th when the District of Columbia holds the last contest, there will be a reevaluation. As much as Bernie Sanders is leading the revolution, I don't think he wants to try to destroy Hillary Clinton if she is the nominee, which we believe she's going to be, to set it up and make it easier for Donald Trump.
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: All you have to do is look at my Twitter feed, probably your Twitter feeds, to see that there is a lot of enthusiasm still. Forget Twitter feeds. Look at the crowds that he is getting in California. Not just enthusiasm, but some bad blood from people who are very much in support of Bernie Sanders, who think that he hasn't been treated fairly, despite the fact that he has been kind of the leader and the voice of a phenomenon. And that is true.
Having said that, my prediction is that once Hillary Clinton goes over the top, meaning once she actually gets the number of delegates, assuming that she does that, I just feel like the conversation is going to be different.
BOLDUAN: At the same time, you have with Bernie Sanders, you also are seeing almost seems like turning of the tide where you have a group of Democrats who are supportive of Hillary Clinton but very careful to not speak out against Bernie Sanders. It seems to be shifting in the past couple of days where there growing frustration among those Democrats about how Bernie Sanders has handled some of this. How is that going to look going forward?
BASH: A lot of the more outspokenness --
BASH: -- is because of the fact that there was genuine frustration and even anger at Bernie Sanders for the way that he handled what happened in Nevada. That he didn't speak out himself, get to a microphone and speak as himself. And even the statement they put out they thought was half hearted, at best. That is spurring a lot of it. The other part of it is where we are on the calendar and the fact that there is only one man standing on the Republican side, and he is going after Hillary Clinton hard.
BERMAN: Harry Reid has harsh words for Bernie Sanders. Barbara Boxer, with you yesterday, very clear. These are people who have been close to Sanders. It's them. And as you say, they are looking at the Republican side and looking at new polls. There is a new FOX News poll which has Donald Trump leading Hillary
Clinton in a hypothetical race. This introduces bed wetting in Democratic circles.
PRESTON: Bernie Sanders is no fan of Hillary Clinton. His hatred is not necessarily about Hillary Clinton but about the Democratic National Committee and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a congresswoman, who he believes treated him unfairly. The anger from Sanders and a lot of supporters is directed at the establishment and not necessarily at Hillary Clinton, even though they don't believe in all policies that she believes in.
But to your point, when you have a poll come out that sees Donald Trump gain ground on Hillary Clinton at a time when he is not getting attacked and Hillary Clinton is getting attacked, it goes to show you that Hillary Clinton does want to get beyond this primary because she wants to focus on the general.
BOLDUAN: Dana, Mark, great to see you guys. Thanks so much.
Important programming note. Speaking of Hillary Clinton, you'll want to watch a live interview with Hillary Clinton on CNN at 1:30 right here. Don't change the channel.
BERMAN: A lot going on today. We are following the disappearance of a crash, the disappearance of EgyptAir flight 804. We are getting all kinds of new information.
Thanks so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.
BOLDUAN: "Legal View" with Ashleigh Banfield starts right now.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
[12:00:05] ASHLEIGH BANFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello everyone. I'm Ashleigh Banfield. This is "Legal View."
And we're going to begin this hour with breaking news of a major commercial airplane crash. Right now, the search for answers in the EgyptAir --