Return to Transcripts main page


Tiger Woods Awake and Responsive After Single-Car Crash; U.S. Senate Holds Hearings on January 6 Attack; Senate Hearing Reveals Communication Breakdown at Capitol; FAA Orders New Checks on Pratt and Whitney Engines; Biden's Nominees Face Tough Questions in Confirmation Hearings. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired February 24, 2021 - 04:00   ET



ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States and all around the world, you are watching CNN NEWSROOM. And I'm Rosemary Church.

Just ahead, awake and responsive, golf legend Tiger Woods undergoes extensive leg surgery after flipping his car in a horrific crash. We will have the very latest.

Plus, communication breakdown. Lawmakers learn that a key warning about possible violence at the Capitol on January 6th was missed.

And ramping up production. Coronavirus vaccine makers promise to deliver millions of doses, but can they meet President Biden's ambitious target of a shot for every American by summer?

Good to have you with us. Well we are learning new details about the severity of Tiger Woods' injuries following his car crash yesterday. A statement posted on the golfer's Twitter account says he underwent a long surgical procedure on his lower right leg and ankle. He is awake and responsive. His doctors say -- and I'm quoting here.

Open fractures affecting both the upper and lower portions of the tibia and fibula bones were stabilized by inserting a rod into the tibia. Additional injuries to the bones of the foot and ankle were stabilized with a combination of screws and pins.

CNN's Nick Watt has more on what we're learning about the crash.


NICK WATT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Early morning, a winding downhill stretch of road, Tiger Woods was alone in that SUV trapped.

SHERIFF ALEX VILLANUEVA, LOS ANGELES COUNTY SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT: The first contact was with a center median and from there then crossed into the opposing lane of traffic, hit the curb, hit a tree and there were several rollovers during that process. He was alive and he was -- he was conscious.

WATT (voice over): The first call came in just after 7:00 a.m. Pacific Time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Traffic collision, ALS now. Person is trapped.

WATT (voice over): Emergency personnel on the scene within minutes.

CHIEF DARYL OSBY, LOS ANGELES COUNTY FIRE DEPARTMENT: We also used an axe to pry him from the vehicle. He was taken from the vehicle with a C-collar and backboard for spinal precautions. He was transported in serious but stable condition.

WATT (voice over): Less than 10 miles to UCLA Harbor Hospital.

VILLANUEVA: All we know that it is a serious condition as a result of the accident and that's about all they want to say.

WATT (voice over): No sobriety test due to his injuries.

VILLANUEVA: No evidence of impairment at this point in time.

WATT (voice over): Woods lives in Florida. So why was he on the West Coast? Well, you can almost read the words Genesis Invitational on the door of that crumpled SUV.

Woods was hosting that tournament just a few miles up the coast. It ended Sunday. He wasn't playing but spoke about his chances of making it to the Masters in April, the scene of his most famous triumph.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Seven weeks from today, final round of the Masters. You're going to be there.

TIGER WOODS, PROFESSIONAL GOLFER: God, I hope so. I've got to get there first.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You feel like --

WOODS: A lot of -- a lot of space on my surgeons and my doctors and my therapist.

WATT (voice over): Yesterday, Woods was back on the golf course. Former NBA star, Dwyane Wade posted this video.

DWYANE WADE, FORMER NBA PLAYER: I've got Tiger. Thank you for teaching me something. How good am I or how bad am I?

WOODS: Good.

WATT (voice over): Tuesday morning, this. Not life threatening we're told, but a blow to all the world of sports.

Golf legend Jack Nicklaus tweeting, Barbara and I just heard about Tiger's accident, and like everyone else, we are deeply concerned.


We want to offer him our heartfelt support and prayers at this difficult time. Please join us in wishing Tiger, a successful surgery and all the best for a full recovery.


CHURCH: And that's Nick Watt. Many thanks for his report. We spoke earlier with an emergency room physician Dr. Emily Porter about Woods' injuries.


DR. EMILY PORTER, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN: Sounds like he's got -- he sliced basically from ankle to knee with a big surgical incision. Then he's got a rod in your major -- those two bones in your leg, in your lower leg. And the tibia is the bigger one. So he's got a big rod jammed in there. That's going to hurt. And then pins in his foot and his ankle which will make it harder for him to walk, his balance will be off. Because there will be a lot of stiffness. And he'll probably battle with arthritis in that foot too.

So he'll be in for a couple months just in a cast, probably six to eight weeks in a cast. And then that comes off. As you know, when you're in a cast, your muscles actually get weaker, they atrophy because you can't move in a cast. And then you have to go through all that we have of building up the muscles. I would say he's, you know, three to six months before he's able to even think about being competitive, just from my guess.


CHURCH: And CNN WORLD SPORTS Alex Thomas joins me now live from London. Alex, I mean the good news is that Tiger Woods is awake and responsive after his surgery caused by that horrific accident. But he has a long recovery ahead of him as we heard from that doctor. What's being said about his likely future in golf?

ALEX THOMAS, CNN WORLD SPORT: Well he is 45 years old. He'll be 46 at the end of the year in December. And we have detailed many times, haven't we on CNN, both in the sports shows and the news shows, Rosemary, about how many injuries he's had over the years. Multiple back surgeries, in particular.

He was a man that almost reinvented the game of the golf when he first came on the scene in 1990. I remember hearing (INAUDIBLE) who actually put the green jacket on Tiger the first time he won the Masters. He talked about how quick Tiger's shoulders were. Huge talk created by turning your upper body against a very stable lower (INAUDIBLE). He met power, flexibility, and that's why he's (INAUDIBLE) had so much speed and could hit the golf ball so fast. (INAUDIBLE) And really could have a huge strain on your body. And we saw back in 2015, '16, '17, and suddenly, had a fusion of the spine, enabled him to play golf his best again. And we hoped he would surely come back. And then in 2019, the 15th major title. (INAUDIBLE) And after his season of 2008, the 11-year gap makes 2019 (INAUDIBLE), still trailing Jack Nicklaus with 18 in the overall tally. But even if Tiger never plays, Rosemary, I have to say, he's one of the greats we've ever seen.

CHURCH: Just extraordinary. Alex, we're going to leave it there. A few audio issues but many thanks for bringing us up to date on the situation.

And news of Tiger Woods' terrifying car accident has captured the world's attention of course. This includes reaction from many celebrities, politician and fellow athletes.

Tennis star Serena Williams tweeted, love you big brother, but we will get through this.

And former U.S. President Barack Obama wished Woods a speedy recovery and said, if we've learned anything over the years it's to never count Tiger out.

Well a Senate hearing into last month's attack on the U.S. Capitol has revealed new details on the security lapses and a communications breakdown that puts so many lives in danger. CNN's Ryan Nobles reports.


RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): For the first time, the key players in charge of protecting the Capitol faced a public grilling about what went wrong on January 6. The questions revealed a number of breakdowns in communication and planning.

STEVEN SUND, FORMER CAPITOL POLICE CHIEF: None of the intelligence we received predicted what actually occurred.

NOBLES (voice-over): Former Capitol Police Chief Steven Sund admitted his force did not anticipate the overwhelming crush of people on January 6. That lack of preparation led to confusion, as multiple law enforcement agencies and the National Guard were eventually scrambled to the Capitol.

The delayed as frontline officers faced escalating danger.

CAPT. CARNEYSHA MENDOZA, U.S. CAPITOL POLICE: I received chemical burns to my face that still have not healed to this day.


I witnessed officers being knocked to the ground and hit with various objects that were thrown by rioters.

NOBLES (voice-over): Several of the officials cited unclear lines of authority or confusing over how to respond. Such as who could call in reinforcements.

ROBERT CONTEE III, ACTING METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT CHIEF: I was surprised at the reluctance to immediately send the National Guard to the Capitol grounds.

NOBLES (voice-over): Republican Senators Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley were unironically participating in the hearing, despite their role in spreading the big lie that the election was stolen, which helped fueled the false narrative that January 6 was the last chance to overturn the election. SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): What can be done differently to ensure that an attack like that never again occurs?

NOBLES (voice-over): But the communication breakdown among leadership was just one issue. The panel was in wide agreement that the insurrection was more than just a spontaneous mob. But instead a planned and coordinated attack.

SUND: These people came specifically with equipment. You're bringing climbing gear to a demonstration. You're bringing explosives. You're bringing chemical spray, such as what Captain Mendoza had talked about. You're coming in prepared.

CONTEE: I think we're learning more and more and more that this was clearly a coordinated effort.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would agree the evidence would indicate a coordinated attack.

NOBLES: And this is just the beginning of what will be multiple examinations into what happened here on January 6th. The Senate Rules Committee chair, Amy Klobuchar, saying that she plans to bring officials from both the FBI and Department of Homeland Security in front of her committee. And then of course, the Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, she is working on legislation right now that would form a 9/11-style commission that would be tasked to looking into everything that went wrong on January 6th and then offering recommendations to make sure that it never happens again.

Ryan Nobles, CNN, on Capitol Hill.


CHURCH: And earlier I spoke with CNN law enforcement analyst, Charles Ramsey, a former Washington, D.C. police chief. And I asked how it was possible for Capitol police to miss such important information from the FBI. Here's what he had to say.


CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I don't know what happened here. This is not something you send by email or fax. I mean, this is the day before this event. And they came across critical information. I believe it was Norfolk, Virginia that sent it to the Washington field office who then forwarded it to the U.S. Capitol Police. All by email. I don't get it. So that is no way of handling critical information. And I'm sure as the investigation into this matter continues, that will be a topic that a lot of questions need to be answered on that.

CHURCH: So someone dropped the ball on the FBI side, presumably, not following up this email with a call. But even without seeing this critical FBI intelligence report, why wouldn't security officials have been aware of the online chatter from Trump supporters vowing to go to D.C. and fight. Some telling others to be ready for war. Shouldn't that have alerted them, even without any intelligence reports, so that they can be ready for anything in essence.

RAMSEY: Well, they should have been. And it's not just the FBI's fault, please don't get me wrong on that. U.S. Capitol Police did receive the information, but they didn't do anything with it. Information is useless if you don't act on it. And so it went to intel. And what they said today at the hearing, some sergeant there had the information, apparently never passed it on. I don't know if the sergeant saw the information or not, if it was in an email. I have no idea what happened. But they dropped the ball.


CHURCH (on camera): The FAA is mandating new checks on engines like the one that fell apart during a commercial flight this past weekend. Ahead on CNN, how this new order will impact travel in the United States. Back with that in just a moment.



CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. Well, we are following a significant development. Just days after the dramatic midflight engine failure on a United Airlines jet. CNN's Pete Muntean has the details from Denver.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The FAA just issued a new emergency order because of that dramatic infight failure. It was immediate inspections of Pratt and Whitney PW 4000 series engines, that are specific of the Boeing 777. That the FAA wants special thermal inspections of the engine's 22 main fan blades. The hope is to expose nicks and cracks that would otherwise be visible to the naked eye so this will not happen again. All of this after NTSB investigators released new photos of one of this plane's engines fan blades broken off at its base. Investigators say it broke another one next to it. And they found one of those fan blades in a soccer field not too far away from here, part of that mile-long debris field as the flight crew turned around for a successful emergency landing.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Denver.


CHURCH: It was a rough day for President Biden's cabinet nominees on Capitol Hill. Senate Republicans are taking issue with several of the president's pick for key domestic policy posts. And during their confirmation hearings the nominees faced tough and at times contentious questioning from lawmakers. Phil Mattingly has the details.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Joe Biden's cabinet nominees under partisan fire.

REPORTER: How do you think it went in there?

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Health and Human Services Secretary nominee Xavier Becerra facing sharp questions over abortion and Obamacare.

SEN MIKE BRAUN (R-IN): Will you commit to not using taxpayer money to fund abortions and abortion providers?

XAVIER BECERRA, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY NOMINEE: We will follow the law when it comes to the uses of federal resources.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): Interior Department nominee Deb Haaland questioned on fossil fuels.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you support a ban on fracking and no new pipelines?

REP. DEB HAALAND (D-NM), INTERIOR SECRETARY NOMINEE: Senator, President Biden does not support a ban on fracking is my understanding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But do you personally support a ban on fracking and no new pipelines?

HAALAND: Senator, if I can say, if I am confirmed as secretary, I would be serving at the pleasure of the president.


MATTINGLY (voice-over): And batting away questions about this tweet alleging Republicans, quote, don't believe in science.

SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): Do you think believe as medical doctors we don't believe in science? How do you stand by this statement?

HAALAND: Yes. If you're a doctor, I would assume that you believe in science.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): The seemingly trivial issue of past tweets made less so this week.

NEERA TANDEN, NOMINEE FOR DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT & BUDGET: I deeply regret and apologize for my language and some of my past language.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): With Biden's nominee to run the Office of Management and Budget on the brink of collapse due to that very reason. The White House sticking by Neera Tanden for now.

JEN PSAKI, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: There's one candidate to lead the Budget Department. Her name is Neera Tanden.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But in a desperate search for votes after the opposition of Democratic Senator Joe Manchin, with congressional officials telling CNN talks about a replacement are already under way. With zero margin for error in their 50/50 Senate majority, the Biden team keenly aware of the dynamics. PSAKI: It's the benefit of experience of recognizing the power of any one individual Senator or one individual member.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): And significant work under way to secure Democratic votes for both Haaland and Becerra but also a warning for the looming voters on Biden's cornerstone legislative proposal.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNTIED STATES: We need Congress to pass my American Rescue Plan.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): House Democrats pushing toward a final vote this week.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll now come to order.

MATTINGLY (voice-over): But intra-party divides remain over the $15 minimum wage. It's opposed by Manchin who will propose an increase to $11 instead.

The White House waiting to see how negotiations will play out. But for now, sticking by the $15 level.

PSAKI: He proposed the $15 increase for a reason, and he stands by it.

MATTINGLY: And President Biden and his wife first lady Jill Biden will be making a trip on Friday down to Texas. Houston, Texas to be precise, where a winter storm, a deadly winter storm battered the state. The president making clear last week that he wanted to make a trip down to Texas just didn't want to be a burden on the first responders and officials trying to address the fallout from that storm.

He will make the trip now, taking more trips now that he's in office, but not as many perhaps as he would like. In fact, his first bilateral meeting with the Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, well, that happened on Thursday. It was all virtual. So one step at a time, I guess in the middle of a pandemic.

Phil Mattingly, CNN, the White House.


CHURCH: And Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is praising U.S. President Joe Biden for rejoining the Paris climate accord. And says that U.S. leadership has beer surely misses over the past years. Mr. Trudeau's veiled swipe at Donald Trump came during his first bilateral meeting with President Biden held virtually of course, because of the pandemic. During Tuesday's event, each leader affirmed his willingness to work with the other on issues like climate and the pandemic. And Mr. Biden told the Prime Minister the U.S. has no closer friend than Canada.

Well police in California say Tiger Woods is lucky to be alive. His vehicle cut across traffic on a dangerous road, hopped the curve and rolled several times. Coming up, we will have the latest on his medical condition. [04:25:00]


CHURCH: Welcome back, everyone. An update now on our top story. Tiger Woods is awake, responsive and out of surgery in a hospital trauma unit after being involved in a single car crash on Tuesday. Woods was driving on a dangerous stretch of road near Los Angeles when his car crashed and rolled over. The officer who first arrived at the scene said Woods was coherent, though possibly in shock.


DEPUTY CARLOS GONZALEZ, OFFICER WHO RESPONDED TO WOODS' CRASH: I asked him what his name was. He told me his name was Tiger. And at that moment, I immediately recognized him. I asked him if he knew where he was, what time of day just to make sure he was oriented. He seemed as though he was lucid and calm.


CHURCH: The high speed crash destroyed the front of the vehicle Woods was driving. Authorities say he was wearing his seat belt at the time. That plus the car's air bags likely saved his life.

Well, CNN has been outside the hospital where Tiger Woods is being treated. Our Conor Powell has more on Woods's condition and the type of surgery he received.


CONOR POWELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Lucky to be alive. That's what the LA sheriff's deputies are saying here about Tiger Woods after helping him out of that vehicle. He was brought here to Harbor UCLA Medical Center. Awake and responsive, he spent the day in surgery and has multiple surgeries according to statement release by Tiger Woods' Twitter account.

It said that he had rod put in to help stabilize a broken tibia. He also had pins and screws to help stabilize one of his ankles as well. This is a very serious injury, but his Twitter account saying he is awake, and responsive and is stable.

So there is good news, but according to Los Angeles deputies the investigation is still ongoing about what caused this accident. It appears that he was traveling downhill and lost some type of control of the vehicle. Whether or not there was something else in play. Whether he was distracted. That just isn't known yet, and that will be part of the investigation. But according to Los Angeles sheriff's deputies it is very, very lucky that Tiger Woods is alive.

In Torrance, Connor Powell, back to you.


CHURCH: Thanks to that report. And we're also getting a better sense of what it was like at the scene of the crash. CNN's Nick Watt was there and filed this report a short time after the accident.


WATT: Tiger Woods was driving down the hill on the other side of the road, somehow lost control, crossed the median, hit this curve and then flipped. The county sheriff said that he flipped multiple times in that SUV. Through all of this undergrowth. And look. Look how far he traveled. All the way down here, rolling through, hit a tree and then his car landed way further down here.

Now, the first deputy on the scene, a young man called Carlos Gonzalez said that he thought that Tiger Woods was lucky do get out of this alive. And frankly, I agree with him. This is still -- I'm still walking where his car was rolling. And this is where Tiger Woods' car ended up. Now, apparently, he was calm, but officer Gonzalez said maybe that was shock, compound fracture to his legs, conscious when the emergency services arrived.


CHURCH: With me now is Dan Rapaport, staff writer at "Golf Digest".