tv Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer CNN May 20, 2016 2:00pm-4:01pm PDT
appeal if the doj gets its way and if this consolidation happens, we may have heard from the last class, jake. >> thanks for that report, polo sandoval. my guest this weekend is presidential candidate bernie sanders. that's it for "the lead." i'm jake tapper. turning it over to wolf blitzer in "the situation room." have a great weekend. happening now, breaking news, white house shooting. a violent encounter near a secret service checkpoint puts the white house on lockdown. a suspect was shot after brand dishing a weapon. the vice president was secured in the white house complex during the incident. smoke in the plane. flight data shows smoke detection alerts on board egyptair flight 804 in the minutes before it crashed into the mediterranean. was it terror? the early thinking of american officials is that the plane was
brought down by a bomb. if so, was it an inside job by someone on board the airliner or with access to it? airport security fears. is there a weak link in keeping air travelers safe even as passengers wait on longer lines for screening, who is keeping watch over the thousands of workers and contractors at every major airport? i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." breaking news, a violent incident near a white house checkpoint. secret service officers shot a male suspect after he apparently brandished a weapon. the suspect was taken into custody. the white house was thrown into lockdown. president obama was away but vice president biden was secured in the complex during the incident. the lockdown has now been
lifted. breaking news in the egyptair crash. flight data obtained by cnn shows smoke was detected on board flight 804 shortly before it went down over the mediterranean. censors showed smoke in a laboratory and other indications of trouble on the airliner. the search for wreckage is starting to yield some results. officials say debris has been located, including seats, luggage and human remains. the airliner disappeared from radar early yesterday as it flew from paris to cairo with 66 people on board. egyptian officials say they suspect terrorism and the initial assumption by u.s. officials is that a bomb may have brought down the plane. but there has been no claim of responsibility, at least not yet and officials say there is, quote, no smoking gun. i'll speak live with the egyptian foreign minister and our correspondent and analysts and guests have coverage of the day's top stories. our senior white house
correspondent joe johns was there during the lockdown tell us the very latest. what are you learning, joe? >> reporter: it was around 3:00 eastern time here at the white house. law enforcement official tells cnn that an individual was identified with a weapon around the ellipse around 17th and e street. the suspect was told to drop the weapon and he did not do it and was shot in the abt men and taken into custody and taken to the hospital and authorities say it was one secret service agent who did the shooting. when that happened, the entire white house complex went into lockdown. the president of the united states was not on the property playing golf at andrews air
force base. the vice president was and he was secure. the entire situation was resolved and what initially happened here was that they lifted the lockdown at the white house and now things are getting back to normal. they have identified a car that was driven by the individual they believe showed up with the gun and they are searching that for additional evidence as this investigation continues. >> they identified the suspect but no motivation or explanation, at least not yet? >> reporter: absolutely. that is correct. it's not clear what the motivation of this individual was showing up here at the white house with a gun but they certainly are looking into that at this point. there is more breaking news on the case of the egyptian
airliner. flight data information shows smoke alerts were triggered on board just before contact that was lost at flight 804. searchers are beginning to locate debris and human remains. brian todd is joining us in "the situation room" with new information. what are you learning? >> cnn has just obtained data from a realtime recording system that smoke alarms went off in the bathroom and near the plane's avionics. now, this is breaking as we're getting more information on the security investigation and the recovery effort. a series of grim discoveries in the mediterranean less than 200 miles north of the egyptian coast. officials say search teams have found body parts, personal belongings, seats and possibly more debris from egypt flight 804. >> translator: our aircraft appear to have located further findings in a different location. >> reporter: data obtained by
cnn from the flight's realtime reporting system, called acars, indicates that smoke detectors were detected just minutes before the plane's signal was lost. >> if there's a fire on board the aircraft in this area which the acars indicates, something was close to the cockpit and up near the cockpit and could have been something either mechanical that had failed a. short circuit, or an incendiary device. >> tonight, u.s. officials are holding to their belief that a terrorist bomb brought the plane down. investigators have a daunting task, looking at everyone who came in contact with the plane at four airports in four different countries. >> we're talking about cleaners, we're talking about technicians, we're talking about the people that fuel the aircraft. >> reporter: in the 24 hours before it vanished, the plane stopped in eritrea, tunisia, back to cairo and then to paris. security experts say at the
airports in cairo, eritrea and tunisia, officials don't have tight control over the employees and workers are vulnerable to bribes or extortion. but the plane's final stop in charles de gaulle in paris is not air tight as well. since january of last year, 85 employees lost their security clearances because of alleged radicalization. u.s. officials say flight 804 had a security sweep at charles de gaulle before it is final takeoff but experts say that sweep may not have been able to detect a bomb the size of a soda can. >> it's almost impossible to do without the help of dogs or some technology. and i think the description of sweeps being performed, they are very superficial.
>> reporter: tonight, more than 24 hours after the plane vanished, there's been no claim by isis or al qaeda or anybody else. relatives are vouching for the character of the pilots mohamed said shoukair and assem. >> they have to make sure that they were not particularly stressed. >> now, regarding the smoke alerts, the aviation industry tells cnn it was not aware of that acars information. wolf? >> regarding the security situation at charles de gaulle and the people who lost their clearances for being radicalized, are the french stepping up security at that international airport? >> they apparently are. a top french official says there will be an extra 30 intelligent officers starting next month but
this is one of the most heavily secured airports in the world. nearly 6,000 security agents are there and they have to look tonight at the sweeps that they are doing in these passenger planes because experts are telling us there are real gaps in those security sweeps. they've got to step those up as well. >> they certainly do. i want to bring in evan perez. what are your sources telling you about this? >> wolf, even with this new additional information, they still aren't any closer to determining what exactly happened. this data really tells us that something catastrophic happened, which obviously we already new, and it tells us something that catastrophic happened really quickly but it doesn't bring us any closer to determining whether it was a bomb or something mechanical that just happened really quickly and brought this plane down. now, i think from looking at everything, officials still believe at this point that it's something terrorism-related, possibly a bomb, brought down
this aircraft. but until they recover the data boxes and look at the evidence, including whether or not there's any evidence of explosives on the bodies or on pieces of the aircraft that are recovered, they are really not going to be able to rule anything out, including whether or not there might have been a catastrophic failure caused by something going wrong on the aircraft. >> what your sources are saying, even though there was smoke detected in the laboratory, that doesn't necessarily mean it's mechanical or terrorism? it could have been either? >> right. in past cases what we've seen, fires on aircraft, what we've seen is fires burning slowly, things that give you time for you to radio that there's something wrong on this aircraft. there have been a number of incidents where you've had fires on aircraft and the pilots are able to radio and say we're having trouble and there's smoke on the aircraft, we're on fire. those things typically give you time to react. in this case, what appears to have happened happened very quickly and this aircraft just
fell out of the sky. it tells us whatever happened was very, very quick and did not have any time to radio in. >> interesting. and no radio mayday or anything like that from the cockpit? >> no. >> thanks for that. i want to bring in richard quest who is watching all of this unfold. richard, how do you interpret the data from these sensors showing there was some smoke in the lavoratory on that airline? >> it's not one warning. the acars system sends out these warnings, sends out a realtime what is happening to the aircraft and the crucial one are the last two in many cases and that shows the computers and
then you find the approximate cause, the lavatory, all from the same side of the aircraft, behind the co-pilot. where is the location of whatever has taken place? is it underneath the hold which is to the rear of the cockpit or what is in the e and e bay, immediately underneath the cockpit where you have all of the communications information, all of the technology relating to the operations of the aircraft? if you like the brain of the plane is immediately under the cockpit. now, it tells us nothing about the source of the fire. you and i have been discussing that. we know nothing about what may have caused it, whether it was an explosion that led to fire or failure or something else. but i can tell you, having looked at these things, fires on planes are the single most
deadly aspect. you have two cases to bear in mind. you have swiss air where there was a 20-minute gap between the fire being discovered and the plane failing and valuejet, which you'll remember over the everglades in miami, where there was only four minutes, four minutes between the pilots basically saying what was that and the plane actually crashing. the only thing that i caution with this one is, we don't have any warning. fires tend to take a little bit longer so you do get a chance to get a warning out, a mayday, some sort of a distress signal. however, in this case, because of the location, it may have been that the communication devices were also taken out at the same time. i think, not to be either humorous or in any case flippant about it, i think what we are hearing is, quote, the smoking
gun. >> richard quest, stand by. i'm going to bring you back shortly. up next, egyptian officials were quick to suggest terrorism was the cause. i'll speak live from the egyptian foreign minister and we'll talk about where the investigation stands right now. (vo) they say big can never be good. purina believes it can. inspecting every ingredient for quality? that's big. being confident that your pet's food is 100% safe? that's big, too. spending more healthy years with your best friend? that's amazing. big is exciting... daring... for everyone. pets don't just make life better - they make it bigger. purina. live big.
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of wreckage and clues to what down that egyptair flight 804. serve searchers have found personal belongings and human remains floating on the mediterranean. joining me is the foreign minister of egypt. thank you for joining us. our deepest con dole lenses. i need to get your reaction to the new information obtained by cnn that there were in fact smoke alarms detected in the lavatory just before the plane crashed. what can you tell us about that? >> well, first of all, thank you for your sympathy, wolf. it was very tragic. today is friday and prayers in all of our mosques and churches for those families that are grieving. i've only read reports of what
cnn has been putting out. it does say something about intercepting information so i really don't have anything related to this issue and i'm not quite sure to what extent it's verifiable. i'm just following it in terms of how it is being reported in the press. >> have you seen any concrete evidence yet, foreign minister, that would indicate that this was an act of terror? >> there is no concrete evidence as of yet. we are coordinating very closely and cooperated with the french authorities and taking every measure on our side to try to find whatever evidence might exist. those are usually do give the correct interpretation of what
happened. >> besides terrorism, are you looking into the possibility there could have been a mechanical failure of some magnitude, obviously, that could have brought this plane down? is that a serious part of the investigation? >> well, always. so now you've related to the potential of terrorism because of the position of the aircraft and although the plane has a technical record that was clean and had all of the maintenance checked before it took off, so again, it's a matter of referring to the data, to the hard evidence before one can make any conclusions. >> the airbus was a relatively new plane with an excellent safety record. the weather was good over the mediterranean at the time. so your assumption is that it was probably some sort of act of terror. u.s. officials suspect it may have been a bomb, maybe even a
small bound the size of a soda can which apparently brought down the metrojet taking off from sharm el-sheikh to russia with all 222 people on board were killed. is that the assumption, that maybe it was a small bomb like that? >> i can't really speak to the nature of whatever terrorist threats might exist. it is being mentioned by several officials and certainly not something that can't be ruled out because of the position of the aircraft and its height and altitude and losing contact and getting off the radar screen. so we're looking into all of the possibilities and i'm sure this is going to be the two most likely possibilities, probably those of terrorism or technical failure. but again, there's nothing
really to think that there was anything wrong with the plane from a technical perspective. >> the engines of the airbus made in europe, the engines made by the u.s., the national transportation board say u.s. experts are ready to assist in the investigation if they are asked by the egyptian government and egyptian authorities to do so. are you asking the u.s. ntsb, the national safety transportation board to help? >> well, we're certaining asking everybody that is obliged to assist and cooperate in the investigation and my understanding is that the manufacturer of the aircraft, the manufacturer of the engines is always part of the investigation into aviation accidents. so i'm certain they will be participating in the investigation as a matter of
international regulation. >> bottom line, you want the u.s. to help? >> of course. of course. i spoke yesterday with secretary kerry who indicates his willingness to provide assistance in the searches and extraction of the black boxes and we depend on the cooperation between the united states when it comes to things of this nature. >> foreign minister shoukry, thank you for joining me. our deepest condolences. we'll stay in close touch with you. >> thank you. coming up, our experts are getting ready to explain the cryptic new data showing smoke on the egyptair jet in the minutes before it took its fatal plunge. ♪
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following the breaking news in the mystery of what brought down an egyptian airliner with 66 people on board. we have just learned that the data relayed by satellite show there were smoke alerts in the plane minutes before it disappeared from the radar screens. let's get insight from our experts. joining us, tom fuentes, a former assistant director of the fbi, aviation analyst and managing director peter goelz and miles o'brien and richard quest is still with us as well. peter, what could these smoke alerts basically tell us? this is the acars system, this black box that you have in front of you. what does that indicate to you if in fact the acars system detected smoke coming from the lavatory a minute or two before the plane vanished and went into the sea? >> it's a satellite connected it
data link that each to report information that they want to get. oftentimes it's maintenance information that allows them to maintain the plane and indicates that something started a fire that was going on in the lavatory and spread quickly. it certainly does not eliminate terrorism. but boy it is a very perplexing and ominous note. >> miles, you're a pilot. how does this acars system work and would the pilots have known immediately that there was smoke detected? >> well, wolf, think of the aircraft sort of live-streaming as it flies along and recording its condition. this is about reducing the time on the ground so when the maintenance crew gets the
aircraft when it arrives, they know exactly which parts to have on hand and get it back in the air. so as it flies, it sends either by satellite or by ground these reports on it is health and condition. there's a couple of issues with anti-ice, the windows -- the pilot windows are heated. there's a problem with that. and then there was smoke in the lavatory and smoke in the avionics, beneath the cockpit, not accessible during flight. the airbus a320 has more than 100 computers in it and they have to work in concert for the aircraft to stay in the air and they have to talk to each other in just the right way. there were a series of faults here going on. obviously something of a reasonably catastrophic nature was unfolding at this time and i would remind you that the first maneuver that we saw this aircraft do was a 90-degree left
turn. that is standard operating procedure for a flight crew to get off the airway because you don't want to dive down into traffic which might be beneath you. you make a left or right turn 90 degrees and you go down as fast as you can to an altitude where you can get enough air for the passengers and crew to breathe. what they did initially was seemingly, at least, doing a rapid emergency descent and could be responding to what we're seeing here. >> richard, how does this change the situation with smoke being detected? >> it changes it in the respect that it narrows down the areas that you're looking at. as everybody is pretty much at agreement, it doesn't tell us anything whether it's an explosion because of a bomb or because of a mechanical fault but immediately, wolf,
immediately it narrows down the area that we're looking at. we're now no longer worried about wings or what else might have happened or other flight control surfaces. you're now focusing on smoke, avionics bay, flight control failures, the various sensors -- censors and they will be now studying very carefully looking at the sensors that failed and starting to build a picture of the sort of cascading effects that would have happened. we saw this with air france 447 where we have 24 acars messages sent from the plane as miles points out automatically sent out from the aircraft and starts with the pito tubes and then the next one and next one.
but what you're able to do is build up a picture of what was happening. now, i'm guessing here that there is not enough information to go that much deeper on than the fact that there was smoke and a fire and what might have been the effects. but certainly, wolf, this data is exactly what is needed to start narrowing the field of understanding before we get to the black boxes. >> you heard the egyptian foreign minister shoukry say that they believe it's likely an act of terror and how does that affect the investigation right now? >> that doesn't affect it at all. the authorities saying that we've got a working theory, we're narrowing it down to this or that, they shouldn't be narrowing it down. it could be a bomb, a terrorist
attack, lithium batteries in the cargo bay, any number of things. and they don't have enough forensic material to work with to narrow it down yet. >> peter, you heard the egyptian foreign minister saying that they will work together and would you welcome that as well, right? >> sure. i think the ntsb has a lot to offer and they are the accredited representative under the treaty for and bring people from pratt and whitney with them. i would hope that they would be involved. everyone, stand by, we're getting more information. i need you all to stay with us. up next, egypt's role in this investigation as foreign minister. you just heard, he said this country is asking the united states, will welcome the united states getting involved and helping in the investigation. , and you're talking to your doctor about your medication... this is humira. this is humira helping to relieve my pain and protect my joints from further damage.
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see car insurance in a whole new light. liberty mutual insurance. breaking news, cnn has obtained data from an in-flight recording system that smoke alarm went off just before it crashed into the egyptian sea. from the start, officials have indicated that it's terrorism rather than technical failure that brought the plane down. elise labott is joining us. can egypt do a good job in this investigation? >> wolf, the u.s. says it is ready to help as questions loom
as they struggle with the aftermath of an aviation attack months ago. egyptian officials tell us they are investigating pilots, crew, security personnel and passengers aboard but they want answers from france about the security of the plane in the moments before its fatal flight. in cairo today, mourners gathered at a mosque to pray for victims in the crash. egyptian president issued a statement on tv to a grieving nation, offering his sadness and regret and formed a special committee to look into the crash. so far, the investigation has yielded few clues but today an egyptian official tells cnn the government still believes the way the plane fell from the sky points to terrorism. the egyptian government is investigating the crew and passengers aboard the plane but they say so far there is nothing to implicate them in the crash. >> they certainly have the
technical ability along with the french and english, who they have invited into this investigation, to conduct a full and complete investigation. the issue is transparency. will the egyptians allow the investigation to go where the facts dictate? >> reporter: with flight 804 originating in paris, egyptian officials are looking to france to determine if there was any lapse in the handling of the plane by security personnel, baggage handlers or caterers before its fatal flight. today, the french foreign minister insisted the two countries are in lock step. >> we have to speak in complete transparency to react. there's a total cooperation between egypt and france. >> for us, it's too early to definitively say what may have caused this. >> reporter: at the white house today, questions about whether the u.s. has confidence in the egyptians. >> we stand ready to assist in
any way we can. >> reporter: but egypt has a history of ruling out terrorism, taking months to acknowledge a bomb took down a russian airliner last october, even after isis posted pictures of the bomb and russia, the u.s. and other nations blamed terrorists. and to this day, egypt insists mechanical failure brought down egyptair flight 990. even though american investigators released a transcript of the cockpit voice recording indicating the pilot deliberately crashed the plane into the sea. the second aviation disaster in just six months could cause a crippling blow to the egyptian government's push to get countries to resume flights to egypt which were suspended after the metrojet crash. they will quickly release information to avoid the criticism after the metrojet crash. the government is eager to restore confidence and is
sensitive to a rush for judgment that egypt is responsible for the security lapses. officials say finding the black boxes are priority. they hope they will provide some clues as to what brought the flight down. wolf? >> they need to find the flight data recorder and pok kit voice recorder. thanks, elise. in . coming up, donald trump picked up a major endorsement. also, breaking news on smoke on the plane before disappearing. you do all this research on
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we continue watching the breaking news. new reports indicating smoke in the plane's restroom only minutes before it vanished from radar. we're also following the disastrous aftershocks from the u.s. presidential race where donald trump has quickly blamed the crash on terrorism and u.s. weakness. trump had more to say just a while ago when he addressed a convention of the national rifle association which endorsed his bid for president. let's bring in our senior white house correspondent jim acosta. jim, what else happened over there? what else did trump have to say? >> it was a fiery speech at the national convention. donald trump attacked hillary clinton as unfit to be president but she's not holding back either, declaring that trump is not ready for the oval office and the terrorist threat that appears to be responsible for the egyptair disaster. >> reporter: picking up the endorsement of the nation's top gun lobby, donald trump paid tribute to the nra and then within seconds fired off some tough lines of attack at hillary
clinton. >> you know, i call her crooked hillary because all you have to do is read any newspaper you want. just remember that. we're not talking about change it, she wants to abolish the second amendment. so we're not going to let it happen, i can tell you that. >> trump who supported an assault weapons ban talks about gun rights, adding the terrorist attack in california and paris would have been avoided had victims been armed with weapons of their own. >> if you had guns on the other side. if i took a couple of these folks, especially wearing the red caps, make america great again. i promise it wouldn't have been 130 people killed and hundreds lying in the hospital to this day. it might not have happened. >> and the presumptive nominee slammed hillary clinton for being president, tying the air disaster to her as secretary of
state. >> looking at airplanes getting blown up in the air, lots of bad things happening. bernie sanders who i am sure you all love, he said something that was very interesting. he said that hillary clinton is unqualified to be the president of the united states. and he said that, and it's just, you know, one of those things. he said she suffers from bad judgment, and she does. >> reporter: even though investigators haven't publicly concluded the jet was targeted by terrorists, trump went as far to warn if more planes are taken out. >> you're going to have a depression worldwide. nobody is going to travel, nobody will say anything. >> it does appear it is an act of terrorism, of course how the investigation has to determine. >> reporter: also speculating on the downing of the jet, clinton is hitting back at trump. >> i know how hard this job is and i know that we need
steadiness and strength and smarts in it, and i have concluded he is not qualified to be president of the united states. >> reporter: the results, well, a new poll suggests clinton has a slight lead over trump, both are unpopular. more than half surveyed in a poll said unfavorable views of trump and clinton. 70% says trump lacks the temperament to be president. bragging how many guns his sons own, pointing to clinton's comments on gun control. >> here again, the supreme court is wrong on the second amendment, i am going to make that case every chance i get. >> gun free zones. we are getting rid of gun free zones, okay? i can tell you. >> reporter: trump is taking a victory lap after big wins in the primaries urging colleagues to rally behind him, working in a few double stuff jabs at his old rival chris christie.
>> i am not eating oreos but neither is chris. no more oreos. don't feel bad, for either of us. >> reporter: oreos aside, they say trump's claim the secretary of state wants to do away with the second amendment is false, adding she wants to leave gun control to the states. trump will be traveling as if the general election has begun. it will be very busy for donald trump. >> jim acosta, thanks very much. coming up, cnn now obtained flight data indicating smoke alerts went off on board egyptair 804 before it crashed into the mediterranean.
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secret service officer shoots an armed man nearby, the suspect critically injured, taken into custody. so what was his intent. smoke alert. cnn obtains data from the egyptair plane that crashed into the mediterranean showing an on board system detected smoke in parts of the plane moments before it crashed. was it a malfunction. debris found. grim discoveries in the water north of egyptair, human remains and debris from the plane, including seats, suitcases, passengers' personal belongings. are search crews getting close to the wreckage itself. and airport security, investigators look at whether one of the tens of thousands of workers at paris' main airport might have been behind the egyptair crash. did someone with security clearance plant a bomb on board. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room."
we are following two major breaking stories right now, including a shooting near the white house. the u.s. secret service now confirms an officer shot an armed man as he approached a security checkpoint and refused to drop his gun. the suspect was hit in the abdomen, taken into custody and hospitalized with critical injuries. and there's other breaking news into the investigation into the egyptian airliner that crashed into the mediterranean. an egyptian source has given cnn from an on board system that shows smoke alerts were issued moments before the plane went down. we're covering all of that and much more with our guests, including congressman will herd, former cia officer. and experts and analysts are standing by. let's begin with the shooting near the white house. our senior white house
correspondent joe johns is here with the latest. >> reporter: wolf, the suspect in this case is in critical condition as nearby george washington university hospital, we are told it all started around 3:00 eastern time when the secret service says a man with a gun approached a security check point around the corner from here, walking distance from the front door of the white house, carrying a gun. authorities say the secret service asked him to put the gun down and when he did not do that, when he did not comply, he was shot once in the abdomen, he was taken into custody, rendered medical assistance, taken to george washington university hospital, suspect weapon was recovered. now, the entire white house complex was put on lockdown while the secret service worked all of this out. none the less, the president of the united states was not present here at the white house
at that time, though the vice president was secured. authorities say no one other than the suspect was injured. the investigation continues, including the fact that they have located what they call a suspect vehicle not far from the white house and they're looking into it for clues, perhaps to motive. wolf? >> no indication yet of any intent on the part of the suspect? >> it is a mystery so far, at least to the public, though it is certain that they will try to find out exactly why he was here. we are told authorities believe they have been in contact with the suspect before, at least know his name. as to his motive, it is still a mystery. >> joe johns with the breaking news. there's other breaking news we are following involving the crash of egyptair flight 804. we are learning an on board system issued smoke alerts in the minutes before it crashed into the mediterranean. chief national security correspondent jim sciutto is
working this part of the story. potentially a major development. >> no question, an important data point. we are learning of a series of electronic message frs the aircraft's on board acar system, over three minutes, the messages indicating smoke in and around the cockpit and heat detected in and around the cockpit. officials not treating this as conclusive of any one possible explanation, but are taking it seriously. as the first debris of the jet was discovered today as well. >> reporter: tonight, new clues from inside the plane in its final minutes of flight. cnn learned that a series of automatic electronic messages from the egyptair jet indicated smoke in a lavatory behind the cockpit and in avionics, below the cockpit, followed by messages on other failures on the windows of the plane. >> if there's a bomb, it would have ruptured the skin of the aircraft, this is not the
indications we would have. a bomb that would do that would be instantaneous, reports wouldn't have gone over two minutes. >> reporter: in the eastern mediterranean today, the first signs of egyptair flight 804. search crews discovering aircraft seats, personal belongings, including a suitcase and human remains. from high above a european space agency satellite detected what the agency believes to be an oil slick near where the egyptair jet went missing. >> we need to find these fragments, analyze them, find the black boxes. we want the truth, the whole truth. >> reporter: recovering the bulk of the wreckage will be more challenging, it is some two miles deep in the area the plane is believed to have gone down, the sea floor has soaring peaks and valleys. >> this is 9,000 feet deep, the vessels searching will have to
almost be on top of them, having recovered stuff beneath the ocean. it is not easy and it is very difficult. >> reporter: as investigators work to determine exactly what brought flight 804 down, they're examining the flight manifest, digging into the background of those on board. they're reviewing security around the aircraft before it left paris. sources tell cnn a security sweep of the plane took place before takeoff. questions remain as to how thorough. >> we still don't know what happened. we are following the investigation closely. our hearts go out to the families and friends of people that were lost, but most importantly a stark reminder that what we do is important, and we need to do it well. >> reporter: the egyptian president expressed condolences to families of the victims as relatives turn from fear to mourning. among those, a mother of three living in cairo. another is director of a proctor
and gamble facility based in france. and the pilot, mohamed said shoukair, and the co-pilot, mohamed mamdouh assem who was soon to be married. >> he was the -- it is what happened is really very much unfortunate. >> reporter: to be clear, investigators aren't ruling out any explanation at this point, whether mechanical, fire on board or terrorism. a bomb remains a theory based on how a plane at the safest point of flight, cruising altitude, suddenly crashes to the earth. there's no hard evidence such as satellite data indicating explosion or at this point, no claim of responsibility. >> that's a crucial point indeed. jim sciutto thank you. possibility of terrorism sparks new concern about airport security and tens of thousands of workers that have access to very secure areas.
our aviation correspondent renee marsh has this. it is under intense scrutiny. >> reporter: that's right. they're looking into whether it was an act of terrorism and if so, was it an inside job. charles de gaulle airport is considered a very secure airport. so if security was breached there, it raises a question of whether any airport can truly protect itself from an insider threat. the potential that a bomb brought down egyptair flight 804 led investigators to question whether a device was on the plane parked at charles de gaulle airport. >> if it happened at charles de gaulle where they have had some very terrible recent terrorist attacks and they were on heightened alert, it certainly can happen anywhere. >> reporter: the airport was already on high alert with armed soldiers on patrol following three terror attacks in paris over the last year and a half.
but now the airport says it will ramp up efforts even more, including adding 30 intelligence officers. >> this is not on the assumption there was a failure, it is a way to continue to make sure our citizens are safe. >> reporter: 86,000 people that work at charles de gaulle airport have red badges, giving access to secure areas, that includes mechanics, cleaning crews, food service workers and baggage handlers. since january last year, 85 workers had their security clearance revoked for allegedly having ties to extremists, and 600 denied secure access for having criminal records. they assure all workers with security clearances are under continued review. >> looking back, we identify that somebody did bring a bomb onto the airplane but that there's no threat, there's no risk looking at this person's background, you would never
expect the person to do that, then you get to the point what could you have done. >> reporter: before flight 804 arrived in paris, it made multiple stops in countries known to have weaker airport security, including eritrea in tunisia. but a sweep of the plane was done before departing paris. concerns over airport security came under focus after a series of incidents. they detonated two bombs at the brussels airport in march. a bomb was put on a russian passenger plane last october, and bomb built into a laptop got through x-ray machines at mowing deesh u airport in somalia earlier this year. we do know from officials the plane had a security sweep at charles de gaulle, again made multiple stops before it got to paris. it is worth knowing security sweeps for flights from airports with direct flights to the united states receive more
extensive, more controlled sweeps. what happens on the plane compared to other planes i should say that are not bound to the united states, wolf. >> interesting, thank you. i want to bring in cnn aviation correspondent richard quest. richard, talk about the data cnn received from the aircraft so-called acar system that mentions smoke in the lavatory, avionics smoke. what does this suggest to you? >> what it tells us, wolf, it is giving us -- it is like another piece of this jigsaw that creates the picture what is happening on board 804 as it starts or before it pulls out of the sky. wolf, the interesting thing about the acar data is different systems of the plane fail in different order, depending where the fire was, depending what is happening. you can't necessarily take one.
why have a window sensor, then a smoke alert from the lavatory, then something in the avionics bay, then something on flight control. they're seemingly at different parts of the cockpit and areas, you start to wonder what's the relationship between them all. but to the experts at airbus and avionics experts they will tell you well, this means this failed and if that failed, we would expect to see this happen, and that's exactly what happens. they're building up a picture and this acar data is absolutely vital in terms of that. it will not tell them most definitely whether it was a bomb or whether it was a fire or an electrical, doesn't tell them that, but it gives a very colorful view of what was happening to the plane as it started or before it just fell out of the sky, wolf. >> richard, you've covered past
cases of fires on board planes but they were able, pilots and crew members to warn the ground. what is the fact that there's no may day signal from the cockpit this time telling you? >> that's fascinating, wolf, because all the fire incidents, fires don't -- i mean, even if it is a lithium fire, one of the nastiest fires you can have on board a plane, fires don't take a plane out of the air immediately. with swiss air over halifax and nova scotia, 21 minutes. over the everglades in florida, four and a half minutes from warning to crash. so fires, you know, you do have time, except, wolf, in the case where either the fire takes out all the communications in one go and here you have a fire or an alert from the avionics bay. in the avionics bay is all of the communication equipment. that's the first thing to bear in mind. here you may have a case where
they were not able to communicate rather than just not being responsive to communicating, and the second thing it tells me that whatever incident happened may have led up to a catastrophic failure. again, i am not going to hang my hat on whether it was a bolt or fire or lithium, doesn't matter. we can't say with any degree of certainty. but the fact they didn't or couldn't communicate is relevant. >> what's interesting, flying 37,000 feet, simply cruising, very safe. the weather was good. there was no problem with lightning or anything like that. for some mechanical failure in a relatively new plane, an airbus which has an excellent safety record to occur, that's raising the suspicion of terror or bomb. >> absolutely, it raises the suspicion. if you take the speculation, if you have an incident that
creates a fire, they send out a may day, fire detection kicks in, other systems start to fail, you get many more acar messages, wolf. this is important. with air france 447, there were 24 messages as the plane fell out of the sky. different flight control systems failed and you start to see auto throttle fail, auto rudder control fail, different messages going out. here i am starting to consider that whatever was happening cut off the ability of the plane to communicate out. you lose power even with that. the moment you lost power, you lost that source of information. >> richard quest, thank you very much. i want to get more on all of this. joining me republican congressman will herd of texas,
member of homeland security committee, former cia officer as well. congressman, what's your theory about was this an act of terror? >> well, i don't have a working theory yet, there's so much data that has to be analyzed. a lot of the information leads us to believe something happened on that plane, whether it was a bomb, i still don't think, can rule out something was put on a plane at one of the previous points of departure. we need to understand the security sweep that happened at charles de gaulle, to what extent did they go through that. there's still a lot of questions out there that need to be answered and it is important for us to understand answers to questions so we can learn from that, make sure we're applying it at our own points of entry. >> congressman, we are getting new information. i need you to stand by. let's take a quick break, resume the conversation, get the information out there after this. ♪
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homeland security committee and former cia officer. i know you're getting briefed by experts in washington, homeland security. what's the leading theory they're suggesting? >> the leading theory is something did happen in this plane that caused it to fallout of the sky. the motivation is there for terrorist groups like isis to perform this type of activity, they've done it in the past. we've seen the history of this kind of attack. it is possibly strange that someone hasn't claimed that they've done this. something happened. you had the flash of light, some marine assets saw, you don't have satellite imagery. smoke alarms that you uncovered, it is important, leads to something happened. what it was, we don't know. there's a lot of investigation that needs to happen. it is important to understand
what happened so we can be prepared at our own points of entry. this also brings up the question of last points of departure before a flight comes into the united states. are they doing the kinds of security protocols that they should. earlier this year i sat on a taskforce looking at foreign fighters going into fight in syria and iraq with isis and we learned our european partners weren't doing everything when it comes to checking known travelers against watch lists, so we're going to have to do review to make sure security precautions taken at airports are done with the types of background investigations are done. we are going to have the tsa administrator in front of homeland security next week when we get back to washington and there's a lot of questions we need to learn and understand to make sure that we're doing everything we can here at home. >> you mention that marines saw a flash, like an explosion that
they picked up. tell us about that. that sounds like new information. >> not marines, marine vessels. i don't recall what, but there were some ships in the mediterranean that were near the flight that saw a flash in the sky. i think there was a couple of reports on that that would suggest something happened on board the plane that caused it to fallout of the sky. >> is there any specific threat to the u.s. if this was some act of terror, do you know of any specific similar threat to the u.s.? >> there isn't, there hasn't been. department of homeland security, fbi all of our agencies doubled back to review and scrub available data to make sure there's not an active threat to the home land, but again, we have to take this seriously, if
indeed it was some act of terror, how can we make sure that we are doing everything with our partners to make sure they strengthen and tighten the screws on doing security overseas so we can protect ourselves here in the home land. we are as vulnerable as our most vulnerable ally, it is important for us to raise the standard of security at all of the airports, focusing on those last points of depar tur before a plane comes to the united states. >> are you confident that flights coming into the united states from other countries are safe right now? >> additional level of scrutiny does go to planes coming into the united states. this is the number one priority of tsa, of the american government. often when folks travel to europe, they have to go through the security at the airport, but then when they get to the gate, they have to go through additional level of securities.
that's what tsa does to ensure we're having american standard level security before individuals or planes come to the united states, so i'm confident that the men and women of the tsa are focused on this issue but we can redouble efforts. we're going to hear from the head of tsa next week. >> thanks very much. >> thank you, wolf. breaking news continues here in "the situation room." we are going live to greece for the latest on the recovery effort. are clues getting closer to the wreckage. and the probe into possible terrorism. what are investigators learning about the passengers, pilots, airport workers who had access to the plane. d... [phone rings] ah, it's my brother. keep going... sara, will you marry... [phone rings again] what do you want, todd???? [crowd cheering] keep it going!!!! if you sit on your phone, you butt-dial people.
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breaking news this hour, potential new clue in the crash of egyptair flight 804. cnn has obtained data from an on board system showing smoke alerts were issued moments before the plane went down. search crews are making some grim discoveries. nic robertson joins us from greece. nic, they found body parts, found seats, passenger luggage, are any of these discoveries giving them new clues what might have happened?
>> reporter: nothing we are told so far, wolf. they're not saying they found all the debris they think is there, certainly seems to be too early to say that, they're not saying they believe they know the location precisely where the plane went down. however, the fact they're collecting debris, and we heard early on in the day, we heard it was two seats that were found, possibly a suitcase or more than one suitcase, and the human remains, parts of a human were found. then we learned that list of what was found had grown, indicating they were picking up an increasing amount of debris, but we have not been told this is now definitively giving them a precise location, that this is zeroing them in yet. however, our understanding is this will help focus the effort. we also know we were here at a military air base where a c-130 transporter, cargo aircraft was preparing to go out in the evening.
we were told it would take off in the evening. saw an oh ryan surveillance aircraft landing and putting its wheels down before dusk here, we understand the operation is continuing in the night, perhaps not as effectively as during the day, but what we can read into data and debris for low casing the aircraft, still not getting an official read from greek authorities so far, wolf. >> nic, have searchers gotten closer to finding the black boxes, the voice and data recorders? >> reporter: if they have, they haven't told us that. this is what we learned from other similar situations where the black boxes, the aircraft come down, hit the water, the transmitters that alert the device hits the ground, gone
underwater, they will been triggered, that's the understanding when the center of the debris, when a lot of debris is found, that should begin to tell investigators they're very close to where the plane hit the water, and that would be the next step. we understand at the moment it could be days before they have that level of information and weeks beyond that before they may be able to locate those black boxes. the water in that part of the mediterranean is very deep, as much as 15,000 feet, the sea bed is not flat, ridges. when they have the precise location where the plane went down, that should reveal more how quickly the precise natter and depth of the sea how quickly they may find devices. >> those are critically important. thanks, nic robertson from greece. let's dig deeper now. the former fbi director, cnn law enforcement analyst tom fuentes is with us, miles o'brien is with us, former faa
investigator, david soucie, and miles, flight data filed through the acar system as it is called on the plane shows smoke alerts on board the aircraft only minutes before the crash. in layman's term, what does this indicate? >> the health of the system, mostly for maintenance. tells maintenance on the ground, be ready to fix x, y, z when the plane lands. what it shows in final minutes before the plane crashed, a series of failures, beginning with issues with the windows in the cockpit, leading to smoke in the lavatory, as well as the avionics bay, which is beneath the cockpit, then a couple of computer fails. they have them to control various surfaces. a fly by wire system.
it is all consistent with some catastrophic mechanical issue or some sort of terrorist act that would involve a bomb. i should note that this also jives with the 90 degree turn. that's what they do after rapid decompression. stay away from traffic in the sky, called air waves. >> you say it suggests a progressive series of events rather than a single catastrophic event. why is that? >> as miles described, although it is not intuitive to think this, they're inter dependent systems because they're co-located. when they start progressively going forward, that would be indicative of slow progression of damage if you will. in a bomb or catastrophic event of size that creates a hole in
the fuselage or take down the aircraft, that would have been instantaneous. you wouldn't have this reporting. you look at the numbers that come from the acar, batch report that comes out at once, you have two to three minutes of occurrences that happened and happened and happened. if it was a singular bomb, you would have one report and that's all you would receive. >> you investigated many aviation accidents, does this change the investigation right now? >> as far as what you're investigating, no, because the fact is until any kind of terrorism is ruled out, you have to presume it is still terrorism because as miles pointed out, could be terror with an incendiary device, not explosive device, something that caused this fire to begin. there would be a lot of speculation to say it is not terror at this point. the efforts moving forward with terror investigations are
critically important. >> alice ter, you're a highly experienced commercial pilot. take us through what happens if smoke is detected. what's the protocol? >> the first thing you'll do with smoke, put on the oxygen mask and start to try and, you know, shut down searches and there's a special check list for smoke. normally with smoke, first thing you try to do is land as soon as possible. i myself had over two dozen events of smoke on aircraft in my career. this sounds like it built up rapidly. it could be small explosive device or fire.
but having to make the decision to land the aircraft, you will turn off the airway, in this case turn to the left, start to rapid descent. there were reports of it descending from 37,000 to 15,000 feet, and then disappearing below 10,000 feet on the radar. what would be interesting is how long it took to descend between 37 and 15,000 feet, if this was hand flown, there's maximum rate of descent the pilots can achieve. if it is something more catastrophic, it could be falling at a far greater rate. >> what does it say that there was no distress call or may day call from the cockpit? >> from pilot's point of view, first thing you do, try to fly the aircraft. if you're hands are full, you won't get a may day out. you're over the sea. you think there's any chance of rescue, you have to get a may day call out. because they didn't make a may day call, they're either
incredibly busy or they completely lost control of the aircraft and not able to do so. so it could be one of those two scenarios. >> tom, the wreckage discovered, the debris so far, can they determine forensically whether or not this was a bomb? >> they might be able to, it is not conclusive. depends on which debris they have. if they have debris close to an explosive device from a cargo hold or passenger area, then it will have explosive residue they can identify. if the plane came apart, they can tell if it came out in mid air by the size of the debris field and they can examine parts. impact on the water is like hitting concrete, if it was full speed 500 miles per hour into the ocean, the damage on the parts of the aircraft is different than if it came apart in mid air and debris came floating down to the sea. >> to be precise, david soucie,
the assumption it is an act of terror, might have been a bomb, in the aftermath in discovering smoke from the acar system, it is still very much possible this was a bomb or some sort of act of terror, right? >> it is still possible. i think at this point i would say less likely than i thought previously. >> what do you think, miles? >> i don't think it diminishes the possibility that a smaller explosive device was involved. obviously not explosive device big enough to instantly take the aircraft out of the sky, but we've seen some recent evidence of smaller explosive devices, in one case the aircraft was able to land intact with a hole in the side of the fuselage. there's any number of sizes and types of bombs and their placement is key, so i don't think it takes terrorism off the table at all. >> what do you think, alastair? >> yes, i agree. you know, let's put it this way, it is probably easier to smuggle small explosive device on an
aircraft than large one. and you don't need anything particularly large to take down an airliner, that's a fact. looks like this was, you know, there was some sort of several minutes over this incident as opposed to something sudden. but nonetheless, the fact there was no radio call would suggest it was something quite catastrophic that made the pilots unable to make that radio call. >> good point. stand by. everybody stand by. just ahead, if this was a terror attack, why haven't we heard claim of responsibility from a group like isis or al qaeda. and donald trump picking up one of the most coveted conservative endorsements, slamming hillary clinton at the same time, and now she has responded. it was all pencil and. e surface pro is very intuitive. i can draw lightly, just like i would with a real pencil. i've been a forensic artist for over 30 years. i do the composite sketches which are the bad guy sketches. you need good resolution, powerful processor
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what's recommended for me. x1 makes it easy to find what you love. call or go online and switch to x1. only with xfinity. . the breaking news, flight data from egyptair flight 804 obtained by cnn shows smoke alerts were issued by an on board system only moments before the plane crashed into the mediterranean. egyptian officials say they suspect terrorism but no group has yet claimed responsibility. let's get more. joining us, national security analyst peter bergen, justice correspondent, evan perez, former cia counter terrorism official phil mud is also with us. peter, the fact no terror group claimed responsibility to the
crash of this egyptair airliner, what does that say to you? >> i mean, it is puzzling. if it was isis, they would be quick. >> how quick is isis? >> sometimes 24 hours or quicker. on the other hand, we are living in the cnn news cycle. it is actually only two days. we have seen terrorist groups produce accurate claims of responsibility. >> al qaeda waits longer, right? >> al qaeda waits longer. >> after 9/11, they waited for a long time before they took responsibility. >> in that case they were careful not to claim complete responsibility because it would have undercut their claim they weren't directly involved. at that time -- >> later they eventually said they did. >> over the course of years, released multiple videos of hijackers. one thing, we have seen early responsibility and then more details and the bomb, picture of the bomb. it is puzzlinpuzzling.
could be someone fired by isis. >> this plane, the egyptair, flew from cairo to eritrea, to tunisia, to paris, headed back to cairo. i assume they have to investigate all of the locations to see if someone may have planted a bomb on that aircraft at one of those stops. >> it really does make the puzzle that much bigger for the investigators, wolf, but i'll tell you, where they're going to begin is paris and cairo. those are two places you have to start the investigation. you want to see where it is most likely something being put on the plane. that is if it is proved there is a terrorist act that brought down the plane. we can't rule out there's something that went wrong mechanically. >> phil, who should investigators focus their submission on the most? the passengers, the ground crew, the pilots? what are they doing? >> i don't think that you can decide that you can deprioritize any one of those lists, wolf. the first thing do you as an administrator in this situation
is to bring people on a team and say, here's the categories of stuff we have to look at. you mentioned a few of them. that is on the aircraft, the support focus around the aircraft, that is people like baggage. you're also looking in parallel at intercepted communications and human informants in the isis organization to see if they have said anything. i find it curious nobody in washington has uttered a peep to suggest they're hearing chatter out of isis indicating responsibility. so i don't think you can prioritize that unless you've got to bring in a huge team and say, we're going to look at every name, bounce it against our watch list, and ensure that we proved the negative. that is, nobody that we know is involved in this operation, wolf. >> what does it say to you, phil, no one has claimed responsibility yet? >> i'm with peter. over time, this is going to become more curious. i would give it 48, 72 hours. in we're sitting on your show on monday night and no one has claimed responsibility, there is no indication on the passenger manifest list that anybody was affiliated or sympathetic to a
terrorist group, there is no chatter out of the isis organization, that's early investigation four or five days, that's a long time to have no information when thousands of analysts like me are looking at it that indicates that any terror group had a responsibility. time is ticking. >> assuming this was terrorism, we don't know if it was, peter. but if it was, what's the lesson for you, the u.s. right now? >> well, we've had people who have joined this mali terrorist group at minneapolis airport. people who have joined isis at the minneapolis airport. the lesson is, people working at airports, we have to be careful. of course, multiples coming into the united states from other places that don't have the level of security we see in the united states. that's really the weakest link. >> stand by. we'll continue to follow the breaking news. our coverage of the crash of egyptair flight 804 continues ahead. also coming up, donald trump tells the national rifle association that hillary clinton will abolish the second amendment to the constitution. tonight, she is responding.
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donald trump now holding one of the most coveted and conservative endorsements, the backing of the national rifle association. cnn political reporter, sara murray joining us now. trump was there where you are in louisville at the group's national convention and said hillary clinton would abolish the second amendment to the constitution if she is elected president. update our viewers on what happened. >> reporter: that's right, wolf. and, of course, hillary clinton hat not called for abolishing the second amendment. but she has called for stricter gun controls. something that did not sit well this c crowd here and donald
trump played right to the audience serving up plenty of red pretty and criticism of clinton. today donald trump is capping off a week of wooing conservatives in front of a friendly audience. >> i will not let you down. >> reporter: picking up an endorsement at the national rifle association's annual meeting and serving up some red meat as he slammed hillary clinton. >> crooked hillary clinton is the most anti gun, anti second amendment candidate ever to run for office. >> reporter: trump setting up a sharp general election split with the democratic front runner. who labeled the nra an enemy in a debate last year. >> you've all made a few people upset over your political careers. which enemy are you most proud of? >> in addition to the nra, the health insurance companies, the drug companies. the iranians. [ laughter ] probably the republicans. >> reporter: the contrast on gun rights is one of the fault lights already emerging ahead of
the general election. trump not waiting for evidence and sticking by his political instincts, as he declared the crash of an egyptair flight an act of terror. >> i can practically guarantee who blew it up. >> but listen. >> reporter: while clinton took a more measured approach. >> it does appear it was an act of terrorism. exactly how the investigation will have to determine. >> reporter: and laid out her plants to combat isis. >> we're going to defeat them on the ground using our air power, the arab and kurdish fighters, drive them out of iraq, drive them out of their stronghold in raqqah, syria. >> reporter: in true trump style, he offered a blunt description with few specifics. >> i would say knock the hell out of isis which we could have done originally. >> reporter: trump's promise he won't back down against the terror group may run against his isolationist world view as he continues to blast the obama administration decision to send some u.s. forces into syria. >> i would have stayed out of
syria, and i wouldn't have fought so much for assad, against assad. because i thought that was the whole thing. >> reporter: a position that puts him to the left of many in his own party. now today hillary clinton's camp has called donald trump's approach to foreign policy unhinged. and clinton herself took to twitter to deal with the guns issue, saying you're wrong, donald trump. we can uphold second amendment rights while preventing senseless gun violence. but it's clear, wolf, there is not going to be a lot of unity between these sides on this in the general election. >> i take it that trump got a very nice reception from the nra audience where you are right now. describe it. >> reporter: he did get a very nice reception. there was a standing ovation for him at points. he received the endorsement of the nra, which is, of course, a big deal. because in the past, you know, in a 2000 book, donald trump called for some restrictions on guns. he called for expanding background checks. and he's really changed his tune on that in the course of his presidential campaign. and that is a signal that at
least the nra feels comfortable with him, enough to throw their support behind him, to encourage their members to support him. and officials here said that it's time to get on board with trump. >> very important endorsement for him, indeed. sara murray reporting. thanks very much. that's it for me. erin burnett "outfront" start right now. "outfront" next, the breaking news. smoke detected on board egyptair 804 moments before the plane disappeared from radar. was it from a bomb or mechanical failure? plows investigators interview the ground crew who worked on the plane just before takeoff. how many people had hands on access? and a real estate titan and reality tv star tells us what she really thinks about the man she has known for decades. barbara corcoran of "shark tank" talks donald trump. let's go "outfront." good evening. i'm erin burnett. "outfront" toni