Return to Transcripts main page


Kerry and Lavrov Meet to Discuss Crimea; Coverage of Kerry's Press Conference; Wayward Flight; Suspect Admitted He Lied

Aired March 14, 2014 - 12:30   ET



ASHLEIGH BANFIELD: We are at the one-week mark now, officially, since Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 just vanished, seemingly in thin air

And believe it or not, that is still the only statement that we can make with absolute certainty.

The leads and the theories have been rising and falling with the tides, it seems, and so, I turn once more to my CNN colleague Richard Quest, and also joining us from Chicago, Albert Johnson, who is a retired pilot with a solid 42 years in the cockpit and the last 15 of them in, yes, the Boeing 777, the Model 200.

I'm going to break from you two for just one moment. I've got some breaking news. I'll come back to you in a moment, but the secretary of state, United States Secretary of State John Kerry, is at the microphone in London regarding his meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.

JOHN KERRY, SECRETARY OF STATE: --- the situation in Ukraine.

Today, Foreign Minister Lavrov and I engaged in very in-depth, constructive dialogue on how to address legitimate concerns in the context of a unified sovereign Ukraine.

The United States strongly supports the interim government of Ukraine. We continue to favor a direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia as the very best way to try to resolve the crisis.

I came here in good faith with constructive ideas, which we did put forward on behalf of President Obama in order to try to restore and respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine while addressing at the same time Russia's legitimate concerns.

Foreign Minister Lavrov and I talked for a good six hours, and the conversation was very direct, very candid, frank, and I say constructive because we really dug into all of Russia's perceptions, their narrative, our narrative, our perceptions and the differences between us.

I presented a number of ideas on behalf of the president which we believe absolutely could provide a path forward for all the parties. However, after much discussion, the foreign minister made it clear that President Putin is not prepared to make any decision regarding Ukraine until after the referendum on Sunday.

The United States' position on that referendum, I must say, is clear and is clear today. We believe the referendum is contrary to the constitution of Ukraine.

It is contrary to international law, is in violation of that law and we believe is illegitimate, and as the president put it, illegal under the Ukrainian constitution.

Neither we nor the international community will recognize the results of this referendum.

And we also remain deeply concerned about the large deployments of Russian forces in Crimea and along the eastern border with Russia, as well as the continuing provocations and some of the hooliganism of young people who have been attracted across the border and come into the east, as well as some of those who have lived there.

I was clear with Foreign Minister Lavrov that the president has made it clear there will be consequences if Russia does not find a way to change course, and we don't say that as a threat. We say that as a direct consequence of the choices that Russia may or may not choose to make here.

If Russia does establish facts on the ground that increase tensions or that threaten the Ukrainian people, then obviously that will beg an even greater response and there will be costs.

President Obama and I could not be more convinced that there is a better way for Russia to pursue legitimate interests in Ukraine. We believe it is not insignificant that we acknowledge there are legitimate interests, historical, cultural, current strategic.

These are real interests, and I think all of us who are joined together in the E.U. and extended contact group understand those interests and are prepared to respect them.

But that requires also that Russia would respect the multilateral structure that has guided our actions since World War II and the need for all of us to try to resolve this challenge and to meet those interests through the international, multilateral legal norms which should guide all of our behavior.

Foreign Minister Lavrov and I talked about that, and we talked about the other options that are available, options of dialogue, options of various contact meetings that could take place, options of international legal remedy, options of joint multilateral efforts that would protect minorities, U.N. options, international human rights organization options, many options for the ways in which any challenges to the safety or security or rights of people could be addressed.

We are certainly prepared to join in an effort to protect those rights whether they be the rights of Ukrainians living in the west, Ukrainians living in the east, somebody of Russian language and Russian descent who might feel threatened. All minorities, all people should be protected.

Foreign Minister Lavrov and I agreed that we are going to stay in touch in the next days on Ukraine as well as on the other issues of concern which we are working on, Syria, Iran and other challenges of mutual concern.

Before I close, I just want to reiterate what President Obama said in the Oval Office on Wednesday when he visited with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The United States stands with the people of the Ukraine in their desire to make their own choices about their future and to be able to live their lives in a unified, peaceful, stable and Democratic Ukraine.

The president said clearly that is our only interest. That is what drives us, not a larger strategy, nothing with respect to Russia directly.

We are interested in the people of Ukraine having the opportunity to have their country's sovereignty and territorial integrity respected as we would ask that to happen for any country.

So I will be briefing Prime Minister Yatsenyuk shortly as well as all of our colleagues and counterparts in the E.U. and the members of the contact group as soon as I leave here. I will engage in those briefings and I look forward to taking a couple questions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: First question is from Michael Gordon of "The New York Times."

MICHAEL GORDON, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Mr. Secretary, as you noted, Russian troops are carrying out an extensive military exercise in Ukraine and, at the same time, the Russian foreign ministry says that the Kremlin reserves the right to protect what it calls "compatriots' lives" in Ukraine.

Did you obtain a clear assurance from Mr. Lavrov that Russia would not use these forces to intervene in eastern Ukraine as they have in Crimea?

What did they say is the purpose of this exercise? And has Russia abided by its obligations to provide OSCE nations with timely and accurate information about the size of the exercise, the types of forces involved, the purpose of the exercise?

Have they done that for this current exercise, and have they done that for the one immediate prior?

KERRY: Well, let me answer the second part of the question first. I don't know whether or not they've made that notification. I've been wrapped up in these talks and I've been wrapped up in other talks, so I'm not aware of whether or not that notification was made.

But I can tell you, indeed, we talked about these exercises, and we talked about the level of troops that are deployed, where they're deployed, what the purpose is, and I raised very clearly the increased anxiety that is created within Ukraine as a consequence of this.

And we talked --

BANFIELD: One of the big headlines I want to just make sure that any viewers just joining us, as the secretary of state speaks live in London, having just emerged from the U.S. ambassador's residence there after a meeting with the Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, one of the headlines is, is that the Russian president has indicated through his foreign secretary to the secretary of the United States he's prepared to make absolutely no concessions whatsoever in these talks to try to resolve the Crimean conflict until at least the referendum is over. That's two days from now.

In two days Crimea is set to vote on whether it wants secede and move back to the motherland, to Russia. There's about 60 percent of people there who are ethnically Russian, so it's likely that that would be what the vote would indicate.

The problem is the secretary of state has said that that vote will not be recognized. It's not legal. It's not effectively being recognized by Ukraine, and the United States is still standing by the government of Ukraine.

And, by the way, this many comes after six hours of what the secretary called "frank" and "candid" discussions with Sergey Lavrov, but it sounded as though the dictate was coming from Moscow in the way of President Putin's hard line. Nothing, nothing will change until two days from now when that referendum happens.

So, perhaps also what was very significant was the suggestion that there will be consequences, and this from President Obama. There will be consequences if Russia does not change course.

We don't know what those consequences will be, but apparently there will be some.

Quick break, much more ahead on that missing flight, that mystery in Malaysia, and what if it was that Payne Stewart scenario where effectively everybody on board just simply went into hypoxia and the plane kept running until it went out of gas?

Back in a bit.


BANFIELD: I'm back with the mystery of Flight 370 with my colleague Richard Quest, who is our aviation expert at CNN. And also, just before we broke off for the breaking news out of London with the secretary of state, we were speaking with Albert Johnson in Chicago, a retired pilot, 42 years of experience in the cockpit, the last 15 of them in the exact model we're talking about, the Boeing 777 model 200. Same plane we're looking for at this point.

If I can start with you, Captain Johnson, the critical question many have been wondering at this point, is it possible a Payne Stewart scenario could be - could have played out here? And I say that -- and for those who may not remember, in 1999, Payne Stewart flew -- was flying in a learjet and effectively there was decompression and everyone on board the plane, pilots included, suffered severe hypoxia and just passed out and froze and that plane kept flying.

ALBERT JOHNSTON, FORMER BOEING 777 PILOT: Ashleigh, the situation in the Malaysian incident does not have the same characteristics in that the aircraft was apparently level at cruising altitude and the crew made normal voice transmissions to air traffic control. If there was a rapid decompression, unlike in the Payne Stewart case, the crew would have taken immediate actions to put on their oxygen masks and descend the aircraft at the same time trying to contact air traffic control to explain to them the situation. So there are some distinct differences. The fact that the aircraft turned away. In the Payne Stewart incident, the aircraft just continued to climb straight in one direction and never changed.

BANFIELD: Well, I only ask that because with a slow decompression, it can be so insidious and slow. This is was very late at night. This was a red-eye flight. Not to suggest that pilots don't do it all the time. But maybe I can bring Richard in on this.

For those who may not understand what hypoxia actually does, you start to make sort of irrational decisions. Think of it as those who climb Everest without oxygen and then find themselves in a pickle and start going the wrong way up the mountain or off the edge of the cliff or they start taking off their foul (ph) weather gear because they think they're warm. Is that the same kind of thing that might have transpired with pilots? You know, we're on land. We need to switch our transponder and the ACARS system off now?




BANFIELD: Absolutely not?

QUEST: The aircraft - I mean, well, we look at the Helios example. You can't say - I can't say no definitively because if we look at the Helios, the Cypriot aircraft, the 737, the captain will remember that particular incident where by the plane did suffer a slow decompression, they didn't realize it effectively or they -- the only person who survived -- well, didn't survive, I mean was still awake was one of the flight attendants who got through to the cockpit but was unable to do anything about it.

Quick question for the captain, if I may, Ashleigh.


QUEST: Captain, it's Richard Quest here. Captain, with your experience and knowledge in the left-hand seat of the 777-200 and with what you've heard so far, what do you think happened? What happened at that point at 1:07 after they said, all right, good night?

JOHNSTON: Richard, I'd like to correct one thing. I was never a captain. I flew as a first officer in the right-hand seat. But after that transmission was made, then apparently the transponder was deactivated in some fashion. So it could be, of course, just a failure, a single point failure, or it could be the result of something catastrophic happening to the aircraft or it could be that it was deliberately turned off. The fact that there was no contact with the next controlling agency and the fact that the aircraft apparently started turning from the primary radar returns indicates that there was something more going on. And it seems to be something that was deliberately done.

BANFIELD: I got two things wrong. I called you Johnson and it's Johnston. I apologize, Mr. Johnston, Albert Johnston, thank you so much for being with us. And I also called you Captain Johnson. So, Mr. Johnston, thank you for your time. And, of course, Richard Quest, you're always invaluable in these stories and I certainly hope we get further along this weekend as we continue to track this mystery.

I have to switch gears for one moment. There's a story that we want to cover for you. No criminal record, a law student, no prior bad behavior at all, and yet a woman is picked up, arrested, charged, convicted of murder and locked away presumably for 32 years. The trouble is, that lady on your screen had nothing to do with anything. How does that happen in America? You're going to find out as we preview the latest "Death Row Stories" just ahead.


BANFIELD: The new CNN original series "Death Row Stories" takes a look at the stories behind capital murder cases. And this weekend's episode starts with a home invasion to steal silver back in 1981, and that's where everything unraveled. A man ended up dead. His wife ended up nearly dead. One of the two men accused in the case pointed to a woman claiming that she was the one who orchestrated the whole thing.

And that woman's name was Gloria Killian. That's Gloria. She was a former law student. Said she'd never even met the suspect, Gary Masse. Didn't matter. Police charged her anyway. And a jury convicted her anyway of murder, of robbery and of conspiracy. And that woman sat in jail for years until she met the woman who would change everything, Joyce Ride. Astronaut Sally Ride's mom. Mrs. Ride volunteered with inmates and she just had a feeling about Killian, that Killian was innocent. So she decided to get on the case and hired help to prove it. And look what she found out.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (voice-over): Gloria Killian had been languishing in prison for eight years when an investigator found evidence discrediting Kit Cleland and his star witness, Gary Masse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He found a letter to Masse's sentencing charge that asked for leniency in the sentence. It was concrete proof that there was a deal being made before Gary got to testify in Gloria's trial.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: With new evidence emerging, Gloria became less reluctant to accept help.

JOYCE RIDE: I said, is it all right if I hire a lawyer? And she said, it would be all right. The thought of getting out was in her dreams again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Joyce brought the letter to Bill Genego (ph), a top appeals lawyer.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It was a quid pro quo from the beginning. If Gary doesn't implicate Gloria, then they're not going to support a reduction in his sentence. Simple as that. I was very excited, but there certainly was no guarantee we were going to win.


BANFIELD: Yes, but guess what? They did. They won. That evidence showing that Gary Masse lied. He lied through his teeth so that he could cut a deal and overturn Killian's conviction ultimately, though.

Listen, I'm joined now by Judge Michael Hawkins, who was actually one of the deliberative judges on the appellate court, the Ninth Circuit, that deliberated on this case and ultimately led to the freedom for this woman.

First of all, it is terrific to be able to speak with a sitting judge. It's a rare occasion, so I thank you profusely for taking the opportunity, judge, to speak with us. And perhaps you could just answer the first question, it's the layperson's question, how on earth do we get this far with an innocent woman?

JUDGE MICHAEL HAWKINS, U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, NINTH CIRCUIT: Well, it happens. Hopefully rarely, but it does happen. And we do see cases where individuals testify against other people and claim that they don't have any arrangement with the prosecution and sometimes it turns out, as in this case, that they do.

BANFIELD: So that, to me, looks like prosecutors behaving badly. And there are charges when prosecutors do things with malice and they intend to do something naughty. In this particular case, did the prosecutors get punished for this?

HAWKINS: That wasn't before the case that I sat on. My understanding from anecdotal evidence is that, yes, the prosecutor was disciplined by the state bar of California.

BANFIELD: See, disciplined to me sounds like a slap on the wrist. Being locked up for causing a woman decades of her innocent life behind bars, it just feels like discipline isn't enough. And yet that's not always the case. And it's so hard to right those wrongs when it comes to prosecutors behaving badly. Why is that?

HAWKINS: Well, a lot of that has to do with other agencies and other entities. We deal with the case that's before us and the constitutional standard is without the testimony of Gary Masse, would a rational juror have said that Ms, Killian was guilty of the charged offense. And our unanimous conclusion was that they would not.

BANFIELD: I want to just put up on the screen one of the things that was found in a letter, ultimately a letter to the prosecutors by Gary Masse. Actually, just take that one down, it's too long. I just want to read the one critical thing. He said, "I lied my ass off for you people." Literally that was put in a letter to prosecutors, "I lied my ass off for you people." And when us people hear that, we want to have faith in our justice system and it's hard to do so. Can you tell me one thing that will lead me to get that faith back, judge?

HAWKINS: Well, one thing that's happening across the country, this is a matter of -and creature of state law, is that more and more states are placing a burden upon a prosecutor to reveal --

BANFIELD: Oh, I think I just lost the signal for the judge. My apologies, everyone. And we are flat out of time.

My thanks to Judge Michael Hawkins for that.

And you can hear more about Gloria's story in another episode of CNN's original series "DEATH ROW STORIES" this Sunday night 9:00 p.m. Eastern time. Have a great weekend. Thanks for watching. Wolf starts now.