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Facebook Hands Over Russia-Linked Ads to Investigators; GOP Readying Last-Ditch Effort to Overhaul Obamacare; Trump Tweets GIF Hitting Clinton with Golf Ball; St. Louis Protests Turn Violent. Aired 11:30-12p ET
Aired September 18, 2017 - 11:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN senior reporter for media and politics, Dylan Byers, has all the details. And also joining us, Michael Zeldin, CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor who worked with Bob Mueller at the Department of Justice.
Dylan, what exactly do we know about what Facebook turned over and I guess even how much?
DYLAN BYERS, CNN SENIOR MEDIA & POLITICS REPORTER: Well, we know that Facebook turned over everything that they know they have, at least what they're saying. Obviously, there could be a lot more. In fact, our sources inside Facebook think there could have been a lot more of the shady ad buys that Facebook doesn't know about yet. What they've turned over are the actual ads in question, the ads that were bought by Russian trolls linked to a pro-Kremlin troll farm, the details about who bought those ads and then also equally importantly, where and how those ads were targeted. And what the special counsel can do is take all of this, factor it in to his ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. election, and this is where things get really important, the question about whether or not any of the campaign's own ad targeting was used by these Russian trolls for their own ad targeting via Facebook. A lot of questions here, a lot of unknowns, but all of that material is now in the hands of the special counsel and he can use that in his investigation going forward.
BOLDUAN: At least we know it's an interest of the special counsel for sure. But also do we know if Facebook is handing the same information over to the congressional committees also investigating Russia's influence in the election?
BYERS: We do know that, and the answer is, no, they're not. There's a view from Facebook here that they would much rather work with the special counsel because the special counsel has a targeted interest here in terms of going after a very specific issue, which is Russian meddling in the election. They look at Congress, they look at that Senate and House Intel Committees, and see political posturing. They see law makers who may be in over their head in terms of understanding the significance of the data, how to use this data. And they're also a private company, and they still believe and argue that, on the grounds of privacy, that they can't turn this information over to Congress. And it's only because Special Counsel Mueller was able to attain that search warrant that they were able to hand over that information to him. BOLDUAN: The search warrant. That's right. That's right. That's
Michael, I want to bring you in.
What do you think this means for the Mueller investigation? I've heard legal experts say this is a major development in the direction of where things are headed?
MICHAEL ZELDIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it's a major development if there is any indication that the Trump campaign and this Russian troll farm organization had any coordination. Remember, there is the operation by Jared Kushner that was targeted geographically for voters they thought were susceptible to the Trump message.
ZELDIN: It seems from what we've read in the papers that those Facebook ads were targeted in the same geography. So how did they know that and was there coordination? If there was coordination, it's a substantial breakthrough for the Mueller inquiry. If it's not, if it's just coincidence, then maybe it points more to the nature of the counter intelligence investigation that Mueller and the Hill is covering than it is a collusion issue. So we have to see.
BOLDUAN: Also, very importantly, Michael, where do you lunch in Washington? Seems to be the question today. I mean what do you make of the infighting reported by "The New York Times" between the president's attorneys about the Russia investigation? I mean Ty Cobb discussing it in public on a D.C. sidewalk essentially while sitting there having lunch with another attorney in full view and earshot of the "New York Times" reporter.
ZELDIN: That was unfortunate for both John Dowd and Ty Cobb, both who are good lawyers.
BOLDUAN: To say the least.
ZELDIN: It does interestingly point out the fight that's going on between Dowd, who is a bit of a bull in a China shop, take no prisoners type of lawyer, and Cobb, who is a more under the radar, get along, cooperate, do the best you can for your client, and he often has very good success in that respect lawyer. So, you know, I think you've got a battle of styles between those two lawyers. The interesting thing was this McGahn question, about whether he has documents that are squirrelled away.
BOLDUAN: That's what I was going to ask you. When Cobb says, he's got documents locked in his safe, what could be in Don McGahn's safe, Michael?
ZELDIN: What could be in Don McGahn's mind if that's true because there is no attorney/client privilege between the White House counsel's office and the president. The White House counsel is not John Dowd. John Dowd and the president have executive privilege. McGahn and the White House do not. And McGahn and the president do not. So if he's hiding information, that in and of itself could be a crime. If he's hiding information at the behest of the president, that would be evidence of obstruction. A lot to be sorted out through that lunch statements, and I think that probably won't be lunching there again.
BOLDUAN: To say the least. They've lost two customers. And the difference between attorney-client privilege and if the president exerts executive privilege that's becoming a huge question in this moment as well.
[11:35:10] ZELDIN: Right. You can't assert executive privilege in the face of a criminal investigation. We've learned that in Nixon. And McGahn doesn't have the attorney-client privilege. I think the privilege stuff doesn't, you know, sort of fair well for the administration. If there are documents hidden, they will be revealed and the process by which they got hidden will be the subject of Mueller's inquiry as well.
BOLDUAN: If they weren't before, they sure are now.
BOLDUAN: Michael, great to see you. Thank you so much.
Dylan, if you're still there, thank you.
Coming up for us, will a last-ditch effort be the charm -- will it be like the third and final charm or however many chances and attempts they've had in overhauling Obamacare in the Senate. That is the hope right now amongst some Republicans. Republican leaders are getting ready for possibly one final try. Can they beat the clock and some in their own party to get this thing done?
[11:40:24] BOLDUAN: A last-ditch effort to overhaul Obamacare is gaining traction on Capitol Hill. Senators lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy unveiled their health care fix on this show over the summer. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM, (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: If you like Obamacare, you can reimpose the mandates at the state level. You can repair Obamacare if you think it needs to be repaired, replace it if you think it needs to be replaced. It will be up to the governors. They have a better handle on this than any bureaucrat in Washington.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: They want to put the burden of health care back on the states. Not a repeal or a replace of Obamacare. Right now, it seems the only game in town. And Republican leaders are taking it seriously, a serious look at it right now. Up against the clock in a big way.
Phil Mattingly is on Capitol Hill following all of this, and where this stands.
Graham-Cassidy, Phil, the plan had been seen even when they rolled it out as a Hail Mary, acknowledged that this was the plan they thought had the best shot, but it was a Hail Mary because discussions were elsewhere at the time. What's changed? Does it have a shot now?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's exactly right. A Hail Mary would imply that they're on the field with a chance to throw the ball. Nobody even thought they were getting onto the field with this proposal, and that was as recently as early last week when not just top Senate Republican aides, but Senators were dismissing this as there wasn't enough time. It wasn't a reality based proposal. Maybe they like the policy but didn't think they could get it there. That's different.
Let me tell you the seeds of this came really because of two individuals, Senator Lindsey Graham, Senator Bill Cassidy who have been working member after member, calling in to "Breitbart" and CNN trying to do whatever they could to sell this plan. They saw some of that pay off last Thursday. Closed-door meeting with Senate Republicans. And people came out saying the idea was let's give it a shot, let's try. Leadership now behind it, at least trying to help, trying to see if they can get the votes. The reality remains the same, Kate. How you get to 50. They haven't been able to figure out how to do that up to this point with several proposals.
How does this one differ? Instead of leaving a tax credit subsidy proposal in place it would eliminate it, use the funding to give block grants back to the states. The states would have flexibility to create how these plans would work. It repeals the individual mandate and repeals the employer mandate, ends Medicaid expansion by 2020. So several elements very attractive to conservatives. But it leaves a lot of Obamacare's taxes in place to finance the block grant. People like Rand Paul worried. Over the course of time, by ending the Medicaid expansion would reduce funding to Medicaid, reduce funding on other places, too. Moderate Senators worried as well.
The bottom line here, Kate, it's time to take this seriously. Senate Republican leaders are taking it seriously. Members are taking it seriously. We'll find out over the next couple days if they'll try to put this on the floor.
There's a deadline they have to have this done by the end of next week to pass it by a simple majority. They have to figure this out in like 10 days.
BOLDUAN: No problem. If you watched any of the health care debates so far. This is -- this is a no-brainer.
Great to see you, Phil.
Again, here we go. Can they get to 50, the same question Phil has been asking for I don't know how long.
Joining me to discuss right now, former deputy labor secretary under President Obama, Chris Lu, and Steve Rogers, a Trump campaign adviser and now a member of President Trump's election board.
Gentlemen, great to see you.
Steve, first to you.
Bill Cassidy was on last week and told me that the White House is on board. You said he had gotten assurances from the vice president and the president was on board. But it, as Phil just laid out really well, it's not a repeal or a replace. It's not a repeal and replace of Obamacare. Can you count it as a victory then if it's not?
STEVE ROGERS, MEMBER, PRESIDENT TRUMP ELECTION BOARD & FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISOR: There's no question it's a victory. Look, the president made a promise to the American people. You asked the question before what's changed. What's changed the Senate and Congressional representatives realize we have a president who is going to get the job done. He's a chief negotiator, good negotiator, he said he know House to make deals and he has come to a point in time --
BOLDUAN: He hasn't been able to on health care. It's been one big no deal for the president this whole time.
ROGERS: Watch and see what happens. They're willing to make a deal. They realize they have to do something. All these years they have done nothing. And now a president saying we will get this job done one way or another that's what's changed.
BOLDUAN: You don't really see President Trump pitching it. He is -- his tweets, put it on the Senate and Congress, Chris, and says get it done or it's on you guys. It does keep the Obamacare taxes in place which Republicans have been against for so long. With that in mind could Democrats see the Cassidy/Graham effort as the lesser of two evils in the end?
[11:45:09] CHRIS LU, FORMER DEPUTY LABOR SECRETARY: I think if you look at this bill, it is no better, in fact, in many ways, worse than the Senate bill that failed over the summer. Tens of millions of people would lose health care and Medicaid would be radically cut, which would hurt the disabled, the elderly, people with preexisting conditions.
BOLDUAN: We're waiting on the CBO score.
LU: We are. And that's a necessary precondition before we move forward. What is striking to me is that, meanwhile, there have been bipartisan negotiations that have gone on between Lamar Alexander and Patty Murray to come up with some reasonable fixes. And according to Senator Alexander, there are upwards of 60 Senators participating in that. There is a bipartisan effort under way to fix Obamacare. Meanwhile, the administration is still intent on going down this road that would have really dramatic effects for tens of millions of Americans.
BOLDUAN: Let's see, I mean, we are -- let's not put the cart before the horse. See if this gains traction.
Because there is -- we've seen all along problems, this has been a problem when it comes to Obamacare and what to do about it. We've seen that play over multiple times now in this session. You have Rand Paul speaking out calling this Obamacare-light again. He tweeted this, Steve, "Graham-Cassidy keeps Obamacare and tells the states to run it. No thanks," he writes.
Do you -- do you think this is headed the way that all of the other Republican efforts -- taking the president out of it -- when you look at the Senate do you think this is headed the way all the other Republican efforts has.
ROGERS: I think because of the president's leadership this will get done.
But let's talk about some facts.
BOLDUAN: Where has been the leadership on this, though?
BOLDUAN: He has moved past it. All he does is mocking the Senate, saying you guys -- rightfully or wrongfully, saying you guys haven't gotten it done, seven years to do it. He's not the one who -- that pitched Graham-Cassidy. It was Graham-Cassidy.
ROGERS: He's pitched it to them. They have to live up to their responsibility. That's part of the leadership matrix. Let's add this you said one thing very interesting. CBO hasn't come out with --
BOLDUAN: That's right.
ROGERS: We know that Obamacare has been destructive to the health care system in this country. And now the president is going to fix it. And believe me, at the end of the day, I think everyone is going to be very satisfied with what they come up with. They, meaning the White House, and the congressional and Senate delegation.
BOLDUAN: Let's all wait until we see exactly where this heads, and if they can get to 50.
Chris, I have to get you on one other thing in the midst of all the things. The president did take time over the weekend to retweet a GIF, making it look like he was hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball. I mean, you see that and think what?
LU: Well, I see that and I know that as a former White House staffer, if I tweeted that I would have been fired instantly and as a private citizen I had been advocating violence against somebody under the Secret Service protection. I'm sure the Secret Service might be looking me up. The incredible thing is the most important thing you have is the president's time, and the fact that he's even spending a couple minutes doing this is just a poor use of his time given all of the other crises in the world. Everyone has said the president needs to stop tweeting. He's not going to do that. I would say this, we don't ignore what he tweets. This is not simply saying, oh, that's Donald Trump. This is the president, his words matter. And you'll see over the next couple days, in New York, the ability of foreign leaders to trust him really depends on whether his words matter or not.
BOLDUAN: I still stick by it. Everyone wants to fight me on him. I say take him seriously or literally --
BOLDUAN: I say take them both.
ROGERS: Do we have fun here?
BOLDUAN: I demand it, Steve.
ROGERS: Let's lighten up.
BOLDUAN: You ever tweet, something about hitting me with a golf ball. You know where I'm coming --
BOLDUAN: Steve, great to see you.
Chris, thank you as well. Watch your back. Steve's got a golf ball coming your way. That's all I know.
Coming up for us, protesters hitting the streets of St. Louis this morning -- this morning, for a fourth straight day, after 80 people were arrested last night when demonstrations turned violent. We will go there live for an update.
[11:53:33] BOLDUAN: Protesters are taking to the streets in St. Louis again this morning for the fourth straight day of demonstrations after a white police officer was acquitted in the shooting death of an African-American man. Police say more than 80 people were arrested just overnight. The police commissioner said the looters were kicking in believes and destroying buildings and even insulting police.
CNN's Dan Simon is in St. Louis with the latest.
Dan, you have been on the ground. What are you seeing now?
DAN SIMON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Kate. I think we need to be clear about what we have been seeing for the past few days. During the day, these protests are organized and peaceful. And at night, they are chaos. I don't think there's any reason to think tonight will be different.
I want to explain where we are. We're in downtown St. Louis. You can see the boarded-up windows. This is the Marriott Convention Center. This is a tourist area. Lots of business people spend the night here. This is the Marriott Hotel. Across the street, all those windows were smashed up.
I want to explain what happens. When the organized protests end, some people refuse to go home. About two dozen or so, and they are wearing masks and try to hide their identity. They get into a faceoff with police. They throw rocks and paint, and all hell breaks loose. You had many businesses vandalized on one street near Washington University. About 20 businesses had their windows smashed. It was utter chaos. And again, the thinking is it could happen tonight for the fourth straight day -- Kate?
[11:55:15] BOLDUAN: Dan, what are authorities - are they doing anything specifically to go into the fourth day to calm things down?
SIMON: There is not a whole lot they can do. The National Guard is on standby in case things really get dangerous. They are trying to contain the protesters, trying to tell them to go home peacefully. But then you have a stubborn group that refuses to leave and police are trying to figure them the best they can.
BOLDUAN: All right, we've got our eyes on the ground with Dan Simon there. Dan, thank you.
Still ahead, a new hurricane, a new forecast, and a new threat. Hurricane Maria intensifying and it's heading for some of the same islands hit so hard by Hurricane Irma. We will have the latest on the storm track.