Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
Winter Storm; Delta Jet Skids Off Runway; Hillary Clinton Under Fire Over E-Mails; Ferguson Teen's Family to Sue Police;
Aired March 5, 2015 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Hundreds of people are stranded in their cars in the snow. Some have been stuck all day. We're going to get the very latest on the rescue operation.
Ferguson fallout, new calls for legal action and heads to roll after a bombshell Justice Department reveals protesters were right about racial bias by police.
And late-night tweet. Hillary Clinton responds to the controversy about her private e-mails while she was secretary of state. Are Democrats coming to her defense?
We want to welcome our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You are in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Let's get to the breaking news tonight, a monster winter storm endangering about 90 million Americans from the Southwest to the Northeast and causing near disasters on a runway and on roads.
Right now, a federal investigation is under way into an accident that shut down New York's La Guardia airport for hours. A Delta jetliner skidded in the snow during landing, stopping just feet away from frigid waters. Passengers scrambled to evacuate at the plane leaked fuel.
And in Kentucky, the National Guard is called out to rescue hundreds of drivers stranded on snowy, icy highways. Some have been stuck since overnight in a potentially life-threatening situation. The former head of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman, she's standing by live. We also have our correspondents, analysts and newsmakers. They're in the storm zone and across the United States covering all the news that's breaking now.
First, let's go to CNN's Will Ripley. He's joining us live from La Guardia Airport in New York.
What's the latest on that near disaster, Will?
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, right now, this storm and the snow that continues to fall is crippling air travel in New York City, one of the busiest hubs in world.
Here at La Guardia, they barely have one runway operational. No flights are coming in and they are barely getting flights out of here, because when airport officials thought the runway was safe earlier today, the conditions changed so quickly that a plane slid two-thirds down the runway coming dangerously close to the icy water.
RIPLEY (voice-over): It's a terrifying image for everyone who flies, a Delta passenger jet skidding off a slick and snowy runway at one of America's busiest airports. The flight from Atlanta was coming in for a landing at La Guardia, then lost control, ending up just feet from the water.
JARED FAELLACI, PASSENGER: As soon as we landed, we felt the wheels hit the runway, and we did not feel the wheels take traction, and we started to skid. And we skid to the left side of the runway and we continued to skid. We literally were a couple feet away from heading into that -- to the water.
RIPLEY: Airport officials say the two planes that landed on the runway before the Delta flight reported good braking action; 127 passengers aboard the MD-88 were evacuated from the plane using emergency exits on the wings. Port Authority officials say the emergency chutes did not deploy; 24 people were injured, three taken to the hospital, one of the passengers, New York Giants tight end Larry Donnell, who shot this video.
Port Authority officials dealt with a fuel leak from the plane. The airport remains partially closed with flight cancellations continuing for hours.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's leaking fuel on the left side of the aircraft heavily.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You said leaking fuel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Affirm. His wing is ruptured.
RIPLEY: Moments after the plane lost control, tense communications from air traffic control.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We have an aircraft off the runway.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The airport is closed. The airport is closed. We got a 34.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call 100, say again.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tower, you have an aircraft off 31 on the north vehicle service road. Please advise crash rescue. La Guardia Airport is closed at this time.
RIPLEY: Tonight, the Web site FlightAware says some 10,000 flights were either canceled order delayed. Thousands of travelers are stranded as a direct result of what happened here at La Guardia, having repercussions across the country -- Wolf.
BLITZER: They certainly are. Will, thanks very much.
Let's bring in our aviation analyst, Miles O'Brien, and our CNN analyst safety, David Soucie.
David, how close did this Delta plane actually come to crashing into the Flushing Bay over there?
DAVID SOUCIE, CNN SAFETY ANALYST: It looks like just within a matter of feet, Wolf.
But it's kind of testament to the fact that that airport designers, the airport design of the FAA is such that that berm was there for two reasons, one to keep fuel from getting into the bay, but second to do exactly what it did. It's a testament again to the engineers that engineered the airport that the aircraft didn't end up in the bay.
BLITZER: You think that berm actually helped stop the plane after skidding for, what, 4,000 feet?
SOUCIE: I do. I do.
SOUCIE: There was nothing else in its way.
BLITZER: Yes, I spoke with one passenger who described the feeling of the plane sliding. But two planes actually landed shortly before this one did. The pilots said they didn't have any problems with their brakes. What was going on?
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: A couple things to think about here, Wolf.
Weather, of course, is extremely dynamic. It can change by the minute. We were at that point in time. The wind was shifting around. The rain was turning to freezing rain, eventually into snow. So what happens between just a couple of minutes can be very different. Each aircraft can be slightly different. Each crew might have a different technique and approach or experience level dealing with what we call a contaminated runway or an icy runway.
The other thing to think about here, too, Wolf, is that the control towers do rely on pilot reports as they land. How was the breaking action? They will say good, medium or all the way down to nil. That's a subjective thing, of course, first of all.
But, secondly, pilots can be a little bit reluctant to say nil because that means the airport gets shut down while they go out to clear off the runway and make it safer. There's a lot of factors at play here that may have put the crew with a dynamic situation, may not fully understand or not fully understanding exactly how slick the runway was.
BLITZER: One of the things the investigators will be looking at, David, is pilot error. Could there have been some pilot error here?
SOUCIE: Well, maybe in the decision-making to land, because, remember, the pilot is the one who makes the last decision whether to accept runway conditions or not. But it will go further than that. The FAA will be looking at whether or not the Port Authority reported conditions properly as well, because there were reports of the icing conditions before.
So the fact that there was good braking on the two flights prior, good braking, as Miles points out, is very subjective. So at that point they will be looking there. But again it's about the Port Authority and were those procedures and regulations handled properly? That's the primary focus of this investigation, I would believe.
BLITZER: The plane was 27 years old. Miles, is that too old? Could the mechanics, if you will, have played a role in the near disaster?
O'BRIEN: The first question, is it too old? The answer is no. It's really how it is maintains. And the NTSB will be looking through the maintenance records to make sure they did everything right. There's no reason to say that a plane of that age can't be flown safely, so long as it is maintained properly.
Was there a mechanical problem here will certainly come into play here. Could it have been a situation where the thrust reversers did not deploy symmetrically? It's the clamshell device over the back of the engine that causes the engine thrust to go in a braking mode.
If that was asymmetrical, that could send the plane off the runway. Were the brakes grabbing in a different manner? In other words, was one working better than other, which could have caused the same problem? These are some of the things that the investigators will look into as they try to determine what was going on here.
But let's not forget, they were landing downwind with a tailwind, a quartering tailwind, meaning they had some crosswind, as well as were being pushed by the wind. They would have been landing a little bit faster and would have been trying to compensate for the crosswind at the same time.
BLITZER: David, should this plane have been flying in these kind of conditions?
SOUCIE: Yes. These aircraft are fit for that. They can land in those conditions. As Miles was pointing out about the braking, too, we can go back to that. There's anti-skid systems on board the aircraft. I have investigated two different accidents in which the anti-skid systems had failed and many times you land with the brakes nearly on right as you touch down and let the anti-skid figure out which one needs to go more.
At this point, that's a possibility and that's one of the things I would be looking as well, is the anti-skid system.
BLITZER: David Soucie, Miles O'Brien, thanks very much. Let's dig deeper right now. We will bring in the former head of
the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman.
She's now president of the National Safety Council.
Deborah, thanks very much for joining us.
I will ask you the same question. Should the plane have been flying in these kind of awful conditions?
DEBORAH HERSMAN, FORMER CHAIRWOMAN, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: You know, I think they will be looking very closely, as they always do, at the human, the machine and the environment.
And so when we talk about the decision making of the crew to come in, we also are going to be looking at in an investigation the conditions at the airport. It is the airport's responsibility to maintain those runways, to make sure that they are clear and that the crews can land and to report accurately the conditions. So the environment is very important, particularly in these inclement weather events with contaminated runway surfaces.
BLITZER: Tell us what it's going to be like. The investigators from the NTSB and the FAA, they're going in to start the investigation. Give us a little sense of what they will be doing in the immediate days ahead.
The good news is, you have actually got a lot of assets there on the ground in the New York area. The NTSB does have local investigators that will go to the site immediately. They will secure it. They will capture their recorders and any information that they need right away. I think the weather is going to work against getting a go team in there just because of what's going on both in Washington and in New York.
Trying to actually get the team up there physically will be one of the biggest challenges. One of the most interesting developments for us, all of us, not just you in the news media, but for investigators, is the advent of all of the video technology and all of the data that can really be secured in a very short period of time. There's got to be a lot of surveillance video on that property at the airport that they will be looking at that right away as well.
BLITZER: You agree, I assume you do, that a 27-year-old plane in this particular case an MD-88, is still worthy of flying, if you will, in these kind of conditions?
HERSMAN: You know, aircraft are really workhorses. We see aircraft fly for many decades. The most important piece of them flying successfully is making sure that they have maintenance programs and continuous inspections.
So, if there is any -- a mechanical issue that needs to be addressed, Miles talked about things like thrust reversers, brakes, they will be looking at the performance of all of those devices, not just for this aircraft, but for the entire fleet to see if there is something that needs to be learned.
BLITZER: Because I asked the question because this plane reportedly as soon as it touched down did not have the traction that the two planes that landed shortly before they had that fine traction. They managed to land safely and go right up to the gate. I wonder if there may have been a mechanical problem with this particular plane.
HERSMAN: You know, there are so many factors that go into these contaminated surface events.
First, you have to look again at the performance of the pilots. Where did they touch down? How far down the runway were they? They had a tailwind. How fast were they going? What was the situation with respect to how fast thrust reversers were deployed, brakes, things like that? Then you look at the aircraft and you want to make sure that everything was in working order, that nothing was not performing as expected or that there were any failures that were not defined.
Then I think when we look at the environment, you have a lot of variables here. I will tell you that those pilot reports are extremely helpful. But we have got to get better when it comes to technology. There is the capability to put sensors or every aircraft that is touching down to really give not just a subjective good, fair or poor, but actually tell them what the braking coefficient on the runway is and be able to report that information back. We have got to get more sophisticated with these systems.
BLITZER: Deborah Hersman, I want to you stand by. We have more questions on what happened today, where we are all going from here. We will take a quick break, much more right after this.
BLITZER: We're back with the former head of the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman.
Stand by, Deborah.
We have some breaking news on another dangerous travel emergency, as a huge winter storm hits. We're getting new information about the logjam on very snowy highways in Kentucky. Take a look at this. You're looking at live pictures above I-65, Interstate 65. Some people have been stranded in their cars for almost 20 hours. They are hungry, they're thirsty and they are very angry.
A National Guard rescue operation is under way right now.
Let's go to CNN's Martin Savidge. He's following the latest developments for us.
What are they, Martin?
MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, part of it, you can see there the frustration drivers must feel if you are in one lane, you are going nowhere. You look across the highway, they seem to be sailing down the road. Why is that? Why am I still stuck here after some 18 hours?
It's clear that some people are not only running low on fuel. They are just about out of patience. And they may face another cold dark night going nowhere.
SAVIDGE (voice-over): In Central Kentucky, highways became parking lots, stretching dozens of miles, leaving trucks, buses and cars stranded and hundreds of people with little or no food or water and low on fuel. Many posting their plight on social media.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We are very nervous and anxious.
SAVIDGE: In some areas of the state, up to two feet of snow fell overnight, faster than plows could clear, first stopping traffic, then burying it in its tracks, hardest-hit, Interstate 65, near Elizabethtown in Central Kentucky, and I-24 outside Paducah. The governor's declared a state of emergency and called out the National Guard.
LT. COL. KIRK HILBRECHT, KENTUCKY NATIONAL GUARD: What we have been doing is taking stranded motorists to warm care facilities where they can get water or any kind of treatment that they might need. We have already had a couple of cases of folks that needed insulin or that may have been diabetic.
SAVIDGE: Jonathan Chu (ph) is part of a Christian music tour. These are his pictures of the snow as it closed in on their bus last night on I-24. By morning, the only suggestion of a highway was the long, long line of stuck trucks and cars.
Give you an idea of what things are like. I'm up to my knees, lam up to my knees in snow right now.
SAVIDGE: Amanda Wittek (ph) and her boyfriend were bound for Chicago on I-65.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know if you can see this. But all the way down, we are backed up and completely stopped. And our cars are literally stuck.
SAVIDGE: This was the start of their spring break.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have now been sitting in this same spot for over four hours.
SAVIDGE: By afternoon, there were signs of progress, as plows and graders cleared the way, allowing tow trucks to get in and traffic to get moving.
Ironically, many of those stuck had been headed to Florida, you guessed it, to escape winter. (END VIDEOTAPE)
SAVIDGE: Wolf, it wasn't like this state was unprepared. They knew the storm was coming. But it was preceded by heavy rain. Their attempts to try put down salt or brine, in other words, to start the melting before the snow, it was washed away. It would not have worked in this particular case. Nature was against them -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Certainly was. All right, Martin, thanks very much.
Let's go back to the former chair of the NTSB, the National Transportation Safety Board, Deborah Hersman. She's now president of the National Safety Council.
Deborah, what are you hearing about these dangerous driving conditions out there on these interstates in Kentucky? It's awful with these hundreds of people stranded for hours.
HERSMAN: I know, Wolf. It just reminds us of really how precarious transportation can be when Mother Nature is involved. People have got to be prepared, I think when they get behind the wheel, when weather is forecasting bad conditions.
And I think it's about also exercising caution and making sure that information is out there and maybe just like when we look at this airplane at the airport, it's about the infrastructure, having to make some decisions about whether or not the infrastructure is safe and passable.
BLITZER: I think one of the lessons we learn is it's better to err on the side of cautious. Tell people to get off the roads even before they get icy or snowy, even though that causes a lot of problems, economic dislocations, if you will. You want to be safe rather than sorry. Right?
My father-in-law has a saying. He says to everyone in the family, how do we drive on ice? And we all respond, we don't. So I think that is really what this is about. All of those folks who are trapped, I know that they wish that they had made a different decision knowing what they know now.
BLITZER: We are showing our viewers live pictures from the interstate right now. Truck after truck, vehicle after vehicle still stranded there sometimes for 20 hours. It's hard to believe this is going on. How do you explain that?
HERSMAN: I think many times it's that they can't get in to clear. So this is what happens if they leave -- if they don't leave open the roadways -- or if they don't close the roadways, then the plows can't get in and they can't treat those roadways when the cars are on there. So that creates some challenges.
But, again, it's about drivers making good decisions and being prepared, making sure that they have emergency kits in their car if they get stuck, but also having blankets and food and water. I know many folks that are out there probably were ill-prepared for the situation. But those that had that support, they are in a much better position.
BLITZER: Deborah Hersman, thanks very much for joining us.
HERSMAN: Thank you.
BLITZER: Here in Washington, it has been snowing hard for most of the day.
BLITZER: Just ahead, we're going to more on the air travel backup across the country after a Delta flight skidded, shut down one of the nation's busiest airports.
And I will talk to a lawyer for Michael Brown's family about the wrongful death lawsuit that is about to be filed against the city of Ferguson, Missouri.
BLITZER: In Missouri tonight, Michael Brown's family is promising to file a civil wrongful death lawsuit very soon after the U.S. Justice Department decided not to charge the former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in their son's death.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY GRAY, ATTORNEY FOR FAMILY OF MICHAEL BROWN: We are officially in a process of formulating a civil case that we anticipate will be filed very shortly on behalf of the family.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Let's get some more on that and the fallout after the bombshell report exposing racial bias by Ferguson police.
CNN's Ed Lavandera is on the scene. He's on the ground in Ferguson. He's got a live report.
What's the latest, Ed?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Michael Brown's family says that they don't agree with the findings in the Justice Department report, saying that there are not -- there is not enough evidence to bring federal charges against Darren Wilson. This also coming after a grand jury back in November did not press criminal -- did not indict Darren Wilson on criminal charges. But despite all of that, the family and their lawyers say they will go after Darren Wilson in civil court.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY GRAY, BROWN FAMILY ATTORNEY: We feel and we've always felt from the very beginning that Officer Wilson did not have to shoot and kill Mike Brown Jr. in broad daylight in the manner that he did. That he had other options available to him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LAVANDERA: Many of Darren Wilson's supporters feel that after two investigations, that the former police officer is fully vindicated.
One of the things that many of Darren Wilson's critics here in Ferguson also point out, the fact that in the other Department of Justice report say that many of the times that African-Americans were targeted by police officers simply for the way they were walking down the street. And they say that -- they point out that was the way the interaction between Darren Wilson and Michael Brown started last August -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Ed Lavandera in Ferguson, thank you.
Let's bring in another one of the Brown family lawyers, Daryl Parks. He's joining us right now, along with Democratic Congressman Lacey Clay of Missouri. He represents Ferguson, among other areas in Missouri over there.
Congressman, what is your reaction to the scathing Justice Department report that outlined huge racial bias in Ferguson? Did you have any idea what was going on before you read this report?
REP. LACEY CLAY (D), MISSOURI: Reading the report, it is very painful. I asked for investigations before Michael Brown's death into some of the allegations that we were receiving in my congressional office from Ferguson as well as surrounding communities. And the action was taken two days after Michael Brown's killing. Then the Justice Department became very interested in patterns and practices.
BLITZER: But you must have been stunned when you read some of these e-mails, these racist e-mails from -- on official city e-mail servers, if you will, talking about the president, the first lady, awful stuff.
CLAY: For sure. And I think that from the top down, in the Ferguson Police Department, as well as the municipal court, the leadership of those departments need to go. They need to resign. It's an embarrassment. It is unconscionable. It is not what we consider to be equal justice under the law in this country.
BLITZER: Daryl, tell us about this civil lawsuit you're going to file now. You're filing it against, I assume, the former police officer, Darren Wilson, plus the city of Ferguson? Is that right?
PARKS: That's correct, Wolf. And under the law, obviously, this family has the right to pursue action under both Missouri law, as well as the federal actions that we can pursue.
Without question, we now have complete evidence of pattern and practices in the past from the Ferguson Department that will be part of that lawsuit along with the wrongful death action under the Missouri law. So we're moving forward. Obviously, we'll give the city a chance to talk to us, if they choose to talk to us. Thus far, they have not been willing to talk to us, and thus, this family must proceed.
BLITZER: When you say talk to you, do that mean some sort of compensation that would prevent the civil lawsuit, if you will?
PARKS: Well, the only thing that can come from a lawsuit is some type of compensation. However, we have reached out to the city and given them an opportunity if they choose to talk to us. That invitation stays open. But for now, since they have been non- responsive to our overtures to sit down and talk, then we must proceed and enforce the rights of these parents in this situation.
BLITZER: I want to get to the law in a second. But let me just ask Representative Clay. The police chief there, Thomas Jackson, he's still the police chief after all of these months. And even after this report, this very damning report came out by the Justice Department. Are you happy about that?
CLAY: Not at all. And I believe the city of Ferguson, their leadership, their mayor, their police chief should cooperate with the Justice Department. And if they don't want do that, then the city council must take the necessary steps to get rid of those two.
BLITZER: You want the police chief to go?
CLAY: For sure.
BLITZER: What about the mayor? Do you have confidence in the mayor?
CLAY: With a record -- with a record of what was revealed by this report yesterday, so damaging that they -- they also led the effort to take advantage of poor people in these communities. That is not...
BLITZER: What about the mayor? Do you have confidence in the mayor?
CLAY: Not at all. The mayor should go. If they were leading the effort to raise revenue off the backs of poor people, preying on the people that could least afford to pay these fines, to go through a criminal justice system that is apparently broke, then he needs to go, too.
BLITZER: Daryl Parks, as you know, the grand jury there in Ferguson, they didn't file any charge; they didn't indict this police officer. We heard Eric Holder, the attorney general of the United States, say they reviewed it. They didn't have enough evidence to go ahead with a federal civil rights suit against -- any charges against Darren Wilson. Why do you think this lawsuit that you want to file now has a chance of success?
PARKS: Well, two things. No. 1, the burden of proof in a civil action will be by a preponderance of the evidence, not a beyond a reasonable doubt, which is the criminal standard.
So clearly, our standard is totally different. And we at the heart of both of those investigations, both the local Missouri- Clayton-St. Louis County prosecutor and the federal prosecutor, they both based their decision mainly on the self-defense theory. We find major flaws in that, which I won't talk about here.
But there are some issues there that certainly offset the alternatives that he could have considered and that were not considered. We've had the benefit of investigating this case. And we see some things that we certainly could talk about that we believe we would prevail based upon the preponderance of the evidence in this case.
BLITZER: You want to react to this decision that they're going go ahead and file this suit?
CLAY: Sure. They are perfectly within their rights to file this suit.
BLITZER: Were you disappointed that Eric Holder and the Justice Department decided they didn't have enough evidence to go ahead and file charges?
CLAY: Well, it was disappointing, of course, because the bar -- the law sets the bar so high in order to bring federal civil rights charges.
BLITZER: One final question, a quick one. In this report, the Justice Department report, they said they couldn't even confirm this notion that he had his hands raised and he was shouting, "Don't shoot," which became obviously so prominent, so famous during the course of the riots, the demonstrations that followed. In fact, they couldn't -- eyewitnesses saying that Michael Brown was actually moving towards the police officer. I want your reaction.
CLAY: Well, there were conflicting testimony. People see different situations differently. Who is to say that after being shot eight times that your body doesn't spin around by the force of the bullets? Who is to say that that didn't happen?
But here is what we do know. Is that we really see why Michael Brown was killed. And we see why the community exploded the way it did, because of the patterns and practices of those police officers.
BLITZER: All right. As a result of all that, we now know the patterns and practices in detail, what was going on in Ferguson, presumably elsewhere as well. Congressman, thanks very much for joining us.
Daryl Parks, thanks to you as usual, as well.
PARKS: Thank you.
BLITZER: Up ahead, new details on the terrifying airliner accident in New York. A plane with more than 130 people on board sliding off a runway, nearly plunging into frigid water.
And North Korea is actually hailing the bloody knife attack on the United States ambassador to South Korea. We're learning more about the bloody assault and what may lie behind it.
BLITZER: The United States ambassador to South Korea is in stable condition after surgery for wounds suffered in a bloody stabbing assault at an appearance in Seoul, South Korea. North Korea's hailing it as, quote, "a knife attack of justice."
The slashing comes as the U.S. and South Korea hold joint military exercises, always a source of fury for North Korea.
We're learning much more about all of this. What's going on? Let's go to Brian Todd. He's got the latest -- Brian.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, tonight, we've got new information on the assault, on the suspect and on how the North Koreans are now responding to that incident.
Also tonight, the South Korean government is facing some tough questions over the security, or lack thereof, for the U.S. ambassador.
MARK LIPPERT, U.S. AMBASSADOR TO SOUTH KOREA: I'm bleeding here.
I'm bleeding here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Call the hospital. Get an ambulance.
LIPPERT: I need an ambulance. Get me to the hospital.
TODD (voice-over): Bleeding from her face and arm, Ambassador Mark Lippert is rushed to the hospital. And the suspect is taken down. Moments later, he's carried away, screaming for an end to the U.S.-South Korean joint military exercises.
South Korean authorities say that appears to be the motive for the attack on the ambassador.
Police are investigating whether suspect Kim Ki-jong acted alone. They say he insists he did. There's no evidence North Korea was involved. But the suspect allegedly sympathized with North Korea, and Kim Jong-un's regime praised the attack as, quote, "just punishment for U.S. warmongers."
BABINA HWANG, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: It's just an opportune moment for them, actually. Because North Koreans have been very upset, again typically, as usual every year about these annual joint military exercises.
LIPPERT: You guys have got to stop the bleeding.
TODD: Lippert received 80 stitches. Doctors say if the facial wound had been just slightly deeper, it could have been life- threatening.
Tonight, tough questions for South Korean officials on security for the American ambassador.
SUE MI TERRY, FORMER CIA ANALYST: How come this man was able to sit in the same room with this kind of history of violence?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The suspect reportedly once hurled a concrete block at a Japanese envoy and was given a suspended sentence. A South Korean official tells CNN the U.S. embassy did not request special security for this event.
There's a long history of political violence in South Korea. President Park Geun-hye herself was slashed in the face while campaigning in 2006. The North Koreans have launched many attacks using tunnels, frogmen, other infiltrations.
BALBINA HWANG, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: They have staged commando raids against the Blue House, which is the Korean presidential compound. They have attempted assassinations of past Korean presidents.
TODD: The North Koreans tried twice to assassinate President Park's father, Park Chung-hee, when he was president. One of the attempts killed her mother. Parks' father was eventually killed by a member of his own intelligence service.
TODD: Now, President Park is vowing to get to the bottom of the attack on the U.S. ambassador. The suspect, Kim Ki-jong, told South Korean reporters he had planned the assault for ten days -- Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We're getting new details also on how he got into the event?
TODD: That's right. It's very strange. He was not on the list of those invited to attend this event, but he was allowed in because someone recognized him as a member of the group that was hosting the event. You got to ask the question -- if they knew him, didn't they know anything about history of violence? Those are very tough questions that people have to answer tonight.
BLITZER: I'm sure the investigation will continue.
Brian, thanks very much.
Just ahead, more on the breaking news: that runway accident in New York, the winter storm that's hitting East Coast right now. We've got new information.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Tonight, there's new information: the State Department
is reviewing Hillary Clinton's e-mail after the former secretary of state asked for them to be released. Secretary Clinton is responding to the controversy over use of private e-mail while she was America's top diplomat. It's a controversy that's only growing as the likely presidential contender now faces new subpoenas from Congress.
Our senior political correspondent Brianna Keilar is here. She's following the story for us. She's got new information.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Hillary Clinton obviously trying to tamp down in formation or -- pardon me, criticism, Wolf, over this controversy with her e-mails, asking the State Department to release them. But it's important to note, as we now understand, that these are e-mails that Hillary Clinton and her team had already turned over at their discretion from her server, from her private e-mail account to the State Department when they were requested to do so in 2014.
KEILAR (voice-over): As the controversy over the private e-mail address Hillary Clinton used while secretary of state moved into day three with no sign of letting up, she finally weighed in, tweeting shortly before midnight on Wednesday, "I want the public to see my e- mail. I asked State to release them. They said they will view them for release as soon as possible."
Only the 55,000 pages of emails selected by Clinton's team from her private account and turned over to the State Department last year will be review and released. Aside from her tweet, Clinton has remained mum on the issue.
REPORTER: How are you doing, Hillary?
KEILAR: TMZ tracked her down at the airport as she left Washington Wednesday morning. But Clinton dodged the cameraman's question, which wasn't exactly intelligible anyway.
REPORTER MALE: Hillary, with the blunder of the emails, was that just a generalization gap or can that be corrected?
KEILAR: Reporters have peppered the White House and State Department with questions. Secretary of State John Kerry in Saudi Arabia brushed them off.
JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: I think we have all the ones that are state.gov which are appropriately the ones in the purview of the department. But let me check on that when I actually have time to pay attention to such an important issue when I get home.
HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: Good morning.
KEILAR: It could be months before the State Department releases the e-mails, but the political ramifications are playing out now. Republicans painting Clinton as secretive and a hypocrite, circulating clips this from 2007 when she blasted the Bush administration.
CLINTON: We know about the secret wiretaps. We know about the secret military tribunals. The secret White House e-mail accounts. It is a stunning record of secrecy and corruption.
KEILAR: But many political observers say this won't jeopardize her run for the White House.
STEVE MCMAHON, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: She probably would be handling this a little bit better if the campaign had already been formed and she had some staff to help her deal with this. But I think it's a tempest in a teapot. It will be gone before the snow here in Washington melts.
KEILAR: Tonight, many political observers say this latest flap over e-mails won't jeopardize her run for the White House.
KEILAR: This episode reminds Democrats, it reminds Republicans and the media that Hillary Clinton, despite enjoying a sizable lead in the polls, is still vulnerable. And, Wolf, you know, Democrats, many of them have been telling us, that this makes them worry a little bit. They have all of their eggs in one basket and that is Hillary Clinton.
BLITZER: It seems to be the case right now. Brianna, thanks very much.
Stay with us. I want to bring in our chief political analyst Gloria, our senior political analyst Ron Brownstein, and our national political reporter Peter Hamby, who've all been doing some serious reporting on this.
Gloria, she releases this tweet, if you will, her statement after 11:00 at night. What's her strategy her?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: You know, look, it's a 24-hour news cycle. It doesn't matter when you release whatever you're going to release, whether it's her tweet or some other way. She's clearly trying to turn the corner on the story. This has been a bad story for her.
You have Democrats loudly or I should say loudly whispering about this, you know, as David Plouffe used to call them the bedwetters when they used to do the same thing about Barack Obama. They're saying, well, woe is me, the world is ending. She's our nominee and this is a problem even before she declares.
But I think this might have her move up her timetable a little bit, because it's clear she doesn't have an apparatus in place.
PETER HAMBY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: She does tweet, which is a nod to how you do media relations in 2015. But it still took two days and still not a completely coherent response to what is going on. BLITZER: Do we know, Brianna, if anyone outside of her inner
circle was actually helping her decide which of those e-mails to deliver to the State Department from her private account?
KEILAR: No, we believe it is her and her close aides. This is her personal e-mail account, right? It's not the state.gov email account. It's her server that houses the e-mails. And so, in 2014, you had the Obama administration making this request of all former secretaries of state, please turn over your emails, and we believe every much and there's nothing really to disprove this, that it was what they turned over.
Interesting to note this coming from a Clinton aid, that they say nine-tenths of the e-mail, you know, they sort of say, look, we over- disclosed, on the side of over-disclosing, 9/10 of the emails they say were to state.gov addresses, meaning like within the departments, that they were already on the server. But keep in mind, one-tenth of those emails, that's more than 5,000 pages of e-mails.
HAMBY: Right, yes.
BORGER: But history is trusting that.
KEILAR: You wouldn't know. It's an honor system.
BLITZER: Well, let me ask Ron because you've done some serious studying on this.
This all issue of transparency. How important is it to the American voter?
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, the history is that I think all of the process issues, including transparency, matter more to us that it has mattered to voters. This is a bad trend. I think she made a bad choice here to do this level of public business through personal e-mail.
We're seeing other elected officials, other some examples. Either way, it is a bad trend and it should be resisted. But having been up and down the hill of Clinton scandals and quasi-scandals and faux scandals for over two decades, I think the odds are pretty high this is going to matter less on whether she's president or not than we think today.
BORGER: Well, but just the point that you're saying, having been and up down that hill, for two decades, just kind of reminds people, allow the RNC to make that kind of an ad and reminds people about sort of --
BROWNSTEIN: It's part of the package.
BORGER: The Clinton rules, as "The Wall Street Journal" calls it the other day.
HAMBY: That's right. Who are not for Clinton in the first place especially -- BORGER: But they have no other choice, right? Who else?
HAMBY: They do not. But they do feel emboldened. I told you so, that Clinton --
BROWNSTEIN: If we learn nothing else --
BLITZER: Hold on. Hold on for one moment. We have something important to report.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: All right. This is important news.
We can now report, this according to NBC News and TMZ, that the actor Harrison Ford was seriously injured in a vintage World War II training plane crash. We're told that this crash occurred in Venice, California. He was transported to a hospital, according to one report, in critical condition. He was the solo occupant of this small plane. The crash occurred around 2:30 p.m. Los Angeles Time, California time at the Penmar Golf Course, this according to the Los Angeles Fire Department.
The information is still coming in. We're getting -- you can see the video of this vintage World War II plane that crashed at this golf course in Venice, California. It's only few blocks away, by the way, from the Santa Monica Airport.
Both TMZ, once again, and NBC News, they are reporting that the pilot was, in fact, Harrison Ford. TMZ says Ford suffered multiple gashes to his head and was bleeding. He is being treated at the scene. He was treated in the scene by doctors.
Miles O'Brien, give us your analysis of what we see. He clearly has some serious injuries.
MILES O'BRIEN, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: Yes, he was -- clearly, you know, when pilots learn how to fly, one of the first things they tell you is always be thinking about an alternate landing site if you should lose an engine. And golf courses are a good place for that the Santa Monica airport.
The Santa Monica airport where Harrison Ford keeps all of his aircraft. He's an avid aviator. He's been flying since the 1960s, both fixed wing and helicopters, both in California. He has place in Wyoming as well, where he does a lot of flying.
It's obviously very densely populated part of southern California. The golf course is a good place to put a plane down if you, if you had an engine failure or something. You're not going to make it back to airport. But nonetheless, a landing on that kind of terrain as you can just tell from pulling back that it's not the most level location, right where he landed, can be fraught. So, hopefully, it's just minor injuries. You can see the runway right there.
BLITZER: You can see the pictures.
We're going to continue our coverage.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" will pick it up.