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Lt. Gen. Tells Air Force Cadets "Racists Need to Get Out"; Fake Black Activist Accounts Linked to Russia; Premiere of "This Is Life With Lisa Ling" Highlights Quest for Sexual Healing. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired September 29, 2017 - 14:30   ET



[14:34:02] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Some say the president's rhetoric is divisive, not that of a commander-in-chief. Others will say that's why they love him. What is true, whether you agree with him or not, he has a tendency to go too far, to divide rather than unite.

There's a moment I wanted to share with you today that has so many people saying, "Those are the words of a leader," at a time when the divided nation needs them most.

Here's the back story. At the U.S. Air Force Academy Prep School, five African-American cadet candidates found the words "go home" written on their doors, including the "N" word. This wasn't on social media. Physically written on their message boards. Those outrageous discoveries leading the lieutenant general of the academy to stand up, gather everyone into the room, and make it very clear, hate, racism, not here.


[14:35:00] LT. GEN. JAY SILVERIA, SUPERINTENDENT, U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY: You may have heard that some people down in the prep school wrote some racial slurs on some message boards. If you haven't heard that, I wanted you to hear that from me. If you're outraged by those words, then you're in the right place. That kind of behavior has no place at the prep school, it has no place at USAFA, and it has no place in the United States Air Force. You should be outraged not only as an airman but as a human being. I'll tell you that the appropriate response for horrible language and horrible ideas, the appropriate response is a better idea.

So that's why I'm here. That's why all these people are up here on a staff tower. Everybody here, please pull forward to the rails. Also, there's so many people here, they're lining the outside along the windows. These are members of the faculty, coaching staff, AOCs, AMTs, from the airfield, from my staff, from my headquarters, all aspects of the 10th air base wing, all that make up USASA and the United States Air Force Academy. Leadership is here. You heard from Brigadier General Goodwin, Brigadier General Amacost is here. Colonel Block (ph) from the Athletic Department is here. Mr. Nolton is in Washington, D.C., right now. That's why they're here. That's why we're all here because we have a better idea. Some of you may think that that happened down in the prep school and

doesn't apply to us. I would be naive and we would all be naive to think that everything is perfect here. We would be naive to think we shouldn't discuss this topic. We would also be tone deaf not to think about the backdrop of what's going on in our country, things like Charlottesville and Ferguson, the protests in the NFL. That's why we have a better idea.

One of those ideas, the dean brought people together to discuss Charlottesville, because what we should have is a civil discourse and talk about these issues. That's a better idea. We received outstanding feedback from that session at Charlottesville.

I also have a better idea, and it's about our diversity. It's the power of the diversity, the power of the 4,000 of you and all of the people on the staff tower and lining the glass, the power of us as a diverse group. The power that we come from all walks of life, that we come from all parts of this country, that we come from all races, backgrounds, gender, all make-up, all upbringing. The power of that diversity comes together and makes us that much more powerful. That's a much better idea than small thinking and horrible ideas.

We have an opportunity here 5,500 people in this room, to think about what we're as an institution. This is our institution, and no one can take away our values. No one can write on a board and question our values. No one can take that away from us.

Just in case you're unclear on where I stand on this topic, I'm going to leave you with my most important thought today. If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, you need to get out. If you can't teach someone from another gender, whether that's a man or woman, with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. If you demean someone in any way, then you need to get out. And if you can't treat someone from another race or different color skin with dignity and respect, then you need to get out. Reach for your phones. I'm serious. Reach for your phones.

OK, you don't have to reach for your phones. I'm going to give you an opportunity. I want you to videotape this so that you have it, so that you can use it.

So that we all have the moral courage together, all of us on the staff tower, lining the glass, all of us in this room, this is our institution. If you need it and you need my words, you keep these words. Use them and share them and talk about them. If you can't treat someone with dignity and respect, then get out.


[14:40:25] BALDWIN: Here is the man, Lieutenant General Jay Silveria.

Welcome. And thank you very much for your service to this country, sir.

SILVERIA: Thank you for having me, Brooke. BALDWIN: May I just say bravo. And I would love to hear just why you

chose to do this head-on. Why did you choose that?

SILVERIA: First off, everything we do here is about developing airmen and developing these airmen into leaders. I need to address the topic head on, but it's also about teaching them to address topics head on. I wanted to be unambiguous about how we're going to treat the topic. Everything we do is about developing airmen. I wanted to take the opportunity to give them a leadership lesson.

BALDWIN: Let me, General -- I have a feeling you haven't done this. I'll indulge you in some of the reaction on social media.

A couple of quotes, "This is what power, leadership and advocacy looks like. Excellent words from Lieutenant General Jay Silveria."

"General Jay Silveria, leader, patriot, American, yes, this is how it's supposed to be. Take note. #silveria2020."

"Wow, true leaders unite. Thank you, Lieutenant General Jay B. Silveria, for your service and leadership."

General, the implication here, you know, those who were elected to lead are not leading. And that you, sir, are. Do you think Washington needs better leadership?

SILVERIA: Brooke, my message -- my message to the cadets was not about that. What I wanted cadets to see on that stage, I had 1,500 of my faculty, staff, coaches there. They lined the walls. They stood along the tower there with me over the cadets. I wanted them to see all of us as an institution protecting these values. That's what I wanted them to see. This wasn't any other message outside of that. I wanted to have a direct conversation with them about the power of diversity, about the power of that room -- you heard in the speech -- about the power of our make-up. Ultimately, these men and women are going to be lieutenants in the United States Air Force. They're going to be producing combat capability and making us lethal on the battlefield. We need those diverse ideas. That's the message I wanted them to hear.

BALDWIN: You did mention events, you know, with ramifications outside the room. You mentioned Ferguson, you mentioned Charlottesville, you mentioned the NFL protests in your speech. And specifically on that, I mean, the nation is divided. And I would love to hear your thoughts. How do you personally feel when you've been watching some -- some of these players kneel during the national anthem?

SILVERIA: We would be tone deaf here to not consider that that's a backdrop of this incident that's happened at the prep school. We'd be tone deaf to not know what's going on in the rest of the country. Here at the Air Force Academy, we take opportunities like this to teach the cadets and to develop them and to show them what they should be doing, what they should be discussing, and how important our values are to us as an Air Force institute.

BALDWIN: Watching you -- and I've seen that speech now four times over today. it's almost like you could have heard a pin drop with you speaking. Have you spoken to these cadets since then? And what's the response you've been getting?

SILVERIA: Well, Brooke, as you can imagine, these are 18 to 22-year- olds. And that age group does not hesitate to tell us how they feel. There's a lot of avenues that we hear about how they feel. So far, the feedback's been overwhelming, overwhelming positive. They appreciate the message, and they appreciate, as you mentioned in the beginning, taking on the topic directly and up front in an unambiguous way.

BALDWIN: Last quick question, I know you can't speak to the investigation or what will happen with any of those involved, but I'm thinking of our young people in this country, some of them who would like to become airmen and airwomen who are learning about this incident and may hesitate in signing up or applying. What would you say to those young people that this is not tolerated?

SILVERIA: That's a great question. First and foremost, those cadet candidates that are directly impacted, we're giving them all the support that we can to get them through this immediate time frame. They're in the middle of classes and in the middle of their training. I've spoken weekend their families. I've spoken with them to try to get them through this and provide whatever support they need.

I would be very clear to any young man or young woman across this country that wants to be part of the Air Force and wants to be part of the Air Force Academy that that incident does not in any way represent the values of what we represent. We represent core values of integrity and service and excellence in the Air Force. And I wanted to make that clear to the cadets yesterday.

[14:45:40] BALDWIN: General, thank you so very much.

SILVERIA: Thank you very much, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, it just might be tangible evidence of Russian interference designed to inflame racial tensions at the height of a presidential election. We have fake black activists accounts on Twitter and Facebook now being linked to the Russian government. More on that next.


BALDWIN: CNN has new exclusive reporting about how Russia exploited Americans on social media during the 2016 presidential election. Both a Twitter account and a Facebook page with more than 360,000 likes that appeared to belong to a black activist was actually linked to the Russian government. The accounts are just a small part of this trove of material heading over to Congress. The accounts with the name Blacktivists hosted videos of police brutality against African- Americans and wrote about racial injustice. This, as Twitter just informed Congress that it has taken action on roughly 200 accounts that were linked to Russia. And Special prosecutor, Robert Mueller, is examining Facebook ads as a part of an independent investigation.

And my next guest knowns the unique challenge of pursuing such a board federal investigation involving the White House.

He is Solomon Wisenberg, who was the deputy independent counsel in the Whitewater/Monica Lewinsky investigation that led to the impeachment and trial of former President Bill Clinton.

Solomon, good to see you, sir. Welcome.


BALDWIN: If you were putting yourself in the shoes of a Special Counsel Bob Mueller and sifting through thousands of pages of Facebook data, the impact of the election -- on the election is one thing. But are you still having to connect the dots here and still ask, OK, this is -- this is wild and egregious, but what's the crime?

WISENBERG: That's a perfect question, what's the crime. I think he's got to look at this. But I think to find a crime from this is going to be very difficult. One of the main statutes they've been looking -- main statutes they've been looking at is the one that prohibits asking for foreign assistance or receiving foreign assistance for a presidential campaign. But the ads that we're talking about here, if what we see in the press is true, they're just right out of the Russian playbook, trying to sow divisiveness in the country. That isn't necessarily in aid of a particular campaign. They've got to show that it was, and that the Trump people knew about it and encouraged it. I really think it's very farfetched to think there would be any prosecution out of this particular aspect of the story.

[14:50:21] BALDWIN: You hit the nail on the head. You know, on the fact that this was to amplify divisiveness in this country and not necessarily favor one candidate or the other. But to quote Senator Mark Warner, he says his million-dollar question is how the Russians knew who and where to target. Do you agree? I mean, they would be so immersed in American culture to tap into that, to know how to do this?

WISENBERG: I can't answer that. I think they're pretty sophisticated, what I've seen so far. Yes, if you could show that somebody aided them and that person was connected to a political campaign and thought that would help the political campaign, there might be something there, which is why Mueller, who very, very thorough and has a very good time, will investigate it. I'm very skeptical that they'll get any kind of a criminal case out of it.

BALDWIN: OK. Mueller has been aggressive in recent weeks, he's obtained subpoenas for witnesses to testify without interviewing them first. What do you make of that?

WISENBERG: I don't make much of anything about it. I think I mentioned to somebody in the press that he's trying to set a tone of aggressiveness, which is important to do if you're coming in on a political investigation like this. Patrick Fitzgerald did the same thing in the Valerie Plame investigation. It's important to let people know that you're not fooling around. He knows he's there for a limited period of time. He's not going to be able to string this out for a very long time. If he does, he's going to take a lot of flack for it. I think it's putting people on notice. It's being tough, which is what you want to do, and he's got a tough team there. I'm not making a normative judgment on it. I'm just saying that's what he's doing, and that's what you would expect somebody to do.

BALDWIN: Solomon, thank you.

WISENBERG: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Coming up next, get you back to Puerto Rico and our breaking news here. Long, long lines for gas. The mayor of San Juan responding to the government's response, saying this is not a good news story. Actress and activist, Rosie Perez, joins me next.


[14:55:55] BALDWIN: The original series "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING" returns Sunday for a new season. In the season four premiere, Lisa takes us on a journey to meet people on a quest for sexual healing.


LISA LING, HOST, THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING: Ricky and Jennifer have a great marriage. They love their child, and they're still in love with each other. There's just one thing. Like an estimated 15 to 20 percent of all married couples, the fire has gone out.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every three months or so, I have this freak-out of like, can we talk about this, with we deal with this? All the love is there except for below the waist. It's driving me nuts. Like it really is.

LING: How is the sporadic intimacy affecting you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've gotten very insecure. Like why even try to initiate anything when I'm going to get rejected? Ricky would be tired or there was absolutely no response like physically at all. This is just -- like touching a rock.

LING: And, Ricky, what do you think the reason for the lack of intimacy has been?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To be perfectly honest, all men watch porn. You watch that, so I felt self-conscious. Am I big enough, will I give her an orgasm?

LING: And, Jennifer, have you felt rejected?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, yes, big time on every level. Just like the deepest, deepest form of rejection possible.

I feel like this fire that I've had, this -- I'm going to cry. But the sensual passion and fire has fizzled out for me.


BALDWIN: Lisa is with me now.

It is so great to see you.

LING: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

BALDWIN: Incredible that you got that couple to talk, to open up on something I think a lot of people will be watching like this -- like totally can relate to.

LING: Yes. I mean, our first episode is about sexual healing. The whole season is not. The episode was interesting. We followed two women, two different approaches, who consider themselves to be healers. One of them said something interesting which is if you have any deficiencies in your sexual energy whatsoever, if you have been a victim of sexual trauma or abuse, if you are not intimate with your partner, if you have body image issues, it can affect every aspect of your life. And when you think about it, you know, this woman, Jennifer, who was just talking, she started to feel so insecure and lacked confidence because she wasn't getting the kind of physical intimate attention from her husband that she really needed. So it really makes sense. So we go on this quest to explore what it means to need sexual healing.

BALDWIN: You're on this journey, and you talked about healers. What are they -- healers. What are they able to do? Could they help them?

LING: One of the women we profile employs something called Tantra, an ancient Indian practice.

BALDWIN: Heard of it.

LING: Yes, you've heard of it. You've been to India.

The other woman does something interesting. She's called a surrogate partner. So she has a therapeutic practice where she will actually have sex with her clients. And it sounds sensational. It sounds like sex work. But there's no entertainment value to it. And I think we have so much shame and guilt around sex, and as the other coach said, it has an effect on everything, every aspect of your life. That's a nugget of what the first episode is about.

BALDWIN: Wow. Tune in. Tune in. Tune in.

Lisa Ling, thank you.

LING: Thank you.

BALDWIN: That's a tease. Season four premiere, "THIS IS LIFE WITH LISA LING." Please watch Sunday night, 10:00 eastern and pacific, only here on CNN.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

We are watching a standoff taking place in the middle of a humanitarian crisis. You have President Trump insisting the federal government is delivering in Puerto Rico. But then you have the mayor of San Juan, and she says it's a different story.


CARMIN YULA CRUZ, MAYOR PUERTO RICO: This is not a good news story.