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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
Trump's Fury; Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg Testifies Before Congress. Aired 4:30-5p ET
Aired April 10, 2018 - 16:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And we can understand perhaps the president now seeing that he is in a place of vulnerability that he has not been until now, and that a line of vulnerability has been crossed, not a line of legality.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Carl Bernstein, thanks so much.
My panel is here with me.
First of all, just to underscore this, Laura, the idea of raiding the lawyer of the president, any lawyer, first of all, to begin with, that is a very, very high bar. There is something in the U.S. attorney code about how it can be done.
But to do so for the president, one would think that the evidence that either Michael Cohen was going to destroy evidence or was unwilling to turn over information that he had been subpoenaed or would be subpoenaed to get must have just been overwhelming, because I can't imagine so sensitive an order.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: You're right.
And the idea here, though, is that you have to have the first threshold met of probable cause, that there is some reason to believe that there will be evidence of a crime ongoing in the past in the locations you are telling the judge they are in.
That's the first hurdle for every person in the United States of America. The second one is now it is an attorney as well, who will have privileged information. That doesn't have an absolute definition here. Privilege has to actually still meet the requirements. It has to be between the attorney and the client. It has to be about legal advice.
It couldn't be in furtherance of a crime. Otherwise, the privilege does not apply here. So you have to meet a couple of thresholds. Now you have the president's personal own attorney who just last week said, talk to my attorney on Air Force One and told the people to do that.
All of these bars were met in different degrees, all by people who are Republican on the same team as the president of the United States essentially. And so the idea of a witch-hunt that is based on political or partisanship play is not really founded here in the evidence.
But what was founded for a judge would be, you must have something. Now, that may not pan out. There is no requirement of beyond a reasonable doubt at this stage, that you have to find everything to actually link a crime, but there had to have been probable cause at the very least, Jake.
TAPPER: And, Phil, we're told that among the information that has been seized in this raid, information dealing with the payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress, with whom President Trump allegedly had an affair, information about his relationship with Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playboy Playmate of the year, with whom he had an affair.
I don't know exactly what crime there could have been there also, and also this stuff about Cohen's taxi medallion business. Now, just to take one second to explain it, the taxi medallions are required to operate in New York City. There's a cap on the total number of them, so they can be quite valuable, theoretically.
It is also theoretically a way that money could be laundered. You say, I have a taxi medallion and you charge somebody $150,000 for it.
PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: Yes. And this is why this is so significant.
Believe it or not, I think it is more significant than the White House is making it for a simple reason. You have a series of what you describe as financial crimes. The White House and the president in particular, for reasons that are clear, is trying to say this is all Mueller stuff, conflating it, as Sarah Sanders says, conflating into, Mueller is tainted. He developed this information. He passed it along. This investigation is tainted.
The reason it is worse is, you have the Mueller investigation that has been around for now -- the background, the FBI investigation -- a couple of years, leading not only to indictments, but to pleas from different people. Now you have a separate set of investigators independently who were charged by Rosenstein to look at this, FBI investigators.
Went to an independent judge and said, forget about what Mueller did. We think there's substantial information here that leads us to believe we not only have to issue a subpoena against the private lawyer, we have to go against his apartment, his office and his hotel room without pre-announcing.
That tells me they have a mountain of information here that we're not seeing. Both investigations simultaneously tell me the president is in even more trouble maybe than he talked about last night.
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: And important to point out, the president is still in very frequent contact with Michael Cohen. As you mentioned, he mentioned him last week, again brought him up, referring reporters to him. Two weeks ago, he had dinner with the president at Mar-a-Lago. This is somebody who the president talks to all of the time. He stayed on the outside of the campaign for a reason, to sort of help with a variety of matters. He never came into the White House.
But in the early days, I remember seeing Michael Cohen around there a lo. He is in Washington a lot. This is someone who the president speaks with a lot. So, there was some sense of urgency to whatever documents it might have been. It was clearly something that angered the president.
You could see him there crossing his arms. I'm not sure I have seen him like that in all of the episodes we have watched him in. It was different to me.
COATES: Speaking of urgency, though, there is no way this all came down simply because of the off-the-cuff statements of the president on Air Force One.
This has been in the works for some time. The idea this was an urgent matter, that a magistrate, that would be coordinating with Rosenstein, the FDNY, the FBI, the public corruption unit, wasn't based on maybe a few days or even a few incidents on air and interviews with people who potentially may have been paid by the president.
This was in the works. And so do not believe the hype this is an urgent, hasty matter that was taken just to discredit the president of the United States. Independent arbiters decided this was an appropriate action to take, and they did.
TAPPER: Everyone, stick around. We have got lots more to talk about.
You have to see the reaction President Trump's generals had on their faces when President Trump went off about that Michael Cohen raid when they were talking about life-and-death issues in Syria.
TAPPER: We're back with our world lead.
The White House saying today that President Trump canceled his planned trip to the Summit of the Americas this weekend to stay back and oversee the situation in Syria.
Mr. Trump has vowed to decide on a response to the suspected chemical weapons attack within the next 24 hours.
CNN's Barbara Starr is at the Pentagon for us.
And, Barbara, are specific military plans and options being drawn up?
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The quick answer, Jake, is yes.
U.S. generals certainly don't like surprises, so they will be ready to go when the president, if the president gives the order.
What we are hearing is there will be a major effort, of course, to bring the British and the French into this mission. The president, of course, talking to the U.K. prime minister, Theresa May, to the French president, Macron.
Both countries expected to be involved as they continue to try and figure out what is the target list they really want to go after. This was an attack using helicopters. Helicopters are mobile. They move around. Do you want to go after airfields? Would that really do it? Do you want to go after chemical storage sites and risk bombing them and dispersal of chemical agents?
Or do you essentially want to go downtown Damascus? Do you want to finally go after Bashar al-Assad's command-and-control, his intelligence headquarters, possibly military headquarters? And what about the Russians?
Are you going to inform the Russians, which run a very heavy air defense system in that part of Syria? Are you going to make sure that you're not confronting the Russians and not inadvertently killing Russian forces in the area, Jake?
TAPPER: And, Barbara, it was during a meeting with his military leaders and national security leaders when President Trump addressed his grievances against Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller over the raid on the office, home and hotel of his personal attorney.
What are folks in the Pentagon telling you about the mood in the room among these national security officials and generals?
STARR: You only have to look at that video. Everyone is saying it was very uncomfortable. You see several general officers there, four- stars, just staring, keeping their faces expressionless or staring down.
They are in a room with their commander in chief talking about an attack on the country, but the attack is actually Mr. Trump's personal political problems, of course. These men and women are charged with defending the country. And they are listening to what is essentially a political statement by the president.
It is unprecedented in terms of putting them in an uncomfortable situation, politicizing the military. There is just no question it was an extraordinary moment, extraordinarily uncomfortable for the secretary of defense, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, the chiefs, and all the major commanders, Jake.
TAPPER: And a little flashback. Here is the president's national security team and others huddling at Mar-a-Lago a year ago this month, April 2017, the last time the U.S. was talking about a strike in Syria.
Now eight of those staffers are gone, as you can see. They have been fired or quit.
Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you so much.
Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg apologizing today for abusing private social media information. But was he actually so sorry, sorry enough to fire anyone?
That story next.
[16:45:00] JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A huge day on Capitol Hill on our "MONEY LEAD" today. Moments ago Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed that employees of the social media site are working with Robert Mueller Special Counsel investigation. He's speaking now on the first public congressional testimony ever. Day one hearings brought on by the Cambridge Analytica scandal where personal information for as many as 87 million Facebook users was shared with the data firm that President Trump used in the 2016 campaign. CNN Senior Tech Correspondent Laurie Segall is on Capitol Hill watching this for us. So Laurie do the Senators seem satisfied with Zuckerberg's testimony?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN SENIOR TECH CORRESPONDENT: Well you know at one point Senate staffers held up signs with all of Mark Zuckerberg's apologies over the last years from 2006, 2007, but generally I'll say this. The stock price closed up as soon as Zuckerberg started answering some of these harder questions. So it looks like the general market reacted pretty well so far. And you know it's a huge moment for the CEO. I mean I think a lot of folks had a lot of challenging questions for him given the news. He defended the Company's business model. We knew he would do this but he said you know Facebook is responsible for connecting the world. And he was also -- this is an interesting news-making moment because he is very much, Jake, on the company line. He's been prepped for this. I'm told he was prepped for a week with mock hearings for this. He essentially said -- he was asked if -- about Facebook's involvement in the Mueller investigation. Take a listen.
((BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. PATRICK LEAHY (D), VERMONT: Have you or anybody at Facebook been interviewed by the Special Counsel's office?
MARK ZUCKERBERG, FACEBOOK CEO: Yes.
LEAHY: Have you been interviewed?
ZUCKERBERG: I have not. I have not.
LEAHY: Others have?
ZUCKERBERG: I believe so. And I want to be careful here because that -- our work with the Special Counsel is confidential and I want to make sure that in an open session I'm not revealing something that is confidential.
LEAHY: I understand. I just want to make clear that you have been contacted, you have had subpoenas.
ZUCKERBERG: Actually, let me clarify that. I actually am not aware of a subpoena. I believe there may be. But I know we're working with them.
SEGALL: A little color. There were angry Facebook users who are lined up since 7:30 a.m. this morning. I spoke to a couple of them. One of them was dressed as a Russian troll said saying they were bringing the Russian trolling to Mark Zuckerberg. There's a lot of angry folks in there and there are some protesters here. And you know Mark Zuckerberg did say his biggest regret Jake of 2016 and was essentially not getting on top of the Russia interference earlier and be slow to that and he promised and vowed in front of Senators today to make a big difference.
TAPPER: All right Laurie Segall thank you so much. Let's bring back the panel. First of all, so Zuckerberg was very prepared. He clearly been prepped. He has an expert team in (INAUDIBLE) and other people there. With a handful of exceptions, I don't think I'm going out on a limb to say that the Senators didn't really necessarily seem that all that familiar with the product.
[16:50:16] JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I mean, as we're talking about earlier and as you mentioned earlier, there was an age divide here, no question. I mean, there are Senators -- you know, there's a lot of Senators who are in their 80s frankly who are asking him questions and some may use it or be familiar with it, not necessarily how it works. And it wasn't an overall strategy for what they were sort of going after. But I thought one of the interesting things that he said that may be an issue going forward, he said, I agree that we're responsible for the content. This is something that Mark Zuckerberg has not said before here. So that puts him in more of the publisher realm, something he has always tried to stay away from. He wants to be on the platform, not the publisher side. So I think that's interesting in terms of the possible regulation of things to come.
TAPPER: Obviously one of the biggest issues here is privacy. Senator Dick Durbin had an interesting exchange with Zuckerberg about the issue of privacy. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: Mr. Zuckerberg, would you be comfortable sharing us the name of the hotel you stayed in last night?
DURBIN: If you messaged anybody this week, would you share with us the names of the people you've messaged.
ZUCKERBERG: Senator, no, I would probably not choose to do that publicly here. DURBIN: I think that might be what this is all about, your right to privacy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Phil Mudd.
PHILIPP MUDD, FORMER SENIOR INTELLIGENCE ADVISER, FBI: Time out here. There is 180-degree difference from -- in terms of looking at this. As a former intelligence professional, it is right to hold Zuckerberg's feet to the fire about privacy. There is a second question that doesn't have to do with data, doesn't have to do with Facebook. A highly successful American company is a subject of attacks from a foreign intelligence service. How about one or two Senators who actually say is there something we can do to bring U.S. government resources to bear to help you, to make sure this doesn't happen in the future so that we can continue to dominate the social media realm around the world. These guys are all about attacking Zuckerberg. There is a tougher question. Do we have a responsibility and believe me my intel friends in the business would not like to hear this, does the U.S. government have a responsibility to say we're in this with you. Can we help ensure that this doesn't happen again and believe it or not, can we support you? Who is asking that question?
LAURA COATES, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: It's part of a larger pattern, isn't it? The idea that Congress has this parallel investigation along with the criminal probe for Mueller to actually legislative a solution to what we know is an ongoing problem and will be a problem in the mid-term elections and potentially the next general election. And yet not only do you have the age divide, you've got the information gap here about what actually happened with Cambridge Analytica. I bet if you ask most people on the street, they have no idea how to articulate what actually happened. We're looking to Mark Zuckerberg to explain that or Sanders to help clarify the issue. And if they don't get it, how could we possibly legislative a reason or legislate a way to solve this problem going forward. One thing that he did mention when he was testifying was the notion of it's not just us, Facebook. There's a lot of social media platforms there being used and probably be exploited. And the fact that Mueller is looking into all of these things falls right in line with what his charge is. To figure out whether there was any entity in America or a citizen or anyone else about whether somebody was trying to unduly influence our elections. They were a vehicle for doing that.
TAPPER: Yes, there's no question that other social media companies have this problem too, Twitter and others, but Facebook is the most successful. They have two billion users. If you talk to experts, they'll tell you that fake news problem was big on Twitter but you can't even compare to Facebook. Chris Coons, a Democratic Senator from Delaware tweeted before the hearing today, "on today of all day I just found out that there are two fake Facebook accounts impersonating me and guess what, many of the friends appear to be Russian accounts. Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg, this is unacceptable and that's really one of the issues here is as Phil just pointed out, the Russians a hostile nation to the United States is exploiting our freedoms and our companies. ZELENY: Exactly. And that's one of the reasons he said you know,
directly, this is an arms race. I think -- I am not sure the hot seat was as hot as you're implying. I mean, I thought that it was fairly cool. We'll see what happens in the House committee tomorrow, my guess is the same. The reality here is by showing up, Mark Zuckerberg, you know, he spent all day yesterday shaking hands and getting to the know the Senators. He's a celebrity in many respects. His company has high-tech firms that give money to a lot of people. I think just by showing up, he wins over a lot of people. I'm not sure if that solves anything though. What does that solve in terms of the 2018 election? I don't know of anything.
TAPPER Zuckerberg said about Facebook learned in 2015 that the researcher who created the personality quiz for Facebook gave the data to Cambridge Analytica and of course we only learned about that a few weeks ago. It's true that likely most people if you walk out on the street or even of you poll don't know about this privacy issue, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't care about it of course. Everyone stick around, would it be obstruction of justice if President Trump fired Robert Mueller? That's ahead.
[16:55:00] TAPPER: Thanks one and all for joining me. Here is the ironic statement of the day. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter @JAKETAPPER or you can tweet the show @THELEADCNN. No Russian bots though, please. That's it for THE LEAD, I turn you over to Wolf Blitzer right next door in "THE SITUATION ROOM" @WOLFBLITZER.