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Facebook Hands Russia-Linked Ads Over To Mueller; Four Boston College Students Attacked With Acid In France; Trump To Make Debut At The United Nations. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired September 18, 2017 - 07:30   ET


[07:30:45] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his team now have their hands on Russia-linked ads that ran on Facebook during the 2016 election. Now, a bipartisan group of senators wants to dig even deeper.

One of those is Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York. She's part of that effort and she joins us now. Great to have you here in studio.


CAMEROTA: So, what a travesty of what we're learning about with Facebook and these Russian troll farms that somehow were able to advertise on Facebook and nobody was any the wiser, thinking that they were reading real retweets from real Americans and real information from Americans, but it wasn't. And it was all -- I mean, if what has leaked out is to be believed, you know, Russian troll farms behind it.

What are you going to do about this?

GILLIBRAND: So, Sen. Lindsey Graham and I have a bipartisan bill to do a deep dive -- a 9/11-style commission that will look into how were we hacked, what were our cyber vulnerabilities, what are our cyber vulnerabilities today, and what can we do to prevent another type of interference in the '18 election.

CAMEROTA: And what do you want Facebook and social media to do? I mean, if they're --

GILLIBRAND: Well, they're not --

CAMEROTA: -- the purveyors of --

GILLIBRAND: They're not above the law and it is illegal for foreign countries to undermine or participate in our elections, so buying those Facebook ads is illegal. So what we need is more disclosure and more accountability and more transparency. But they have a role to play and we need to have much better accountability by the next election.

CAMEROTA: So you've not been impressed with their transparency thus far? GILLIBRAND: It's not adequate because they are responsible for people who buy their sites, who use their platform, and if they're breaking the law there has to be some level of participation. So we are going to make sure that this deep dive reveals any vulnerabilities we have.

We also have questions about were voting machines somehow interfered with.

CAMEROTA: Do you think they were because we've not seen evidence of that?

GILLIBRAND: I've just heard some reports that there might have been efforts to decommission or somehow undermine different voting machines in different states causing lines, causing people to not vote, particular states being targeted.

So these are things that we need a full investigation of to see if there is any evidence of it and then what evidence there is and what can we do to protect ourselves next time.

CAMEROTA: Let's talk about another bit of bipartisanship that you're involved in, and that is you want to protect transgender military service members, particularly after what the president has just said in terms of a ban.

So what are you going to do about that?

GILLIBRAND: Well, these are men and women who are serving our country today, putting themselves in harm way -- harm's way, risking their lives. No one should tell them they cannot serve based on their gender identity.

And so, I have a bipartisan bill with Sen. McCain; Jack Reed, ranking on the Dem side; along with Susan Collins -- and Susan and I worked together to write the bill -- to say if you are serving today you are protected, you cannot be kicked out, and that you may reenlist.

CAMEROTA: And what about future people who want to enlist?

GILLIBRAND: So, that's the question and that's the -- what Sec. Mattis is doing right now, is analyzing what he intends to do in the future.

But while that's happening we want to make sure no one can be kicked out because, again, this goes to our basic civil rights and civil liberties. If someone is willing to die for this country you should not tell them they can't serve.

CAMEROTA: Another topic that I want to talk to you about because you and I have both worked on this in the past, and that's campus sexual assault.

Education Sec. Betsy DeVos has said publicly that she wants to kind of revisit the guidance from the Obama administration in terms of how universities should handle this widespread problem of campus sexual assault. And it sounded as though what she wanted to look at was how to better protect -- one of the things that she wanted to look at was how to make the system work better, she said, and to protect the falsely accused.


CAMEROTA: What do you think of that?

GILLIBRAND: Well, I have a concern that she doesn't understand the dynamics of these cases very well. I don't want an innocent person getting in trouble or being accused any more than I want a guilty person going free, and so we want to have a system.

So we have a bipartisan bill right now in the Senate and if she really wants to fix the problem she should support our bill. It's widely supported by Democrats and Republicans.

And the most important part of our bill is to have an online survey that students get to fill out every two years to say number one, is my campus safe? What's the climate like?

[07:35:07] Have I been assaulted? If so, have I reported? If not, why not?

You will get a snapshot in time for every college campus in America to say what's the campus like. If they report on these surveys there was 35 assaults last year and not one has actually been reported, you know you have a problem with your reporting structure or people's confidence in the system you have.

And our bill really creates protections both for the accused and the accuser. We want to make sure that every school is well-trained to basically have a certification process to say you know what you're doing when you're doing and reviewing these cases.

And then another point that law enforcement's developed is having one confidential adviser on every campus so if you are a victim of sexual assault you have someone to go to and she or he can tell you this is what it looks like if you report on campus.

You can only receive accommodation. You can get your class schedule changed, you can get your dorm changed, but it's only accommodation and best case scenario, your assailant is kicked out.

If you go to criminal justice that means jail time, that means going through a trial.

And I'll tell you, when you tell a survivor if this happens again to someone else or a third person, will you be willing to testify, typically, she says yes. And then the adviser could say well, then you should get your rape kit done today because if you want to preserve your ability to testify in the future, that has to be done.

It's a reason to do those kinds of things that, you know, an 18-year- old girl on a college campus might not want to do otherwise, so that's the key.


GILLIBRAND: Getting more cases to ultimately go to law enforcement but giving guidance to that individual on the first day about what are your options. That usually results in more cases ultimately going to -- going to law enforcement.

CAMEROTA: OK, next topic.

There seems to be a lot of analysis about the 2016 election going on on all sides, still, that we see in our rearview mirror.

But, Hillary Clinton, as you know, has her new book out so she's been talking a lot about what she thinks -- what she blames for her loss. She was just on PBS this weekend and she was asked about that famous -- infamous now, tarmac meeting between then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton.

So let me play for you whether or not Hillary Clinton thinks that that was, to some degree, responsible for her loss. Listen to this.


JUDY WOODRUFF, ANCHOR, "PBS NEWSHOUR": To what extent did Loretta Lynch and President Clinton make a costly mistake?

HILLARY CLINTON (D), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Judy, I just don't buy that. I honestly reject that premise partly because there's a chain of command in the Justice Department.

The optics, you know, we're not good. I admit that.

What really was costly and what I believe was the proximate cause of my defeat was his October 28th letter.


CAMEROTA: Of course, she's talking about James Comey there.

Do you think that in terms of that tarmac meeting it was just bad optics?

GILLIBRAND: So, my view of this is we're looking forward to the '18 elections and I'm grateful that Sec. Clinton ran for president. I'm grateful that she's written her book because it's important for women to be heard in all places and to be able to tell their story.

But fundamentally, for me, that election is about how she inspired millions of people across the globe to stand up for what they believe in, to fight your hardest, win or lose.

And as a result, we have thousands of women running for office this cycle. EMILY's list reported that there were typically one or two thousand women wanting to be trained and run at this time -- this cycle. We have 14,000. And so, I'm grateful for what Sec. Clinton has done and I think she's inspired millions. And so I'm focused on how can we win these seats in '18 and how can we

encourage more candidates to come forward to run and to provide that oversight accountability over President Trump.

CAMEROTA: Who's the leader of the Democratic Party right now?

GILLIBRAND: I think you have your Congressional leaders, of course. But I think, you know, Sen. Sanders is out there talking about things -- has big ideas like Medicare for All.

I think Elizabeth Warren is out there talking about a rigged system that we desperately need to fix for working families.

And for each of us who are running for reelection, such as myself and 24 other Senate Democrats, we're in our states talking about our vision and what we want to change, and how we want to make a difference, and how we want to make the economy grow.

CAMEROTA: But are they the national leaders, as you see it -- Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren?

GILLIBRAND: I think that's how they're perceived and I think they're doing a great job in terms of speaking out on the issues that matter to most people. But you won't really have a national leader Democrat until you have a nominee.

So between now and then you're really focused on state-by-state, winning over voters, listening to voters, hearing why they were so distressed in the last election, why many of them chose to vote for a disruptor. Someone who's going to blow up the system as opposed to someone who might have spoke to their values and goals better.

And so we have to listen a lot harder and then we have to work a lot harder in getting things done -- actually passing legislation like things that will help people, rewarding work in this country, having paid leave in this country, having a minimum wage that's a living wage. Things that could actually help people's lives, and we have to get that done.

CAMEROTA: What are your thoughts, personally, on 2020?

GILLIBRAND: I think there's going to be a huge interest in trying to bring our country in a different direction. I think some of the policies that have come under the Trump administration have been really harmful, whether it's attacking DACA kids, whether it's attacking transgender troops, whether it's not investing in infrastructure, not investing in the middle-class.

[07:40:14] CAMEROTA: Right, but these are all issues that you care about.


CAMEROTA: Are you thinking about running in 2020?

GILLIBRAND: I'm focused on '18, so I'm focused on my reelection and I'd like to be a senator.

CAMEROTA: But I -- at some point, I mean, is that in your future?

GILLIBRAND: Well, I'm focused on being a senator so that's all I'm doing right now. And --

CAMEROTA: If there were a void or a vacuum in 2020 and nobody had emerged, would you throw your hat in?

GILLIBRAND: You can ask me that question then and I promise to answer it.

CAMEROTA: It will be too late in 2020. I mean, look, we've -- do you -- are you comfortable with it being Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren or do you think that there's room for perhaps somebody who --

GILLIBRAND: I think there's a lot --

CAMEROTA: I mean, they're seen as the quiet on the left.

GILLIBRAND: -- room. I think there's so much room. I mean, I think there's many people who plan to run.

Certainly the pundits have talked about a list of at least 20 people who are thinking about running, so I'm certain we will have a whole array of fantastic candidates with different experience -- some Senate experience, some gubernatorial, some private sector, and they'll all be sharing their vision for what they want for this country. And I think that will be a vibrant process and an exciting process and I look forward to it.

But in the meantime, we have to, I think, all of us focus on the importance of 2018 because we need to flip the House. We need to create a bulwark (ph) against some of President Trump's policies that are so harmful to the economy, so harmful to middle-class families.

And that's what we have to do for me as a senator who's running for reelection, but also for anyone interested in politics to campaign for candidates that are trying to change the direction of this country.

CAMEROTA: Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, thanks so much for being here for such a comprehensive conversation.

GILLIBRAND: You're welcome. Nice --

CAMEROTA: Great to have you here in the studio.

GILLIBRAND: Thank you.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I'm focused on 2018, Alisyn. That's going to be my answer tonight when my wife asks me to do something I don't want to do.

All right. American students targeted in France, attacked with acid.

Investigators say it's not a case of terrorism. Why not? The latest, next.


[07:45:40] BERMAN: Four American college students injured in an acid attack in Southern France are out of the hospital this morning. Authorities say there is no indication the startling assault is terror-related.

CNN's Melissa Bell live in Paris with the latest. Melissa, what are you learning?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, for the time being it is a picture of a troubled woman that is emerging -- a troubled woman who chose to carry out this attack yesterday morning in this Marseilles train station.

As you said, John, no terror investigation has been opened and by piecing together in French media what a number of sources within the investigation have had to say, it appears that this woman made no proclamation as she carried out this attack -- as she sprayed this acid in the young women's face and that she may even have hung around afterwards waiting for police to turn up.

Some suggestions also that she may have been an acid victim herself in the past -- the 41-year-old woman who is now in police custody.

We know also a little bit more than we did last night about the four young women involved. They are Boston College students, all here on exchange programs, three of them in Paris, one of them in Copenhagen. They'd been in Marseilles visiting, it is thought.

The two of them were treated for shock, the two others for burns, possibly to one of their eyes. So, an horrific attack.

But it appears, John, to have been non-terror-related, simply the work of a deranged woman. It appears also that these were simply four women in the wrong place at the wrong time, rather than having been attacked because they were necessarily Americans -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Oh my gosh, Melissa. Horrific is the right word. Thank you for your reporting from there.

Well, at least 80 arrests made overnight in St. Louis following a third night of protests. The demonstrators reacting to the acquittal of a former white police officer in the shooting death of a black man.

The protests led to vandalism, as you can see on your screen. Windows of local businesses were smashed, garbage cans tossed into the street.

Five police officers suffered minor injuries.

BERMAN: Week two of the NFL season and quarterback Colin Kaepernick still remains a spectator. This, despite the fact there's some pretty lousy quarterback play out there right now. Kaepernick says he is ready right now to play football.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report." Good morning, Andy.


You know, we haven't heard from Kaepernick this off-season and many question whether he still wants to play in the NFL.

But when asked by Shaun King of the Fair Punishment Project if he still wants to play, Kaepernick said quote "Yes. I've never stopped. I'm ready right now. Working out daily."

In an interview with "CBS SUNDAY MORNING," Tom Brady says he hopes Kaepernick gets picked up.


TOM BRADY, QUARTERBACK, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: I've always watched him and admired him, the way that he's played. He, you know, was a great young quarterback.

He came to our stadium and beat us and took his team to the Super Bowl. And he's certainly qualified and I hope he gets a shot.


SCHOLES: Now, Brady and the Patriots, meanwhile, had quite the bounce back performance yesterday in New Orleans.

Brady throwing for 177 yards in three touchdowns in the first quarter. It was the best opening quarter of Brady's career. And keep in mind, he's 40 years old now.

The Patriots, they rolled the Saints 36 to 20.

And John, you know, it seems like every year Brady has a bad game and people want to say ah, he's losing his step, age is catching up with him. And then he proves, once again, why he's the best.

BERMAN: Yes. I've never said that, for the record. And I think he's going to turn out to be a pretty good quarterback, Andy.

Thanks so much.

SCHOLES: All right.

CAMEROTA: But, 40 years old? What a fossil, you know? Anyway, we'll tell you when we get there.

President Trump's U.N. debut takes place a few hours from now, so what do our allies want to hear? We have former British Prime Minister Tony Blair joining us, next.


[07:53:20] BERMAN: President Donald Trump will make his debut at the United Nations this morning with a big address to world leaders tomorrow. What will the president say?

Here to discuss, someone who has been there, former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Mr. Prime Minister, thanks so much for being with us.


BERMAN: So, President Trump's been to Europe. He has spoken to European leaders -- addressed the world before, a few times, but this is his first time at the United Nations. His previous speeches, he was sort of greeted with side-eye curiosity, maybe some scorn in some places.

What does the president need to say this week?

BLAIR: I think it's quite an important moment because this is the first time the world, as a whole, will be looking at the American president -- hearing him. And I think there needs to be clarity, consistency in the American approach.

And, you know, people want always the same thing from America and from its president. They want to know that America's strong enough to stand with its allies and to stand up to its enemies.

And therefore, I think what people will be looking for today -- tomorrow, when the president speaks, is an idea of what are the principles that are going to guide American policy and is there clarity and consistency around those.

BERMAN: Is there -- are there those things right now? Is that lacking?

BLAIR: I think there's a -- there's a mixture of sort of curiosity and anxiety and -- but this is not totally unnatural when you get a new president coming in. However, I do think this is a very important moment. There's so many challenging issues in the world today, not least, obviously, North Korea.

But people in Europe will want to know if this alliance still strong and people in the Middle East will want to know where America stands on the issues of the Middle East today. And I think if people get that clarity and message that will be -- that will be great, but that's what they'll be looking for.

[07:55:01] They want to -- you know, America is the most powerful country in the world. What everyone wants to know is where does America stand and where do they stand in relation to them.

CAMEROTA: And, of course, I mean, in terms of uncertainty there's the latest terror attack in London and sadly, it wasn't the first this year. I think there's been five terror attacks.

We have a list of all of them. I don't need to remind you, of course, of some of them, but just horrible ones. I mean, obviously, van attacks, the bridge attacks -- you know, also the Manchester arena bombing at the concert.

What's going on in London? Is there something -- are there lessons to be learned here? Is something failing?

BLAIR: I think it's -- there's a -- there's a lesson to be learned because it's happening all over Europe. Indeed, all over the world.

You know, any -- and one of the things my institute does is actually track day-by-day terrorist incidents across the world. There is literally not a corner of the world, apart from perhaps South America, where this isn't a daily occurrence.

So the question I think is -- the thing I would focus on is obviously you take security measures to defeat those who are planning violence. But I think the deeper question is how do you defeat the ideology of this radical Islamist, you know, idea?

CAMEROTA: What's the answer to that?

BLAIR: The answer is, I think, that you've got to weed out those elements that are promoting this, whether it's on the Internet or those people who are giving messages to people, turning them into these types of people who are engaged in violent acts against our way of life. And I think this needs to be done on a far bigger scale than we have at the moment.

BERMAN: This is how President Trump first responded to the latest terror attack in London. He put out a statement on Twitter.

He said, "Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who are in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive."

This is how the current prime minister, Theresa May, responded to the president's statement. Listen to this.


THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: I don't think it's helpful for anyone to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation. It is necessary for us to look, as we are doing, at whether our police and security services have the full capabilities -- the powers that they need. Of course, we review after any incident that takes place and we have had, certainly, a number of terrorist attacks in the U.K.


BERMAN: So, put yourself back in 10 Downing Street. Had you been prime minister at the time that President Trump put out that statement saying that these two people -- these terrorists were in the sight of Scotland Yard before apparently having the evidence in front of him, what would your reaction have been? How would you have felt?

BLAIR: Well, I think I'd -- you know, I'd agree with what the prime minister has just said. Look, in the end, by the way, the most important thing for us is not what anyone's tweeting about, it's how we actually deal with it. And you should know that we are foiling plots the whole time and so is, by the way, virtually every other European country.

And this is why I say to you you've got to deal with this at a security level, but then deeper down you've got to be asking yourself how is this ideology and the violence that comes with it getting transmitted, particularly to younger people worldwide. And that's a whole other question with a whole other set of policies attached to it.

CAMEROTA: Well look, the -- President Trump thinks that the answer is a stricter, bigger travel ban. I mean, he believes, if you believe the rhetoric around this travel ban, that if you prevent people like this from coming into the United States that we'll be safe here, and that there has to be a better way to prevent the people like the teenagers who just pulled this off in London from even coming into your country.

BLAIR: Yes. But you see, part of the problem we've got in the U.K. and other places in Europe is often, you've got homegrown people --


BLAIR: -- that are engaged in this.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Here too, by the way.

BLAIR: Yes. So, of course, you've got questions to do with borders and security, and these are very important questions. But I really do believe the deeper question --

I mean, right now, for example, around the world you have millions of young people being educated in religious madrasas in very strict terms, and dedicated to an ideology that preaches hatred against those that are different.

If you've got that going on in the world yes, of course, you've got to protect yourself by security methods. But in the end, you're going to be rooting out that type of education and that type of propaganda. And this is where, obviously, the Internet sources are very important.

I mean, one of things we work on in my institute is how you manage to stop these types of messages getting through to people. When they go onto these sites you divert them onto sites that are more positive. But this requires a -- frankly, a revolution in approach way beyond anything we've done so far because otherwise, I'm afraid this problem is going to grow.

And again, you talk about your institute, the Institute for Global Change. Do you feel like you're swimming, you know, against the tide right now when nationalism seems to be trend?

BLAIR: Well, I think it's important we've rediscovered the importance of international engagement. I mean, one of the things we're doing this week is looking at that

whole group of countries across the northern part of Sub-Saharan Africa. Poor countries, exploding populations, weak government, extremism, rife. Unless we're supporting them now they are going to be source of future terrorism, of waves of migration, and they're going to destabilize our societies further.

So, you know, my view is we need a completely different, much more radical, much more farsighted approach to dealing with this than we have at the moment.