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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Launches New Rant against Late Senator McCain; Poll: Democrats Withdrawing Support for Impeaching Trump; Interview with Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.), Member, Judiciary Committee, on Hope Hicks Cooperation; Trump Not Opposed to Publicizing Mueller Report; Fmr. Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) Colorado Takes Voters' Questions at CNN Presidential Town Hall tonight at 10 P.M. ET; Senate Announces Hearing On Commercial Aviation Safety As Reports Reveal Disturbing Details Of Boeing Airliner Crash; Conway Versus Conway and Trump. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired March 20, 2019 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you so much.
You can follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JakeTapper. You can tweet the show @TheLeadCNN. Our coverage on CNN continues right now. Thanks so much for watching.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news: let people see it. President Trump slams Robert Mueller but says he wants to see Mueller's report and wants the public to see it, too.
Our exclusive new CNN poll shows a huge majority agrees and wants Mueller's findings to be made public.
Can't stop, won't stop: President Trump launches another scathing attack on the late senator John McCain even as Republicans call the president's words deplorable.
Why can't, why won't the president stop?
Whacking away: trades insults with conservative lawyer George Conway, calling the husband of one of his top advisers a, quote, "whack job."
Is Kellyanne Conway now siding with the president against her husband?
And heroic pilot: disturbing new details about what happened aboard one of the Boeing 737 MAX airliners that crashed and how a heroic pilot averted disaster just a day before the fatal flight.
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Breaking news: CNN's exclusive new poll shows support for impeaching President Trump dropped to 36 percent largely due to a decline among Democrats but approval ratings for Robert Mueller have rebounded and Americans are evenly divided on whether his investigation is likely to personally implicate the president.
An overwhelming majority, 87 percent say Mueller's findings should be made public. Trump doesn't mind if the public sees the Mueller report but he renewed his attacks on the special counsel today.
Just now in a speech at a military manufacturing plant, he stepped up his unrelenting assault on the late senator, John McCain, insulting him repeatedly once again, even as key members of his own part yare saying the president should simply stop.
I'll speak Democratic congressman Hakeem Jeffries of the Judiciary Committee. And our correspondents and analysts will have full coverage.
Let's begin with Abby Phillip. She is on the road with the president in Ohio.
Abby, the president is still attacking the special counsel Robert Mueller and you just heard him deliver yet another rant aimed at the late senator John McCain. Update us.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This was supposed to be about investments in the military and manufacturing and the tanks standing right behind me. But instead it was about the president's diatribe against the late senator, John McCain, who he has been attacking on Twitter all week.
The president started his morning actually attacking two other individuals, special counsel Robert Mueller and the husband of one of his top aides, Kellyanne Conway.
TRUMP: Let it come out. Let people see it.
PHILLIP (voice-over): A change of tune from Trump, who now says he wants to public to see the Mueller report.
TRUMP: I think it's ridiculous. But I want to see the report. Tens of millions of people love the fact that we have the greatest economy we have ever had.
PHILLIP (voice-over): This coming weeks after the president suggested his willingness for transparency would depend on what's in it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You would not have a problem --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- being public?
TRUMP: Excuse me. That's up to the attorney general. I don't know, it depends. I have no idea what it's going to say. PHILLIP (voice-over): But Trump isn't giving up his attacks on Robert Mueller.
TRUMP: But it's sort of interesting that a man out of the blue just writes a report. I know that he's conflicted. And I know that his best friend is Comey, who's a bad cop. And I know that there are other things.
PHILLIP (voice-over): The president insisted this afternoon that he has no inside information about the timing of the report. But he expressed confidence in his new attorney general, William Barr, to make the final call.
TRUMP: I have no idea when it will be released. At the same time, let it come out and let people see it. It's up to the attorney general. We have a very good attorney general. He is a very highly respected man. We'll see what happens.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Trump's attack on the Mueller probe comes as he launched into an unprompted rant against the late senator John McCain at a tank factory in Lima, Ohio, today.
TRUMP: I have to be honest, I have never liked him much. Hasn't been from me. I have really probably never will.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Blaming McCain for his handling of the dossier.
TRUMP: John McCain received the fake and phony dossier. And what did he do? He didn't call me.
TRUMP: He turned it over to the FBI, hoping to put me in jeopardy.
PHILLIP (voice-over): As the crowd listened silently, Trump evoked McCain's funeral last summer in Washington.
TRUMP: And I gave him the kind of funeral that he wanted, which, as president, I had to approve. I don't care about this. I didn't get thank you. That's OK.
PHILLIP (voice-over): Trump also feuding with the husband of his top aide, Kellyanne Conway, after her husband, George, questioned Trump's mental stability.
TRUMP: He's a whack job. There's no question about but I really don't know him. He -- I think he is doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife. Kellyanne is a wonderful woman. And I call him Mr. Kellyanne. The fact is that he is doing a tremendous disservice to a wife and family. She is a wonderful woman.
PHILLIP (voice-over): On the White House lawn and again at the tank factory in Ohio, Trump paused for some show and tell.
TRUMP: I brought this out for you because this is a map of -- everything in the red. This was on Election Night in 2016. PHILLIP (voice-over): Months after he declared ISIS defeated and ordered his generals to withdraw U.S. troops from Syria, the president acknowledged that some 400 troops would remain. But today he insisted that ISIS is nearly gone.
TRUMP: Everything red is ISIS. When I took it over it was a mess. Now on the bottom that it is the exact same. There is no red. In fact there's actually a tiny spot which will be gone by tonight.
PHILLIP: Wolf, In this room during President Trump's attack on McCain it was almost silent as he went on and on. There were many members of the military in the audience, one within eyeshot of me. And I could see him standing stoically as the president attacked a war hero.
Now while this has all been going on for several days, we have heard so little from Republican senators. But one of them, senator Johnny Isakson, did speak out today, calling the president's comments "deplorable."
BLITZER: Abby, thanks very much.
Let's bring in our political director.
David, we have to talk about this new poll. But let me get your quick reaction to this really continued stunning round of attacks by the president of the United States on the late senator, John McCain.
He said "I gave him the funeral he wanted," he said, "And I never got a thank you."
DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: When President Trump obsesses on something like this, it's a clear indication he understands he is on the losing end of this political argument. He knew that last August when senator John McCain was laid to rest and he had this inexplicable flap over whether or not the flag should be lowered.
Now of course he's trying to take credit for the way in which John McCain was laid to rest. But it is so clear that this sort of American hero is so under this president's skin, he knows he is losing by comparison to John McCain and he can't seem to let it go. He has completely, in the last week or so, just continuing this attack on a record that is so clearly, Abby, when it comes to service to this country and the president seems incapable of acknowledging it.
BLITZER: Yes, even fellow Republicans, like senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia, Mitt Romney of Utah and a whole bunch of others, they can't believe that this president is continuing this rant against Senator McCain. Let's get to this new CNN poll. Give us the major headlines, if you will.
CHALIAN: You acknowledged at the top of the show, which is Republicans, Democrats and independents agree on almost nothing these days in American politics but this they agree on. You heard Trump talk about it, that the Mueller report should indeed be made public. The president said it would be fine.
Look at this. It is 87 percent overall. But 80 percent of Republicans think the report should be public, 88 percent of independents, 95 percent of Democrats. There is complete consensus by the American people that they want to see what's in this report. If they don't get to see it, I think they are going to be real political pressure points for attorney general Barr, for President Trump.
How about the approval ratings for Mueller and Trump on this issue?
First, Mueller; you said his numbers have rebounded and they have. He is at 48 percent approval of how he is handling the Russia investigation. That's up from where he was in December and February, it is back to a near high for Mueller in our polling throughout this process.
Donald Trump does not compare well to that. He is down at 32 percent approval. It is one of his worst issues that we test, his handling of the Russia investigation; 57 percent of Americans in this poll disapprove of the way the president handles it.
BLITZER: The other day, the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she opposes going through with impeachment at this time. She said the president is, quote, "not worth it."
What does the poll reveal about the appetite for impeachment?
CHALIAN: Well, that appetite is a lot less than it was. You mentioned at the top, 36 percent say they would be in favor of impeachment.
CHALIAN: It is a very small slice, a third of Americans. That is certainly not a majority position obviously.
Look at this. It is mostly coming from movement among Democrats. Just in December, 80 percent of Democrats said they were in favor of impeachment. It is a 12-point drop. It has gone down a little bit with independent and Republicans.
But you pointed to Pelosi. I think it's one of the bigger reasons we are seeing that drop. That and the Democratic race for 2020 has started and you're seeing Democrats aware they're just year and a half away from a presidential election. They are choosing who they want to defeat Donald Trump and thinking less about trying to remove him from office.
BLITZER: I agree. The Speaker's words clearly had an impact on her fellow Democrats.
Thanks very much, David Chalian, for that.
While Congressional Democrats pursue a number of inquiries into the Trump administration, the powerful House Oversight Committee chairman is now complaining that the White House is rejecting all of his efforts to obtain information. Let's go to our Manu Raju up on Capitol Hill.
Manu, you're learning another House committee expected the former top Trump aide to cooperate?
MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. The House Judiciary Committee is expecting documents from Hope Hicks, the president's former communications director, long-time confidante, who has informed the committee that she does in fact plan to provide documents to the House Judiciary Committee as part of its investigation. The Democratic led investigation into potential obstruction of justice and what Dems believe are abuses of power in this office.
Jerry Nadler, the chairman of the committee, sent Hicks a letter earlier this month, asking her to respond to an array of questions about the president's knowledge, involvement with false statements about Michael Flynn, then national security adviser, had made to the FBI about the firing of former FBI director James Comey.
About that misleading statement that was initially given to the media after it was revealed that Donald Trump Jr. had a meeting in Trump Tower in 2016 with Russians among other issues.
They asked for diaries and other documents she has taken while she was in the White House. We're told by a spokesperson for Nadler that she has agreed to turn over the documents. Her attorney has declined to comment.
The question is how much information she does plan to provide. When she met wit the House Intelligence Committee last year, she would not talk about communications when she was in the White House. Democrats have demanded that information. She would only talk about things in the campaign.
Will that change?
At least one key witness very close to the president is signaling to the committee that she, at least, plans to cooperate.
BLITZER: Manu, thanks very much.
Let's stay up on Capitol Hill. Congressman Hakeem Jeffries from New York is joins us. He's actually joining us from New York City right now. He's not only a member of the Judiciary Committee, he's also the chairman of the House Democratic Caucus.
Thanks so much for joining us.
REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-N.Y.), MEMBER, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Thanks for having me, Wolf.
BLITZER: Let's begin with the breaking news. Tell us about the specific information your committee is seeking from former White House communications director Hope Hicks.
JEFFRIES: As I understand it, the committee is seeking information relative to what exactly took place in connection with the ultimate termination of Michael Flynn and the violations of law.
The committee would also like to know what exactly was Trump's involvement in the false and misleading statement that was issued from the White House involving hope Hicks and others in connection with the Trump Tower meeting that took place in 2016.
That would tell us something about whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian spies as it relates to selling out our democracy. We would also like to know what information she has relative to the termination of James Comey, which appears to many to have involved an effort to obstruct justice and the ongoing counterintelligence investigation that James Comey was leading at the time.
BLITZER: We'll see if she answers those questions. This afternoon, as you heard, the president said he was fine with the special counsel's Russian report being made public.
Are you encouraged by the president's endorsing the release of the report?
JEFFRIES: The president is sort of a here today, gone tomorrow type of guy. So who knows whether this will be his position tomorrow, let alone an hour from now. What I am encouraged by is that the overwhelming majority of the American people, Democrat, Republican and independents, agree that, upon the conclusion of Mueller's investigation, the American people deserve to see this report. That is a position that we as House Democrats have taken in the interest of transparency and a majority of Republicans have also taken that position in the House of Representatives.
That's the right thing to do.
JEFFRIES: The taxpayers have paid for the Mueller investigation. We all deserve to know whether there was a conspiracy between the Trump campaign and Russian spies and possibly involving WikiLeaks to sell out our democracy and artificially place Trump at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
BLITZER: Should the attorney general take that public sentiment into consideration as he weighs how much of the eventual report to make public?
JEFFRIES: Absolutely. He should take that public sentiment into account, particularly because it is so strongly held amongst the wide ideological spectrum of the American people. It is a great issue of national importance. To the extent that the attorney general decides not to release the report, which would be unfortunate, the American people have voted for transparency and giving Democrats control of the House of Representatives.
Chairman Schiff, Chairman Nadler and Chairman Cummings have all made clear if we need to subpoena that report, we will so that the American people can be presented with the information. Good, bad or indifferent, they should see the report, Wolf, whether the report exonerates the president or implicates the president.
BLITZER: And most of the American people agree with you.
The same CNN poll shows a significant decline of Americans who want to see impeachment proceedings begin against the president, that he should be removed from office following impeachment. It's down to 36 percent.
From your perspective, as the Speaker Nancy Pelosi has also said, why do fewer Americans believe support impeachment?
JEFFRIES: Well, it's an interesting question and I'll have to look deeply into those numbers. I do know that House Democrats are continuing to focus on our For the People agenda. We have made it clear, that we were elected to try to lower the high cost of lifesaving prescription drugs, lower health care cost in general, protect people with preexisting conditions, increase pay for everyday Americans and enact a real infrastructure plan and also clean up corruption and bring our democracy to light.
That's where our focus is and we believe that's where the American people would like us to focus, on kitchen table, pocketbook issues.
At the same time we'll do our constitutional responsibility of serving as a check and balance on our control in the executive branch. We'll see what happens.
BLITZER: Does it worry you that many of your fellow Democrats in the caucus are still advocating for impeachment, despite declining public support and what you and the Speaker says?
JEFFRIES: The overwhelming majority of the House Democratic Caucus believes we should continue to focus on making life better for everyday Americans until we see what the Mueller report has to show as well as the conclusion of the Southern District of New York.
We'll see what happens at that point in time. I think what the Speaker did was lay out a clear standard where the case should be compelling and the evidence must be overwhelming and public sentiment should be bipartisan in order to even consider going down the impeachment road. We are a long way from that.
BLITZER: All right, Congressman, thanks for joining us, Hakeem Jeffries. Appreciate it.
JEFFRIES: Thank you.
BLITZER: Up next the president attacks the special counsel Robert Mueller. But he says he wants to see Mueller's report and says the American public should get to see it as well. And the president ignores blistering criticism from top Democrats, once again attacking the late senator, John McCain.
So what's behind this latest series of rants today?
(MUSIC PLAYING) (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: We're following multiple breaking stories. President Trump is heading to a fundraiser in Ohio this hour. Earlier he told reporters he doesn't mind if the public sees the special counsel Robert Mueller's report but then questions why the report is being done in the first place.
Let's ask our political and legal experts about what the president is saying today.
Pamela, "Let's see it," the president said, his stance on Mueller. Is this a major shift?
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It is certainly a shift. Previously he said it is up to the attorney general. I defer to him. Now he is saying put it out there.
It reminds me of when the president said I want to sit down with Robert Mueller. Sending this message out, I have something to hide. We know that never happened and that privately the president really didn't want to. So I think that is what this is. I don't know how much we should be reading into the president saying this.
And from a practical standpoint this report could have grand jury information, classified information. You can't put the whole report out. The question is does this somehow put more pressure on the attorney general because the president is his boss?
We'll have to see.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SR. LEGAL ANALYST: It struck me that the president was just kind of riffing. I don't think what he said binds the attorney general at all. The attorney general is going to do this in a methodical way. He is going to let the White House counsel weigh in.
There will be lots of pressure from within the administration. Just because the president said something today as we often point out, doesn't mean he will say the same thing tomorrow.
BLITZER: You don't think this is the bottom line right now?
TOOBIN: Absolutely not.
BROWN: My reporting is that the White House lawyers are preparing to exert executive privilege over some of the information, whatever Barr wants to share. So that contradicts what the president said.
TOOBIN: Absolutely. BLITZER: Rebecca, the poll shows that Mueller's approval rating for handling the Russia investigation has rebounded. You can see in December was 43 percent. It has gone up to 48 percent.
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: First of all, it seems to be clear evidence that the president's campaign against Robert Mueller, "WITCH HUNT," is not working.
In fact, this is the highest approval Mueller has had of handling this investigation since October of last year. So if anything, his approval is standing strong in the face of these attacks.
But I want to compare the approval of Mueller to the approval of Trump in terms of this investigation, specifically how he handled it. In the same poll, it is only 32 percent versus 57 percent who disapprove. So that's a net disapproval for Trump in handling and an approval for Robert Mueller. It shows public opinion is on Mueller's side. That is a big deal when this report comes out.
BLITZER: There is an interesting line in this new statement that was filed in the U.S. district court by Robert Mueller today on a separate case, asking for an extension. The counsel responsible for preparing the response faced the press of other work and require additional time to consult within the government.
What does it say to you?
There is a lot of speculation that means we won't get the Mueller report necessarily in the next day or two.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The line immediately got a lot of people talking because there are no significant deadlines in the Mueller investigation that are imminent, that are publicly known. We have seen increasing signs that the investigation is coming to a close, such as the departure of Mueller's top FBI agent.
There are several top attorneys who are also soon departing.
But we actually don't know. We talked about it, when Mueller will ultimately deliver his report to Congress. Some interpreted it as maybe being directly related to the preparing of that report, especially as we contend with some legal and constitutional questions for how the special counsel will handle the fact this investigation involves a sitting president as well as the fact that there is a debate over the extent to which some of the information will be released to the public.
TOOBIN: We can conclude I think with certainty that the Mueller report will be released tomorrow or it won't be.
TOOBIN: Just wanted to inform our viewers of that.
BLITZER: Yes, because in this statement that he issued, there's an effort by "The Washington Post," among other news organizations, to get information released, private information and they asked for an extension at least through April 1st.
I don't know what that means. We are all reading between the lines.
How do you see it?
BROWN: Again, all of our reporting indicates it is going to happen soon with Mueller delivering to the attorney general. When you see something like this, where they say we have a press of other work, it does make your wonder. But I think we should not read too much into that. It could mean other work compiling this report to be delivered to the attorney general.
BLITZER: Everybody stick around. More news we are following. We'll continue our coverage right after this.
[17:33:08] WOLF BLITZER, CNN THE SITUATION ROOM: We're back with our political and legal analysts. You know, Sabrina, the president took his attack against Senator John McCain to a new level today. Let me play some clips of what he said just today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, U.S. PRESIDENT: What do you think of McCain? What do you think -- not my kind of guy. I have never liked him much, it hasn't been for me. McCain didn't get the job done. Then he went thumbs down, badly hurting the Republican Party, badly hurting our nation. I gave him the kind of funeral he wanted, which, as president, I had to approval. I don't care about this. I didn't get thank you. That's okay. We sent him on the way but I wasn't a fan of John McCain.
BLITZER: Why is the President -- I mean, so one thing, as he does it in private conversations, he really goes out, but so publicly going after the late senator.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this re-enforces the extent to which the President holds a grudge, his willingness to continuously engage in attacks that are petty. He is being condemned by members of his own party. But part of why he does this is because he gets away with it. His attacks on Sarah McCain date back to the 2016 campaign, when he said he preferred prisoners who were not captured, of course, invoking the fact that Senator McCain was a prison of war. It didn't affect his pathway to republican nomination. And the time that he was President, he continued to attack Senator McCain for his vote for against repealing Obama's healthcare law.
And for the most part, what you have are condemnations from republicans who often don't even directly invoke the President's name. They just praise McCain for his service. And so as long as the President is not going to face actual consequences, he knows that he can continue to engage in this kind of behavior because it's not really going to affect him personally. BLITZER: You know, Rebecca, Republican Senator Johnny Isakson of Georgia says the President's repeated attacks on McCain are deplorable.
Senator Mitt Romney of Utah issued a strong statement condemning what the President is saying about the late senator. But, by and large, most republicans in Congress have been pretty silent.
REBECCA BUCK, CNN POLITICAL REPORTER: That's right, Wolf. They were the exception, not the rule. The rule was republicans came out and praised John McCain, defended John McCain but didn't condemn President Trump for what he said. You actually saw today more democrats condemning the President for going after the late John McCain. Then you saw republicans stepping up to defend John McCain and condemning the President.
But, look, the reason is simple. This is Donald Trump's Republican Party. This is John McCain's Republican Party anymore. The party has moved on. Donald Trump, as we often discuss, has a high approval rating among republicans. And so he feel like he can say and do whatever he wants and republicans are fearful of condemning him.
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: You know, I'm not a psychiatrist like George Conway is. But the projection of his own draft dodger status onto the undisputable war heroism of McCain is extraordinary, I mean, the thing he keeps talking about, you know, McCain. And, you know, the one thing everybody knows about McCain is that he had this extraordinary war record and Trump has the opposite of that. And I think there's some psychological thing going on that he hates the fact that McCain is such a hero and he was such a weasel during Vietnam.
BLITZER: Yes. And at the speech he delivered, a military at a manufacturing -- attacked manufacturing plant in Ohio, he spends several minutes railing against John McCain. It was so awkward.
TOOBIN: And he didn't -- he didn't get a thank you? What was that about? First of all, was dead and not in a position to say thank you but also, I mean, so what are they supposed to do? I mean, it's -- anyway, I don't know.
BLITZER: Amidst all of this, he is also the President going on the offensive and attacking George Conway, Kellyanne Conway's husband, calling him a whack job. This feud is escalating by the hour.
PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: And it's not going anywhere good. I think we can all agree with that. I mean, just take a step back of just how unprecedented this is. You have the President of the United States going after the husband of one of his top aides. And then you have this husband, George Conway, going after the President publicly on Twitter saying that he has mental health issues and personality disorders. It's really extraordinary.
And then on top of that, you have Kellyanne Conway siding with the President over her own husband on all of this, saying -- I think she has told Politico today, what did you expect the President to do? Someone is questioning his mental health who's not a medical profession. What do you expect him to do? Just sit there and take it?
So it's really remarkable to look at this back and forth that's happening. And it doesn't seem to be deescalating any time soon.
BLITZER: It certainly isn't. And the President's Tweet today about George Conway, a stone cold loser, all caps loser, and husband from hell. That's the President. He's got nothing better to do than rail against Kellyanne Conway's husband.
Amidst all of this, the democratic candidates, they're working full- time right now. They're getting ready for the Iowa Caucuses, getting ready for the primaries. What does a candidate, a democratic candidate right now need to do to stand out amidst this growing field?
BUCK: That's really the million dollar question for so many of these candidates, Wolf, because it is so competitive, so crowded. There are some like Beto O'Rourke, as we've seen, who have the star power to get a lot of attention, someone like Bernie Sanders or Joe Biden, if he indeed runs, who are well known. But candidates with lower name I.D., it's really a tough challenge. And so you either have to have a very unique platform, like Jay Inslee from Washington, running on climate change specifically, or someone like Pete Buttigieg from South Bend seizing the moment and recently the CNN Town Hall are really getting a lot of positive attention. And, of course, tonight, we're going to have another Town Hall with John Hickenlooper.
BLITZER: Yes. Well, let me tell or alert our viewers if they don't this programming note, join us later tonight for a CNN Presidential Town Hall with 2020 candidate, former Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, where Dana Bash moderates live from the CNN Center in Atlanta tonight 10:00 P.M. Eastern only here on CNN.
Coming up, new reports reveal disturbing details about what happened aboard one of two Boeing airliners that crashed recently, including how a hero pilot saved the plane only one day before it crashed.
And later, the feud between President Trump and the husband of one of his closest advisers gets uglier and more personal.
[17:42:17] BLITZER: Breaking just now, Senate Republicans have announced a hearing next week on the state of commercial aviation safety. This comes as we are learning very disturbing new details about what happened aboard one of the two Boeing airliners that crashed recently. Both crashes killed everyone on board.
Let's get the latest from CNN's Tom Foreman. Tell us more about these latest developments. TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, tonight, they are moving much more quickly toward these hearings simply because we are being hit with a torrent of stories that seem every day more astonishing.
FOREMAN: For nine terrifying minutes, the cockpit recorder captures a crew fighting to pull up a plane that is repeatedly diving towards the sea, scouring the operations manual for any explanation. Apparently unaware, they are battling an on-board computer that is forcing those dives. This is what Reuters is reporting tonight from sources familiar with the Lion Air crash off Indonesia last fall. Reuters says, the crews seemed oblivious to the fact the tail was automatically tilting. They didn't seem to know the trim was moving down. They thought only about air speed and altitude. In the final moment, Reuters says, one pilot issued a short prayer before the crash killed all 189 people aboard.
Boeing and Indonesian authorities are not commenting but analysts say the training was insufficient.
PETER GOELZ, FORMER NTSB MANAGING DIRECTOR: Well, it must have been just horrifying in the cockpit for these professionals. I mean, it's been stated, well, it should have been a memory item. Well, clearly, it wasn't.
FOREMAN: What's more, Bloomberg reports that same Lion Air jet had the same problem one day before and was saved because an off duty pilot in the cockpit told the crew to cut power to that automatic system. Still, the plane took off again.
DAVID SOUCIE, FORMER FAA SAFETY INSPECTOR: This is what I call the fly it and watch it kind of attitude, but that should not have occurred here. This was replicatable. And I can't understand why at least it wasn't test flown or brought it on the ramp and tested again.
FOREMAN: It all raises troubling questions about the fatal Ethiopian jet crash, which authorities say looks a lot like the Lion Air disaster. Why did Boeing design that anti-stall software to rely on one sensor? Why were pilots not given more pointed warnings and more extensive training? And where was the Federal Aviation Administration?
JEAN-PAUL TROADEC, FORMER FRENCH AVIATION SAFETY AGENCY PRESIDENT: What happened, in fact, is that the measures taken by Boeing after the first accident were not enough to avoid the second accident.
FOREMAN: Boeing says it is fixing the problem.
DENNIS MUILENBURG, PRESIDENT AND CEO, BOEING: Soon, we'll release a software update for the 737 Max that will address concerns discovered in the aftermath of the Lion Air Flight 610 accident.
FOREMAN: But Lion Air went down almost five months ago.
(END VIDEO TAPE) [17:45:01]
FOREMAN: In defense of Boeing, some analysts point out that the 737 Max jets have taken off and landed safely tens of thousands of times since the Lion Air crash. But authorities worldwide are saying that it's simply not enough. Boeing must now prove the planes are fully safe before any will be allowed to take passengers and flying out, Wolf.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Let's not forget that 346 people -- 346 people, men, women, and children -- were killed in those two crashes involving that aircraft.
BLITZER: All right. Thanks very much, Tom Foreman.
Coming up, the escalating feud between President Trump and the husband of one of his closest advisers.
[17:50:21] BLITZER: It's Conway versus Conway and Trump. As conservative lawyer George Conway trades insults with President Trump, top White House adviser Kellyanne Conway is siding with the President against her husband.
Brian Todd has been looking into this for us. Brian, this is getting uglier.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's getting uglier and more public by the day, Wolf. Tonight, the President is squarely in the middle of this feud between his high profile adviser and her husband. And Trump seems to relish exploiting the tension in their marriage.
TODD (voice-over): For a man who values loyalty above all, it is the ultimate loyalty test for Donald Trump -- choosing him over a husband.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He is a whack job, there's no question about it. But I really don't know him. He -- I think he is doing a tremendous disservice to a wonderful wife.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, Donald Trump has injected himself right into the middle of one of Washington's most public power couples, Trump's top adviser Kellyanne Conway and her husband, George, a prominent conservative lawyer and Trump critic, escalating a simmering spat into an open and bitter battle.
It all began this weekend when George Conway responded to a Trump Twitter tirade by posting these pages from a psychological manual, suggesting the President was suffering from narcissistic personality disorder. Trump responded, calling George Conway a total loser.
Up until then, the Conways had rarely allowed the public to get a glimpse into how their disagreements over President Trump had affected the dynamic in their marriage. But in the past 24 hours, it blew up.
George Conway telling "The Washington Post," Tuesday, he sent his tweets questioning the President's mental health, quote, so I can get it off my chest. Frankly, it's so I don't end up screaming at her about it.
MICHAEL ISIKOFF, CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, YAHOO! NEWS: Even in a town where, you know, power couples come under a lot of scrutiny, there's no precedent for anything like this. And when you inject the President of the United States right in the middle of a power couple marriage, you know, it's off the charts.
TODD (voice-over): Trump responded today, tweeting that George Conway is a, quote, stone cold loser and husband from hell. Saying George was, quote, very jealous of his wife's success and angry that I, with her help, didn't give him the job he so desperately wanted.
"The Washington Post" reports that Kellyanne Conway herself had recently told people at a party that she and Trump think her husband is jealous of her.
The crescendo has been building since Trump took office. George Conway, a staunch conservative who says he turned down a job in the administration, started with vague tweets before eventually eviscerating the President, accusing Trump of ceaseless, shameless, and witless prevarication.
Then in November, he delivered his most colorful broadside on the Yahoo! News podcast, "Skullduggery."
GEORGE CONWAY, HUSBAND OF KELLYANNE CONWAY: You know, it's like the administration is like a shit show in a dumpster fire.
TODD (voice-over): Observers say Kellyanne Conway, a survivor in an administration which doesn't have many, has gotten where she is by avoiding talking about her husband's views and by understanding one fundamental truth about Donald Trump.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, "THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP": This is a man who measures everything with a metric that is about loyalty, about devotion to Donald Trump.
TODD (voice-over): Tonight, Washington insiders say Kellyanne may have answered just where her loyalties lie, suggesting to Politico late today that her boss hitting back at her husband was fair game.
Quote, you think Trump shouldn't respond when somebody, a non-medical professional, accuses him of having a mental disorder? You think he should just take that sitting down? Adding a clear jab at her husband, quote, yesterday, George spent the day tweeting about the President. I spent my day doing two one-hour briefings with press and intergovernmental affairs people.
Those who know Trump best say the President is setting up an impossible choice for his top adviser, one she will ultimately be forced to make. D'ANTONIO: He understands very much how to hurt people. He knows how
to hurt families. You know, think about Michael Cohen and what his family has endured because he stood up.
And there's no threat that he won't make. He'll threaten to dismiss you. He'll pillory you online. He'll call you names. Or in the case of the Conways, he'll try and get in the middle of your marriage.
TODD: Meanwhile, Michael D'Antonio says he strongly believes the President has, at least in private, pressured Kellyanne Conway to try to make her husband stop attacking him publicly.
Analysts say they don't think George Conway is going to stop his attacks even under pressure from his wife. One analyst says, at this point, George Conway might see himself as something of a hero, doing the public bidding for all of those who oppose Donald Trump, especially those in the Republican Party, Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting. Brian, thank you very much.
[17:55:00] Coming up, breaking news. President Trump attacks the Special Counsel Robert Mueller but now says he wants to see Mueller's report and wants the American public to see it as well. And our exclusive new CNN poll shows that a huge majority agrees and wants Mueller's findings made public.
BLITZER: Happening now, breaking news. Let it come out. President Trump now claims it's fine with him if the public sees Robert Mueller's findings, even as he tries to belittle the Special Counsel and undermine his investigation. Tonight, the public is weighing in on the Mueller report in our exclusive new CNN poll.
[18:00:02] Deplorable. That's what a Republican senator is calling the President's relentless attacks on the late Senator John McCain.