Return to Transcripts main page


North Korea Says American Tourist Seeks Asylum; Obama Arrives in South Korea as North Korea Counts Down Missile Test; What's Next in Search for MH370? How Bush Family Feels about Jeb Bush Running in 2016.

Aired April 25, 2014 - 13:30   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: You have maybe these four pings that may or may not actually have been pings. They assume they were pings. That's all they have so far. It's hard to believe.

FORIA YOUNIS, FORMER FBI AGENT & CNN ANALYST: As an investigator, that really tugs at your heart for the families. The fact is usually you do find a little bit more evidence on some these plane crashes. Here, we don't have debris, we don't have anything. So it's one of those mysteries I think will stick with us for a long time, and hopefully we'll get some evidence shortly.

BLITZER: It's 1:30 a.m. in that part of the world right now. That was the last moment, the last moment Malaysian radar picked up this airliner. You know, it's hard to believe it's gone on this long, Peter -- and you've been involved in a lot of these investigations -- without anything.

PETER GOELZ, CNN AVIATION ANALYST: It's extraordinary. I think the problem is -- part of the problem is we haven't set the expectations correctly. This was a devastatingly difficult accident to begin with. Even if we had pings, it was going to be hard. I think we've raised expectations, the investigators have, unfairly, and it has led to this atmosphere now with the families simply don't trust anybody.

BLITZER: Can't blame them. Day 50 approaching right now.

All right, guys, we'll have you back.

Peter Goelz, Foria Younis, they'll be joining us in a little while.

But we've got questions to answer. You've been sending us your questions. Tweet us if you want to send us more questions @Wolfblitzer. Use #370qs.

This is kind of hard to believe but North Korea now says an American tourist is asking for asylum there. We'll explain. Stay with us.


BLITZER: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer, reporting from Washington.

A rather unusual announcement from North Korea today. It says it has an American tourist in custody and the man is seeking asylum there. Let's bring in our foreign affairs reporter, Elise Abbott. She's over at the State Department.

Elise, what do we know about this?

ELISE ABBOTT, CNN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Not much, Wolf. The North Koreans are saying they're holding a 24-year-old American and they're calling him Miller Matthew Todd. It's very possible, because Asians, you know, use the last name first before using the first name, so it's possible his name is Matthew Miller Todd or Matthew Todd Miller, we really don't know. All they said is he was exhibiting rash behavior at the border. When he went through immigration, he tore up his visa and said he was going to seek asylum in the north. He wanted to have shelter in North Korea. U.S. officials are telling me that they are aware of the case, they been working it for a few days. All the State Department just said moments ago is that they're aware of reports. We do know the Swedish government, which protects U.S. interests in North Korea, is trying to find out more information.

BLITZER: No official statement yet from North Korea, other than an individual with this name was trying to seek asylum? Any further explanation coming?

ABBOTT: All they said is he was exhibiting rash behavior at the border and the authorities picked him up two weeks ago. That's very curious timing, Wolf, because that is, you know, right -- you see now President Obama is in South Korea today, amid fears that North Korea could be launching another nuclear test. Those North Koreans have been holding on to this news for two weeks and it does seem to be timed to President Obama's visit to South Korea.

BLITZER: As far as you know, had the State Department received any requests for information about a missing American citizen in North Korea during these past two weeks? Have any of his friends or relatives asked the State Department for assistance in locating this individual, whatever his name is?

ABBOTT: They don't, Wolf. They've had virtually no information. It's very unclear how the State Department came upon this information, but they have not even been able to confirm there's an American missing or there is an American in North Korea. All they know is there is -- what the North Koreans are saying and they're working with the Swedes to try to get more information that the North Koreans actually have this guy. All we know is the North Koreans are saying they have an American. We don't know for sure he's actually in custody.

BLITZER: Interesting. Usually, they go with a group. If one individual left, that group would notify the State Department right away about a missing friend or colleague.

We'll learn more, I assume, in the coming hours.

Elise, thank you very much.

As Elise pointed out, the president of the United States is in South Korea. North Korea, though, very much on his mind. He said threats there will get the isolated nation nowhere. We'll have more when we come back.

Also coming up, should Jeb Bush made a run for president in 2016? It depends on which relative of his you ask, his mom or his dad.


BLITZER: We don't reward bad behavior -- that's the message President Obama is sending North Korea. He arrived in Seoul, South Korea, today just as news surfaced that Pyongyang may be counting down to another nuclear missile test.

Our White House correspondent, Michelle Kosinski, is traveling with the president to face some serious questions about Ukraine and North Korea.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Even along this Asian trip, what comes up again and again is the situation in Ukraine. Inevitably, that's going to be a topic of discussion. The president answered questions about it just today.

Keep in mind in this region, the biggest security threat has been and continues to be North Korea. And even before this presidential trip, we heard from South Korean officials worried about an imminent nuclear missile test. Because they say what generally happens is they get two warnings in succession from the North Koreans that they're going to do something like that. At this point, they've gotten the two warnings but they haven't seen the missile launch. They feel like that could come at any time.

And President Obama acknowledged that in answering questions today. He emphasized the close relationship between the U.S. and South Korea, saying they stand shoulder to shoulder against continued North Korean threats and provocation.

Something we hadn't heard before, almost in parallel with talking about expanded sanctions against Russia on the situation in Ukraine, he said maybe something more needs to be done along those lines in relation to North Korea. Here's part of what he said.


BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In light of what we expect to be further provocative actions from the North Koreans, whether in the form of long-range missile tests or nuclear tests or both, that it's important for us to look at additional ways to apply pressure on North Korea. Further sanctions that have even more bite, as well as highlighting some of the human rights violations that make North Korea probably the worst human rights violator in the world.


KOSINSKI: President Obama mentioned that the world has been calling for North Korea to give us its nuclear program. It has refused to do so, continuing to make these provocative actions. But it's almost like what we hear. In relation to both North Korea and Russia, is that imposing these sanctions, enacting these resolutions, it doesn't necessarily do much in the short term. And President Obama, again, acknowledged that on the situation in Ukraine during this trip.

What the administration has focused on is the long term, looking at the isolation and the economic destruction that result, essentially, these countries doing that to themselves through their own actions -- Wolf?

BLITZER: Michelle Kosinski reporting for us from Seoul, South Korea, traveling with the president.

After the break, will 2016 see another Bush/Clinton matchup? Some would certainly like to see that. Others not so much. There's debate coming from within America's biggest political dynasties as well.

And the underwater search for Malaysian Airlines flight 370 wrapping up for now. What's next? We'll discuss that. Our panel of experts, they are here. They're also getting ready to answer your questions.


BLITZER: It's been 50 days since Malaysia Airlines flight 370 vanished. Right now, the underwater drone is about 95 percent done, combing its initial search area. So far, no sign, none at all, of the plane. Australian officials say the next step would be expanding the search area. We're also hearing today the British ship, the "HMS Echo," is heading back to Perth to get replenishments. U.K. officials say it will be ready to go back out to search area when it's need.

Joined once again by the former FBI agent, Foria Younis, who is the founder and CEO South Asia Middle East Consultants; also our CNN aviation analyst, the former NTSB managing director, Peter Goelz.

Let's get right to our question, Peter, from a viewer. Stacy asked this, it's been 50 days, surely a piece of the plane would have surfaced by now.

GOELZ: I would say their best judgment, and it's got to be 90-plus percent, is that the plane went into the ocean and it went into the ocean off of Perth. But remember that area has been hit by at least two cyclones and they didn't get there until after the first cyclone had passed through. It is absolutely challenging that they have not found a piece of wreckage.

BLITZER: As far as expanding the search area for you, this could go on forever. Is there a limit at what point they will have to say, you know what, let's pause and stop for a while?

YOUNIS: There will be some looking into this investigation until it gets solved. But some countries may narrow down the capabilities and what people are helping out. But in terms of looking long term, looking forward, you keep getting better investigators, technology, you keep seeing what is needed. But at some point, you keep searching so hard, I'm sure there will be less and less resources available.

BLITZER: Australian officials, including the prime minister, they say they will never give up?

GOELZ: Right. And Foria is right. There may be a contraction of some of the other countries stepping out but they have to find this plane. Commercial aviation cannot stand a vacuum, a mystery like this.

BLITZER: Is it time for you to bring in a new team with fresh eyes and fresh thinking and take a new look from scratch?

YOUNIS: You don't want to bring in a completely new team because you do need some of the old investigators but you definitely need fresh eyes. When you come to this point where there is no new evidence, you bring in new ideas, new people who make look at things differently. And any investigation you need to keep changing what you're doing.

BLITZER: Peter, a lot of our viewers want to take a look at the northern arc. The Inmarsat, some of them have been going over land as far as Kazakhstan, for example and out to the Southern Indian Ocean. The focus has been the Southern Indian Ocean. But a lot of viewers say, why not reexamine the northern arc?

GOELZ: I have quizzed the investigators very carefully on that. They are convinced that it turned south. Now a new team would probably take a look at the northern arc, but the investigators both in Malaysia and in the United States, in the U.K., are convinced the plane turned south.

BLITZER: All right, guys, thanks very much.

Coming up, Barbara Bush doesn't necessarily want her son to run for president but now we're hearing from other members of the family about whether or not they agree with her. Guess what? They don't necessarily. Gloria Borger is here. She has done some investigating on this. Standby for her report.


BLITZER: New insight today about what some members of the Bush family really feel about whether Jeb Bush should really run for president.

Our chief political analyst, Gloria Borger, broke the news on CNN. She has more.

Gloria, tell our viewers what exactly you have learned.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST; Wolf, in doing the piece on the Bush and Clinton families and how, after all of these decades in politics, they actually might face off each other again, I spoke with Jeb's brother, Neil Bush, and he shed some light on the internal family debate on whether Jeb should run. He started out by describing a scene in a hotel room as the family watched Barbara Bush say Jeb should just stay out of it. Take a listen.


NEIL BUSH, BROTHER OF JEB BUSH: We're sitting waiting to go to the Bush Library event. We're all watching Jeb and we're looking over him like --


-- what's your response to that? But it's not going to affect Jeb's response to the question. If you ask dad, he would say yes.

BORGER: He would?

BUSH: Yes. He's say yes.

BORGER: Have you asked him?

BUSH: I have heard him answer that question.


BORGER: That pretty much sums it up, Wolf. It's pretty clear from listening to Neil Bush that President Bush, 41, would certainly like to see his son throw his hat in the ring. Whether than means anything to Jeb, who knows.

BLITZER: The key question is, the former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, does he have that fire in his belly? Does he really want to run for president of the United States like his brother and dad did?

BORGER: I think when you talk to people who are close to him, they honestly don't know the answer. Last summer, people were saying absolutely not. And Chris Christie seemed to be having his trouble and there seemed to more talk among fundraisers. He's got a while before he's got to make his decision but he has the same problem in many ways that Hillary Clinton has. These are families that have been around for decades. And they have to prove that they can be candidates of change even though they come from these very well known families. The Bush people admit that he would have a problem because he differs from his own party on issues like immigration, for example, core education curriculum. They have different challenges on the basis of their party.

One other thing that is so interesting, Wolf, is that the families over the years have grown really close. Bill Clinton is now very close to Bush 41, and how would those relationships be affected if Hillary Clinton ran against Jeb Bush?

BLITZER: But if the Republicans want to win the White House, they have got to carry states like Florida. Jeb Bush is pretty popular there. Ohio, he would be formidable against, let's say, Hillary Clinton in Ohio. Those are factors you have to take into consideration. Because New York and California probably go Democratic. If you want to win, you have to have someone presumably like a Jeb Bush.

BORGER: Sure. And Kentucky Democrats who think Jeb Bush would be one of the most formidable candidates for the Democrats.

BLITZER: His big problem would be winning the Republican nomination.



BLITZER: Good work, excellent work, Gloria Borger.

One million pilgrims and tourists are expected in Rome this weekend for something that is evoking joy and controversy. Two of the most popular popes in history will be canonized. They will be declared saints by Pope Frances. Pope John XXIII served five years, from 1958 to 1963 but he orchestrated huge changes that have impacted the Catholic Church to this day. And Pope John Paul II, who served from 1978 to 2005, his trips around the world made him visible but critics say his legacy is scarred by his inaction on clerical sexual abuse crises.

She is known for her beauty and body sense of humor. CNN shines the spotlight on Cameron Diaz. Later tonight, 10:00 p.m. eastern and Sunday night on CNN, Anthony Bourdain eats his way through France. It is all part of a new "Parts Unknown."

After Bourdain, Morgan Spurlock goes to the dogs. Go inside America's pet culture on an all new "Morgan Spurlock, Inside Man," 10:00 eastern Sunday night.

That's it for me. See you at 5:00 p.m. eastern in "The Situation Room."

NEWSROOM with Brooke Baldwin starts right now.