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Page Denies Russians Used Him to Infiltrate Trump Campaign; American Airlines Apologizes After Confrontation; Justice Department Threatens to Pull Funds From Sanctuary Cities; Hernandez Family to Sue State Officials; Ann Coulter Causing Stir at Berkeley; Stepping Away from Tech. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired April 22, 2017 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[17:00:00] CARTER PAGE, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER: I was never -- nothing I was ever asked to do or no information I was ever asked for was anything beyond what you could see on CNN. There is great -- great depth of reporting, great information. Nothing I ever talked about with any Russian official extends beyond that publicly available immaterial information, Michael.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANA CABRERA, CNN ANCHOR: So with me now, CNN crime and justice producer Shimon Prokupecz who helped break this exclusive reporting. Shimon, do we know if officials actually warned page that Russian operatives may be trying to use him?
SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE PRODUCER: Well, that's a great question because I actually asked that of a U.S. official that we've talked to and this person basically said, just would not be our job and it's not something we would do. In fact, it's not even something they would go to Donald Trump about. The FBI has been trying to keep the White House and Donald Trump sort of -- they don't want to tip their hat. They sort of don't want to tell them what they know. And it's just been Comey's position, the FBI director, not to inform the White House about the investigation. So certainly Carter Page wouldn't know if Donald Trump doesn't know and that's just the position that the FBI has taken with this investigation.
CABRERA: Carter Page denying any of this, but you are also learning from your sources that intelligence officials say they have found possible collusion but no proof of a crime committed at this point, correct?
PROKUPECZ: That's right, Ana, and that's key. Because you can have collusion, you can have people within the Trump world, the Trump orbit talking to Russians -- people working for the Russian government but that doesn't necessarily mean that they were committing any kind of crime. The other interesting issue here is what was the collusion? Was it some of the fake news? Was it some of the propaganda that was put out about Hillary Clinton? About other people sort of in the world?
And that's sort of what the FBI has been working through. If it is just relating to fake news then you probably don't have a crime here. But if it's relating to policy or if there were any payoffs or if the Trump campaign knew ahead of time maybe about the hacks or had some sort of role in it, then that changes the entire story, but right now there is nothing to indicate anything like that.
CABRERA: So where does this leave us in the bigger picture investigation?
PROKUPECZ: So I think it leaves us with a lot of intelligence that intelligence various analysts have reviewed, but the FBI is now sort of piecing it together. You know, keep in mind also that dossier and there's been, you know, even Carter Page called it a dodgy dossier.
CABRERA: Parts of it have been now apparently confirmed with intelligence officials. Right.
PROKUPECZ: Absolutely and I think even the FBI, there are people within the FBI who don't discount it and who believe a lot of that's in there and they've even used it to help support some of the monitoring, some of the FISA warrant against --
CABRERA: Of Carter Page.
PROKUPECZ: Of Carter Page and other people, too. So it's not just information as it relates to Carter Page. There's other information there that the FBI has been able to substantiate on their own through their own work, through their own sources. And that's important. That's a really key fact here. So people are not discounting the intelligence it's just very difficult sometimes for the FBI for intelligence officials to take intelligence, to take information they have and build a criminal case around it for a lot of reasons.
One of which they would then sort of tip their case or tip where the information would come from and intelligence officials are always concerned about revealing the sources of their information and it's sort of a long-term game. Do we not reveal something? Do we not bring criminal charges against something? Because in the long-term this information, this source may be just too valuable to reveal.
CABRERA: Right. There are a lot of moving pieces still in this investigation.
PROKUPECZ: Oh, yes.
CABRERA: We are far from complete in terms of knowing the whole picture.
PROKUPECZ: Oh, yes.
CABRERA: Shimon Prokupecz. Thank you for that update.
And one issue that is perhaps more pressing at least time wise in Washington right now is the fast approaching deadline to keep the government running. It's a funding deadline and that comes Friday. A short time ago House Speaker Paul Ryan held a conference call with several Republican members of Congress and here is the readout. Sources tells CNN this call was short, lasting about 15 minutes, focused mainly on ways to fund the government while keeping the administration's priorities front and center and a senior administration official just told CNN they are not pushing for a vote this week specifically on ObamaCare repeal and replace.
So, let me get a former Trump aide and campaign communications director Bryan Lanza in here.
BRYAN LANZA, FORMER DEPUTY COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Thank you.
CABRERA: Also with us, Democratic strategist Mac Zilber. Great to have you both. Bryan, to you first.
MAC ZILBER, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Thank you, Ana.
CABRERA: How much pressure are these Republicans under to put a spending bill together and satisfy the President's promise of a new healthcare plan.
LANZA: Listen, there's not going to be a government shutdown. I think the President has communicated what his priorities are and he's working with Congress. You know, the process takes time, it takes days, it takes hours, it takes a lot of focus on the right things and our Congress does know the priorities of the President, it's a Republican Party that controls Congress and both Houses so I expect them to cooperate with the President and they're going to work together and put together a spending plan. There is not going to be a government shutdown.
[17:05:13] CABRERA: So, Max, was it a mistake to push for ObamaCare reform again when the two sides seemed to be so far apart?
ZILBER: Absolutely. You know, rule number one of legislating is you don't put something out there unless you know you've got the votes, otherwise it gets shut down and you got crushed on the court of popular opinion. The reality is that using a possible government shutdown to try to negotiate on things like ObamaCare and the border wall is like Trump putting a gun to his own head and saying you better do what I want to do or I'll shoot. It doesn't make sense and he is the one who will suffer the popularity hit if the government were to shut down.
CABRERA: And on that note, let me come back to you, Bryan. Because the bottom-line is that, is a piece that the administration has suggested they would be willing to do that, they would be willing to give more money or not withhold money essentially to continue funding ObamaCare specifically the subsidies that insurance companies get to help make it more affordable for people who have lower incomes, if Democrats are willing to fund this border wall. Is that a fair tradeoff?
LANZA: You know, listen, the President made a commitment during the campaign that he would repeal and replace ObamaCare and he made a commitment about strengthening and building the wall along the border. You know, he is going to deploy every tactic available to him. I mean, he is a good negotiator. He's proven it time after time in business and now he's moved those experiences to the government sector. And you know, he knows what he -- his plan is. He knows how he can leverage things, he knows the conversation and controls the conversation and this is just part of the negotiation process.
You know, it's not a 100-day negotiation process, he's president for four years. You know, and he has four years to achieve these goals and he's well on way to building that wall and well on his way to repealing and replacing ObamaCare and this is a process that takes place and it's not as clean, a little bit sloppy but at the end of the day we know what his priorities and what his principles are and we know that this man is a man who has achieved great successes and knows how to win and knows how to, you know, achieve a goal and that's why he is in the White House.
CABRERA: You say he has four years, that is true, but he gave himself a 100 day guideline, timeline of sorts. Let's listen to the President last October talking about his 100 day goals.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PRES. DONALD TRUMP (R), UNITED STATES: I am asking the American people to dream big ones again. What follows is my 100 day action plan to make America great again. A constitutional amendment to impose term limits on all members of Congress. I will announce my intention to totally renegotiate NAFTA. I will direct my Secretary of the Treasury to label China a currency manipulator. Cancel every unconstitutional executive action, memorandum and order issued by President Obama.
Begin removing the more than two million criminal illegal immigrants from the country. Suspend immigration from terror-prone regions where vetting cannot safely occur. Middle class tax relief and simplification act. The American infrastructure act. The repeal and replace ObamaCare act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: So, Bryan, a lot of those things the President just said in that clip are not happening. Why?
LANZA: You know, it's at the beginning of the process. I think what you have is an administration they know what the promises they made, they know they're going to keep them. The timeline is a timeline, a timeline he set for himself but what you learn over time and what businessmen learn over time is sometimes, you know, the timelines don't work but you adapt and you make the necessary changes so that you do achieve the goal.
I mean, there is no doubt in the American people or the President where he stands in achieving these goals and the timeline is a little bit off. I'm not worried about it, he is adapting, he is a man who has adapted over times, you know, from businesses, from multiple businesses, multiple industries he has had success. He is a man who I think the American people have faith that, you know, the timeline has changed a little bit but the goal is still the same and he'll achieve that goal.
CABRERA: Mac, is it a timeline issue or something else?
ZILBER: Well, look, if you look at that list of clips, it's pretty clear to Trump voters that they have been had, just like students at Trump University, just like the people who partnered with him on Atlantic City casinos. The reality is that he makes deals that are good for himself and he doesn't necessarily follow through on what he promises the people on the other ends of those deals on any number of times that he has set dates and deadlines for himself from when there was going to be an ObamaCare vote to when he was going to hold a press conference. He has willfully ignored those deadlines and he is going to continue to do so. The reality is that he is very good at making deals in which he gets a big share of the pie. Those are not good deals for the American people.
LANZA: You know, I think that we know what's good for the American people --
ZILBER: Why is the President adding one more thing to the pot for next week saying he is going to introduce tax reform next week when there are all these other things still left outstanding before that Friday government shutdown deadline?
[17:10:12] LANZA: You know, Congress can handle a lot of things at multiple times. The last thing you want to do is put yourself in a position where you're only having one conversation as you're trying to achieve your legislative goals. You know, the fact is Congress, you know, there has been a Congress in the past that can only focus on one thing but businessmen know how to focus on many things. And I think that's what the President sees he wants to move forward on his agenda and that's what he's doing and he is telling Congress, you know, we are not, we are changing the ways we are going to do in D.C., we're going to focus on multiple things.
You know, they are being paid a lot of money to do a lot of things at once and this one thing at a time just doesn't seem to be working anymore and this is the change that the President is going to bring and he's putting all of the key issues at play at the table so that the people are constantly -- of what his priorities are and he's telling Congress that this is where we're going and they can do more than one thing at a time.
CABRERA: Mac, I'll give you the last word. Thirty seconds.
ZILBER: They may be able to focus on more than one thing at a time, but they sure haven't done a good job of it. I mean, he is the first president coming in with big majorities in the House and the Senate getting no major legislation passed by this point in his presidency. By this point in his presidency, Barack Obama had passed the stimulus, he had passed the Ledbetter equal pay for women act and he had expanded healthcare to millions of children.
I mean, by now so far Donald Trump has had a lot of high drama announcement of when he's going to do things. And not a lot of follow through. I think he's trying to play catch up like someone really cramming for an exam at the last minute and it's not going to work out so well in the high stakes world of global diplomacy. CABRERA: Mac Zilber and Bryan Lanza, thanks to both of you for
LANZA: Thank you.
CABRERA: Up next, an American airlines flight attendant taunts a passenger to hit him during an altercation on board. He is now suspended. You will see the video for yourself.
And then later, the Trump administration's touch stance on immigration and what it can look like in real life. We will hear from one mother who has been separated from her husband and children for over a decade after her deportation. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[17:16:08] CABRERA: Two weeks ago now United Airlines made news for letting police drag a passenger off a plane and now American Airlines is in the spotlight for what happened on a flight from San Francisco to Dallas. Witnesses say while passengers were boarding a flight attendant had violently taken a stroller from a mother, narrowly missing the baby she was holding, that all apparently happening before this video. Now, a third person, the guy there in the polo shirt got involved, things got more heated. Let's play it from the beginning what we know.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Just give me back my stroller, please.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, bud, you do that to me and I'll knock you flat.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You stay out of this.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Honey, honey, honey!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tony.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You get the hell out of this plane. Come on. Bring it on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll knock you out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tony. Tony, sit down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You don't know what the story is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't care what the story is, you almost hurt a baby.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You keep looking at me and it shows me it's what you did to that lady.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Keep it quiet.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can see exactly what you did. Maybe you'll get videotaped, too, and get all over the news.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: That flight attendant by the way has been suspended. With us now from Miami, Brian Kelly who is the founder of ThePointsGuy.com. And Bryan, as ThePointsGuy, you travel the world full-time using airline points. American Airlines has apologized, that flight attendant again is suspended they took quick action but are you surprised by what we just witnessed in that video to begin with? Have you ever seen anything like that yourself?
BRIAN KELLY, FOUNDER, THEPOINTSGUY.COM: I've never seen anything exactly like that but I was flying American Airlines yesterday, a much less eventful flight. But, you know, I think what we saw there was a lack of leadership. And I almost think because of the United incident now, everyone just throws their hands up. I mean, I see so many opportunities to have deescalated that situation whether by the pilot or by supervisors on the ground that it's just sad that no one really did anything as this woman was wailing.
CABRERA: And why is that that you think that they may be holding back?
KELLY: You know, I just think everyone knows everything is going to be recorded nowadays and I guess doing nothing is better than trying to fix a situation. Clearly, you know, the pilot was in charge there, knowing that the male flight attendant who was out of control letting him kind of get into this whole peacock flight with the passenger was totally ridiculous and I'm shocked that they absolutely let that male passenger fly.
While I think it was great he was standing up for the mother, you know, threatening a flight attendant even if he did something bad is not a good thing and I think it was actually dangerous that they allowed the aggressive passenger and that flight attendant to board and get up in the sky because those situations are much harder to deal with when you're 40,000 feet in the air.
CABRERA: Of course things like this don't happen in a vacuum in light of that United Airlines accident or incident that they would like to say was just an accident, I'm sure now. What do you make of how American Airlines has responded?
KELLY: You know, American has learned from the United mistake and I think their response has been great. Immediate action, you know, I think that their ground staff could have handled it better but I think corporately American has handled it, come out clearly, you know, pushing back against that sort of behavior. So I think American Airlines has done a very good job at handling this.
CABRERA: All right. Brian Kelly, thank you for spending time with us, good to have you on.
KELLY: Thanks for having me.
CABRERA: Up next, the Justice Department talking tough on immigration now threatening to pull billions in federal dollars from so-called sanctuary cities.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Enough is enough.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:24:05] CABRERA: Attorney General Jeff Sessions is threatening to pull federal funds for so-called sanctuary cities unless they share immigration information with the government by a June 30th deadline.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: Sanctuary jurisdictions put criminals back on the streets. They help these gangs to refill their ranks and puts innocent life, including the lives of countless law abiding immigrants, in danger by refusing to share vital information with federal law enforcement.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: The mayors of some of those cities like Chicago, New York, New Orleans have all pushed back. Meantime advocates for undocumented immigrants worry about the effects of the Trump administration's tough stance on the families left behind.
CNN's Nick Valencia traveled to both sides of the U.S./Mexico border and talked with a family torn apart by a deportation that happened more than a decade ago.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's just after 6:00 a.m. in California, and like he does every day --
MICHAEL PAULSON, WIFE DEPORTED IN 2006: Oh, boy!
VALENCIA: Michael Paulson is rushing to get his three kids ready for school.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you need me to sign anything?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nope.
VALENCIA: Paulson is married but he might as well be a single dad. For the last 11 years his wife Emma Sanchez hasn't been home. In 2006 she was deported to Mexico and their family was ripped apart. It's been the most difficult on her kids.
(on camera): What makes you upset about it?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That everybody else has their parents, both of them and I don't.
(SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
VALENCIA (voice-over): Nearly 70 miles away on the other side of the border his mom, Emma Sanchez stresses, too. Countless sleepless nights without her family have left her physically worn.
EMMA SANCHEZ, DEPORTED IN 2006: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
VALENCIA: It hurts to know that my kids are growing up without me she says fighting back tears. I missed out their childhood, I missed their birthdays. You don't need to understand Spanish to hear the pain in her voice.
SANCHEZ: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
VALENCIA: Here in Tijuana, Sanchez helps direct a group called Dreamers Moms, a collection of deported mothers fighting to get back to their families in the U.S. Yolanda Varona founded the organization after she was deported in 2010.
YOLANDA VARONA, FOUNDER, DREAMERS MOMS: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
VALENCIA: I hurt more every day, Varona says, wiping away tears, people think it gets easier with years. That's not true, she says. Alongside Varona, Sanchez works with the mothers to deal with the despair brought upon by being deported.
Today they host a group of veterans who served in the U.S. military but were later deported. They're getting a spiritual workshop on healing through meditation. It's one of the ways Sanchez says she can occupy her mind while she waits for approval to return to the U.S. She recently completed a ten year ban for twice crossing into the U.S. illegally.
Back across the border, his mother's absence has been especially tough on 15-year-old Alex. He was old enough to remember when his mom was taken away.
VALENCIA (on camera): What do people not understand about the impact that deportation has on families?
ALEX PAULSON, MOTHER DEPORTED IN 2006: They're viewing us people as something, somebody, when they separate families it devastates them at any age or any family member.
(voice-over): Hope is something the family counts on. Alex's father says it's usually all they have to keep from focusing on the fury.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's hard. It's financially it's very hard. Not only financially but stress, a lot of stress on the person.
VALENCIA: But there is a light at the end of the tunnel with her U.S. ban now over, Sanchez has reapplied for legal entry. She could be back within a year.
SANCHEZ: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
VALENCIA: The fight will not end when I get back to the U.S., she says. The day children don't have to grow up without their parents, that she says is when her fight will end.
Nick Valencia, CNN. Tijuana, Mexico.
CABRERA: Meantime, the Homeland Security Secretary tells CNN, President Trump will fight for money to build a wall along the U.S./Mexico border all while a possible government shutdown hangs over Congress. Let's take a listen to what John Kelly told our Dana Bash.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: So, will the President go to the mat and insist on funding his border wall as part of the stopgap government funding measure?
JOHN KELLY, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: Well, Dana, I think it goes out saying that the President has been pretty straightforward about his desire and the need for a border wall. So I would suspect he will do the right thing for sure, but I will suspect he will be insistent on the funding.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: A senior administration official just told CNN that, quote, "The White House is not going to allow the government to shut down." But reiterated that funding for that border wall is a very top priority for the President. You can see more of Dana Bash's interview with Secretary Kelly on "State of the Union" tomorrow morning at 9:00 a.m. Eastern and Pacific.
Convicted murderer Aaron Hernandez will be laid to rest on Monday in a very private service. Why the former NFL star could be declared an innocent man due to a quirky Massachusetts State law. That story is coming up next. You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.
[17:33:22] CABRERA: Former NFL star and convicted murderer, Aaron Hernandez, will be laid to rest on Monday in Connecticut, his funeral will be private. Now, a judge has ordered that all evidence connected to Hernandez's death be preserved. His family may sue for negligence over his prison suicide. Hernandez was found hanging from a bed sheet in a Massachusetts prison cell. It happened five days after he was found not guilty in a double murder trial. However, Hernandez was already serving a life sentence without parole for killing his former friend, Odin Lloyd, in 2013.
Let's talk it over with CNN legal analyst and defense attorney, Danny Cevallos.
Danny, would the Hernandez family have a strong case against the prison over this suicide?
DANNY CEVALLOS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It depends. Prison officials can violate the 8th Amendment but only when they are deliberately indifferent to the serious medical needs of an inmate. In the case of suicide, that means they had to have some awareness of suicidal ideation. If they did, however, and they additionally placed him in a cell with materials that he could use to hang himself, which, apparently, he did, then they may be liable. But it's important to know that deliberate indifference is above negligence, it's above gross negligence, but it's somewhere below intentionally harming the inmate.
CABRERA: He was reportedly left for about seven hours without anybody coming to check on him.
CEVALLOS: Yeah, if he doesn't have any prior -- if the prison officials have no idea or no notice of suicidal ideation then that might be OK. But on the other hand, if they are aware of it, courts have held that, for example, not having regular checks can be a violating the 8th Amendment, cruel and unusual punishment by showing deliberate indifference if they knew that this person was likely to commit suicide. But if they have no knowledge whatsoever, then it's a totally different analysis.
[17:35:08] CABRERA: Let me ask you about this quirky Massachusetts state law. Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction for Odin Lloyd we're hearing to be vacated or thrown out? Explain how that might work.
CEVALLOS: The term is "abated," and it's actually not as quirky as many people think. A lot of jurisdictions, including the federal courts, follow this policy. And, basically, it's this, if you are convicted criminally, but your case is on direct appeal, that means it is still -- you have that appeal right that is working its way up through the appellate court, and so the appeal to your state Supreme Court or the federal Supreme Court, and you die while you are on direct appeal or direct review, then the policy in many jurisdictions is to abate or dismiss your case entirely. So technically, Aaron Hernandez is now not guilty. He was not convicted, but it would be a stretch to say that he was innocent, because that's a slightly different analysis under the law. But at least when it's all said and done, Aaron Hernandez may have a clean record, so to speak.
CABRERA: Wow. That is interesting.
Danny Cevallos, thank you for sharing with us and making it clear how the law works there. Thank you.
Up next, conservative firebrand, Ann Coulter, is causing the latest stir over a speaking engagement on campus. Some students at U.C. Berkley are trying to keep her out. The university is talking about security concerns. Others argue it's a simple case of free speech. We will investigate both sides next in the CNN NEWSROOM.
BJORN KOPA (ph), CHAMPION SNOWKITER: What I love about snowkiting is it's just your imagination that sets the limits. No day of kiting is the same.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Bjorn Kopa (ph) is a championship snowkiter from Norway, population nine, his entire family.
KOPA (ph): I've grown up there, so I don't know anything else but living here. It's nice and calm.
GUPTA: This town connects one of Europe's largest mountain plateaus. For snowkiters, it offers a perfect mix of snow, sun, and most importantly, wind.
KOPA (ph): It's the best place in the world for snow kiting. You can kite for days without seeing anyone. The scale of it blows you away.
GUPTA: Bjorn embraced the sport nearly two decades ago and his dedication has paid off.
KOPA (ph): I've been lucky to have a lot of success. I've won six world championships. When I first started, it wasn't that much of a sport.
GUPTA: But it's grown. And now Bjorn's tiny town hosts the biggest snowkite race in the world, the Red Bull Ragnorak.
KOPA (ph): We have 350 kiters on a small starting line. And once we start, it's an exhilarating feeling.
GUPTA: Ragnorak, is now the toughest race. According to race officials, only about 7 percent ever the racers finish.
KOPA (ph): I think a lot of people don't realize how exhausting it is. The wind might die out, you have to work a bit and ride out the hills.
GUPTA: Racers have five hours to complete 80 miles.
KOPA (ph): It's made so people don't finish. The potential for injury is quite big.
GUPTA: This year, wind and snow conditions made the race more challenging than usual. Out of 350 racers, only eight finished. Bjorn came in fourth.
KOPA (ph): Just being able to finish is perfect.
When we started snowkiting, we never dreamed of it getting as popular as this.
[17:42:55] CABRERA: Welcome back to the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Ana Cabrera.
Conservative author and commentator, Ann Coulter, says she still plans to speak at the U.C. Berkley college campus next Thursday, April 27th. College officials initially canceled this appearance following several political protests at other events recently, which became violent, but they have reversed course and now say she can appear on May 2nd. She rejected that offer.
It's calling more attention to a bigger issue. College campuses across th3e country are finding themselves in the middle of a free speech debate. As students with opposing views have invited speakers, protesters with opposing views try to shut down their appearance all together.
Let's talk about this with CNN political commentator and the host of the "Ben Ferguson Show," Ben Ferguson; and "The Daily Beast" contributor and host of the "Dean Obadallah Show."
Dean, to you first.
In the 1960s, Berkley was the birthplace of the free speech movement. Today, it's the epicenter of this battle over free speech. Should the university be doing more to protect free speech?
DEAN OBADALLAH, CONTRIBUTOR, THE DAILY BEAST & HOST, THE DEAN OBADALLAH SHOW: Absolutely. I'm a progressive. We believe in free speech. It is important. Ben Ferguson and I might agree. You might cue the breaking news banner here we agree on free speech.
I think it's important. I will even defend the Klan. I'm not saying Ann Coulter is Klan, but I defend their right to speak. It's important for our democracy so that you hear the bad ideas and know why they're horrible. Ann Coulter is terrible from the point of view of progressives. Maybe Ben disagrees on this one.
BEN FERGUSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah.
OBADALLAH: -- anti-Semitic she has tweeted, anti-Muslim, anti- immigrant, but still those views should be able to be heard. And the answer is not silencing, the answer is more free speech to counter it to make it clear why it's wrong. No place for violence.
CABRERA: Ben, Ann Coulter is a conservative fire brand. You know she likes to poke that liberal bear. Berkley is a known liberal bastion. Why go there? Is she just asking for trouble?
[17:44:55] FERGUSON: No, she's not. That's the problem here that I have with so many people that are saying, well, people like Ann Coulter are going there to ask for problems. No, there are actually conservative students, college Republicans and another conservative group on campus that should have the right to have conservatives come to a liberal college. Berkley is absolutely free speech as long as you are a liberal speaker. That's what we've seen and the university here not only did they lie to the students saying that they did not give enough time and the lawyers put it out clearly and made it clear that these student groups gave them ample time starting in late February early March when they confirmed Ann Coulter and the university tried to act as if they just found out about this a week or two ago and didn't have enough time for security. That's not true. That's why they had to rescind and say, our bad, we will give you another date to save face. Legally they had no ground to stand on. This is an example of the administrators at Berkley and many other liberal colleges just like this saying, hey, we are all in favor of free speech as long as it's our ideals and what we want, that's liberal campus speakers not conservative ones. Ann Coulter and others should be able to go into Berkley and represent those students, have a grand debate and Berkley tried to censor them, they got busted and they had to say, ok, just kidding now you should come back and Ann shouldn't have to change her date.
CABRERA: What do you do if security is an issue and a valid concern?
FERGUSON: First off, universities have to understand that they have to do everything in their power to make sure that one side, whether it's conservative or liberal, does not get to cancel free speech out of the fear mongering of security. The second thing is Berkley needs to make it very clear to the students that if you act out in any way in a violent way you are going to be kicked out of this university immediately. And if they put that out there, whether it's on the conservative or liberal side things will calm down. But they do have ample time to be able to have the security needed. And when you throw the fear mongering out there as these universities hide behind, oh, we are afraid of there being some sort of, you know, anger or disruption on college campus. If you're going to be a free speech college, then you should know how to deal with this with security. You can do football games that have tons of people there and the opposing team there and some of those fans get rowdy and angry and drink. You have no problems around the country keeping those games going. If you can't handle a speaker coming in, you've got real problems with control literally institutional control especially at Berkley.
CABRERA: So it's not just Berkley that's dealing with this issue of free speech. I want to both take a look at a quote from this editorial from the "Wellesley News," a student newspaper at Wellesley College in Massachusetts. We will put up this quote for you. It says, "Shutting down rhetoric that undermines the existence and rights of others is not a violation of free speech, it is hate speech. The spirit of free speech is to protect the suppressed, not to protect a free-for-all where anything is acceptable no matter how hateful and damaging."
So now this editorial sparked a huge backlash on social media.
Dean, what's the line between not propagating hate speech and simply shutting down speech that may be offensive or something you don't agree with?
OBADALLAH: To Ben's point, the chancellor of Berkley said they had specific credible threats against Ann Coulter and the students. To me the primary issue should be the safety of the students not the safety of Ann Coulter's speaking fee. You can do time place manner restrictions, I'm a lawyer, still pro effects Fifth Amendment. Five days later to be safer for Ann and the students that's fine. There's no reason you can't find a mutually convenient date to have it. It's a balancing test. I go to college a lot I speak at it. Sometimes I say things that are clearly in my mind not hateful at all, some student might come up and say, I was troubled by that, and we have a discussion. Sometimes there are students who are just well intentioned, well-meaning, but they are more sensitive about an issue, they've seen something in it that you don't intend at all. That balancing test on campuses but still people have the right to spew hateful speech.
OBADALLAH: If they're invited to a college campus the answer is to spew better stuff to say why it's wrong. I think progressives our views get out there we win the day because we embrace American values.
CABRERA: All right. All right.
OBADALLAH: That's what we're about.
CABRERA: I know you might disagree with that, but let's stop it where you both agreed for a second, because we have to go.
Ben Ferguson, Dean Obadallah, I do appreciate us having this discussion in a very peaceful way, where we can express different views, different opinions, and debate it, debate these issues in a way that shows that free speech is alive and well.
CABRERA: Thank you, gentlemen, for joining us.
[17:49:48] CABRERA: Up next, new details about how Russian operatives used Trump advisors to try to infiltrate his campaign. What CNN has just learned from U.S. intelligence officials. And reaction from one of those advisors in an exclusive CNN interview.
Plus, who's in control, man or machine? A look at why the most powerful people in tech are stepping away from the products they have built.
In the meantime, we are on the hunt for "CNN Heroes." We can't do it without you, though. We need you to nominate people doing extraordinary work. Meet some of the people that have taken that opportunity in the past. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: I met my hero when we were volunteering.
UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: He's making a big difference for kids in our area.
UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: She is my second mom, my mentor.
UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: I felt like it was very important for people to know about the sister.
UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: I feel honored that I was able to honor her in such a significant way.
UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: I was so proud of myself because I was like, oh, my goodness, for everything that she's done for me, I did something for her, you know.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:55:11] CABRERA: After the September 11th terror attacks, music took on a whole new meaning. "Soundtracks, Music that Defined History" airs Thursday night at 10:00 eastern.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BILLY JOEL, SINGER: Music and artists post-9/11 are reflective of the emotions we feel.
We ain't going anywhere.
We played for an audience of firemen, emergency rescue workers. They needed a boost.
JOEL: I put a helmet on the piano to concentration. If I didn't have that, I might have lost it.
JOEL: It's an anthem for New York City. I didn't think of that when I wrote it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The events that transpired defined the music and made it bigger than intended to be.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The music will also remind us that it is possible. Somebody's got to put this into words and emotions. That is what anthems are made of.
ANNOUNCER: "Soundtracks, Songs that Define History," thursday at 10:00 on CNN
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CABRERA: If you're the kind of person who can't go five minutes without looking at your phones, you need to watch this. Some of the most powerful technology titans are now asking, have they gone too far? Are the products they're making actually building barriers to personal communication?
CNN's Laurie Segall examines that in the latest installment of "Mostly Human" - Laurie?
LAURIE SEGALL, CNN TECH CORRESPONDENT: Ana, what I find fascinating in Silicon Valley there's a movement for people to take a step away from their phone and also build tech products that have ethics statement.
So I went to an underground meetup in Silicon Valley. I spoke to engineers and entrepreneurs who are beginning to have these conversations, you know, have we gone too far with technology and what's the ethical thing to do?
I had one conversation with an engineer whose job was to addict us to our smartphones. Take a listen.
UNIDENTIFIED ENGINEER What we were in was the science of understanding what makes a product addictive. Why do people keep coming back? What are the hooks? It became an interesting game for us. I would actually look at it right next to nicotine and cigarette use. Anytime you're looking at your phone, it's controlling you as much as you're controlling it. That was part of the game, we would all signature around and say, did that work? Can we get them to come back one more time per day?
SEGALL: Can you give me any specific examples?
UNIDENTIFIED ENGINEEER: The notification you get, there's a reason they come at a certain time, the words that are chosen. Every character of that has tested for you and your personality type.
SEGALL: There a reason you're here tonight? Are you repenting to your sins?
UNIDENTIFIED ENGINEER: It's a good way to think about it. I see familiar faces. We were all the 29-year-olds alps super-gung ho. I see the same reflectiveness. Now that we have connected the world, we probably could do better. I got them reaching for their phone 120 times a day, like just with my app. And we all high-five each other, and then go, wait a minute, are we doing the right thing?
# (voice-over): How far have we gone? Is it possible to pull back? That's the question that took me to Sherry Turkel (ph). She's an MIT professor and been studying our complicated relationship with technology for decades. (on camera): This is like a moment of reckoning. Maybe I'm being
SHERRY TURKEL (ph), PROFESSOR, MIT: No, right. I'll give you an example. You have your phone facedown and I can tell it's turned off. A phone turned upside-down and off on a table during lunch, which most people are place, does two things to the conversation. Now, look at me. You need to look, because it's hard to take. It makes the conversation turn to more trivial matters and makes the two people in the conversation feel less of an empathic connection to each other. You have to take the phone and put it out of both of our vision. The phone is a reminder, a subliminal reminder to both of us. These phones take us elsewhere.
SEGALL: Um, OK, first of all -
SEGALL: Yeah, go.
SEGALL: As you can see, I was a bit uncomfortable. I will say we did have a conversation when I put my phone away. It definitely got you thinking. This whole journey and learning about how many or smart phones, even for me was very personal. It makes you kind of want to take a step back and kind of invest in the real world a bit more -- Ana?
CABRERA: So thought provoking.
Thank you, Laurie.
You can catch her full series of "Mostly Human" on CNN.go.
I'm Ana Cabrera, in New York. I'll be back in hour.
"SMERCONISH" is next.