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CNN SPECIAL REPORTS

Twitter and Trump: Marriage of Man, Message and Machine. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired September 22, 2017 - 21:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[21:00:03] ANNOUNCER: The following is a CNN Special Report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BILL WEIR, CNN HOST: It is a marriage of man, message and machine unlike any other ever.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I sit there at 3:00 in the morning, ding ding ding, you know. Our country is going to hell. We must stop it. We need leadership.

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: I wake up every day and laugh at the latest thing Donald has tweeted because he's losing it.

WEIR: Do you think Donald Trump could have won this election without Twitter?

SCOTT ADAMS, COMIC STRIP CREATOR, DILBERT: Nope. And you know what? I love it.

WEIR: Sometimes it is his sword.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: M. Cuban swings like a little girl with no power or talent. Marks a loser.

ANA NAVARRO, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Why do shows have Ana Navarro? She's a loser.

WEIR: Other times it is his shield.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the single greatest witch-hunt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Witch-hunt.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Witch-hunt.

WEIR: But what happens to America when this man enters this office and puts a finger on this button?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: If Donald Trump implodes it will be because of Twitter.

WEIR: How will history remember the age of "Twitter and Trump"? (END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: These are the collected tweets of Donald J. Trump, volume one. We had them printed and bound as a physical reminder that his digital words are the sign of our times and will be studied for centuries. These are his tweets since he declared his run for the 45th president of the United States. His ever expanding new testament, if you will. But the genesis of this story begins tens of thousands of tweets ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DAVID LETTERMAN, AMERICAN SHOW HOST: And here top present the top ten list the celebrity apprentice star, Donald Trump, ladies and gentlemen.

WEIR: Way back in 2009 when his very first tweet was a plug to watch him read David Letter man's top 10 list.

LETTERMAN: At number seven.

TRUMP: Sell North Dakota to the Chinese.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

PETER SINGER, POLITICAL STRATEGIST: What's remarkable is on that day only four people react to it. Only four people react to what's arguably the most important influential social media account ever.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LETTERMAN: Number two.

TRUMP: We're screwed.

LETTERMAN: Yes, that's right.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: Fitting because that tweet Trump marked a real low point. He was coming out of bankruptcy, again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait a minute --

WEIR: The Apprentice was in a deep ratings slump.

TRUMP: You're fired.

WEIR: And his father raised him to believe that the only thing worse than bankruptcy is obscurity.

MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR, THE TRUTH ABOUT TRUMP: So Fred Trump actually dropped leaflets out of airplanes to draw people to the apartments that he had for rent.

WEIR: The Twitter of the era, right?

D'ANTONIO: That was the drop a message out of an airplane. Trump was a master of the pseudo news event.

WEIR: And the truth about Trump, the family describes how their patriarch would work the press to create an image of success.

D'ANTONIO: You could send out a press release and it would say Fred Trump has announced that he has sold 50 percent of the properties in a new development, and it would actually get in the paper.

WEIR: As the son set out to conquer Manhattan, he borrowed dad's tricks, including telephone alter egos named John Baron or John Miller, all the better to call reporters and sing the praises of the Donald.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARBARA RES, FORMER EVP, TRUMP ORGANIZATION: You know, I thought it was kind of creative on his part because, you know, he didn't have a big staff and he sort of made it look like his staff was bigger by having all these representatives. And also, he could say things about Donald that would be outrageous if he was saying it about himself.

RONA BARRETT, HOST, RONA LOOKS AT THE SUPER RICH: Why wouldn't someone like yourself run for political office? You have all the money that you possibly need. You've accomplished a great deal even though you are only 34.

TRUMP: Because I think it's a very mean life. I would love and I would dedicate my life to this country, but I see it as being a mean life. And I also see it as somebody with strong views and somebody with the kind of views that are maybe a little bit unpopular, which may be right but maybe unpopular wouldn't necessarily have a chance of getting elected against somebody with no great brain but a big smile.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Excuse me, where is the lobby?

TRUMP: Down the hall and to the left.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thanks.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: Even when the balance sheet was bloody red he carefully nourished created the image of success even as he shifted from buildings to branding.

[21:05:00] In 2002, that image brought him a call from Mark Burnett, founding father of reality T.V. The pitch, survivor in the jungles of Manhattan.

Fred Trump would have loved it. America loved it. Those first few seasons were much must-see T.V., but the definition of must see was about to change and media was in for a seismic shift.

In 2006, just as season five of The Apprentice was falling out of the top 50, a web designer named Jack Dorsey sat down at his consumer in San Francisco and typed, just setting up my Twitter. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JACK DORSEY, CEO, TWITTER: I have 90 followers at the moment, so 90 people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are watching what you're doing?

DORSEY: Are watching what I'm doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: What started as an idea to send short messages to a network of friends grew into the newest trend of social media and then exploded the day Michael Jackson died.

SINGER: And for the first time we see more than a 100,000 tweets in an hour. And that's the sign that will hold it, this has become a space that people are going to both break and talk about news.

WEIR: This new tool captured the imagination of online marketers.

PETER COSTANZO, PUBLISHING MANAGER: Back in 2009 when I was working for a publishing company --

WEIR: Including the man tasked with finding new ways to promote Donald Trump's new book.

COSTANZO: They're saying we don't really understand this, so you're the expert why don't you explain it.

WEIR: They set up a meeting with the boss where Peter explained the basics to the billionaire and then mentioned one hitch an imposter had already claimed the handle @Donald Trump.

COSTANZO: So that's when I suggested to him that we call him @realDonaldTrump because he's the authentic real deal. And I remember he just kind of nodded because he really liked the sound of that.

WEIR: But despite the pitch for authenticity, people ran the account. He's the author of that David Letterman plug and most of the early tweets were just aspirational quotes he copied from Trump's books.

COSTANZO: So one of the early tweets that I had posted, I have right here was, "My persona will never be that of a wall flower. I'd rather build walls and cling to them."

WEIR: Eight months later Trump takes over his own tweeting and right away shows off his grand ambition with a typo and a website. The people at shouldtrumprun.com have got it right. How are factories supposed to compete with China and other countries, dot dot dot.

SINGER: Now, of course he doesn't reveal in the social media that the website has actually been set up by a vice president within Trump organization.

WEIR: Why do you think he ran for president? D'ANTONIO: Well, the president and his son Donald Jr. have told me we're genetically superior and we have gifts that other people don't have and so he assumed that he would be the best at the job. And the other thing was he was furious with Barack Obama.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: No one is prouder to put this birth certificate matter to rest than the Donald.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

D'ANTONIO: His animus toward his predecessor was based not only on politics but on the president's joking about him mercilessly at the 2011 correspondents dinner.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

OBAMA: And that's because he can finally get back to focusing on the issues that matter like did, we fake the moon landing? What really happened in Roswell? And where are Biggie and Tupac?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

D'ANTONIO: And Trump sitting there trying to take it, but you can see he's miserable and then seething. You can kind of notice this is going too far.

WEIR: President Trump disputes the theory that this is the moment he decided to run. But a few weeks later he began using Twitter to attack Obama and a barrage would follow. He tweeted the birther conspiracy more than 60 times before finally admitting the truth.

But in 2012 it didn't seem to matter. Barack Obama easily won re- election and the very next day at about 2:00 in the afternoon Trump tried a new line. We have to make America great again. Few people noticed. Even today it has less than 1,500 likes, but that tweet would mark a turning point in American history, because what came next changed everything.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[21:13:40] WEIR: Barack Obama is not who you think he is, most over rated politician in U.S. history.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ross is crude, rude, obnoxious and dumb.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- obnoxious and dumb.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Other than that, I like her very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have never seen a thin person drinking diet coke.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's really weird.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Truly weird, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Reminds me of a spoiled brat.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Spoiled brat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Without a properly functioning brain.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every time I speak of the haters and losers, --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The haters and losers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The haters and losers.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I do so with great love and affection.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They cannot help the fact that they were born dumb. Nice.

WEIR: By the time Donald Trump rode an escalator into history, he had spent five years learning how to weaponize Twitter.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It's an asset, I tweet.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Tough guy, right, tough guy on Twitter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: And as much as they tried his rivals all looked like a guy who brought a knife to a gunfight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JEB BUSH, REPUBLICAN NOMINEE: This is a tough business to run for president.

TRUMP: I know you're a tough guy, Jeb.

BUSH: And we need to have a leader that is real tough.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: We went back and looked at Jeb Bush's most popular tweets, and --

NAVARRO: He had a popular tweet?

WEIR: He had a few. He had one that got nearly 35,000 likes with just a picture of his gun. Do you remember that?

NAVARRO: No. Which tells you everything you need to know, right? I mean, Jeb's tweets were frankly not very memorable.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) [21:15:07] MEGYN KELLY, JOURNALIST: You've called women you don't like fat pigs, dogs, slobs and disgusting animals. Your Twitter account --

TRUMP: Only Rosie O'Donnell.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: With every insulting tweet (ph) of poison tweet the establishment assumed he had finally gone too far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

CRUZ: He's losing it. We need a commander in chief, not a Twitter in chief.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: But each of those moments convinced one man in northern California that Donald Trump could not lose.

Hey, Scott!

SCOTT: How are you?

WEIR: This is beautiful.

SCOTT: Thanks.

WEIR: The house that Dilbert built?

SCOTT: Yes, Dilbert built most of it.

WEIR: Scott Adams is the creator of the Dilbert comic strip, a multimillion dollar empire of books, toys and calendars. Though, he admits his speaking engagements of taking a big hit since he began praising President Trump on Twitter.

WEIR: You were one of the few people, few public people in America who saw this election coming long before anybody else.

SCOTT: Right.

WEIR: How?

SCOTT: So I have a background in hypnosis. I've been interested in persuasion in all its forms for years. And in Donald Trump I saw the set of persuasion tools that I have been collecting over the decades.

WEIR: He lists Trump's fame, physical height and unflinching brashness among those persuasion tools, along with his infamous negotiating style.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters, OK?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: And what is it about his cadence, his vocabulary, his timing, all of that that you think makes him successful?

SCOTT: It's a whole bunch of things. The fact that it has to be brief to be able to tweet works to his favor.

WEIR: Like a cartoon in many ways.

SCOTT: Likewise, I am very successful on Twitter because I know how to make short, funny sentences. He knows as a persuader, someone trained in the ways of persuading, that simple is always more persuasive than complicated. If we can understand it, we're more likely to say yes, that sounds right. We'll build a wall and then there won't be so many people coming in and taking our jobs now you have jobs. He keeps it simple. He keeps it visual. He seems to care about the same things I care about. Does he get some facts wrong? Yes. Do I care? No, not at all, I don't care a bit.

WEIR: Not letting facts get in the way of a good story is a huge advantage especially when railing against a sitting president with a more careful demeanor.

How much did you agonize over a barak obama tweet?

JENNIFER PSAKI, FORMER OBAMA WH COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: There was a day where he wanted to put out a series of tweets on gun control, and he was looking for statistics to use to make sure they were accurate. And that took several iterations because we want to make sure they were a 100 percent factual.

WEIR: But there were a system of checks and balances.

PSAKI: Yes, absolutely. Just as there were for any statement the president gave or any speech he delivered.

WEIR: Meanwhile, raw, unfiltered Trump was pushing America's emotional buttons at the speed of light.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: It does give you a tremendous amount of power. So at @realDonaldTrump everybody go on.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: And after in reality television he understood that the audience loves conflict.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

DAN SCAVINO, DIRECTOR OF SOCIAL MEDIA, WHITE HOUSE: In the campaign during the whole cycle he never attacked anybody.

WEIR: Dan Scavino met Trump as a teenage caddie and years later dropped everything to run social media for the campaign.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SCAVINO: The Trump train is all here, right?

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: From his point of view, every harsh tweet was justifiable self- defense.

SCAVINO: He never attacked anybody in the sense of where he started. It was always the opposing campaign throwing punches at Donald Trump. And if you're going to throw punches at Donald Trump, be prepared. Not only does it get him fired up, it fires up everybody around him.

DAVID ROBINSON, DATA SCIENTIST, STACK OVERFLOW: One of my hobbies is text analysis and Donald Trump's Twitter posed a really interesting text analysis challenge.

WEIR: David is a Harvard and Princeton educated data scientist who realized that official campaign tweets from Scavino were very different from Donald Trump's personal tweets.

The ones that are coming out of Donald Trump are noticeably angrier.

ROBINSON: Absolutely.

WEIR: More aggressive.

ROBINSON: Yes, it's a topic called sentiment analyze. Look at the words that are most likely to be from the android and most from the iPhone and see the words that are most from the android are ones like badly, crazy, weak, spent and joke.

WEIR: Joke. Dumb.

ROBINSON: Dumb. Yes. It's the ones more often where he's insulting someone.

WEIR: And his jabs were often so shocking you didn't even have to follow him on Twitter to see every blow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[21:20:03] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: While most of us were sleeping an overnight tweet storm that has Washington buzzing --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SCAVINO: Like he says all the time it's like owning "The New York Times" without the losses. And what's amazing about the social media with Mr. Trump, we can be on a plane going somewhere and he could want to get a message out, a strong message. It's on CNN five minutes later. Mr. Trump loves communicating. He's a communicator.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please welcome the president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: In the world filled with so much doubt and suspicion, it was a perfect storm. Man, message and machine. But using Twitter to campaign is one thing. How would a President Trump use it to govern?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

WEIR: Did you know that George Washington hated public speaking? In fact, one senator who was right here for his swearing in said our founding father would have been a lot more comfortable facing enemy cannon and muskets than a crowd of friendly Americans.

[21:25:08] Thomas Jefferson much preferred the written word. And when 10,000 showed up for Andrew Jackson's inaugural, all he could do is shout.

BRINKLEY: They had no microphone so you couldn't project to the back so people would pass on what he said. He said -- so it went all the way back.

WEIR: The early retweet.

BRINKLEY: Early retweet, that's exactly right.

WEIR: But as communication evolved, the president we remember took existing tools and made them their own. Teddy Roosevelt courted cartoonists in a whole new way. FDR spoke into a radio microphone like no president before.

BRINKLEY: And it became mandatory listening. And everybody would lean forward and hear what the president had to say.

WEIR: And while Truman and Eisenhower were the first on TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN F. KENNEDY, 35TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not because they are easy, but because they are hard.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: JFK and Reagan.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

RONALD REAGAN, 40TH PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Tear down this wall. (END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: Are considered the best.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president of the United States tweeting new criticism --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is delivered on Twitter.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Trump tweeted this, quote --

WEIR: Which brings us to number 45.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I'll do it verbally. I'll do it on television. I'll do it on Twitter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRINKLEY: I got to talk to Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago about books and he just doesn't read them. He has no interest in them. I talked to him about presidential history. He's never read a presidential biography.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: We had tremendous success on The Apprentice. I do get good ratings. You have to admit that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRINKLEY: What he riffs off of is recent TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: One of the world's greatest heroes, Ronald Reagan.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRINKLEY: He's interested in Ronald Reagan because he remembers it. He's interested in John F. Kennedy because he remembers it. Anything past that Donald Trump has zero attention span for.

WEIR: He's not alone, of course. As media got faster, the American attention span got shorter which gives rise to a leader not trained in policy or politics but tabloid headlines.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

LARRY KING, "LARRY KING LIVE" HOST: Billionaire boy wonder Donald Trump is learning a new deal, divorce.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: Beauty pageants. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The big man on campus, Donald Trump.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: And reality TV.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You're fired.

You're fired.

You're fired.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRINKLEY: Donald Trump has created a persona. What we're getting now as president on television all the time is the persona, because he's so dramatic, so volatile. He's a villain of a very large kind to most people in America.

But he's the ultimate hero to another group. And so I'm afraid we're living in a time where a persona president that doesn't even know his real self is kind of role playing what a president would be while we're watching a reality TV as our American political theater.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you going to be tweeting and whatever you're upset about just put out there when you're president?

TRUMP: So it's a modern form of communication. I'm going to do very restrained.

So help me God.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Congratulations, Mr. President.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: Some hoped that the Twitter habit would end after he won.

JOY BEHAR, CO-HOST, ABC'S "THE VIEW": This is also lies. Joy Behar, who was fired for her last show for lack of ratings, is even worse on the view.

WEIR: But months after the win, it became obvious that the celebrity insults and obsession with ratings would not stop.

BEHAR: First of all, I wasn't fired from my last job. I was working at current TV. Al Gore decided to sell the station to Al Jazeera. So he's lying.

WEIR: What did you -- what was your reaction when you read that tweet?

BEHAR: I said good. I love to be on an enemies list.

WEIR: Nixon's list was secret, but with Twitter you can see this president's enemies list grow in real time. Many wondered if they should be taken as official statements.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The president of the United States, so they're considered official statements by the president of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: A favorite target by far.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I want to find a friendly reporter.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: Are the men and women who cover him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Donald Trump rants and raves at the president. I'm not ranting and raving. I'm just telling you, you're dishonest people.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRINKLEY: All presidents complain about the press, usually in private correspondence, maybe in one occasional outburst. Donald Trump has made it his red meat.

ADAMS: He likes to be emotionally compatible with the public, so where the public was, hey, I'm not sure I trust these news sources or, you know, maybe I trust this one and not these, he went full fake news. This is all fake news.

[21:30:07] WEIR: What's the cost of that, though, do you think, ultimately? Or is there one?

ADAMS: I think the cost is he became president of the United States.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You are attacking our news organization --

TRUMP: No, not you --

ACOSTA: Can you give us a chance?

TRUMP: Your organization. ACOSTA: You are attacking our news organization.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRINKLEY: He turns a lot of reporters through his bile towards them. They become targets.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Where are you from?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: BBC.

TRUMP: Here's another beauty. Quiet, quiet, quiet.

ACOSTA: Can you give us a question?

TRUMP: Don't be -- I'm not going to give you a question.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BRINKLEY: Reporters start getting hate mail. It's like he sends some (INAUDIBLE) out on them.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You are fake news. Go ahead.

ACOSTA: Sir, can you state categorically that nobody --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ACOSTA: The president of the United States called him fake news. And on the day he called me fake news somebody went on my Wikipedia page and changed my Wikipedia page to say that I had died that day. That I had died on January 11th, 2017.

WEIR: Really.

ACOSTA: That had to be taken down. I turned off my Twitter notification because it became sort of this open sewer of hatred and contempt. I didn't choose for that to happen, but here is the question, though, what do we do about this? If the president calls us fake news, do we just take it? Do we not say anything?

WEIR: To his supporters, attacking the messenger is a feature, not a bug. An access to an unfiltered leader feels refreshingly authentic.

Trump Towers right behind us.

In a politically correct world.

JACK KINGSTON, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: I don't think Americans want him off Twitter. I think they are enjoying it. I think it actually goes back to wrestling and the beauty contests and celebrity apprentice and reality TV where he kind knows what people want to hear. I think it's unbelievable that you can, you know, be on a subway, you can be at dinner and you can be waiting in a doctors office and all of a sudden you see the same message from the president of the United States that world leaders are getting. It's a profound thing.

BRINKLEY: I think if Donald Trump implodes, it will be because of Twitter. You know, he ever uses e-mail. He's been very cagey as a business person. Twitter, he can get drunk on it, and that could become his Achilles heel. Reckless use of Twitter could cause him to go down in the end because at some point he may very well say something that has consequences leaning towards impeachment or showing illegality.

WEIR: A tweet too far.

BRINKLEY: A tweet too far.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[21:36:24] WOLF BLITZER, "THE SITUATION ROOM" HOST: I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in the situation room. Whatever room I'm in there's a situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: Every summer this most beautiful place hosts a conference on our most horrible fears.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: We're looking forward to an excellent discussion. General Clapper is with us.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: A states men, soldiers and spies all gather in the Rockies to talk terror, weapons and war.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: A director John Brennan most recently served for four years as the CIA director.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: And one of the main topics at this year's Aspen Security Forum is the insecure behavior of President Trump.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: This is what he said in a tweet, and I'll let both of you respond. "Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me. Are we living in Nazi Germany?" UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These types of comments are just disgraceful. Never should have happened.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: American Intelligence sounded the first warning of Russian meddling a month before the election. But it was buried by coverage of this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: -- you can do anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: After he won, the hacking stories gained steam, and the president-elect deflected on Twitter, praising Putin's Russia and mocking American Intelligence. For the man in charge of that Intel community, the Nazi comparison made blood boil.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: It prompted me to call him. What did I have to lose? I had nine days left. But I couldn't let that reference pass. That was a terrible, insulting affront, not to me or John or the seniors, but I'm talking about the rank and file people in the trenches, men and women, the patriots in the intelligence community, and that was completely inappropriate.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: But the president-elect described their call much differently.

"James Clapper called me yesterday to denounce the false and fictitious report that was illegally circulated. Made up, phony facts. Too bad!" And he has continued to bash his own spy services at home.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: The FBI has been in turmoil. You know that. I know that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: And abroad.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I remember when I was sitting back listening about Iraq, weapons of mass destruction. They were wrong and it led to a mess.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WEIR: But former Spy Chief Michael Hayden says these insults aren't even the main concern.

When it comes to American adversaries in Pyongyang or Moscow, following Donald Trump on Twitter, what worries the most?

MICHAEL HAYDEN, FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: If I'm the head of a hostile or even friendly intelligence service, I've got a new office over here. Follow that account. Tell me what this man is saying. It's tremendously revealing. We know the president's hot buttons. We know his vulnerabilities. We know what upsets him. We know what he demands from his subordinates. We even know his sleep patterns based upon his Twitter usage.

WEIR: Right.

HAYDEN: That's a tremendous gift to a foreign power.

WEIR: All of those things somebody like Vladimir Putin say takes great pains to hide.

HAYDEN: Oh, of course, because you don't want to advantage the other guy.

WEIR: While lashing out at "The Washington Post" this tweet declassified a top secret information to armed Syrian rebels. Intentional or not it's the kind of revelation that makes jaws drop in the capitals of both enemies and allies.

[21:40:10] STEVE HALL, RETIRED CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: I can guarantee you that there are liaison services right now, services that work with us, foreign intelligence services, who have probably decided to do a little self editing and have said, look, we just don't know what he's going to do.

WEIR: They're withholding valuable information from the U.S.

HALL: I believe --

WEIR: -- of fear that he might tweet it.

HALL: I believe that that's probably happening.

WEBSTER: Can I ask you if you voted for him?

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON, CONSERVATIVE HISTORIAN: I did. Reluctantly, but I did vote for him.

WEIR: Victor Davis Hanson is a conservative historian and scholar. And while the president's Twitter habit pains him, he's hopeful that it is just Trump's art of the deal.

HANSON: It's a matter of style, and being unpredictable and mad, if it's controlled and it's controlled by sober judicious people like Mattis and McMaster, maybe Tillerson as well. Kelly was good at Homeland Security, then it reminds me sort of, I don't know if you're old enough to remember but when Nixon dealt with the north Vietnamese or the Russians or the Arab countries during (INAUDIBLE) war the sort of obvious to us, Americans, but Kissinger was the good cop and he would go over to all these entities and say, you know what, Nixon is just out of control. He may bomb at Christmas. He may go into Defcon 3, you know, capable of war. Who knows what he's capable of. And then they said, can you calm him down.

WEIR: But if Trump is playing bad cop, what happens when the good cops don't know the script?

Have you heard from diplomats around the world looking for clarity, looking for someone to interpret this man?

ANTHONY BLINKEN, FORMER DEPUTY SECRETARY OF STATE: Constantly, constantly because there's a disconnect between what they're hearing from the secretary of state, the secretary of defense or ambassador and what the president's communicating himself. And they're all trying to figure out which end is up. What's the policy? What are we supposed to believe? And it is a source of confusion.

WEIR: I've heard defenders say he's tweeting crazy like a fox of the he wants to keep people off balance.

HAYDEN: Yes, and that might be good in the real estate market. It's not good with the president of France or the prime minister of the United Kingdom. I mean, to have the world's most powerful nation be seen as inconsistent, unpredictable and unreliable, that's not a business advantage.

HANSON: So what worries me is I think to myself will some unhinged person overseas interpret that in a particular way and take an action in a particular way and will that initiate a chain of events that can't be called back? So -- and then as a historian I say to myself, well, madness is not always a disadvantage in diplomacy. Some of the people who act the craziest have been very successful.

WEIR: But for those who prefer strategy over wishful thinking, is there any way to get this man to change his ways?

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[21:46:47] TRUMP: Last night, yes. And I tweeted. I tweeted. Can you believe?

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WEIR: Of his thousands of mean tweets, there is at least one President Trump regrets. It came when screen legend Kim Novak came out of seclusion to appear at the 2014 Oscars. "I'm having a real hard time watching the Academy Awards," Trump tweeted. "Kim should sue her plastic surgeon!" Friends say the 81-year-old was so devastated. She didn't leave home for months.

D'ANTONIO: I said so why did you do this to Kim Novak and his first response was I didn't get into any trouble for it, did I?

WEIR: After announcing his run for president, Trump eventually apologized.

D'ANTONIO: The fact that I caught him bothered him, and he had to talk about it quite a bit and eventually say, well, you're right. It wasn't a very nice thing to do. Now, I think he was sensitive to being called out.

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PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Tweets, I don't see that as an appropriate comment.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm appalled.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think at times he's rude and crude.

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WEIR: There is no shortage of voices calling for the president to cut back and tone it down, including his own voters.

And how do you think he's doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, it's kind of crazy. We have a new -- we have a Twitter president. I wish he would tweet less.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it a risky way to communicate?

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WEIR: In a summer poll, 7 in 10 Americans told CNN that Twitter is a risky way for a president to communicate. But there are many supporters who disagree.

ADAMS: He quite reasonably, in my opinion, said no, I'm just going to keep tweeting. I'm going to be a tweeting president, and you're going to get used to it. And you know what? I love it. Every time he tweets, I am entertained. Sometimes I'm informed. It tells me what to care about today. It tells me what he's thinking. It's transparent. Sometimes it's provocative. Sometimes it's too provocative. I like that too. I like the honesty of it.

WEIR: You're entertained.

ADAMS: That is not a small thing.

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LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: I mean, is there any circumstance under which you'd suspend the president's account?

DORSEY: We want to makes sure we hold all of our accounts to the same terms of service, but ultimately we want to make sure that we're guiding everyone towards better usage of the platform.

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WEIR: It is Twitter policy to suspend users for abuse and they have shut down fake accounts retweeted by the president. Like the White House, Twitter declined our request for an interview. But in January my colleague Laurie Segall try to press founder Jack Dorsey on whether they would ever intervene.

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SEGALL: So that's a yes or a no?

DORSEY: We're always going to work with all our accounts and all people using our platform to make sure they're using it in healthy ways and to guide towards more positive impact.

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WEIR: But among those who see real value in his tweets is a man who disagrees with almost all of them.

So your twitter bio, patriotic America, proud immigrant, movie buff, Springsteen fan, banned by Putin, fired by Trump.

[21:50:08] PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: It's a good bumper sticker, huh?

WEIR: Preet Bharara, once ran one of the most elite crime fighting teams in America, --

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BHARARA: We will find you.

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WEIR: -- prosecutors, --

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BHARARA: We will use every tools --

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WEIR: -- investigators, wielding subpoenas and grand juries.

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BHARARA: Or we'll send you to prison.

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WEIR: Now when he sees injustice, all he has is Twitter.

You chose the president's favorite form of media to answer back after your firing. Why is that?

BHARARA: Well, it's the only option I have. I started a personal Twitter account by happenstance a few days before I got fired not expecting to be fired. WEIR: As the top U.S. attorney for New York's Southern District, Trump Tower was part of his watch. And at first he thought he would keep it, even though he had once worked as chief counsel to top Democrat Chuck Schumer.

BHARARA: He asked me to stay, implored me to stay, in fact.

WEIR: And then he called you, a couple times.

BHARARA: He called me a few times, unclear why, to shoot the breeze, which is unusual.

WEIR: Yes.

BHARARA: The number of times that President Obama called me was zero.

WEIR: After he told the president's secretary that accepting another call would be inappropriate, he was asked to resign, along with dozens of other Obama appointees. Fairly standard after a change in the White House. But he refused and used Twitter to let the world know it.

So was that easy for you? Was it liberating?

BHARARA: I don't know if it was liberating and I've heard some other people remark on Twitter and elsewhere that Preet is a different guy. I'm not a different guy. I have a different job. I think there's a difference in how you suppose to import (ph) yourself when you're acting on behalf of the United States government as opposed to being a private citizen, something that the president himself doesn't seem to feel.

WEIR: So many of his defenders say, well, you've got to take it in sum total. This is Donald, this is Twitter. The rules are different. We take him seriously but not literally. What do you think of that?

BHARARA: He's the president of the United States. What the president says matters. It's probably the purest suggestion of what is in his mind and what his intentions and wants are. And if some of those things are to restrict the free press, if some of those things are to make Congress less democratic, if some of those things are to be autocratic in a way that President Erdogan or Duterte and other people are in the world, then in some ways there's an argument that those tweets matter more than anything else.

WEIR: How do you think his tweets should be regarded as a piece of American history?

KINGSTON: I think that that is I'm connecting with the guy back home who has often been referred to as the forgotten man. You know, I'm tweeting directly to him. And you know when those elitists insiders in Washington, D.C. who support the status quo and the status quo in working for you, when they're raising hell with me, I'm standing up for you. And I think people do feel that somewhat in their gut.

There's always been establishment. And there's always been the rub with the, if you will, the common man against the establishment. And I think Donald Trump has just tapped into that in a way that we haven't seen in a long, long time. And I don't believe any president will ever go back to not using Twitter. They may be a little more careful, but they're going to be using Twitter or the grandson of Twitter, the next gen.

WEIR: When he use his Twitter to push policy or take credit for economic success, to announce changes that can catch even the military off guard or retweet memes of himself hitting Hillary Clinton with a golf ball, critics may houl (ph), but he's not tweeting to them. He's playing straight to the base, and they love it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love it.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I love what he does? It least you out and you don't like it because it leaves you out.

KINGSTON: You know, I think that that is actually part of the appeal to many people that it's just raw and it's out there.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think Twitter is a great thing for him. I hope he continues to do it. I hope he continues to hit back at people, who hit back at him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To me I love his tweets. I think he can tweet every morning. I actually can't wait to walk up in the morning to see them.

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[21:58:18] TRUMP: Abraham Lincoln would probably not be electable today because of television. He was not a handsome man and did not smile at all. He would not be considered to be a prime candidate for the presidency. And that's a shame, isn't it?

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WEIR: Was he right? If his use of social media is modern day presidential, what does it say about modern day? Could the brilliant guys on Mount Rushmore win an election now and how would Lincoln play on Twitter? Oh, this is a good thread. With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness and the right as God gives us to see the rights, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have born the battle, and for his widow and his orphan, to do all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations.

In the end Twitter is just a tool, like a blade or a flame, it can be used to harm or heal, to create or destroy, and with all tools, it all comes down to the person holding it. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: With the exception of the late great Abraham Lincoln, I can be more presidential than any president that's ever held this office. That I can tell you.

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