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Airline Employee Steals Empty Plane, Goes on Deadly Joyride; Rep. Chris Collins Suspending Re-Election Campaign; Charlottesville on Edge One Year after Deadly Party; President Trump Slams Fired FBI Deputy Director McCabe. Aired 11a-12n ET

Aired August 11, 2018 - 11:00   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[11:00:29] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: And we start this hour with breaking news.

An empty commercial airplane stolen by an airline employee; that man taking the plane on an hour-long joy ride with armed military fighter jets chasing after him before nose diving and crashing into the ground.

Thank you for joining me. I'm Ryan Nobles in today for Fredricka Whitfield.

This alarming story still developing in Seattle. The sheriff's department says the 29-year-old man who stole the plane was a ground service agent for Horizon Air. He took off unauthorized around 8:00 p.m. local time at Seattle's busy international airport and then minutes later the military sent two F-15 jets up to follow it.

Then for the next hour, a bizarre story unfolds as the man attempts to do barrel rolls and air traffic controllers calmly try to talk the man down.

CNN has those disturbing audio recordings. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN WALDRON, HORIZON AIR EMPLOYEE: I 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. Just a broken guy, got a few screws loose, I guess; never really knew it until now.

Hey, you think if I land this successfully, Alaska will give me a job as a pilot?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, I think they will give you a job doing anything if you can pull this off.

WALDRON: Yes, right.

Hey, pilot guy, can this thing do a back flip you think? Try to do a barrel roll. If that goes good, I'll go nose down, call it a night.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's try and land the airplane safely and not hurt anybody on the ground.

WALDRON: All right. Damn it. I don't know, man, I don't know. I don't want to. I was kind of hoping that was going to be it, you know?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: CNN's aviation and government regulation correspondent Rene Marsh joins us now. She's been working this story all morning long with her sources.

Shilling to listen to that audio, so calmly that man talking to air traffic control. I mean what do we know about this man and his level of access at that airport?

RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION AND GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: So we know that he is 29 years old. He works for Horizon Airline which is a subsidiary of Alaska Airline. And when you talk about people who are airport workers who have access to secure parts of the airport, he is certainly one of them.

You know, he is one of those individuals who has access to an aircraft. As a ground crew, he would, you know, as an aircraft lands or takes off, they would direct them into the proper position. They would handle luggage as well. So he certainly had the clearance and the credentials to be in the most secure parts of the airport.

And really when you look at the story, and as unbelievable as it is, I mean we're talking about a major airport like SeaTac --

NOBLES: Right.

MARSH: - you saw it was bright outside. So the sun is still up and he manages to steal a commercial plane. You know, it really raises several questions. How did he get it from that secure ramp onto the runway and then take off?

You can't take off a commercial plane from a commercial airport without getting clearance from air traffic control. Perhaps he ignored their instructions, but they had to know relatively quickly that something was up with this plane. So I suspect that investigators right now, they're looking at all of the video from all aspects of this airport to piece together the time line so that the airlines and even airports can try to figure out, is there something we missed.

But I will tell you this is a tough one, because this is what you call that classic insider threat.

NOBLES: Right.

MARSH: This is not someone -- not someone who walks in off the street -- this is someone who had the credentials to be up close and personal with that aircraft. He took advantage of that access.

NOBLES: And obviously there's going to be all kinds of questions that are raised about security going forward. But pretty remarkable that this ended as safely as it did, given how difficult and how scary it could have been.

MARSH: Certainly. When we talk about busy airports, there are other aircraft come in, landing on the tarmac. So this could have been a lot worse.

NOBLES: Ok. Rene Marsh -- stick around. I know you're going to continue to follow your sources. We'll check back with you in a little bit.

And after the plane took off and headed away from the airport, witnesses saw it flying erratically including Nick Junka (ph) who is a former employee of Horizon Airline. Nick joins me now on the phone.

Nick -- just tell us your story, your perspective. What exactly did you see when this airplane was up in the air?

[11:05:01] NICK JUNKA, FORMER HORIZON AIR EMPLOYEE (via telephone): My wife and I were in the back alley. We live in Eatonville. It's about 60 miles south of Seattle. And my wife looked at me because she knew I knew airplanes and said what is up with that airplane. And I looked. I said oh my gosh -- that is a Q400. And that should not even be in this area at all.

And she started shooting video. I told her get video. There's possibly 75 people or more in the plane. We have a small municipal airport here in town but not big enough for one of those planes. So it was literally like 300 feet off the ground and it's heading south just straight in line with the main drag here.

And it started to turn and go towards Mount Rainier. And it looked like it was going to go down and then he pulled it back up. And it looked like he was going to circle around to land at our airport. So I told my wife, grab my keys and my wallet. I'm heading to the airport.

And I had phone in hand and I got halfway to the airport and he turned and headed northwest towards JBLM. At this time there was no fighter jet with this airplane. Not knowing the situation, I was concerned about 75 people that could be on that plane.

NOBLES: Right. Incredible. And we later learn he was the only person on board the plane which thankfully was the case in this situation.

I want to talk to you a little bit about your background as a ground service agent. You don't need to talk specifically about the individual that was on the plane, but from your perspective, what kind of access would an employee have to an aircraft like this?

JUNKA: We are ground service agents, ok. These airlines do a great job at doing security clearances and background checks. We have access to these planes all day long. We secure them.

This is the most outlandish thing. I worked with this guy. He was a good guy. It was a couple of years ago, year and a half ago. I would have never dreamed of this individual doing this -- never.

NOBLES: Well, I guess that's part of what makes it all remarkable.

(CROSSTALK)

JUNKA: We've really got to start looking at -- we really got to start looking at mental illness and something -- he even said it himself, he is broken.

NOBLES: Yes.

JUNKA: How he even got that plane off the ground is astonishing.

(CROSSTALK)

NOBLES: Let me ask you about that -- Nick. Let me ask you about that. I mean obviously there's a conversation that's going to be had around what you're describing. But just about the scenario itself, having done this line of work for as long as you did, could you have ever even dreamed up a scenario like this? It seems almost impossible.

JUNKA: No. I would have never even thought anything like this would ever happen -- ever.

NOBLES: Well, talk to me a little bit about the type of security screening that you have to go through before you can even be hired for a job like this. Obviously you have to go --

JUNKA: Well Horizon, Horizon --

NOBLES: Yes.

JUNKA: -- Horizon has their security process. All airlines have a security process. SeaTac airport has their processes they follow. There's cameras -- I mean, you are monitored the whole time when you're there, ok.

So how this guy was able to even get the plane off the ground is astonishing. I mean we're all going to be looking at this. And it is a learning lesson. Thank God nobody was injured except for him.

But it's a learning lesson. And this has to be a learning lesson. And I don't know what the lesson is. I don't know how -- you know, they're the professionals. But I know they do an amazing job.

We have amazing workers. These rampers (ph), they work great, they're all about getting passengers safely on and off.

And you know, I don't know the answer to that. You know, if this is just a one off -- and hopefully, you know, they can get the answer of why he did this.

NOBLES: Right. Well, Nick Junka, I certainly appreciate your perspective. Obviously we are thankful for the fact this individual didn't appear to be inclined to hurt anyone other than himself. Obviously still, a tragic situation.

And I think you're exactly right. There's going to be a ton of questions about what happened here and how that could change protocols going forward.

Nick -- thank you so much for your perspective. We really appreciate it.

And we're going to continue to follow that breaking story.

We have more breaking news this morning though. Indicted New York Congressman Chris Collins has announced he is suspending his campaign for re-election. The Republican representative was charged this week with insider trading.

[11:09:57] CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood, I believe, is following the latest developments -- oh, it is actually going to Athena Jones. I'm sorry.

Athena -- you've been following the latest information about Chris Collins. Tell us what do we know at this point?

ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi -- Ryan.

Well, we're just learning in the last hour or so that Representative Collins is now going to be stepping aside. This comes just a few days after he vowed that he would fight these charges. He would continue to work for the citizens of his congressional district New York 27 -- this is in upstate New York, a reliably red district.

But let's read you part of the statement that he posted a short while a go. He said, "After extensive discussions with my family and my friends over the last few days, I have decided that it is in the best interest of the constituents of New York 27, the Republican Party, and President Trump's agenda for me to suspend my campaign for re-election to Congress."

Now, you talked briefly about what Chris Collins is facing in terms of these charges. He, his son and his son's fiancee's father are facing 13 counts of securities fraud, wire fraud, and false statements.

This involves a pharmaceutical company, an Australian pharmaceutical company that was testing a multiple sclerosis drug. Representative Collins learned while attending the White House congressional picnic in June of 2017 that that drug had failed its drug trial.

Now, the indictment does not allege that Representative Collins himself traded on the information but it says that he called his son immediately after learning about this, and that his son, Cameron Collins, passed that information on to his fiancee's father and that those two were able to trade on the information and to save -- or avoid, I should say, more than $768,000 in losses. This is, of course, illegal.

When it comes to the ramifications here, we have Representative Collins vowing that he is innocent. He's going to fight these charges that he calls meritless. But now that he is stepping aside, it is not entirely clear what's going to happen to that race outside of Buffalo.

As I mentioned, that district is a reliably red district. But it is very difficult to remove a nominee's name from the ballot in the state of New York, this is according to the New York Board of Elections because of various reasons. So it is not entirely clear what is going to happen with that seat.

But Collins was the first member of Congress to endorse President Trump. We have not heard any response from the President on this latest news -- Ryan.

NOBLES: All right. Athena Jones -- thank you for that update.

Representative Chris Collins not seeking re-election after being indicted.

Athena -- we appreciate that report. >

Still to come -- Charlottesville, Virginia on edge today one year after white nationalists clashed with counter protesters in deadly riots that stunned America. Today, the President is condemning racism and calling for calm as those same white supremacists plan to hold a rally next to the White House this weekend.

We'll have a live report coming up.

[11:12:45] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: And we continue to follow breaking news out of Seattle. That's where an airline employee stole a passenger, flew it around for an hour, even doing some stunts as armed military fighter jets followed behind him.

The 29-year-old ground service agent then crashed the plane in a wooded area just south of Seattle. He died in that crash.

We're watching the investigation for any developments and we'll discuss all the security risks at play in just a bit.

But in other news -- Charlottesville, Virginia on edge today one year after a white nationalist rally turned violent and deadly. This morning President Trump is calling for calm, tweeting, "The riots in Charlottesville a year ago resulted in senseless death and division. We must come together as a nation. I condemn all types of racism and acts of violence. Peace to all Americans."

A state of emergency is in effect in Virginia and law enforcement in Charlottesville taking no chances after being criticized last year for being unprepared. In a show of force, police are already patrolling the streets on this anniversary. Multiple events are being planned in the community aimed at bringing the community closer together.

Today, the university held a morning of reflection in honor of the victims of last year's violence. And the university president talked about the ways the community can move forward.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES E. RYAN, PRESIDENT, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: The fact that nothing can bring back the splendor and glory of those whose lives were lost last August, but we can still despite our grief find strength in what remains behind. And we can still have hope, which is what summons us here this morning.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CNN's Kaylee Hartung looks back at the violent protest that descended on Charlottesville last year and how community leaders are vowing to not let history repeat itself.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Last summer, Charlottesville became a battleground.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Clashes have erupted between white supremacists and protesters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Terror in Virginia -- one person is dead.

HARTUNG: One year later, a new team of officials are vowing not to let history repeat itself.

CHIEF RASHALL BRACKNEY, CHARLOTTESVILLE, VIRGINIA POLICE: We have to own that we did not live up to our training. We didn't live up to our oath. But we have the opportunity to recover and get it right.

HARTUNG: After a sharply critical report placed blame on the Charlottesville Police Department for its failure to contain the violence and protect the public.

CHIEF AL THOMAS, CHARLOTTESVILLE POLICE: This is not a law enforcement event, this is a public safety endeavor.

HARTUNG: Chief Al Thomas retired. RaShall Brackney took over two months ago.

BRACKNEY: So you know, when I walked into this position, I did walk in, in some ways with my eyes wide open. But I didn't realize probably the extent and the breadth and the width of what that responsibility would be because I had not really had the opportunity to hear how hurt this community was and still hadn't healed.

HARTUNG (on camera): The first images of hate America saw in Charlottesville came from here.

(voice over): The night before the planned and permitted alt-right rally, white nationalists marched on to the University of Virginia campus wielding tiki torches. The visual was startling. But that wasn't the worst we would see. [11:20:02] (on camera): The next morning, violence in this intersection as police looked on just outside the park where General Robert E. Lee's statue stands.

(voice over): So-called alt-right activists chanting racist slogans, and carrying guns and confederate flags clashed with anti-racist and anti-fascist counter protesters. Then the day turned deadly.

(on camera): This street where James Alex Fields Jr. allegedly barreled his car into a group of counter protesters, it remains a memorial to Heather Heyer.

(voice over): Heyer was killed in the attack; 35 others injured. The driver, a Nazi sympathizer, will be tried for murder and federal hate crimes.

There was anger and outrage in reaction to not only the violence but the hateful rhetoric that was openly on display here.

TERRY MCAULIFFE (D), FORMER VIRGINIA GOVERNOR: I have a message to all the white supremacists and the Nazis who came into Charlottesville today. Our message is plain and simple. Go home. You are not wanted in this great commonwealth. Shame on you.

HARTUNG: Then --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Very fine people -- on both sides.

HARTUNG: -- President Trump's refusal to condemn the racist attack and its immediate aftermath further inflamed the national conversation.

(on camera): When you think about the flashpoint that Charlottesville was in this country for the dialogue around race relations, where do you think we are one year later?

BRACKNEY: So I don't know if we as a city or even as a nation has had that real honest dialogue about equity in terms of really moving the needle forward. I'm not sure that we've actually instituted policies, procedures or even support that could help move the conversation beyond the conversation.

HARTUNG (voice over): And so the conversation continues this weekend as the second Unite the Right rally organizes in the nation's capital.

Here in Charlottesville, the focus will be on continued healing. And Chief Brackney says the city has an all-encompassing plan for whatever or whoever the weekend may bring.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

HARTUNG: Despite President Trump's tweet this morning, condemning all types of racism and all acts of violence -- some here in Charlottesville believe he's already done irreparable damage, namely Charlottesville Mayor Nikuyah Walker. She has been very vocal in her feelings about the President, saying she believes his rhetoric, which she calls hate, has caused turmoil in this community.

Now when you see this presence of law enforcement behind me, we don't expect much more of the turmoil or the violence that we saw here a year ago. The police chief saying no violence will be tolerated.

But the concern I hear from members of this community on this weekend, despite the 1,200 personnel that are here to support the city in a law enforcement capacity, people are concerned for that lone wolf, someone like that driver who plowed his car into that group of counter protesters. That's what they fear. They don't anticipate another siege of this city by white nationalists.

But Ryan -- tonight many students from UVA, members of this community will gather at the rotunda at UVA -- the same rotunda where the white nationalists brought their tiki torches a year ago. They say it is an opportunity to reclaim the ground and demand support from the University of Virginia.

NOBLES: All right. Kaylee Hartung, live in Charlottesville where things are quiet. Let's hope it stays that way. Kaylee -- thank you so much.

And joining me now to discuss this is Congressman Tom Garrett. He is the Republican representative from Virginia. He represents the Charlottesville area.

Congressman -- thank you so much for joining me.

You obviously were very strong in your condemnation of the racist actors at that rally in Charlottesville last year. I want to get your reaction, first of all, to President Trump's tweet this morning. Last year he was heavily criticized for saying, quote, "that there were very fine people" on both sides of last year's event. This year, at least in this tweet, he is condemning all types of racism. What do you think has changed from the President's perspective?

REP. TOM GARRETT (R), VIRGINIA: Well, he should have been heavily criticized last year. He totally blew that one, for lack of a more artful term. What he did do last year was a week later there was an attempt at some sort of horrific rally like this in Boston, and he got it right the second time.

But I can't defend his statements. I'm not here to do that. I'm glad with the tone that he struck this morning. And you know, everybody is going to choose inartful words from time to time. I was very disappointed in his characterization of the people involved in the violence last year.

NOBLES: What about his conduct overall in the past year? He has been embroiled in some several high profile polarizing debates over race relations since taking office. He's recently renewing his fight with NFL players for the national anthem protests. He's been fighting with other professional athletes. Should he be doing more to bridge the racial divide which is what he appears to be doing this morning with this tweet?

GARRETT: Well again, I mean I can't sort of step inside the mind of the President. I think he has done some impressive things.

[11:24:58] I think some of the data -- African-American real earnings and unemployment at historic lows, Latino, et cetera -- fly in the face of some of the rhetoric where you hear that there were, you know, whatever he said, great people on both sides.

NOBLES: Right.

GARRETT: I don't know why he has decided to sort of take an issue with the expression of individuals in the NFL. I think that we've all been blessed to live in a great but flawed nation, and certainly disagree with their decisions. But respect them and their right to make those decisions.

I'm not the President. I can't channel him. I would do a lot of things differently. But, you know, what we need to do is I think look at outcomes and less at rhetoric.

And then, Ryan -- I mean truly focus on those things which unite us while acknowledging that we have things that divide us. And listen respectfully without the hate invective and ad hominem attacks against people on both sides. It's shameful and un-American.

NOBLES: Yes. Let's talk about Charlottesville -- the area that you represent in Congress. What things are like a year later?

Have you been in contact with police there about how they plan to maintain peace on this anniversary? Are you satisfied that order will be maintained this time around?

GARRETT: Well look, I mean to be completely honest, I was exceedingly shocked when it devolved into the violence that it did last year. But I'm very optimistic that this year we won't have any replays.

There is all sorts of criticism being levied (ph) and rightfully you want to study when terrible things happened and what went wrong. I wouldn't lay all the blame at the feet of law enforcement professionals. There were people that were sort of setting guidelines on how they should act and react.

Having said that, let's look at the root cause, and the root cause are hate mongers and people candidly who, I think, just want to watch it burn. I don't even want to use the names of these individuals publicly because I think it throws proverbial gasoline on the flames.

The reality is this. In this country we have divisions and we have differences but the people who throw, you know, newspaper boxes at each other and hit each other with sticks are in such a tiny minority on the fringe on either side that most of us have never met them and don't know them. That's because there aren't many of them, praise God. Let's not give them a megaphone.

This is news that needs to be reported on, but let's not make this people more important than they should be. Again, it is damaging. We should be able to disagree without being disagreeable. NOBLES: Well, to that point, this United the Right group which was

responsible for what happened in Charlottesville last year, they're planning another rally here in Washington D.C. tomorrow. It's going to be right next to the White House.

Are you concerned about a similar level of violence breaking tomorrow as counter protesters are expected to be there as well?

GARRETT: Well, let me take a brief moment to take exception with their nomenclature, Unite the Right. National socialism is socialism which isn't right.

Now, these people are cowards. They hide behind the park police. They hide behind law enforcement. They engage in invective and rhetoric that any reasonable person would know would incite fear, anger, animosity on purpose.

After their march in May of last year, we wrote, you know, you can tell me all you want that this is your First Amendment right. But when you carry torches, wearing all white at night next to a confederate statue, I think maybe we either failed middle school history or are going for something else.

These people are cowards. They're not indicative of who we are as a nation. They should be uniformly and roundly condemned. And they'll hide behind law enforcement and I think D.C. will get it right. But to shine the light of attention on them -- and again, it's news that needs to be reported -- it almost threatens to give them more oxygen than they're worth.

NOBLES: And I do, Congressman -- while I have you here -- would like your reaction to that news that your fellow Republican colleague Chris Collins has decided that he's going to suspend his re-election campaign.

You're also not running for re-election. I mean are you concerned about your fellow Republicans in that they could lose the House of Representatives in November?

GARRETT: I mean certainly anything is a reality. But candidly, Ryan -- listen to this from people on the right when they talk about how tough President Obama was on America and on the left, about how horrible President Trump is.

The reality is this nation has been through horrible things, come out the backend surviving. If the Republicans lose the majority in the House, America will survive. If they retain it, America will survive. You know, we need to not look at a snapshot in time but the continuum of history.

And so, you know, I respect Chris for his service and his decision and we'll let the legal process play out which is kind of how it is supposed to work in this country.

NOBLES: And just before you go, I would like to get your expertise as a member of Homeland Security and Foreign Affairs Committee. I mean I'm sure you've seen this news about a plane stolen and crashed in Washington State overnight.

Are you concerned about all of this? Does this display perhaps a blind spot in the system? And do you think that Congress should look into this?

GARRETT: Well, we will look into it. I can tell you that for you sure.

Let me give you some breaking news here though back to Charlottesville. I sat in a close session briefing probably two months ago about Charlottesville with the director of the FBI amongst others and asked if Russian intermeddling had to do with fomenting the flames of what happened in Charlottesville.

[01:30:02] I was told yes, it did. I asked is this information classified, they said no, it is not. I've waited until today.

But this is what happens. The Russian intermeddling is seeking to pit Americans against Americans, to undermine confidence in Western-style democracies. It's done so in the Baltic State. It's done so in Western Europe. It will continue to do so.

We need to know what they're trying to do. What they're trying to do is make the world safer. Kleptocrats and oligarchs and dictators like Putin -- they use events like this divisive racial fight which really ignores the commonality that we as Americans have with one another regardless of our race or ethnicity or religion. And this is the sort of thing they do.

And so as a member of homeland security, seriously that's what scares me most. That Americans will be pitted against Americans over real differences but that are minimal in the grand scheme of things. That we are an American family of brothers and sisters, regardless of religion, race, et cetera and we need to focus on that while disagreeing where we need to but with respect.

NOBLES: All right. Important piece of information you got there at the end there -- Congressman. We so appreciate your perspective on this. And thank you for joining us.

GARRETT: Thank you -- Ryan. And thanks for what you do.

NOBLES: Still ahead, we are following the latest details out of Seattle as federal officials begin their investigation into that stolen plane. And we're learning the two military fighter jets were armed and ready to take the rogue plane down.

[11:31:24] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: Let's get back to our breaking news out of Seattle. That's where an airline employee stole a passenger plane, flew it around for an hour, even doing some stunts and talking with the control tower as he flew. This as armed military fighter jets followed behind him. The 29-year-old ground service agent then crashed the plane in a remote area south of the city killing himself. And to talk about this, let's bring in retired Admiral John Kirby,

he's a CNN military analyst and former Pentagon press secretary; and Peter Goelz, a CNN aviation analyst and former NTSB managing director.

Admiral Kirby -- I know that you've been talking to your contacts in the military. We know that this plane -- once it was airborne, they scrambled some F-15 military aircraft to go after him. You learned that they were armed and you've also learned an additional bit of information about how they responded to the situation.

REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Absolutely. We've learned now that the two F-15 pilots were in radio communication with the individual who stole the commercial airliner. And that's standard procedure to some degree. You want to make sure that they know you're there. So oftentimes these fighter pilots will just simply make themselves visibly present and then maybe even do hand signals.

But eventually if a situation develops over time and this one did, they're going to try to get radio communication with that individual.

NOBLES: And so Peter -- that's pretty remarkable. We've heard the audio communication that he had with air traffic control tower. But we also know now that he was talking to those F-15 pilots. Pretty incredible.

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It is extraordinary. And it's been quite an advancement since 9/11. I mean we're really ready for this kind of thing now.

NOBLES: Yes. And Admiral -- when we go back to this idea that this was an armed F-15 jet that had the potential to knock this plane out of the sky if it came to that --

KIRBY: Right.

NOBLES: -- how do they make that decision to take that extraordinary step? They didn't in this case, but how does that protocol work?

KIRBY: Almost immediately there's interagency coordination call that is done. So it's the FAA, it's DOD, it's NORAD, NORCOM all talking about the situation in real time. And if they feel like they need to move to that sort of a drastic measure, then they'll go to the National Command Authority, if you will, the Secretary of Defense and the President even if it's necessary to make that call.

Now that said, that authority to do a shoot down is delegated down to the NORAD commander, in this case General O'Shaughnessy, who if he really felt that it was necessary could have done it.

This is -- I want to pick up on what Peter said. This is a very an important mission. Operation Noble Eagle -- we've been doing it since 9/11. In the 17 years we have been doing this, there have been more than 1,800 intercepts of nonmilitary aircraft like this. It is a 24/7 operation.

And I agree with Peter completely. This really shows how effective it is becoming.

NOBLES: Wow. And Peter -- I want to play for you some of that cockpit recording that we have of the man flying the plane -- a pretty extraordinary conversation. Let's take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Now, let's -- let's try to land that airplane safely and not hurt anybody on the ground.

WALDRON: All right. Damn it. I don't know, man. I don't know. I don't want to. I was kind of hoping that was going to be it, you know?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: He's obviously in distress at this point. You know, the longer bits of this conversation -- it is extraordinary how calm both sides of the conversation are. But Peter, from your perspective, I mean is there a mechanism for mental health screenings for someone that has a job like a ground service agent? Is this something the airlines have in place as part of their protocol?

GOELZ: Well, the airlines have protocols in place for pilots but they really -- other than, you know, normal robust employee assistance programs that you'd find in any industrial setting, there really isn't. And I'm not sure how you prepare for this.

Obviously, you know, you ask fellow employees to keep an eye out for your friends, for your fellow workers. But I'm not sure what you do.

This is a one off event. The airport will review its security procedures. Horizon will review its procedures. But I'm not sure where you go with this other than we need to pay more attention to mental health.

NOBLES: Right. And this is an example again of something that could have been much worse, turned out to not be a good situation, but something that we can all learn from, I would assume, going forward.

All right. Peter, John Kirby -- thank you so much. And we appreciate you being here.

[11:39:59] President Trump on the attack once again -- slamming the FBI and former deputy director Andrew McCabe. More on the latest threat from the President when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: And we are following breaking news out of Seattle, where an airline employee stole a passenger jet, flew it around for an hour, even doing some stunts as armed military fighter jets followed behind.

The 29-year-old ground service agent then crashed the plane in a wooded area just south of Seattle and he died in that crash.

[11:45:00] New information now -- the NTSB just gave an update to reporters. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What task we will be accomplishing out there. So I will be working with Horizon maintenance personnel. They have some staff they've made available. So we're going to locate the flight data recorders. You've got the cockpit voice recorder and the flight data recorder -- so those are the two items that are of importance right now.

The NTSB will take custody of those and we'll be shipping those back to Washington, D.C. to our recorders lab for readout and then that will be our support for the investigation to the FBI.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make of this person doing this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sorry -- say that again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you make of this person doing this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Very unusual. It's not like we get this every day. He was able to take the aircraft and get it airborne. And we do know that he was in communication with air traffic control. I think some of that information has already been out.

So until the FBI has an opportunity to get a better obviously background on the person, find out what motive they had. That's kind of a little too early to make a determination on what the objective was.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to get a train in a second.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's your understanding of what's left of the aircraft?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is highly-fragmented. The wings are off. The fuselage is, I think, kind of positioned upside down, but it is pretty fragmented.

Last night there was a fire so they weren't actually able to identify everything. Obviously it was dark. So I think with the daylight, the fire is out, we'll be able to identify the parts and pieces of the wreckage and focus on the areas that we're looking for.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And to your understanding, it went down on its own, not brought down by the F-15s?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That is correct. As far as I know it went down on its own.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you talk about the involvement of the (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Actually I won't be determining that, the safety board is just here to support. So the FBI will be looking into that. I'm trying to determine why he did this.

Obviously they'll be talking to family and friends and looking at his home -- you know, those types of things that you would expect in the course of an investigation to be done.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NOBLES: All right. That is the latest on the information happening. That was an NTSB briefing on the situation with an airline that was stolen by an airport employee.

Not a ton of new information there; the investigation ongoing. But we continue to monitor that situation. We'll give you the latest information as it becomes available.

Still to come -- the President's latest tweet storm attacking the FBI comes on the heels of an explosive week of testimony in the Paul Manafort trial. This as the special counsel investigation now turns its focus on President Trump's former associate, Roger Stone and his inner circle.

[11:48:14] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

NOBLES: And we're still following the breaking news out of Seattle where an airline employee stole a passenger plane, flew it around for an hour, even doing some stunts. This, while armed military fighter jets followed behind him. The 29-year-old ground service agent then crashed the plane in a wooded area just south of Seattle and died in that crash.

Stay with us. We're going to have more on the security risks and the chilling audio of what that man told air traffic control.

Meanwhile, President Trump unleashes again on the FBI this morning in fresh attacks questioning the integrity of the agency and threatened to get involved in the effort to obtain text messages of former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe.

CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood is in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, near the President's golf resort where he's on his working vacation. Sarah -- what exactly did the President say this morning?

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well Ryan -- President Trump has been active on Twitter during his working vacation here in New Jersey. And this morning, he's taking aim at a familiar foe -- the FBI and its former leadership.

Trump is threatening to get involved in a document dispute between a conservative group and the Justice Department. And Judicial Watch, that group is seeking FBI communications related to the start of the Russia investigation, which is something that congressional Republicans are also fighting for.

Trump going after McCabe on Twitter this morning, saying, "Why isn't the FBI giving Andrew McCabe text messages to Judicial Watch or appropriate government authorities? FBI said they won't give up even one. I may have to get involved. Do not destroy. What are they hiding? McCabe's wife took big campaign dollars from Hillary people."

And then he goes on to say, "Will the FBI ever recover its once stellar reputation, so badly damaged by Comey, the former FBI director; McCabe, Peter S." -- that's FBI agent Peter Strzok -- "and his lover, the lovely Lisa Page, and other top officials now dismissed or fired? So many of the great men and women of the FBI have been hurt by these clowns and losers."

Now, we should note that the Justice Department has already provided thousands of pages of documents to Republicans in Congress including those text messages between Strzok and the former FBI attorney Lisa Page. And McCabe has already left the bureau after that sweeping inspector general report into his conduct.

[11:54:56] But Trump clearly still frustrated with the FBI's level of transparency as his former campaign manager Paul Manafort stands trial. He's been escalating his attacks on special counsel Robert Mueller as the Manafort trial continues to generate headlines -- Ryan.

NOBLES: Sarah -- is the White House giving you any insight as to exactly what the President means with his threat to get potentially involved? What exactly could he do?

WESTWOOD: Well, it's not the first time that Republicans have come calling on President Trump to maybe push the FBI to be more compliant with its document request. Mark Meadows has been instrumental in trying to get the White House involved in this. A few months ago chief of staff John Kelly actually brokered some meetings between Republicans and the Justice Department to try to speed this process along.

NOBLES: All right. Sarah Westwood -- she is nearby the President in New Jersey reporting on the latest from the White House. Sarah -- thank you very much.

We've heard much more -- we have much more, I should say, just ahead in the newsroom. It all starts right after this quick break. Stay here.

[11:56:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)