Return to Transcripts main page
Obama: More Russian Sanctions Teed Up; Malaysian P.M. Talks MH- 370 Investigation; Malaysian P.M. Shocked MH-370 Could Be in Indian Ocean; Girl Give Michelle Obama Her Father's Resume.
Aired April 24, 2014 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JANE HARMAN, PRESIDENT & CEO, WILSON CENTER: He's in bad shape. He's trying to borrow money on the international market. We should dry that up. We should ratchet up our sanctions. President Obama says we are ready to tee them up. Tee them up, and go against his oil and gas sector. Yes, it will hurt U.S. firms in the short term and make it harder for U.S. to get fuel in the short term, but longer term it will stop this man and be far less expensive and it will save a lot of lives --
HARMAN: -- we have to go into a NATO country.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Because in the short term, if that gas station, as McCain calls it, from Russia dries up, it will really hurt countries like Germany and other friendly countries in central and Eastern Europe who rely on that energy exports.
HARMAN: There are other sources of gas and oil.
BLITZER: In the short term.
HARMAN: In the short term, yes, it will hurt. In the longer term, it will help. Let's remember we have these new-found gas resources in America. And if we are smart about this, next year, we're going to start exporting LNG from Houston. Over the near term, we can become the gas station and fuel station and we can think about cleaner better fuels for Europe and that will help build jobs in America and secure us against tyrants like Putin and also imploding governments in the Middle East.
BLITZER: It will take a while.
Jane Harman, from the Wilson Center, thanks for coming in.
Still ahead, South Korean students return to the high school where hundreds of their students are dead or missing in that ferry disaster. We'll have the latest on that story as well.
And we'll also have more from our own Richard Quest and his exclusive interview with the Malayan prime minister. It just wrapped up. Stand by.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from Washington.
It's now the 49th day of flight 370's disappearance. Malaysia's prime minister is speaking out about the investigation exclusively with our own Richard Quest.
Richard is joining us once again from Kuala Lumpur, the capital.
Richard, the prime minister, Najib Razak, hasn't talked about the plane in three weeks, but today, he's opening up dramatically to you. You told us earlier he's ready to release his government's preliminary report on what happened in the disappearance of that plane next week, but also talked about the first few weeks of the investigation. Tell us what else you learned during the course of this interview.
RICHARD QUEST, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: And I've just realized the prime minister also is planning to release many more reports and documents into what's happening I've been told in the last few minutes.
Wolf, on this other question, the Inmarsat data. Regular viewers will be well aware I'm talking about the satellite handshakes that told them the plane had been flying more than six and a half hours, up to seven hours. There were six and a half of these handshakes. These handshakes between the plane and the satellite, they form the entire basis for the sea search, first, the corridors north and south, and then into the south Indian Ocean. And time and again, Wolf, people have said, why are they so sure? What makes them so convinced about the Inmarsat data? Could it be wrong? There was only one man to ask and that was the prime minister. Why was he so sure?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
NAJIB RAZAK, MALAYSIA PRIME MINISTER: To be honest, I find it hard to believe to begin with because how could a plane supposed to be heading towards Beijing, they could decide that the plane ended halfway towards Antarctica. It's a bizarre scenario none of us could have contemplated. When I met the chief, mind you, the foremost experts in the aviation industry -- they are the experts as you know. They come from the United States. They come from U.K. But they were there. I asked them, are you sure? I asked them, again and again, are you sure? Their answer was we are as sure as we possibly can be.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Again and again, are you sure? We are as sure as we can possibly be.
But the real problem is, if that data is in some way wrong or inaccurate, what then? The prime minister said to me, clearly, there is no other evidence. This is what they've got to work with. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAZAK: This is very, very different from the Air France incident, very different from other incidents. This is totally unprecedented. What do we have going for us? What is the evidence? The evidence simply lie with the pings, the handshakes that we have analyzed. That's all we have.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
QUEST: Wolf, there was so much more, and it will come out in the programs ahead. But one point just to note, when I asked him would they continue to search for however long and however much it would cost, the prime minister said -- he sort of gave a long answer. I said a yes or a no, please, prime minister, he said, yes, we'll continue to search for as long as we can afford it.
BLITZER: Did he give you any hint at all, Richard, whether he believes the disappearance of this plane was the result of some sort of catastrophic mechanical failure or some sort of criminal action by individuals?
QUEST: I asked him that. I had several goes at it. He said he has his theories, but he has no evidence to back them up. So I pushed, come on, prime minister, what is it? He wouldn't go there. Wolf, I'm none the wiser of what his theory of what he believes happened because he has no evidence. I think that is exactly the way the stakes are played for many of us who have really looked at this over the last six, seven weeks. We have our theories, but every theory has a hole in it somewhere along then journey of the flight.
BLITZER: Richard Quest, in Kuala Lumpur, is staying with us. He has more to report.
Richard, we'll get back to you in a moment.
We also have our panel of experts. And we're getting immediate reaction with this exclusive interview with the Malaysian prime minister. More coming up in a minute. Stay with us.
BLITZER: Malaysia's prime minister is speaking out exclusively with CNN about the mysterious disappearance telling our Richard Quest he was shocked, shocked to hear the plane could have ended up in the Southern Indian Ocean.
Let's bring back our panel of experts. Peter Goelz is still with us, our CNN aviation analyst, former NTSB managing director; Foria Younis, a former FBI agent. And Richard Quest is still with us.
Richard, for viewers who may just be tuning in, give us two of the three main headlines that emerged from this exclusive interview, Richard?
QUEST: I think the two or three headlines, out of respect for the families and next of kin, he will not declare the plane lost, even though that will delay the claiming of full compensation to the Montreal Convention. Secondly, he is saying that he really did make very sure about the Inmarsat data before he went ahead with his statements. Finally, Wolf, on the question of the families, he understands why the families do not accept the information that they are being given by them. They are being given information but he says the reasons why they cannot get the information that will lead them to the answers they want, which is the plane and their loved ones.
BLITZER: Hold out for a moment, Richard. Peter and Foria are here.
Peter, give me your immediate reaction. He seems like a very cool prime minister. He was not emotional. He answered the questions but he seemed to be a little bit, like all Malaysians overwhelmed right now because they never anticipated something like this could happen.
PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: I thought it was an extraordinarily effective interview. He was really quite compassionate when he said, I want to know whether the pings were accurate. You listen to him and he said, this guy asked the right questions. I think everyone was overwhelmed by this. How mysterious is this?
BLITZER: You've spent a lot of time in that part of the world. From the beginning, I never thought the Malaysians were ill-willed, evil. I thought this was a total surprise for them. They had no experience in dealing with the disappearance of an airliner along these lines. As a result, they screwed it up to a certain degree.
FORIA YOUNIS, FORMER FBI AGENT: That could be said. And not just the Malaysians, I don't think they've ever dealt with something like this. The Malaysians haven't had a major serious critical incident. When it comes to handling the victims and media, it seems like they're going through a learning process. So they're trying to catch up. They made serious mistakes in the beginning and I think that caused them a lot of hardships.
BLITZER: Richard, take us a little bit behind the scenes. Share your thought on his demeanor and thoughts and attitude, what was going on?
QUEST: Totally in control. This is a prime minister who is not extravagant in language. He is Western educated. He comes from a deeply political family. His father was prime minister. Very steeped into the establishment of this country. But he is not given to hyperbole. He very -- when he says -- I asked, are you sure? Are you sure? It's almost technocratic. It is not your politician full of bluster noise. So when he sat down with me tonight, he knew exactly -- there were no rules, there was no games, there was no, you can't ask this, let me make absolutely clear about this, Wolf, we would not have sat down if there had been, not given guidelines, nothing. Ask what you want. You have 30 to 40 minutes with the prime minister. Please remember to ask about President Obama's visit to Malaysia, which you'll hear hopefully tomorrow on this program, his answers about that. He's a very impressive operator, period.
BLITZER: President Obama will be where you are, Kuala Lumpur, what, in a couple days, is that right?
QUEST: Yes. He gets here on Saturday. It's the first visit by a sitting U.S. president in 48 years. It's a crucially important visit because of the position Malaysia finds itself between China and the United States.
BLITZER: A critical visit indeed.
Stand by, Richard.
Our panelists standing by.
Much more coming up. We're taking you behind then scenes, what was going on in Richard Quest's exclusive interview with the Malaysian prime minister. When he wanted to speak to the world, he spoke to CNN.
BLITZER: We're back with Peter Goelz, Foria Younis and Richard Quest.
Let's wrap up this conversation a little bit.
Peter, first to you.
It sounds to me like even the prime minister of Malaysia isn't even 100 percent convinced that the search was in the right area.
GOELZ: I think he was shown how difficult it was. The pings were a presumption, but, boy, it's a big ocean and he's not quite sure. I thought his interview was very effective.
BLITZER: It was a very strong interview and we learned new information about what's going on, on the part of the Malaysian government right now. But it still raises a lot of quest questions about whether they're looking in the right place.
YOUNIS: It does. And they announced they will put an international body of investigators together. Let's hope they get access to all the information. Let's hope in the near future some new evidence does come up. Because at the end of the day, as an investigation, they are looking for evidence and they need to find out the debris or find the plane.
BLITZER: Richard, you're there. He turned to you, the Malaysian prime minister, to speak out. They should have done this weeks ago. He did it with you just in the past few hours. So give us some thoughts, right now, walk away with some major impressions because we'll be sharing a lot more of this interview throughout the day and night right here on CNN.
QUEST: At one point, just to point out, other sources here in Malaysia have told me tonight -- it's been one of those nights -- that we will expect to hear from the Australian prime minister, probably on Monday, about the future direction of the search. Basically, we don't know what he's going to say but they're putting together what they're going to do next. Tony Abbott is likely to announce that early next week. Wolf, my conclusion on what I've heard to night and what we've seen so far, mistakes were made but, fundamentally, everything that has been done has been done for good cause, whether it was the search in the South China Sea and the Straits of Malacca, where there was the search down to the further south. There has been no fundamental errors made, except, of course, on the night when they didn't send planes up. But this idea that somehow the Malaysians completely bungled it, made terrible mistakes, wasted vast amounts of time, it simply doesn't add up. It's presentational, rather than political or policy.
BLITZER: Richard is going to be with us, of course, sharing much more on CNN and CNN International.
Richard, excellent work as usual.
When we come back, a major problem in peace negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. Standby for that.
And over at the White House, a daughter looks out for her dad. It doesn't hurt to ask the first lady for a little help. We will show you what happened.
BLITZER: Some breaking news coming out of Ukraine. The country has now issued a 48-hour deadline for Russia to explain its military drills near its border, but it hasn't said what it will do if Russia does not comply.
Meanwhile, there was a significant escalation of violence in the Ukraine today. Government forces killed five militants during an operation to take down roadblocks set up by pro-Russians. This has prompted a sharp response from the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, saying using Ukraine's army against citizens will be a very serious crime.
Let's go the Middle East right now. Israel says it will not hold a round of peace talks with the Palestinian government that includes Hamas, which it views as a terrorist organization. The prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, does say there is still room for Palestinian Authority leader, Mahmud Abbas, to change course. We're going to keep you informed of this very fluid situation.
On a very different note, let's go to Washington and a tender moment over at the White House today as one visitor was thinking of helping her father during Take Your Child to Work Day. Michelle Obama gave the girl a microphone. You can't really hear what the little girl said but she also gave something to the first lady. Watch as the little girl gets a big hug.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED GIRL: My dad has been out of a job for three years and I wanted to give you his resume.
MICHELLE OBAMA, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES: Oh, my goodness. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: Mrs. Obama then told the crowd that it's a little private but that she's doing something for her dad. The girl's father has been out of a job for a few years so she gave the first lady, as you heard, his resume.
There has been a spike in violence on Chicago's south side. People there are taking a stand. Our original series "Chicagoland" looks at gang violence in schools. Catch the season finale of "Chicagoland," tonight, 10:00 p.m. eastern right here on CNN.
That's it for me. Thanks for watching.
Christiane Amanpour is next on CNN International.
Brooke Baldwin continues our coverage here on CNN.